In my wanderings around the web I came across this by James Fallows-
It’s just depressing. This is the normal tenor of liberal writing, it just stings more because Fallows writes better, he strikes certain cultural notes familiar to me, and he is strongly, confidently, magisterically wrong.
California, especially southern California, used to be a fairly conservative place, in the Western libertarian mode, as Fallows reports with consternation and relief. His look back shows how conservative ideas are as relevant and irrelevant as ever.
Fallows thinks Medicare is great, any opposition to it was crazy, and the same is true of the current “health care” legislation. But Medicare like Social Security is based on demographic anomalies which are not forever sustainable. The programs will wither come to burden the working populace unbearably- it’s littled noted how much they burden the working population now- or simply come to an end, not having benefited the bulk of the people who paid for them. It’s not evil to point this out- it’s not rocket science, it’s not even algebra, it’s just arithmetic.
Fallows describes Proposition 13 as “disastrous.” In fact the state and local governments of California have financed themselves fairly well for most of the over 30 years that have passed since Prop 13 did. If pressed he might remember why, and how, it came about, but he doesn’t bother to connect the dots himself.
Prop 13 happened because in the late 70’s rampant inflation and housing price increases lead to big increases in property taxes. The group most affected by this and the most able to do something about it was old people on pensions. As a result the rates and assessments were rolled back and the tax payment was fixed for the period of ownership of the house. Briefly, Prop 13 was an old peoples’ welfare program, just like Medicare. Why does Fallows like the one and not the other? I suppose like many urban liberals he thinks old people should be living in rent-controlled apartments, like they do in New York.
Elsewhere he talks about opposition to the civil rights legislation of the era. I have talked about this before but lower class white skepticism was well-founded.
Think of this- a group of people who have little social status or legal rights are going to be granted both. I think it’s obvious that social status is a zero-sum good; I suggest that in most systems legal rights are also. The political and legal systems have limited resources and while everybody theoretically has “rights” as a practical matter only few have their rights recognized. As a practical matter, the status of blacks increased slightly and the status of lower class whites decreased significantly.
But it’s more the overall tone of contempt from Fallows that depresses me. It’s not humorous, but it’s much like the “crocodile humor” Moldbug talks about. You too can be a dissident in America, as long as you don’t mind being a pariah.
Fallows’ beloved Mr. Haight was just an apparatchik. He represented the ascendancy of the Left New Deal over the Right New Deal. But like all the other Popular Front socialists the Right New Dealers were scheduled to get shot from the beginning. It’s not an accomplishment and not something to be proud of.