An epic example of fanciful, fatuous liberalism featured in the most recent New York Times Sunday Review, a screed from Times food writer Mark Bittman that tried to tie in every single current event into a neat package labeled Republican Evil: "Is It Bad Enough Yet?"
The police killing unarmed civilians. Horrifying income inequality. Rotting infrastructure and an unsafe "safety net." An inability to respond to climate, public health and environmental threats. A food system that causes disease. An occasionally dysfunctional and even cruel government. A sizable segment of the population excluded from work and subject to near-random incarceration.
You get it: This is the United States, which, with the incoming Congress, might actually get worse.
This in part explains why we're seeing spontaneous protests nationwide, protests that, in their scale, racial diversity, anger and largely nonviolent nature, are unusual if not unique. I was in four cities recently -- New York, Washington, Berkeley and Oakland -- and there were actions every night in each of them. Meanwhile, workers walked off the job in 190 cities on Dec. 4.
The root of the anger is inequality, about which statistics are mind-boggling: From 2009 to 2012 (that's the most recent data), some 95 percent of new income has gone to the top 1 percent; the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country’s people combined; and "income mobility" now describes how the rich get richer while the poor...actually get poorer.
No prizes for guessing who is to blame for the current catastrophe:
The progress of the last 40 years has been mostly cultural, culminating, the last couple of years, in the broad legalization of same-sex marriage. But by many other measures, especially economic, things have gotten worse, thanks to the establishment of neo-liberal principles -- anti-unionism, deregulation, market fundamentalism and intensified, unconscionable greed -- that began with Richard Nixon and picked up steam under Ronald Reagan. Too many are suffering now because too few were fighting then.
Another key to Bittman's plan for a more perfect society: Spreading widely debunked liberal mythology on the Michael Brown shooting.
Of course we failed, as others did before and since. But these same things can be said now, and they’re being said by people of all colors. When underpaid workers begin their strikes by saying “I can’t breathe,” or by holding their hands over their heads and chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot,” they’re recognizing that their struggle is the same as that of African-Americans demanding dignity, respect and indeed safety on their own streets.
There are already results. Two years ago, there was talk of raising the minimum wage to $10; now $15 per hour is seen as the bare minimum. Seattle and San Francisco have already mandated this, Chicago’s City Council voted to gradually increase to a $13 minimum by 2019, Oakland will move to $12.25 in March and a proposal is being considered in Los Angeles. (And although the amounts were woefully inadequate, four red states voted to approve minimum wage increases last month, showing that the concept resonates across party lines.)
If $15 is a bare minimum, why not push for $30? $1000 an hour, and then everyone in America would only have to work once a week! Ridiculous, of course, but Bittman seems to think his expertise in food issues makes him an economist as well.
Later, Bittman cited economist/comedian Chris Rock:
Then, of course, there are the matters of justice and morality. It simply isn’t right to pay people a sub-living wage with no potential for more, and as the comedian Chris Rock says, employers would pay even less if they could get away with it.
James Taranto at Opinion Journal cited Bittman's Rock reference under the mocking heading "Worst Appeals to Authority."
But that may not have even been Bittman's worst citation.
I have spent a great deal of time talking about the food movement and its potential, because to truly change the food system you really have to change just about everything: good nutrition stems from access to good food; access to good food isn't going to happen without economic justice; that isn’t going to happen without taxing the superrich; and so on. The same is true of other issues: You can't fix climate change or the environment without stopping the unlimited exploitation of natural and human resources (see Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”). Same with social well-being.
Left-wing activist Klein was last seen spouting "insane conspiracy theories" (according to the liberal website Vox) implying that the ISIS beheadings were staged and the victims and parents were actors. And, by the way, the U.S. government was going to bring Ebola over to facilitate a military takeover of America.
Bittman sounded a bit conspiratorial himself in his unified field theory of liberalism.
Everything affects everything. It’s all tied together, and the starting place hardly matters: A just and righteous system will have a positive impact on everything we care about, just as an unjust, exploitative system makes everything worse.
Bittman penned a similar screed in March 2011 after a four-day politically motivated fast to protest proposed GOP budget cuts he claimed would literally starve people to death. Bittman is (as Times Watch has noted) a best-selling cookbook author and cooking-show host who travels the world while hawking his wares to privileged foodies. Yet he constantly attacks "unregulated capitalism and greed" as the cause of the world's problems.