Thursday, July 08, 2004

Materialism


Today, George will provides this insipid claim:
It has come to this: The crux of the political left's complaint about Americans is that they are insufficiently materialistic.
He then claims that "the left has largely failed to enact its agenda for redistributing wealth". Um... dimwit... you might want to pay attention to your own argument. If you are middle class (or one of the so-called left-wing "elitists" pundits like Will like to yammer about) trying to redistribute wealth to the working poor and indigent, you are demonstrating what is known as "egalitarianism", not "materialism".

Will's essential quarrel is with an author who proposes that the working poor vote against their self-interest when they ally themselves with the Republican Party, ostensibly because the Democrats would offer them better social welfare benefits. Perhaps that could be described as an indirect appeal to materialism - that the working poor would benefit from voting with the party that would better serve their financial and economic interests. But if you actually speak with the working poor who vote for the Republican Party, you will hear a lot of people arguing that they don't want their money helping the less fortunate. The Republican promise, false though it may be, of letting them "keep more of their money" has a tremendous appeal. The notion of helping their fellow man, a great deal less. I have even heard this argument from a person who had a long history of receiving welfare benefits, and who continued to live in a subsidized housing development, and who had no problem at all signing his teenage daughter up for another generation of welfare benefits when she had a child - if he were smarter, he might be stunned by his own hypocrisy.

Will is essentially arguing that people who prefer not to share their money with the less fortuate are less materialistic than those on "the left" who would do so. Granted, Will's editorials have been pretty lousy for the past decade, but... c'mon. There's plenty to criticize about the "welfare state" without fictionalizing that the people who advocate a strong social safety net are doing so out of greed.

2 comments:

  1. Aaron,

    What's the link/url for the "idiotorial"?! :)

    Paul (Craddick)

    ReplyDelete