Again, the dopey idea that choice makes us worse off
July 14, 2006
In my opinion, this is a really dopey idea, but it's rarely expressed so openly: a Fortune writer argues that "the explosion of choice has left us poorer in at least two arenas".
One: choice is hurting the mainstream media. Oooooh, cry me a river.
Two: choice is hurting our politics. Why? In part because "people can now filter the news and opinion they get to avoid exposure to ideas with which they disagree". Well, I admit he's got a point, here. A couple of generations ago, I recall well how all the Liberals were forced--forced, I tell you--to read Adam Smith and Hayek and Milton Friedman and the National Review.
(Why do I suspect that the real complaint here is that yes, Conservatives more or less used to have to read the New York Times and the Washington Post and watch ABC, CBS, and NBC, but now--damn it all--we don't?)
There's also this: "Mass culture provides intangible benefits, too. Big stars, hit TV shows and even commercials help knit a society together. Think of the feeling that comes a few times a year - the morning after the Super Bowl or the Oscars - when tens of millions of Americans share a common experience." Oh yeah, take a look at how warm and fuzzy Americans feel toward each other these days. Those "common experiences" are invaluable. (And by the way, how did the country manage to survive before the Super Bowl?)
I make now a standing offer: any individual who feels too burdened by all his or her choices can give them to me. I'll take them off your hands, free of charge. You're welcome.