Social Security? Racism? Inflation? There’s nothing wrong with the American system that a trip to Wal-Mart won’t cure.
So goes this right-wing nostrum by journalist Malanga, who seems not to have heard that the Republicans are in charge. No, for Malanga, a shadowy world of academics, laborites, students, environmentalists and minorities opposes all that is good and just in American life, and it is thanks to them that we have such communist-front agitations as the broad demand for a living wage, a campaign that owes all “to the backing of leftist foundations”—the pinko counterparts, that is, to the neoconservative Manhattan Institute, which bankrolls Malanga. And what’s wrong with a living wage? Well, Malanga asserts, “the free market provides far greater economic opportunity and a decent standard of living for far more people than government-controlled markets.” Witness Wal-Mart, which un-Americans love to hate: Wal-Mart takes care of its minions, who are of course free to sell their services elsewhere and who, in any case, will rise far within the system if only they believe and serve it faithfully (“While employment at unionized food stores tends to be static . . . Wal-Mart promotes heavily from within”). As for naysayers such as Barbara Ehrenreich, well, she’s “a longtime rebel with an anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide, who can’t stomach the basic boundaries that most people easily accept in the workplace.” And as for strayers from the true path like Richard Florida, who has argued that livable cities with diverse populations are incubators of talent and growth—well, Malanga notes, thanks to him Austin recently put up a statue to the late rock guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, not Jim Bowie. Do we need another foretoken of the decline and fall of America?
The usual tongue-clucking about the egghead conspiracy, on about the same intellectual level as the “annoy a liberal” bumper stickers that have been popping up lately. Caveat emptor.