The Surprisingly Similar Attacks on Sanders Regarding the Soda Tax

Jonathan Chait - For Soda Tax If Sanders Is Against ItI wasn’t going to write about it. And the truth is, I’m going to try to make this short. When Paul Krugman wrote yesterday, A Note on the Soda Tax Controversy, I figured I’d let it slide. After all, at this point, I do a search for “Sanders” on anything Krugman writes, and if I find it, I don’t read the article. Or at least I try to. I usually manage to read at least half the article and it is usually nonsense. It’s what I always say, and what neuroscience proves: we make up our minds and then we come up with arguments to justify ideas that might as well have come from our guts.

But then I noted this morning that Jonathan Chait (who might as well be Paul Krugman when it comes to any discussion of Sanders) wrote, Why Is Bernie Sanders Making Right-Wing Arguments Against Taxing Soda? Right-wing arguments? What could they be?! Well, it turns out it is only one argument and that it is only “right-wing.” That is to say, it’s right-wing in Chait-land where everything is either right-wing or communism if Jonathan Chait doesn’t agree with it.

For those of you not following it, Hillary Clinton wants a soda tax on these sugary drink so that America gets healthier. It’s not a bad idea. I’m not necessarily against it. Call me agnostic. And call me agnostic because there is another side to the issue. Bernie Sanders is against this tax because it is regressive. You can see what a right-wing argument he’s making there. That is: you can see it if you have Jonathan Chait’s eyes that allow him to throw out pejoratives for anything that he doesn’t happen to agree with. It’s interesting that when Michael Bloomberg wanted to ban soda in anything larger than 16 ounce containers, Jonathan Chait ridiculed it.

Paul Krugman - For Soda Tax If Sanders Is Against ItAs Chait noted, the fact that such a tax would hit the poor hardest would probably make the tax most effective, since the rich spend more of their money on pricey Gamay Beaujolais. But it occurs to me, a liberal, that are ways to make everyone more healthy that don’t require doing it on the backs of the poor. It is only because Chait and Krugman and Clinton are all wedded to neoliberal approaches to social problems. Global warming?! How about a carbon tax! Obesity?! How about a soda tax! Both of these are regressive, but neoliberals don’t care because they aren’t poor.

And would it surprise anyone to know that the poor actually consume less junk food than their richer counterparts? But it seems that the modern Democrat has but one tool to deal with problem. So when Bernie Sanders isn’t for a neoliberal “solution” to a problem he acknowledges, then he’s “right-wing.”

I happen to know that Sanders is for a far better solution to the problem of bad eating by the poor: more food stamps. Am I the only one who remembers the article in Mother Jones two years ago, People on Food Stamps Make Healthier Grocery Decisions Than Most of Us? The issue is poverty, not “incentives.” And people like Chait, Krugman, and Clinton think the issue is training the poor, because it’s their own damned fault.

But why listen to me? I am apparently “right-wing”!

Morning Music: Escape from Noise

Escape from NoiseToday, we reach what is widely considered Negativland’s masterpiece, Escape from Noise. It is the perfect mixing of sound and music. It also has the advantage of being more song oriented. As we saw yesterday with the first side of A Big 10-8 Place, songs mixed into one another and what was called a song was almost arbitrary. Here, that’s not really true. Whether you think that’s good or bad is up to you. I don’t think it much matters.

But for today, we will listen to “Car Bomb.” What I especially like about it is that’s it’s kind of a parody of maximum rock-n-rock. But it works as maximum rock-n-roll and is also better than the vast majority of maximum rock-n-roll. The truth is that Negativland could do anything, because they understood sound — a fact that was clear enough from their previous albums.

Anniversary Post: A Vindication of Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary WollstonecraftOn this day in 1759, the great writer Mary Wollstonecraft was born. She is probably best remembered today as one of the first and greatest feminist philosophers, but I think that is rather too small a box to cram her into. But there is no doubt that her ideas were far ahead of her time. She was even far ahead of the thinking of many of the suffragettes who came along a hundred years later. And among conservatives, I still commonly hear ideas that would offend Wollstonecraft’s thinking over two centuries ago.

I like to think of her as the female Thomas Paine. And indeed, they were friends. In fact, they were both in France together where they faced the guillotine. Paine was jailed for some time, but it isn’t clear whether or not Wollstonecraft was. She was the first to publish a response to Edmund Burke’s apologia for hereditary rule, Reflections on the Revolution in France. Her book was, A Vindication of the Rights of Men. And it contains the kind of fiery rhetoric I associate with Paine. For example, she suggests that Burke would have argued in favor of crucifying Jesus. The sad thing is that I’m sure she’s right.

She followed that book two years later with what is probably her masterpiece, even though it was written hurriedly, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. It is mostly an argument for the proper education of women. It was generally thought at that time—even by intellectuals—that women needn’t more than a basic education. Rights of Woman is one of the founding documents of modern feminism.

Mary Wollstonecraft died young at the age of 38. It was ten days after the birth of her second daughter who would go on to be Mary Shelley, perhaps the greatest Romantic writer. Her death was due to blood poisoning from a broken placenta. It’s extremely sad and a great tragedy for our culture, but there is something satisfying in the author of Frankenstein killing her creator.

There is much more to say about Wollstonecraft. She wrote a great deal and had a very colorful life. The Wikipedia page on her is rather good, or you could read, Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life. Or you could read her work, much of it is available at Project Gutenberg. She also wrote narrative fiction. She’s well worth checking out.

Happy birthday Mary Wollstonecraft!