by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you want there to be a genuine, productive political discourse, then generally you should avoid things like imputing bad faith to the other side and accepting intellectual dishonesty from your own side. And that means sometimes kind of glossing over the actual bad-faith stuff when it’s festering stinkily right there under our noses, i.e. taking seriously Senator Kamala Harris’s $315 billion teacher-raise proposal as an economic and education-policy idea rather than treating it as the opening bid in a vote-buying scheme, which is what it transparently is.
In South Asian and Middle Eastern usage, there is a very useful word of Persian origin: bakshish, the meaning of which is wonderfully plastic: It can refer to alms given to beggars (Mark Twain mentions an “infernal chorus” of “bucksheesh” in The Innocents Abroad), customary tips paid to service providers, or bribery and extortion involving petty bureaucrats. The alloy of condescending philanthropy, customary patronage, and apple-stealing political corruption expressed by bakshish is better fitted to the current attitude of the 2020 Democratic presidential aspirants than the connotations of any ordinary political term I can think of.
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s student-debt proposal is pretty poor policy and possibly the dopiest thing she’s put her name on since those self-help books (The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan!) all those years ago: It’s a handout to the people in our society who are least in need of one. …
My only complaint: Williamson never labeled the situation “bakshish crazy.”