1. So Carl on Berry and Kate/Pete on taxes are classic posts.
2. Although there’s a lot about Wendell Berry that’s instructive and admirable, I have to admit I don’t love him. That’s because I just don’t think he’s empirically correct in so many ways. Carl mentions my “partial defense” of the exurbs. Well, there might be no living arrangement that ever deserves more a partial defense. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. And there are just a lot of ways the South is better than it was a few generations ago. Carl also gives a telling example of Wendell’s sometimes incredible self-righteousness, which might be the flip side of his strong tendency toward a kind of utopianism. I do heart many Berry-ites, who turn to him as inspiration to be better than bourgeois or bourgeois and bohemian. We need to name that properly human bourgeois AND . . . It really is true, after all, that there’s such a thing as rather indispensable bourgeois virtue, but every human life should include more relational and noble virtues too. Let me conclude by saying that Carl is perfectly right in saying that the shots Alan Jacobs and MYSELF took at Wendell we’re just that, shots. I hope (as they were in Carl’s case) “conversation starters” more than “conversation stoppers.”
3. I would vote for the FLAT TAX just so I didn’t have to keep any tax records or fill out any tax forms. We bohemians (have you seen my office?) just aren’t that good at that stuff (because it’s boring), and we’d rather that the government just show up and take what it thinks it needs, no questions asked. Rich guys, meanwhile, hire people who help them care effectively about that stuff. It’s amazing to me that really rich guys care about their tax rate, but they do. When you talk to actual struggling middle-class self-employed entrepreneurs, they say what ticks them off the most is the regressive self-employment tax. So that’s where you begin to sell them on the FLAT TAX as THE ONLY federal tax on workers.
4. Now to an important issue: I’ve been sent a link to an article that observes that America is divided into IHOP and WAFFLE HOUSE regions. The article saying nothing interesting beyond that. It’s true that the North is mostly IHOP and the South WAFFLE HOUSE. But right here at Panera in Rome, GA there’s an IHOP across the street. And although I rarely go there, I can see that IHOP is a significant contribution to local culture. It’s virtues include a real dining room with very reliable table service. You also get a huge amount of food for your money; every breakfast, if I remember correctly, comes with enough pancakes to be a separate breakfast. The downsides of IHOP are that the food, aside from the pancakes, is pretty bad, and the strong expectation is often that you will eat and leave. IHOP seems mainly for large groups eating after church (not fancy churches, it goes without saying) or after the game. Extended families and herds of mainly high-school students gather there too. So do middle-aged weekend biker gangs. It’s a very RELATIONAL place. For those sensitive to class, it’s always impressive that going to IHOP is an edifying experience of harmonious multicultural diversity. (It is, after all, the INTERNATIONAL House of Pancakes.) I don’t go to IHOP because I shouldn’t be eating that much at my advanced age, and because it’s not for hanging out in the way WAFFLE HOUSE and PANERA BREAD are. For dining out, there are locally-owned places that have better food—even better breakfasts—at comparable prices.
5. Next topic: Why the best place to shop for clothes in Rome, GA is the GOODWILL store.