Matt Yglesias is a writer for Slate. He mostly writes about the financial industry. (Although last night he was on a plane and so sending out a long string of the most banal tweets I’ve ever seen.) And he’s good; I read him every day. But he definitely has his blind spots and often falls ill with Serious Centrist Syndrome. This week, he got Corey Robin angry, and Robin is a mellow guy.
Yglesias wrote that there is a lot of labor organizing in China right now and that it is very much like the “heyday of western labor activism”—that is, not today. He claimed that the reason for this was that productivity in China has been going up but wages have not.
Wait! Did you catch that? Corey Robin did. When I saw the quote, I got a chill. I knew this was going to be good, because even I am capable of decimating Yglesias over his blindness about what’s been happening in America lo these several decades.
So Corey Robin contacts Matt Yglesias. And Matt comes back with the lamest answer I’ve ever heard. Really, this may qualify him to quit Slate and take a high paying job at the Heritage Foundation. (You know: the people who invented Obamacare and then suddenly hadn’t heard of it as soon as a Democrat proposed it!) Yglesias responded, “I should explain the difference more clearly. US is a median issue, China is a mean issue.” Robin responds the way any reasonable person would, “I’m not clear what point he’s trying to make here.” And then he goes on to explain that economic principals show that this situation would make labor organizing in China less likely.
Then Robin finishes off with what has got to be a devastating attack:
That’s got to hurt. Or it would if Matt Yglesias weren’t so busy tweeting.