Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
A new study turns a belief on its head that poor people are less ethical.
UC Berkeley researchers say wealthier people are actually more likely to cheat, cut other drivers off, pocket extra change and even take candy from children. Researchers theorize it has to do with social bonds. The rich have financial resources and are less dependent on social bonds for survival – therefore, they're guided by self-interest and worry less about breaking the rules.
What a shame this was published too late for Brooks to turn it into a counterintuitive argument about why the rich are better than the rest of us. My guess for what it will be: rich people break the rules because they're more creative and you can't do that while coloring inside the lines. They're more self-interested because they're doing totally awesome stuff. We shouldn't criticize them for that! And there would probably be some obscure study cited that he argues that rich people have lots of social bonds too, except they're just different, like palling around with Warren Beatty in Sun Valley, or chilling with Snooki, which beat normal friendships since these people are rich and/or famous. And so, what Nietzsche argued in irony, his modern-day "equivalent" will repeat with conviction. For my part, I tend to think that people just are at their most vicious when they have a lot to lose, as today's Republican Party shows us daily. If you take that as read, most of modern American society starts to make sense.
Truth be told, though, Brooks I'm indulgent of to some extent. He's just a classic example of a "semi-smart" person, the sort who radically changes their opinions based on what they just read last, and then forget that once they read something else. I have no reason to think he's working at less than his maximum capacity, and it's the public's fault for not knowing to reject someone with probably not much more than a 100 IQ and no specialized knowledge of anything as a public intellectual. I don't despise him is all I'm saying. Tom Friedman, though, is a total con man and my true nemesis.
The thought occurred to me today that Mitt Romney is reminding me an awful lot of Meg Whitman, 2010′s megabuck Republican candidate for Governor of California.
The parallels are there: both candidates came from business backgrounds and had astonishing personal wealth. Both boasted continuously about how their business experience would make them job-creating geniuses if they were elected, though Whitman’s tenure running eBay gave her better credibility to make this argument than Romney’s atop job-shredding Bain Capital. Both ran against Democrats that were viewed in a lukewarm fashion at best by the electorate–Jerry Brown’s favorability was underwater for most of the campaign, lest we forget. Whitman had an enormous amount of money to spend to defeat Jerry Brown, and wound up dropping over $100 million of her own cash to do so.
But she lost by a huge margin. This might be expected considering that California is more Democratic than the country, but the state doesn’t seem to have much of a problem electing Republican Governors that tend to be more moderate. In fact, there have only been three Democratic Governors since WWII in this state, and one of those got recalled. This race, in any event, was close most of way. But Whitman, who saw her campaign slide away for employing an illegal immigrant, was already dropping in the polls well before that story broke. The Times sums up the reasons for this:
Ms. Whitman has spent much of the campaign explaining why she had rarely voted before entering politics. Her record at eBay, including layoffs under her watch, has been the subject of scrutiny. And she has been assailed by independent fact-checkers for running what were described as misleading or false advertisements attacking Mr. Brown by portraying him as a big spender when he served as governor of California in the 1970s.
Sounding familiar? Romney has had a different issue with voting that probably won’t matter in November, but the rest of this echoes Romney completely. Romney even has a comparable story of employing an illegal immigrant to Whitman’s. And Whitman’s other major problem in the campaign? Failed flip-flops:
After assuming a relatively tough line on illegal immigration in the primary — though explicitly avoiding the tough anti-illegal immigrant law passed in Arizona — she moved, the moment the general election began, to appeal to Latino voters with an extensive and expensive Spanish-language campaign that extended from television airwaves to bus stops to billboards that read, “Más Trabajos,” or more jobs.
She flip-flopped a few times on cap-and-trade too, for what it’s worth. Not a great idea to be ambiguous on environmental policy in this state is all I’m saying. But that’s another story. The point is that taking a hard line on immigration, as Whitman and Romney have done in their primaries, is essentially a killer if you want to get any Hispanic support as a Republican. It doesn’t matter if you soften it later, Hispanics at this point are suspicious of Republicans over this and other issues and Democrats will absolutely trot it out endlessly and hammer it home with no end. Republicans have a very thin margin of error to trod with these voters, and both Whitman and (likely) Romney have already crossed it. Obama will probably get over 70% of the Hispanic vote, I’m predicting.
Whitman’s campaign, ultimately, failed to connect for many reasons. But the overall gestalt pointed to one reason: the people didn’t connect with someone who just luxuriated in wealth, felt entitled to get a position because of her wealth and status, and couldn’t relate to normal folk. As Ruben Navarette Jr. put it at the time:
So then why did Whitman lose? For one thing, she never connected with voters and that hurt her when the Brown campaign started pushing the message that she was this rich empress who lived in a bubble and couldn’t relate to average Californians. [...]
There are plenty of differences between the two cases, but I think there are enough similarities between Romney and Whitman to make it an interesting question, and possibly some hope for Democrats in November. It’s amazing how these two politicians seem to have almost identical backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses (though in fairness, Romney did actually win an election once). Personally, I long for the days when rich people thought politics was a dirty profession.
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