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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goin' Galt

So you might have noticed that what constitutes conservative thought has utterly collapsed, and is currently gnawing off its own leg. In a beautiful piece of triangulation, within a few news cycles we went from coverage of Rush Limbaugh being his usual fat fucking drug addict bigot self -the 'I hope he fails' thing- to a full-blown crisis of conscience for the Republican party.
The people who like Rush and listen to him will continue to do so. However, the only other major party in The United States has an awful choice ahead; try to stay on the good side of this idiot that represents its base, or denounce him and try to please...Who, exactly? It's nice to see the cows coming home on this one. That'd be the whirlwind you're currently reaping.

So why don't we all just...Leave? The whole "goin' Galt" thing is fascinating. To sum up: fans of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged occasionally start chirping with drooly satisfaction about what if? What if we really did it? Took our brilliant ideas and just left this society that has shunned and ridiculed us so?
Yes indeed; what if you ceased your torment at the hands of those with no economic power whatsoever, and moved to a place where there is no one to work for you, putting your Earth-supporting notions into practice? A brief piece of introductory economics for you: employers need employees. Employees need employers. Without this very basic dynamic in place, nothing ever happens. Talk all you want about the self-made man, the rugged individualist, but you're full of shit, and even you know it. No one has ever become rich without lots of not-rich people below toiling away to make it happen. Even Mister White admits this.

Besides, seems to me that the greater lot of American industrialists have already done a truncated version of this: moving their manufacturing base overseas. Now all that's left is a bunch of idiots who wish they were Jack Welch, moaning eerily about how maybe their brilliance is underappreciated here, and clearly Socialism is on the wise, and...Hey?
So yeah, hey? Since it has been made abundantly clear that your top one percenters don't care about the country that gave them this fantastic opportunity, and apparently don't particularly care if they have any consumer base to buy their products, what do the rest of us whiny brats do? Start a Don't Buy American movement? No idea.

Atlas Shrugged, though so clearly written by someone with a crippling addiction to speed, and in dire need of an editor, is nonetheless a fantastically eerie picture of a possible systemwide economic breakdown of this country. It is nice how the whole thing is presided over by clueless politicians -yes- but also by a passel of venal business types with adorable names like 'Tinky' and 'Kip', who know what side their bread's buttered on. Even a weirdo libertarian must admit: only by joining forces can these two twin aspects of Mediocrity truly begin to destroy everything.
And it's not even that they want to: they just have many, many attractive bad ideas, and the people who implement them aren't all that bright, to put it politely. Something akin to Atlas Shrugged has already happened/is happening right now, and The Misunderstood Industrialist Genius ain't gonna save us, because it was largely his fault.

On the other side of the pool from Rush Limbaugh is David Brooks. He represents what is left of thoughtful conservatism, and is not only everybody's punching bag, but often his own punching bag: he's kinda self-hating. As the longest-serving token conservative for The New York Times, he oftentide has to walk an interesting line of being scholarly while still pimpin' the same story that he's paid to pimp: The Self Made Man Will Save Us All!

"We are now in an astonishingly noncommercial moment. Risk is out of favor. The financial world is abashed. Enterprise is suspended. The public culture is dominated by one downbeat story after another as members of the educated class explore and enjoy the humiliation of the capitalist vulgarians."

No, no, no David; we are not enjoying this. We are wise enough to understand that as the fortunes of Jackass Up There fall, so do ours. Worse yet? Jackass Up There never seems to have learned the conversant lesson. It is fine to break contracts with workers, with entire unions. It is unacceptable to break contracts with Management.
This is why the management sector is currently a figure of ridicule. They aren't helping us, and yes- their policies did get us here. Brooks also notes: "The stagflation of the 1970s didn’t discredit capitalism. It gave rise to the supply-side movement and the apotheosis of the entrepreneur."

Well, thank you, Stagflation! You enabled a bunch of whiny Sun Belt assholes who didn't want to pay their taxes to run the government into the ground! Well done! And the 'apotheosis of the entrepreneur'? If I have to go back and show examples of how often these Self Made Men do so with help from the government, we'll be here all month.
Every libertarian I've ever met is a stickler for individual rights, as long as the rights in question are his own.

And Jim Cramer? Really? "Somewhere there’s probably a TV producer thinking of hiring Jim Cramer to do a show to tell story after story of unapologetic business success." Yes, because once you're famous or rich, there's some unwritten law that says you must remain so in perpetuity.
(How else do you explain Donald Trump? If he'd been left to the laws of basic capitalism, he'd be digging through my garbage right now.)
Mister Cramer is experiencing this brief bit of discomfort because he nicely sums up what went wrong: his seemingly no-nonsense approach mixed with Goofy Morning Crew sound effects distracted the easily-distracted from the fact that all he was doing was feathering his own bed. There is no reason whatsoever to view him as any sort of expert; just a very successful criminal. And yes, he'll never go away.

The 'gospel of success' (it is a nice little thing that he quotes a preacher named "Conwell" for an example of this actual sermon, titled 'Acres of Diamonds') is indeed that; a comforting lie. The idea that because you can get rich, you will get rich has indeed diverted generations worth of us. It has given us some good things, but ultimately it gave us Wal-Mart.

No one's asking business to apologize for success. We're asking for it to please maybe try to alleviate its massive failures. As always, Jackass Up There is suddenly feeling somewhat less self-made, and is asking the Nanny State it often decries in its fatter moments for help. I Am Jack's Utter Lack of Surprise.

So, a funeral song for the Bullshit Engine is wayyy premature, Dave. It has nothing at all to do with hatred of prosperity, either. We'd all like some, and it seems that even in the best of times, we don't get nearly enough.



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