This article was originally written in 2013. This is before Dave Rubin became a major star on the right. When he announced that he had “left the left,” it didn’t surprise me. As this article shows, he was never on the left in a substantial way. -FM
I like The Young Turks and I check in on them as much as I can. But there is much about them that I find really annoying. If it weren’t for Cenk Uygur, it would be useless, but I connect well with his anger, even if I often disagree with him.
My issue is mostly with the others. The biggest problem with them is that they are all sub-geniuses. They are smart, but not smart enough to be terribly interesting or insightful. What’s more, they all share a very vanilla middle-class mentality. The show is desperately in need of a little life diversity.
It is in the context of this that I saw the following clip that was posted today, “Drug Testing Catches Shocking Number Welfare Recipients.” It’s about Utah’s law that drug tests welfare recipients.
It turns out that Utah isn’t catching many people but depending upon how you run the numbers, the program is paying for itself. But of course, stopping people from using drugs is not what these laws are ever about. It is about humiliating people on welfare.
Now you know a whole lot more about the story than you would have if you had watched the TYT segment. That’s partly because the show has no wonks and so they aren’t in a position to dig into the numbers and explain anything that isn’t reported straight to them from the Huffington Post. Ever. You would think they could hire a mathematics graduate student or something, but I don’t think they are even aware of their deficit.
Dave Rubin Chimes In
The biggest problem with the story was that it was hijacked by Dave Rubin.
He has the airy demeanor of a liberal who has never thought much about politics. And so he starts out with, “I don’t have a major problem with this, actually… If people are going to be getting government subsidies, for whatever the reason, then having to be drug tested doesn’t strike me as something that’s that intrusive.”
For the record, this is a typical bit of “get the poor” argumentation. If it makes sense to drug test people who are getting welfare, it makes sense to drug test every person who gets any kind of support from the government. And that means it makes sense to drug test every person.
It especially means we should drug test all bankers because they get enormous support via the Federal Reserve and elsewhere. We should drug test everyone who works at Stanford University because that college gets all kinds of support through student loans and grants. If you want to take it far enough, you should drug test everyone who wants to use public roads.
That’s the problem: no one ever passes laws that are consistent in this regard; it is just applied to the poor.
Do you see what I mean about sub-genius? Dave Rubin is just smart enough to be dangerous. He sees half of the problem and is blinded by political framing that others create.
Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola were not much better. Their problem was only with how the program reinforced stereotypes. That’s certainly true. In fact, that’s why the programs exist! If conservatives weren’t convinced that the poor are all drug addicts, they never would have come up with this new humiliating program.
Thank God for Desi Doyen
The only one who made sense was Desi Doyen, an environmental blogger who incidentally is not a member of the TYT network.
She laid out pretty much my case, which she summed up pithily, “This is about punishing the poor.” That cuts through all of the crap.
With people like Dave Rubin leading the liberal movement (which is more or less true), we will always be falling for some clever conservative framing of these issues. And it is already terrible.
In California, getting a hundred bucks in food stamps requires about 50 pages of forms. Bankers getting billions of dollars from the federal government required just 2 pages. That’s where the idiotic, anti-empathic thinking of Dave Rubin gets us.