Blindness of the Upper Middle Class Journalist

Social ClassI have something else to say about Will Bunch. Writing in 2008, he has two big problems with the modern Republican Party: budget deficits and global warming. These are, of course, the great concerns of the upper middle class journalist. He may work out of Philadelphia, but there is a fair amount of Villager in him. The thing I don’t like about his writing is this sense I have that to him it is all very simple: he’s just looking at the facts. And it just so happens that the facts turn out to be what is best for him and his class! What a great coincidence that is time after time after time after time…

Now, I understand: budget deficits can be a bad thing. And when Reagan was racking them up, there was no need. He also racked them up in the worst possible ways: by giving big tax cuts to the rich and spending money on unnecessary military hardware. But Bunch seems to think they are just a bad thing in general. And you know what? For people who own things like bonds, they are bad things. If you own a bond that pays 5% per year, then the lower the inflation rate, the greater your gain! And God forbid that inflation would go above 5% and you would actually lose money! That would definitely prove that we do not have a loving God.

On the global warming issue, I’m with him. It is a huge issue. But it is an issue that only those with a good solid job can worry about. The truth is that fighting global warming could be turned into a huge jobs program. But I don’t hear that from Bunch. I’m not saying he would be against it. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. But nonetheless, global warming is really just a symptom of a larger problem: inequality. We would have solved the problem a couple of decades ago if it weren’t for some really rich people who are making so much money by allowing us to destroy the world. Oh, and an assist by poor workers who are afraid that nice upper middle class intellectuals will destroy their jobs without doing anything to replace them.

I haven’t read much of Will Bunch, but I think he’s quite a liberal guy. He has a blog that is quite good. But there is this problem that I have with political writers. I’m poor. I know my thinking is affected by that fact. But among the upper middle class, there is incredible ignorance of their class biases. It is very much like the way that we don’t notice the air or the way that early cultures didn’t see that the sky was blue. This is because they live in a bubble. They talk to other upper middle class writers and read their work. They don’t read Frankly Curious or the Socialist Worker (although I’m sure at least some of their writers make it into the middle class).

But I think this is a problem. (Of course I think everyone should read Frankly Curious so I too can move into the upper middle class and not see that the sky is blue!) It’s perfectly fine that steel works mostly talk to other steel workers. But when Ed Kilgore and Steve Benen and Greg Sargent are all talking to themselves it creates a troubling situation. In a sense, it is just as bad as the epistemic closure on the right. It isn’t that they aren’t aware of what people are saying on their right, but to a large extent they ignore or at best discount what people are saying on their left. We get this from Jonathan Chait all the time on a couple of issues. They’ve convinced themselves that they’ve found the sweet spot: maximum truth. But it is actually, as for us all, just the truth of their class. And I have no problem with that—as long as they acknowledge it.

And for the record: the sky is mostly blue and would always be blue if there were no ozone in the atmosphere. But ask yourself: what color is the air in your home? Grappling with that question will unlock the problem faced by the upper middle class journalist.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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