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Fatwah / August 6, 2009

megan_mcardle3a

Just when you think you’ve seen so much hypocrisy that nothing can shock you, along comes Megan McArdle. McArdle, who blogs for the Atlantic Monthly, presents herself as a principled libertarian, fiercely denouncing any attempt to provide any sort of government-funded health care, because as she argues, big government is bad, bad, bad. She’s written some truly appalling things over the years as a shill for big corporate interests, recently defending Goldman Sachs because, as she wrote, “financial meltdowns offer no villains.”

Last week, McArdle posted an encyclopedia-length article on the Atlantic Monthly‘s site, denouncing Obama’s health care plan in a rambling piece that essentially boiled down to this: big government is a bad thing, and free markets are the medicine you need, even if you don’t like it, and even though you can’t afford it. McArdle’s post sparked a series of smackdowns, including Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, and Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake.

What Megan McArdle doesn’t mention is that her own privileged upbringing was funded by public money. That’s right, Megan McArdle is just a second-generation product of the sleazy NYC construction business, which has been using public money for private gain since the Tammany Hall era. Even more galling is that Megan’s father got his start in the public sector working in taxpayer-funded health care programs. If it weren’t for her father’s employment as a public health care official in the 1970s, Megan McArdle’s life might have turned out completely different from the privileged one she enjoyed.

Megan McArdle is the daughter of one Francis X. McArdle, who built his career as a public servant in the New York City administration, then moved over to the private side, where he could leverage his contacts with the government — and finally moved back onto the public payroll in 2006, when Mr. McArdle was appointed by then-Sen. Hillary Clinton to advise the federal government how public funds should be spent, and on whom. Earlier this year, Mr. McArdle was reportedly in Albany lobbying the New York state government for a job as the “stimulus czar,” appropriating President Obama’s federal spending money.

Megan was born in 1973, a few years after Francis got his big fat job on the public payroll in the New York City administration, where he stayed for 11 years. Among the first big jobs Megan’s daddy took while climbing up the public payroll career ladder were jobs as Inspector General for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, and Director of Program Budget for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

So Megan McArdle’s entry into this world was literally greased by taxpayer funds. But of course, it wouldn’t stop there.

Francis McArdle, rose up the Big Government ranks in the New York city. His public-funded career reached its peak in 1978 when then-Mayor Ed Koch named him as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, where he served until 1981. That job put McArdle in control of all sorts of public works: water supply, waste water, sewage infrastructure. It’s kind of fitting that McArdle’s privileged childhood was funded by taxpayer’s shit and urine — a Freudian might say that this is the source of her inexplicable hatred of the same Big Government that pissed dollars and shat gold on the McArdle household.

Megan’s dad moved from the public sector overseeing public works to a job with real estate developer Olympia & York — just in time to take advantage of the huge Battery Park City project that Olympia & York was developing under contract. The success of the project relied on huge taxpayer subsidies — at least $65 million in 1981 dollars — as well as major public works projects to make the development attractive, including the disastrous Westway road project, which drained at least $85 million of federal subsidies until it was finally mothballed in the mid-80s, due to environmental concerns and public protests — the kinds of protesters whom grown-up Megan McArdle would later attack. No matter, though, because by the time the Westway was canceled and all that public money was wasted, Olympia & York, Megan’s daddy’s company, had catapulted into one of the top real estate moguls in the world, and Megan’s daddy was ready to move on to even bigger things.

In 1985, F. X. McArdle had moved from the private sector to a position that Megan understands better than any other: a lobbyist who manipulates Big Government on behalf of private companies. Francis X. McArdle was named to head the General Contractor’s Association of New York. He stayed in that lucrative position for the next 20 years.

In 1987, as the budding libertarian Megan was enjoying an expensive private-school education, McArdle’s business was investigated by a new Organized Crime Task Force set up by the state of New York to combat the mob’s control of the contracting business, which led to enormous waste of taxpayer money. Here’s a New York Timesarticle on that investigation, featuring Megan’s dad representing the scary people:

Anti-Crime Unit Urged for New York Builders

by Selwyn Raab — Tuesday, January 6, 1987

Corruption is so embedded in New York City’s multibillion-dollar construction industry that a permanent investigative agency may be needed specifically to uproot it, a top state investigator said. The investigator, Ronald Goldstock, director of the state’s Organized Crime Task Force, also asserted that construction practices in the city must change. Mr. Goldstock, whose agency is investigating the industry, said the elimination of organized-crime racketeering would not alone solve such problems as payoffs to municipal inspectors, bid-rigging among contractors and bribes to union officials for special contract favors and the hiring of lower-paid nonunion workers. ‘Even if you indict and convict every mobster involved in corruption,” Mr. Goldstock said in an interview, ”under current conditions, someone else will come along, recognize the potential and become the new predators.”

Commenting on Mr. Goldstock’s findings, the managing director of the General Contractors Association, Francis X. McArdle, said he was ”unaware of any pervasive patterns of corruption” regarding his group. The association represents more than 100 contractors primarily engaged in construction of public buildings and plants.

Mr. McArdle also disputed the need for a new investigative agency. ”We don’t need more people tripping over each other in search of glory, facts or whatever,” he said.

What’s frightening is that Mr. McArdle won the day: the new investigative agency was shelved in favor of the kind of self-policing “solution” that Wall Street is pushing for today. Because you know, those big government inspectors with their fact-finding missions only get in the way of innovation!

Here’s where things get a little scarier: the story about the mob running Megan’s daddy’s area of work shortly afterwards became the subject of a Fortune magazine feature, replete with famous names from New York’s organized crime world, titled: “THE MAFIA’S BIT OF THE BIG APPLE: Byzantine building codes and horrendous logistics help the mob control New York City construction — at a price that the big developers have been all too willing to pay.”

In it, we find out that the world of New York City construction and contracting is controlled by A-list mobsters like the Gambinos, Luchesses, and Anthony Salerno, who eventually went to jail. The report put together by the investigator estimated that mob corruption added 20% to the costs of construction in Manhattan at the time Megan’s daddy was the head of the General Contractor’s Association:

[M]any developers, builders, and contractors ”believe that the monetary costs of corruption are more than offset by the money saved or earned through corruption.” As a result, the report contends, the industry has ”become dependent upon” the crime brotherhood. Mafia muscle, it states, assures ”contractors that they will only have to pay off once, that the amount will be reasonable, and that the services paid for will be delivered.”

goodfellas“The McArdle girl? She calls herself a libertarian? You really are a funny guy!”

By 1991, Megan was on her way to Penn U., where she would pupate into the free-market libertarian dung beetle we have all grown to loathe, thanks to her public-funded privileged upbringing, with a wink to that 20% mafia margin. Also 1991, the Megan’s daddy appeared again in The New York Times, this time as the key lobbyist trying to keep the public funds flowing to the association’s clients, at the expense of taxpayers:

Council Allows Asphalt Factory Dinkins Wanted
by William Glaberson — March 23, 1991

A dispute over an asphalt plant that New York City wants to build in Queens has provided a major test of how the City Council will handle intense lobbying both from special interest groups and the Mayor. The city has moved to develop its own asphalt source because of a long history of charges of corruption and bid-rigging in the industry. Francis X. McArdle, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York, which has historically given campaign contributions to many Council members, spearheaded the lobbying for eight asphalt producers in New York. Mr. McArdle is a former commissioner of the City’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Megan showed how much she owes to her dad’s way of doing business when she admitted in a blog post that she owes her success to personal contacts “I sent out about 1400 resumes blind after my firm failed. I got not one response. All the jobs I interviewed for came from personal contacts.”

We learn just how useful these personal contacts are for Megan McArdle thanks to a gushing profile on her published in early 2007 in a rightwing magazine called “Doublethink” — put out by a corporate-funded advocacy group with ties to Tom Delay and Cato, whose mission is to “identify and develop future conservative and libertarian leaders.” In the profile, we learn that Megan’s first job in 2001, after graduating from the University of Chicago’s graduate business program as a committed Ayn Rand libertarian, was canceled due to the market drop in 2001. So instead of flipping burgers to make ends meet, the libertarian moved back home into her parents’ Upper West Side digs — a home that taxpayer money helped to fund. There, in the hard knocks of the Upper West Side, the 28-year-old MBA seethed in libertarian anger at all the welfare queens and wasteful government spending programs she saw all around her. But it wasn’t until bin Laden created an opportunity that Megan finally got a job — as an “executive copy girl” for a post-9/11 cleanup crew near the site of the WTC. It was exactly the sort of job that those “personal contacts” can help you get in the “byzantine” world of construction in NYC.

It was at this time, living in her parent’s swank Manhattan pad and working a job in her daddy’s line of business, that Megan McArdle’s blogging career as a right-wing libertarian crusader was born.

Instead of admitting that she got her first job thanks to daddy’s shady connections with the corrupt construction trades, Megan pretended that she took the WTC-cleanup job as a sort of personal penance, a gift to the people of her stricken city: “[I}t was easier to bear it all than it would be working somewhere else, and worrying, and unable to do anything about it.” Really Megan, you shouldn’t have born that cross for us.

Her answer to 9/11 and all subsequent economic problems, including the health care fiasco, is simple: more free markets of the sort that have absolutely nothing to do with her own family’s way of making a living. And the gullible readers of her blog were so impressed that Megan moved to Washington and found work with the Atlantic Monthly, shilling for Wall Street, health care firms, and spending her entire career arguing for the total repeal of all corporate taxes. Washington is also where she found her dream man, Peter Suderman, a former FreedomWorks lobbyist. It was a natural match; like Megan, Suderman was a veteran of the deeply hypocritical world of free-market shills who make their money playing the murky world where big government and big business overlap. As part of his anti-government crusading for FreedomWorks, Suderman once helped run a fake-grassroots campaign, creating a front group, Angryrenter.com, that posed as regular joes fighting big government programs to bailout distressed homeowners. The real backers were the corporations who fund FreedomWorks — they didn’t want to have a dime of their tax dollars going to help out poor suckered American homeowners who needed some help to avoid getting thrown out on the street. Suderman’s scam, pretending that the anger came from regular joe renters and not billionaires, was so sleazy that it was exposed by another rightwing publication, the Wall Street Journal.

This didn’t bother Megan, because her employer, the Atlantic Monthly, has already been outed as the very embodiment of corruption, the journalism world’s equivalent of the General Contractors Association. Thanks to TalkingPointsMemo, we know of at least 100 instances in which the Atlantic Monthly allowed interest groups, including health care companies, to pay large sums in order to gain access to the magazine’s editorial staff:

The Atlantic has held approximately 100 of them since 2003, according to Zachary Hooper, a spokesman for the magazine. “The corporate sponsor…comes to us and says, ‘We’re interested in having a discussion on a certain topic.’” The magazine’s business staff, said Hooper, takes things from there. The Atlantic flier makes clear that the “salons” are paid for by corporations and focused on a public-policy issue in which the corporate sponsor has a major stake. It offers the following “sampling of salon dinner sponsors and topics”:

  • AstraZeneca on “Healthcare Access and Education”
  • Microsoft on “Global Trade,”
  • GE on “Energy Sustainability and the Future of Nuclear Power”
  • Allstate on “The Future of the American City”
  • Citi on “The Challenge of Global Markets”

Hooper declined to say how much these corporations put up to sponsor the events. And just as with the Post, the Atlantic dinners are strictly off-the-record, and not open to the public. The flier describes them as: Private, custom, off-the-record conversations of 20-30 key influential individuals, moderated by an Atlantic editor, designed to bring a thoughtful group together for unbounded conversation on key issues of the day.

From birth, Megan McArdle has been the beneficiary of public funds: taxes paid for her upbringing, paid her father to venture into a corruption-ridden business world based on using public money for private gain, and paid her wages in her first breakthrough job. Her response is to revile government intervention as an employee of the most notoriously corrupt magazine on the market.

It goes a long way to explaining so many of her attacks — including her failed attempt to discredit an article I co-wrote earlier this year, an article which exposed the stealth role her fiancee’s former employer at FreedomWorks played in setting up the Tea Party protests. Back then, I and many of Megan’s readers demanded she account for this blatant conflict-of-interest and breach of basic journalism ethics — defending her future-fiancee’s ex-employer by trying to discredit another journalist’s investigation (which proved correct, I should add). At the time, last March, I wrote to Megan’s editor at Atlanticmonthly.com, Ben Cohn, asking him if the Atlantic Monthly barred its writers from covering subjects in which the writer had a clear conflict-of-interest. Cohn’s answer to me was a bizarre evasion: he instead answered a critique I never leveled about transparency, avoiding my question about conflict-of-interest:

I’ve looked carefully at her post and find that the disclosure of her relationship with Peter Suderman, which was right there in the original item, was clear and forthright. Transparency is an important value for us, and I see every evidence of transparency in Megan’s work here.

I didn’t ask Ben Cohn about transparency, I asked about conflict-of-interest. So I followed up with a second email insisting he tell me what the Atlantic‘s editorial policy is on conflict-of-interest issues. He never replied.

Now we know: conflict-of-interest is the very basis of the Atlantic Monthly‘s business model. And rank hypocrisy and Marie Antoinette privilege is the basis of the Megan McArdle ideology, in which we’re supposed to swallow free market solutions, while she basks in the comfort of taxpayer-subsidized privilege.

So when it comes to health care, Megan McArdle has the worst solution of all, a solution designed to protect her privilege: inaccessible free market innovations for us, and corruption on the taxpayer dime for Megan and her brood. Remember this the next time Megan McArdle defends the corrupt and broken system that’s worked so well for her, and so disastrously for the rest of us.

This article was first published in Alternet. Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

Click the cover & buy the book!


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38 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. eric  |  August 6th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Ames, are you trying to insinuate that a certain journalist is a self-serving hypocritical swine whose intellectual corruption knows no bounds? Get outta town!

  • 2. Timo  |  August 6th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I think it is going to require a whole new American generation (those born during this decade or late last one) to get rid off this obsession of (totally) free market capitalism.

    Those now under 15 will go through sh*t next decade, see their now disneylandlike world collapse, while daddies and mommies are desperately trying to survive in a world ruled by big corporations in which the slogan is “profit before people”.

    And still those parents will believe in untamed capitalism and “be your own hero or you are not trying hard enough” cr*p like a desperate gamblers praying for just a little bit of luck.

    Most likely (like all teenagers) will find this stuuupiiid during their rebellious years and might do something like boomers did in the 1960′s…

  • 3. hyperbolus  |  August 7th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    A particularly egregious example of something I know well: that (bourgeois) libertarians typically have benefitted from more government largesse than just about anyone else. It’s a subset of more general bourgeois hypocrisy. Other cases: also on the right are the neo-conservative (i.e. Judeo-fascist) warriors whose asthma, allergies, flatfeet, personal cowardice, etc. prevent them from themselves fighting more-than-merely-ideological battles; and on the so-called left, the limousine liberal or champagne socialist). We may as well say that being bourgeois and being hypocritical are synonymous. That’s what it means to be in the middle (class). Fuck ‘em all!

  • 4. Nelly  |  August 7th, 2009 at 1:05 am

    A note strictly on jobs in the media: to be frank, at the big mainstream names in the media world, like the NYT, WSJ, and the like, I wonder how many positions are NOT filled through contacts/daddy’/hubby’/relatives’ connections… I don’t mean they involve large-scale corruption as in this case, but a well-qualified and experienced but unconnected unfamiliar face has no chance to enter those closed circles imo.

  • 5. thomzas  |  August 7th, 2009 at 2:13 am

    But these Ayn Rand types will always believe no matter what happens. They worship success and have total faith in the free market, it is their religion and how they see the world.

    She sees is money as motivating, wealth as honorable and greed as good.

    The terrifying thing is that Megan is probably smarter than most senators, and will probably end up being one.

  • 6. Russian Capitalism  |  August 7th, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Well we know that Capitalism worked so well in Russia, that the country fell apart. (See First Chechen War.) Capitalism is working wonders in Ukraine, a country that’s becoming the number one whore exporter in the World, cause others cannot find jobs. Meanwhile in the evil dictatorial land of Belarus, pensions are paid on time. The more you know, the more sarcastic you get.

  • 7. Captain Teeb  |  August 7th, 2009 at 2:56 am

    I subscribed to The Atlantic in the 80s. It had some intelligent stuff.

    So, it’s now a propaganda sheet for corporate sponsors and trading on its past reputation. How long would it stay in business relying on an intelligent readership willing to pay for a subscription? It seems that such a readership is much smaller than it was in the 80s, and that there is much less stigma attached to selling your writing skills to the highest bidder.

    Why rail at the venality and hypocrisy of one magazine? It’s a microcosm of America. Do you expect the Atlantic staff to be like that of ‘Exiled’, sweltering in a foreclosed squat in Victorville when they could be eating lobster on Goldman’s tab in D.C.?

  • 8. Toni M  |  August 7th, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Your attacks against the scum bring joy to my heart.

  • 9. third world monkey  |  August 7th, 2009 at 4:14 am

    There is our share of yellowness in Ms. Ardle’s ubringing money. And what may we even hope to get in return? Us, millions and millions of unknown rice-packers and fishermaners, misters ‘China-nobody’, us, who you, white lords, call “gooks’ at every corner? What do we a get? A picture , a picture of a prettiest girl I have ever seen. A photographic image of a lovely face surrounded by waves of brown curls that will caress me in my dreams until I die from some poorly boiled east Pacific herring.

  • 10. Mark  |  August 7th, 2009 at 4:43 am

    Based on Megan’s writings, I’d guess that she hates her father. The good thing about being rich is that you can hate your parents with few negative consequences. See: George W. Bush.

  • 11. Tommy Jefferson  |  August 7th, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Our current economic problems are the result of Soviet-style economic central planning.

    Socialism increases war, poverty, totalitarianism, and human suffering. Free markets do the opposite. They increase prosperity, liberty, and human worth.

  • 12. Joe Blow  |  August 7th, 2009 at 6:09 am

    wow! I vaguely knew there was some person named McBargel that was kinda stupid but I didn’t know the third of it! great writing.

  • 13. Timo  |  August 7th, 2009 at 7:53 am

    “Our current economic problems are the result of Soviet-style economic central planning.”

    You come with a off-switch, I mean you automatons from the Kansas Assembly Line of WingNuts? I hope so…

  • 14. Carbon  |  August 7th, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Before I begin, let me say that as usual, Mark Ames is right on target, and Ms. McArdle needs a good slap with the facts. Now that that’s out of the way. To banter on about the merits of Private vs. government control (socialism vs. libertarianism) is to miss the most important point. That point is that to improve healthcare without spending more money, there are three main avenues,
    1. Operational efficiency- improving distribution and proper dispensation of healthcare at the lowest cost.
    2. Curative efficiency- improving the effectiveness of individual medicines/treatments.
    3. Prevention – reducing the need for healthcare by preventing illness in the first place.
    Each of these three can be positively influenced by both government and private industry to improve overall longevity and quality of life in a given population. However, there are ways for both sides to royally screw up as well. With socialism, the devil comes primarily in the form of graft, with pointless bureaucracy coming in a close second. With private enterprise, the evil arises primarily out of the profit motive, particularly its Darwinian effects. To illustrate, one need go no further than the apparent fact there is much more money to made from curing ED than there is from curing a rare autoimmune disease.
    Truthfully, healthcare reform is a complicated issue that involves increasing efficiency by attacking numerous individual faults within both public administration and private industry, as well as within the social, scientific and environmental framework of a country itself.

    Stepping completely away from the issue of efficiency, let me end by a note on overall spending. One way of getting more money for healthcare would be to attack the welfare queens. By this, I mean the real welfare queens: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin,KBR, Hallibuton, Bank of America, JPMorgan, etc. Any industry that does not produce a tangible, absolutely essential benefit for average Americans does not need to be given boat loads of money. You’d think that anyone who calls him/herself a libertarian would pick up on that, but not McArdle. Hmmmm….Why is that…?

  • 15. unger  |  August 7th, 2009 at 11:46 am

    C.S. Lewis’ essay on ‘Bulverism’ (google it) comes to mind…

    “…you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it ‘Bulverism. Some day I am going the write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father – who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third – ‘Oh, you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment,’ E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.

    I see Bulverism at work in every political argument. The capitalists must be bad economists because we know why they want capitalism, and equally Communists must be bad economists because we know why they want Communism. Thus, the Bulverists on both sides. In reality, of course, either the doctrines of the capitalists are false, or the doctrines of the Communists, or both; but you can only find out the rights and wrongs by reasoning – never by being rude about your opponent’s psychology.”

  • 16. aleke  |  August 7th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I’m going to donate to the Exiled as soon as I can, come hell or high water

  • 17. Realist  |  August 7th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    The Randians of London, New York and Washington have a quite peculiar definition of Libertanianism. Born to wealth and privilege, sent to exclusive schools in which no mere mortal would ever get a slot, off to oddly selective ivy league colleges. Upon graduation, they enter the incestuous world of banking, media, foundations, government appointments, public office and international organisations. With their teeth deep in the public troth, their gated playpen warps into the meritocratic paradise.

    Let them eat cake.

  • 18. jim beam  |  August 7th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Perhaps Americans just need to grow some balls and stop whining about healthcare rationing- it’s not like we don’t ration healthcare now.

  • 19. Expat in BY  |  August 7th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Response to 6. Russian Capitalism

    Yeah, the pensions may come on time… in Minsk… but what are they, 150,000 BYR? That equals about 50 USD by the way. You might be able to afford 2 weeks of food, 3 if you stretch it… hope you aren’t renting, or that the tax collector is watching how much you make on the side selling bottles.

    Oh, and you forgot all the free healthcare… unfortunately in Belarus, you get what you pay for.

    That’s not to say that the US is any better, all the top of the line healthcare that you can’t afford (may as well be as useless as in Belarus), but this isn’t any glorious wonderland. Not even compared to Ukraine. Find a better example…

  • 20. Daar  |  August 7th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    IS THAT JOHN DOLAN?!!>>!!>1/1/11

  • 21. Pwadoc  |  August 9th, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    What you wrote destroys McArdle’s arguments. You’re revealing her person instead of responding to her on her own terms. The Exile never stoops to the same lame idiotic thinking that I stoop to.

  • 22. subzero  |  August 9th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    She’s the kind of selfish bitch that would insist you go down on her but would never reciprocrate.

  • 23. Poor guy  |  August 11th, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Wow Rich people SUCK!!!! How can I suck without working?

  • 24. Mr. Wonderful  |  August 12th, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Fucking brilliant. Go buy yourself a drink on me. (It’s U of Penn, not Penn U.)

  • 25. MJ  |  August 12th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    As Kunfumonkey said: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  • 26. Terry Notus  |  August 12th, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    So, if either of your parents ever worked for the government, you are only entitled to socialist opinions? And if your parents worked for a business, are you required to vote Republican? I am still a little unclear on how your father’s profession automatically invalidates all arguments or evidence you offer. Let’s see, Bill Clinton was a terrible President because his father was a no good drunk? Is that how it works? Or he was a hypocrite for not being a drunk too? Try again.

  • 27. tensor  |  August 22nd, 2009 at 1:04 am

    ” I am still a little unclear on how your father’s profession automatically invalidates all arguments or evidence you offer.”

    OK, if that part’s just too challenging for you, then ignore it. Simply go with what she herself admits: her precious ‘free market’ kicked her to the curb, as it did so many others in that time. (One of my friends lost a cushy corporate gig in 2001, despite being one of the smartest persons in the world. I kept my job, even though I’m a high-functioning retard by comparison) She utterly, totally, completely failed to make it on her own, instead falling back (& upwards) on her, and her family’s, personal contacts. (“Executive copy girl”? In the age of teh interdukken?) Yet, she tells us over and over and over and over and over and over, the rest of us are supposed to do what she could not. Eat me.

  • 28. D. Aristophanes  |  August 22nd, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Terry Notus – it’s the Clarence Thomas problem, my thick-skulled friend. Denying institutional largesse to others that you yourself enjoyed to your great benefit.

  • 29. Jay Fraz  |  September 6th, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Of course EVERY 3rd world country is a libertardian ideal, it is almost as if you emulate a 3rd world economy you get one. This level of intellect is beyond that of a libertardian.

  • 30. Northern Observer  |  December 18th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Barry Goldwater’s fortune was all tied in with the Federal Government’s spending on rail, military and settlements in the South West. Scratch a Libertarian find an unconscious hypocrite.

  • 31. RicardoCabeza  |  July 8th, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Jesus what a board full full of losers. Just how well well is the government run monopoly on business working idiots not too well. What do expect from a bunch of new york homos.

  • 32. BTBK  |  October 28th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    By trying to discredit Megan’s Libertarian beliefs and writings by attacking her father’s sources of income, you imply that you have been unable to discredit them with more convincing arguments- concerning the actual substance of her work.

  • 33. Rageinbull  |  November 24th, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Wow, after reading this whole story about her father’s career in government and how it resulted in corruption and graft it reminded me why I’m a Libertarian and just how dirty and arrogant high level government officials can be. THANKS!

  • 34. Steve  |  May 3rd, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I can’t stand libertarians, but to convict a person for the crimes of their parent is, well, just stupid and mean. I would HATE to be held accountable for the conservative values of my father. What control does she have over what her dad did? This is just terrible journalism.

    But it’s not nearly as terrible as McArdle’s disgusting hit-job she pulled on a New York Times reporter’s wife in 2009, the same year as Ames’ article. In McArdle’s hit-piece, you’ll recall, she did a hit-job for her friends in the mortgage industry who didn’t like reporter Edmund Andrews’ damaging expose on mortgage industry abuse. So someone handed McArdle information on Andrews’ wife, showing that she’d declared bankruptcy twice–and lo and belold, Andrews’ book was discredited and the mortgage industry sponsors were saved by McArdle!

    Here’s the article, “The Road To Bankruptcy”: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/05/the-road-to-bankruptcy/17976/

    At the end of his book’s harrowing account of mortgage mistakes and credit card crises, Edmund Andrews writes: “While our misadventure had certainly been more extreme than those of many other Americans, our situation was not all that unusual.” And indeed the book reads like the story of an American Everyman, easily sucked in to the alluring world of easy credit as he struggled to blend a new family. The terrifying implication is that it could happen to you–to anyone who leads with their heart and not their head.

    But en route to that moral, it turns out the story has been tidied up a little. Patty Barreiro, Andrews’ wife, has declared bankruptcy twice. The second time was while they were married, a detail that didn’t make it into either the book or the excerpt that ran in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

    Andrews’ desire to shield his wife is understandable–hell, laudable. No decent person wants to parade their spouse’s financial trouble in front of the world. But this is material information that changes the tenor of his story. Serial bankruptcy is not a creation of the current credit crisis, and it doesn’t just happen to anyone, particularly anyone with a six figure salary.

    In September 1998, California bankruptcy court records indicate that Patty and her first husband declared bankruptcy. The financial statement they filed with the court indicated family income of $174,000 in 1996, $87,000 in 1997, and $126,000 in the first nine months of 1998. The income fluctuations are not surprising, given that her husband was in the film production industry. By the time of the filing, the couple owed about $30,000 on 8 credit cards, over $200,000 in back taxes, and almost $15,000 in private school tuition, as well as substantial car and mortgage payments.

    In 2007, nearly as soon as she was eligible, Patty Barreiro filed again in Montgomery Country. When called for comment yesterday, Andrews was unavailable, but there is no question that it is his wife: his income and occupation are prominently featured in the docket.

    This is really highly unusual. For starters, the overwhelming majority of people who file bankruptcy do not make anything close to $100,000 a year–the standard estimate when the 2005 bankruptcy reform was passed was that about 80% of filers had household incomes below the median income in their state. The number of affluent people who file twice is even smaller, and has presumably gone down since the 2005 filing largely eliminated abusive serial Chapter 13 filings, which used to be used, often by quite wealthy people, to forestall evictions or foreclosure.

    The bankruptcy code requires filers to wait 8 years after a previous Chapter 7 discharge. Barely four months after she became eligible, Patty Barreiro filed again. And the filing shows some suggestion of strategic debt management.

    Ms. Barreiro filed separately from Andrews, and had to amend the filing to include Andrews’ income after a complaint from a creditor who wanted to force her into a Chapter 13 repayment plan. She filed when her income was at rock bottom, consisting only of unemployment; the timing may have just excluded having to declare $5,000 in freelance editing income Andrews mentions in the book. And she shed what appear to be jointly incurred debts, such as a Comcast account. Comcast does not service the address listed on the 1998 filing, but as I can attest (to my sorrow), it is the main cable provider in Silver Spring, where she moved to live with Andrews in 2004.

    Serial bankruptcies can, of course, happen to anyone with enough bad luck. But they usually don’t. And when they do, they usually hit people with marginal incomes that leave no margin for error in the budget. Most people, even in LA, are able to build a sustainable budget out of an income in the low six figures.

    Moreover, pesky bad luck isn’t really the picture painted by either filing. Rather, Ms. Barreiro seems to have spent most of the last two decades living right up to the edge of her income, and beyond, and then massively defaulting. If you structure your finances so that absolutely everything has to go right, it’s hard to blame the mortgage company when you don’t quite make it.

    Andrews has been admirably open about many of the poor decisions and the wishful thinking that led him deep into debt. Nonetheless, he has laid much of the blame onto irresponsible bankers and mortgage brokers. The missing bankruptcies substantially undermine this basic narrative arc of Andrews’ story. Particularly in his book, the bankers are the villains, America’s current troubles are the inevitable denouement of their maniacal greed, and the Andrews household stands in for an American public led, by their own greed and longing and hopeful trust, into the money pit.

    It’s hard to argue that Ms. Barreiro was forced into bankruptcy by crazed subprime mortgage lenders in 1998. Greedy bankers certainly didn’t keep her and her first husband from paying their taxes.

    Of course, her first husband was involved too–there’s no way of knowing who was at fault in the first case. If indeed anyone was: there may have been a business failure or some other mitigating factor. As I mentioned, I tried to reach Andrews for comment several times, leaving messages on both his office and cell phone that made it clear I was reporting for The Atlantic, and that I wanted to speak to him about Patty’s bankruptcies. For whatever reason, he has not called me back, and so I don’t have his (her) side of the story to tell you.

    Of course, no matter what he told me, it wouldn’t let the bankers off the hook. Whatever Patty Barreiro’s spending history, it’s still true that she and Andrews were able to dig themselves in a lot deeper because of fantastically easy credit from a variety of fantastically stupid bankers, most of whom now seem to have gone fantastically bankrupt. But while the willing lenders amplified the problem, given Ms. Barreiro’s history, it seems unlikely they were at the root of it. It’s hard to see them as victims either of those bankers, or a mass mania.

    Andrews married a woman with a lengthy history of debt and spending problems. Serial bankrupts were getting into trouble long before there was a credit bubble, indeed long before there were credit cards or 30-year self-amortizing mortgages. In fact, the literary history of America is littered with them; we owe much of Mark Twain’s later work to his catastrophic financial mismanagement.

    Credit encourages people to spend more by separating the pain of payment from the pleasure of consumption. For many, maybe most, people, this means at least one brush with unpleasantly large overdrafts or credit card balances. And for a small subset of folks, that easy accumulation leads to real, often repeated, trouble. Those kinds of problems can’t be fixed with tighter mortgage lending standards or a 500 basis point uptick in the Fed Funds rate. And they aren’t the main problems facing most Americans today.

  • 35. ct  |  January 31st, 2012 at 7:48 am

    for alternatives yall should check out some more honest (and casual) alternatives like BEEEEP! GO ADVERTISE YOUR LIBERTARD BULLSHIT SOMEWHERE ELSE DICKWEED

  • 36. franc black  |  January 31st, 2012 at 9:45 am

    @ 3. hyperbolus

    Nicely said. More and more, we need a new way of living using a rational economic system … it’s the only way the middle class can survive.
    Time is ripe for new politics. From whom will emerge our generation’s heroes?

  • 37. charliebucket  |  January 31st, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Dumbasses of 2011 who can’t understand the sins of the father bit: It’s really not about the dad. It’s still about her. When she says that that those on the take from the taxpayer are leeches on society, she is getting into cognitive dissonance territory with her own narrative of the kind of person she is and what she constantly and very snobbishly represents – that she got where she did all by her oh-so-great Megan McGaultian self, when really you and I were paying for her whole ride there.

    Libertarians are at best naive; those are the ‘good’ ones. At worst they are seriously fucking mean, completely unappreciative of what the labor of society has done for them, borderline dumb, or all three. Megan McArdle is all three.

  • 38. Mattk  |  February 1st, 2012 at 2:52 am

    Everytime I hear (or read) the name McArdle it reminds me of the noise you hear in porn when the someone’s getting deep-throated.

    I wonder if it would be possible to do to her what Dan Savage did for Santorum.

    McArdle, the noise produced when both cock and balls are gargled simultaneously.

    Keep up the great work!


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