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Sunday, June 15, 2008

HTML Mencken aka Retardo Montalban is dumping on Brad DeLong again.

Politically, I think of people in the professions, some of them moving in and out of government, or otherwise involved in policy-making, who are very attuned to and conscientiously follow conventional liberal positions on cultural issues but are clueless — and often more than a little callous — when it comes to class issues. The shorthand here is “Brad DeLong.” I myself never use “latte-sipping elitist” but I have and do use “technocrat elitist,” in the exact same spirit I recognize in the former phrase, when describing such people who regard their poor countymen with only a bit more humanity than Trevelyan and Lord John Russell had for the Irish.


the neoliberal-wingnut consensus on economics and foreign policy

I object in comments

You wrote "the neoliberal-wingnut consensus on economics and foreign policy " this implies that you believe 1) that there is a neoliberal-wingnut consensus on economics and 2) that there is a neloliberal-wingnut consensus on foreign policy.

Both opinions are totally false, but the second is clearly insane.

I don't know how you managed to get so confused about Brad DeLong who is neither clueless nor callous on class issues. He's the guy who told me that in 1992 a plurality of Americans supported "increased taxes on the rich to fund waste fraud and abuse" (It's a Clinton campaign internal stupid).

I personally got my often stated enthusiasm for class war from Brad DeLong (that day).
I don't mean a shooting war, the rich have too much to lose to actually fight a class war with guns instead of money. I just mean that I think it would be an excellent idea to soak the rich.

I assume that you believe that no one who cares about US workers would be for free trade. Brad is for free trade and cares about US workers. However, Brad also cares about foreign workers. I think that it is a major rhetorical error to write "such people who regard their poor countymenwith only a bit more humanity than Trevelyan and Lord John Russell had for the Irish."

Lord John Russell and Trevelyan were English (I'm not sure exactly which Tevelyan you have in mind but Wikipedia assures me that it is a Cornish surname). Thus theie indifference to the Irish had something to do with not caring about people of a different ethnicity and (really they would have admitted it to themselves) a whole different country. You when adding the word "countrymen" show that you are not indifferent to nationality. -- Not necessarily xenophobic, but put the interests of a US worker somewhat above that of a foreign worker. This is normal. The alternative is so far left that it is unmentionable in polite society. Brad DeLong is that far left (so am I).

He hasn't said it recently, but I personally have no doubt that he still believes that workers of all countries should unite (and work for free trade and progressive income taxation). I don't see how you got the idea that he agrees with wingnuts on anything.

update: HTML Mencken (the best nickname on the web) replies and is very civil and thoughtful (I think he was, quite correctly convinced that I am an actual personal friend of Brad's whose feeling were hurt).


HTML Mencken said,

June 15, 2008 at 9:50

Robert, stop. It’s nice that you’re so loyal to DeLong, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. Anyone can read a free trade thread over there and see exactly what I’m talking about.

And don’t be a pedant about how the leaders and economists of GB rationalized Irish misery. Yes, the Irish were a different ethnic group; however, this is irrelevant to the nationality issue because the English were responbile for them. This is rather different than if they had been blase’ about the plight of, let us say, Germans — Trevelyan and Russell were not German *citizens* or overlords, had no political responsibility to or for Germany. Which is not to say — to use DeLong’s favored fallacy of undistributed middle — that as humans, they should not have cared about the suffering of Germans or indeed the people of any other nation. But that is very different from *responsibility*. Obviously, there is a heirarchy for responsible people to follow. At any rate, the Irish misery was rationalized by these people as much if not more on the grounds of “economic law” (sound familiar?) as on grounds of racism.

Brad DeLong is that far left (so am I).

Economic libertarian is not synoymous with “that far left.”

I mean Fuck if I wanted civil discourse, I wouldn't have been readling sadly no !

However, if that's the way you want to debate, two can play that game.

I didn't explain my view on Russel and Trevelyan at all well. I wasn't saying that it was OK because they weren't Irish. I was, uhm, suggesting that uhm ... uhm ... (damn this civility business is a pain sometimes) while HTML is much further from Russell than most people are, he and Russell do have something in common which is that, like practically everyone, they believe that "Obviously, there is a hierarchy for responsible people to follow." If said responsible people are super powerful like say the President of the United States or Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, that implies that there is a plain old hierarchy as some people (including HTML, Brade DeLong and me) rank high up on the hierarchy followed by the most powerful responsible people.

Now if you think that it is right and proper that the interests of different people are treated differently because of an accident of birth, well most people agree with you. I certainly don't. On that question I am on one side and Lord John, HTML and at least 99% of everyone who has ever lived are on the other.

I am a thoroughgoing opponent of hereditary privilege including national citizenship. HTML is not. To me, it does no good to argue that Nigerien people rank high in the responsibility of other Nigerien people who are mostly too poor to help.

I suspect, without proof, that Brad agrees with me. If I had proof, I would keep it secret as I think Brad has a chance of a political appointment in a hypothetical Obama administration and not his placing Americans higher than others would disqualify him if it were known.

Now as to the idea that Brad is an economic libertarian well civility can be so challenging at times. I would just say that it is very hard to reconcile with the evidence.

Oh and, by the way, HTML was polite but he didn't support his claims about Brad's views with any quotations or links.

So lets check. Health care

"Sin taxes (and, perhaps, someday general revenues) pay for an army of barefoot doctors and nurses and mobile treatment vans roaming the country, knocking on doors, and providing preventive and other long-run lifestyle services for free: Let me examine your prostate. Mind if I check your refrigerator and tell you how to eat healthier? Have you exercised today? I'm a Pilates instructor, and we could do a session now? Are you up on your immunizations? Anybody here have a fever and need antibiotics? Come on out to the van and I'll clean your teeth." The idea is to make the preventive care cheaper-than-free, to insure that nothing with a high long-run benefit/cost ratio gets left undone because people would rather get a bigger check the next April to use to buy an HDTV"

That is a huge expansion of public sector employment and a mild invasion of privacy all put together. Based on the idea that people don't make the right choices about say how much to eat (Brad would know). That is way further from libertarian than the Obama plan, or the Clinton plan, or the Edwards plan, or the Clinton Clinton and Magaziner plan, or single payer. It is even further from libertarian than the UK health system where you have to go to a gp they don't bug you on their own. The inspiration is clearly Mao Tze Tung (hence the word "barefoot"). On health care, Brad says we should learn from the success of Maoist China.

I think this quote constitutes proof that Brad is not an economic libertarian.

OK how about trade unions. Libertarians hate them. Brad supports them (he outsourced to Klein)

Tighter environmental regulation check

this is silly as is the claim that Brad is an economic libertarian.

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