6 Articles Sprout: the Fallout from the Rolling Stone Piece
|January 10, 2014||Posted by Staff under Good Press|
The recent 2014 Rolling Stone article on how to transform the economy into one working right for everyone stirred up a firestorm of reaction, including a half dozen articles, excerpted here.
1) Demos, Jan 4, by Matt Bruenig
The Totally Doable Slate of Economic Reforms That Conservatives Are Losing Their Minds Over
I do not generally care for framing that talks about what Millennials should be fighting for because it does not really make any sense, but the five reforms Jesse Myerson lists are basically doable and have been written about here and elsewhere before.
Nonetheless, a massive conservative backlash ensued on Twitter in response to the piece. On some level, this kind of reaction is to be expected. Conservatives prefer our institutions as they exist and the way they distribute power, income, and wealth in society. But the conservative backlash did not center around how they just prefer another system. Instead, it was almost universally premised on the idea that these reforms are fundamentally impossible. This is a popular conservative rhetorical move because declaring impossible all of the things that are so much more appealing than what they have to offer is the only real way to advocate the terrible things they support.
Nonetheless, with the exception of Myerson’s call for a job guarantee, all of the other reforms he proposes—a universal basic income, a land value tax, a sovereign wealth fund, and public banks—are clearly possible because they already exist in the world.
2) Business Insider, Jan 5, by Joe Weisenthal
People Are Freaking Out About This ‘Rolling Stone’ Plan To Fix The Economy
“Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For” has conservatives on Twitter flipping out. Nick Gillespie at Reason.com has a breakdown of the conservative backlash, but if you actually read the article it’s really baffling trying to figure out why the piece is generating such controversy.
You can disagree with all of these — all have various drawbacks and benefits — but the idea that this is some insane communist raving looks like an example of people just deciding to be outraged over something they didn’t actually read.
3) Business Insider, Jan 6, by Josh Barro
Some Of These ‘Communist’ Economic Ideas Are Actually Pretty Good
This weekend, Jesse Myerson advanced five economic reform ideas that he thinks millennials should champion, and various conservative readers’ heads exploded for reasons I don’t fully understand. Particularly, I don’t see what’s supposed to be “communist” about Myerson’s proposals.
Conservatives dismiss this agenda at their peril.
The most promising of Myerson’s ideas is an unconditional basic income, which is a policy of sending checks to Americans simply for existing.
Or consider a land value tax. This tax would actually foster economic growth by making it harder for landowners to keep their land unproductive; you could expect to see a lot fewer vacant lots in New York City.
So, I’m not ready to sign up for Myerson’s agenda. But I’m not sure why people are treating it like it’s silly, or Soviet.
4) Salon, Jan 6, by Matt Bruenig
Conservatives are losing their minds over economic reforms that already exist
[reprints (1) above]
5) Washington Post, Jan 7, by Dylan Matthews
which we already posted as “WaPo Blogger: Millennials, Do Fight for Rolling Stone Reforms”
6) Los Angeles Times, Jan 8, by Emmett Rensin, a political activist and essayist living in Chicago, has appeared in USA Today, Salon, the Los Angeles Review of Books and elsewhere; he is 23 years old.
A Lefty Millennial Activist Takes on Columnist Jonah Goldberg
“In America,” I once quipped, “the old are always ready to give those who are young the sad news that history, with its opportunities for fresh ideas, is over.”
“One of the wonderful things about America is that both the left and right are champions of freedom. The difference lies in what we mean by freedom. The left emphasizes freedom as a material good, and the right sees freedom as primarily a right rooted in individual sovereignty. For the left, freedom means ‘freedom from want.’ If you don’t have money, healthcare, homes, cars, etc., you’re not free.”
In a way, Goldberg’s right. Young leftists like Myerson and myself share a moral outlook that fundamentally differs from conservatives like Goldberg: Freedom, in the most prosperous nation on Earth, must entail the freedom to act without the constant specter of homelessness, hunger, and preventable illness.
If liberalism believes that freedom consists of freedom from want, then we want only to extend the means for such achievement beyond the wealthy, white, and landed few. Not everyone needs their own Monticello, but an apartment and some groceries might suffice.
Who knows? Maybe if millennials achieve the kind of economic justice Myerson is calling for, we might just have the time to find a new idea under the sun.
Ed. Notes: A couple of Myerson’s ideas can’t really fit on the left/right spectrum, since they’re either left and right or neither, they’re simply “organic” in that they should be a key part of a market economy in order to make it work at full capacity. Those two ideas are to “socialize” or to tax the value of land and resources, a bit like Alaska does, and to pay everyone an extra income, which would correct the “price” of or wage for labor. But the human brain prefers differences to be black or white, so third ways have a hard time getting any traction. Still, if you have the time, read the articles. All were enlightening.