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Won’t Someone Think of the Benetton-Clad Children?

[ 78 ] February 29, 2012 |

McArdle outdoes herself in a column entitled (and I swear this is not a parody unless someone hacked the Atlantic site) “Are the Rich Completely Undeserving of Sympathy?

Um, yes.

McArdle speaks for those silenced by the leftist conspiracy–rich people with declining Wall Street bonuses who might have to move out of their 5 million dollar house.

I believe that Elizabeth Warren has made this point–when people get into financial trouble, they often say, “Well, I didn’t take fancy vacations or go to restaurants all the time or buy 17 pairs of Jimmy Choos.” But (with the exception of some really compulsive spenders) this isn’t the stuff that gets people into trouble. It’s the big house with the stretch mortgage that you convinced yourself you had to have because it was in a good school district and you needed a yard and a bedroom apiece for the kids. It’s that brand new SUV (or Volvo station wagon) you persuaded yourself to buy because it was important to have a safe car. It’s the school activities or travel sports teams that cost thousands of dollars, which you let your kids start in ninth grade because you didn’t know that you’d have to break their hearts by pulling them out in their junior year. The divorce decree you signed because you didn’t realize your income was going to drop by a third.

It now seems clear to me that the truly oppressed and misunderstood in this country are living in Greenwich, Connecticut. If my parents hadn’t spent $5000 for every season I played youth soccer, I would be smoking crack right now. Won’t somebody think about the Benetton-clad children???!!???

Comments (78)

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  1. Hogan says:

    I remember reading in the mid-’90s that being laid off was much worse for an executive than for a factory worker, because it happens all the time to factory workers so they should be used to it by now. (It was around that time I read about New Yorkers hiring second social secretaries, because they’re like cats–you need another one to keep the first one company. I seriously thought about giving up reading.)

  2. proverbialleadballoon says:

    what an asshole, this woman. i’m kinda torn about mcmegan in general. on the one hand, she’s a vile hypocrite with a major platform. on the other, her arguments are so transparently stupid that she provides easy internet comic relief. hm. no. she’ll be first against the wall.

  3. Njorl says:

    She misspelled schadenfreude.

    When it comes to things like illness or tragedy, anyone is deserving of sympathy, but becoming less opulent – simply no.

    • ajay says:

      McArdle outdoes herself in a column entitled (and I swear this is not a parody unless someone hacked the Atlantic site) “Are the Rich Completely Undeserving of Sympathy?”
      Um, yes.

      This is wrong.

      When it comes to things like illness or tragedy, anyone is deserving of sympathy, but becoming less opulent – simply no.

      This is right.

  4. c u n d gulag says:

    McArgleBargleGargleArdle doesn’t get “it.”
    Neither do the really rich people she’s always defending.

    I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating.

    They say that OWS had/has no message.
    Here’s what I’d like to do.

    At the next OWS gathering, we need to bring guillotines, mannequins, ropes, rusty can-openers, some kielbasa, dogs, wicker baskets, pikes, some gasoline, matches, and a sign.

    Set up the guillotine.
    Bring out the mannequin.
    Tie rope to the mannequin’s limbs.
    Tear off the limbs.
    Take the rusty can-opener, and fake gutting the mannequin.
    Pull out the kielbasa as if it was intestines.
    Feed the kielbasa to the dogs.
    Hack off the head with the guillotine.
    Put the head on a pike.
    Put the pike by the road.
    Pour the gasoline on the mannequins body.
    Take the matches and set the body on fire.

    Unfurl the sign, which reads, “Are We Making The Message Any Clearer, ASSHOLES?”

  5. wengler says:

    It’s hard for me to get too mad at ‘special’ people, but really what sort of idiot bubble do you live in to produce shit like this?

    These people created a criminal conspiracy to destroy the world economy for personal gain. And that conspiracy is ongoing. They need to be thrown in jail and their property seized. Their children should face the consequences of the world their parents created by being put into the underfunded foster system and going to underfunded schools.

    No more privileges for the world’s worst criminals.

  6. ScS says:

    so her argument is that travel sports is what’s creating the lower class’ problems?

  7. Clark says:

    Imagine the agony of a poor rich person having to cancel a subscription to the The New Yorker or NYRB and subscribe to a shitty magazine like The Atlantic.

  8. rm says:

    Hey, I know a lot of working-class families who do travel sports, here in Impovershed Red State. I wonder how much they overpay for travel soccer in Connecticut.

    Mick always sails her rhetorical boat over a sliding, quivering ocean of imprecise generalizations. Equivocation is in pretty much every word.

    But there is often one Big Equivocation that the argument is founded on. I think the word “people” is it for this column. Are People Undeserving of Sympathy? No. Are Rich People Completely Undeserving . . . ? Depends. Are The Bankers Who Killed the Economy Undeserving of Sympathy Specifically for the Consequences of Their Actions? Yes.

  9. DrDick says:

    *To the sound of a thousand tiny violins playing the Requiem March*

    Have we no tumbrels? No torches and pitchforks? No guillotines to put these miserable wretches out of their misery?

  10. Rob in CT says:

    The world’s smallest violin gently weeps.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      Fuck, you know, I was never poor like that, but I grew up having to know pretty much where every penny went. And even though I’m in much better circumstances now, I can’t imagine whining about the kinds of things these jackasses are whining about.

      I am, of course, on the record as saying that (a) buying a house in a decent neighborhood (as measured by safety and schools) is pretty expensive some places, (b) the paradigmatic $250K/year families clustered in high-expense areas also pay some fairly high taxes relative to what they get and can’t “choose” what they pay the way the really rich can, and (c) it’s pretty hard between (a) and (b) to lever yourself up out of the “loss of job and health insurance = vulnerability to disaster” class.

      None of that, of course, equals “pity the poor top %5″. It does tend to suggest things like: “maybe we should stop spending on a massive military machine and subsidizing the extractive industries and parasitic finance industry and instead spend our tax dollars on shit like universal health care (without the insurance companies’ vig extracted) and making more of our neighborhoods nice places to live with decent schools, because that would be good for everyone”.

  11. Ben says:

    Yeah, count me with Uncle Kvetch: I’m as big a fan of McThermomix bashing as the next commenter, but whether she realizes it or not the reason she’s around is page views, and providing a link to her on a large blog is probably hurting more than it’s helping.

    I think a good compromise is not linking, just excerpting. Everyone knows where to find her.

    • Who do you argue with if not the people at the top? She’s there, and not just running some crappy blog.

      • Ben says:

        I get that, but providing a link just feeds the abhorrent behavior and makes it worse; the more she acts like a petulant child, the more page views she gets, the more likely she is to get a job with higher exposure, and round and round it goes. I’m assuming everyone agrees that a world with more McArdle and in a more visible and prestigious position is a worse world.

        The best situation would be one where we bashed McArdle without strengthening the above cycle. Providing an excerpt without a link gets us closer to that situation than we are now.

        . . . well ok the best situation is if she got fired and had a bucket of horseshit dumped on her head, but I don’t have the influence or the horse to make that happen.

        • McArdle was raised to be a member of the elite. She was raised to succeed by her prep school, coddled by her Ivy League university, and indoctrinated at Booth. She was given a journalism internship by the Institue for Humane Studies, networked her way into a job at the Economist, was hired at the Atlantic despite almost no skills, given a fellowship at the New America Foundation, and set on a fast track to speaking engagements, book deals, and tv and radio appearances.

          She was groomed like a race horse for the position she holds today. Her competance is irrelevent as long as she supports the right people and her prestigious position has nothing to do with the hits we give her, except that we make her a bit more popular with her base of souless hacks. She will end up in the world of elite pundits whether we mock her or not.

          • Holden Pattern says:

            I think the word you’re looking for here is “courtesan”.

          • Ben says:

            Yeah, she does seem to have just filled positions her whole life without earning them (and you, Susan, have been as big a reason as anyone for documenting her atrocities, for which you deserve endless praise).

            But there was that stupid asymmetrical information jane galt blog that helped give her national exposure in the early blogging days, and links derisively mocking her definitely helped her there.

            And part of the reason she is where she is now is that she provides the ideological payday of the groundwork that the other Atlantic bloggers do: they provide the patina of respectfulness, and she shovels the crap (horse or otherwise). If her spadefuls of crap reach fewer people, she’s less useful.

            I don’t know. I’m not suggesting she’ll be fired in a few months if she doesn’t get LGM links or anything. But it’s like trying to decide what to buy in a world with horrible consumer choices. Third world farmers will still be exploited if you avoid buying ethanol, kids in China will still sit at sewing machines working 15 hour days if you buy clothes made in America, and the climate’s still fucked if you buy a Volt.

            But people aware of this stuff still buy the American-made clothes and regular gas and the Volt to avoid feeding the machine and adding to the problem. I guess that’s the type of thing I’m advocating here.

            • links derisively mocking her definitely helped her there

              She got a lot of play on the right, being Jane Galt and all and taking advantage of the 9/11 frenzy (in Manhattan yet). I don’t really believe that the mockery has any weight at all with the people who keep hiring her, especially against an Instapundit link and her proximity to people who mattered.

              Her internet-baffled employers want someone on the right, and therefore anyone who’s near the top of that bloggy pile will do, although I suppose The Atlantic has some kind of sentence-writing/elite-membership floor one can’t descend past.

          • DocAmazing says:

            She did at least get shitcanned from The Economist, nicht wahr? I mean, as propagandistic as that magazine is, it at least plays host to some respectable journalism…

        • firefall says:

          horseshit isnt actually that stinky (just voluminous). Carnivores and (esp) omnivores tend to produce stinkier shit. I’m sure you can find some convenient omnivore(s).

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Bear poop is said to smell very good because bears eat so many berries. I was with a wildlife biologist once in New Mexico who reached down with his bare hands, picked it up, and smelled it.

            I passed on the opportunity to do so myself.

  12. Sebastian H says:

    Let’s say you’re in the top 75% of earners, say a hard working professor at a medium level college. You’re already richer than at least half the country can ever hope to be. You go along and the college falls on hard times and cuts your whole department, but they can offer you a similar job in another department rather than just letting you go, but it only is going to pay 75% of your former pay. You’ll still be in the top third of earners.

    Is that 25% pay cut going to hurt?

    Even though you’re still earning more than a huge majority of people in the US (and more than me) couldn’t I still feel sympathy that a one year unplanned hit is going to suck for you?

    I’m not demanding that anyone feel sympathy for you, or that you get government handouts or anything. Just saying that I could totally understand that OUCH that would hurt.

    Right?

    • rm says:

      I’m not sure you know what professors at “medium level colleges” make. I am typical and am just below average for the US. (Are you talking on a world scale? Then most of us are rich assholes.) Also, “a similar job in another department”?!?! Dude. That is just not how things work.

      But, taking your point, this is where McCardle’s jello-like sea of equivocation comes in. A person like your hypothetical IS worthy of SOME sympathy. I, myself, am suffering mightily from not being able to afford as much as I used to; poor me. However, the anger she’s responding to is against the super-rich who are light years beyond the 50%ile or the 75%ile. Even moving from the 98%ile to the 99.9% is moving up into vast new realms of wealth. It did not used to be that unequal. And the bankers who lack accountability, etc. None of that anger is actually directed at the generalized “people” she defends.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        Also, “a similar job in another department”?!?! Dude. That is just not how things work.

        I actually laughed aloud at that. “Well, we’re shutting down the chemistry department, Professor Nerdlinger, but we’d like to keep you on if we can. Would you be interested in teaching physics instead? We’ve also got an opening in the economics department.” Jay-zus.

        A simple rule of thumb is, if you’re going to talk shit about people who work in a particular industry, learn a little bit about how that industry works first.

        • ajay says:

          “I am a SCIENTIST. That means I have a PhD… in SCIENCE.”

          It’s basically the Star Trek view of science. All you need is Science Officer Spock, and he knows everything about science. Astrophysics, string theory, alien biology, linguistics…

      • Njorl says:

        And just to be consistent….

        If I lose half my pay, and have to move out of my townhouse, get an apartment where my kids share a room, sell one of my old cars, and so on, I sure as hell would not expect people living in homeless shelters to have the slightest bit of sympathy for me. It would be crazy.

    • rea says:

      Well, of course it would hurt. But what you overlook, with your hypothetical is (1) we’re talking about complaints from grossly overcompensated members of the finance industry, who complain about not getting merit bonuses even though they wrecked the world economy, (2) the issue isn’t whether these people hurt, but the claim that they hurt more than the unemployed or underemployed poor, and (3) all this is being offered in support of the notion that these people making so much money ought not to be taxed much, and that its preferable to do things like cut medicaid, because these poor little rich people are hurting so much.

    • Jonas says:

      Um, if you’re in the top 75% of earners, you’re really not richer than half the country can ever hope to be. You’re actually at the bottom, where losing money would hurt.

      Now let’s assume that you meant the 75th percentile, so that only 25% of earners are above you, well that’s in the ballpark for a college professor, whatever a “medium level” college means. Well, many of these faculty, particularly in the sciences, have the salaries dependent on extramural funding. So if they lose grant funding, their salary will be cut, generally by 25-33% depending on how their position is set up, sometimes more than that. But I don’t see any media out there interviewing all these college faculty who used to earn $80000 but now earn only $60000 because they lost grant funding. And in this time of austerity there is not much funding out there. And believe me, there are a lot of us out there in this situation. Yet no one is whining our behalf, not even us. Because it would be dumb. This is the job we signed on for. No one is going to pay us a bonus if we are unsuccessful.

  13. cpinva says:

    bear in mind, ms. mcardle isn’t the most stable person around. according to her bio, she can’t hold a job, having had 8 of them since graduating from college, averaging just roughly a little over 2 years at each one. not the sort of person i normally take seriously, if at all.

    according to ms. mcardle, and others of her ilk, the rich are so because they possess superior intellects and ambition. that being the case, they should have been smart enough to recognize that boom times never last, and planned their financial lives accordingly. if they didn’t, tough cookies. perhaps, their children, having borne witness to their parent’s stupidity, will learn an invaluable lesson, making the agony of transitioning from that expensive, amenity laden private school, to a (the horror, the horror!) public one less painful. perhaps not, and i really don’t care.

    the short answer: ms. mcardle’s an idiot, and no, the rich deserve zero sympathy.

  14. Wait, doesn’t McMegan claim to be a “libertarian”?

    If so, why does she bring this squishy “sympathy” crap into it? The glorious free market feels no sympathy!

    (And I apologize in advance if, like with Rno Pual, the mere mention of the word “libertarian” brings BradP running to defend his cult.)

  15. J.W. Hamner says:

    I guess for me my level of outrage sort of depends on how much she blamed the financial crisis on “irresponsible people” who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford. If she subscribes to that common conservative view then she’s nauseatingly hypocritical and deserving of much scorn… otherwise it’s just your garden variety “I’m middle class even though I make 6 times the median income in Manhattan because my kids have to share a bedroom!!” that gets pedaled so often and just makes me roll my eyes.

    • Malaclypse says:

      I guess for me my level of outrage sort of depends on how much she blamed the financial crisis on “irresponsible people” who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford.

      Ahem:

      The CRA did not singlehandedly cause the meltdown. But the relaxation of credit standards that allowed the meltdown did start, as far as I can tell, with the CRA. And perhaps more importantly, the CRA, and the mentality behind the CRA, made regulators extremely unwilling to intervene. Everyone wanted to make credit more widely available to the poor. Well, the poor aren’t good lending risks…Regardless of how much causal blame you assign it, the financial crisis has certainly proven that the CRA seems to have been a very, very bad idea.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        as far as I can tell

        That’s our Megan.

      • J.W. Hamner says:

        Well, that seems to answer that… heaping of scorn it is!

      • Ben says:

        I hadn’t seen this. The CRA stuff usually doesn’t make it past the bog waters of the right wing noise machine. Christ, what an asshole.

        • timb says:

          It makes on stage in Republican debates and in books by NY Times Finance writers

          • Ben says:

            I mean, Republican debates are pretty crazy because a lot of the candidates are from the fringe. We’re bombing Iran and banning contraception and going to a balanced budget amendment and making Social Security and Medicare a thing of the past, according to them. Putting Limbaugh in there I don’t think would change the proposals being discussed. I’m not sure that’s a forum where bog standard ideas to crop up a lot.

            NYT finance people though? Which books were that?

      • joe from Lowell says:

        the CRA, and the mentality behind the CRA, made regulators extremely unwilling to intervene.

        Holy bleepin bleepin bleep. Did I actually just read that? The CRA make regulators unwilling to intervene in lending?

        Never mind that the CRA requires banks to demonstrate that the loans they make to satisfy their community lending obligations are safe and affordable, far beyond other loans. Never mind that institutions covered by the CRA have much lower rates of default than institutions that aren’t covered. Never mind that the CRA functions by making plain-vanilla bank loans available in neighborhoods that would otherwise be served only by Ameri-Screw-You Mortgage Barn.

        This idiot just wrote that the CRA, which involves closer regulatory supervision of banks, discourages regulators from intervening in lending.

        • Malaclypse says:

          To be fair, it is possible that she simply plagiarized a white paper Heritage wrote for Peter.

        • Tom M says:

          Proving (as if proof were needed) that she knows not whereof she speaks. I’ve worked for banks for 30 years and can tell you the regulators are and were all over CRA reports.
          What the regulators were not all over were swaps, sub prime etc because they had no one who understood them. I have spent a lot of time with the OCC, FDIC, Fed examiners and learned you could fool them almost all the time.

  16. Kevin Hayden says:

    There’s a class the Less Rich can take that’ll help them overcome the loss of esteem from being underpaid, while teaching their children to adjust to the school transfers.

    Applications are available at local military recruitment offices.

  17. The children of the well-to-do will be worthy of sympathy the day they stop attending college at higher rates than the children of the poor, even those who score one or two quintiles above them.

  18. jefft452 says:

    “We want blood, we want blood,
    let the scarlet red rivers turn our city into mud,
    we want blood”

  19. Christopher says:

    Yes, your kids have been absurdly privileged, getting to attend expensive private schools with lots of amenities. On the other hand, all my parent friends seem to think that it’s actually really hard on kids to yank them out of school and move them somewhere else, particularly in the middle of a school year. I doubt that it gets any easier because your parents used to be able to afford stratospheric tuition.

    Tell it to, well, yourself and then go to the NRO and tell them to shut the fuck up about people who live on food stamps but still own refrigerators.

    I can’t disagree with the sentiment, but for fucks sake, the reason that certain people feel schadenfreude towards these folks is that there has been, for my entire lifetime, a concentrated campaign against the poor. They get shit for having nice TVs and for taking out mortgages that collapsed the economy. The only right wing commentator I’m aware of who has said anything close to “Hey, DVD players cost $30 now, so you can have one and still be a responsible poor person” is well, Megan McArdle. Which sort of tells you all you need to know.

    Once the rich give us the same courtesy, we’ll be happy to feel bad for them.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      On the other hand, all my parent friends seem to think that it’s actually really hard on kids to yank them out of school and move them somewhere else, particularly in the middle of a school year.

      A few minutes of googling will produce several dozen pieces from various wingnuts and glibertarians on the theme “Can’t find a job where you live? Move somewhere else, fool.”

      Great God Almighty, she is a dipshit.

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