Monday, July 31, 2017

Free To Be Just Like Me

One thing I learned (probably obvious, but we all have to learn even the obvious things) from internet politics is that the white middle class glibertarian view of "freedom" is basically "society should reward people who are just like me." The kind of freedom law professors at state universities dream everyone can benefit from if only government didn't exist.

Instead of providing generalizable guidance about the good life, what the Success Sequence does is offer up a totally ad-hoc set of rules that are plausible enough within the context of contemporary lifestyles to allow conservatives to say personal failures are the cause of poverty in society. When contemporary lifestyles change, the Success Sequence will have to be rewritten because it will sound just as absurd as the current Success Sequence would sound to Americans in the middle of the last century.

Fifty years from now, conservatives will write op-eds saying the real trick to staying out of poverty is a college degree, cohabitation, and delaying child birth to age 30. No Success Sequence will stay around if it stops describing most middle class lives or if it begins to describe too many poor lives. The goalposts will shift constantly but the conclusion will always remain the same: the poor did this to themselves and the rich should be spared from higher taxes.

When Matt writes "conservatives" he doesn't just mean Republicans.