Archive for the ‘Jonathan Chait’ tag
Jonathan Chait wrote a piece about Ayn Rand and the American Right that reenforces a lot of what we already know (the Right sees the world as being divided into ‘producers’ and ‘leaches,’) but also offers some interesting anecdotes.
Pat Toomey, the former president of the Club for Growth and a Republican candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, has recently expressed an allegorical version of this idea, in the form of an altered version of the tale of the Little Red Hen. In Toomey’s rendering, the hen tries to persuade the other animals to help her plant some wheat seeds, and then reap the wheat, and then bake it into bread. The animals refuse each time. But when the bread is done, they demand a share. The government seizes the bread from the hen and distributes it to the “not productive” fellow animals. After that, the hen stops baking bread.
Got it? Stop asking me to pay for the roads I drive on, or the Sourdough gets it. Also, too, Socialism.
Chait stresses an important lesson for liberals. The elite Right aren’t interested in negotiating the area of acceptable pittance offered up by taxpayers as payment for living in a collectivist society. They truly, truly believe they should not be forced to pay taxes even though the state (i.e. taxpayers) largely subsidizes their production, and the actual manual labor of production is also done by taxpayers. Chait calls their certainty a “moral absolute.” Taking from the rich is always, always wrong, and that is not up for negotiation.
Sadly, the elite Right have also convinced Joe Nobody that he is also a MOU, another victim of the mooching herd.
At a health care town hall in Kokomo, Indiana, one protester framed the case against health care reform positively, as an open defense of the virtues of selfishness. “I’m responsible for myself and I’m not responsible for other people,” he explained in his turn at the microphone, to applause. “I should get the fruits of my labor and I shouldn’t have to divvy it up with other people.”
The speaker turned out to be unemployed, Natch. I’m reminded of the angry mobs of Medicare recipients turning out at town hall meetings to protest big gubment, and a certain Libertarian sweetheart who opposes government spending…unless it directly benefits him.
In this world, selfishness is the ultimate virtue. It’s why liberals will fail time and time again if they hope to appeal to the moral compasses of the Ruling Right and their brainwashed sycophants. It is doomed to fail simply because this blatant hypocrisy (using Medicare while opposing big government, screaming about government takeover while accepting federal payments) is dismissed as being acceptable because I’m the one doing it. It’s not okay for anyone else to receive aid, but if I’m the one in trouble, it’s permissible. Just for a little while. I deserve it, after all. I’m the one who really earned it.
Of course, Ayn Rand gives the Right a giddy thrill because — much like any Disney fairtytale or religion — she presents the world in this moral binary. Have you ever tried to convince someone God doesn’t exist? Yeah, that’s what it’s like trying to convince a wingnut that progressive taxation is good for society.