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The Magistrate

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Among The Problems Here, Sir, is That The Rewards Of Defeat Need To Balance Those Of Victory

No real risk is taken if no real suffering attends the person who takes the risk when it comes a cropper.

Where the rewards are so outlandish as those received by modern financiers and chief executives, the penalties must be similarly outlandish if the system is to have any balance. For instance, to take one from today's head-lines: the losses at J. P. Morgan. A few people are being put out of their offices, forced to live on their millions of dollars of capital --- hardly a fate to reckon with even looking from the short end at long odds. Something ranging from confiscation of all assets to make good what can be on the losses, to breaking on the wheel in a public square, would seem a proper balance for the enticement of the millions and billions held out as reward.

The fact is that these purported 'risk-takers' risk nothing at all themselves. They put at hazard the savings and employment and lives of many other people, but put at stake for themselves only their current place in the game. They want risk premiums, but only from a fully insured position.
Posted by The Magistrate | Tue May 15, 2012, 12:13 PM (0 replies)

A Thorough Conventional Analysis, Sir, Which Does Point Up the Real Problem

Which is that these people are fundamentally frivolous, without any sound core of judgement, and led by the nose over trifles. Your third element comes the closest to presenting anything of substance, and even it boils down to describing a complete incapacity to outgrow childhood illusions.

Most expressions of support for 'other demographics' are not framed as 'implicit and frequently explicit attack on white men': many white men past a certain age, particularly in rural and southern locales, take them as 'explicit attack on white men' because they understand they do occupy, and feel entitled to occupy, a position of inherent superiority in a caste system of race and gender, which they cling to for solace against other unpleasant and disappointing facts of their lives. So long as they continue to draw much of their sense of self-worth from this caste superiority, it will not be possible for anyone to frame 'support for other demographics' in a way that such people will not take as 'implicit and frequently explicit attack on white men', because by their lights, that is exactly what 'support for other demographics' is, and from their point of view, they are quite accurate in seeing that to be so. It is not, in other words, a problem that can be fixed, at least on the terms stated. You are essentially suggesting that people be sure their complaints concerning being treated as inferiors be couched in terms that will not ruffle the feathers of those who feel themselves superior to them.

Umbrage at 'political correctness' is a longstanding staple; most of us even on the left have our own humorous examples of earnest excess. But the long rightist protest against it is as bogus as it is inane; all it actually is is the ringing proclamation 'Damn it, I'm a jerk, I like being a jerk, I intend to go on being a jerk, fuck you if don't like my being a jerk --- me being a jerk is the height of human Liberty!' People who take up that cry ought to be laughed at, slapped, shamed in whatever manner is most immediately available and appropriate, and the treatment continued till they learn to grow up show some sense.

Now this comment of yours actually does state the problem, and does so very well: "When you've grown up preached to daily that the country is the paragon of freedom, the bastion of Christianity, and the unchallenged leader in all metrics of good and right, and that it is the white male's bounden duty as the privileged holder of the reins of power to keep it so, much of the message that it is guilty of enormous wrongdoing, lagging behand in basic humanity, and laughably naive theologically, however true, will not win your hearts and minds." The problem is that the people we are discussing actually do believe this, and yet to all appearances are fully grown adults, often with grey heads and beards, and a person who can reach adult stature, even an elder's state, and still believe this labors under serious moral and mental deficiencies. They not only live in a state of profound delusion, they require it as an essential prop to their image of themselves and their place in the world. You might as well try and convince a person laboring under paranoiac delusion that the world really is not plotting against him: he knows damned well it is, and takes a certain satisfaction from the prominence this entails, and the best you will manage is to convince him you are an especially oily servant of the great Combine dedicated to his downfall.

No remotely mainstream political figure on the left, certainly no one running for office, really talks of 'starving the MIC'': the stream-lining and improving line you suggest is the one actually employed, not that this makes a tinker's damn worth of difference. Solid majorities of the people in this country, including majorities among Republicans, want the Afghan business brought to a halt, and soon. And again, the line actually being pressed by political figures is exactly the one you suggest, and it does not seem to make a smidgen of difference to the attitudes these people display in a voting booth. All down the line, your fourth point is already being implemented, and with scant apparent success.

The final thing is the most frivolous of all. We will put to one side argument over how harassed by thousands of laws the poor fellow who owns a gun might or might not be. Whatever the burden, it does not seem to have put any crimp in the steady increase in gun sales and possession. But the real gist of the 'gun issue' is absolute hysteria, deliberately fomented by a few organizations on the right. Those who make 'gun rights' their sole, or even a major, criterion of how they will vote, are showing a instinct for the capillary, revealing an inability to give proper weights to matters of state and state policy: lacks which tell strongly against the sense of innate superiority they so often seem to feel their inalienable possession.


Posted by The Magistrate | Tue May 8, 2012, 05:37 PM (0 replies)
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