Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lileks hits one out of the park with a fisking of one of the more ridiculous columns of Amitai Etzioni. Etzioni is clearly arguing in favor of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and I have an idea who he wants to decide my ability and need. Etzioni in italics:

The precept of a good life calls for setting ceilings for purchases and for work, for setting fairly modest limits on that which we seek to own and purchase, and on the amount of time we are willing take away from our children, spouses, friends, communities and ourselves, in order to work.

And there you have it. We have to set limits on what you can buy, how much you can work, what you can own, and how much time you are spending on work as opposed to the obligatory devotion to COMMUNITY.

These are the people who regard themselves as the finest champions of the individual. Well, inasmuch as the collective is made up of individuals, yes.

But how to achieve this world in which people stop working to buy appliances and spend more time on friends?

There are a whole slew of public policies that can express, foster, recognize and promote the good life. A steeply progressive income tax will do wonders.

Oh, it’ll do wonders, all right. Remember: the secret to expressing, fostering, recognizing and promoting the good life is taking away half the money of people who are too stupid to work long hours and bring work home. If they complain, it’s because they don’t know what the good life really is. It’s not sitting down at the end of the night to watch a fine movie on a sofa with a single-malt. It’s having friends over to a small sustainable apartment with a small fridge that doesn’t have an icemaker, breaking the crappy plastic ice trays by hand to get a few usuable cubes, serving everyone cheap scotch from a plastic jug then heading down to the Community Cinema for a movie - only to find that the projector is still broken because the owner can’t afford to fix it, so you go to the local coffee shop, which is staffed not by teens forced to labor but by middle-aged guys who lost their jobs because they worked in fields we have deemed socially regressive.


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