Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not quite

There's one passage of Rachel Carson's brilliant Silent Spring that always struck me particularly strongly:
Have we fallen into a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior or detrimental, as though having lost the will or the vision to demand that which is good? Such thinking, in the words of the ecologist Paul Shepard "idealizes life with only its head out of the water, inches above the limits of toleration of the corruption of its own environment... Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world that is just not quite fatal?" (12)
Something similar seems to be at work here. The Economist, as a passionate (some might say rabid) defender of libertarian economics, naturally can't fault Texas's strategy of leaving the poor to fend for themselves. As well educated writers, however, they seem incapable of ignoring the resultant poverty that seems poised to swallow the state - even more unthinkably low educational standards, even higher pollution, less wealth in every corner of life, except for a small super-rich upper class. Their ideological solution? Texas is apparently not quite fatal, which is good enough.

Seems like this line of thought is becoming pervasive, especially on economic issues:
With U.S. unemployment at a 20-year high, some Americans are working for free while looking for a job, but experts are split over whether it is a sign of dedication or desperation.
Experts can't decide if pseudo-slavery is good or bad? Not quite fatal so far seems to be the verdict? Dear God, who appointed these people "experts"?

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