Lefty Resource Library

Posting articles as I go

Month: January, 2015

Getting subjective to see the Objective for what it is

Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.


Collectivising v. individualising risk

Risks once borne by corporations and the government, Hacker noted, like unplanned health costs, are now the responsibility of Mom and Pop. Transferring risk from the collective to the individual, though, ends badly for everyone. Family affliction, like banker “contagion,” is tricky to sequester: if Larry and Terry get bankrupted by bad luck, their misfortune cascades, dragging down creditors, neighbors, and especially their children. The reason liberals like insurance is that it helps diffuse risk throughout society. Pooling risk, one might say, is the essence of the progressive social contract.


Philosophy and economics serving status quo power

Utilitarianism challenged the aristocracy. Philosophy conveniently intervened to devalue this challenge, and enabled the development of modern econ, including justifications for the common thinking that redistribution to the poor is wrong but redistributing to the rich is right:

“what really upset the applecart was the specification, “each one to count for one.”  The problem, you see, was that the principle gave the same weight to the pains and pleasures of peasants as it gave to those of aristocrats … there were so many peasants and so few aristocrats!

“seemed ineluctably to lead us to an endorsement of a far-reaching redistribution of income

“Philosophy came to the rescue, this time by discovering the problem of Other Minds … Capitalism was saved, and economists could go back to elaborating elegant mathematical structures confident that in so doing they would not be burning the house down

“Apologists for capitalism, which is to say professional economists, showing a positive genius for propaganda, call this state of affairs “efficient.”  I mean, who on earth could be against efficiency, especially in America?  So the present distribution of wealth and income is efficient, so long as taking a dollar away from a billionaire and giving it to a poor man makes the billionaire even the slightest bit less happy.  Unless, of course, the transfer has the all-round happy effect of somehow increasing the total output of the society so that the billionaire can be given his dollar back [or, more likely, a million dollars back] while also leaving enough to give the poor man an extra crust of bread, which will, ex hypothesi, move him a tad up his indifference curve.  [They give Nobel Prizes for this stuff.  I think astrologers should complain.]”

Implications for other ways in which theory is used to distance the privileged from oppression.