Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Seriousness

The most serious of serious, not unserious plans to seriously crush the bottom non-serious 99%. Seriously.

"Seriousness" has gone past being the most over-used, meaningless abstraction to gloss over debates about the role of the welfare state and is now just a parody of itself. I can't tell if the David Brookses of the world are fucking with me or if they honestly think their favorite buzzword hasn't been drained of all substantive value.

Just look at this inanity:
His proposal will set the standard of seriousness for anybody who wants to play in this discussion. . . . The Ryan budget will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.
And this isn't the first time that he's reached such orgasmic heights with his favorite adjective:
Wrong. This nation is still closely divided. The Republicans should not read a radical ideological mandate into the results tonight. But there is a trend here. The American people are fundamentally serious. They know that the most important problem facing the country right now is terrorism and security. They know that George W. Bush is basically right on how to approach this problem.
Apparently, he's gone from being enamored with how serious Bush's foreign policy was (that worked out well), to having a crush on the seriousness of the GOP's efforts to dismantle any fragile remnant of America's social safety net. One wonders when he'll ever ask his Tiger Beat idols when we'll get serious about how much we spend on an increasingly unsustainable overseas presence, self-perpetuating defense-industrial complex, and shaky extended deterrence umbrella.

But this isn't just about the way that the trite word grates on my ears. It also suggests some things we talked about when I was a comm undergrad.

David Brooks and Paul Ryan are just employing new versions of Lakoff's strict father morality, wherein the government is a metaphorical parent. In contrast to the loving welfare queen mother who spoils her kids rotten with medicare, food stamps, All Things Considered, and public infrastructure, the serious father has a budget to balance. The federal budget is nothing more than a larger version of a household budget. We have to tighten our belts and slash programs that just coddle and reward the downtrodden. David Brooks's serious father doesn't have time to worry about whether children will be able to get chemo or not. The strict father helps those who helps themselves, cutting taxes on the supposed producers of social wealth.

If you accept that metaphor, then it makes sense. Who am I to question the big man of the house for not spending dwindling paychecks on trips to the movies and school breakfasts for starving children?

It is odd, though, that no one ever wonders why Dad doesn't go back to that higher paying job that he had in the 90s. That's not very manly. Maybe metaphors only go so far.

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