August 03, 2011

Youse Guys is So Paternalistic

If you've ever even glanced at, and noted the arguably obsessive, nearly wall-to-wall, criticism of police and the criminal injustice system, this spiel by Lawrence O'Donnell will probably make you snort and roll your eyes a bit. The through-the-looking-glass part begins just before the six minute mark. He's talking about "right wing Republican" websites, but his prime example is Reason (which isn't any of those things, by the way.)

Nick Gillespie responds here.

Not that I'm against teachers in any way, shape, or form. Teachers are our most important natural resource and a real triumph of the human spirit and God bless America, etc. etc. That said, school makes you dumb.

Posted by Dr. Frank at August 3, 2011 10:38 PM | TrackBack

I am a teacher, and while I agree that Damon's comparison of teacher compensation to execrement is highly inappropriate (especially at a time when actual combined unemployment, under-employment, and "given up on finding a job" numbers are probably close to 20 to 25 percent among non-teachers, with much of the remaining "employed" seeing budget hits with lesser overtime hours; higher costs of living, food, and fuel, etc.), Gillespie's analysis of teacher salaries compared to the private sector (see his link for additional info.) is skewed. Gillespie concedes that "most" public school teaching positions require "a bachelors degree." That's like saying that most turtles have shells. I don't know of a single public school in America that doesn't require full-time teachers to have a bachelors degree (even substitute teachers in my district have to have an associate's degree or the equivalent college hours). It would have been more accurate for Gillespie to have substituted the word "masters degree" for "bachelors degree," which leads to a further bone of contention: He doesn't for once consider the costs of continuing education, which is required for teachers to recertify, and that comes out of teachers pockets (along with the fifty thousand or so some of us have to pay off from college loans). He also doesn't consider that a lot of teachers like me have to pay for some of their materials out of their pockets. I didn't get into education to get rich, so I am not complaining, and I do agree that our compensation is comparable to other professions; but I wouldn't call it more favorable without weighing all of the intangibles.

Posted by: David at August 4, 2011 12:41 AM

Yeah, David, I can't argue with any of that. Also, I think that baiting question comparing the performance incentive caused by uncertainty for a movie star vs. being a public employee is pretty dumb. But say what you want about Reason and Reason on line, the last thing you could accuse them of is being reluctant to criticize police. Except, that's what L. O'Donnell did. Hence, the humor.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at August 4, 2011 02:30 AM

In this style of punditry it seems common to just attack a general idea without much background, save a few scare quotes.
Of course, Reason does seem to deal in a lot of the kind of libertarian ideology that is beloved by far right-wing Republicans (the list of pull-quotes from G. Gordon Liddy, Dick Armey and Rush Limbaugh attests to that).
So, I didn't laugh (another damn teacher here) at what O'Donnel said but I did get irritated to hear an argument worth making done in by this blowhard style of political commentary.

Posted by: jeffen at August 4, 2011 04:25 AM

Frank and everyone,

It needs to be said that Lawrence O'Donnell is a sanctimonious twit who should go back to working on TV shows.



Posted by: D.R. at August 4, 2011 06:35 PM

Frank, I definitely agree with all of that, including Reason, which I read (I read periodicals and zines from just about every area of political or social thought. In fact, I think that probably the most honest daily paper...yeah, I still read newspapers, but mostly regard to economics is the Wall Street Journal, believe it or not. I abhore some of the sleazy activities that corporations and snake oil speculators participate in, and oddly enough, the WSJ is quite candid about reporting on them, presumably because their audience are pretty much the same sleaze bags.).

Posted by: David at August 4, 2011 11:36 PM

And I too spotted the unintentionally satirical nature of the P.C. wimp O'Donnell versus Gillespie in which the latter displays a lot more balls in calling out corrupt and violent police forces in America as opposed to the former. Jeffen, I can sympathize (hell, empathize) with you as a fellow public school teacher with the frustrations associated with being attacked by right wing outfits; but I would disagree with you that Reason deals in "a lot" of ideology associated with the pundits you list. Reason seems solidly against: corporate welfare/book cooking, the war on drugs, unaccountable police officers, bans on women's reproduction rights, church-based laws of any kind, and even some forms of union busting which involve state action. In some ways, the antithesis of the punditoids you mention (none of whom could in the least way be called "conservative" - there hasn't been a true conservative in a position of high power since maybe Senator Mark Hatfield from Oregon back in the day, who styled himself after the quintessential conservative who'd today be called a "left winger" because of his views, that being Robert Taft, the long-ago Governor of Ohio. If there is a "libertarian" streak in any of the wind bags you listed, make no mistake: it is highly selective (which makes them not much different from a considerable number of liberal or left wing wind bags).

Posted by: David at August 5, 2011 12:19 AM

Hey, David hope you're enjoying your summer.
While I'm not sure there's much to be gained by arguing what makes a "true conservative" (such designations are somewhat fluid over time), I would probably agree that present-day right-wingers cherry-pick ideas from libertarianism.
However, all of those far right-wing figures I mentioned (I left off Grover Norquist, Milton Friedman and Steve Forbes and many less known fellow-travelers)are all quoted giving ringing endorsement of Reason right on the site:
If that's representative of the influence Reason is having on the political discourse of the day, maybe that's why O'Donnel lumped them in with 'right-wing' sites. In this particular case it came off as really lazy editorializing but I've heard worse.

Posted by: jeffen at August 5, 2011 06:15 AM

Hi Jeffen

1) I hadn't noticed the aforementioned plugs from Norquist, et. al. directly on the Reason site until I checked it out after your mention above. You may have a point. There were plugs from sources like the Village Voice and the San Francisco Chronicle (and even Christopher Hitchens, whom I don't consider "conservative", though his foreign policy views are, somewhat), but the endorsements were overwhelmingly from right wing entities.

2) I certainly agree that "conservatism" has been "fluid" with the passage of time, but as is the case with the Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Rights, I am not sure if fluidity is a good thing (or principled).

Posted by: David at August 5, 2011 09:04 PM

1)While it's kind of hard to know where to slot Hitchens these days I did really appreciate the words of praise from the president of the ACLU, who've been to known to piss-off people from all across the political spectrum.

2) When I see so-called conservatives racking up huge deficits to finance arms and prisons I wish for a more solid definition of conservatism.

Posted by: jeffen at August 6, 2011 03:34 PM

Hard to disagree with any of that, Jeffen. And to add to your second point,...reaming Americans of their freedom from state-sanctioned wire taps, colluding with phone companies to provide the feds with all of our phone records, etc...all accomplished post-911 with right wing "conservative" control of all three branches of government, and the Supreme Court.

Posted by: David at August 6, 2011 09:29 PM
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