Home / General / McArdleism



Megan McArdle gives some really useful advice to young people who find themselves out of work. Among that advice is take jobs for free, don’t complain about the current economic climate and your lack of a job you whiny privileged brat because you didn’t grow up in the middle of an Angolan civil war so you don’t know how lucky you have it*, realize that your poverty is going to open up life opportunities like starting hobbies, and avoid your friends.

While Adam Weinstein is actually responding to a different post where a rich person complains about young people whining because they are poor, I think his response works pretty well for McArdle:

2) Go f**k yourselves.

You have no idea about student debt, underemployment, life-long renting. “Stop feeling special” is some shitty advice. I don’t feel special or entitled, just poor. The only thing that makes me special is I have more ballooning debt than you. I’ve tempered the hell out of my expectations of work, and I’ve exceeded those expectations crazily to have one interesting, exciting damned career that’s culminated in some leadership roles for national publications. And I’m still poor and in debt and worked beyond the point where it can be managed with my health and my desire to actually see the son I’m helping to raise.

Younger journos see me as a success story and ask my advice, and I feel like a fraud, because I’m doing what I love, and it makes me completely miserable and exhausts me.

Last weekend my baby had a fever, and we contemplated taking him to the ER, and my first thought was – had to be – “Oh God, that could wipe out our bank account! Maybe he can just ride it out?” Our status in this Big Financial Game had sucked my basic humanity towards my child away for a minute. If I wish for something better, is that me simply being entitled and delusional?

*Shorter McArdle in 1935–“Stop complaining about your poverty. The Salvation Army gives you a free meal once a day if you listen to their sermon. You think people who lived in the Black Death had bowls of soup from the Salvation Army? Landon ’36!”

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  • we contemplated taking him to the ER, and my first thought was – had to be – “Oh God, that could wipe out our bank account![“]

    Who’s this guy to complain? He’s got a bank account that can cover a ten dollar co-pay. OK, back to figuring out which bills can be delayed two more weeks.

    • Chet Manly

      He’s got a bank account that can cover a ten dollar co-pay.

      I’m a federal employee with the highest-premium, lowest-copay version of FEHB because my wife is disabled. She also has Medicare as secondary insurance. Out of pocket for us for her ER visit last year was around $300. I don’t even want to imagine what it costs people who don’t have our fantastic insurance options.

    • scott mc

      Have reasonably ok health insurance ($900/mo premium for the family). Had to take the baby to the children’s hospital b/c it was a weekend and fever had persisted for a couple days and her breathing was becoming labored. All turned out well, but the total bill was well over $500, probably over $700 at this point as the bills just slowly trickle in ad infinitum.

      • mark f

        Jeez. Sorry to both of you. My last two family ER visits were free. But I wasn’t joking about my bills, or my bank account, if that’s any consolation.

        • Chet Manly

          No worries, just wanted to point out that even with excellent insurance an ER visit can be a budget buster for most most people. In my case, the wife and I can easily cover an unexpected $300 bill, but I know we’re damn lucky in that regard. Ten years ago that bill would have been an absolute disaster for us.

    • Linnaeus

      Health insurance? What’s that?

      • The Ancient Mariner

        Let me tell you about the olden days.

  • Rigby Reardon

    Bloomberg.com is really the perfect place for her.

  • With imbeciles like her writing, I’m amazed that The Onion is still around.

  • Shakezula

    This is the same “person” who pitched a fit because D.C. laws prevented her from barging into renter’s homes at will.

    I think she’s staring to sense that Something is Wrong and it can’t be explained by a calculator with gastritis. So people like McCashmerecardigan think everyone should just stop talking about it!

    • L2P

      If only a misplaced decimal point could show these dang Millenials how awesome life actually is for them!

      • Hogan

        It doesn’t even have to be real. A hypothetical is just as good.

        • weirdnoise

          No, better.

  • JKTHs

    I think it goes without saying, but the “Millennials are just a bunch of lazy whiners who should just shut the fuck up and eat their shit sandwich” is obviously just a meme perpetuated by rich people who want to keep enjoying the economic structure that gives them an outsized share of income and wealth.

    • Joshua

      And it’s working, because part of being old is finding kids on your lawn.

      I wonder what will happen in 20-30 years. The people you refer to will mostly be dead (although they do have kids) and the people getting screwed today will be tomorrow’s primary voting bloc.

      • rea

        Once one dismisses
        The rest of all possible worlds
        One finds that this is
        The best of all possible worlds!

      • herr doktor bimler

        And it’s working, because part of being old is finding kids on your lawn.

        Holy FSM, you’re right! Until now I thought they were gnomes.

    • Even as a millennial who thinks that meme has a point to it – mind you, I’m pretty sure I was born decrepit – this explanation is coming to make more and more sense to me as time passes.

    • sharculese

      Daniel D’Addario’s review of Meghan McCain’s new show absolutely nailed this awful narrative:


      • James E. Powell

        Meghan McCain is one of those “adds nothing to the discourse” people who I expect will be on TV, in one role or another, for the rest of her life. She’s the millennials’ Cokie Roberts.

        • And why is she on TV? Because she is Cranky McSame’s kid!!

          • Yah. I’m not sure that anything about Meghan McCain is an indictment specifically of millenials. She would have been an air headed right wing bimbo at any period of human history. She is also the child of a Senator who is a noted attention hound. And she grew up in a household which didn’t value anything like academia, learning, or public service–isn’t she a combo Beer Money and Military Nepotism?

            Chelsea Clinton is the daughter of two Yale Graduates, one of whom was a Rhodes Scholar and one of whom was the first First Lady in history to go on to the Senate on her own merits and served as the Secretary of State after running a “non novelty” Presidential campagin. She is EXACTLY who you think she’d be coming from Arkansas–serious, academically motivated, part of the financial and other elite in this country. I’m not discounting luck and I’m not praising C. Clinton because she’s the daughter of dems. I’m just pointing out that her class and social position derive from the interests and connections of her parents and so do Megan McCain’s. Chelsea’s parents valued intellect, study, and public service (thats the only part she hasn’t done yet) while Megan’s parents valued–nothing.

            • sharculese

              That’s sort of the point of the article I linked- that Meghan McCain is on tv because she perfectly fits the narrative of millennials as spoiled, selfish, and ignorant of the world around them, even if she’s actually a terrible representative of non-rich people her age.

              • GoDeep

                And she grew up in a household which didn’t value anything like academia, learning, or public service–isn’t she a combo Beer Money and Military Nepotism?

                I can get disagreeing w/ McCain’s policies, Lord knows I do, but are we really saying that he didn’t believe in public service??? This is a guy who voluntarily enlisted in Annapolis, during wartime, and when offered an early release from the Hanoi Hilton he refused it. And then he went on to serve in the US Senate. In addition, Meghan’s brother, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served in the Navy as well.

                Unless you’re making the contention that military service is not public service, I don’t see how that stands. Ergo, suggesting that Megan McCain grew up in a family that didn’t value public service doesn’t wash.

                • That is certainly an accurate repetition of John McCain’s description of John McCain’s life.

                • weirdnoise

                  Some of us do not consider bombing random Vietnamese to be “public service.”

          • FMguru

            McCain is on teevee because:
            1) Conservatives see the numbers coming in for younger voters and they’re (rightly) concerned
            2) They are convinced that the problem is “messaging” and “branding” and “outreach” and not their terrible, unpopular, destructive policies
            3) So the hunt is on for conservative Millenial-cohort personalities to reach out and appeal to those twitterin’, twerkin’, snapchattin’ post-gen-Y yoofs of today
            4) Wow. That’s…that’s a pretty empty cupboard, isn’t it?

            That’s why she has a show, and why she’ll have another show after this one fails, and then another one after that. As awful as she is, the alternatives are even worse – they’re all off-putting True Believers like Ben Shaprio and his ilk.

            • KadeKo

              Didn’t you forget “Sarah Palin’s starburstiness is fading”?

              • pink stars are falling

                • James E. Powell

                  falling in lines, no?

            • Gabriel Ratchet

              Even if the Media Powers That Be decide she can’t carry her own show, I’m sure there’ll still be a place for her somewhere on the airwaves. Second chair from the end on Fox and Friends, maybe. Or “token conservative” on The View.

              Yeah, we’re gonna be stuck with her for a good long while.

            • Lit3Bolt

              Sadly, Conserva-punch is the only political brand on the market, because while demographically, conservatives are outnumbered, liberals live in those smelly, dirty cities, which only give like 3 counties per for every 15 conservative counties, because something something Founding Fathers and land.

              Liberalism will message better once that message travels beyond local city limits. Anything else is choir preaching.

    • brady

      There is a small segment of GenY that is insufferable.
      It gets overblown since it is a big cohort and they are more noticeable than all those angst ridden slackers from GenX

      • You mean if I were bigger people would notice me more? Should I eat more fufu?

        • DocAmazing

          You should always eat more fufu. There’s never a bad reason to eat more fufu.

      • Anna in PDX

        Thank god, I hate being noticedd as an angst ridden slacker. I have managed to stay under the radar so far.

        • Linnaeus

          I don’t like to get into generalizations about generations, but I think “we” (Xers) tend to do better for ourselves and others when we’re under the radar.

      • slightly_peeved

        No, it’s because the angst-ridden slackers got older, and got kids, and mortgages, and became the people who were the default against which the new generation were measured. same as it ever was. same as it ever was.

    • And then the same people that tell Baby Boomers that Millenials are lazy whiners who could get a job if they were more like the Boomers were back in the day turn around and tell the Millenials that the Boomers are bankrupting the government with their too-generous Social Security and Medicare payments. Just pit the generations against each other, hoping to distract them from noticing the people who are plundering the nation’s wealth.

      • Cody

        Well, pitting the middle class against the lower class has stopped working.

        It’s a lot tougher after you eliminate the middle class…

    • Mike G

      Shorter McMegan:
      Can’t they just do what I did, and become journalistic whores and have their careers subsidized and promoted by planet-raping right-wing billionaires?

  • The Dark Avenger

    Food insecurity for McBargle is when she runs out of pink Himalayan salt.

    • BigHank53

      One does look forward to the day when the invisible hand informs McArdle precisely how much a used ThermoMix is worth.

  • TRP

    So Mother Jones doesn’t offer health benefits?
    That is fucked up.

  • Nick

    Come to Canada — it was the best choice I ever made. In 2007 my foreign wife and I were living in Asia, broke, with a newborn child, and no prospects. I could have sponsored her for a green card, or we both could apply to immigrate to Canada; I chose the latter, because I’d gone to college in Toronto, and for my wife, one North American ex-British colony was the same as another. It’s not perfect here, but the government helps her with English classes to assimilate, going to the doctor is a wonderful exercise in health promotion totally divorced from financial issues, I’ve got a good job, and the different levels of society don’t hate each other. Most everyone believes in funding public schools and cops who use excessive force sometimes go on trial. Honestly, I mostly read American blogs now for the gnawing digust they give me at the state of American public and civil life.

    • My understanding is that it is much harder for a US citizen to get the right to work in Canada long term than most countries in the world. You have to prove that no current Canadian citizens or landed immigrants can do your job. This is much harder to do than for a place like Ghana where most of the indigenous history PhDs already immigrated to Canada a decade ago.

      • Rigby Reardon

        I’ve looked into it. It’s not easy.

        • Nick

          There’s a difference between working here and immigrating; to get work is hard, but to immigrate is easy, if you meet certain conditions. When we came there was a 15 month window when the skilled worker category included my profession, AND they were processing applications quickly. Before that, it was easy to qualify but the process took 4-5 years if you were lucky; after that, they removed my profession and then put a yearly cap on applications. So now it’s harder; but still easier than getting a temporary work permit.

      • John Dolan wrote about his experience with that in Vancouver for NSFWCORP magazine. A tough read, to be sure.

        • Seems like Victoria. I remember the blizzard that year; absolutely freakish and I think the city had maybe two snowplows. Article’s behind a paywall though.

          This is the place to start for practical information about how to get it done:


          I deal with a lot of immigrants and it often seems to me that we are importing people (a lot of people relative to our size) to do the shit jobs. Nevertheless people keep arriving and staying.

          • Come to think of it, you’re right. Gastritis broke my Canadian map.

            • There used to be an interesting site called notcanada.com where disgruntled immigrants told their stories, some of which were absurd, some of which seemed likely. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have liked the Wayback Machine much.

              • Nick

                And sure, it can suck too — immigrating is never easy, for anyone, though an American immigrating to Canada has it easier than almost anyone in history, when it comes to fitting in . . . For myself, I find becoming Canadian a positive goal that I wouldn’t have had if we’d gone back to the States.

          • Nick

            And I just want to say, we too made the mistake of going to Victoria . . . After a year of (sustained) poverty (not the downward spiral he describes), we moved to Edmonton and settled in quite well.

    • Newishlawyer

      I think it is very hard for U.S. citizens to get jobs in other countries. The people I’ve known to do it:

      1. Were very smart and got into foreign PhD/post-doc programs; and/or

      2. Already had citizenship through one parent; or

      3. Were Jewish and did right of Return to Israel.

      I know one person without any of these connections who managed to relocate to Australia and was given a job for an international NGO.

      • No, it is easy to get a job in poor countries that is the former second and third world countries in Asia and Africa if you have a degree. I worked in Kyrgyzstan from 2007-2010 on three one year contracts. I have worked in Ghana since 2011 and currently have a five year contract. But, it is much harder to get work in Europe or the White Commonwealth including Canada and South Africa. My father got a job in Australia for a while as a university professor, but it was late in his career and he had established very good contacts with the industry endowing his chair. The thing is decades of brain drain has left a lot of countries with severe shortages of highly educated people. Whereas in the US there is a huge glut of unemployed PhDs.

        • Newishlawyer

          As a Jewish person, I generally like to stick around countries or areas with decent sized Jewish populations.

          They don’t have to be New York or Israel or LA sized Jewish populations but a good amount of support a decent amount of congregations and I don’t get asked borderline-offensive questions (Where is your little hat?) or worse about my Judaism.

          Ghana could be an interesting country to live in. Kyrhyzshan not so much.

          • Kyrgyzstan has about 1,000 Jews left last census I checked. There are almost no Ghanaian Jews, but there are hundreds of thousands of Ghanaian Arabs. There are also some Ghanaian Hindus and not only among those people of Indian descent. The Ghanaians are about 78-79% Christian (mostly evangelical churches) and 20% Muslim. There are some Israelis here since they just built a new hospital for the university. But, I think they all hangout in expat places with other White people. I make it a point never to go to expat places.

            • Newishlawyer

              I was thinking more in the 10,000 plus range. Not the thousand range.

              The San Francisco Bay Area (my current abode) has slightly under 230,000 Jews. That is a good number.

              Seattle has slightly under 38,000. That is about as low as I would want to go.

            • Lee Rudolph

              My work abroad (Geneva, Toulouse, Dijon, Mexico City, Zaragoza) has obviously not been nearly as expatriated as yours (which I do not envy, being basically a stick-in-the-mud, bump-on-a-log sort), but I certainly never hung out in expat places—though I made good use of the American Library in Geneva (while not neglecting to use the municipal library), which was, however, largely run (as far as I could tell) by nice British ladies.

        • Chatham

          From what I’ve seen, it’s easy to get a teaching job in such countries. The other work that I’ve seen is sales (expats being telemarketers for garbage salaries) and web design (if the country you’re in has a number of foreign companies that speak your language). Sometimes work writing articles for expat magazines too, I guess.

          Other than that, I’ve seen people start their own business (I guess web design could fall here) or get sent over for stints for multinationals they’ve been working for. But there don’t seem to be many great opportunities for just going over and doing a 9-5 with room for growth. From my experience, of course.

          • NewishLawyer

            I think it depends on the teaching job. It is probably easy to get a job teaching ESL but not academic subjects. Though almost every nation probably has one or more K-12 “American/International schools” that need teachers. I have no idea how easy or hard it is to be hired by these places.

            Getting a law job is probably among the most difficult.

            Though there was a foreign clinic in Tokyo and it did have English and American doctors and probably doctors from other non-Japanese countries.

            The whole expat scene in Tokyo was very interesting. There were some businesses including restaurants and bars that exclusively catered to an expat population. There was an weekly expat magazine/event listing type organization. One Indian restaurant with english language TV ads (on SKY), and even one guy who ran a used book shop with english-language books. I always thought that could be an interesting job.

            I’m guessing this expat kind of world exists in many places.

            I wish I studied it more especially the people who worked in non-ESL jobs like the people who worked at the expat magazine. I can’t remember the name but it was like a Time Out New York: reviews, event listings, concerts, some articles, movies shown in English instead of dubbed and showtimes, etc.

    • Newishlawyer

      I read part of the John Dolan article (before needing to subscribe) and it seems like a lot of his issues with moving to Canada was not having a family-friends support structure.

      One of the many reasons people don’t move for new jobs (hence a ton of articles by people like Matt Y about moving to Kansas or North Dakota) is that family and friends support structures are nice. Moving to an area where you know no one requires a lot of bravery and could end in disaster. It can also be hard to create a support structure:


      You had a partner/mate. Many other people might not.

      • That was part of it, though Dolan did bring his wife along. He himself doesn’t deny that his problem was being unwilling to accept help from family and friends when he could – he also wrote an article for AlterNet that I keep a link to of pieces of advice to people who suddenly find themselves very poor – but he believes that that’s part of the reaction of the newly poor as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” though he doesn’t use that term.

        According to Dolan, the reason he was fired (and thus led to his problems) was supposedly for doing his own thing in a writing course rather than following the established syllabus (which was apparently “copy the style of the essays in the anthology”) and allowing his students to challenge essays by George Monbiot.

        • Newishlawyer

          I taught English for a company in Japan in 2002-2003. They went belly-up in 2007 and there were Enron-esque stories of embezzlement and other misadventures.

          The company (NOVA) had trouble paying their teachers and staff for the last few months. This caused a lot of pretty young people (the average teacher is probably between 22-25) to be homeless or close to it in Japan for several weeks or months. It was a bit of a big commotion.

          I think a lot of embassies ended up floating loans so people could get home.


          • Newishlawyer

            The shock waves seem to have permanently hurt the Eikawa industry:


            That is sort of sad. Teaching English in Japan was pretty fun. I hated Nova but loved the rest of my Japanese experience.

          • I used to read Gaijin Smash, that blog about that guy who taught English in Japan for I think about four years. Of course, in his case he was with the JET program, so I think the circumstances were a little different.

            • NewishLawyer

              I read a little bit. I was underwhelmned. A lot of it seemed like an American guy whining about a different culture like the post on how horrible it was that Japanese women did not dress in skimpy outfits like American women do during the summer.

              NOVA was a bad company but my time in Japan was otherwise a blast. And as jobs went it was possibly the easiest job I ever had.

        • sharculese

          John Dolan’s explanation for why he got fired is always that he challenged authority. Take it with a grain of salt.

    • Murc

      Come to Canada — it was the best choice I ever made.

      I would if I could, but it’s literally impossible.

      Which kind of pisses me off.

    • Come to Canada — it was the best choice I ever made.

      I’m 51 years old. It’s pretty much impossible for me.

      I wish it weren’t. I love Canada.

  • somethingblue

    You lost me at “Megan McArdle.”

  • politicalfootball

    Everything McArdle writes is odious, and I’m not going to sift through that shit myself, so I insist that the blogs I read point me only toward those McArdle pieces that really stand out as being particularly repugnant.

    Sorry Erik, but you’ve failed me here. Sure, McArdle is once again showing her boundless capacity for self-congratulation and for stoic endurance of the suffering of other people. And, as always, she manages to completely ignore the fact that the current macroeconomic climate is going to result in workers being tossed overboard regardless of their efforts. But there’s a fair amount of good advice in there, too.

    The words-to-idiocy ratio on this one is fairly high by McArdle standards, making it really not worth my time. Yeah, sure, she manages to compare herself to people who grew up during the Depression. And yes, holy Jesus, she really does suggest that because “my classmates” got out of their parents’ basements in a much better economy, you will, too. But I could throw a dart at her blog and find a worse piece than this.

    • Allow me to suggest that there might be better targets for that dart, including the moving parts of several expensive kitchen appliances.

    • Looks like you should start your own blog then.

      • politicalfootball

        Sorry. Just kidding around. Should’ve sprinkled some emoticons in there ;)

      • MPAVictoria

        If you have a fault Erik it is a tendency to take yourself a little seriously. IF you have a fault.

        • BarrY

          Mayonnaise on fries is a serious fault. Frankly, we need to decide whether or not Erik should be allowed to indoctrinate innocent students with his Napoleonic ‘sauce’ ideas.

          • ruviana

            Yes, this part is true. It’s almost enough to drive me to eat ketchup.

  • djw

    Her blurb now contains a truly terrifying sentence:

    Her book, “The Up Side of Down,” will be published by Viking in February 2014

    That immediately brought to mind a line from Tiabbi’s classic Friedman review:

    I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world’s manganese supply. Who knew what it meant but one had to assume the worst.

    “It’s going to be called The Flattening,” he whispered. Then he stood there, eyebrows raised, staring at me, waiting to see the effect of the news when it landed. I said nothing.

    • Hogan

      You’re gonna love the subtitle: “Why Failing Well is the Key to Success.”

      Finally, a subject about which she might have useful things to say.

    • Jay B.

      Was this the book originally titled “Permission to Suck”? Or is she writing approximately the same book again? Either way, I don’t really care, just wondering.

      • Looks like she may have a smarter friend who realized that Permission to Suck was…problematic, to say the least.

      • Roger Ailes

        I think Peter Suderman proposed that title, inadvertently.

    • brad

      The still odd thing about that is that the Viking website still has nothing about it. Neither does Amazon. Nor in the pre-pub listings that a reviewer friend of mine gets.
      The only source for this is McMegan herself, and, btw, if she was told Feb 28th, then, as anyone who knows books knows, she was told it’ll be published if and when they feel like they’d actually make money doing so.
      While I’m very biased against McMegan, I have genuine doubts this will actually see print.

      • brad

        Shit, I’m just plain wrong. It is on Viking’s site now.
        I guess FMM might briefly live again for a review.

    • trollhattan

      Here’s hoping “published by Viking” means putting it on a little wooden boat, sending it offshore and lighting the fucker on fire.

      Then pillaging the Tories for good measure.

      • BarrY

        That made me chuckle evilly.

  • Aaron B.

    It’s like when your parent gives you advice, and you know they’re really, really trying to help, but it’s so obvious and stupid and oblivious that you can’t help feeling completely patronized.

  • Sly

    She forgot Tip #14: Have your father, who cashed in on his public service contacts for a cushy gig as the head lobbyist for the General Contractors Association of New York, get you a job as an “executive copy girl” for a 9/11 clean-up firm while you pen trite libertarian nonsense on-line.

  • Ed K

    I sincerely hope shit like this comes back to haunt the McArdles of the world in the form of large, radicalized generations who cease to give a flying fuck about what she and her oligarchic ilk think are reasonable compromises when the reckoning for all this finally arrives. Let them eat cake and so on…

    • Sev

      I think at that point “let” will seem like the libertarian detritus of the era just passed… STUFF them with all the damn cake their fortunes will afford and don’t forget the frosting.

      • Ed K

        Sorry, I was using the let them eat cake to mock McA’s attitude. It’s at least analogous.

  • Walter

    Just have the state sieze everyone’s shit. All of it, damn the consequences. Property is arbitrary anyway. I just don’t care to be high-minded about it anymore.

    /me on a bad day

    • James E. Powell

      Me too, on some days. I recently watched The Battleship Potemkin and I was thinking, yeah, let’s do it. I got over it because as miserable as things are or I am, this is not Tsarist Russia or anything remotely like it.

      How many of America’s right-wingers do you suppose think like that all the time?

      • Walter

        I usually come to my senses whenever Virginia closes another ABC liquor store and forces me to go across the bridge to DC, which, even with higher taxes, sells liquor for less because of competition and the relative freedom to open a store as long as you’re willing to take the risk.

        For the most part though, anytime I hear the word “liberty” or “freedom,” I just cringe. And that’s a really sucky feeling. But those with means are so selfish that I’m getting dangerously sympathetic to the idea that we should regulate stuff just to regulate it, whether or not it does any good.

  • Gary K

    Maybe she meant “1.3 Tips for Jobless Grads.”

    • Sly


  • cdg

    I have to say, I read McCardle’s article and I’m not typically a fan of hers, but this seems a grossly unfair characterization of it. It’s basically got a “keep your chin up, things will get better” type of vibe rather than a “stop whining” type of vibe.In fact, the only reference to whining at all is when she talks about when she was jobless and uncertain and whiny.

    You might not agree with her 13 suggestions, but I believe you’ve certainly missed her intent.

    • GoDeep


      I’m actually not a big fan of McArdle–I think her business analysis is frequently off–but its hard to criticize her “stiff upper lip” routine here. She may come across as tone deaf a bit, but she’s hardly giving the finger to the unemployed.

      • Is it hard to criticize that routine? Wouldn’t it be more productive to say that the system needs reform? But of course she doesn’t believe that at all. The argument of this piece is that the system is fine and everything will work out for you in the end. No it’s not fine and no it’s not going to work out for a lot of people.

        • cdg

          Except “the system needs reform” is a separate argument that actually doesn’t help someone in the currently unreformed system. She’s attempting to give those folks advice. You can beat her up all you want over not seeing systemic problems in our current economy, I agree with you! But this article attempts, rightly or wrongly, to help individuals navigate the system we got. You can impugn the advice, but not the motives here.

          • Yeah, what has McArdle possibly written in the past that would make one question her motives?

          • Joshua

            She’s attempting to give those folks advice.

            So later on she can say anyone who didn’t succeed isn’t made up of enough pure Randite stock.

            I don’t need to hear bootstrap folk tales from libertarian jerks like McArdle.

            • blech

              Take the semingly harmless “move back in with your parents.” That only works if a)your parents
              are still alive b)can afford to have you mooch off them for a year or two c)live in an area with decent job prospects

              Its “advice” for the McArdles of the world and is likely not to benefit anyone else.

              • JoyfulA

                And your parents actually have a house with a basement.

            • UserGoogol

              You should always assume that people are basically sincere. The world is full of people who have odious beliefs but who have no particular benefit to gain from them; it’s simply that human beings make mistakes and often they make mistakes which lead them to believe cruel things. When people who are privileged and do have self-interested reasons to support a certain system believe something, all that means is that the deck is even more stacked against them believing the right thing.

              • BarrY

                You are right. However, when one has disproven that assumption, then one should be taken to be a lying f*ck.

              • Rigby Reardon

                But McArdle has demonstrated through her entire body of work that she is neither sincere nor particularly well-intentioned. She gets no slack from us because she has shown, time and again, that she deserves none.

            • Bootstrap? Heck, they all think they invented boots before they pulled themselves up by the straps!

        • Jay B.

          I’m more amazed that two “not typically fans” of McArdle decided to parachute in and talk about how her intent. It’s almost as if they are completely unfamiliar with her schtick, to say nothing of her dishonesty and her overall awfulness. Her “off” business analysis merely scrapes the top of the crust of the bottom of the barrel that she’s dug herself beneath.

          • Yeah, either it’s posturing or some people need to work on reading things in context.

            • With a few notable exceptions, Megan McCardle is the kindest, gentlest, best, person I know.

              • GoDeep

                In fairness the handful of items I’ve read of McCardle’s have been focused on business analysis, not labor or economic issues, so I have no basis on which to critique her broader world view.

                The criticism leveled in this post tho was specific, and the link was to a specific article, not her entire canon. So we’re only commenting on what’s been linked to. Aimai has already called this approach “absurdly reductionist” but linking assertions to evidence is the only way I know to be fair.

                Its like w/ serial criminals. Sure maybe its true that the guy on trial has pulled a string of crimes, but unless he’s on trial for that string of crimes the jury only reviews the evidence for the crime at hand.

                • brad

                  So in defense of McMegan, you compare her to a serial criminal.

                  Seems about right.

                • sharculese

                  Being a serial criminal requires more effort than McMegan would ever put into anything.

                • BarrY

                  “Its like w/ serial criminals. Sure maybe its true that the guy on trial has pulled a string of crimes, but unless he’s on trial for that string of crimes the jury only reviews the evidence for the crime at hand.”

                  This isn’t a court of law, just in case you didn’t notice :)

                • Origami Isopod

                  Aimai has already called this approach “absurdly reductionist” but linking assertions to evidence is the only way I know to be fair.

                  So you take pride in not seeing the forest for the trees, in other words.

              • We’re not a jury of her peers, thats for sure. She, mercifully, doesn’t have many peers. But its really no defense of her to cite your own ignorance of her ouevre. I’ve been reading McCardle since she was Jane Galt and the one thing you can say for her is that she is consistent, or maintains a consistent false persona as a writer and thinker. She has been quite firm about building a recognizable brand McCardle which, however stupid and stunted, is as carefully nurtured as if it were a Bansai. It is perfectly formed and even produces the very kind of fruit you’d expect from a full sized tree. So you absolutely can read back from the fruit to the root and be correct about her motivations and her goals (to mix my metaphor beyond repair).

      • Timurid

        Concern trolling is still trolling.

    • James E. Powell

      You’re right, it isn’t a “stop whining” article at all. It’s more like “How to stay slim and fashionable” by Gwyneth Paltrow.

      Items 1 through 12 are sound but banal. Item 13 may or may not be true, but it is primarily survivorship bias. For an unknown but non-zero number of people, everything is not going to be okay.

      • Oh: very, very, good.

        • GoDeep

          Are you folks talking abt reforming the current system–redesigning the college aid system, labor law, industrial policy, etc–or are you thinking anything short of socialism is a failure?

          • trollhattan

            My thought is this: if we’re really not going to bomb Syria, then we should take that sweet Tomahawk money, make a big batch of mil-spec bootstraps and airdrop them on high concentrations of millennials.

            I believe that could comprise idea the fourteenth.

      • anthrofred

        Number 13 is the tell: all of her friends have at least 2,000 square foot houses.

        It’s Goopenomics, allright.

    • Pooh

      Her intent, as always, is to comfort the comfortable.

    • Ed K

      ‘Keep your chin up, it’ll get better is pure bullshit,’ though.

      Most of them are losing so much systemic ground they’re never going to catch up, period — not given the current system.

      She’s refusing to take them seriously, as the OP says.

    • sharculese

      It’s basically got a “keep your chin up, things will get better” type of vibe rather than a “stop whining” type of vibe.

      How are those different things?

      • Manta

        The intended beneficiaries.
        When you have somebody in distress, you say “keep your chin up” if you want to help/console him; you say “stop whining” if you want to help/console yourself and people who are not in distress.

        Thus, the “reaL” question is: who are the intended readers of this piece? The unemployed or people like McArdle and her classmates?

        • James E. Powell

          Thus, the “real” question is: who are the intended readers of this piece? The unemployed or people like McArdle and her classmates?

          Your kidding, right? The big message of the article is “Nothing wrong here. It’s a temporary lull. Everything will be fine.” Who delights at reading that message? The unemployed or the comfortable?

  • Manta

    Her optimism is fully granted: if Megan McArdle can find a decent job, anybody can.

    • MPAVictoria


    • Lurker

      We should not think like this. McArdle is a performance artist, and doing the stuff she does requires real skill and certain mentality:
      a) She is really stupid and completely lacking self-awareness, yet a decent writer. This would be a surprising combination.
      b) She is intelligent and able to write consistently things that you know to be false and immoral. This requires certain level of sociopathy that most people, fortunately, don’t have.
      c) She honestly believes Randian Republicanism and is able to engage in complete doublethink. This is also pretty difficult and very close to a).

      Anyhow, these combinations are not easily found.

  • Dude w/o Qualities

    Cdg and GoDeep +1 each. Seriously folks, do you snark at your therapists too? McA offers standard chin-up stuff and she means well here. Y’all are mean for real.

    • You’re right–I am mean. And I have no plans to stop being mean. In fact, it’s my goal to mean-girl some of these idiots right off the Internet.

      • Origami Isopod

        + all the numbers

    • slightly_peeved

      A therapist who just tells you to keep your chin up is a tremendously shitty therapist. A decent therapist presents practical methods by which one can get a grip on one’s problems, much as McArdle could if she was willing to stop drinking that panglossian kool-ade she knocked up in that glorified blender of hers.

      • Bill Murray

        I think it was actually a specialty ketchup she made for the burgers of not despairing she made for her loyal fanboys

    • somethingblue

      I agree. All those being mean to McMegan need to be educated with a two-by-four, applied in a firm, preemptive manner.

    • sharculese

      I’m sorry your a pompous dullard.

  • anthrofred

    You know how I found the job at the Economist? I met a woman who worked there at a cocktail party for bloggers, and told her that if they ever had a job opening, to please please please pretty please e-mail me.

    Awareness of privilege? Nahhhhhh.

    • anthrofred

      Damn, my quote tags broke. Only the snark was me; I have never been at a “cocktail party for bloggers”, and probably never will be, because I can’t afford cocktails on zero income.

  • brad

    McMegan is, sadly, the quiet but probably leading contender to take over for Peggy Noonan as lead Village concern troll when the time comes.
    But I did my time in that gulag, no clicky.

    • herr doktor bimler

      take over for Peggy Noonan […] when the time comes
      So when is it Old Yeller time?

  • McArdle had good advice on caring for curly hair. But I decided that if after weeks of looking in on her blog, the only thing that interested me was a post about hair care, it was time to give up on it.

    • Rugosa

      McArdle wrote about caring for curly hair? I’ve seen pictures of her, and the only advice she could offer for curly hair is how to straighten it. Making her beauty advice about as useful as her cooking advice.

      Let’s face it – we’re all just jealous of the inane twit who, due to life circumstances she sees as her own personal virtue, fails ever upward. Yeah, it pisses me off, but it would be better for all our blood pressure if we just ignored her.

      • A fair amount of it was about how if you want to appear on TV, you SHALL have straight, smooth hair (which I think is probably true). If you click the link in the OP I think her hair is a little wavier than in other pictures I’ve seen.

        • Rugosa

          You’re not getting me to click on a McArdle link. I have seen clips of her on TV – I think it was with Matt Taibbi, where she admitted that she hadn’t read the report they were discussing, and he informed her that he had read it, and it did not say what she imagined it said. Her hair was a mess, looked uncombed and was falling over her face. So what I said above still stands – her beauty advice is suspect.

  • Ronan

    McArdles advice *is* good though, for the people its aimed at (out of work college grads without obligations or a significant amount of debt, with strong family networks etc)
    How do you extend it to everyone? Invest in retraining, expanding those work networks for all, investing in childcare, increase social welfare payments, remove the stigma of being on welfare, start writing off debt..etc etc ie make unemployment ‘an opportunity’ for all
    Thats what she was getting at, surely

    • Ronan

      actually, tbh I didnt een read her advice, but now Im stuck on 1. Which is stupid. D

  • Denverite

    Am I the only one who thinks like half of these are all just riffs on “yeah, you’re going to have to work a crappy, low-paying (or no-paying), dead-end job that you hate, but look on the bright side of things, like — hey, isn’t that an awesome food processor?”

    I mean, maybe her point really is that millenials shouldn’t sweat their miserable existences because things eventually tended to turn out well for Megan and her cohort of upper-middle-class elite B-school classmates who graduated in a time that was worse than the periods immediately before and after it (but which still was better than the 2008-2010 period). But that doesn’t sound very comforting to me. (Well, actually it does, since I’m pretty close to her cohort. But it wouldn’t if I wasn’t.)

  • JustinV

    Injustice anywhere is a reason not to complain about injustice everywhere.

    • Jordan


  • Dude w/o Qualities

    I get it, this is the cool kid table.

    • brad


    • Hogan

      You poor thing.

    • sharculese

      If you want a blog to stroke your dumbgross ego you can always start your own really dumb blog.

      • The Dark Avenger

        Dennis, is that you?

        • sharculese

          Dude w/o Qualities showed up the other day in a thread you weren’t in, so probably not Dennis.

          Also, he’s terrible, but I feel like the name is an Achewood reference and I don’t want to believe Dennis is an Achewood fan.

          • The Dark Avenger

            Dennis is his real name, I don’t think he could understand Achewood if he tried.

    • somethingblue

      It occurs to me that there’s a joke about Metamusil waiting to be made here, but I can’t quite get the pieces to fit together.

    • Tristan

      Yes. Go away.

  • MacK

    Ms. McArdle’s comments about the basement years are interesting since her basement was a large Manhattan appartment owned by her quite well connected parents.

  • Origami Isopod

    Not to mention the “GYPSY” acronym. Uhhhh, it’s a racist slur.

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  • Tristan

    “You know how I found the job at the Economist? I met a woman who worked there at a cocktail party for bloggers”


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