Tuesday, April 02, 2002

A few right-wing bloggers have had peculiar reactions to a piece of mine last week which mentioned, among other things, the Kerkorians' ludicrous palimony fight, and remarks by that bomb-throwing radical, Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday) to the effect that you can't put an incinerator near the rich folks because it would ruin the tax base, which prompted, among other things, this rant from Ben Kepple:

Mr Dodgson is also displeased that Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York wants incinerators in impoverished areas of the City . Hizzoner points out these things have a tendency to go there. The whole shebang, Mr Dodgson argues, "is a gut check on the glories of American egalitarianism."

Why this is, I can't see it. So the rich have more than the poor do; this takes nothing away from the fact that even now in American life, a poor man can still become rich through hard work and living a virtuous life. Mr Kerkorian did not suddenly inherit his wealth; and even though his children will likely inherit some or all of it, it takes nothing away from the fact that money was earned, no matter who has it or where it comes from. One can start out poor in this life, be poor as he leaves high school or college, or lose his money and become poor. Whichever category a man falls into, nobody is going to get him out of it until he himself makes the effort to do so.

Someone who hadn't read the original piece might well conclude from that that I was quoting the Workers' Vanguard instead of the New York Post, but despite the bilious tone, Kepple isn't disagreeing with anything I actually said. (Well, he is disagreeing with one thing; Kira Kerkkorian isn't Kirk Kerkorian's child, as even her mother now admits, though she's still suing for child support; she has even fessed up to faking the paternity test. And I'm also a bit curious whether he really thinks that Kirk Kerkorian, a Las Vegas casino mogul with, to say the least, tangled personal affairs, is really the best poster boy for the rewards of the virtuous life. But I digress).

When I call these examples of "the kind of thing I like to use as a gut check when I hear people getting too sanctimonious about the egalitarian glory of America" (as I wrote it less sloppily in an earlier post), what I mean is simply this: that when one hears claims, as one does, from time to time, that no one has special privileges in America, it's useful to remember that some Americans actually do --- like the privilege of breathing clean air. As Kepple freely admits.


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