About AJ DiCintio
A.J. DiCintio is a Featured Writer for The New Media Journal. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on
the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up.
Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and
polished by experience, to social/political affairs.
Narrative & Afghanistan
Prostitution & The Healthcare Bill
That Killed at Fort Hood
Who Are the Know-Nothings?
All the Tomatoes!
It's Not a
War Against FOX News
Hope) We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore
Hyperpartisanship, Propaganda & Hypocrisy
& Sherman's Legacy
Epistemology, Materialists & Morality
the Stench of the Stable
Shameful Education Affair
Reform: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
(Audaciously Arrogant) Mob
The Boiled Frog
the Last Cow Has Come Home
and The Big Hate
Jefferson: Don’t Question a Supreme Court Nominee Without Him
Language: A Canary in the Coal Mine
Language: A Canary in the Coal Mine
Colin Powell Comes Up Small
Headlines, Torture & American Values
Something Very Deep and Dark
Miss California’s Unforgivable Mistake
The President in the Garden
Liberals & The Triumph of Reason
Messiah, Lincoln or Less?
Obama, Big Bangs & Selling Make Believe
Hostile Alien Case Exposes Danger of Activist...
Age of Arrogance
Lenin Lite, Perhaps?
Where’s the Guilt?
In the Matter of Public v. Stimulus Bill
Bigger Than the Bacon Explosion
Where Bill O’Reilly’s Going Wrong
Liberals, Israel & Wolves
Israel & The Neurotic Mind
The Winter Solstice & the Triumph of Reason
Bush & Obama:
Slouching Us Toward Disaster...
Beware the Recovery Plan
New Deal Not Such a Big Deal?
Republicans & The Courts
That Flatulent Thing Called Experience
Can Obama Call Spirits from the Vasty Deep?
A Million Calls, Ten Million Voters
Liberals Boiling, Conservatives Not, But...
The Merely Human Messiah and the Sea
Fully Understanding the Bill Ayres "Distraction”
How McCain Can Deliver a Last Round KO
Obama & The English Language
Are Americans Really Open to Obama’s New Ideas?
Love Behind the Most Rotten Golden Parachute of All
McCain & Reagan’s Broad Shoulders
When Conservatives Behave like Liberals
Maddening Times at the Gray Lady
Bad Gifting as Metaphor
December 11, 2009
In harmony with Christmas and Hanukkah and
an assurance that only leftists will accuse me of giving a bad gift, I’m
offering this piece-of-advice present...Read Virginia Postrel’s
"Dynamist.com” as often as you can.
"Thanks,” you say but quickly add that before you risk your valuable time
surfing to and around Virginia’s site, you’ll need a testimonial.
Excellent, because I’ve been thinking to include one all along, specifically,
one centered on "Gifts and the Knowledge Problem,” a recent blog post in which
Ms. Postrel regales us with her acute perception as she discusses bad gifts and
the idea of centralized government, beginning with Brad Pitt’s not-so-good
present to the people of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward.
How could the actor be guilty of bad gifting? According to Postrel, because he
gave "what pleases him rather than what the recipient wants.” (In this
case, the recipient wants "comfortable, inexpensive, and quickly available
houses,” not "cutting-edge architecture.”)
Providing us with more examples of gifts that "disappoint,” Postrel quotes from
an article (Allure, December) by Cheryl Strayed, a woman who somehow got
on the wrong side of the inscrutably fickle and sometimes downright nasty
Goddess of Gifts:
My boyfriend gave me a 12-pack of Diet Coke for Christmas!
There were the used bath towels sent as a wedding present by an otherwise
And then there was the granddaddy of them all: a Weight Watchers gift
certificate from my mother-in-law for my birthday when I was eight months
Of course, we are much more than annoyed when we receive such gifts, a truth
Postrel thoughtfully captures in her analysis of mother-in-law’s present:
But whatever the good intentions, the gift itself revealed that she knew
little of her daughter-in-law’s own desires or how Strayed wished to be thought
of by others. [The gift] wasn’t just wasteful . . . It actually hurt.
Yes, a bad gift causes much more than the financial harm Joel Waldfogel
discusses in Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays.
But however interesting the notion of bad gifting, Postrel (as usual) has bigger
ideas to fry, as indicated by her perceiving a hugely important metaphor in the
fact that gifts often disappoint or worse. And so it is that she coins an
adjective from the name of a prominent 20th century economist to make
The problem of buying good presents for other people, even people you
supposedly know well, illustrates that old familiar Hayekian concept, the
knowledge problem. If you can’t even give your loved ones the right
presents, how likely is it that a central authority could make the right
decisions for everyone?
(A staunch defender of the free market system, Friedrich von Hayek argued that
socialism inevitably leads to totalitarianism.)
Why is this observation crucially important?
For one thing, it motivates us never to lose sight of the truth that the
fundamental belief of American liberals, including the rabidly anti-Hayekian
Barack Obama, is that the knowledge problem doesn’t exist with respect to
centralized government (as long, liberals tell us, as they are in charge).
Moreover, it causes us to keep the following realities firmly in our minds:
Liberals love to use the meaningless euphemism "empathy” when they characterize
the jurisprudential attitude of liberal activist Supreme Court justices. But
that doesn’t change the truth that "activist” judges are insidious dictators who
one day announce they are bound by the Constitution’s language, the next day
base a ruling upon the undefined, capriciously invoked phrase, "evolving
standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” and the day
after that put on their sorcerer’s robes as they explain they had no choice but
to agree with the demands whispered by "penumbras” that were formed by
"emanations” radiated by the Constitution’s words (see Roe v. Wade).
Liberals blatantly ignore the landslide will of the people which demands that
Congress honestly and innovatively fix the healthcare system. Then, they
stomp ahead with their true purpose, contained in a 2,000 page, trillion
dollar (for starters,) tax-exploding, care-imploding monstrosity that
fundamentally changes the existing system by dumping 16% of the nation’s GDP
into the power and wealth gorging maw of the distant, unapproachable, heedless
leviathan they love to call "Your Federal Government.”
Liberals turn a deaf ear and mind to those who denounce "Cap and Trade” as an
environmental and economic fraud that "merely allows polluters and Wall Street
traders to fleece the public out of billions of dollars” (see James Hansen,
NYT). Why? Because their real interest lies in adding tons of blubber to
the insatiably hungry leviathan as well as perpetuating the Money/Political
Influence Cycle that endlessly circles from the fetid swamp of Washington to the
foul morass of Wall Street, home to the lair of the remorseless, shamelessly
predatory hydra whose grossest, ugliest head is called "Goldman Sachs.”
Those are but three of many examples that demonstrate how deep, hot, and
dangerous is the liberal lust for a "central authority” that believes it
possesses the knowledge to make "the right decisions for everyone.”
But they are sufficient to convince even the most demanding among us of the
brilliance of Virginia Postrel, who warns that the object of liberal lust isn’t
"just wasteful” but will "actually hurt.”
To which I humbly add this:
We Americans will suffer plenty of hurt if liberals succeed in causing the
nation to lose its economic, social, and political vitality so that it "looks
like” the stooping, dispirited, stagnant, sheepish societies of Western Europe.
However, as profound as that hurt will be, it
will be doubly intensified by the excruciating moral pain that comes with the
realization that we have only ourselves to blame for having allowed those who
can’t stand democracy when it stands in their way to metamorphose the
magnificent roar of the gift bequeathed to us more than 200 years ago into an
emaciated, mousey squeak.