Monday, February 12, 2007

The Green Lantern Theory of Full Employment

Oh, Matt. Matty, Matty, Matty, Matt.

Just when we'd started thinking that common cause could be made with the Left - on ending the war, halting America's overseas adventures - Matthew Yglesias waxes enthusiastic over Barack Obama's vagueness:
"Let's be the generation that ends poverty in America. Every single person willing to work should be able to get job training that leads to a job, and earn a living wage that can pay the bills, and afford child care so their kids have a safe place to go when they work. Let's do this." [Ed. - section in quotes is Obama's Feb 10th speech]

That's the way to go, isn't? To be frank, nobody can be quite sure precisely what combination of policies can get this done. The thing to do, even in the absence of political constraints, would be to try some stuff. You'd need to make some existing things more generous, you'd need to try some reforms here and there, you'd need to start some new initiatives and . . . you'd need to be prepared for the fact that some of it probably wouldn't work and you'd need to try something else. Goals are good.
Matt! If Bill Kristol made such an airy, pointless speech about the War in Iraq - declaring the need for victory but leaving blank the means to reach it - you'd excoriate him. And rightly so. But Obama gets a pass on domestic policy because ... because why, exactly?

Let's see: a theory of political action based on the notion that it doesn't take empirical knowledge or reasonable warrant or credibility in the field, but WILL - pure and untarnished WILL - to make good things happen. The idea that you don't need a concrete policy or a realistic plan of action or an exit strategy so long as you have good intentions. That sounds pretty ludicrous, doesn't it? Where have we heard that before?

Oh, right: from Matt Yglesias himself:
As you may know, the Green Lantern Corps is a sort of interstellar peacekeeping force set up by the Guardians of Oa to maintain the peace and defend justice. It recruits members from all sorts of different species and equips them with the most powerful weapon in the universe, the power ring.

Suffice it to say that I think all this makes an okay premise for a comic book. But a lot of people seem to think that American military might is like one of these power rings. They seem to think that, roughly speaking, we can accomplish absolutely anything in the world through the application of sufficient military force. The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower.
People who think that America can accomplish anything through military force - if only America has the willpower - are WRONG. People who think that America can accomplish anything through domestic policy - if only America has the willpower - are NO LESS WRONG.

For shame, Matt. You used to be cool.


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