Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jonathan Cohn, snob

In the fantasy world where I'm the generalissimo whose junta has seized totalitarian power in a coup d'etat, Cohn would die a painfully violent death for writing parenthetically, "A guy named John Rawls once wrote a thing or two about this."

If you wish to make a reference to Rawls, go ahead and make the reference. Don't be such a freaking snob as to offer a Cliff Notes thumbnail of A Theory of Justice and then give the reader that condescending fake jocularity, implying that anyone who disagrees is so ignorant as not even to know who Rawls is or else unable to recognize his theory without your sneering aside.

Hello? They're reading The New Republic! Isn't it best to assume that readers of a high-brow journal are sufficiently intelligent and erudite that the writers might address them as equals?

Most annoying is how Cohn offers Rawls' views as if they were self-evident. Why is random chance "unjust"? Whence the "moral" obligation to equalize outcomes? This idiotic liberal tendency to equate inequality with injustice is indefensible as logic. "We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one." (A famous guy said that. Maybe you should look him up, Jonathan Cohn.)

The purpose of taxation is to collect revenue for the government, not to reward or punish various classes of citizens. The fiscal action of government is never equal, and inevitably divides the population into taxpayers and tax consumers (as another famous guy said), and tax consumers will always argue for the expansion of revenue. If left unchecked, government become nothing more than organized theft, plundering one part of the population in order to enrich another part. "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." (Another famous guy to look up, Mr. Cohn.)

Cohn goes on to say "median wages have been stagnant for a while; inequality is on the rise." These are separate phenomena -- the stagnation and the inequality are not necessarily caused by the same factors -- and there is zero evidence for Cohn's flat assertion that "Obama's policies would help stop and perhaps even reverse these trends," especially since we don't know what those policies would be. We know what Obama has said he will do; what he will actually do is entirely unknown. I certainly have my doubts that he'll put a dent in the pocketbooks of his wealthy supporters, and even greater doubts that his administration will be marked by an end to the "stagnation" of which Cohn complains.

When the junta seizes power, however, do not doubt what the generalissimo will do to any writer who insults the readership of political journals the way Cohn has done.

"Prick him down, Antony." As a guy once said.

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