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Tilting at Windmills

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May 22, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DECISIONS, DECISIONS....Question: Which is more annoying? (a) Lefter-than-thou liberals who are under the impression that it's somehow either immoral or impolite to make money or (b) hacker-than-thou conservatives who worship 24/7 at the altar of making of money except when the moneymaker in question happens to be a Democratic presidential candidate and thus presents a chance to score some political points? It's a tough choice.

Kevin Drum 2:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (105)

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See, now, this is why we yell at you for the constant false equivalences, Kevin. It's not like the A people aren't annoying, but do you really know/listen to/read about as many As as Bs, and are you seriously arguing that the damage they do is even in the same stratosphere as the Bs?

I know you're trying to be funny, but this one was l-a-m-e.

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
Question: Which is more annoying? (a) Lefter-than-thou liberals who are under the impression that it's somehow either immoral or impolite to make money or (b) hacker-than-thou conservatives who worship 24/7 at the altar of making of money except when the moneymaker in question happens to be a Democratic presidential candidate and thus presents a chance to score some political points?

The latter, because the actually exist in substantial numbers.

Though, were there an option "(c) 'liberal' pundits who like to compare the extremes (or outright fictions) of the left and with more common, real behavior of the right as if each were equally present and influential in society and thus present themselves as 'balanced' or 'moderate'," I might be tempted to chose it.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 22, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

At least the conservatives hypocrisy is rationally self-serving. Whereas some of the liberals who attack Edwards (not just for fancy haircuts but) for having a big house, seem not to know how they advance the conservative agenda. If you convince everyone that it is hypocritical for a rich person to care about the poor, then you help conservatives make it harder to put concern for the poor on the national agenda. If only the poor can non-hypocritically represent the interests of the poor, then we will wait a long time before a viable presidential candidate advocates the interests of the poor.
RiMac

Posted by: RiMac on May 22, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -- Please name 10 "liberals" we all would have heard of who think making money is immoral?

Name 2.

Posted by: JC on May 22, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

RiMac,

Sorry, man, but the real hypocrisy lies with repubs, who preach free market, yet believe that any dem making money is a hypocrite. It was conservatives like Sludge pushing the Edwards haircut story, not dems. Yes, some did jump on board, but they were few and far between.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on May 22, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

A is more annoying. Definitely.

Because A is entirely the invention of right-wing yakkers who need not just a strawman, but a big, hulking cartoon of a strawman they can blast to smithereens for the amazement and amusement of their dimwitted, gullible listeners. And then after such yakkers invent this colossus, liberals who are otherwise sensible people accept it as an accurate reflection of reality.

And that's annoying.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on May 22, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Type B is just one instance of a more general phenomenon of conservatives criticizing liberals using liberal rhetoric. For example, slamming Gore for having a big house, or slamming opponents of the Iraq War for not believing that Muslims deserve democracy, or accusing critics of Condoleeza Rice or Thomas Sowell of being racist. I don't think the reverse criticism happens very often. Liberals don't typically criticize conservatives using conservative pieties (except ironically).

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on May 22, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

What's more annoying? (a) An arbitrary choice of two "extremes" as the only possible responses to a complicated question or (b) a pony.

Posted by: jrw on May 22, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

definitely the pony. much tougher to clean up after.

Posted by: sean on May 22, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

I've never met anyone in the A column, so don't really know how annoying they would be. The others, however, are killing the planet. So I think that's of more immediate concern. But thanks for asking!

Posted by: Kenji on May 22, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

"hacker-than-thou conservatives who worship 24/7 at the altar of making of money except when the moneymaker in question happens to be a Democratic presidential candidate and thus presents a chance to score some political points?"

Since Kevin doesn't identify the "Democratic presidential candidate," I am assuming that this is in reference to Edwards' work at the hedge fund that specialized in providing sub-prime mortgages to poor people that he knew nothing about even though he supposedly went to work there in order to "learn about poverty" and for which, he was paid a boatload of money.

Given his campaign theme of "two Americas" and he being a champion to the "have-nots" in our society, is it really so surprising that "hacker-than-thou conservatives" would use this as an example of Edwards' hypocrisy on his supposed solitary with the poor?

Posted by: Chicounsel on May 22, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Question: Which is more annoying? (a) Lefter-than-thou liberals who are under the impression that it's somehow either immoral or impolite to make money...

As a conservative, there's nothing more hilarious than watching liberals attacking each other for not being "liberal/PC/green enough".

It's like watching two dorks trying to "out-dork" each other.

It also reminds me of the old axiom "you reap what you sow". You guys wouldn't know that one, because it is of religious origin.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on May 22, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

That's our Chicounsel. Always a walking illustration of the joke du jour.

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kind of a fun question, humorless commenters aside. I'm going to have to go with A, for somewhat the same reason as RiMac. Self-defeating stupidity is just much more frustrating to me, perhaps because it is my side being defeated.

Posted by: ars on May 22, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kind of a fun question, humorless commenters aside.

Mmmm, I'd say there's generally no shortage of real humor in these threads. No shortage of people who openly enjoy actual humor, either.

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Those ANNOIYNG conservatives you elude to who worship making money are the people who make this country the greatest and most powerful in the earth. Oh, maybe that's why you don't like them.

Posted by: egbert on May 22, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Since Kevin doesn't identify the "Democratic presidential candidate," I am assuming that this is in reference to Edwards' work at the hedge fund that specialized in providing sub-prime mortgages to poor people

Um, hedge funds don't specialize in providing sub-prime mortagages to poor people -- in fact, they don't do it at all. Hedge funds may invest in companies and/or banks that are in the business of providing mortgages, but hedge funds themselves do not offer such instruments to individual mortgage holders.

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

The most annoying thing would be a Democratic president who loses money in a business deal, infuriating the Republicans so much they have to launch a massive investigation which results in said president being impeached for being untruthful about receiving a blow job. It probably would never happen, though.

Posted by: asdfg on May 22, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

How about those who feel that no real "art" can be created by someone who, except wholly by accident, obtains any remuneration for his/her creative product? I've not figured out if such folks are "liberal" or "conservative," but I only seem to encounter them on liberal blogs.

Posted by: idlemind on May 22, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Given his campaign theme of "two Americas" and he being a champion to the "have-nots" in our society, is it really so surprising that "hacker-than-thou conservatives" would use this as an example of Edwards' hypocrisy on his supposed solitary with the poor?

I'm assuming, then, that you also denigrate Bush's claims to be a "compassionate conservative" and to care for the poor and disadvantaged since Bush, an Ivy League multi-millionaire son and grandson of privilege with a 2,000 acre private estate who's made boatloads of money from questionable sweetheart real estate and oil deals, is by your own standards a flaming hypocrite?

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like a consensus is emerging. Not to disparage Kevin too strongly but this makes me think of David Robert’s dissection of Cathy Young’s pro-libertarian agit-prop on the global warming “debate” in the Boston Globe:

This is a classic of the genre, lifted straight from template. Note carefully what's happening: The denialists have been discredited. Now, the right wing is eager to cast the debate as having two equivalent sides, "alarmists and deniers." That way they use the marginalization of denialists to marginalize advocates. It's really a clever piece of judo, one the right's become incredibly adept at using.

It relies, of course, on everyone accepting that there are "two sides." That way, having given up the ghost of denialism, the right can now turn to advocating weak, industry-friendly policies and calling them the "sensible middle."

Also makes me think of Cokie Roberts and her husband telling Democrats they can’t afford to be anything less than anti-union market fundamentalists. In this debate "liberals" are people who have a more complex value system than just the anemic (and quite un-Christian) values of political economy and profit-making monotheism.

Posted by: bellumregio on May 22, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

You know, it cracks me up that this comment section seems to attract a fair number of liberals who are under the impression that liberals have no annoying traits whatsoever. Have you guys seriously never come across any lefty attitude/embarrassment about making money and yet still claiming to be a liberal? Hell, even Atrios and Matt Stoller have noticed this in the past.

I assume also that you haven't been following the "selling out" thread that's been meandering around the lefty blogosphere lately? Or are you going to insist that this is solely about artistic integrity and has nothing to do with the making of filthy lucre?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on May 22, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

(a) because they're an embarrassment that feeds into the cliche. And, yes, they do exist. Come on! We all know individuals like this, don't we? But, no, they're nobody important.

I'd say that (b) is not annoying. Just wrong.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on May 22, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

b.

Posted by: treetop on May 22, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I would have to come down on the side of making money, sir. Having a great deal of money that I can spend on whatever the hell I want whenver I want guarantees that I am happy and content.

Yesterday, I had to replace a $900 fish tank and about $5,000 worth of stereo equipment and I had to reposition the new fish tank so that it is not placed OVER the new stereo equipment. This is a true story--I became incensed with something that Jim Cramer said about the market yesterday and I threw a television remote control so hard it shattered the fish tank and ruined the stereo equipment. I did save most of the fish--there is one somewhere under the book shelf and his fossilized remains will have to be attended to by the cleaning lady.

So, yes--always err on the side of money, sweet money.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on May 22, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

To echo several posters, I don't think it is immoral to make money - it is immoral to let it become your master.

Christ was quite clear on this topic, when he admonished his disciples not to "lay up treasure here on earth, where thieves can steal it, because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".

In other words, it isn't immoral to make money - as long as you give most of it away. Warren Buffet gets it - read here.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 22, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's the good faith estimate of the number of lefter-than-thou libs who substantially believe that it's immoral or impolite to make money? In the U.S.? 10,000? 20,000? Not more than 100,000.

And what's the estimate of horde of money-is-almost-everything folks that you find, approximately, everywhere you look? 80%? More?

I mean, what do the charitable giving stats look like here in Christan America? I'll bet fewer than 1 in a 1,000 gives a full 10% tithe each year to help the less fortunate.

Posted by: ferd on May 22, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Call me immoral, but I just bought a Boeing 787 for $143M. Boeing is so grateful.

Posted by: Lu on May 22, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the scene from AbFab when Saffy and her friend from the Labour Party are talking and Saffy is apologizing for her mothers wealth? Her friend dismisses her concern with "It isn't bad to be rich anymore. In fact, we quite encourage it."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 22, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I have met people from column A, but since none of them have inet access, I doubt that Kevin has ever encountered any of them. For the most part they are idealistic and not the least bit inspirational, living off the grid, growing their own food, making their own clothes, and bartering for what they can not produce on their own. They certainly are not annoying, unless you are so cynical as to also find, eg, the Amish annoying.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, okay, liberals can be annoying. I admit it; my wife thinks I'm annoying on a regular basis and she's right. My feet smell, too. But what's more annoying? (a) Liberals who see the world in shades of gray and can express healthy ambivalence about things or (b) Manichean conversatives who have only a Good/Evil switch for all problems?

I'll take (a).

Posted by: jrw on May 22, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Have you guys seriously never come across any lefty attitude/embarrassment about making money and yet still claiming to be a liberal?

Yes.

There's a moral difference between going to work, putting in an honest 8 hours producing something, and coming home with a paycheck, which is making money, and moral - and the situation where, by virtue of a legal fiction of "owning" something, one gets paid for doing no work or producing nothing useful whatsoever. I think that where one draws the line is indicative of overall "left" or "right" political orientation, while not being an absolute measure of such orientation. Few people would agree that ANY situation where someone earns money is automatically moral. Are bank robbers moral? What about extortionists? What about monopolists? Junk bond traders? Subprime mortgage lenders?

Yeah - the question this post raised was completely stupid.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on May 22, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

To echo several posters, I don't think it is immoral to make money - it is immoral to let it become your master.

Au contraire, dingbat. You won't make money if you don't make it your master. You'll meander along, occasionally getting lucky. But it is the true sign of an entrepreneur who can sell his grandmother for spare change in order to use that spare change to ride the bus downtown and sign fraudulent loan papers in order to float a kited check long enough to seal the deal and finish ahead of the game in a business deal that comes down to the wire. Were I a younger man, I would be all over this Internet gambling thing, and I would probably make a killing on it.

So, yes--you MUST become the master of your desire to make money at all costs. Nothing else matters. NOTHING.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on May 22, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

What's annoying is being unable to articulate why this post is elusively hard to concisely comment on.

It's about altruism.

Some folks on the left struggle with reaping riches beyond their basic needs and try to
"live simply." When it becomes blatant, then it's annoying.

Folks on the right are freed up from this altruistic dichotomy.

Again, it's hard to wrap my thoughts around such a
annoyingly inarticulated post.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 22, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, but in the post above "not the least bit inspirational" should have been "more than a little inspirational". I'm a lousy self-editor.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

So much for 'Family Values', eh Norman?

Posted by: Everblue Stater on May 22, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

So, yes--always err on the side of money, sweet money.
Posted by: Norman Rogers on May 22, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Norman; too bad you aren't rich enough to completely dismiss what that blowhard hack Cramer says. I mean, really; how much money would you need to watch that show, and completely not give a crap? You could have saved that poor fishie.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on May 22, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Who are these "Lefter-than-thou liberals who are under the impression that it's somehow either immoral or impolite to make money" of which you speak?

Posted by: Gregory on May 22, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

You know, it cracks me up that this comment section seems to attract a fair number of liberals who are under the impression that liberals have no annoying traits whatsoever. Have you guys seriously never come across any lefty attitude/embarrassment about making money and yet still claiming to be a liberal?

Sure I have -- and those people are generally on college campuses and/or other places where they have no real power. The people in your category (b), on the other hand, control corporations, the mainstream media, the White House, the judiciary, a large section of Congress and have a tremendous influence in this country for their campaign to consolidate a great deal of power and money to themselves at everyone else's expense. Just because (a) and (b) are both annoying doesn't mean they're annoying to the same degree or with the same consequences.

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Better yet, Kevin, who are these "fair number of liberals who are under the impression that liberals have no annoying traits whatsoever" that you claim "this comment section seems to attract"?!

What did they, have a sale on straw men today?

Posted by: Gregory on May 22, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

You won't make money if you don't make it your master.

I have to agree with Normie here. The most important attribute of a highly successful (read: monetizing) entrepreneur is "greed", which is why regs to protect the commonweal are so damn important.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think the word you are looking for is "amusing", as in ironic, not annoying. Annoying would be wealthy capitalist's children who believe in free love for everyone and spit in the face of returning Vietnam war veterans.

Any more unfounded clichés for us to discuss today? I think I prefer Norman's fish-tank story.

Posted by: Kenji on May 22, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Edwards on TV yesterday dealing with questions about his big fancy house. He did OK in response, but I wish he had said, "Which would you prefer, a President with a big house who doesn't give a rat's ass about the less fortunate, or a President with a big house who cares deeply about the lower economic class?"

Posted by: swamp thing on May 22, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

d) - A money fantasy system that has significant externalities & allows neer-do-wells (one might casually use the term "trailer trash" as an easily understood label) to claim to be the winners in a free market that has never existed.

A Casino Not So Royale so to speak

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." - John Maynard Keynes

Posted by: daCascadian on May 22, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: You know, it cracks me up that this comment section seems to attract a fair number of liberals who are under the impression that liberals have no annoying traits whatsoever.

I don't know about that, but it does attract a fair number of people who think your continual assignation of equivalence between an annoying trait and a planet- and society-destroying ethos is a pretty weird habit for a would-be analyst to have.

Look, you just wrote a lousy post here. Had you said, "It bugs the living daylights out of me when a minority of liberals claim that making money is inherently evil," we could have had a fun thread. But you had to set it up as a false counterpoint to a much more prevalent and far-reaching problem, and people reacted as we did not just because of the ridiculousness of the argument, but because you're constantly making these absurd comparisons in an effort to appear balanced. You're getting whacked not just for this post, but for the fact that you use this lame format about three times a week. It's not a display of moderation on your part. It's just lazy and condescending.

And, I might add, you're getting poked harder now because of your complete inability to gracefully accept criticism from your readers. Every time virtually everyone in a thread takes you to task, you react by sniffily denouncing the views of everyone else, refusing to consider that if almost everyone else in the room disagrees with you--a room full of people who are ostensibly on the same side--you might be the one whose perspective needs adjusting. Not good.

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2007 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's much like the "He went to Yale" shit that Bush used against Kerry. When are these guys going to get with the Jon Stewart approach and start mocking their accusers.

Posted by: Kenji on May 22, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Edwards on TV yesterday dealing with questions about his big fancy house. He did OK in response, but I wish he had said, "Which would you prefer, a President with a big house who doesn't give a rat's ass about the less fortunate, or a President with a big house who cares deeply about the lower economic class?"

FDR and LBJ both had big fancy houses too. But then again neither one of them ever did anything for America's poor either....

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, (a) exist as blog commenters and managers at underfunded non-profits. (b) appear on the television and write news articles. Can you see the difference here?

Posted by: Tyro on May 22, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

It sort of depends how you make the money and what you do with it, doesn't it? In an abstract sense I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with making money (and I'm pretty fucking left on economic issues, not that anyone asked.) Given specifics on a) how the money was made, and b) what a person is doing with that money, I'll have an opinion on how wrong it is, or isn't.

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2007 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Every time virtually everyone in a thread takes you to task, you react by sniffily denouncing the views of everyone else, refusing to consider that if almost everyone else in the room disagrees with you--a room full of people who are ostensibly on the same side--you might be the one whose perspective needs adjusting. Not good.

Or, in shorter terms, when everyone tells you you're drunk it's time to stop drinking.

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

so I guess my answer to the original question is B.

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say (c): The joker pic for the upcoming Batman pick just looks wrong.

Posted by: Monstertron on May 22, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

I saw Edwards on TV yesterday dealing with questions about his big fancy house.

Quick question: when was the last time you saw Bush on TV dealing with questions about his big fancy 2,000 acre private estate?

Yeah, I thought so....

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Much better, Stefan.

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Trick question?

Posted by: jMe on May 22, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: shortstop on May 22, 2007 at 4:12 PM

Ouch!! Thought only such criticisms were reserved for us trolls. Allow me to be the first to welcome Kevin to the dark side. lol

Posted by: Chicounsel on May 22, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and of course there are those little Bible phrases :

"...For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows...." - 1 Timothy 6:10

and this one :

"...And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God..." - Matthew 19:24

seems obvious to me...

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." - Niccoló Machiavelli

Posted by: daCascadian on May 22, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan at 4:22

excellent.

Posted by: thersites on May 22, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Group B is criminal and amoral; that trumps being annoying.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on May 22, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

(A). The people you describe in (b) would have told you all along that money is simply a means to power, and that they never under any circumstances intended for their political opponents to have power.

Why do you ask? Did you make some money?

Posted by: Matt on May 22, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the scene from AbFab when Saffy ....

Mmmm, Saffy.

Posted by: Thlayli on May 22, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. People here are really self-righteous.

How about this: I have met people who pretty clearly think it's immoral to make more money than minimum wage. I've also met lots of people who argue that a work of art can't be good if the artist in question made money. (For some reason they don't trust their own taste, and have to search for biographical facts about the artist to decide if the work is good...) Admittedly, I ran into most of this when I was living in Berkeley, so it may in fact be that only 20,000 people have this attitude, and you just run into a disproportionate number in the East Bay.

In any case, these people do exist, and they are pretty obnoxious.

Moreover, what percentage of people really "worship at the altar of making money?" I'm guessing it's about the same as the percentage of people who are money-hating liberals. I've met a few, but there aren't a lot of them, even among conservatives. Most conservatives I know will tell you that having a job you love is more important than one that pays well. The really hacky ones are out there, but you don't see 'em too often.

Kevin, see if you can say more objectively inoffensive things guaranteed to send your readers into 'how dare you' mode. (Maybe you could make fun of people who act as though conspicuous consumption is virtuous so long as it involves shopping at places with a more progressive image.)

Posted by: DBake on May 22, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the (A) people voted for Ralph Nader and put Bush in the White House. So I think they win hands down.

Posted by: ArkPanda on May 22, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

And, to follow up, when are we going to see, say, Mitt Romney on TV dealing with questions about his big fancy ski house in Lake Tahoe or his big fancy lake house in New Hampshire?

Me, my money's on "never"....

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

DBake >"...Most conservatives I know will tell you that having a job you love is more important than one that pays well..."

That may be true for those "conservatives" you know but those people (whom I doubt are actual conservatives) sure aren`t the majority of the fascist right (who are, in case you have fogotten, running the human portions of our planet) that are causing the current problems of humankind.

Also I doubt that they are actually living the life they claim to prefer. Just from observation of the objective facts you understand.

"When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the poor have no food, they call you a communist. " - Archbishop Helder Camara

Posted by: daCascadian on May 22, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Being charitable, I do wonder whether Kevin may be merely confused and has assumed that every liberal who disapproves of Edwards' $400 haircut and extravagant house must be one of those elusive lefter-than-thou pinko liberals who disapprove of all wealth. The two positions are distinct: You can be perfectly fine with people making money -- honestly but also honorably -- but disapprove of those who flaunt it or waste it.

Personally, not only I have no problem with making money, but I'm a liberal who admires principled entrepreneurship. At the same time, it matters to me what one does to make money, and how one spends it. It's all about means and ends. I think that's where the difference lies between current economic liberalism and conservatism: someone once asked me if I'd work for a tobacco company marketing cigarettes to kids for a billion dollars. My answer was No. Conservatives who worship wealth by any means, would answer Yes.

How one spends wealth also says something about their character. In terms of Edwards, I do think that there's something very unseemly and stupid about a $400 haircut, especially when it's paid by campaign contributions. In practical terms, there's a real difference between a $10 haircut and a $50 haircut, and if you can afford a $50 haircut, you should go ahead and have one. But I can't even conceive of any substantial difference between a $50 haircut and a $400 haircut. The same goes for other expenses: A $7 of wine for instance is invariably mediocre, but you can buy excellent wines for $40. But when I hear of people who will spend hundreds of dollars, or even thousands, on something potable, I can't avoid reaching certain conclusions about their priorities and judgment. And, no, it's not relative to how much money you have in the bank. Even if you have so much money that you can spend any amount on even the most trivial expense, it still says something about how you perceive the world when you don't appreciate the opportunity cost of a $400 haircut.
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on May 22, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Most conservatives I know will tell you that having a job you love is more important than one that pays well

That's easy for someone to say when his job is well-paying (in general, of course, I agree, but then, I don't generally have to worry about money too much and could leave my well-paid IT job to go back to grad school without worrying about the financial implications of such a move).

Posted by: Tyro on May 22, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

daCascadian >
>DBake >"...Most conservatives I know will tell you that having a job you love is more important than one that pays well..."

>That may be true for those "conservatives" you know but those people (whom I doubt are actual conservatives) sure aren`t the majority of the fascist right (who are, in case you have fogotten, running the human portions of our planet) that are causing the current problems of humankind.

I don't know what an *actual* conservative is. Given the other political commitments of these people, they seem pretty conservative to me. Maybe some of them could be more accurately called libertarians, or Giulliani-style Republicans. Some of them seem like through and through conservatives however.

In any case, I'd disagree that it's the money-worshippers who make up the majority of the fascist right. Certainly a few in the leadership positions would qualify, like Cheney or Rumsfeld. Most of the fascist right though is made up of fundamentalists, authoritarian types afraid of what we'll do without a strong leader, rednecks who think that we can only prevent terrorism by proving to those Arabs that we're really manly (ie, violent and indifferent to pain), people overly skeptical of the possibility of good government, and probably a few closet racists.

The truly greedy are generally more pragmatic than the current conservative movement has shown itself to be. In any case, they're in the modern American fascist movement, but they're there to manipulate the majority which isn't motivated as much by money. If they all were, the conservative movement would have fallen apart by now, 'cause not everyone can get all the money, you know.

Posted by: DBake on May 22, 2007 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what an *actual* conservative is.

Right here, sir. Right here.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on May 22, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

In terms of Edwards, I do think that there's something very unseemly and stupid about a $400 haircut, especially when it's paid by campaign contributions.

*sigh* Once again:

The haircut didn't cost $400 -- paying the hairdresser for his time and travel expenses to travel to where the candidate did.

It wasn't paid for by campaign contributions. The bill was sent to the campaign by mistake, but once the mistake was known it was rectified and Edwards paid the bill out of his own pocket.

Now, of course, I expect to hear how unseemly and stupid it is for Bush to live on a 2,000 acre private estate when a split-level on a quarter-acre would do just fine for him and Laura....

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Norman; too bad you aren't rich enough to completely dismiss what that blowhard hack Cramer says.

Actually, I am. I take exception with Cramer's assessment of where the market will go. He is a cheap showman, and if he were my fund manager on Columbus Day, he would be homeless and unemployed on Thanksgiving Day.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on May 22, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Dbake,

I live in Berkeley and I feel a need to defend my fellow Berkeley and East Bay bretheren. Regarding your response to "choice (A)," it is more like 200 people that share that view (out of a population 120,000). There are not that many people who believe, "people who pretty clearly think it's immoral to make more money than minimum wage," and, "people who argue that a work of art can't be good if the artist in question made money." There just seems like there are a lot of people like that because you see them on Telegraph every day, they are the people that are always shown on the news whenever Berkeley is mentioned, and they are pretty vocal to begin with. But it is a miniscule part of the population in Berkeley, let alone the entire Bay Area.

Posted by: adlsad on May 22, 2007 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

In terms of Edwards, I do think that there's something very unseemly and stupid about a $400 haircut, especially when it's paid by campaign contributions. In practical terms, there's a real difference between a $10 haircut and a $50 haircut, and if you can afford a $50 haircut, you should go ahead and have one. But I can't even conceive of any substantial difference between a $50 haircut and a $400 haircut.

Me personally I think there's something unseemly and stupid about blowing a $230 billion budget surplus and replacing it with a record budget deficit that our grandchildren will still be paying off, but that's just me. I mean, even if you have so much money that you can spend any amount on even the most trivial expense, it still says something about how you perceive the world when you don't appreciate the opportunity cost of wasting $230 billion.

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

there you go again, Stefan

Posted by: reagan's hair on May 22, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Have you guys seriously never come across any lefty attitude/embarrassment about making money and yet still claiming to be a liberal? Hell, even Atrios and Matt Stoller have noticed this in the past.

Well now you're getting into some serious shit.

Some people say, eg, that Markos cannot be a progressive because he makes money from sexism and big oil. I'd argue (quite convincingly) that Markos was never a progressive, and that his whole purpose has been to develop a biz plan (quite successfully) to monetize progressive enthusiasm for his own gain.

And then there is Stoller. Like Markos, Stoller is not so much interested in creating a progressive alternative to the DLC, as he is in centralizing progressive enthusiasm under his own control and usurping the power of the DLC and wielding it as his own, and like most authoritarians-in-training has no tolerance for criticism.

Anyway, as someone who has been involved in progressive politics from before the dawn of the web, I have much much much more to say about this new breed of power-hungry faux-progressives, but that'll have to wait until another day.

In short, it's not about the money -- it's about the power.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

In short, it's not about the money -- it's about the power.

Actually, in this country, joo gotta make dee money firs'. The when joo get dee money, joo get dee power. Then when joo get dee power, then joo get dee women.

Posted by: Stefan on May 22, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al Pacino or Herve Villacheze?

Posted by: Kenji on May 22, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: The haircut didn't cost $400 -- paying the hairdresser for his time and travel expenses to travel to where the candidate did.

I'll accept that the bill was sent to the campaign by mistake. I can't say I'm convinced. And it does imply that the campaign is not very careful with its accounting procedures. But there's no point in belaboring this particular point.

However, I don't understand why you seem so exasperated with my inability to define the $400 as not being the actual cost of cutting Edwards head hairs but the total sum of having a haircut. This is a distinction without a difference. Having an expensive Beverly Hills hairdresser travel a substantial distance to attend to your hair is unseemly. It's also stupid when you're trying to be the candidate of populism, and the fact that you may be a metrosexual (not that there's anything wrong with that) is a trait that conservatives will spin into accusations of being effeminate and ergo weak.
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on May 22, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

adlsad writes:

>There are not that many people who believe, "people who pretty clearly think it's immoral to make more money than minimum wage," and, "people who argue that a work of art can't be good if the artist in question made money." There just seems like there are a lot of people like that because you see them on Telegraph every day, they are the people that are always shown on the news whenever Berkeley is mentioned, and they are pretty vocal to begin with. But it is a miniscule part of the population in Berkeley, let alone the entire Bay Area.

They also apparently come to parties at my house.

Look, I love Berkeley, so you don't need to defend it. It's my favorite place to be. I intend on moving back as soon as I can. Nonetheless, there are some pretty obnoxious people there. And it's not just the people hanging out on Telegraph.

Lame people exist everywhere.

Posted by: DBake on May 22, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: Me personally I think there's something unseemly and stupid about blowing a $230 billion budget surplus and replacing it with a record budget deficit that our grandchildren will still be paying off, but that's just me.

No, such behavior can't be described merely as "unseemly and stupid." That's downright criminal behavior. It's also irrelevant to our discussion. I think it's obvious that I did not compare Edwards' haircut to blowing billions of tax money, starting expensive wars, or any of the other horrible things Bush and his ilk are responsible for.
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on May 22, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

There are no self-righteous authoritarians of the left (if by that you mean “American Liberals”). Bob Altemeyer has done the research and he finds self-righteousness is a defining attribute of the authoritarian right. You can be an authoritarian leftist- supremacy-of-the-proletariat type- but his research would pick these folks out as authoritarians with another ideology. He found them in the old Soviet Union. They were just as aggressive, dominating, sexist, and intolerant as American and Canadian rightists, but their fundamentalism was Marxism. They are very rare in North America. He tried but could not find authoritarian environmentalists. That people have strong opinions is not the same as the authoritarian tendency toward intolerance and violence.

The modern political landscape is mostly a competition between authoritarians (and the social dominators who lead them) with their culture of fear and violence and non-authoritarian liberals who value open society. The question has long been how much Manchester Capitalism to have. Should all other values, particularly social values, be subordinate to profit making? And what kind of society does that create? Sometime in the 1950’s evangelicals (who tend to be authoritarian) went from anti-establishment populism to pro-business fundamentalists. The interesting thing is how they just swallowed the doctrine whole without confronting any of the contractions with their own tradition or with Christianity generally. You would predict such an uncritical embrace from people prone to authoritarian followership.

Posted by: bellumregio on May 22, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

B's because 1) they really exist in significant numbers; 2) hypocrisy is more annoying than envy; 3) they do everything they can to pull up the ladder of opportunity behind them.

The A's a few in number.

Posted by: Kija on May 22, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

However, I don't understand why you seem so exasperated with my inability to define the $400 as not being the actual cost of cutting Edwards head hairs but the total sum of having a haircut. This is a distinction without a difference. Having an expensive Beverly Hills hairdresser travel a substantial distance to attend to your hair is unseemly.

Damnit, would someone look into how much Bush's personal full-time barber gets for being available to him at all times on the tax-payer's dime so that we could be done with this chickenshit story already?

Damn this stupid shit is pissing me off!

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

DBake,

It looks like we went to the same parties. No, I agree, there are a lot of obnoxious people in Berkeley of all political persuasions (there are also a substantial number of really obnoxious Republicans there as well - when I went to Cal, supposedly we had the largest campus Republican party in the nation). And yes, there are a lot of "lefties" out there who are still trying to keep that flame of revolution burning. I just get a bit defensive about it because we are always used as "Exhibit A" as a representation of knee-jerk liberalism, moonbat ideas, and everything that is wrong with America (See David Brooks and Newt Gingrich's "San Francisco Values" quote).

I guess that my point was that while these people (the far left) definately exist, there just aren't as many of them as people think. When I went to Cal, I would see the SAME people at every protest - no matter what was being protested. And whereas Berkeley might be to the left of "Middle America," most of us are just normal, hard working, middle class Americans.

Posted by: adlsad on May 22, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Given that a) is real, and b) is some cartoon-like caricature straw-man which Kevin invented to avoid getting beaten up too much by his followers, I guess we should go with a), no?

Posted by: a on May 22, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK


So...how long has Mickey Kaus guest-posting here?

Posted by: theo on May 22, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK


So...how long has Mickey Kaus been guest-posting here?

Posted by: theo on May 22, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: Damnit, would someone look into how much Bush's personal full-time barber gets for being available to him at all times on the tax-payer's dime so that we could be done with this chickenshit story already?

Why is what Bush does or doesn't do, in terms of haircuts or anything else, relevant to this discussion? If Bush spends $800 per haircut, would that make Edwards' haircut 50% less unseemly?
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on May 22, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush spends $800 per haircut, would that make Edwards' haircut 50% less unseemly?

It would put it in perspective, which is what is lacking in this discussion.

Posted by: Disputo on May 22, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Perspective is that most Americans spend 20 dollars on a haircut. Politicians on both sides pretend they can empathize with the poor, and it doesn't seem like they can.

The old fashioned Greek system of choosing public servants at random couldn't be worse than what we have going on now.

Posted by: RichardP on May 22, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Which is more annoying? (a) Lefter-than-thou liberals who are under the impression that it's somehow either immoral or impolite to make money or (b) hacker-than-thou conservatives who worship 24/7 at the altar of making of money except when the moneymaker in question happens to be a Democratic presidential candidate and thus presents a chance to score some political points?

I judge such stuff on a case-by-case basis. In the case of Edwards, I think that Edwards' Lincolnesque rise from modest circumstances as a tort lawyer, that is to say serving victims of manufacturing defects and so forth, is admirable, and mockery by Republicans is probably self-defeating. It draws a strong contrast to the rather less admirable career of G.W. Bush.

There is a saying about "Doing well by doing good", and Edwards' career, on the whole, is a good illustration. His claim about learning about poverty by serving on a hedge fund sounds silly on its face, but working with sub-prime mortgages may very well have given him a good opportunity to see how that part of the economy really works.

I think he really did learn in 2004 how to be a better candidate next time around.

Incidentally, I think his own career belies the claim that there are "two Americas", but that's for later. If he is clever, he can turn these mockeries back against the people who mock him.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 22, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: 'liberal' pundits who like to compare the extremes (or outright fictions) of the left and with more common, real behavior of the right as if each were equally present and influential in society and thus present themselves as 'balanced' or 'moderate',"

how droll.

Posted by: MatthewRmarler on May 22, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

I think the liberals would be more annoying if they existed. But they don't. They are a strawman of the rightie hacks.

At advanced levels of hackery, the gambit runs full circle. Consistent moderates like (say) the Clintons are regarded as phony for simply being themselves. HRC's greatest sin is failing to be the raging Commie that the rightie hack liars made her out to be.

Posted by: Jalmari on May 22, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Lessee, we have two bogus arguments, one of which might have some modest impact on CD sales and the like, the other which might have some impact on the future course of the entire nation, and thus the world? And Kevin has a problem deciding which one is more "annoying?"

Which moral universe does he live in?

Posted by: idlemind on May 22, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo: It would put it in perspective, which is what is lacking in this discussion.Let's keep things into perpective

Indeed. I really should not have to explain that even if it is revealed that Bush cuts his own hair, Edwards would be a thousand times more preferable than Bush.

The discussion is not who's better, Edwards or Bush, on the basis of haircutitude. The discussion is about what it means for someone -- anyone -- to spend $400 on such a trivial thing as a haircut. I find it unseemly and stupid because it is basically an illogical act. There is no haircut that can be said to be worth that much money. At best, Edwards is a fool fore being taken in by a barber.
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on May 22, 2007 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Have you guys seriously never come across any lefty attitude/embarrassment about making money and yet still claiming to be a liberal?

Leaving aside the poorly constructed sentence, I have encountered such people. But it was 14 years ago. I was working in China at the time. And the people in question were ultra-liberal Australians!

Seriously.

I have never met anyone like that anywhere else. I'm sure that attitude must exist in America; I'm constantly reading about it. So I'm sure it must.

I'm also under no illusion that liberals 'have no annoying traits.' The tendency of some liberals to try to appear moderate by poking fun at the straw men on the far, far left comes quickly to mind. Not that I don't still love my fellow travelers--for all their faults.

Posted by: kyle McCullough on May 22, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

What is so terrible about not being or not wanting to be a greedy bastard?

What is so terrible about pointing out how the rich suck?

Because let's face it. Every problem on the planet was caused by a rich white guy.

Posted by: Michael Buchanan on May 23, 2007 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Norman. Have you though about moving to China? I hear there are great opportunities there to make a lot of money hawking toothpaste and baby formula made from antifreeze, not to mention melamine based cat food.

By the way, if you want to impress us you will have to increase the dollar numbers for your stereo and aquaria. As a group liberals are pretty affluent. A $900 fish tank and 1 $5k stereo might be impressive to your conservative friends, but not to us.

Posted by: fafner1 on May 23, 2007 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

At a certain level of wealth, the marginal utility of another dollar is so much less than the marginal utility of a dollar to a poor person, that the rich person is morally obligated to give away the money. Why is this opinion so absurd? And don't you think that there's a way of expressing that opinion that also avoids being morally righteous and judging other people? Why are individuals with moral codes that do not exactly fit those that are predominate in society judged so quickly to be annoying and morally righteous?

Then again, I guess I'm just a college kid.

Posted by: anon on May 23, 2007 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

This is silly.
The so-called lefter than thou liberals are either sincere college students who have never been hungry or homeless or demogog-wannabe frauds. Either way you're comparing a tiny minority made up mostly of idealists (that post on politial blogs) who will wise up given time to the hacker than thous (a minority that has virtually unlimited access to the mass-media) who are brown-nosing toadies to the real power brokers in this country.

Posted by: joe on May 23, 2007 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I'd say B folks are more numerous than A, and more dangerous (except possibly in a Nader type scenario) but it's disingenuous for people to think A doesn't exist (especially using the old "I've never met any" line--you've probably not met a LOT of people who exist int he world). No, I haven't met such people either--but I have heard tell of them (from other liberals) and I deliberately avoid situations where I might meet such people because they are annoying. They are annoying the same way any prostelytizers are annoying.

Posted by: JMS on May 23, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Put me down for the conservatives.

Conservatives are always more irritating than liberals, altho it IS close at the extremes.

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 23, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

And I'll add that I think the worst thing about Edwards is his hair. For Chrissakes, it's a haircut a 7 year old should have. Worse than the $400 is the video of him primping it.

Let it get messed up, you idiot. Better yet, try a buzz cut.

He's too taken with his own looks and displays serious narcissim, which is too bad because he certainly TALKS a good game.

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