The conservative twitter-o-sphere is alight this morning, chortling over this new advice column at The Nation dedicated to obsessively leading a more liberal lifestyle.
For instance, columnist Liza Featherstone takes a one-line question, “Is my depression individual or political?,” and runs with it:
“Let’s not draw too sharp a distinction. Life under capitalism can be a profound bummer!… We love the planet, and as we’re bombarded with images of its imminent demise—dying polar bears, mass migration, catastrophic oil spills—we may take upon ourselves the responsibility for having damaged it. Neoliberal environmental ideology pins responsibility on us as individuals who should be using locally fermented lip balm, rather than on the CEO of Exxon.”
Oof. Twitchy is going to have fun with this one. Look, most cases of depression are not actually caused by polar bears. But, then again, I’m just a physician. What do I know?
But more troubling is her answer to the second question. The petitioner states that they need to hire a house cleaner for their slob of a roommate. They investigated all the fair-trade, socially-justicey options but found them out of their budget. And then… horrors!
“Then, without asking me, he used Handy.com, a cheap start-up, before I could ask him to cancel. How should I handle this situation?”
It’s enough to make any The Nation reader spill his chai tea all over the shared adjunct English professors’ office. And then we get to Featherstone’s response:
“The best way to find a cleaner is by supporting the movement for workers’ rights at the same time: hiring someone through one of the worker-run hiring halls affiliated with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (domesticemployers.org has a list).”
The problem here: the petitioner had already ruled this out as being too expensive! Featherstone simply doesn’t care. And thus, we get to one of the core problems with many progressives: demanding social justice of others when those others literally cannot afford it. And simply ignoring it when told they cannot afford it. It’s enjoying the victory of unilaterally arrogating social-justice policy while flippantly letting others pay for it.
Obamacare: The president demanded health insurance for everyone, while leaving the ENORMOUS cost of this on the shoulder of the people and/or their employers.
Europe’s refugee policy: Enjoying the morally self-righteous high of admitting unlimited migrants while leaving the issue of how, exactly, to pay for them, for another day.
Public employee unions: Providing for insanely extravagant policies such as tenure and defined-benefit pensions while letting future taxpayers worry about how to pay for them. And why not? The politicians who destroyed Detroit were long gone by the time the city actually filed for bankruptcy.
Domestic work: Simply assert that everyone must use an expensive, social-justice-approved option even if they already said they can’t afford it. After all, it’s not like columnists for The Nation will be stuck with the bill!
The central tenet of progressive politics is that good governance is the key to providing for the economic and social justice of the citizenry against the whims of the aristocracy. But the main phrase there is GOOD governance. This is the difference between Denmark and Detroit.
If you want social-justice policy XYZ? Then you need to figure out how to pay for it BEFORE implementing XYZ. It’s that simple. It’s why Scandinavian socialism works where American big-city liberal government fails. It’s why European trains run on time and why New York’s MTA considers “running on time” a punchline. And it is the difference between a sound progressive and a stereotypically foolish “SJW.”
If Featherstone really wanted to help, she could have counseled her letter-writer on how to budget for socially conscious domestic work, or on any tax breaks to exploit, or discounts or Groupons to look for. But, nope. She simply ran roughshod over their budget issues, left them to figure out how to enact her edict on their own, and -30-. And if that isn’t an analogy for the $15-an-hour movement, then I don’t know what is.