Friday, April 16, 2010

Dear Pouting Rich People

Via Jonathon Chait:

Rich conservatives are obsessed with this idea that they might quit their jobs. Ayn Rand wrote a whole book about this fantasy. Innumerable such threats accompanied Bill Clinton's upper-bracket tax hike, which was promptly followed by an explosion in upper-income growth.

Let me give you a hint, pouting rich people: We're not falling for your bluff. None of you is really going to quit your job and deny the world your precious genius because the Democrats raised your top tax bracket to 39.6%. That's because earning more than a quarter million dollars a year and having to pay a slightly higher tax rate than the average person is not actually such a horrible fate.

Will you chinless wonders just fucking Go Galt, already? Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conservative Catch-22

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
--Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I have come to realize that conservatism is a mental disorder. Much like the sane reactions to insanity and the insane reactions to sanity that characterized Catch-22, conservatism is an insane reaction to sanity, to wit: fucking over your fellow human being is neither morally obligatory (Ayn Rand) nor morally praiseworthy (Ronald Reagan).

It came to me in a flash as an otherwise reasonable conservative of my acquaintance was talking. He asserted that he didn't mind helping someone who needed assistance to get back on their feet. He just didn't like paying for people's health care who had no intention of making anything of themselves. I asked how many he thought fell into the latter category. Most of them, it turns out.

In other words, he's perfectly happy to spend his money to help the deserving. As it turns out, the definition of "deserving" was functionally identical to "not needing any help."

If you don't need assistance of any kind then you're deserving and can get assistance. The moment you need assistance you are no longer deserving and shouldn't get assistance. That's some catch, that Catch-22.

It allows someone to consider themselves a kind, thoughtful, civic-minded sort without the messy inconvenience of actually, you know, putting your money where your mouth is. It's what allows a conservative, with no visible trace of irony, to declare that government should get out of everybody's business, and to hurry up with the ag subsidy check. See, if you're getting a subsidy, it's because you deserve the assistance, salt of the earth sort that you are. If someone ELSE is getting a health insurance subsidy check, it's because they are a dirty fucking hippy, sitting around taking bong hits and getting high.

No it's not (always) about racism, though that's often a contributing factor. Mainly, it's about not a) giving up any money, and b) thinking of yourself as a good person.

"Why didn't you point that out to him," asked the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Pedant when I outlined my insight. Because there's no point. Comes from another quote I rather like.

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
--John Kenneth Galbraith