This article came across my feed today, from a magazine that usually does a pretty good job of things.
I couldn’t help myself. I broke my rule of arguing with strangers on the internet in order to post this diatribe on the Facebook post:
This is horrifying, more like reading Ayn Rand than your typical U.S. Republican speech.
So the rich “inherit” the drive of their parents? What about the political, social, and financial capital that separates the elite from the poor, even in an egalitarian society such as Sweden? What about the fact that a rich B-student in the U.S. can afford an unpaid internship while a poor A-student might have to work for minimum wage in order to mitigate the financial damage of an education? What about the fact that due to these circumstances, the rich B-student gets fast-track to Management, while the A-student may end up working retail after he gets out, because he has no elite connections? What about the fact that the elite have the financial reserves to take outsize risks, safe in the knowledge that however hard they screw it up, they and their family will assuredly not starve.
The world is not an equal place, and Economists deal with the real world. That’s why we’re not philosophers or moralizers. Leave biased, incorrect, and unscientific ideology to them. We’ve got dismal science to do.
While I’m not at all alone in this assessment, I’d like to expand that last paragraph.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Louisiana State University, but I started my study at Centralia College, a pretty good community college in Washington. I immediately fell in love with Economics’ interest in describe social, financial, and political realities as they sat on the ground, as opposed to the high-flying moralizing or depressing meanderings of the Philosophy courses I’d taken. It might not have hurt that the first Economics professor, Mr. Erickson, looked like Colonel Sanders and lectured like George Carlin, but my love outlasted his courses, carrying me to a four-year degree when I had doubts I could ever study any one thing for that long.
It tears my heart out to see one major popular outlet of the dismal science being subverted by oligarchic apologists as a soapbox for their skewed ideology. Moralizing aside, oligarchy isn’t good economics, any more than market collusion by the largest banks is — an offense that no government has the balls to prosecute over. Okay, now let’s bring the moralizing back in. This shit happens when we let poor leaders, crooks, and profiteers run amok in our halls of power. There’s strong science behind the assertion that Social Justice is good for business, good for the economy, and good for the people at the top of the societal pyramid. Higher taxes on the wealthy, something that the rich and their Fox news cronies constantly bleat against, mean good roads for goods transport, better-educated workers, and lower chances of drastic social change a la Antoinette.
No, you assholes, you didn’t build this country or this world yourselves. The constructed narrative of the besieged captain of industry, first made popular by Ayn Rand, is poison to a functioning society. I’ve no desire for the real world to follow EVE Online’s Robber Baron capitalism. But in my position as a student of Economics, I’m unwilling to branch into Philosophy. It sounds an awful lot like moralizing instead of right science. And so, despite the fact that I rankle at this drivel, like a con-goer dealing with some other SF fan’s “I’m not racist but…” prelude to toe-curling bigotry, I simply smile and nod.
Well, I’ve stopped smiling and nodding at racist con-goers, and I’ll gladly call them on it now.
Bigotry isn’t protected speech, and neither is this ideological claptrap.