CLUELESS, WHITE.

Posted in No Politics Friday on March 20th, 2009 by Ed

I'm tired of making fun of Objectivists. Let's make fun of Burning Man.

Having known of the existence of this "event" for decades, I never paid the slightest bit of attention to it. My knowledge of its workings was limited to the idea that it's a bunch of people getting stoned to the tits, listening to horrendous music, and watching something burn in effigy. Then, upon learning that someone I once knew is willingly attending this spectacle, I devoted five minutes to learning more about the event.

Holy shit.

I have seen dumber things and I have seen bigger wastes of time, but never have I seen a stronger, more desperate effort to dress up selfishness in the language of nobility. It actually calls itself "an experiment in radical self-reliance." If that is not enough to make you wish that everyone involved had one face and you were punching it, let's look at their idea of self-reliance and environmental responsibility.

First, the event is held in the middle of a pristine desert, one that certainly benefits from having a few thousand people drive into it, burn a lot of stuff, and camp there. But everyone packs out their own litter, so it's all OK! (note: every year there's a mountain of litter left behind). Second, it emphasizes its ecological responsibility by banning driving – which, you know, is kind of pointless since there's no need to drive once your there. And people drive hundreds of thousands of miles (collectively) to get there. So, yeah, after you drive 1500 miles to get there from Kentucky, no driving. Give Momma Earth a hug.

You know what else Momma likes? Gigantic wood fires. Those are environmentally friendly. Or the "artwork" created in 2007 which burned 900 gallons of jet fuel and 2000 gallons of propane to shoot flames everywhere. Even for hippies, watching this and talking about environmental responsibility is impressively stupid.

And now the best part.

The event is also an experiment in "decommodification", i.e. no cash transactions. Oddly enough this noble policy does not extend to the $300 admission fee. Cash is OK for that. At the event, though, in lieu of cash participants are encouraged to participate in a "gifting economy." Without saying so explicitly, I can think of no more obvious sign that you are going to end up blowing some guy named Chad for shrooms. Saying that the event's "economy" is based on "favors" is about as subtle as that massage parlor on the highway that offers "full service" massages.

People think I'm prudish when I go on this kind of rant but I should emphasize that I don't have a single critical thing to say about people going to the middle of nowhere, listening to godawful jam band shit, getting higher than Jesus, and circulating herpes. If that's what you want to do, by all means do it. What I find offensive are efforts to dress up such behavior in the pseudointellectual language of social consciousness. Burning Man attendees are no more going to the event to experiment with radical decommodification than sorority girls are going to Cancun Spring Break to experience foreign cultures. You are not being environmentally friendly or in any way making a political statement – you are going on an expensive vacation to do lots of drugs and blow strangers. That's great. Embrace it. Stop trying to assuage your consciences by pretending that it's a spiritual quest or a social experiment. Experiencing decommodification does not cost 300 good ol' American dollars and driving a thousand miles to watch an enormous open fire is not saving the environment. If you gave a shit about either of those issues you'd stay home.

But therein lies the rub. At home, who would be watching to validate what a good, crunchy progressive you are?

SOMEHOW PRISON IS WORSE THAN YOU THOUGHT

Posted in Rants on March 19th, 2009 by Ed

You probably don't need a lot of incentive to avoid going to prison, what with the shankings, the anal rape, the race riots, the crowding, the racist gangs you'll have to join for protection, and the general tendency of our society to treat prison as a legalized form of torture. But believe it or not, prison may actually worse than these facts have led you to believe.

Let's say you're a doctor. Doctors are respectable and highly educated, right? Yes, but like any other profession there is a bottom of the barrel, people who went to barely-accredited medical schools and barely graduated. The kind who are routinely disciplined by state medical boards and repeatedly sued with good cause for medical malpractice. The Doctor Nick Rivieras of the world, if you will. What does a doctor do in that situation? Where do you work after you are suspended for fondling an anaesthetized patient? After too many patients end up dying from ridiculous mistakes?

Well, you go to work in a prison.

There was a brief spike in interest a few years ago, prompted by heavy coverage in the New York Times and budget/overcrowding crisis in the California Dept. of Corrections (where an inmate dies "every six or seven days" from inadequate care), in the sorry excuse for healthcare that inmates receive. In addition to being denied (expensive) medications and other forms of treatment due to shortages of funding and serious understaffing, inmates are routinely treated by physicians who see prisons as the employer of last resort. The reasons are not mysterious. Would you want to be a prison doctor? I certainly wouldn't. I'd take that low-paying, dangerous job only if normal society wouldn't take me. Then again, people will take unpleasant work if compensated accordingly – note how inner-city hospitals are rarely short on staff because of the extra incentives they provide.

Unfortunately prison health care, like so many other aspects of our correctional system, has been farmed out in the misguided belief that money is saved. Prison Health Services, Inc., the ginandtacos.com "profiteer of human misery of the week," controls an overwhelming amount of this corner of the market in human suffering. It also provides yet another example of why privatization of public services rarely makes sense. PHS sure is cheap, which saves the states some badly needed cash, right? Well, yes, they save money up front. But gosh are those wrongful death lawsuits expensive to settle. Like all other profiteers on the government tit, PHS gets paid a lump sum and then maximizes profits by cutting every cost known to man. By hiring Dr. Nick Riviera. By refusing to provide prescription drugs. By having one doctor for 7,000 inmates. State and local governments are quickly learning that withholding insulin from diabetics is a risky cost-control measure. When they die, well, it isn't real cheap to make that problem disappear.

So, in addition to all of the other horrendous aspects of being in prison, remember that five years for stealing a car can easily turn into a death sentence if you have medical problems. Aside from the human rights issues involved (and recognizing that most people have limited sympathy for convicted criminals) you can sit back and enjoy yet another example of how privatization does little more than move costs from one pile to another, usually increasing them in the process.

BROKEN CLOCKS

Posted in Rants on March 18th, 2009 by Ed

As a broken clock is right every twelve hours, one of our friendly libertarian visitors to yesterday's post has raised an interesting point that I need to address periodically. Perhaps it was unintentional, an externality of the barrage of nonsense about how I don't devote my life to whining about taxes because I don't pay any. Regardless, let's accentuate the positive.

Why do I call Objectivists retards and make fun of them rather than engaging their philosophy in earnest, respectful debate? Kudos, Rand Fan. That is a fair question. Let me explain.

First of all, I teach political science for a living with a heavy emphasis on current American Politics. In the course of this work I am regularly exposed to many bright, dedicated students of all political persuasions. I am also exposed on a daily basis to all manner of sloth, proud ignorance, arrogance, and flat-out stupidity. As I have stated before (but perhaps not for newcomers) my profession prohibits me from responding to students with "What's the matter with you? Are you fucking retarded?" even when that is my first response and perhaps even the most appropriate one. As anyone in this profession should do, I treat my students respectfully and take great pains to emphasize that students are graded on the ability to retain, apply, and interpret facts. This site, which is a personal one, is a place where I don't have to listen respectfully to stupid shit. I get to make fun of it. This is an outlet.

Second, I go for jokes. Very little of what I post is "straight" with no element of sarcasm and comedy. Why? Because funny things are fun to read (and write). People like to read things that amuse them, especially while trying to kill a few minutes at work ("going Galt" if you will).

Third, I've gotten a little older and wiser. Granted, taunting and insult comedy are not usually taken as signs of maturity. But I used to argue with everyone and about everything. All the fucking time. Strangers, friends, classmates, teachers, idiots on the internet…it didn't matter. Gradually I realized that this was unproductive and therefore a tremendous waste of effort on my part. So I no longer argue with people who hold frivilous viewpoints. That is not an idle choice of adjective. I mean "frivolous" in the way that the legal system uses the term.

When an attorney files a motion, the judge's response generally falls into one of two categories. First, the judge can grant the motion, having decided that the attorney's legal argument was sound and persuasive. Alternatively, the judge can deny the motion if the attorney's argument is flawed or sound but unpersuasive. In short, the expected outcomes are "You convinced me" or "You didn't quite convince me."

When a judge rules that a motion is frivolous he is saying neither of those things. He's saying "This is complete gibberish and a waste of our time." He is not saying you have a bad argument, he is saying that you have not made an argument at all. For example, when "tax protestors" attempt to defend themselves with lunatic arguments such as that income taxation is voluntary or that they are not United States citizens, judges do not solemnly consider the merits of this nonsense. They call such arguments frivolous. It would waste the court's time to address them as serious points of law.

Here's a better example. Pretend that a conference on astrophysics has convened the top minds to discuss the latest in the field. You crash one of the panel discussions and raise an argument that the moon is made of cheese. What would they do? Well, they'd probably think it was a joke and laugh politely. After you pressed the point they would realize you are serious. Perhaps one of them would take a few seconds to kindly point you toward the mountains of evidence disproving your "theory." If you kept pressing, they'd stop being polite. They'd get pissed off and probably have you removed from the premises so you could no longer waste their time.

This is why I am not interested in having a point-by-point debate about Objectivism, whether or not the Holocaust happened, Young Earth Creationism, 9/11 Controlled Demolition hypotheses, the McVeigh/Hussein connection, or any other ridiculous viewpoint. The people who subscribe to such ideologies aren't worth arguing with because they aren't affected by evidence or rational critiques. Since they can't (or more likely just won't) understand that their viewpoint is without merit, it avails me of nothing to point it out.

Feel free, as is your kind's habit, to insist that our refusal to debate you is because we A) lack brainpower or B) are terrified because we know you're right about everything. Keep telling yourself that. In reality I have better things to do than be the 10000th person to explain to you that Ayn Rand's cult is intellectually bankrupt. Everyone else can see what you refuse to. Repetition isn't going to help.

So that's the long answer. The short answer is that I make fun of you because you make it so goddamn easy.

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MAN DISCOVERS AYN RAND, GETS AN FJM

Posted in Rants on March 17th, 2009 by Ed

I have no idea who in the hell John Andrews is. I know only that he publishes the occasional burst of stupidity on the intellectual Chernobyl that is the TownHall.com opinion page. His latest masterwork, "When Will Atlas Shrug?" sets a standard for inanity that may not soon be equalled. His title indicates his penchant for asking questions shortly before providing really, really bad answers. With a wary eye and a heavy heart we begin.

What is the breaking point?

The Breaking Point is a 1950 film based on Ernest Hemingway's novel To Have and Have Not. It stars John Garfield and Wallace Ford.

Where will the resistance form?

According to Red Dawn, it starts in Colorado. Remember this. It becomes relevant later in the column.

Heavy questions, but unavoidable in the current political climate. The productive members of society can only be pushed so far, some say.

"That's a great quote, who said that?"

"Some."

How far can productive people be pushed? Let's ask Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Or the heads of all the airlines (OK, they were railroads in the novel) who have leaned on the Federal Bankruptcy courts to stay alive in the past eight years. Or the Big Three. Come on, don't walk away. This is fun.

What they envision is not defiance of law or a reversal of the election.

That's big of them.

It is people's growing disengagement from a new economic order that punishes effort and rewards envy – the creepy future that Barack Obama and the Democrats intend for us.

If you want to learn more about this creeeeeeeeeepy fuuuuuuuuuture, send 10 Bazooka Joe wrappers and an SASE to:

John Andrews, Curator of the Future
Tar Paper Shack Filled with Mail Bomb Parts #17b
Aryan Nations, Idaho 70065

Columnist Michelle Malkin calls that withdrawal, "going Galt."

"I wonder if the term originated with her. In fact, it didn't. If I even bothered to Google it, I would have caught this."

Malkin was the first speaker when several hundred Coloradans gathered for a free-market leadership conference in Colorado Springs on March 6-7.

Wow, that sounds PRODUCTIVE! A forty-eight hour circle jerk echo chamber attended by a broad sample of Colorado Springs' most promising future Federal Courthouse bombers! Maybe the first step in going Galt is to waste one's time at shit like this.

Her reference was to John Galt, the individualist hero of Ayn Rand's novel, "Atlas Shrugged." She told of seeing a placard at the Denver protest rally for Obama's stimulus bill signing that warned: "Atlas will shrug."

Said sign was held by a 36 year-old assistant manager at the Lidz kiosk in the Greeley Mall. He likes to think of himself as "Atlas" when he's crying himself to sleep in his efficiency under a dangerously teetering mountain of discarded Hot Pockets boxes.

So what, you ask. So in human behavior, incentives matter. People are choosers, not automatons.

I think if anyone is going to lecture us on behaving like automatons (sic) it should definitely be Objectivists. And/or hardcore Rand fans. They aren't even slightly cult-like or apt to parrot the views of The Leader. They don't rigidly adhere to a dogma and blink in unison.

Of course in the 1950s, when Rand was writing her epic about a slow-spreading spontaneous strike among Americans fed up with big government, tomorrow supposedly belonged to New Soviet Man.

This fallacy of hindsight exists only in the minds of fourth rate conservative columnists. It becomes slightly more true every time they need it to prove a point.

Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II, the three champions of freedom who would prove otherwise, weren't yet heard of.

That was so awesome when they teamed up to defeat Communism! And Magneto! It's kind of amazing that the greatest sustained period of prosperity in the history of this nation was during the New Deal era yet those Presidents made no contribution to the inevitable implosion of the Soviet system. Hard to believe, but true.

But we're now told that 2008, with its routine recession and its celebrity election, showed freedom is untrustworthy after all.

You are told that at lunatic conferences at the airport Radisson in Colorado Springs at which Michelle Malkin is the keynote speaker.

The novel — with John Galt as capitalist superman and Dagny Taggart, Ayn Rand's alter ego, as railroad tycoon — may not be great literature.

It's not that it isn't great literature, John. It's that it is horrendous literature, literature written in some other language and translated into English with a free online translator. When something is A) a book and B) 1000 pages long, I'd say "bad literature" is a pretty significant shortcoming.

But its message of radical self-reliance has inspired millions across the decades.

Well, the Communist Manifesto has certainly inspired many millions more. So if popularity is the criteria for judging the merits of written work – and it isn't - Atlas comes in far behind Marx, The Grapes of Wrath, and Everybody Poops, which has inspired untold billions to poop.

And as a Coloradan, I like it that the story is set right here. "We can't lose Colorado. It's our last hope," says a Taggart employee at the start. A Rocky Mountain valley is the retreat from which Galt triumphs at the end.

HOLY SHIT! IT'S RED DAWN!

Retreat attendees…weren't about to unplug Galt-style from daily life in protest against wind power, national health care, and charity-choking taxes. But they took seriously the disincentive effects against wealth creation and social comity in these and other collectivist proposals. We should too.

*hits floor*

(there is a 72 hour gap in the entry at this point while Ed is administered smelling salts and various creams and lotions)

Read that amazing paragraph again to make sure it exists. To summarize: these bedwetters who won't shut the fuck up about "going Galt" for the past three weeks not only A) aren't productive but B) have no plans to actually do anything except sit around and talk about it before heading back to work at the screen door factory. So this is essentially the biggest exercise in autofellatio since…well, everything these people do follows the same all talk, no action pattern.

As ever more people ride in the wagon and fewer are left to pull it, there will come a breaking point.

Well, there are probably fewer people pulling it because millions upon millions of people are out of work thanks to two decades of policies intended to enrich the select few at the expense of everyone else.

But definitely also because Chad from Topeka has recognized that there is a disincentive for him to work any harder at his maintenance job.

Crowding taxation onto the highest earners and debt onto our kids, as President Obama proposes, invites collapse.

The kind of collapse one might see if, hypothetically, a president spent 8 years and $1.5 trillion cutting taxes and leaving future generations to pay the bill. John Andrews, you're not very good at this. Refuting you is about as challenging as reading from the Twilight series. That's a good analogy, in fact. Both Twilight and this column are challenging inasmuch as they are so terrible that I have to threaten myself with bodily harm to make myself keep reading.

Ignoring the constitution at will, as statists and the spending lobby do, breeds contempt.

It did, hence the 2006/2008 elections, hence the reason you are writing this inane horseshit and (presumably) getting paid for it.

Ruin must result.

It did. Score another one for John!

Did the USA learn nothing from the USSR's implosion, wondered Vladimir Putin recently.

So we're taking advice from Putin now. What, was Mugabe busy? Couldn't find a copy of the collected works of Pol Pot? How about we learn something from the collapse of our own economy rather than taking GaltLessons from the Soviet straw man?

Cold War victory taught us the power of ideas. The East crumbled when the West asserted the superiority of liberty, wakened by thinkers like Hayek with his expose of the road to serfdom and Bastiat with his ridicule of "everyone seeking to live at the expense of everyone else."

Yep, that is what brought the Cold War to an end. B-52 Stratofortresses carpet-bombed the Warsaw Pact nations with copies of Hayek wrapped in American flags. Those who weren't killed by falling books said "Holy shit! This is brilliant!", overthrew their governments, bought Weber grills, and joined the John Birch Society.

Also influential was Rand with her capitalist commandos.

I asked the Capitalist Commandos for an autographed photo. It wasn't autographed, but they did send this:


And just so we're clear, he's crediting Ayn Rand for helping to end the Cold War. Just so we're clear.

Galt and Taggart's crusade was idea-powered.

No, it was fictional. Not quite the same thing.

With moral truth they defeated the lies of something for nothing and freedom through coercion. Not even the government office of Morale Conditioner, censoring radio, could stop their entrepreneurial comeback.

What a stirring fictional lesson. The rest of us will rely on a similar energy and spirit to get through this while you useless drags on society sit around conference rooms jerking each other off.

Their strike against the redistributionist guilt trip was fiction. But we can shrug it off for real. The Tea Party movement is a symptom.

Here is a photo of the Teabagging event in New York City, population 11 million:

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The only movement of which this reminds me is a bowel movement. Here is the raucous crowd, a pleasant mix of toothless hillbillies and well-armed sociopaths, in Rochester (aka "God's Asshole"):


I don't mean to be crass, but…perhaps these people should consider going jogging rather than going Galt.

If the Teabagging "movement" is a symptom of anything, it's a symptom of how stupid these people are to gather in one place so the ATF and FBI can photograph the people they'll be busting in the next few years for hoarding ammonium nitrate.

Colorado may again play a role.

What do you call a state with a Democratic Governor, two Democratic Senators, a Democratic majority in both chambers of the State Legislature, and a 5-2 Democratic edge in House seats? If you're John Andrews, which is to say if you are retarded, you call it GROUND FUCKIN' ZERO for the new conservative revolution, baby!

I am becoming more and more convinced that right-wing columns are all written as parodies by bored sociology grad students and a supercomputer which has attained the intellectual capacity of cattle and, therefore, Republicans.

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SOPHIE'S CHOICE

Posted in Rants on March 15th, 2009 by Ed

Perhaps the best recap of what happened in the 2008 presidential election is the satirical headline, "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." Does anyone envy that guy at the moment? Would you do the job at any price even given all the neat perks of being President?

The public, with its drosophilia-like memory capacity, is going to forget that Obama inherited all of these problems and angrily demand to know why he hasn't solved all of them in three or four months. The problem of the problems, of course, is that many of them are no-win propositions. Take, for example, the collapse of the auto industry, which is about to take a poor economic situation and make it much, much worse than anyone is willing to admit.

GM is at the end times; two weeks ago employees leaked a memo revealing that the company has taken away personal wastebaskets and laid off janitorial staff to save money. They are openly conceding that they have "substantial doubts" about their ability to survive without continued (and presumably increased) intervention. The new car market is in free fall and, more importantly from GM's perspective, the market for shitty new cars is even worse.

Obama is faced with a simple fact in light of GM's new request for $30 billion in "loans" less than 90 days after getting $13.7 billion: their survival plan is going to be to ask for $15-20 billion every three months for the forseeable future. His options are two: pay the ransom or let them go bankrupt…at which point they'll have to be provided with tens of billions in Debtor-in-Possession financing by Uncle Sam. What, you think any of the banks are in the position to lend it? Or that they would even if they could? Nope. Either way, this costs us an arm and a leg.

The company and its employees are behaving irrationally only in abstract; in the context of a company that is obviously going to fail, their behavior makes more sense. Fox and its allies have heavily hyped the refusal of unions to make even greater concessions (disregarding those that have been made) but the union likely realizes that the workers only have a few paychecks left no matter what they choose, so why cut them even further? Deep concessions will help the company sputter along for, what, two or three more weeks? And the company has recently announced a 45% increase in production irrespective of the fact that nothing is selling, a decision more reminiscent of a crack addict going on one last spectacular binge than any kind of reasoned corporate strategy.

There is no good option here. The President has little choice but to sit back and supervise the most expensive trainwreck in economic history. Given that bankruptcy and bailout both cost more than anyone can imagine, I guess that Obama's best bet is to figure out which one preserves more jobs and reduces the number of people who will be dumped onto the dole. The company can't raise additional capital – efforts to sell Hummer and Saab have gone absolutely nowhere, the former because the military is holding trials to replace the Humvee and, if another Hummer vehicle isn't selected to replace it, that unit isn't worth a warm bag of spit. The Swedish government will probably take over Saab but they sure as hell aren't going to pay for the privilege. This is it. The company is such a structural mess that they could fire everyone tomorrow, close every division other than Chevy, and still lose billions of dollars per month.

Pour a 40 for GM, and in the meantime try envisioning our current economic situation after another million or two million people with well-paid jobs become unemployed and stop making payments on their debts. Good luck, BO.

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WEEKEND BONUS: HARD GAY

Posted in Quick Hits on March 14th, 2009 by Ed

Tangentially related to Friday's theme, enjoy this. Give it five minutes. If it amuses you (and unless you are legally dead, it will) there are plenty of videos on YouTube and I enthusiastically recommend 'Hard Gay vs. Yahoo' and the indescribably awesome 'Hard Gay vs. Tomy' in which he attempts to gain access to the offices of a toy company with a bullhorn and by rappelling down a high rise.

"The Director and Hard Gay are currently busy."

IN THE NAAAAVY!

Posted in No Politics Friday on March 13th, 2009 by Ed

I bet the proud sailors of the United States Navy dislike the fact that their service is virtually synonymous with, as Winston Churchill put it, "rum, sodomy, and the lash." Being obsessed with World War II era propaganda, though, I am starting to think the Navy has done things to encourage this line of thought. Not encourage it explicitly, of course, but some of their propaganda did little to dissuade the public perception that naval service was mostly about glistening, shirtless Seamen ramming long, stiff objects into appropriately-sized holes. To wit (and these are all real, courtesy the National Archives, and not modern faux-vintage snark), here is a composition entitled Man the Guns:

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Let's give the Navy every benefit of the doubt here.

Yes, it was very hot in the Pacific Theater and God knows how hot the decks were with all that burning gunpowder, so perhaps work was best done without a shirt. And, well, that long, rock hard, and round-tipped artillery shell certainly needed to be thrust into the cannon's magazine. Otherwise the cannon would not be able to have an explosion and cover the face of the Earth with American firepower. But I have to say, U.S. Navy, that this is kinda gay. I'm sure that my creative imagination running away with things.

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OK. Navy, maybe you should think about this a little more.

The message communicated by this poster is supposed to be "Stop Accidents." But what it's really saying is "Stop Accidents – or else." While threats can sometimes be good motivators, why is the Seamen A) shirtless yet again and B) threatening the viewer with the omnipresent penis-shell, held here at a semi-threatening, semi-aroused angle? And as far as intimidating our enemies, well, all I have to say is watch your cornhole, Tojo. OK, Navy? Good talk. I feel like you understand my concerns. Back to work.

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Oh, for fuck's sake!

LAS VEGAS: POOR, BLACK

Posted in Rants on March 11th, 2009 by Ed

There are over 3,110 counties in the United States, and last year 35 of them accounted for fully half of the home foreclosures and repossessions:

Goddamn you, California and Florida.

So what makes these areas so prone to foreclosures? Just speculating here, but they appear to fall into two broad categories: areas that are just economically devastated and areas that are sprawling, overbuilt trainwrecks. In other words, a healthy mix of places where people have no money and places where people were flipping houses to make a quick buck. The problem is there aren't too many of the former – only a few like Cleveland, Washington D.C., and…well, that's about it. The rest of these counties are among the fastest growing and most economically productive (pre-crisis) areas of the country: Las Vegas, Phoenix, Southern California, the Bay Area, Dallas, Central Florida…

You can see the source of my cognitive dissonance. The subprime crisis is supposed to be all about poor black people who borrowed money they couldn't repay (or, being shiftless as they are, refused to repay) because Democrats in Congress forced banks' hand with the CRA. Yet the nation's most impoverished areas aren't the ones glowing blue on this map. Instead we see the ones that led the way during the tech boom, the housing boom, the Iraq Defense Contracting Orgy boom, and the upper-class tax cuts boom. I can't say I have the spare time to do it at the moment, but it appears that if one assembled the data and created a model to test the relationship between socioeconomic characteristics and foreclosures, the rate of new home construction would prove quite significant.

Or perhaps I will find that Scottsdale and Anaheim are populated almost exclusively with poor, black homeowners with $600,000 mortgages.

SERIOUSLY, FUCK AYN RAND

Posted in Rants on March 10th, 2009 by Ed

I used to think Ayn Rand was the bomb but I outgrew it. You know, when I turned 12.

We all know that liberalism is for the (naive, inexperienced, foolish) young while conservatism is a natural byproduct of aging, maturing, and gaining experience with the world, right? Conventional wisdom gets it wrong yet again. The surge in popularity of objectivism and libertarianism on campus underscores how right wing ideology, not pie-in-sky liberalism, is the real fantasyland for kids who have absolutely no experience in the real world.

Yes, Ayn Rand is making a comeback among the college-aged. Objectivism is even getting some mainstream press in light of Commissar Obama frog-marching the nation toward hardcore Communism. Heroic individualists are threatening to "go galt" now that Obama has completely eliminated all incentive for anyone to work ever again, re-enacting their own version of the "producers' strike" in Atlas Shrugged.

I've gotten a little more mellow in recent years, believe it or not, less keen to argue and more able to see middle ground. But there is no middle ground here, no way for us to meet halfway in intellectual compromise: If you are an Objectivist, you are retarded. This is a judgment call, and I just made it. Grow up or fuck off. Those are your two options.

First of all, let us never overlook the fact that Rand's novels are atrocious as literature. Boring, repetitive, unconscionably long-winded, and written at approximately a 10th Grade level. Her wooden characters, the dialogue that makes you feel like you're being lectured by your uncle, and the idiotic plot all read as if written by a 17 year-old shut-in who spends a lot of time touching himself under a life-sized poster of Hayek. Atlas Shrugged is to literature what Battlefield: Earth is to film – it's five times too long and leaves readers wondering if Rand ever met another human being let alone successfully interacted with one.

Second, whatever respect we could have for Rand in light of her awful writing skills is obliterated by her unbelievably sophomoric "philosophy." It's exactly the kind of anti-intellectual, preachy, self-aggrandizing shit that plays well with immature people who think the world revolves around them – in other words, college kids. Yet Objectivists themselves have contempt for academia, which refuses to dignify their little cult with serious study. But who could be expected to take this sort of thing seriously?

"Just this weekend," said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) on Wednesday in an interview with TWI, "I had a guy come up to me in my district and tell me that he was losing his interest in the business he'd run for years because the president wanted to punish him for his success."

John, your constituent is a friggin' idiot. He is exactly the kind of ex-fratboy MBA who thinks of himself as a linchpin of society, an "Atlas" upon whom the nation rests, but in reality could be replaced by any literate college grad or, in many cases, an unusually motivated ape. Think about this logic (or "logic") for a second: this guy no longer wants to run his business because his taxes went up a few percent. The government wants to reduce his income by 10%, so his response is to reduce it by 100%. Sheer brilliance. Go ahead, Mr. Irreplaceable. Close your business. Go broke to "teach us a lesson" about how important you are. We'll just have to struggle on without you. I am trying to be tactful here, but if this logic makes sense to you, I have to be emphatic: you are retarded. You're far more likely to be in the bottom rung of society than among the "producers."

Conventional wisdom is wrong. It's not "Liberal at 20 or no heart, conservative at 30 or no brain." Only the young can indulge (on mom and dad's tuition dollar, by the way) this kind of solipsistic ME ME ME horseshit. People who mature beyond adolescence start realizing that, hey, there are other people in the world and that sitting on one's ass lecturing them about what they shouldn't have done is of limited use. Politics is about solving problems, not moralizing. Life is about living in society, not in one's own head. Objectivists are right to target college kids, though, a demographic highly susceptible to new "-isms" in their first foray away from Ham Bone, Iowa or wherever. They're also the kind of people most likely to find dichotomous, black-and-white morality appealing. Accordingly I should go easy on this new generation of Objectivists with their natural abundance of naivete, youth, and selfishness. Happily, those who mature emotionally beyond the age of 18 will soon outgrow it. But there's a fine line between deserving sympathy and inviting a vicious intellectual beatdown, and the line is starting to blur.

In conclusion, if any of this was insufficiently clear: Man, fuck Ayn Rand.

STUMPY

Posted in Quick Hits on March 10th, 2009 by Ed

Rufus needed an emergency tail-ectomy, but he is availing himself of the magical healing powers of my shoulder.

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