Status vs. Programs

There’s an important distinction between raising someone’s status and providing a benefit.

If we’ve learned nothing else in the past five years, I hope that lesson proves sticky. Mainstream U.S. culture has always been pretty uncomfortable with the idea of a handout, and that discomfort has only grown in the quarter-century between welfare reform and the rise of the modern cult of success.

To ask why people aren’t satisfied with better programs and services is to miss what’s really on offer: given the choice between a few abstract marginal dollars and the chance to utterly dominate the national “conversation” for half a decade or more, which would you take?

Or, to put it more bluntly, if the current administration sent another round of stimulus checks, would that change your vote?