Edwin Lyngar, whom I’ve critiqued here before (and here), has written another piece of Salon.com, this one called “I was poor, but a GOP die-hard: How I finally left the politics of shame.”
If you’ve read much at this site, you would understand that we really don’t like the Republican Party, so please realize that anything that follows is not a defense of the GOP. In reality, Lyngar doesn’t even quite understand what the Republicans are actually in favor of—he acts as though they are anti-government and pro-free market. As he has done before, he mentions that he used to be libertarian even though he’s made it clear in his past work that he is ignorant on the subject. He refers to the “financial meltdown of 2008” as “an utter failure of the free market.” How, oh how, does Lyngar describe anything that happened in the years leading up to the meltdown as a “free market?” He’s just throwing things against the wall and hope they stick.
The main point of the article is that government is there to help people and he laments that he used to “reject” it even though it was helping him. I can empathize with him about feeling terrible about borrowing money from his parents. That’s not something I’d be too happy about doing. But he talks about his how he felt that his “own poverty was a moral failure.” A moral failure? To me, that seems a bit odd that someone would consider financial troubles to be a moral failure. What’s even odder is that he attributes that the reason he had those feelings was because of his fiscally conservative views, but it seems as though it is more likely that he was upset with his standing in life because he “felt entitled to a middle-class existence.”
So of course he would be miserable if he believed he was entitled to have a better life! A feeling of entitlement removes the blame from oneself and it certainly doesn’t appear that he did much to help himself:
To support my feelings of inadequacy, every move I made only pushed me deeper into poverty. I bought a car and got screwed on the financing. The credit I could get, I overused and was overpriced to start with.
I’m sorry, Ed, but it sounds like you were just bad at handling your money.
So Lyngar spends a lot of time in the article saying that the government helps the poor, but never actually says why. He criticizes pro-libertarian ideas of eliminating aspects of government and claims that they are to blame for the struggles the people of the country have, but again, he never explains why. But he does explain one thing (about himself) very well:
I gladly pay taxes now, but this attitude is also rooted in self-interest. I have relatives who are poor, and without government services, I might have to support them. We can all go back to living in clans, like cavemen, or we can build institutions and programs that help people who need it. It seems like a great bargain to me.
I’ve always thought that as a libertarian I was supposed to be the heartless one, but Lyngar admits that he would rather have a portion of his paycheck taken from him (as well as forcefully taking it from millions of other people) than to directly help his own family when they are in need. Yes, he does want them to be helped, but he’d rather not lift a finger himself to help them. He is acting like it would be such a burden to help his family even when they actually need it. I wonder if he would say that to their faces: “I’m glad that the government pays a lot of your bills because I’d be really annoyed if I had to do it for you.”
I’m not saying that you should bail everyone out or that you should bail someone out simply because they’re family, but I do think that there is a big place for compassion in life. This compassion is for those who genuinely need help and for the people whose paychecks Lyngar wants to rob under the force of the government’s gun in order to fund these programs.
Edwin Lyngar mentions that his reasoning for supporting taxes and government is rooted in self-interest. Of course it is. Self-interest is why anyone does anything, but he also revealed that he is also just selfish.