A Lefty Legend Pleads for a Return to a New Deal Ethos
Eventually he founded and ran a feisty, liberal-leaning policy magazine perhaps best known for launching the careers of dozens of prominent journalists, including James Fallows, Jon Meacham, David Ignatius and Katherine Boo. Now he has written a book that some of those old charges think amounts to a last testament.
Mr. Peters may not be above stretching his case, but his argument is well timed. In the final pages, he appeals to former President Barack Obama to eschew “making a lot of money and hanging out with Anna Wintour” and focus instead on “teaching how government works” to inspire a new generation of leaders.
“We cannot continue to have our role models continue to cash in,” Mr. Peters warns in a book to be released a week after it was reported that the former president and first lady, fresh from their Caribbean vacation with the British tycoon Richard Branson, will make about $65 million (some of which will go to charity) for writing separate memoirs.
I'm not quoting for the Obama digs, but the whole thing is just about how the problem with elites is they don't join the peace corps and engage in performative noble public service and inspire the masses by being good elites.
It's not about Camelot, it's about policy. He helped create all this crap. This is from 2007.
That’s a perfect example of what we as neoliberals tried to do. The point about criticizing the teacher’s union is not just to bitch about them, but to get decent education for kids who are being deprived of it by incompetent teachers who are protected by the unions.
CP: I think in many, many areas, the neoliberals, in effect, won. But in some cases we won too much. For instance, the rebirth of capitalism produced such extremes that we then had to turn around and say no, that is wrong. But where we clearly haven’t won is with the government bureaucracy, the teacher’s unions. We have hardly made a dent, and they still have terribly strong power. You have to be able to fire incompetent teachers and incompetent civil servants.
Those are two great analogous problems in education and public service that no one seems to want to face. And the Democrats never issued the kind of call that Jack Kennedy did, that public service is a proud and noble calling. Jesus, when I was working in the Kennedy administration, I got calls from all my smart friends all over the United States. They would suddenly want to talk to their good friend Charlie Peters about whether “there is something there for me in Washington.” It was wonderful.
All the right people were supposed to think Washington was cool, our elites were supposed to be role models, and get to work on the really important job of firing all the loser teachers and civil servants.
CP: Oh, in essence, yes. I am a redistributionist. I hate wasting public money on the rich, I hate the agricultural subsidies that go to the rich. It drives me crazy. And I hate wasting Social Security money on the rich, so that it is not something that benefits the middle class. I’ve said many times that, if anything, we want to give more to the poor and take away money from the rich.
There is no money to be saved by not giving the Social Security that they paid for to rich people. There aren't that many rich people (they are really fucking rich, but there aren't the many of them), and the maximum Social Security benefit they get is small. Take it away from them and it's rounding error to redstribute to poor people. This is not how you take money from rich people to give to poor people, this is how you demonize what the Washington Monthly staffers called "greedy geezers" to erode support for a program that is keeping most of those geezers out of poverty (either directly or insuring them against the possibility). If you want to take money from rich people you increase their taxes and give the money to less rich people, not focus on "entitlement programs" that rich people also want to destroy.