Monday, August 23, 2010

Matt Yglesias is Dumb

I can't count the number of readers who asked why I think Matt Yglesias is nearly as dumb as Ross Douthat because they don't make numbers that small.  But here goes.  In the first instance, they look alike; in the second, they have identical credentials to comment on everything in the world, i.e., none; in the third they are both Harvard undergrads, which -- I think -- proves that Harvard is both less transformative and less liberal then we have been led to believe.  A shorter proof of Yglesias' dumbness:
I think it’s pretty clear that, as a historical matter of fact, the main thing “the state” has been used to do is to help the wealthy and powerful further enrich and entrench themselves. Think Pharaoh and his pyramids. Or more generally the fancy houses of European nobility, the plantations of Old South slaveowners, or Imelda Marcos’ shoes.
Concerning his examples of the clarity of state sponsorship of inequality, with the exception of Pharoah, who God or Jesus or Moses or Ceasar did away with, and Imelda, who democracy forced to move to New York until it let her come home, we might want to ask a series of questions: Who ended slavery?  Who progressively limited the nobility's control over regular folks?  Who aided unions in gaining 8 hr days?  Who saw to it the rural areas got electricity?  Who sees to that there is public education? What entitity was it that expanded the franchise despite the protests of the entrenched rich and powerful?  Who saw to it that previously despised minority groups gained equal rights with their fellow citizens?  Who sees to it that abrogations of these rights are punished? And so on.

Does the state act to aid entrenched rich folks, yes yes it does; is this the "main thing" it does?  No, no it isn't.  Saying something like that is a sign of being dumb or, perhaps more accurately, of privileging glibness over accurate intelligent analysis.

More proof that Ygelsias is dumb here.

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