"In America," Oscar Wilde quipped, "the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience." And they often do it in the pages of Rolling Stone.
Last week, the magazine posted a mini-manifesto titled "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For." After confirming it wasn't a parody, conservative critics launched a brutal assault on its author, Jesse A. Myerson.
Myerson's essay captures nearly everything the unconverted despise about left-wing youth culture, starting with the assumption that being authentically young requires being theatrically left wing.
Writing with unearned familiarity and embarrassingly glib confidence in the rightness of his positions, Myerson prattles on about how "unemployment blows" and therefore we need "guaranteed work for everybody." He proceeds to report that jobs "blow" too, so we need guaranteed universal income. He has the same disdain for landlords, who "don't really do anything to earn their money." Which is why, Myerson writes, we need communal ownership of land, or something.
One wonders why he bothered to single out landlords, since he calls for the state appropriation of, well, everything. Why? Because "hoarders blow," and he doesn't mean folks who refuse to throw away their Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets and old Sharper Image catalogs. He means successful people who "hoard" the wealth that rightly belongs to all of us.
Apparently "blowing" is an open warrant to undo the entire constitutional order. If only someone had told the founders.
In the ensuing kerfuffle, Myerson, whose Twitter hashtag is "#FULLCOMMUNISM," seemed shocked that any of his ideas sounded Soviet to his critics. Andrew McCoy, a conservative blogger, offered the specific citations for Myerson's proposals in the Soviet constitution. I suspect this was news to Myerson, but even if not, I bet he doesn't care. It is a permanent trope of the left that its ideas failed because we didn't try hard enough. This time is always different.
Obviously, this is the sort of fleeting controversy that pops up daily on the Internet like fireflies on a summer night. But that's what I find so interesting about it.
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