07 March 2017

The Bottom of a Cycle?

I'm trying not to blog as much now because it's Lent and the name of the season suggests that we ought to take things slowly.  (Of course, try telling this to conservative Catholics who want to decapitate the Pope...)

I do find myself thinking more and more about income inequality and the unsustainability of its continual rise.  (I'm given to understand that some economists think a continual rise is sustainable, but if I believed everything those economists said I would also believe that 40-day erections were healthy.)  The Magic Seasteading Kingdom that will house all our super-rich hasn't materialized yet, except in the brains of video-game and anime developers, so West Palm Beach has to suffice, and when the next tropical storm hits it the President might be very very sad indeed.

Still, there are so many ways people who are doing okay in this economy can rationalize and explain away unnecessary poverty and hunger and child mortality.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz (FN - Utah), who is being rightly slammed now for his callous words about health care, is not at all atypical in this regard for a rich straight white man in the developed world. 

I'm often exasperated by liberal or politically moderate (and almost always male) academics who are so eager to share with us the shocking results of their research:  There is growing inequality in this country!  This never seems to get old for them.  Maybe they are trying their darndest to effect political change for the better, which would be great, but really, guys:  people figured this out during the Reagan administration.

An example of this can be found here.  I hesitate to call myself exasperated by Paul Campos, since it is certainly important for young people considering law school to know the price tags.  And I love the rococo painting he chose to accompany his post, since it captures what I feel very strongly about this time:  that we are reliving the last days of ancien régime France.

We have an aristocracy that jealously monopolizes higher political office.  We recognize them not by their titles of nobility but by their honorary degrees and the speaking fees they can command.  They are not all bad people:  I was ready and willing to vote for one of them for president last year, because I knew the likeliest alternative.  Some of them have made great contributions to science and social welfare, just like some French aristocrats did.  Of course, they often were in a position to do so only because they participated in rapacious profiteering activities that undermined the moral legitimacy of the state.  (Today they take jobs with HMOs or Lockheed Martin.)

The French Revolution was completely unthinkable to intelligent European men of the time, like Edward Gibbon, until it actually happened.  There was, after all, so much innovation going on in France in the 18th century!  Surely the tenant farmers could appreciate that, or would appreciate it one day, when they bought themselves out of feudal debts and bestrode the amazing modern economy with their improved agricultural techniques.

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