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Courtesy of my good friend John B.:

In The Washington Post, columnist Dana Milbank looks at the culture that inspired officials at the General Services Administration to spend taxpayer dollars on extravagant conferences. Milbank asks: Who is to blame?

The answer is not who you would think. It’s not the GSA officials and big-spending members of Congress, but rather it’s the rare lawmaker who wants to slash spending.

Despite saying that “nobody’s excusing” Jeffrey Neely, the GSA official at the center of the scandal, Milbank goes on to do exactly that. “Lawmakers might pause the outrage long enough to think about how they have contributed to the culture that made Neely,” Milbank writes.

These are grim times for federal workers, with pay freezes and the prospect of massive cutbacks at year-end. No wonder a few people would get the idea, as Neely wrote in an e-mail: “Why not enjoy it while we have it and while we can? Aint going to last forever?”

According to this creative logic, there is only one way to deter wasteful spending – allow more of it. Only in Washington.

OK, by this logic I think I am justified in storming the University library and taking the entire section of economics books for my personal collection. This reminds of me of what I learned recently about the logic (?) of postmodernism. I know nothing about it, so a student-friend of mine was kind enough to explain it the other night. As I understand it, everything is a social construct, and I mean everything. If this is the way folks actually see the world, then I can see no other interpretation of something like crime as being caused by everyone EXCEPT the person committing the crime. And this is not just because “society made” him do it, but because the concept of “crime” is totally irrelevant in this world because crime is really nothing more than a white-male-bourgeois social construct.

This all leads me to ask two questions: (1) If for some reason we stumbled upon an until-now isolated society that was run by green females, would the postmodernists still tell the same story? (2) The NFL draft is coming up, and for all the hand-wringing I do about this not being a free-market for the new players, there are about to be dozens and dozens of players made very rich in a few days. Most of these players will be black. I think this is great (I am sure someone is going to write me and say, “yeah, but so few people make it to the pros, and we don’t want our children aspiring to that … I of course disagree). But my question is this … what would “we” think of rising income inequality if all of the gains to the top 0.1% have been accruing to current underrepresented minorities? Just askin’ that’s all.

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3 Responses to “This Week’s Sign of the Economic Apocalypse”

  1. sherlock says:

    Sidebar about proffessional sports. I do see that argument all the time that, “yeah, but so few people make it to the pros, and we don’t want our children aspiring to that…” Why don’t they ever add many more people to this list? A lot of people go on to be coaches, trainers, equipment managers, etc.. All of which require you to have played the sport at the some level to know what you are doing. Just me ranting.

  2. Dan says:

    Quantum gravity as social construct: the Sokol affair –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

  3. Harry says:

    Thanks, jb and Wintercow. I know WC’s age, but I am not so sure about jb, who may be old enough to remember Jimmy Carter’s crusade against the “Three Martini” lunch. This was similar to the Buffet Rule and other tax ideas that applied to relatively few people in the imagination of Hollywood screenwriters. Yes, we all saw them, but they never got any work done after 11 AM.

    Which brings us to the parties in Las Vegas, and the SEIU, etc.

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