Tasty Tidbits 7/24/11

  1. Dear Zeitgeist:
  2. Crony capitalism items.
  3. “No, thank you” on Viagra
  4. “AMAC is Rising!” Who!?

1

The New York Times continues to revel in the collapse of Christendom, inflating the importance of dissident Catholics and publishing a gala special magazine on Same-sex Marriage, which began at midnight in the Empire State. I have no current links, but every semi-orthodox Archbishop or Cardinal is called things like “controversial” and “hard-liner,” too. It’s as if Maureen Dowd were the exemplary Catholic, and all rightward deviations from her Oprahfied faith were fundamentalists.

Further politicians in two English-speaking countries are proposing a requirement that priests break the seal of the confessional in cases of pedophilia – a requirement that makes no practical sense and appears motivated by reflexive anti-Catholicism.

I note such items, and things like the seemingly unwarranted identification of the Norwegian terrorist as a fundamentalist Christian (separately noted yesterday), because despite all the divisions of Christendom, I feel at least a little solidarity with all who call themselves Christian. I lament the frequent idiocies of Christians of any stripe for the obverse reason: the world too little distinguishes between profoundly different Christian traditions. It looks increasingly as if “we’ll all hang together.”

Please, Zeitgeist: would you mind hanging me for the actual Gospel, and not for some politicized and heretical fanaticism?

2

Two current and one historic thoughts about the system we call “capitalist” and continue to revel in.

a. The blog Indy Tax Dollars complains, among other things, that an “expenditure” becomes an “investment” if the recipient is well-connected.

Does anybody, by the way, happen to know if there’s some critical opponent of crony capitalism with too much time on his hands (or a grant, one of those annoying “expenditures”) who has followed the money to see how these “investments” in billionaires’ projects actually pay off (which is always the promise)?

* * *

b. It’s not just in Indianapolis that crony capitalism is most conspicuously connected to the coddling of billionaires’ sports franchises. There is a new documentary, Battle for Brooklyn, that tells the story of Gotham’s version, Atlantic Yards:

In December 2003, Bruce Ratner, a real estate tycoon and part-owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, held a press conference in New York City to announce his latest project, a 22-acre “urban utopia” called the Atlantic Yards. The idea was to transform downtown Brooklyn by erecting 16 office and residential skyscrapers, a luxury 180-room hotel, and a fancy new arena for the Nets. Standing by Ratner’s side that day was the architect Frank Gehry, who told the press he was particularly excited “to build a whole neighborhood practically from scratch.”

It was a revealing statement. After all, the Atlantic Yards wasn’t going to be built on top of a blank slate. More than half of those 22-acres were privately-owned, with the properties ranging from small businesses and modest brownstone apartment buildings to luxury condominiums that sold for $500,000 or more. To build the Atlantic Yards from scratch meant you had to first wipe part of an existing neighborhood off the map.

Sounds promisingly infuriating (apparently not behind the WSJ pay wall – do read the whole thing, of which I’ve only quoted the lead).

Will we ever scream a collective “STOP!,” or will we just switch to ESPN after the documentary’s over?

* * *

c. “A society in which the ownership of the means of production is confined to a body of free citizens, not large enough to make up properly a general character of that society, while the rest are dispossessed of the means of production, and are therefore proletarian, we call Capitalist?” Hillaire Belloc, The Servile State.

3

When it comes to lifestyle drugs like Viagra, I’m with Cephalus and Seneca. When you’re not a Boy Scout Camping Out any more, stop trying to be.

Life has seasons. Savor them.

4

An e-mail through Townhall mailing lists touts that AMAC is Rising!

What‘s rising? Oh. A “conservative” alternative to AARP. But the e-mail said I should join because:

  1. [AARP was] “silent on illegal immigration, on the Ground Zero Mosque, on increasing taxes, on gas prices,” (those quintessential concerns of mature people, I guess).
  2. “[A]gainst all logic, the AARP drove the passage of ObamaCare – while knowing seniors would pay billions in increased Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage premiums as a direct result.” (But the AMAC website says they’re going to pay a billion of those premium dollars to AARP. Sounds pretty “logical” to me.) And most bizarre of all …
  3. “Now they come out in support of ‘changes’ in Social Security?!?” (citing in support of their outrage the impeccable conservative sources, the Huffington Post and Bernie Sanders).

Not only can you not make this stuff up, I defy you to figure it out. But to get an advantage, AMAC will let you join at 45 instead of AARP’s 50.

Had any of you heard of AMAC before today?

Bon appetit!