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The Progressive Lineage of Macklemore’s And Lorde’s Attacks On the Pleasures of the Poor

“That kind of luxe just ain’t for us”: Where pop culture, progressives, and puritanical values meet.

LordeKirk Stauffer cc by na saOne of the more remarkable results of the rise of industrial capitalism was that, for the first time in human history, the poorest classes of people gained access to luxury goods. Another remarkable result was that wealthier people who claimed to be allies of the poor told them this was bad for them. Recent developments in American popular music demonstrate that this paradox lives on. Last Sunday night, Macklemore and Lorde, artists who have built their careers upon songs attacking the desire for luxuries among African-Americans, received the highest commendations from the music establishment in the form of multiple Grammy awards. Their songs continue a long tradition, rooted in progressivism, of protests against the pleasures of the poor.

To understand this lineage we must first review the history of a revolution. In the early 19th century, the great majority of Americans were confined to farms where they had to produce their own food and clothing. Their homes contained little other than utilitarian furnishings. Their only source of entertainment was books, and most that were available were moral parables. They rarely if ever traveled more than a few miles from where they were born.

By the end of the 19th century, the material conditions of the poor were radically transformed. Most bought their clothing from stores and most owned clothes whose sole function was to make them attractive. They ate food that had come from all over the country. They drank cold beer and ate ice cream. In cities they shopped at department stores. In the country they purchased goods via catalogs and mail order. They read dime novels whose sole purpose was to provide them with fun. They attended amusement parks, movie theaters, and vaudeville shows. They went dancing. They rode on trains. Most importantly, when the poor acquired these new pleasures, they usually did so with no apparent shame.

During this revolution, self-appointed champions of the poor admonished their charges for indulging in what liberals today derisively refer to as “consumerism.” Thorstein Veblen, the son of a wealthy Minnesota farming family, produced the most influential progressive critique of consumption in a series of books and articles, most notably the scholarly classic The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Veblen lamented that rising wages and the availability of consumer goods were leading working-class Americans to lives of undisciplined pleasure-seeking. Untrained in the art of restraint, when the poor did gain more than subsistence wages they spent it on useless fun. What others had “euphemistically spoken of as a rising standard of living” Veblen saw as simply the “cumulative growth of wasteful expenditures.”

A host of progressive academic studies of working-class spending habits aimed to determine the exact degree of material wealth—and not one dollar more—that would provide, as one put it, “the power to ensure one’s primary faculties, supply one’s essential needs, and develop one’s personality.” The conclusion of most of these studies was that to avoid socially harmful “excesses” the “minimum amount of goods and opportunities” should also be the maximum amount. Typical was The Standard of Living Among Workingmen’s Families in New York City (1909), written by Robert Chapin, the son of a college president, which labeled “visits to cafes, ale houses,” tobacco, gambling and lotteries, “ornaments (personal),” “theater and “public festivities,” and even candy, soda water, and ice cream for children as “luxuries” and “extravagances.” Through the 20th and into the 21st centuries opposition to consumerism remained almost exclusively the domain of well-born do-gooders, often finding its voice in claims that advertisers create in common folk “artificial” desires for “useless” luxuries and “mindless” entertainment.

In recent years a principal target of these elitist and puritanical attacks has been hip hop, a subculture dominated by African Americans born into poverty who celebrate what Thorstein Veblen labeled as “conspicuous consumption.” Until the rise of Macklemore and Lorde, the most prominent criticisms of hip hop’s love of “bling” came from relatively obscure “conscious” rappers as well as intellectuals and political activists outside the music industry. But in 2012, Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” rose to the top of the Billboard charts to become the millennial generation’s anti-consumerist anthem. The message of the song is the early progressives’ polemic presented in contemporary street slang. In it, the white rapper from the hip Capitol Hill district of Seattle whose liberal credentials include songs promoting gay marriage and opposing “wars from religion” proudly declares “Only got twenty dollars in my pocket,” as he shops for clothes in a thrift shop. In the second verse he mocks rappers’ attention to designer labels:

They be like, ‘Oh, that Gucci—that’s hella tight.’
I’m like, ‘Yo—that’s fifty dollars for a T-shirt.’
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt—that’s just some ignorant bitch shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped, shit
I call that getting tricked by a business

Like the early progressives, Macklemore believes he knows better than the poor what they should desire, buy, and value. And also like the progressives he believes that the highest value is found not in shopping malls but in places like museums:

See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art

Naturally, the arbiters of contemporary liberal taste have recognized Macklemore as one of their own. “Obviously,” noted an NPR interviewer, rapping about finding bargains in thrift shops is “not your typical hip-hop theme.” Rather, she said, the genre normally features “bling and caddies and your gold grill.” Macklemore explained, “hip-hop is usually an art form that is about bling, consumption” but “Thrift Shop” is “about, you know, just saving money. And I think that’s something that’s rare in hip-hop culture. It’s usually about spending money.”

The liberal intelligentsia has similarly embraced another pop-star critic of bling, the New Zealander and self-described feminist Lorde, whose hit song “Royals” raced to number one with its declaration that “we don’t care” for the “gold teeth, Grey Goose,” “Cristal, Maybach,” “diamonds on your timepiece,” and “jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash” that are hip hop motifs. “That kind of luxe just ain’t for us,” she sings. Asked by New York Magazine about how “people seem excited by the criticism of conspicuous consumption in ‘Royals’” and what inspired her to write the song, Lorde explained, I’ve always listened to a lot of rap. It’s all, look at this car that cost me so much money, look at this Champagne. It’s super fun. It’s also some bullshit....Everyone knows it’s B.S., but someone has to write about it.” The New York Times’ rock critic Jon Pareles described “Royals” as “something smarter and deeper” than typical teen songs “that are calculated to suit that market”: “a class-conscious critique of pop-culture materialism that’s so irresistible it became a No. 1 pop single.”

Smarter and deeper than the hedonistic masses is indeed what liberal critics of the poor have always believed themselves to be. Perhaps this is why, as Lorde puts it, “We crave a different kind of buzz.” She sings, “Let me be your ruler. You can call me Queen Bee....Let me live that fantasy.”

Photo Credit: cc

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Oh, go blow it out your ear, Thaddeus! Your argument is nowhere as clever as you imagine it to be. As I've argued on here before, "Thrift Shop" is a brilliant take down of both hip-hop hyper-materialism and hipster class prejudice through taste-slumming. For example, if you bothered to listen to the song past its 1st verse and chorus, you'd know that the hipster narrator of Macklemore's song acknowledges the fact that all his thrift store finds smell like piss. (Or were you just too dense not to get the R. Kelly reference?)

  • bgarst||

    I think you're vastly overstating the significance of a single line. He makes that reference early, than praises his thrift-consciousness compared to the rabble through the entire rest of the song.

  • GILMORE||

    I think you're both vastly overstating the need for anyone to have ever listened to that.

  • kris713||

    what Patrick said I'm shocked that a mom able to get paid $5552 in four weeks on the internet. did you read this site link
    .,.,.,..,.,.,.,.,., bit.ly/1aNtBWj

  • C. Anacreon||

    Fuck you and your conspicuous consumption, kris713.

  • kris713||

    what Patrick said I'm shocked that a mom able to get paid $5552 in four weeks on the internet. did you read this site link ..,.,..,.,.,., jobs80
    (Go to site and open "Home" for details)

  • GILMORE||

    Spambot SugarFree'd the link

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    if you bothered to listen to the song past its 1st verse and chorus

    Yeah, in Russell's defense, I never made it to the chorus.

  • boomslang4||

    +1

  • dj kumquat||

    +2

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    than praises his thrift-consciousness compared to the rabble through the entire rest of the song.

    All the while looking fucking ridiculous. The song ends with a little girl mocking him by asking if he's wearing his "grandmother's coat".

    Regardless of the song's actual lyrical content, Thaddeus blunders by confusing Macklemore with the narrator of his song "Thrift Shop". If an author writes a book and gives his villain a long monolog explaining why he likes to kill and eat children, does that mean that must be the author expressing his own views on the matter?

  • Irish||

    The video also starts with a ridiculous slow motion scene in which people dressed horribly ride bicycles.

    It's fairly obvious he's mocking them.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Not only that, but from the other end, what Thaddeus claims is even more absurd.

    In the second verse he mocks rappers’ attention to designer labels ...
    Like the early progressives, Macklemore believes he knows better than the poor what they should desire, buy, and value.


    The rappers writing songs about Gucci and Prada aren't "the poor". Jay-Z has a net worth of 500 million dollars. Of course, Thaddeus, being the open-minded defender of the urban minority he is, automatically follows the mental association of rapper=Black=poor.

    There is nothing in his essay worth taking seriously.

  • Irish||

    It's especially bad because there are many examples of progressives arguing that we would all be better off if we were Luddites. They complain about new technology that is allowing poor people to purchase luxuries that were only available to the wealthy 30 years ago.

    That's a better example of progs paternalistic hatred of luxury than close reading Macklemore lyrics.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Er, Jay Z was raised by a single mother in a Brooklyn housing project. He is certainly no stranger to poverty. Thaddeus is clearly referring back to the wealthy dogooders' penchant for lecturing formerly poor people who suddenly find themselves with money.

  • BenjaminRTucker'sRevenge||

    Every rapper, whether rich or poor, white or black, Hispanic or Asian, female or male, rapes about being rich and buying rich people clothes, jewels, etc.

    I think you know very few broke ass rappers, that's why you assume the broke ass rappers don't rape about those items too.

    They all rap about buying things, whether they can really afford them or not, and they all rap about being the best rapper, even if no one ever heard of them and never will.

    And Guru (from Gangstar) said it best:

    "
    Run off your jibs, now there come a time for judgment

    Punishment, what if we take away your ornaments

    And strip you down to the raw deal then I'd reveal the evidence

    'Cause you don't really represent"

  • BenjaminRTucker'sRevenge||

    cont:

    There is a fine line between anti-consumerism and saying "without your video vixens, fly cars in the video that you don't even own, and that comstume jewelry, you have no lyrical skills at all". I think Guru, Wu-Tang, and a few other East Coast rappers have been able to stay pro-purchasing power and fine things in life, while still calling out those who are little more than their ornaments.

    I thought the article was good ,and I tend to like Thaddeus' writing and point of view (I'm also left libertarian, but an anarchist, and more of the Roderick T. Long persuasion). I think a lot of you give him so much shit because he's an admitted left libertarian, and not a total cookie cutter right libertarian...however, most of the right libertarians here border on not even being libertarian with their non-open border immigration ideas, and their support for IP and artificial limits on liability invented by the state, not the free market, like corporate personhood (not that I'm against some video being released in that Citizen's United Decision...speech was fine, but money is not speech, and campaign contributions are hardly a "collective right", if such a thing even exists, I don't think it does).

  • BenjaminRTucker'sRevenge||

    edit:

    Every rapper, whether rich or poor, white or black, Hispanic or Asian, female or male, RAPS* about being rich and buying rich people clothes, jewels, etc.

    lol..."rapes", that's totally going to get made fun of.

  • BenjaminRTucker'sRevenge||

    Edit:

    I think you know very few broke ass rappers, that's why you assume the broke ass rappers don't RAP about those items too.

    lol...twice. I keep letting my finger lay on the "r" key while going for the "p" key, and in doing so, accidentally hitting the "e" key when moving it away. Freudian typing?

  • Sordid Business||

    "There is nothing in his essay worth taking seriously."

    I would contend that there is nothing in any journalistic verbiage about 'music' worth taking seriously.

    I don't care whether it's published here, or in the New York Times, the L.A. Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, or some other rag, if it is supposedly about music, and it's written by a journalist, it's either a puff piece or, as in the case of this article, it uses music as a pretext for talking about something other than music.

  • Sordid Business||

    "Let me guess: you're a musician yourself, and only you and fellow musicians know The Truth about music?"

    While I am indeed a musician, I have known many non-musicians who were quite well-informed about music.

    Unfortunately, very few of them seem to go into journalism.

    So many take it for granted that while disciplines like Engineering or Economics or Linguistics or Politics require a bit of study before allowing one to form an educated opinion about them, music as a discipline is assumed to be easily understood by all; as though musical knowledge were a simple achievement, available to anyone capable of expressing an opinion. Rock Journalism is but the most conspicuous embodiment of this rather insulting assessment of musical knowledge.

    And yes, I think that there is a bit more to it than that.

  • Knoss||

    Ads for $50 t-shirts show people on roof tops getting out of their $2 million helicopter. Poorer people can buy the t-shirt then dream of the helicopter. So it is an affordable luxury.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "If an author writes a book and gives his villain a long monolog explaining why he likes to kill and eat children, does that mean that must be the author expressing his own views on the matter?"

    Depends on the author.

  • Thomas O.||

    I don't think anyone's actively campaigning to put Thomas Harris into an insane asylum, that's for sure.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?

    Look here, brother
    Who you jivin' with that Cosmic Debris

    Dontcha know
    You could make more as a butcher
    So, don't you waste your time on me
  • Thomas O.||

    Well, you gotta admit, $50 for a T-shirt IS absurd.

  • Eitan||

    Yeah, I donno what the hell Thaddeus is talking about. Those are two of the only good songs in a garbage pile that is modern music. And since when is encouraging savings a progressive value? Thrift shop is anti-Keynes!

    In other libertarian music news, apparently Die Antwoord are huge Ayn Rand fans.

  • JWW||

    Exactly!! If the listeners of Maclemore and Lorde do what they are begin asked to do, save money and not spend, then they'll actually truly be able to lift themselves out of poverty.

    If they lift themselves out of poverty by saving and being frugal, next thing you know they'll be voting republican.

    You are tilting at windmills to think this is all just progressivism.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    apparently Die Antwoord are huge Ayn Rand fans.

    I...er...I'm not sure how I feel about that.

  • Eitan||

    Die Antwoord is teh awesome...i will not countenance any dissent...

  • phandaal||

    Swing and a miss for reason. I'm proactively embarrassed at the thought that someone will find this article and use it to attack libertarianism for being ridiculous.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    I have the same concern.

  • taxed||

    I agree - this is very weak sauce and full of unsubstantiated assumptions. Being thrifty and not blowing cash on Maybachs and Cristal has very little to do with conservative vs. progressive.
    Weaker still is the connection between rappers and poverty. P.Diddy net worth $580 million, Jay-Z $475 million, Dr. Dre $350 Million...

  • Mr Whipple||

  • Sordid Business||

    "I'm proactively embarrassed at the thought that someone will find this article and use it to attack libertarianism for being ridiculous."

    Go to the NYT and read the shit that they write about music there. start with this.

    It is, I assure you, absolutely no less ridiculous than this article is.

  • BenjaminRTucker'sRevenge||

    You have a point about encouraging savings...but I'm sure these artists aren't libertarians, nor was that the intention of the song Thrift Shop.

    They are in this weird spot in recession culture where rich people pretending to be able to relate to the poor customers is hip. On the other end, the poorest artists are still rapping about stuff they don't have yet.

    It's like when some boxers get filthy rich, they start training in ultra scummy gyms. They want to be able to relate back to their roots, as to convince themselves and their non-wealthy fans they are still hungry and down to Earth. Meanwhile Macklemore and what's her name are spending mad fetti on stupid shit as we speak.

    I don't want anti-consumerism, but I also don't want consumerism for the sake of consumerism, for the reasons you eluded to.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    Did Welch and Gillespie leave the interns in charge for the weekend?

  • BuSab Agent||

    Who are you kidding? Welch and Gillespie leave the interns in charge EVERY weekend.

  • Zeb||

    I haven't exactly studied the lyrics, but I got the impression that the song was about how great is is that you can get used luxury goods chep at a thrift shop. And that it was supposed to be funny, not some commentary on the habits and desires of poor people. I agree that this is a pretty useless essay.

    Also, the hip hop materialist culture is stupid. Consumerism is not a necessary libertarian value. People should do whatever they want and can afford to do, but it is stupid to buy luxury goods you can't really afford. As a lot of people here wisely observe, in a lot of cases, people are poor because they do stupid things with their money. I have no problem with someone who wants to point out that buying a new car and fancy clothes on credit is not a good thing to do.

  • Invisible Finger||

    (Or were you just too dense not to get the R. Kelly reference?)

    I take it as a point of pride not to get R Kelly references.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Or maybe the popularity of both are just signs of the downward mobility of Obamanomics.

  • playa manhattan||

    Lorde without auto tune. The grammy's made youtube take down the full length version.

  • C. Anacreon||

    hilarious

  • playa manhattan||

    Thank you for acknowledging my link.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Are you just here to get attention?

  • playa manhattan||

    Mostly to cause trouble.

  • ||

    Holy fucking shit is that for real? She sounds like a fucking Muppet!

  • ||

    It's a real as your balls.

  • ||

    Ow, my balls!

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    GO AWAY, I'M 'BATIN!

  • Killaz||

    Great minds when caught thinking alike demand a dual! Or at least a dance off.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    A dual what?

  • Killaz||

    Two of a kind, feathers and all! Man, didn't you read it, or did you mistake the word for 'duel'?

  • ||

    By the way, the BBC subtitle guy that it was the Chinese Year of Your Mom.

  • ||

    Ow, my mom's balls!

  • Killaz||

    Holy shit, are you sure that wasn't edited? That sounds almost too bad to be someone actually trying to sing. I have never even witnessed a karaoke performance that horrendous.

  • Irish||

    Guys...it's fake.

  • ||

    I think people believe it because it sounds so old and worn out, like her face.

  • Killaz||

    She is suppose to be seventeen? Fuck. What is she, a vegan?

  • ||

    My opinion of those who use the autotune is so fantastically low that I would probably have fallen for a fake with her voice overdubbed by Louis Armstrong. Older Armstrong, that is.

  • Killaz||

    I covered my caboose on that one, Irish. I demand you acknowledge the slickness of my faux incredulity!

  • ||

    "Editing" definitely isn't what's going on here.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Wow. Thanks for that.

  • Coeus||

    built their careers upon songs attacking the desire for luxuries among African-Americans,"

    Having already posted this argument from fucking feministing in the pm links mock for its cherry-picking bullshit, all I have to say is:

    For shame reason. For shame. Even if Thad is gonna be this disengenous, an editor should have caught this.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Listen, Thad has found his hobby-horse and it's his right to run that fucker into the ground.

  • ||

    Except - hobby horses don't move.

  • cavalier973||

    They do if you throw them through your son's bedroom window.

  • GILMORE||

    Can I dislike all of the artists at the grammys, not for political reasons, but because I *genuinely and sincerely just don't like their music*?

    Progressive fetishize the poor. Film @ 11.

    No really, I went and listened to this stuff because some fucker on Reason said there was something worth commenting on here...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pigiPo5RxQ4

    I want that part of my life back, because it was horrible, retarded white-rap.

    Forgive me if I still prefer the rap music about being poor, selling drugs and shooting people

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoYZf-lBF_U

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Oh, shit! Queens in the house! Briarwood, represent!

  • GILMORE||

    ha.

    I think I drove though there. In GTA IV. like 10000 times. In real life? Not so much. I am one of these people who, despite a lifetime in NYC, has managed to avoid the vast majority of queens (aside from Astoria, Long Island City, and LaGuardia.) Queens has a strange effect on me where even when I know exactly where I am, I feel lost. I think its the shortage of subways.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Queens has a strange effect on me where even when I know exactly where I am, I feel lost. I think its the shortage of subways.

    I can see that. That and the fact that in Flushing, one cannot navigate without at least a 6th grade level knowledge of Korean.

  • Ska||

    My first high school gf was from Briarwood.

    And now you need a solid understanding of Korean on Northern Blvd. from Flushing to Little Neck. But not Great Neck.

  • MissMalevolent||

    Man...the left sure loves hobnobbing with the rich and connected while romanticizing the poor.

    Meanwhile those in the Middle Classes are roundly despised.

  • Lyle||

    Yep, this is pretty much it.

  • Socially Extinct||

    Not despised. Merely disregarded.

    Indifferent treatment is worse than malevolence.

  • Ted S.||

    Not disregarded. The middle class is the source of tax revenue.

  • Steve Gillman||

    It seems that one can believe there is excessive consumerism (or whatever a desire to possess a lot of things is called), and to express that opinion, without it being an attack on the "pleasures of the poor."

  • Ted S.||

    I'd say it's more an attack on the pleasures of the upwardly aspirational. Look at the absolute hatered of so-called "McMansions".

  • Killaz||

    Exactly. The flip side of their argument is they believe in the existence of authentic mansions that belong to the true elites instead of upwardly mobile middle class poseurs.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Well, that and the serfs need to be taught to stay in their huts and rake mud.

  • ||

    McMansions

    Ron Bailey used that term just this week.

    He also brags about his farm upbringing.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    One can, but I find that it rarely is the case. It's a throwback to the old aristocratic tradition of hating the "nouveau riche". Older money is rarely as rich as newer money. So, they push contempt for their consumption to both stoke a sense of insecurity in new money and set themselves as superior.

  • ||

    My monocle was made by the great-grandfathers of those orphans who are toiling in your mines.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Yeah, buddy, too bad your family set them to work making monocles, rather than mining diamonds.

  • ||

    I guess I kept my humour too dry.

  • Homple||

    The one thing I liked about this article was the mention of Thorstein Veblen. It reminded me to re-read and enjoy H.L. Mencken's flensing of Professor Veblen, his odd ideas, and the bizarre language in which he presents them.

    Page 265-275 of A Mencken Chrestomathy - at least in my old copy of it.

  • Irish||

    That article is one of the greatest things I've ever read. My favorite part is when he takes an entire paragraph of Veblen's that runs too about 300 words and sums it up in a sentence.

    Someone needs to do that with Marcotte.

  • PapayaSF||

    I came here to post that. Also, the closing bit where he demolishes Veblen's idea about why rich people use gardeners to mow their lawns one their estates instead of using cattle.

  • libertard||

    wealthy white people never spend "excessive" amounts of money on clothing, no siree!

  • OldMexican||

    Hmm. What does "excessive" mean in that context, anyway?

  • GILMORE||

    It means Mary is feeling lonely.

  • Socially Extinct||

    So let me get this right. You can't criticize poor people if you're not poor? Is this like using the "N" word? Some of us don't get the free pass?

  • Babylonandon||

    While it is really true that there has been a group who objected to the whole ideal of FREEDOM since the ink was wet on the Constitution there is a name that ALL of you should become aware of: GEORGE FITZHUGH.

    Whether they realize it or not, Fitzhugh was the Founder of the Modern American Progressive Movement and his ideals are exactly what motivates what is being documented here.

    Fitzhugh was a Socialist, a contemporary of Marx and Engels. His writings and speaking date back to the late 1840's and early 1850's. The main premise of his arguments, made in such Tomes as "Socialism for the South" and "Cannibals All" was a defense of Slavery for Blacks AND a justification of Slavery for most Whites.

    He argued that most people were incapable of properly ruling over themselves and their passions and were susceptible to abuse by rapacious (Northern) Capitalists. He insisted that most men were better cared for as the property of benevolent Masters and the State - ruled over those whose very birth provided them the superior genetics for Mastery.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fitzhugh

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nt.....evancerank

  • Babylonandon||

    Type in George Fitzhugh in Amazon.

  • ||

    no

  • CM500||

    Whatever Progressives may have believed in the distant past, today, most self-identifying Progressives and Liberals I know are keen to defend the right of the poor to purchase luxury items and live some measure of a decent life. It hardly seems necessary to mention that today, it is far more typical for Conservative pundits and Republicans to get outraged when the poor spend their money on luxury items, and it is they who typically are the ones calling for more self-defeating government paternalism for the poor(e.g. Drug Testing requirements for welfare recipients). Are we going to call these people "Progressive" now? It seems silly. Labels and definitions change over time, and historical comparisons are often asymmetrical. Suggesting that this "anti-luxury" line of thinking has a Progressive pedigree is like arguing that the Republican Party is the party of Racial Justice in America because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, or because the Dixiecrats existed. Clearly what was true back then is not necessarily true now.

  • Irish||

    It's not paternalism to say that people shouldn't be allowed to spend money that is supposedly given to them so they can buy food on pop.

    It's paternalism to limit the amount of pop someone can buy at all - you know, like hyper-progressive New York did.

    By the way, how do you square your argument with progressives using environmentalism as an excuse to clamp down on production of goods? Because the people overwhelmingly harmed by that are the poor. Not only that, but environmentalists in California shut down water to poor farmers in order to protect an endangered fish.

    When progs drive up the price of gasoline, stop poor farmers from using water, and shut down businesses opened by the poor for regulatory non-compliance, they're stopping poor people from being able to afford luxury items. I don't give a shit what your stated goals are. Progs have shown themselves to be the worst sort of liars and pseudo-populists, so when I see you guys destroying the ability for poor people to improve their own lives and forcing them into an eternity of government mandated serfdom...well, you'll have to excuse me for not taking your word that your intentions were pure.

  • Irish||

    It's not paternalism to say that people shouldn't be allowed to spend money that is supposedly given to them so they can buy food on pop.

    It's paternalism to limit the amount of pop someone can buy at all - you know, like hyper-progressive New York did.

    By the way, how do you square your argument with progressives using environmentalism as an excuse to clamp down on production of goods? Because the people overwhelmingly harmed by that are the poor. Not only that, but environmentalists in California shut down water to poor farmers in order to protect an endangered fish.

    When progs drive up the price of gasoline, stop poor farmers from using water, and shut down businesses opened by the poor for regulatory non-compliance, they're stopping poor people from being able to afford luxury items. I don't give a shit what your stated goals are. Progs have shown themselves to be the worst sort of liars and pseudo-populists, so when I see you guys destroying the ability for poor people to improve their own lives and forcing them into an eternity of government mandated serfdom...well, you'll have to excuse me for not taking your word that your intentions were pure.

  • The hand that whips the orphan||

    and it is they who typically are the ones calling for more self-defeating government paternalism for the poor

    Yeah I live in NYC where we just got done with 12 years of Michael Bloomberg's incessant nannying, and I can say with complete confidence this is simply not true. It's not the nonexistent right-wingers of New York City calling for taxes on soda, bans on Walmart and fast food, taxes on driving in the city/carbon, banning trans fat, higher taxes on tobacco, hiking the minimum wage to a level that would render most poor people permanently unemployed, defunding charter schools (that's De Blasio's new fetish), etc.

    Certainly Republicans have their stupid poor hating pet projects as well and love to pontificate about rap, but the vast majority of nannying that does real damage to the poor comes from the left.

  • The hand that whips the orphan||

    And you can add to that list banning bagel shops from donating bagels to homeless shelters, forcing businesses to reduce salt content, banning foam to-go containers, banning guns, and limiting beer sizes.

    The question is how much more of this bullshit is De Blasio going to come up with. But yeah, it's Republicans who are the problem.

  • GILMORE||

    I'm not going to bother trying to decode that mishmash. English, motherfucker = learn to speak it.

    Short: yes, progressives constantly patronize the poor and presume to tell them what they *should* aspire to. Its a goddamn cliché. Which endless frustrates them, because they are far too often shocked to discover that "the poor" do not maintain particularly socially egalitarian beliefs, but by and large a) aspire to wealth and prefer free enterprise over communal ideals, b) despise the nanny state that they must rely on, and c) OMG! they often are religious and aren't as peachy keen about gay marriage or multicultural visions of social unity as their proggy champions...

    and there's no, "BUT REPUBLICANS!"-counter to this reality. If anything, republicans are sometimes guilty of pretending the poor don't exist (why? they hardly vote). While the progs claim to speak for a fictitious version of them.

  • Babylonandon||

    CM500 no one cares what they do with THEIR money ... its when they take MY money and give it to the poor and I see the poor at the store buying food with MY money on an EBT card and then turning around and buying crap and luxuries (like alcohol, cigarettes, candy, garbage food, fancy shoes, and jewelry) with a roll of THEIR money (that they got however) which would have easily covered the food they were getting with my money.

    Why should I have to pay them so they can afford luxuries ... ones I can't often afford - certainly not in the quantities and varieties my forced "largesse" allows them to enjoy. I see this sort of thing in my neighborhood all the time and it is crap.

  • The hand that whips the orphan||

    What's so foolish about the whole farce is that on one hand progressives are fine with near unlimited welfare because "social justice" or some such nonsense, but then lament when the poor take that money and eat too much fast food, drink too much soda, smoke too many cigarettes, and drink too much alcohol, so they'll then tax those things more, then whine about how the poor can no longer afford their "necessities" anymore. If it weren't so destructive it would almost be comical.

  • PapayaSF||

    Exactly.

    And there's absolutely nothing wrong with criticizing the poor for doing things that keep them in poverty. Sorry, buying $200 sneakers when you're on welfare is stupid. So is buying cigarettes, lottery tickets, and a lot of other things. This is not begrudging the poor some comforts and even luxuries, but it's very easy for the poor to fall into a trap of trying to paper over their condition with entertainments and the superficial trappings of luxuries, and that can easily help keep them trapped in poverty.

  • OldMexican||

    Smarter and deeper than the hedonistic masses is indeed what liberal critics of the poor have always believed themselves to be.


    They act like the priests of an established religion because as people's level of wealth starts to rise and the old aristocracy is replaced by a greater number of nouveau riche, the relevancy of intellectuals, artists and aesthetes is reduced. These priests feel compelled to come up with new sins from which to atone, and so they make up shit like "excess consumption" and other touchy-feely concepts.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Pet tigers are a "pleasure of the poor"?

  • ||

    What do you think they ride so they can responsibly drink Cristal on the island they flew to on their plane?

  • Babylonandon||

    If you do not have a job that pays for them (and pay taxes on your salary) you should not have - cigarettes, junk food, alcohol, drugs, fancy clothes, expensive shoes, bling, a fancy car, own a house, the very best medical care, or any of the luxuries that working for them should provide.

    NOW, when you are poor you SHOULD be able to get some help - within reason and a decent education for your kids (so I don't have to support them and THEIR kids) BUT this should only continue so long as you are making an effort (if you are physically able) to put yourself back on the workforce and self-responsibility.

    I have no problem whatsoever stepping over the rotting corpses of addicts who wrecked their lives getting high thinking we will forever keep them from facing the music of being stupid ... and their kids should be seized and put in education camps to INSURE they have a future and won't be a burden to the rest of us.

  • ||

    Words I will never speak again: the Facebook comments on this article are among the most intelligent I have ever seen.

  • marysmith||

    First off, I would like more information about what leads the author to believe that Macklemore is criticizing the poor rather than the rich. (I'm not familiar with the other song/artist, so can't comment on that.)

    I think that the reality of "conspicuous consumerism" is more complex than shameless pleasure-seeking. Often, the poor want to acquire and be seen with luxury goods because it hides the shame of poverty.

  • Irish||

    One with its declaration that “we don’t care” for the “gold teeth, Grey Goose,” “Cristal, Maybach,” “diamonds on your timepiece,” and “jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash” that are hip-hop motifs.

    Yeah, clearly Lorde is mocking all those poor people with diamonds on their mantle pieces, privately owned islands, and pet tigers.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Meh. Let's face it, that's the poor's aspirational view of rich. Yes, Elvis was a very rich guy. But, if you ever visit Graceland, you realize that he grew up dirt poor.

  • misthiocracy||

    It seems to me that these singers are criticizing conspicuous consumption by the rich, not the pleasures of the poor.

    Grey Goose, Cristal, Maybach, diamonds, jet planes, islands, and pet tigers are hardly common purchases by those living at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

    Personally, while I deplore Macklemore's insane affection for conspiracy theories, I am quite comfortable with musical artists promoting thrift, savings, and an appreciation for true value.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Is he promoting thrift, savings, and an appreciation for true value or is he making a catty little class statement? A lot of what I'm hearing has the stench of the latter.

  • ||

    I am quite comfortable with musical artists promoting thrift, savings, and an appreciation for true value.

    Except that isn't what is going on. This isn't the Dave Ramsey version of hip-hop

  • GILMORE||

    "Grey Goose, Cristal, Maybach, diamonds, jet planes, islands, and pet tigers are hardly common purchases by those living at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder."

    No.

    Which is why you actually hear people on the bottom of the socio economic ladder singing about those things.

    And why you find people somewhat farther up the socio economic ladder chastising them as being 'petty materialists' for doing so.

    That distant rumble was the point of the article passing above you at 30,000ft.

  • hroark314||

    I don't think this criticism is fair at all. There's a big difference between the virtue of thrift and elites mandating consumption patterns for the poor (a la Mayor Bloomberg and Michelle Obama). Thrift is a solidly middle class value that, unfortunately, the poor don't generally share. I'd argue there's a causal link there. These songs don't call for government bans of Cristal, Maybachs and Gucci - they just suggest the singers think there are better ways to spend limited resources. That's not coercion - it's the essence of responsible individualism.

  • AlmightyJB||

  • hroark314||

    So, does literally everyone here think this piece is completely wrong?

  • Killaz||

    Completely? No. The part about Macklemore seems way off on the little I know of the artist. I've seen the video, the hipsters and their attitudes about hip hop favored luxuries comes across as the real target of his lyrics.

  • Killaz||

    I mean, who the fuck really likes Basquiat? It's insulting.

  • Killaz||

    Just my interpretation, but I see the lyrics as being inside the head of a hipster with elitist pretensions, and it contrasts his silliness by the fact he shops in thrift shops while looking down on hip hop tastes. The Basquiat line is from him being defensive about his motivations; saying, hey, I don't like this hip hop garbage but authentic African-American art, acknowledged by elite standards, like Basquiat's work, I enjoy.

  • Killaz||

    Meh . . . I misheard.

  • hroark314||

    Very good point!

  • ||

    Actually watching the Macklemore video and reading the slate article and listening to the lyrics..

    Yup the reason article got it right. Macklemore is slimy progressive hipster hating on t he poor.

    I will admit the article is unfair to Macklemore...he does advocate thift which is not a bad thing for anyone regardless of thrift.

    The idea that Macklemore is mocking hipsters is bullshit though.

  • ||

    ..thrift which is not a bad thing for anyone regardless of class.

    fixed

  • Joao||

    Somebody stop me... too late.

    Here's where I give my standard lecture to a friend who labels himself as CHEAP.

    First I ask if he really thinks that is so or is perhaps "frugal" a better description. If he doesn't know the difference, I explain that a frugal person lives within his/her means, and is averse to wasting any of their resources. A frugal person is open to the value of that which is or may be purchased.

    I then explain that CHEAP person does not acknowledge the value of the prospective purchase, only what they are willing to pay (which may sound "market", but) and the tactics that they may employ to get the seller to arrive at that price.

    Cheapness is bad character, a need to control the trade, claim victory over the adversary, when the fellow trader is not an adversary, but a willing participant in an equal exchange.

    I show it to my kids: I show them a quarter, then put it in my hand and make a fist. Then I challenge them to get the quarter out. They try and struggle but cannot open my hand to get the quarter. Then I take another quarter and ask them to put it into that same clenched fist. I'm sure they could squeeze it in there partways somewhere, but it never comes to that. They get it. I finish up telling them that money comes and goes. A wise person makes sure that some stays.

    I get that way back, snobs tried to shame folks for enjoying the fruits of their labor. This modern strain, not so much.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Cheapness is bad character, a need to control the trade, claim victory over the adversary, when the fellow trader is not an adversary, but a willing participant in an equal exchange.

    Equal exchange is fine and dandy, but exchanges slanted in your favor are even better. I don't see any moral flaw in seeking the latter. (certainly if you're looking to build a relationship with your trading partner, you want to keep things even, but that's another matter entirely)

    Also keep in mind that in the vast majority of exchanges in our society, the seller is far more experienced at selling the thing than the buyer is at buying the thing. A buyer who walks in without a strong opinion of what he or she is willing to pay, and a strong will to minimize how much he or she pays, is going to get eaten alive.

  • ||

    See, I never got that interpretation from these songs.

    Macklemore's 'Thrift Shop' seems more a complaint about the *sameness*, the lack of individuality, you get when you just buy things based on their price tag.

    He's not saying that that Gucci T-shirt is bad, he even compliments it. Then he goes on to point out that 5 other people are wearing the same thing *and* it cost $50 - for a t-shirt that is functionally the same as one you can get for $10 - *that's* how you get swindled.

    I don't necessarily agree with his 'sense of style' but I think the point he was making is that style is more than simply *how much* your clothes cost.

    And as for Lorde - I see *that* song as more along the lines of telling people to stop obsessing over really expensive shit. Talking about it all the time, buying stuff you can't afford to 'live the fantasy', all the while missing out on what's important - not how much money your particular clique makes, but how much fun you have with them. Bentley's and diamonds on your teeth are fine (and fun, *if* you've got the money laying around)- but not worth draining your bank account for.

  • ||

    And shifting a little, the minimum wage thing is also another example of progressive social engineering that has all sorts of unjust implications. For example, say someone began a job at minimum wage a couple of years ago and worked and earned their way to the magical and arbitrary $10.10 wage Obama espouses. How is it fair to them that new workers without having put in the time get to that amount? That's progressive 'justice' for you.

    As for saving money, whatever. People spend discretionary income on all sorts of things and sometimes against their better interests. I have friends who drop $700 a month on a leased BMW on a 75k income. To me, that coin is better off in a mortgage for a revenue property. But that's their choice. But what annoys me is they turn around, in their mid-40s, and decide they should buy a building. They shoulda made that decision when they signed for that Bimmer. More time to pay off the mortgage and live off the revenues.

    The other thing that aggravates me to no end about the left is that while they complain about 'income inequality' they have no problems taxing the very things that give people a chance at wealth - like capital gains, interest and dividends. If a middle-class person takes a risk and invests in dividend paying stocks, those spoils should be theirs to enjoy. That the government takes its 'cut' is thievery to me and is part of the problem.

  • sarcasmic||

    How is it fair to them that new workers without having put in the time get to that amount?

    If you'd put in the time to earn your wage, and someone with similar experience elsewhere started at the same wage, would that be fair? I think it would.

    Experience is experience.

    The cruel thing about minimum wage is that if you don't have the experience, you're simply passed over. Minimum wage doesn't force employers to pay people more than what they can produce. Minimum wage forces employers to refuse to hire the young and the unskilled.

    No experience? No job. No job? No experience.

    That's the true result of a minimum wage.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • ||

    "If you'd put in the time to earn your wage, and someone with similar experience elsewhere started at the same wage, would that be fair? I think it would."

    I should have been clearer. I mean for the person who doesn't possess the experience where they do manage to get a job.

  • sarcasmic||

    I mean for the person who doesn't possess the experience where they do manage to get a job.

    They won't. That's the point. Well, maybe they'll get hired if they know someone, but that's a different matter.

    Minimum wage doesn't force employers to pay people more than what they are worth. It forces employers to refuse to hire people who lack experience.

  • ||

    Oh yes, the people looking to ENTER the work force will be fucked. Absolutely. As been pointed out many times here in this fine publication.

  • soy.lor.n||

    Sadly though McDonalds can't fire every single counterperson/burger flipper they have and keep only their managers. So the few low-skill/low-experience people that don't lose their jobs will be paid like managers.

    Perhaps that's fair though since they'll have to do 2x+ the amount of work they were doing before. At least until they get the machines in all their stores to do all those jobs.

  • sarcasmic||

    I worked at McDonalds and have no idea of what you are talking about.

  • Daily Beatings||

    This reminds me of an episode of Drawn Together, especially this line:

    Board of Education: "So you see why we can't let blacks pass the SATs. No educated person would spend money on gold rims, purple leather seats, and flip-down LCD screens for $3,000 Geos".

  • Intn'l House of Badass||

    Does it really matter that much if Thaddeus' critique is flawed? I mean, the important thing here is that the message that Macklemore has no talent get out.

  • Ken A||

    Sorry, but WTF and Gee (!) Whiz! As a libertarian, I find this article embarrassing to the cause and expect my liberal friends to share it on FB to mock the movement.
    Is it necessarily wrong to pooh pooh the desire for wasteful consumption when people get shot for a pair of overpriced shoes?
    (The free market dictates that shoes made by little children in a sweatshop are actually worth $150, so that makes the price okay. Maybe the victim should have been armed?)
    Secondly, that song by Macelmore is a laugh riot! Ye who have bought birthday presents at a chain store, vs. the local thrift store, have not lived. Also, thrift stores empower poor people through charity services, and due to the low prices and nonprofit status, less money goes to the government in taxes.

  • sarcasmic||

    (The free market dictates that shoes made by little children in a sweatshop are actually worth $150, so that makes the price okay. Maybe the victim should have been armed?)

    The free market dictates that good are worth what people are willing to pay. I personally would never pay $150 for a pair of shoes. But for some reason people who earn half my income will. All I can do is shrug my shoulders.

  • sarcasmic||

    *goods*

  • Ken A||

    #grammarpolice
    lol

  • sarcasmic||

    Got to head off the pedants at the pass.

  • Ska||

    Head them off at the pass? I hate that cliche!

  • sarcasmic||

    I hate guitars mixed with horns.

  • GILMORE||

    - 1 Blood Sweat and Tears

  • montana mike||

    Rock of Ages by the Band...GREAT album.

  • Irish||

    Sorry, but WTF and Gee (!) Whiz! As a libertarian, I find this article embarrassing to the cause and expect my liberal friends to share it on FB to mock the movement.

    This is a dumb article, but liberals don't read magazines that aren't left-wing. Unless this gets mocked in HuffPo no liberal is ever going to see this.

  • GILMORE||

    "As a libertarian..."

    Why do sentences beginning this way always to go straight down a ski-jump into a giant pit of retarded?

    I smell conspiracy.

  • Ken A||

    Conspiracy?

    You should hear the extended remix, where she wails on and on about fluoridated water.

    What was retarded?

  • ||

    What was retarded?

    I assume he means the following, which sarcasmic already addressed:

    Is it necessarily wrong to pooh pooh the desire for wasteful consumption when people get shot for a pair of overpriced shoes?
    (The free market dictates that shoes made by little children in a sweatshop are actually worth $150, so that makes the price okay. Maybe the victim should have been armed?)
  • GILMORE||

    yeah, pretty much.

    you could have stopped at 'pooh pooh', even.

  • GILMORE||

    Also,

    "as a libertarian"...

    ...I have nothing but contempt for peasants celebrating their impecunious condition as some kind of de-facto virtuousness. Christ may have sold people on that shtick, but last I checked, The Pope Still Lives Large.

    http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazo.....-pope.jpeg

    If these slave-songs help the proles work harder in my diamond mines, so be it: let them sing. But I insist on silence around my pet tigers.

    Also = $150? even my prisoners get better footwear than *that*

    http://www.thefryecompany.com/.....rison-boot

  • Ken A||

    I respect your argument ad hominem attack on my appeal from authority.

  • GILMORE||

    I note:

    No one made fun of *you*. Calling a post retarded does not make you developmentally disabled.

    And I don't see where you made any appeal TO authority

    (*unless you are in fact the Chairperson of Allied Thrift Stores of America and a research psychologist specializing in Conspicuous Consumption Syndrome)

    I would simplify the case to this =

    "is it necessarily wrong to pooh pooh..."

    ? Not 'necessarily', but in general = yes. "pooh pooh-ing" itself is imposing some kind of arbitrary moral value judgment on the consumption choices of others. Which isn't exactly Rule#1 in the Libertarian Handbook. (which, by the way, if anyone has ever seen one, let me know)

    Or put another way = ostentatious and self-conscious rejection of 'bling' is no different than its celebration. 'Royals' isn't any different in essence than THIS =

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNTBb1u6UGg

    (...well, other than you can't dance to it.)

    neither here nor there.

    That said, I am a huge fan of $400 Frye boots (tho not those prison things, ugh). I find them worth every penny. Your mileage may vary. To each their own.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    "Attack on the Pleasures of the Poor"? That makes no sense.

    Royals is critical of the excess of the rich, not the poor, and it celebrates having fun with friends regardless of socio-economics.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What the fuck is a Macklemore?

  • txgypsy||

    a rapper named after a fish

  • John Galt||

    Mackerel

    Mackinaw

    Macklemore

    ...yup, it's on the fish list.

  • Libertarius||

    Entirely consistent with their rebranded Platonism, the leftoids have been pushing the new asceticism for a century. Ironically, it is religious conservatives (the old Platonists) who are largely non-ascetic in the economic realm, but are keeping the faith wrt sexuality.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "In the early 19th century, the great majority of Americans[']...only source of entertainment was books"

    Yeah, I think you're leaving out newspapers. Some 19th century editors made decent money, they must have been selling subscriptions to *someone.*

    [quoting some other dude] “a class-conscious critique of pop-culture materialism that’s so irresistible it became a No. 1 pop single.”

    So a lot of people are buying these songs - maybe these songs are part of the pleasures of the poor?

    I never heard of either of these singers, by the way. I bet they cry all the way to the bank about that.

  • setTHEline||

    What a stupid article. I can't speak to Lorde's music, but Macklemore? You quoted this from one of his songs:

    "See, I observed Escher
    I love Basquiat
    I watched Keith Haring
    You see I study art"

    and took it to mean that he thinks the poor should only care about museums? Apparently you missed the rest of the song (even the title would've given it away). Here's the paraphrased next line:

    "the greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot."

    The name of the song is called "10,000 hour", a reference to Malcom Gladwells 10,000 hours theory. Has nothing to do with telling poor people to visit museums. Seriously, do a bit of research before you slam someone like Macklemore for being an elitest prog (not that I agree with all he says). What an embarrassing article for Reason to run...

  • Sidd Finch||

    Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours theory confusion of "necessary" and "sufficient"

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, confusion seems to be a running theme when talking about Gladwell.

  • John Galt||

    Progressive allies of the poor. Guffaw!

  • Tony||

    Giving money to rich people stimulates the economy while taking money from poor people stimulates the economy. Duh.

  • Irish||

    Tony argues that not giving money to poor people is the same as taking from them. Again.

    And pretends that people here are in favor of crony capitalism. Again.

    You don't seem very good at this whole 'learning' thing, Tony.

  • Killaz||

    I thought someone may have been criticizing the Fed's QE policy, but then read the name of whom it was that posted it. He's thinning out his text to rope people in.

  • ||

    +1

    Good catch Killaz. I wrote my comment before seeing yours.

  • ||

    Tony argues that not giving money to poor people is the same as taking from them. Again.

    No Tony is arguing that this is what some strawman libertarian would do rather then realizing that Obama is stealing from the poor and giving it to the rich.

    What the fuck do you think green jobs, Q infinity, and the min wage is?

  • ||

    Also Obamacare was designed to steal from the young and relatively poor and giving it to the old and relatively rich and mega rich insurance companies and mega rich medical industrial complex.

    Happily it is not working out that way as the young and poor are smart enough to see it that paying the tax/fine is much cheaper then paying for Obamacare mandated insurance.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    If he were capable of learning he would cease being Tony. You don't want that, do you?

  • John Galt||

    Tony won't have to worry about anyone ever calling him honest.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Druidism jape Balder triceratops regionalist family room onychophoran ganoid.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Letting EVERYONE keep what they earn stimulates the economy, rent-boy. Giving money to rich people is what your precious government does when it tries to interfere in the economy.

    -jcr

  • lap83||

    This was one of those couldn't-read-past-the-title articles for me. If you talk about "the poor" like they're an amorphous blob, there's a good chance you're a condescending prick.

  • Sidd Finch||

    Some progressive said that ice cream was a luxury therefore Macklemore is terrible for making fun of dumbasses who buy $50 t-shirts? Is that about right?

  • Hoofddorp Haarlemmermeer||

    It's much better to listen to Puddles Pity Party sing "Royals"

    http://youtu.be/VBmCJEehYtU

  • SIV||

    I disapprove of people making the weekly payment at Rent-A-Wheel with the TANF balance on their EBT card. Does that make me a progressive?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It's especially funny considering that thrift shops would be much less useful if it weren't for all the dolts buying nice clothes and then dumping them after a few years. The only other decent source they have is dead people's wardrobes, and the death rate isn't nearly enough to satiate demand.

  • Sevo||

    Sorta on topic.
    Obligatory 'things can't make you happy' article:

    "Why This Millennial Quit His 6-Figure Job And Gave Away Most Of His Possessions"
    [...]he felt weighed down by the things he’d accumulated. Working 80 hours a week trapped in a cycle of consumerism had ultimately ruined his relationship"....

    Well, OK, some people buy stuff that they don't really enjoy. Oh, wait:

    [...]and left him with $100,000 of debt."

    Maybe *that* had something to do with it!
    http://www.sfgate.com/technolo.....196234.php

  • SIV||

    quote:

    "If you can have an accountability buddy that’s helping you, it can make it fun."

  • Sevo||

    NTTAWWT.

  • ||

    More importantly...

    Where the hell is Bowie?

  • Sevo||

    Back to the subject, I don't know either of the performers from a random rock, but any article hanging on a question of whether a 17-year-old's pronouncement is of value isn't worth the pixels it's written with.
    This gal is a junior in high-school, for pete's sake! Do you remember the stupid things you thought you knew at that time? Hell, you'd probably make Tony look intelligent!
    There's a reason we don't let 17-year-olds vote.

  • ||

    But back to my subject, they played Bowie at my high school dances. What the fuck do they play today?

  • GILMORE||

    High school "dance"?

    What, is this 'Back to the Future'? Dude, dancing was banned long ago. Have you never seen Footloose? These days the kids all buttchugg four-loko, snort Smarties and spaz-dance to Skrillex before the homo Rainbow Parties.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJVmu6yttiw

  • MasterDarque||

    Sad thing is modern rap/hiphop has nothing to do with the streets at all. It's an image created in a media room packaged for suburban white kids and highly destructive to young blacks.

  • Sevo||

    MasterDarque|2.1.14 @ 8:48PM|#
    "Sad thing is modern rap/hiphop has nothing to do with the streets at all. It's an image created in a media room packaged for suburban white kids and highly destructive to young blacks."

    Hey Merkin! Fuck off!

  • GILMORE||

    The Steets. He knows them.

    (I presume he's not talking the English Garage/Rap group. Who are pretty good, actually. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSe95yskUoI)

    The irony here is that he thinks Rap is like, you know, AIDS and Crack: invented by white people to keep the black man down. You'd think he'd love it.

  • GrossDomesticProduct||

    According to Mises in Human Action, p.616(Scholarly Edition), the Industrial Revolution was not just a change in production methods but in the entire social order. Before it happened, the poor had to cater to the wants of the rich. Once machines allowed mass production, it allowed the poor to cater to the wants and needs of the poor, and for the first time products were made that were not designed for consumption by the rich. Cotton was one of the first things made in factories, while the rich still preferred silk, linen, and cambric. Only later, once profits had been made on cheaper goods, did production turn to more expensive things desired by the rich. "The outstanding fact about the Industrial Revolution is that it opened an age of mass production for the needs of the masses."

  • cavalier973||

    In the early 19th century, the great majority of Americans were confined to farms where they had to produce their own food and clothing. Their homes contained little other than utilitarian furnishings. Their only source of entertainment was books, and most that were available were moral parables.

    Only books, huh? I guess fiddles, mandolins, banjos, and square dances were all 20th century innovations.

    Also, bear-baiting, dog fights, and cock fights were all serious business and definitely not entertainment.

  • GrossDomesticProduct||

    What's funny about these songs is that they make fun of the pursuit of nice things...Rich people all ready have these nice things, it is necessarily the poor who desire them. Rich people will never stop having the nice things, it is necessarily the poor who these songs aim at- attempting to make someone look bad for flaunting things they have when you have those things is not only hypocritical it is exclusionary. Sure, there is rampant consumerism in America, but what is wrong with wanting those things? It's not the age of the artist important here, it is the message and how well received that message has been- it shows that America is quite puritanical to have this be a number 1 song. Screw consumption? That's what made America great- the poor not only pursuing nice things but actually being able to obtain them thanks to a market system that makes things affordable if you DO work hard.

  • Sevo||

    ..."It's not the age of the artist important here, it is the message and how well received that message has been-"...

    Point taken, but do we have any idea how "well received" the message is?
    The fact that H-wood lefties loved it doesn't tell me how the "message" (vs the "tune") was received.
    Example: I'm in no way 'spiritual' but Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" remains a favorite.

  • prolefeed||

    What I wore today -- black leather jacket from Goodwill ($60), Calvin Klein black T-shirt from Costco ($4), plaid black shirt from a New Orleans thrift shop ($2), jeans from Goodwill ($6). And I look good in all that. Oh, and I'm sitting on a nice couch from Salvation Army ($180).

    I think the point of the song is that you can live well without spending a butt-ton of money -- it is a celebration of frugalness.

  • GILMORE||

    Yeah, but now you owe royalties to The Jacket for biting his style.

    One Soul, Please.

  • julia14juli||

    my best friend's sister-in-law makes $70 /hour on the computer . She has been without work for 7 months but last month her check was $12532 just working on the computer for a few hours. you can look here

    =========================
    http://www.tec30.com
    =========================

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    I'll pile on with some of the others and say that Thaddeus really missed the mark on this article. I've never listened to Macklemore, but Lorde's song "Royals" is clearly a celebration of finding joy in life that does not require deep pockets. There's nothing un-libertarian about that.

    "My friends and I we've cracked the code
    We count our dollars on the train to the party
    And everyone who knows us knows
    That we're fine with this, we didn't come from money"

    Coming from a working class upbringing I can totally relate to this. The fact of the matter is that most people will never have a rock star income. Why should they be miserable longing for what they can't afford?

  • GILMORE||

    By the way... someone posted this on H&R a few months ago, and I recognized it as the tune discussed here. The Puddles Pity Party version =

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmCJEehYtU

  • Sevo||

    How does a high-school junior end up with a best selling song?
    This is a serious question on my part; someone singing in the school gymnasium isn't going to get a national, let alone world-wide following.
    Something is weird here.

  • Redmanfms||

    She apparently got a "development contract" when she was 13, but had been singing professionally in the Auckland area from an even earlier age.

    I strongly suspect that she is a very clever marketing gimmick on the part of a record producer to sell music. Sort of a reverse Beiber/Swift, meant to appeal to the "smart girls" which heretofore was a nearly untapped market.


    But it isn't unheard for really young girls to get recording contracts, or have pretty impressive professional careers even before high school. Charlotte Church or Jena Krauss for example.

  • Keyser Soze||

    So you're attacking them for not making "Bling" their # 1 priority? I'm not into pop music, but this sounds a bit refreshing.

  • Satyrical||

    "One of the more remarkable results of the rise of industrial capitalism was that, for the first time in human history, the poorest classes of people gained access to luxury goods."

    Gained access to luxury goods produced overseas by poor people with no access to luxuries OR basic necessities.

  • pan fried wylie||

    What do you think they ride so they can responsibly drink Cristal on the island they flew to on their plane?

    Federally Subsidized Unicorns.

  • dj kumquat||

    the fine line between puritanical righteousness, and singing the praises of one's sense of value is crossed by tearing others down.

  • Sursum3000||

    Both the songs mentioned are about not being brainwashed or pressured into buying stuff just because it's advertised or there's peer pressure. They encourage the listener to think and choose for themselves. Making their message out to be anything else strikes me as pretty silly.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Speaking of "thrift" shops, I was in one in the West Village the other day. The prices for old clothes, shoes and jackets were so comically high, I assume most of their customers are rich douchebag NYU hipsters.

  • GILMORE||

    "Ayn Random Variation|2.2.14 @ 11:49AM|#

    Speaking of "thrift" shops, I was in one in the West Village the other day....

    There's your problem right there...

    Dude = 'West Village' translates to "even more absurdly overpriced everything*" in Already Overpriced City. That wasn't a 'thrift store' = it was a boutique.

    NYU kids don't shop in the W.Vil. at best they'll go to Beacons' Closet in my hood, or to a goodwill farther out. Not that it matters.

    *Almost everything. one awesome, amazing thing in the West.Vill which is never overpriced: The bistro burger

    http://cornerbistrony.com/

    (oh shit, $7.75? I remember not long ago they were still $5-6... but, whatever. Still a deal)

  • OptimistCrank||

    This qualifies as the stupidest piece I've ever read on Reason. I take some comfort from that.

  • angus||

    America is going keep on spending money it doesn't have on stuff it doesn't need, the debt is going to shoot through $25 trillion.

  • NeoConsAndLibsBlow||

    This the stupidest article I've read, to date, on Reason. Lorde stated that "rap creates music that does not relate to most people’s lives. They all sing about such opulence, stuff that just didn’t relate to me, or anyone that I knew. It's irrelevant" That's all she said - and she's right.

  • Alan||

    +1 - though I will add that early rap was not like this. The modern, popular stuff however, is quite different - and much of it is crap.

  • Alan||

    Can't agree on with Thaddeus on this one. There's a difference between enjoying luxuries in a reasonable way, and being spendthrifts who will live better than me and then ask the state to rob me on their behalf once they realize they have frittered everything away.

  • ibcbet||

    He makes that reference early, than praises his thrift-consciousness compared to the rabble through the entire rest of the song.

  • Woody1955||

    I stopped shopping at retail stores and malls and now purchase all my household goods and clothing except socks and skivvies at thrift stores. For every $100 a car costs in purchase and major maintenance, it has to last a month. It suits me. If others want to spend all their money on designer clothing and car leases, feel free. It is your financial future at risk. Or maybe you just don't expect to live much longer and you live by the adage that you can't take it with you.

    PS: I don't buy - or steal - music.

  • BigKidB||

    I think you are just plain wrong about both of these artists. The backlash in their lyrics is not against poor people being able to afford "luxuries", but rather against the culture which wants them to spend money they don't have or waste an entire paycheck on a set of clothes. Over the past 15 years, there has been a cultural shift in pop music; it is especially prominent in rap. The message given is that you haven't succeeded in life until you can't afford Gucci shirts, jet planes, islands, tigers, etc.. These two artists in particular are trying to point out this culture which wants you to spend $50 on a t shirt which isn't any different than a $5 shirt from the local big box store(aside from a different name on the tag and possible sweat shop labor). They are pointing out the irony of breaking your back for a pittance, then spending that pittance to dress like you don't break your back. They are addressing the issue of people spending entire paychecks to look successful, but not saving any money or investing it to become successful. That is the anti-consumerism movement. It's not that poor people shouldn't buy luxuries; it's that poor people should be taught how to escape poverty so they can appreciate and afford luxury.

  • AgrarianBarbarian||

    Macklamore is the Vanilla Ice flavor of the week. This time next year, he'll have a show on HGTV if he's lucky. Maybe The Donald will throw him a bone and let him on "Celebrity Apprentice". Lorde will be sitting in the same methadone / botox clinic with Tiffany and Debbie Gibson lamenting the fickleness of pop culture. Attributing any deeper meaning to this bubblegum crap is an insult to bubblegum crap. See the movie "Being There" if you want to understand what's REALLY going on here.

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