If you don't depend on the government, you're an 'elite'!

A leading progressive black scholar has advanced a new theory of elites.  This is the startling claim from MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson:

You want to talk a elitism right? ... You're an elite if you don't have to depend on the government at some point in your life.

There are sick people out there. There are seniors out there who need federally funded cars to take them to and from place, there are people who have student loans. There is cancer research from the NSF that helps people from the entire country. 

So if you can say you don't care about the government that must be great, fine for you, if you are that rich, maybe the people in the White House feels that way. But regular people -- Republicans and Democrats realize how stupid this is. I can't wait for them to make this mistake so they get wiped out in 2018 and we can have some competent Democrats and Republicans running this country.

I confess that I had never heard of Jason Johnson, but I checked him out, and he turns out to be a highly influential figure in the world of black academia and a thought leader.  Jason A. Johnson holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina.  His 2010 dissertation tested political science theory against the actual practice of political consultants and found the theory wanting.  Testing theory against data is exactly the sort of thing that gets a dissertation accepted as a "contribution to knowledge."  This is how a rookie scholar makes his bones, so to speak.  In getting his doctorate, Professor Johnson did it right, and at a highly regarded university.  Plus it sounds as though he did actual fieldwork.

He first taught at Hiram College, in Ohio, but last year was recruited away to a Historically Black institution, in a much heralded move.  From Diverse Education:

"Morgan State Bolsters Journalism School with Jason Johnson"

Dr. Jason Johnson – a frequent commentator on cable news – has accepted a tenured professorship in the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University (MSU), the Black college located in Baltimore.

Johnson's hiring arguably positions MSU to be the leader among HBCUs in the field of journalism. 

In online journalism, Dr. Johnson is a columnist for The Root, which makes him an influential voice among a broad swath of African-American thought leaders.  And, of course, he is an MSNBC commentator, which enhances his platform.  He deserves to be taken seriously.

So let's break down his logic.  His proposition is that taking care of oneself and not needing to depend on government makes one elite.  At a purely statistical level, he probably is correct.  Most people do depend on the government at some point in their lives via Social Security and Medicare alone.

Those who never, ever "depend" on government in any way are a small minority, and thereby an elite, statistically – a small group that stands out.  So his proposition is reasonable, even if the never-depend-on-government elites are not a self-conscious group, so they do not function in the self-interested ways other elites do.

But immediately after defining this group, Johnson brings up the specter of human suffering on the part of victim classes: seniors, students who cruelly must repay loans, and even cancer victims.

This reveals the practical, political, not theoretical, motivation of the eminent scholar.  As with his dissertation's subject matter, the theory does not match the practice.  Johnson wants a group to demonize: the ones who selfishly don't want to "help" people. 

Of course, when he invokes cancer research, Johnson broadens his definition of dependence to the point of universality ("cancer research from the NSF that helps people from the entire country").

 As a theoretician, Johnson flunks.  As a demagogue, he is formidable.

A leading progressive black scholar has advanced a new theory of elites.  This is the startling claim from MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson:

You want to talk a elitism right? ... You're an elite if you don't have to depend on the government at some point in your life.

There are sick people out there. There are seniors out there who need federally funded cars to take them to and from place, there are people who have student loans. There is cancer research from the NSF that helps people from the entire country. 

So if you can say you don't care about the government that must be great, fine for you, if you are that rich, maybe the people in the White House feels that way. But regular people -- Republicans and Democrats realize how stupid this is. I can't wait for them to make this mistake so they get wiped out in 2018 and we can have some competent Democrats and Republicans running this country.

I confess that I had never heard of Jason Johnson, but I checked him out, and he turns out to be a highly influential figure in the world of black academia and a thought leader.  Jason A. Johnson holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina.  His 2010 dissertation tested political science theory against the actual practice of political consultants and found the theory wanting.  Testing theory against data is exactly the sort of thing that gets a dissertation accepted as a "contribution to knowledge."  This is how a rookie scholar makes his bones, so to speak.  In getting his doctorate, Professor Johnson did it right, and at a highly regarded university.  Plus it sounds as though he did actual fieldwork.

He first taught at Hiram College, in Ohio, but last year was recruited away to a Historically Black institution, in a much heralded move.  From Diverse Education:

"Morgan State Bolsters Journalism School with Jason Johnson"

Dr. Jason Johnson – a frequent commentator on cable news – has accepted a tenured professorship in the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University (MSU), the Black college located in Baltimore.

Johnson's hiring arguably positions MSU to be the leader among HBCUs in the field of journalism. 

In online journalism, Dr. Johnson is a columnist for The Root, which makes him an influential voice among a broad swath of African-American thought leaders.  And, of course, he is an MSNBC commentator, which enhances his platform.  He deserves to be taken seriously.

So let's break down his logic.  His proposition is that taking care of oneself and not needing to depend on government makes one elite.  At a purely statistical level, he probably is correct.  Most people do depend on the government at some point in their lives via Social Security and Medicare alone.

Those who never, ever "depend" on government in any way are a small minority, and thereby an elite, statistically – a small group that stands out.  So his proposition is reasonable, even if the never-depend-on-government elites are not a self-conscious group, so they do not function in the self-interested ways other elites do.

But immediately after defining this group, Johnson brings up the specter of human suffering on the part of victim classes: seniors, students who cruelly must repay loans, and even cancer victims.

This reveals the practical, political, not theoretical, motivation of the eminent scholar.  As with his dissertation's subject matter, the theory does not match the practice.  Johnson wants a group to demonize: the ones who selfishly don't want to "help" people. 

Of course, when he invokes cancer research, Johnson broadens his definition of dependence to the point of universality ("cancer research from the NSF that helps people from the entire country").

 As a theoretician, Johnson flunks.  As a demagogue, he is formidable.

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