Visceral Politics

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Amity Shlaes has some thoughts on the political meaning of former Reason editor Virginia Postrel's volunteering a kidney to her friend Sally Satel, a prominent critic of politicized medicine.

[W]as this a policy kidney? In a certain sense, yes. As a fan of biotechnology, Virginia recalls, she didn't have the "visceral" reaction that others might have to giving an organ. (Yes, she used that word). She looked up the risks of the donation and found that "we do lots of riskier things every day."
…..
Virginia's husband Steve even came up with his own elegant little market solution to the fatal organ shortage. Citizens who give an organ get a holiday from federal taxes for a year. High earners pay lots of tax, and low earners pay next to none. As Postrel points out, the holiday idea is therefore less vulnerable to the usual criticism that organ dealing exploits the poor.
…….
"It was not as Virginia, the libertarian, but Virginia, the friend, that I was giving" Postrel says. "People who believe in markets do all sorts of non-market transactions."

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  1. Postrel is ruthless. She has a post up right now mocking New York health authorities for regulating New York chefs and banning one form of gourmet fish preparation, sous vide cooking, as unsanitary. Where is this woman’s concern for infant botulism?

    What an ass. Virginia Postrel did a beautiful and noble thing. After Amity tries to cheapen this gift with pointless policy discussions, maybe she can explain the policy-driven hidden agendas of atheists who nonetheless exchange presents at Christmas.

  2. After Amity tries to cheapen this gift with pointless policy discussions, maybe she can explain the policy-driven hidden agendas of atheists who nonetheless exchange presents at Christmas.

    You can’t teach an old dogmatist (religious or secular) new tricks.

  3. My political motivation for gift giving at Christmas is keeping my girlfriend happy with me. See also, members of my immediate and extended family.

  4. True fact: you should not give honey to babies under the age of one or two, because honey can contain botulism spores that don’t bother adults and older children, but infant immune systems can’t handle it. And yet, Amity Schlaes has NEVER come out in favor of banning honey. Where is this woman’s concern for infant botulism?

  5. Postrel is ruthless. She has a post up right now mocking New York health authorities for regulating New York chefs and banning one form of gourmet fish preparation, sous vide cooking, as unsanitary. Where is this woman’s concern for infant botulism?

    I will admit to having little specific knowledge of infant botulism or food-borne illness pathology, but this strikes me as a ridiculous distortion at best.

    First off, why should restaurant regulations have anything to do with infant botulism? Infant botulism is a condition that only occurs in newborns who have yet to develop their immune system thoroughly. Does this woman think that ANY approved restaurant food is safe for infants? Because its not. Infant botulism is caused by feeding food that’s safe for children and adults to an infant. Honey, for example, is perfectly safe for anyone over the age of 2 but for an infant it can still contain unsafe microbes.

    Postrel’s complaint was that NYC health commissioners were banning a method as unsanitary without justifying that with an actual justification of the threat. Amity essentially accuses her of having no concern for babies?

    http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/botulism.html

  6. That may be the most muddle-headed, insipid pile of steaming drivel I have ever read. A point-by-point refutation is not worth the effort; all one can really do is marvel at the stupidity.

  7. “Steaming drivel” should have been either “steaming horseshit” or just drivel. I Must start re-reading when I take a call in the middle of posting.
    None the less, Schlaes is a twit.

  8. Postrel is ruthless. She has a post up right now mocking New York health authorities for regulating New York chefs and banning one form of gourmet fish preparation, sous vide cooking, as unsanitary. Where is this woman’s concern for infant botulism?

    Wasn’t Schlaes being sarcastic? What baby eats gourmet fish?

  9. Hmm, going back and re-reading it, I think that Schlaes was, in fact, being facetious with the whole infant botulism thing. So used to seeing that sort of ill-informed kneejerk reaction to libertarianism that I completely took it seriously.

    Note to self, lighten up.

  10. What baby eats gourmet fish?

    The ones who die of botulism.

  11. None the less, Schlaes is a twit.

    Number 6,

    Perhaps you meant to type “twat” here?

  12. Smacky-I suppose either is accurate. But now I’m wondering how serious that woman’s column is. It could be that my satire-o-meter needs calibration.

  13. Smacky-I suppose either is accurate. But now I’m wondering how serious that woman’s column is. It could be that my satire-o-meter needs calibration.

  14. ” After all, libertarians insist on applying commercial paradigms to moral problems, which seems asocial and downright unfeminine.”

    Well, when you start out by misrepresenting an entire class of people, you know the rest is gonna be good.

    To clear it up for Ms. Strawman: libertarians apply many other solutions to “moral” problems. Furthermore, when commercial paradigms are applied, it’s typically because it is believed that the said solution would be the most successful—given how often the free commercial market is successful at meeting the needs and wants of a multitude of people. So, I see nothing asocial or unfeminine about applying a solution that probably works. But I digress…

    “Without thinking much about it, Postrel and Satel have made some important points. Well-intentioned policy can be fatal.”

    Oh, you mean, like, um, banning restaurants from serving a certain type of dish because of the remote possibility of “infant botulism”? Yes, Amity, you’re right…well-intentioned policy CAN be fatal. Not only to someone’s life, but to someone’s livelihood, or their natural rights, or their freedom granted to them by the constitution.

    “Arch-conservatives can have big hearts, as big as any heart at the London School of Economics or at the Democratic Leadership Council.”

    Why does this need to be said? Liberals like to think of themselves as having “bigger hearts” than conservatives, simply because they think that ‘having bigger hearts’ should be required from upon high. Yes, Amity, and tomatoes are red. Any more brilliant conclusions? Why, sure…

    “Market-orientation and charity are not opposites. Sometimes they go together.”

    Well, jesus, are you fucking brilliant, or what? This entire thing reads like a child who is figuring out what is obvious to adults. Yes, Amity, I hope you are enjoying breaking down all of your wrong assumptions. Dimwit. You think libertarians believe in the free market just because their selfish? Idiot. God, what an idiot.

    “Public institutions can’t monopolize morality, as much as they would like to. And they probably shouldn’t be allowed to monopolize kidneys, either.”

    Oh, but, public institutions are fine to monopolize “public” health, though. “Probably”? Please, tell us one hypothetical instance where it WOULD be a good idea to let public institutions monopolize organs.

    And this twat is a columnist? Deezamn.

  15. Well, when you start out by misrepresenting an entire class of people, you know the rest is gonna be good.

    Make that two classes of people she’s misrepresenting. (I’d like to know exactly what paradigms are feminine, you stupid twat.)

  16. To clarify, that last insult was directed at Amity, not Evan.

  17. What an ass. Virginia Postrel did a beautiful and noble thing. After Amity tries to cheapen this gift with pointless policy discussions, maybe she can explain the policy-driven hidden agendas of atheists who nonetheless exchange presents at Christmas.

    I think you’re misreading her. Within the context of the article, which is really pro-Virginia and pretty sympathetic to libertarians, the botulism business is clearly sarcastic. All policy discussions are pointless, but in this case I think it’s legitimate to talk about the philosophy a bit as it relates to stereotypes about libertoids.

  18. If this woman was trying to be satirical, she did a pathetically bad job.

    “Virginia Postrel doesn’t care about babies.” (Hyuk, hyuk! Wasn’t that brilliant satire? Isn’t that hilarious? Aren’t you all just wetting your pants with mirth? Any second now, the guys from The Daily Show will be sending me an email offering me a job.)

    “Libertarians are selfish.” (Comedy gold!)

  19. I can see now that it was sarcastic, but sarcasm can be tricky to convey in writing. I didn’t quite catch it at first. Either it was poorly conveyed, or else I’m used to seeing such accusations against libertarians.

  20. Either it was poorly conveyed, or else I’m used to seeing such accusations against libertarians.

    Ha, ha, HA! Brilliant! Hysterical! Viva satire!

  21. The article immediately came across as sarcastic and sympathetic to me. Some of the comments above (“twat”, “idiot”) demonstrate that some of you need to get out of the libertarian isolation chamber once in a while.

  22. Tough crowd.

    Well, when Reasonoids are used to wit like mine, other attempts at humor simply pale in comparision. She should try harder next time.

    [/snark]

  23. I hope Ginny’s S.O. is like me. Cuz I think zurgikal skarz are teh sexxy.

  24. Maybe the real reason Dave Barry retired is because he knew he couldn’t possibly compete against the brilliant comedic stylings of Ms. Schales.

  25. It turned out that Virginia’s kidney was a good match for Sally. Maybe it was their intellectual sisterhood. They joke that they even had the same blood type: Diet Coke. Virginia’s Web site, dynamist.com, has a photo of Sally recovering from surgery with her favorite beverage.

    Good to see that she’s already overworking her new kidney with toxic sludge.

    I just read the article, and (even before Rhywun’s comment), it would have appeared to be sympathetic and/or sarcastic to me, too. But she’s still a twat for insinuating that supporting a market solution is somehow “downright unfeminine”. What a douchebag. (Is that feminine enough for you, Amity?)

  26. “After all, libertarians insist on applying commercial paradigms to moral problems, which seems asocial and downright unfeminine.”

    Well, authoritarians insist on applying political paradigms to moral probmes, which seems even more asocial to me.

    After all, a “commercial” solution is at least voluntary for everyone involved, unlike a political solution. In my book, that makes the commercial solution less “asocial.”

    Besides, libertarian “solutions” generally begin and end with leaving people to find their own solutions. Which strikes me as the ultimate in “social.”

  27. But she’s still a twat for insinuating that supporting a market solution is somehow “downright unfeminine”.

    Or, is she a twat for pointing out that that’s what many people think…? Pay close attention. The very first words of the article are “The reputation of libertarians is…” What follows is satirical. Sheesh.

  28. The very first words of the article are “The reputation of libertarians is…” What follows is satirical. Sheesh.

    Well, in that case (if that is her intention in even uttering the phrase “unfeminine”), then I agree with Jennifer. Not funny, pointless, failed attempt at either wit or humor. She should’ve just written the article as a straight human interest story.

  29. Who exactly is she writing for? If her attempts at “wit” or “satire” would be picked up by anyone, I would think it would be libertarians. Anyone who isn’t a libertarian or very familiar with libertarianism will probably adopt those bullshit stereotypes as their conception of what libertarianism is. The last thing such an obscure political fringe ideology needs is hamfisted “sarcasm”. Subtle political humor will no doubt be lost on many non-libertarians reading the article, as is expected. That’s my take on it, anyway.

  30. I was in a used book store last weekend, and found some old copies of Godey’s Lady’s Book from the nineteenth century. There was one “humorous” article that read something like this:

    This is a very humorous and mirthful essay you are reading. Are you not laughing at its lightheartedness? This commentary tickles your funnybone, as it is most comical. Indeed, this be the funniest thing you’ve read in well over a fortnight.

    Lame, yes, but still better than Amity’s attempts.

  31. Smacky, I hate you and I hope you drop dead.

    (Don’t look at me like that! I was being satirical! Isn’t it obvious? Geez, you guys are so humor-deficient.)

  32. Could a Reason staffer please post something for the regulars to focus their anger on?

  33. The writer of The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to do About It, someone who won the Fr?d?ric Bastiat Prize, writes about commercial activity being “unfeminine” and says things like “Postrel is ruthless. She has a post up right now mocking New York health authorities for regulating New York chefs and banning one form of gourmet fish preparation, sous vide cooking, as unsanitary. Where is this woman’s concern for infant botulism?” and some people here take it seriously?

    There might be some irony-deafness at work here, people. It’s never a good thing to become immune to irony and humor. You end up sounding like feminists or neo-conservatives.

    Heck, you might even take facetious posting identities seriously. (Last mention, promise, JMJ.)

  34. Ack! Fell to the ASCII trap. “Frederic Bastiat”.

  35. My suggestion to her would be that if she wants to have the various libertarian people to understand her use of irony and wit, she should be vivid and coherent in her next message in this regards

  36. I’m looking forward to seeing Shales and Shelly Malkin starring in next season’s shoot of The Simple Life

  37. I agree that the article was sympathetic to the situation between Satel and Postrel. The author continually plugs facts about the 1984 ‘National Organ Transplantation Act’ and snidely states that the “supposedly humane setup [created by the law] ‘degenerates into an equal opportunity to die on the waiting list.'”

    The last little bit should have cleared up any doubt regarding the tone of the piece, “Public institutions can’t monopolize morality, as much as they would like to. And they probably shouldn’t be allowed to monopolize kidneys, either.”

  38. Amity is a libertarian and I think I remember reading that she’s a personal friend of Virginia Postrel. I don’t see how you people could possibly read this article and think that it’s intended to be critical of either Virginia or libertarianism.

  39. Clearly a pro-libertarian article; lighten up!

  40. I know what the complaint about the “tax holiday” idea would be. Did nobody else see this one, or was it just too obvious to mention…”It’s a giveaway to the rich!” (Whom, according to the same people who would say that, already pay no taxes, but whatever.)

  41. *sigh* “Who already pay no taxes.” It’s late here.

  42. yes, this whole “giving voluntarily” thing must be stopped, because the government is the ultimate arbiter of “value.” Anyone who disagrees is a selfish fuck and we need to stop them from spreading their message of volunteerism, capitalism and freedom.

  43. You think libertarians believe in the free market just because their selfish? Idiot. God, what an idiot.

    You think altruists believe in altruism just because they’re selfish? You bet they do.

    This entire thing reads like a child who is figuring out what is obvious to adults.

    The unintended irony of that statement is delicious.

    What an ass.

    The unintended irony of that statement is delicious, too.

  44. Reading this thread made me feel dirty.

  45. The satire is fairly easy to see.

    Jennifer,

    Quit making excuses for your inability to understand satire.

  46. Damn, smacky and jennifer, how many times do you guys have to let us know it wasn’t witty or funny? I mean, damn, just admit you didn’t realize it was satirical at first and move on, or don’t, your choice I suppose.

  47. Damn, smacky and jennifer, how many times do you guys have to let us know it wasn’t witty or funny?

    Six.

  48. Eh, sorry about that. I was in a really bad mood yesterday. And I never once thought it wasn’t satirical.

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