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Anti-Capitalist Psychology

So there I was watching Apple's presumably-well-paid rich charity icon, Christy Turlington, come on stage and do a bad job of repeating a bad script. While wearing high heels after all that talk about running marathons. Maybe it impressed the target audience. I certainly wasn't the only one who thought it was terrible. A sample:
Apple has reached the "forced fake Q&A with celebrities" portion of its keynote lifecycle.
Tim Cook previously did a cringeworthy skit with Bono, on stage, about that free album giveaway. I guess two times makes a pattern :(

But the purpose of this post isn't to complain about Christy's staged appearance. I had a more interesting thought about it.

Christy has high social status. Many people admire her. They consider her to be "giving back". She's an ideal. They want to live more like her, and they wish everyone else would too. If only more people were like Christy, the world would be a better place.

Except, no. She flies to Africa to go for a run. If everyone did that, the world would be broke in no time. She's only able to do that because other people produce wealth to pay for her lifestyle. Which they do because they like having her as a feel-good symbol, a conversation piece, a pretty girl they have an excuse to look at, a person who spends time learning to give certain types of speeches and getting attention for them, and so on. But not everyone can be a feel-good symbol, with no one to support them. Not everyone can live a rich elite lifestyle involving plane flights, but without helping produce any planes. Until we get much much better robotics technology, someone else has produce the things Christy consumes.

Fundamentally, it's specialization and division of labor, with Christy doing a particular type of labor that's basically in the entertainment category.

My thought is that lefties mix up "giving back" and actual production. They mix up high social status with contributing to society in material ways. They think giving back is production – or even better. This helps explain how they think their fantasy utopias, where everyone lives like Christy, could work. Because they think if everyone would just give back and help raise awareness and so on, instead of being greedy, we'd all be richer and could all just spend our time flying to Africa with a camera crew.

Christy is a symbol and entertainer. Certain misguided people like to see someone living a particular lifestyle, so they pool their money and a lucky winner lives it and the rest follow along on social media, TV, or whatever she uses. This does not constitute giving back or creating more than she consumes. Quite the opposite. People give her wealth because they enjoy seeing her consume it in this way. That's not an ideal, it's not doing good, it's just a fantasy game. It's their right to play it, but if it's part of their mental model that society could and should be full of people like Christy, they are deeply mistaken.

Somehow the left manages to see Christy consuming a large amount of wealth produced by others – a consumption focused lifestyle – as "giving back" and an ideal. I think that's deeply revealing about their economic misconceptions.

Elliot Temple on March 10, 2015


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