Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The New Yorker's View of the World

When folks at the New Yorker write about "Social Mobility", they mean anything but.  "One of the stranger sights in the city this summer is the bicycle taxi ... Heady and vaguely Edith Whartonish as it is to be pulled around town in an open carriage, it is, at the same time disconcerting to have someone else's physical labor quite so plainly, quite so clearly and publicly, quite so accusingly, visible as the source of your forward movement."  I am just skimming through the highlights but the writer soon takes up "exploitation",  Robert Reich and John Edwards on "the widening gap between the wealthy few and everyone else," American workers' "docility", and "American life is more feudal  [than you-know-where]... a society run on the bargain of fear," and much more.

Why not stick with the cute title of the piece?   Most people choose jobs willingly and view first jobs as a first rung on an economic and social ladder.  Most are rightly optimistic about where the ladder leads. That simple insight could have replaced all of the essay's tortured silliness.

But then it wouldn't be the New Yorker's view of the world.