James Joyner this morning :

In what has to be the oddest Peggy Noonan column ever, she extrapolates from a single story of a Michigan family that decided to give up some modern luxuries to engage in subsistence farming to a surreal future in which droves of people throw off the shackles of conspicuous consumption.

Many think that no matter how much money is sloshing through the system from Washington, creating waves that lead to upticks, the recession is really a depression. We won’t “come out of it,” as the phrase goes, for five or seven years, because the downturn is systemic, global, and because the old esprit is gone. The baby boomers who for 40 years, from 1968 through 2008, did the grunt work of the great abundance—work was always a long-haul trip for them, they were the first in the office in 1975 and are the last to leave the office to this day—know the era they built is over, that something new is beginning, something more subdued and altogether more mysterious. The old markers of success—money, status, power—will not quite apply as they have. They watch and work as the future emerges.


The New York of the years 1750 to 2008—a city that existed for money and for all the arts and delights and beauties money brings—is for the first time going to struggle with questions about its reason for being. This will cause profound dislocations. For a good while the young will continue to flock in, for cheaper rents. Artists will still want to gather with artists—you cannot pick up the Metropolitan Museum and put it in Alma, Mich. But there will be a certain diminution in the assumption of superiority on which New York has long run, and been allowed, by America, to run.

We’re in for darker skylines, shoddier storefronts, uglier people,  scrawnier actors, and scragglier dogs.  And the kicker is:  this is a good thing.

It seems to me rather obvious that what we’re dealing with here is wishful thinking.  The question is, whose?

Says James:

There’s a natural tension with what an Economist piece terms “The obsession with the new and best gadget and the willingness to try out new products gives America a comparative advantage” and an inate desire for simplicity and tranquily. Modern life is quite stressful, especially as compared to an idyllic view of natural life. It is, however, pretty sweet compared to the actual natural life. Or 1970.

Well, look; it’s as I wrote a few Christmases ago ; which one of us hasn’t wanted to resign from the world of the adults and revert back to the carefree childhood years? I suggest that that least partially what drives some of this nonsense. That desire to revert from the world of adulthood is probably what caused the election of the democrats this time around. They came and selling fire tales and the American public bought it. At least, they bought it to a larger degree than usual. The differences, and this time the waking up occur a little bit sooner than anyone anticipated, if we’re to take at all seriously the events of April 15.

But I’m going to dare to take this one step further; I’m going to focus on one particular line in the above para:

“The obsession with the new and best gadget and the willingness to try out new products gives America a comparative advantage”

I don’t suppose, James, you ever noticed that usually when these “back to nature” things come up, and get lauded as a desirable goal that they remove that national advantage? That the theme of reducing the role of the United States as a world leader comes up as often as it does, is enough to logically raise the question if that wasn’t the original goal of the proponents of such utopian visions.

And, what do you know? That angle seems to fit directly in line with the baseline politics of such utopians, too. Consider Al Gore as a prime example. Consider Barrack Obama

And both of these seem quite willing to lay the technological advantage of these United States aside for the stated purpose of “saving the environment”. This despite the fact that their science is at least questionable.

Further they seemed willing to lay aside our military advantage.  In the world we haven’t the moment, the result of that foolishness is eminently predictable.

It’s all part and parcel of the same deal. If there’s anything about this that amazes me, it’s Noonan signing on for this nonsense… Apparently, willingly. I admire her for her writing ability.  Occasionally she has been absolutely brilliant.  But frankly there are times when I began to wonder precisely what her underlying motivations are.  As in this case.

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