Congressional Republicans want to remind you it’s necessary to cut infrastructure spending by 20% next month, stopping projects already in process in order to thwart the President’s goal of doing things the country wants and needs. Too bad about all the people who will be put out of work and how much businesses needs roads and bridges to function, the over arching goal of partisan gain trumps all other considerations, and it has the bonus advantage of yet again preventing the very rich for having to pay their share for infrastructure they benefit from.
The Marysville prosecutor insists that a rape kit and an iphone video of a rape of a fourteen video is insufficient evidence of rape and wants to remind people that that it is legal to rape underage girls in Missouri if they’ve had any alcohol. Good to know. It’s good to see that the State’s Attorney begs to differ. Still, two girls were raped, they were tormented by locals, punished by their school for coming forward, and the house of one of the girls was burned down, presumably in retaliation. No charges against the rapists or any of the other people involved are pending.
Republicans are now insisting the massive amount of economic chaos and human misery they are causing by shutting down the government is necessary because we need to repeal a 2.7% tax on the ridiculously high profits medical device manufacturers make. That is the current demand and the only ideological point they are making beyond incoherent demands that they should get something out of this just in general even they don’t know what. They are doing all these horrible things for a tiny corporate special interest.
This is how you’re meant to argue when you’re eventually in charge. You’re trained for it, and part of that training is regularly being presented with morally indefensible positions to defend anyway or risk losing whatever competition you’re engaged with. I have seen perfectly decent young men get carried away defending genocide and torture because that’s the only way to win. Those who are unable to do so are taught that they have no business having political opinions. The people assumed to be the future elite are not rewarded for getting the answer which is most correct, most compassionate or humane or even sensible - they’re rewarded for smashing the opposition. And that’s how you get politicians who will argue anything they’re told to, enact any policy they’re told to no matter how many how many people will get hurt, just so that their team can win.
Moreover, this isn’t just a standard homework question. It appears on a scholarship entrance exam, a test designed to be sat by young men seeking to join the ranks of the rich and powerful by virtue of merit and smarts rather than family money. Most fee-paying schools have such a system in place, especially the really elite ones which need to maintain a veneer of public conscience to bolster their tax-exempt charity status (yes, Eton is technically a charity) and boost exam results by scattering some middle-class nerds amongst the rich twits. I sat an entrance exam just like this thirteen years ago, because my parents wanted me to have a private education and they couldn’t afford the fees. Of the hundreds of exams I’ve sat since, none has had quite such a material affect on my future.
Had a question like this appeared on that test, I know I’d have been torn. I wouldn’t be torn now, of course, I’d write ‘go fuck yourself’ across the paper in my sparkliest pens, but right now I’m an adult with a job, not a scared thirteen-year-old who wants to make her mum proud. The obvious answer- that any Prime Minister who attempts to justify the murder of protesters after the rule of law has disintegrated is not fit to rule and should step down immediately - is not one that appears on the test. And that’s the point of tests like these.
It’s not enough to be clever. What this test says is: if you want to be part of the ruling elite, you have to share our values, and one of those values is maintaining power at any cost, even if it involves defending the indefensible. Having a moral compass that doesn’t spin wildly at the promise of power is an active impediment. The significant line in that extended question is ‘You are the Prime Minister.’ As if you’d be anything else."
The Eton Scholarship Question: this is how the British elite are trained to think | Laurie Penny for The New Statesman