“A New York Times Reporter Tips His Hand”

That’s the title of a post from Heather Mac Donald (Secular Right); here’s an excerpt, though you should read the whole post:

In the course of a column blasting media entrepreneur Steven Brill’s new book on the school reform movement, New York Times reporter Michael Winerip inadvertently sets out his economic assumptions. A revelation of an entire world view does not get any more crystalline than this. (Regarding education, Winerip almost equally tellingly criticises Brill for not showing enough respect to teachers and teachers unions.)

Winerip lists several of Brill’s sources — the “millionaires and billionaires who attack the unions and steered the Democratic Party to their cause” — then adds:

I expected Mr. Brill to explore why these men single out the union for blame when children fail. If a substantial part of the problem was poverty and not bad teachers, the question would be why people like them are allowed to make so much when others have so little.

Who exactly is doing the “allowing” here? In Winerip’s world, people earn, keep, and invest money only by the sufferance of some greater authority — presumably the government, which implicitly decides how much they should be “allowed” to make. What if I decide that Michael Winerip is making too “much when others have so little”? Winerip’s income undoubtedly dwarfs that of a teen mother on welfare in Harlem. Why should he be “allowed” to make so much? My guess is that Winerip feels that his income is at best commensurate with his labors, if not inadequate to those labors. Yet there have been plenty of governments in recent human history — the Cultural Revolution comes immediately to mind — for whom Winerip’s income and class status would be a clear sign of bourgeois decadence and injustice, requiring radical redistribution or even the destruction of all such cushy Times positions….

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