Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

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Regular readers are familiar with my suggestions that the victory dividend leading to the American High might have functioned much like a resource curse, that Democrat politicians in poor neighborhoods benefit more from the continued destitution of their voter base than they do from those voters prospering, and recently I've been suggesting that the Ruling Class might be more interested in protecting their position than in fostering conditions conducive to people improving their condition.

And thus does Donald Trump win the Massachusetts primary.

Thus, Thomas (What's the Matter With Kansas?) Frank's recent Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? makes for an intriguing Book Review No. 12, as he addresses, from a different perspective, many of the same phenomena.  The key to his criticism of the clerisy appears at page 40.  "[F]or the liberal class, [complexity] is an indicator of sophistication.  Complexity is admirable in its own right."  Precisely.  That's why it's so important to have Four of Five Experts Agree This Is For Your Own Good, and what keeps the talking heads on the Sunday shows uttering their commonplaces.

For all the good it does.  The resource curse analogue midwives the New Left (Page 48).   Before "neoliberal" became an Occupy term of opprobrium, it was the thinking of the Policy Intellectuals among the Democrats, looking for a way out of a New Deal politics that had become stale.  The approach might have been a way for the Policy Intellectuals to recognize that the victory dividend would not go on forever.  But the Policy Intellectuals alienated themselves from Organized Labor.  Then they went along with deregulating the railroads, telecommunications, finance, and ultimately (this is Mr Frank's causation, not to be confused with serious social science) the economy crashed.

And thus does Donald Trump win the Massachusetts primary.

It's the rent-seeking, stupid.  Turn to page 166.

[T]he liberal class's unquestioning, reflexive respect for professional expertise was an impediment to thinking rationally about Wall Street.  It blinded the Democrats to the problems of megabanks, to the need for structural change, and to the epidemic of fraud that overswept the business.

Yes, but complexity.  And expertise.

Didn't work so well with those Creative Class incubators either, but I digress.  On the other hand, how often does a writer from my left deconstruct the Fatal Conceits so well?  Turn to page 175.

That the liberals' failures might expose them to deadly flanking fire from the right is something the [Obama] administration appears not to have seen coming; for all their subtle learning, many members of the liberal class still don't believe it really happened -- what did them in, they think, was just the recrudescence of some boorish reflex in the minds of an unenlightened public.

Well, four of five experts agree, so let's abolish the people.

And thus does Donald Trump win the Massachusetts primary.

The real kicker is at page 183.

Boston is the headquarters for two industries that are steadily bankrupting middle America, big learning and big medicine, both of them imposing costs that everyone else is basically required to pay and yet which increase at a pace far more rapid than wages or inflation.  A thousand dollars a pill, thirty grand a semester: the debts that are gradually choking the life out of people where you live are what has made this city so very rich.

Yes, and there's regular Acela service for and from Panem Washington, to keep the rent seeking going.

The Acela does not call at Fall River (or Lawrence or Holyoke or the numerous other places abandoned to the meth-heads).

And thus does Donald Trump win the Massachusetts primary.

The sting, though, is in the tail, at page 241 to be precise.

This is modern liberalism in action: an unregulated virtue-exchange in which representatives of one class of humanity ritually forgive the sins of another class, all of it convened and facilitated by a vast army of well-graduated American professionals, their reassuring expertise propped up by bogus social science, while the unfortunate objects of their high and noble compassion sink back into a preindustrial state.

As long as those objects continue to vote Democrat, the rent-seeking clerisy will continue to summer on Martha's Vineyard.

And thus does Donald Trump win the Massachusetts primary.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: cultural studies, current events, politics

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