Friday, April 27, 2007

Why I'm not a "liberal"

The first in a series of posts on yesterday's Democratic debate. From the transcript posted at the NYT:

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, overall, is Wal-Mart a good thing or a bad thing for the United States of America? (Laughter.)

SEN. CLINTON: Well, it's a mixed blessing.


SEN. CLINTON: Well, because when Wal-Mart started, it brought goods into rural areas, like rural Arkansas, where I was happy to live for 18 years, and gave people a chance to stretch their dollar further.

As they grew much bigger, though, they have raised serious questions about the responsibility of corporations and how they need to be a leader when it comes to providing health care and having, you know, safe working conditions and not discriminating on the basis of sex or race or any other category.
And here I am reminded of a business class I took a bazillion years ago. It was an introductory course and it was taught by a complete and total tool--a guy who quoted The Greaseman and who wore flip-flops to class. Anyway, in addition to being a tasteless and classless racist, he was just a moron. Sadly, he was also my instructor. One day he was raving about the virtues of capitalism and what a great system it is because we make so much stuff. We've got stuff. Lots of stuff. Way more stuff than communists and socialists could ever dream of. Well, I raised my hand and said something about homeless people or something like that--the poor--something. And he said, "I'm talking about production. You're talking about distribution. That's a totally different matter." Thus endeth the debate.

I am reminded of this because the shortsightedness of, let me say, many liberals (I was going to just say "liberals" but that might not be entirely fair) bears a striking resemblance to flip-flop man's economic autism. First of all, it's a system; you can't disconnect distribution and production. Why was Walmart able to supply those goods so cheaply? Why do food coops often charge so much? Give it some thought Hillary. Are you saying that on a small scale underpaid workers with no insurance selling sweat-shop produced goods is okay?

And second of all, we just don't need so much stuff. Why do we need 8000 kinds of soap for chrissakes? With shea butter. Without shea butter. Pomegranite scented. With moisturizing beads. Why is this an unqualified good?

Don't get me wrong. I like stuff. But enough already.

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