I listen to NPR so you don’t have to.
And there are some reasons it’s worth it. I mean, that’s where you get Live From Here with Chris Thile.
Well, for now, anyway.
…well, a lot of racial virtue-signaling. I suspect the most lilywhite of America’s organizations is fearing a lot of backlash when the Bolsheviks come for the Mensheviks.
Speaking of which, it’s always a bit of a chuckle when the “progressives” that are NPR’s staff, social circle and pool of sources try to explain things like economics to the pool of “progressives” that are NPR’s audience.
Biss – a “non-fiction writing” major who has lived within the academic echo chamber her entire career, is the author of “Having and Being Had” – a primer on…
…wait for it…
Or, rather, a coddled, over-schooled/undereducated resident of the academic echo chamber’s perversion of the cartoon term “capitalism”, itself a hijacked representation of “the free market”…
…not that either term isn’t completely lost on Professor Biss.
Let’s start with this passage, which the NPR crowd will no doubt take for an emanation of wisdom, but merely proves that Biss’s son and babysitter are smarter than she is:
PFEIFFER: At one point, you’re talking about your son paying for a Pokemon card, although someone else thought he overpaid for the Pokemon card. What was it like for you to watch your son try to figure out what something was worth and why and maybe not figuring it out correctly?
BISS: Oh, it was amazing. In watching him learn how to play Pokemon the way it was being played in first and second grade at his school, I felt like I was seeing an economy be invented. But it was also somewhat excruciating to me because I saw the ways in which other children and his babysitter and I were training the values of capitalism into him. So, yes, at one point, he gave away a valuable Pokemon card because he just didn’t like it very much.
And then I heard his babysitter saying to him, were you a smart negotiator? And I thought, oh, no. What are we doing? This kid is only 6, and we’re already training him not to be generous and to get as much out of an exchange as he can possibly get out of it even if he doesn’t care about the thing he’s giving away.
PFEIFFER: Oh, that’s so interesting. I mean, diamonds are objectively very expensive and valuable, but if I don’t care about them and I just want to give them away, is that fine, or is that flawed financial thinking?
BISS: Under the logic of capitalism, it’s insane, right? But by some other logic, it makes perfect sense, especially since diamonds aren’t incredibly useful. You can’t eat them, and you can’t live inside them.
The interview – and one suspects the book – is a cavalcade of white progressive guilt, the sort of consequence-free wailing that afflicts our current layer of pseudointellectual societal overburden:
BISS: One of the things that I didn’t want to have happen to me as I entered this new life and lifestyle [i.e. – bought a house in a tony neighborhood near Northwestern Universitiy] was I didn’t want to begin to think that I had what I had because I’d worked hard, which is one of the patterns of thought very common to upper middle class. I don’t believe that I got what I got because I worked hard. I believe that I got what I got because the system favors me in a number of different ways – one, because I’m white, but also because I started out middle-class.
Notice she doesn’t mention “…because I’m part of an academic-industrial complex to which being a recipient of Urban Progressive Privilege gives me a priority ticket”.
Ms. Biss: If you’re that concerned about the things your “work” didn’t “earn” you, give up your teaching gig at Northwestern and become one of the people you describe later in the interview:
I think one of the possibilities that I could perceive, especially once the pandemic arrived, was the possibility of – what if we compensated the people we speak of as essential workers? So what if everyone who is essential to the daily workings of our lives was paid well and had health insurance and had basic security? That’s entirely possible. It’s even possible within capitalism, but that involves us making a series of changes in policy and, to some extent, in what we collectively value.
It’s entirely possible – say, within the context of a real epidemic, a modern-day Plague with a two-digit mortality rate, something that legitimately shuts down society for the duration of a disease serious enough to impinge even Nancy Pelosi or Lori Lightfoot’s lifestyles – for the skills and presence of “supply chain” workers, from the farm to the Walmart, to become very, very valuable. Vastly moreso than, say, writing professors at Northwestern.
But I don’t think that’s the “policy change” she’s referring to.
The bad news: these are the people teaching the “next generation of leaders”
The not-so-bad news: nobody she teaches will amount to anything outside the academic-industrial complex.