Tag Archives: welfare state

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Caucus

Today marks the start of voting in the Iowa Caucus, a crucial stage in the great and bloody pageant that is our Democratic process. And while the tallied results will doubtlessly dominate the news over the next days (until the  New Hampshire caucus steals the spotlight) it should be remembered that, while important, the results are far from deterministic. Plenty of presidential hopefuls have won here only to ultimately lose the nomination. All of which is to simply say that we will not (I repeat, not) be making any foolhardy attempts at predicting the outcome here.

That’s not our job.

What we will be doing is- now that the dust has finally started to settle- is count up the casualties and figure out what the numbers say about us.

The Head & The Heartless

As of the writing of this post, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders are neck and neck for the hearts and minds of their devotees in the Hawkeye state. And that alone should be of note, seeing as how a year ago Hillary’s nomination was being treated as a given, with some even dubbing the primaries more of a “coronation” than a contest.

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Which is probably less pleasing to some than others…

Why It’s A Good Thing:

Look, it’s no secret that yours truly is an avowed Leftist. And as such, I’m still not entirely certain what to make of Bernie Sanders. Part of me, of course, wants to like the guy. I do want to see Universal Healthcare, free higher education, drug legalization, and the like. I don’t want the massive, bloated, intrusive pseudo-socialism of Scandinavia. There’s a lot that goes into it, and maybe we can explore that another time, but for the here and now, I’m just happy that it’s a conversation we can even have.

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If you had told me, just a couple years ago, that a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist would have a significant chance at a major nomination and the presidency, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here we are, and for better or ill, we’re the people that have to deal with that. The issues of the working class, of income inequality, of the failures of run-of-the-mill liberalism- these have all found their way to the forefront of our national dialogue and they cannot be dismissed. Even if Sanders fails to clinch the nomination (and that’s still very up in the air), his supporters and sympathizers will certainly not go quietly into the night. From here on out the Democrats (and ostensibly, any major candidate) are going to have to address the increasingly vocal demands for a more equal society.

That, and I love that the eternally smug former Secretary-o’-State is being forced to actually work for this nomination.

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We can probably cover my distaste for this person at a different time…

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Evan and Gordon Talk: The Greatest Flaw of This Generation

GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen- this is your captain speaking. After some unavoidable delays we will finally be taking off into our mid-week discussion. Our topic for today is “What’s the greatest flaw of this generation?”(This generation being those born in the late 80s to mid 90s: “The Millennials,” “Generation I”, “Gen Y”- call us what you will).

EVAN: As I mentioned in the news update, we scrapped our conversation last night, largely because it became cyclical. To be more specific, we ended up going back and forth between apathy and cowardice, with one leading back to the other and so on.

GORDON: But let’s widen the picture a bit. While apathy is the go-to criticism many have, also up there for our generation’s flaws is our alleged “sense of entitlement.” Thoughts?

EVAN: If we’re still going with your incredibly broad age range, then yes, I definitely think that a lot of kids these days feel a sense of entitlement. It’s just the norm now to have wireless internet, a phone, the latest iGadget, etc. They’re just expected, the new given.

GORDON: Is that fair, though? I mean- haven’t we assumed that phones, indoor toilets, and electricity are “the norm” since they were first invented?

EVAN: To a point, though, some of what you listed are basic necessities. I’d argue that indoor plumbing is considered much more standard than an iPad.

GORDON: This is true, but I don’t think our generation- barring the handful of people who actually do feel entitled- views the iPad or any specific item as being “standard”- it’s the interconnection that’s the norm, as well as the expectations for new technology.

I mean, back in the day you didn’t need light bulbs. But if they’re mass produced, and safer than gas-lamps, then it just stands to reason that we’d eventually come to expect them.

But of course technology’s only one element. what about the idea that this generation is “entitled” in the sense that they get to “find themselves” or “focus on their art” or whatever hipster euphemism is being used to say “part-time employed”?

EVAN: Do I think that people feel they deserve the right to do more than just hit the ground running after college, get right down to the ol’ nine-to-five? I mean, yeah.

But I think this brings up a point I made yesterday about the “where” of our question. In France the age of retirement is 62 and that’s just expected. There are different standards depending on where you live in the world.

GORDON: This is true. I mean, each and every one of us would be considered spoiled brats if we jumped back a hundred years or so.

EVAN: Oh, no doubt. Especially you with your freakishly smooth hands.

GORDON: So would YOU say that the whole “entitlement” criticism stands?

And I use gloves. I refuse to be put down because I take better care of myself.

EVAN: You say that every time, but they’re still as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

GORDON: That means they’re working, and I’ll further have you know that I have a big ol’ scar in my right hand in the shape of a number “7.” But back to the issue-

It doesn’t seem like the “entitlement” bit sticks. Could we be classified as “lazy,” perhaps? The warped and stunted half-humans resulting from government dependence and the welfare state?

EVAN: Well, we discussed “laziness” last night specifically in the context of wanting to change what is clearly a broken system, but is what we’re talking about a general laziness? People just expecting to be spoon-fed?

GORDON: That’s the question. I recall a Cracked.com article in which the author kicked things off by apologizing for helping perpetuate the myth that a college education was a guarantee for a good job. Are we “lazy” in having had the expectation- as most of us had?

EVAN: Well, depending on who you ask, college is hard. In a way, I guess we expect that the hard work we put into maintaining a good GPA, et cetera, will result in finding employment once we’re out in the real world. Which, as I can attest to, is clearly not the case.

GORDON: So is that laziness then? Entitlement mentality?

EVAN: I don’t think that doing hard work and expecting a reward is laziness. That’s like someone working the fields and then being called a layabout because he expected crops to grow. A shaky comparison, I realize.

GORDON: Works for me. And I agree.

Now you yourself have accused us all of being creatively bankrupt. Could that be our major flaw? That we don’t make- we remix?

EVAN: I guess it depends on how we’re working this whole “greatest flaw of our generation” angle. The trend to rehash, remix, et cetera came about recently, but I’m not sure it’s because of us. Or is the question in regards to this day and age we’re in, and not those growing up in it?

GORDON: No, I mean us as an age-group, and that does pretty much answer the question right there. We are, for the most part, not the ones who are making the films and TV shows and music (give or take) of our time- that’s those who came before us.

EVAN: Exactly. Which is why we’re getting stuff like He-Man and Thundercats reboots, because those who were kids in the 80’s have a crippling nostalgia. Music is different, of course, but TV and movies are definitely controlled by the generation before us.

Okay, how about this. Maybe the flaw is our hellish appetite to be entertained.

GORDON: Ooh- interesting take. Expound, by all means.

EVAN: I mean, you’ve talked about the bilge that’s on television countless times. Do you know what we’ve been reduced to? A musical chairs gameshow called “Oh Sit!”

Are we so bored that we’ll watch people play “extreme musical chairs” for an hour?

GORDON: I had no idea that existed. But surely this isn’t the first time in history that TV’s been crap. Or radio, or books, or music, or anything. Think of the “Penny Dreadfuls” back in the Victorian era- little, cheap trashy pulp-fiction novels made for mass consumption. Is that any worse than what we have today? Seems like the bilge is the same- it’s just the media that’ve changed.

EVAN: It may be the same, but it’s being produced at a frantic pace. That change, at least, has to be important.

GORDON: That speaks less to our appetites and more to our efficiency.

EVAN: I’d say that it has just as much to do with our appetites, judging by the content of what’s put out.

GORDON: We’re almost out of time, so let’s hit up some other key issues:

Apathy. As we said before, apathy tends to be the go-to criticism, at least, one of the major ones when it comes to our generation, and I think this is one of the easiest to put to rest. The Occupy Movement, environmentalism, increasing number of social movements, increasing global awareness- you name it. We’re strides ahead of the past couple generations. Heck, I’d go so far as to say we’re the most involved generation since the 60s and early 70s.

Well we’re out of time, and still of plenty of ground to cover- so rather than sloppily close up, we’ll be continuing our discussion next week with a question about hipster morality: “Do we want to be good, or do we just want to look good?” If you have any suggestions or recommendations for topics, don’t hesitate to shoot us a comment.

EVAN: Thanks for reading, and remember that CWR now updates every single weekday. I’ll see you tomorrow in our first ever “Fame Day” post!