Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Game of Life, According to Scalzi

Yet another excellent essay by John Scalzi on whatever.com -- Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.

Scalzi substitutes a metaphor well-known to every gamer to explain the concept usually called privilege. He makes the switch because he knows his intended audience reacts to that word "like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with 'privilege,' they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies."

Well done, John. A succinct, clear, and (I hope) palatable argument.

Although I have to say, the main point reminds me of a comment from a whatever.com reader named Wayne Basta. He wrote last fall in response to your post about Warren Buffett's call for increased taxes on the rich:

People become rich (if they aren’t born that way) because of drive and motivation (with a certain element of luck). Taxing them more is just like cranking up the difficulty level in a video game. It’s clear they’ve mastered making money at the easy level. Now it’s time to take it to Normal Mode. People will still play the game. They are Achievers and this just makes it more of a challenge. Someone who is rich in an environment with no regulation and no taxes doesn’t have much to brag about. But someone who is rich when there is a 90% tax rate and firm stipulations that they pay their workers well, now that is someone to admire.
Every time I read Wayne's comment, I visualize a cute little Pacman Herman Cain or Andrew Carnegie racing through a maze, gobbling up the glowing fruits.

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