Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: How to handle your gay friend’s smelly boyfriend, and why we’re getting dumber

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Matt Labash
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      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Fly-Fishing-Darth-Vader-Evangelical/dp/1439159971">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

Good morning Matt, I just read the following in Drudge Report: “Gerard Depardieu, the French actor who has waged a battle against a proposed super-tax on millionaires in his native country, has been granted Russian citizenship.”Apparently, Russia has a flat tax of 13 percent. Last night while driving home and listening  to the Mark Levin show,  the stand-in for Mark said our tax code is over 70k pages. He described congress cleverly as “The Mandarins with their long fingernails.” My question: Why do obvious solutions have so much trouble gaining traction? Is this a new phenomena? Should we expect things to get better?  Will we become wiser? You have the gift of wisdom. Please shed your light where we now have darkness. – Paul Edmonson

I will answer your questions in order of importance:

1. No, we should not expect things to get better. While I didn’t pay much attention in Physical Science during the Laws of Nature chapter, Murphy’s Law did grab my attention. And both our executive and our legislative branches are its walking embodiment. That’s not cheap cynicism. That’s regretful realism.

2.  No, we will not become wiser. If experience has taught us anything, it is that we will ignore all prior experience so that we can make stupid mistakes anew. Every successive generation has that many more data points to play with. And more information, instead of clarifying, often tricks us into thinking we’re special, and that history’s lessons don’t apply to us. Some in the ‘90s for instance, believed we’d reached such unprecedented levels of prosperity that we’d never know recession again. Ooops.

3.  While I salute Mr. Depardieu’s one-man tax revolt, I tend to break with Mark Levin, or at least with his stand-in. Yes, it’d be nice if our tax code wasn’t 70 thousand pages. Yes, it would be great if we had a 13 percent flat tax. But with the current climate of rapacity –  both Obama’s and Congress’s apparent conviction that what’s yours is theirs, that the only way we can grow wealth and cover our profligate tabs is to pick your pockets in ways big and small – I maintain that a complicated tax code with lots of loopholes and exemptions is the only hedge we currently have against these sticky-fingered knuckleheads. Plus, at least we’re creating more wealth for our accountants. Somebody ought to promote job growth, since the government sure seems to have no interest in it.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.