Makers vs. takers

Many commentators are framing the matter in terms of raising or lowering the relative status of aid recipients. So it’s the aspiring student, the virtuous retiree, and the brave veteran, rather than the irresponsible bums. That’s a distraction (albeit a legitimate correction), as the real question is whether the political equilibrium is shifting toward takers. That’s takers as roles in particular political struggles, not individuals with “taker” stamped on their foreheads.

Various forms of crony capitalism arguably are on the rise. Is the political influence of the issue-specific takers, relative to the issue-specific makers, a growing problem in American politics? What does the evidence actually suggest?

Filed under: arguments. Cf. Charitable arguing:

Taking a moment to hunt for an interpretation that makes an argument good — before you denounce it as a bad argument — is a nice heuristic that forestalls the tempting leap from “There exists an interpretation that makes this a bad argument, but it may not be what he had in mind,” to “This is a bad argument!”

Makers vs. takers

I feel like inspiring political moments these days are just spank-material for aspiring typesetters.

You can never be both a writer and a politician – at least not a good writer. A writer must always tell the truth as he sees it, and a politician must never give the game away. Now, these are two opposing forces.

NPR Fresh Air remembers Gore Vidal with excerpts from two Terry Gross interviews (via explore-blog)

The Naked and the TED

And also:

Since any meaningful discussion of politics is off limits at TED, the solutions advocated by TED’s techno-humanitarians cannot go beyond the toolkit available to the scientist, the coder, and the engineer. This leaves Silicon Valley entrepreneurs positioned as TED’s preferred redeemers. In TED world, tech entrepreneurs are in the business of solving the world’s most pressing problems. This is what makes TED stand out from other globalist shindigs, and makes its intellectual performances increasingly irrelevant to genuine thought and serious action.

The Naked and the TED

Why Our Elites Stink – NYTimes.com

The problem is that today’s meritocratic elites cannot admit to themselves that they are elites. Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment. As a result, today’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged. You were taught how morally precarious privilege was and how much responsibility it entailed.

It’s hard to see yourself from the outside. This also made me think of arguments in favor of monarchy in Hoppe’s Democracy.

Why Our Elites Stink – NYTimes.com

Country Music, Openness to Experience, and the Psychology of Culture War | Big Think

What high-openness liberals feel as mere nostalgia, low-openness conservatives feel as the baseline emotional tone of a recognizably decent life. If your kids don’t experience the same meaningful things in the same same way that you experienced them, then it may seem that their lives will be deprived of meaning, which would be tragic. And even if you’re able to see that your kids will find plenty of meaning, but in different things and in different ways, you might well worry about the possibility of ever really understanding and relating to them. The inability to bond over profound common experience would itself constitute a grave loss of meaning for both generations. So when the culture redefines a major life milestone, such as marriage, it trivializes one’s own milestone experience by imbuing it was a sense of contingency, threatens to deprive one’s children of the same experience, and thus threatens to make the generations strangers to one another. And what kind of monster would want that?

(via)

Country Music, Openness to Experience, and the Psychology of Culture War | Big Think

I’m not very interested in political satire because it works on the assumption that They Are Assholes. Fiction works on the assumption that They Are Us, on a Different Day.

George Saunders. Re-tumbling this part of a really good interview because it’s an election year. Just doing my part for America.

The long sentence is how we begin to free ourselves from the machine-like world of bullet points and the inhumanity of ballot-box yeas or nays.

Pico Iyer. Here’s mills:

Pico Iyer, in a pleasant Los Angeles Times article noted by Schmudde, defending his use of “…longer and longer sentences as a small protest against —and attempt to rescue any readers I might have from— the bombardment of the moment.”

Iyer chooses two sorts of reduced expression as examples: bullet points, which are the prose of the business world; and the “inhuman” ballot-box, where political expression occurs. It is amusing to note that many believe that it is in precisely these spaces —the professional and the political— that their identity resides, that the substance of their life resides. If not there, after all, where?

Reminds me of an Andrew Potter quote I tumbled from The Authenticity Hoax:

It is hardly surprising to find that the two areas of human enterprise most concerned with sincerity as opposed to truth—namely, politics and advertising—are also the two areas most steeped in bullshit. Or would it be better to say that politics and advertising are the two areas most concerned with the appearance of authenticity? This might be a distinction without a difference.

And another thing I think of and repeat often:

If you write like porridge you will think like it, and the other way around.

The apparent practical success of capitalism is matched only by the failure of its public relations.

It is hardly surprising to find that the two areas of human enterprise most concerned with sincerity as opposed to truth–namely, politics and advertising–are also the two areas most steeped in bullshit. Or would it be better to say that politics and advertising are the two areas most concerned with the appearance of authenticity? This might be a distinction without a difference.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Opens in Washington – NYTimes.com

There is always an element of kitsch in monumental memorials, a built-in grandiosity that exaggerates the physical and spiritual statures of their human subjects. That is one of the purposes of turning flesh into imposing stone.

Via. See also Dennis Dutton on kitsch:

According to Tomas Kulka, the standard kitsch work must be instantly identifiable as depicting “an object or theme which is generally considered to be beautiful or highly charged with stock emotions.” Moreover, kitsch “does not substantially enrich our associations related to the depicted subject.” The impact of kitsch is limited to reminding the viewer of great works of art, deep emotions, or grand philosophic, religious, or patriotic sentiments.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Opens in Washington – NYTimes.com

It’s hard to beat the entertainment value of people who deliberately misunderstand the world, people dying to be insulted, running around looking for a bullet to get in front of.