Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Much has been made today of Megan McArdle’s promotion to the Washington Post. (I thought the Times was more likely to take her, but one “Liberal Media” outfit is just as good as another.) There have been some good new considerations of her nightmarish career, and renewed interest in old ones.

These get the broad outlines well enough — her libertarian lack of concern for people unlike herself (recently epitomized by her amazing column on the Grenfell Tower tragedy), her impressive imperviousness to alternate points of view — the elements, that is, that made her rise inevitable.  But these miss some of the shadings, the characteristics that make characters, as Forster had it, round rather than flat. That job needs more time to do properly than I have at present, but I can perhaps put a blush on the marble.

For one thing, McArdle likes to play the serious centrist, which position somehow always turns out to be right wing; for example, she has portrayed herself in the climate-change debate as a “lukewarmist,” that is, someone who believes climate science is “guesswork” and is darn sick of those slovenly radicals who practice it calling her a “denialist.” Being serious-centrist, she can admit, okay, there’s  “a small chance of climate catastrophe” — comparable to that of the earth being destroyed by an asteroid — and as a way of addressing it bids her followers read a nine-part essay by a guy who writes for Watts Up With That. There, now -- isn't that even-handed?

When climate scientists laughed her off for this, she declared them adherents to the “hypothesis” that “name calling will advance the cause,” rather than experts who found her self-satisfied ignorance ridiculous. (She really hates to be laughed at, which, given how frequently she has proven dunkworthy, may constitute the only genuine hardship she has ever experienced.)

McArdle is a great advocate of the Marriage Makes You Rich philosophy, which she has claimed liberals wouldn’t admit because they're jealous of the happily married. She has also said that people should get married as soon in life as possible — notwithstanding that McArdle married in her late 30s. No, she didn’t think she made a mistake -- come on, now! -- but —
Obviously, you can choose not to settle. I did. But I’ll be honest: that decision is a lot scarier at 33 than it would have been a decade earlier.
— there are rules for peons, and there are rules for McArdle.

Generally, on the subject of the poor and money, she is given to statements like, “it's all too common for well-meaning middle class people to think that if the poor just had the same stuff we do, they wouldn't be poor any more…” (Put it this way: were you to tell her the famous Hemingway-Fitzgerald story about the rich being very different from you and me, she wouldn’t get the joke.)

McArdle has supported this what's-money-got-to-do-with-poverty POV by telling readers about a girl she knew who, even though she “grew up in a middle class home which would happily have paid for college,” wound up “on the Section 8 waiting list,” which seemed to prove to her that helping is futile — “more money… would solve the sort of problems that stem from a simple lack of money. But it would not turn [the poor] into different people.” That's what the poor need -- not money, but personal transformation, like you get from a yoga weekend. If you disagreed with her and still wanted to shunt more of America’s resources to these waste-cases, well, you were just “imagining away their humanity, and replacing it with an automaton,” which is just like a liberal.

More than she likes anything — except, perhaps, her kitchen accessories, and power — McArdle hates liberals, particularly the unreasonable hippies who told her she was wrong about the Iraq War and were so smug about it and made her so mad that she quit the internet for a brief while.  Thus, in almost every argument she makes, you can see her trying to Own the Libs, as the kids say; even when it comes to rainbow-flavored positions that young and groovy conservatives are allowed to have, like gay marriage not being the end of the world, McArdle is compelled to portray them as a comeuppance to liberals: now that homosexuals were getting hitched, she said, “the forces of bourgeois repression have won”:
That's right, I said it: this is a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality. Once gays can marry, they'll be expected to marry. And to buy sensible, boring cars that are good for car seats. 
That’ll show you liberal-tines! Then she went back into her Marriage Makes You Rich routine (“the disastrous collapse of marriage outside the elite”) and again pushed early marriage, graciously adding “I married at 37 myself, so I'm not judging, here. But if we want childbearing to take place inside marriage” blah blah blah.

Speaking of childbearing, which she has also not personally performed, she was annoyed that Democrats wanted to include contraceptive coverage in Obamacare, and explained her feeling thus: “according to the reasoning… I am being denied something every time my employer refuses to buy it for me: cars, homes, Hummel collectible figurines.” Things McArdle doesn’t need are by definition luxuries.

On race, she is capable of writing something like this
I really don't want this post to come out as "See--black people don't understand how hard white people have it!" Rather, I'm continuing what I tried to say in this post: that both communities, because they have a less than perfect understanding of the others' experience, are more suspicious of each other than they need to be.
And if you’re gasfaced over that, let us step back a few grafs:
I think it's safe to assume that minorities and women know more about life in the dominant group than the reverse--if for no other reason than the ways that media centers around their experience. But that can be tricky. Have you ever noticed how Europeans think they know way more about life in America than they actually do, because they watch our television and movies?
You’ve seen all the Vince Vaughn movies, my black friend, but you’ve never been to me!

But soft, the glow-worm shows the matin to be near; this should give you noobs some idea of what to expect. Look out below!

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