Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Wonder Bread Years

Meeeegan McArdle waxes dishonest about having to live among the poors, in an article entitled "When Bread Bags Weren't Funny."  McBargle starts out talking about Joni Ernst's bags, but then switches to Noonan's bags.  She then writes, with her usual slight of dishonesty::
I am a few years younger than Noonan, but I grew up in a very different world -- one where a number of my grammar school classmates were living in public housing or on food stamps, but everyone had more than one pair of shoes.... 
Joni Ernst, who is just a few years older than me, had a much more affluent childhood than the generation that settled the prairies, and more affluent still than the generations before them. But in many ways, she was much poorer than the people making fun of her on Twitter, simply because so many goods have gotten so much more abundant.
A few, a few! ... Gesundheit.

A few seconds on Google will tell you that McBargle is actually 22 years younger than Peg, and only 2.5 years younger than Ernst, despite McBargle's construction to the contrary. One difference is more than 8 times the other.  The difference between Nooners and McBargle is the difference of a generation.

Also dishonest is McBargle's assertion that Ernst grew up poorer than the people making fun of Ernst on Twitter, who, for all McArdle knows, are Ernst's age or older and grew up without the annual farm subsidies that Ernst's family recieved.  McArdle is comparing the imagined wealth of Ernst's critics today to Ernst's financial condition as a child, as if Ernst died in her ninth year.

And let's not mention McBargle's pretense of attending school with children from the projects, except to note that McBargle attended the Riverdale Country Day School (current annual cost for K-12: $45,600). (Perhaps she'd claim that she was forced to attend class with charity cases  -- "I said 'a number," not how many" -- who had the nerve to take a free ride in first class even though they had two pair of shoes to their names.)

What McBargle really gets wrong, however, is why Ernst and Nooners spoke about bags. It wasn't, as McBargle insists, to remind us "how much poorer we used to be" or "the immense difference between [prior generations'] living standards and ours." Ernst told her story as preface to the claim that "These days though, many families feel like they're working harder and harder, with less and less to show for it," as if the olden days were Nirvana compared to now (or since Obama ruined the economy). Nooners likewise used the story to illustrate how America -- and Americans, by which she means Americans who lunch with millionaires -- suck now.  Ernst and Nooners weren't telling their constantly bitching wingnut audiences to quit bitching because things are so much better now.

Bottom line:  McArdle will always be a joke.


Anonymous said...

Ernst claimed to wear the bags on the outside of the shoes (where they'd last 2 minutes) rather than in the shoes (where they might have done some good. More likely she was mis-recalling that bags were worn over shoes before putting them in boots. And one needn't be poor to do that.

McArdle probably would be surprised that many of us had only one pair of shoes for most of our childhoods and were "middle class" (regular unionized income large enough to buy a small house).

Roger said...

I am roughly Ernst's age and never saw any kids wear bags outside of their shoes. Maybe it was different for her because she lived in a rural area, but I doubt it.

I never had more than one pair of everyday shoes and one pair of "good" shoes as a child. Neither pair was ever expensive. I also don't know of any my friends' children today who have multiple pairs of shoes (more than two at any time), although I suppose it's possible. But I don't live large, like Nooners and McArdle.

Downpuppy said...

I'm older than Ernst & have a daughter in High School, who wears the same thing I did : Chuck Taylors, everywhere.

Her rain boots are nicer, which means about as much as Ernst, McArdle & Nooners put together : squat.

Susan of Texas said...

I'm older than Ernst too and with both my generation and my kids', the wealthier kids have a lot of pairs of shoes and the poorer ones do not. I always had sandals, sneakers and a nicer pair for school or church (low level professional class) but some of the girls in school had expensive boots, designer shoes, and lots more casual shoes (high level professional class.) The main difference on my level was if you got new shoes every year or if you had to wear hand-me-downs when I was a child, and designer or cheap shoes as a teenager.

But since Noonan, Ernst and McArdle are full of crap they ignore the real issue: kids who used to get their shoes at Target now get them at Goodwill.

SqueakyRat said...

Zero is a number.