Politics is a mind-numbing sport for any sane person to keep up with. There is always some slip-of-the-tongue the press hounds are barking over instead of focusing on the efficacy of actual policy. Journalists would rather waste ample lines of copy on appearance, hair-style, tone of voice, and the cheekbones of public officials. The cabal of special interests who line the state’s pockets remain in the shadows – a privilege they pay for and receive in spades.
When a “rising star” enters the political scene, I discount it as just another lost soul. Aspiration to public office is demonstrative enough of a lack of personal integrity. That a man would not only seek a career as an overpaid cocktail schmoozer but actually frolic in the celebrity of the whole affair, it should very well be cause for unrelenting ridicule. To the contrary, he exponentially increases his chances of reaching the Oval Office.
Corey Booker is one of these scheming politicos. Mayor of the crime-embattled Newark, New Jersey, the friend of bond traders and destitute everywhere just won the jackass party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. If Booker wants to join what Mark Twain called the “American criminal class” he will have to win over Garden State voters with promises of gumdrop utopias and stamping out oppression. The hype that propelled him into national politics certainly indicates he will be the next Congressman from a state nobody is proud to call home.
Not all lefties are celebrating the charismatic mayor’s victory. Alex Pareene, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the overly-quirky Rachel Maddow, facial features and all, called out Booker in the pages of the agitable Salon. Like a good progressive, Pareene takes offense to the future Senator’s affluent connections. Booker’s chumminess with Wall Street and Silicon Valley poses too big of an inconsistency to endorse. It’s a respectable position given the left’s animosity toward success. The progressive mindset is beleaguered with feelings of inadequacies, which in turn inspire compulsory redistributionist efforts. Unbridled scorn for the monied and well-accompanied is sine qua non for the principled statist.
Steadiness in moralistic beliefs, as mistaken as they often are, is more worthy of reverence than the kind of ad hoc sludge that emanates from modern talking heads. Pareene loathes Booker for being a millionaire due to a questionable source of wealth. It appears the Newark mayor was involved in the startup of the web company Waywire either by investment grace or simple pleading to benefactors. Marc Tracy of the New Republic reasons that had Booker been in the glow of a brighter political spotlight, the alleged shadiness of his investment would have spelled an automatic end to the deal. It’s always an arduous task to discern if such naivete to government affairs is infantile trust or just plain duplicity; a tug-of-war between credulity to man’s affinity for blissful ignorance versus pure cynicism. Keeping in mind the fascist, warmongering history of Tracy’s rag of choice, he likely places his faith in the holy spirit of the public good. Such straightforwardness in thought, childish in rationale as it is, remains worthy of more respectability than the hiding of dubious money-making schemes under stock political ideology.
The infighting among progressives over the ambitious mayor is a comical scene to behold. Theirs is a debate between principle and political viability; champions of the latter not realizing the former is a necessary element for any viable argument. Pareene bases his opposition to Booker on what he perceives as a broken model for wealth creation. The rich, he attests, become prosperous “simply because they deserve it.” If only that fantasy had any grounding with reality.
Booker was able to use his relatively privileged upbringing to acquire capital for his initial web investment. This was not some talentless fluke on his part. The truth of the world is that there will always exist some who are more well-off than others. It is no easy feat to mingle among the affluent in order to gain respect and acceptance. That some have a knack for brown-nosing is hardly a minority skill to weep over. If the great industrialists, engineers, scientists, or social thinkers of the world had spent a large part of their time hobnobbing with financial suitors, we would not be gifted with many of the luxuries enjoyed today.
Pareene appears to be cursed by the notion that the class of wealth sits on its own pile of resources, hoarding it from the desperate masses that claw for scraps. He throws Booker into the vaguely described crowd of hyper-connected insiders who apparently enjoy bathing in one another’s money. These demigods of industry allegedly serve no other purpose than to inflict misery upon the working people. In Pareene’s words, Booker occupies a cabal of “people who know they are rich because of their innate skill, their brilliance, their work ethic, everything besides fundamentally inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities for economic advancement.”
There is certainly some truth to the perception that silver-spoon inheritance plays a large, deciding role in wealth accumulation. Inequality in terms of state influence also enables a class of unscrupulous actors to profit off the backs of the productive – a fact Pareene’s progressive ideology forbids him to come to terms with. But resources are finite, and beg to be put to use. If the rich were truly guilty of sitting on their hands, the money would quickly dry up. Large piles of idle cash do not remain inactive for long, and are often invested for the sake of a return.
The demonization of misers is one of the most destructive practices that emerged from Marxist ideology and its younger sister Keynesianism. The rich, though they may attain wealth by less-than-honorable means, still provide the capital necessary for societal improvement. It is the abstention from consumption that is responsible for the material breakthroughs mankind finds so beneficial, yet is hardly deserving of. Even in the midst of economic stagnation caused by government regulatory uncertainty and a perverted economy-wide production structure, the savings rate of the well-to-do remains high. It will be this resilience against the hedonistic presumptions of mainstream commentators that will keep the economy from feasting on itself.
Nobody but Booker and his associates know the exact details of how he came into wealth. It’s likely he fed off the plate of already established business moguls. For that success, I can only shrug; it’s no skin off my back. That Alex Pareene and a host of like-minded leftists use this as a rallying cry against state corruption shows a deep trust in the political process. Sitting up at night, fretting over the use of money that does not rightfully belong to you is a symptom of unfettered progressivism. Pareene is inflicted by the disease and it torments him throughout his writing. Satisfaction for his ilk will only come when total equality is violently thrust on society by decidedly superior disciplinarians.
I am in no way endorsing Booker, who will pose no challenge to the warfare-welfare state. In the course of elections, it is usually better to live by the Menckian spirit and sit it out. I recommend the people of New Jersey do the same, though none will follow my advice.