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Yesterday, I was called a racist for objecting to Mexican graffiti. I hate graffiti. I loathe graffiti. Graffiti is a direct assault and affront to the fading establishment we are trying so desperately to revive. It is an expression of scorn and to view it as anything else, another "human right" say, is delusional. The existance of graffiti is a reminder of our toleration of scorn for society at large and so its existence accurately reflects our own self-loathing. Eventually our businesses stop painting over it and the city stops painting over it out of resignation, sadly bowing to the what seems to be the inevitable, ever encroaching chaos. No one want to fight a losing battle on their own.
What bothered me most about Tamar Jacoby's talk yesterday was her essential reduction of human beings to units of production and consumption. She seems to worship the god of the ever expanding economy. No matter what, we must always do what's best for the economy. What she described was an "upper culture" built on the backs of a "lower culture" and yet the implications of this arrangement didn't seem to bother her at all. The tide of cheap labor flowing in over the border today will irrevocably alter, if not rend, our social fabric and will color the nature of our society FOREVER.
Jacoby never addressed the question of culture or what it takes to make a culture cohere. Homo economicus must sacrifice all to the god of the economy including the most basic right and responsibilty to steer the course of our civilization.
What does it mean to have an "expanding economy" in actual human terms? Why should we fear an unexpanding economy? Is it impossible to achieve some sort of economic equilibrium? How can our economy be expected to expand forever? Would the sky fall in if it didn't?
Perhaps we could live a bit more simply and with that, a bit more freely as well. I'll mow my own lawn, thank you.