Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hypocrisy is one thing

Amanda's post about wingnut urban legends made me think about how gleeful everyone seemed to be to find out that when Ayn Rand came down with lung cancer, she applied for medical benefits from the government.  That makes her a hypocrite, and her political positions far stupider, but I still think it's her right.  I draw the line at humiliating physical harm as a fair consequence for being a crappy person.  This may be melodramatic, but it reminds me too much of how rape is a way to make a woman or other victim sorry that she tried to assert herself.

Amanda discusses her approach to questioning  anecdotes about some poor person somewhere not trying to improve their lot in the hardest way possible (apparently a sin to a conservative), e.g. a mother on welfare doing the math and realizing that she can devote her time to raising her kids and come out financially and emotionally better than she would if she worked a minimum-wage job.  I feel that it's better to loudly dismiss such things as boring and irrelevant.  The same is true of the anecdotes that back my arguments up.

It doesn't change the principle that people deserve some dignity and free will.  Systems should be gamed, if they result in an increase of dignity and freedom of choice.  Ayn Rand has as much right as anyone else to panic in the face of mortal harm, and take whatever steps are necessary to get on with her life.  A homeless guy has a cell phone?  Besides the fact that consumer electronics aren't all that expensive anymore, WHO CARES?

If I may add another example of being disappointed when people get too caught up in how other people live their lives:

I once was in a discussion about reparations for slavery in the US.  The Chris Rock joke about everyone spending their cash on rims and clothes came up, and I naively suggested something like a scholarship program, which caught on really quickly.  I tried to point out that this money was stolen from people who would otherwise have been able to choose how to spend it, and we don't really think twice about our right to occasionally blow a significant part of our paychecks on a round of drinks for everyone at the bar , but everyone was wearing their social engineer hat already, and too stoked about putting today's black youths on the hard road to success to listen.  

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