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Welcome to the Oddball Club

January 26th, 2011 - 9:49 am

The Oddball Club

I receive lots of emails and letters each day, talk to strangers in public, and end up doing a few radio interviews weekly. From all of that back-and-forth, I’ve discovered there is an unofficial oddball club out there — of which I am a member. It is of no particular political persuasion, but clearly at variance with the norms of popular culture.

I think I can roughly delineate the rules of our informal club membership.

We certainly don’t listen to a lot of professors.When Professor Obama called borrowing “stimulus” and now “investment,” we assumed he was not too interested in paying back the $3 trillion that he has borrowed. Cutting a few billion of more trillion-dollar red ink is “fiscal sobriety.”

When “global warming” begot “climate change” that begot “climate chaos,” we in the club figured that grant-writing, release-time applying professors were back at their old tricks. When academics such as Summers, Romer, and Orszag quit and now write op-eds warning us about what they had wrought, we assumed that was par for the professorial course. Sometime in 2004 a professor dreamed up that 5.5% unemployment was proof of Bush’s reckless “jobless recovery,” and sometime in 2011 another one told us that 9.4% was an inevitable result of global structural changes beyond our control.

We in the oddball club live two lives, as sort of wandering souls who censor our speech and thoughts hourly. In line at the market, we assume the guy with the iPhone and the Camry does not really need the VISA-looking state food card, but we accept that that if we were to suggest he might not, a blizzard of venom would fall upon us — we would be called cruel, callous, racist, nativist, selfish, crack-pot, angry, hateful. So we shrug, smile, and say to ourselves: “Why not let him use the card at a restaurant as well?” And so it will come to pass soon no doubt.

In the present wide-open society, we assume that soon we are going to be rear-ended by someone without a license, insurance, or registration, or another is going to confront us for money, violently if need be. We expect a rendezvous like that on the horizon and expect that our reaction to it must be stoic. When my house was broken into, when my car was rear-ended, when I was run down on a bike, I accepted the culprit had his reasons for such a resort to criminality or indifference to statute, and accepted that to say otherwise was more trouble than it was worth. I made private adjustments to prevent a recurrence, as do most oddballs.

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