Sunday, August 19, 2012

Objectivist Economic Lessons from Honey Boo Boo

Objectivist Economic Lessons from Honey Boo Boo

Toddlers & Tiaras is the horrifyingly hypnotizing ‘reality show’ about children’s beauty pageants.  Its new spin-off, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, is just downright horrifying. It follows the exploits of a rural Georgia family as they interrupt their slovenly lives and quaint pastimes (mud-diving, discount pedicures for four-toed gay uncles) to help their 6-year-old Alana (aka Honey Boo Boo) pursue the ever-elusive rhinestone-and-pipe-cleaner crown.  Honey Boo Boo is particularly fond of baring her tummy, caressing it, and making it produce a symphony of gross sounds.

Who watches this disgusting drivel (well, other than certain bloggers who prefer to remain anonymous)?  Who believes there’s something to learn from this family?

Perhaps Paul Ryan and other devotees of the execrable writer and simplistically juvenile philosopher, Ayn Rand.

Honey Boo Boo’s relatives (her 300-pound mother June, her father Sugar Bear, her half-sisters Pumpkin, Chubbs, and Chickadee, and her pet pig Glitzy) form a wonderful example of how Ayn Rand’s Objectivist worldview (espoused early and often and publically and globally, until about five days ago, by Paul Ryan) can be realized in 21st-century America. 

They show that poor people can take care of themselves perfectly well, thank you very much.  No social safety nets needed.  (Indeed, no social safety net could hold them.) The Boo Boos (they have a variety of last names, as their legally recognized connections are complicated, so it’s easier to refer to them as a conglomerate) are just the sort of self-reliant bootstrappers that Paul Ryan (and presumably, now the Romney-Ryan ticket, not to mention the early Ayn Randian, Justice Clarence Thomas) would hold up as models for emulation, following Rand’s belief in the triumph of the unfettered sovereign individual, thanks to free-market capitalism’s will-to-power.  As Honey Boo Boo herself proclaims, she’ll “hollah for the dollah.”

Who needs food stamps when, with enough initiative, you like the Boo Boos can scoop up road kill and transform it into a winter’s worth of hearty, if hygienically compromised, provisions? To supply side dishes for squished-venison sausage and decapitated-skunk stew, Honey Boo Boo’s family amasses coupons in quantities enough to put most local landfills out of business.  According to Mama June, they are ‘extreme couponers’ who can parley a shopping bag full of paper scraps into a pick-up truck full of useful items like stale Pringles and Little Debbie Snack Cakes. 

If they’re still in need of basic comestibles, they attend “Food Auctions,” where you can bid on lots of sell-date-expired processed food (which is saying a ton, considering that the chemical composition of much processed food resembles the half-life of cockroaches).  In a recent episode, the Boo Boos purchased approximately five cartons of plastic-enclosed once-upon-a-time baked goods for only two dollars.  (Which neatly parallels the Ryan [Ryan-Romney?] plan for rescuing Medicaid and/or Medicare:  save some money, then spend the savings on things that are absolutely worthless, like more money shoveled into the already bloated Health Care Industry.  If you’re an individual unhealthy person, do what the Boo-Boos do: deny or ignore that there’s any thing wrong.  That way you won’t waste any money at all on health care.  As Mama June stated, it’s fine with her if her daughters weigh 1,000 pounds each – and if other people don’t approve of it, they can just stuff it.) 

Extreme Couponing, as disclosed in a recent episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, demonstrates another bedrock principle of Rand and Ryan’s Objectivist philosophy.  Selfishness is all.  If it takes a supermarket clerk five hours to process your mountains of ten-cent-off coupons so you can buy enough cheap toilet paper to stock every survivalist bunker from Georgia to Wyoming, so be it.  The people behind you in line SHOULD suffer, seeing as how they were fruity-pants enough to come to the store bearing only a wallet’s worth of coupons.  And the unlucky checker?  If he’d had enough gumption, he’d have owned the darned grocery and a whole lot more.  Sort of like John Gault (Atlas Shrugged hero).  And if he didn’t like how his grocery stores were operating, he’d blow them up.  Sort of like Howard Roark (The Fountainhead hero).  No compromise!

Nor do we need anything like government family planning initiatives.  (Oh . . . whoopsie . . . Ayn Rand, in a sort of intellectual eugenic dithyramb, supported birth control and abortion.  But Paul Ryan doesn’t, under any circumstances . . . one of the reasons Ryan has conveniently and VERY recently started to moonwalk back from his ideological muse.)  So for Ryan, in any event, the spewing out of unplanned-for children (Mama June had Chickadee when June was fifteen . . . Chickadee [mid-teens, no baby father in sight] is pregnant) must be a good thing.  More good-governing lessons (or ‘less’ ins) from the Boo Boos.

Of course, the most awesome Objectivist trait of Honey Boo Boo and her family is the fact that they have their own TV reality show.  And without the equal-time Communist nonsense that the Obama Reich has been trying to impose!  Guess there’s no Reality TV program about a family in which members have jobs, pay taxes, send their kids to college, refrain from farting in public, and don’t get pregnant in middle school!  I mean, be serious – who’d watch unless Uncle Joe Stalin implanted tiny receivers in their brains before shipping them off to the Gulag to write subversive movie scripts?

Which brings up another swell Ayn Rand Objectivist Trait:  being a craven ratfink, which is an excellent ability if it saves your own Objectivistly worthy-of-being-saved skin.  Rand, who made much of her living as a Hollywood screenwriter, was in the vanguard of those who tripped over themselves to testify in the McCarthy-era “investigations” of “Communist influence” in Tinseltown, passing on rumors and making things up in order to advance their own careers and destroy the careers of others.  Rand’s heroes would have done no less.  Nor would many other parents featured in Toddlers and Tiaras and its Reality TV clones.

To be fair, the Boo Boos seem less prone to bad-mouth other contestants than do many televised child beauty pageant parents.  Maybe the Boo Boos’ noisome participation in the ‘Morality of Capitalism’ (Paul Ryan’s words describing the timeless ideological appeal of Ayn Rand) doesn’t leave them time to calumniate lesser mortals (or ‘parasites,’ in Ayn Rand’s words describing the poor, the disabled, and the unlucky . . . and maybe those who don’t ‘pull out’ for the Ultimate Grand Supreme Crown).  Or maybe the sunny and funny disposition, and apparently bright mind, of Honey Boo Boo herself (I’m not kidding here – she seems like a rather sweet and intelligent child, despite her coarse nurturing and/or the way that nurturing is displayed on television) keep her family from coming across as complete moral monsters.

Speaking of morality:

Not too long ago, many people (perhaps including the anonymous blogger referred to above) made fun of George W. Bush for stating, in response to a Presidential Debate question, that Jesus Christ was his “favorite philosopher.”  But if we compare the choices now before us through the prism of Honey Boo Boo (as she and her folks are portrayed) and of the Randian Objectivism that seems to have been operating much more forcefully in our culture than most of us thought . . .

The Synoptic Gospels don’t agree on everything, but they do suggest that Jesus was committed profoundly to some variety of social justice and compassion. Despite extra-canonical documents like the Gospels of Thomas, Judas, and Mary (which put forth a more Gnostic, kingdom-within-you view of Jesus’ teachings), Christianity in its many current forms basically agrees on the divinely mandated importance of helping the less fortunate.  So does Judaism (he who saves one person saves the world).  So does Islam, in which practiced charity is one of the five ways one becomes a Muslim.  So do Boddhisatvas, who remain in the round of rebirth in order to help all beings achieve ultimate peace. 

So, seriously, do many atheists, who agree on the ultimate moral importance of social justice and compassion. Without believing in a divine mandate, most atheists I know think that since all we have is what we are/experience/do in this world, we’d better act as thoughtfully and as humanely as we possibly can or else our heart-stoppingly finite existence means absolutely nothing.

But Ayn Rand was not that sort of atheist.  At least in her public life (which is the sum total of what almost anyone, including Paul Ryan, knows of her), she was all-for-one, and that-one-is me, all the time.  Which is another reason Ryan is disavowing his life-long admiration of her right now, as atheism of any ilk does not play well with the electorate.  At least the Boo-Boos take care of each other, even if it’s keeping bellies full with stale loaves and beached fishes.

Atlas shrugged.

Jesus wept. 

Honey Boo Boo rubbed her tummy.  

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