Hurley and Grossman deluded by strong false beliefs

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To the editor:

The granting of columns to Seth Grossman and Harry Hurley seems like journalistic welfare, since the qualities of their columns are not indicative of merit – which is quite ironic given their so-called “nanny state” and “punishing success” views.

Hurley’s weekly ramblings show no journalistic or analytical skill.  He’s used the “liberal media bias” as a one-trick pony for years.  His conspiracy theories against the media are just outgases from his own bias. He offers no coherent arguments. 

Grossman has less of an excuse, claiming a law degree from an Ivy League equivalent university. Unlike Hurley, he has knowledge of American history, although his interpretations are suspect.  

Whatever he thinks of the motives of his critics, his argumentation is just not sound.

When he claims that high school teachers and college professors are brainwashing our students toward Anti-Americanism, he satisfies a key attribute of a crank – like Hurley.  His recent references have included American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks and pseudo-intellectual Dinesh D’Souza, whose works are considered fringe.  

Grossman has voluntarily categorized himself with the silver-spooned, yet college dropout Rush Limbaugh. The only job Limbaugh has been able to keep is as a multimillion dollar professional hypocrite and fault finder – so much for meritocracy.

Grossman’s “analysis” is limited to his own rosy retrospection of history and his short-sided opinions of current social conditions.  His appeals to the temperance and perseverance of Frederick Douglass to imply that the sustaining condition of poverty among blacks is in-group inflicted or to the “Glass Palace” metaphor of Fyodor Dostoyevsky to imply that any social programs will lead to communism or socialism are just weak arguments, a long non-sequitur and a long slippery slope, respectively.  

Nothing he has offered supports the idea that we should bow at the altar of unregulated market fundamentalism and accept a racially defined class system as a necessary evil or justifiable collateral damage of that fundamentalism’s canon.  His views are the socioeconomic equivalent of creationism.

Nobel Prize winner Kenneth Arrow showed that America is not quite the meritocracy that most Americans think it is. It is easy to claim credit for one’s material success, but a wise person knows that it helps to be lucky and have some help along the way.  Even Bill Gates had a nice upbringing.  

And, although there are cases such as the nice story of Christopher Gardner, most rags-to-riches stories are as embellished as claims of self-reported acts of charity and CEO resumes. If you want local examples, just look at our incestuous business culture and young visitors with luxurious lifestyles.  

We don’t punish success, but we do punish illness, poverty and misfortune while we reward old opportunism and easy money. 

Easy money is why technically trained people leave their technical jobs and go into insurance, headhunting, sales and real estate.  We jump on “success” bandwagons and avert uncomfortable truths, preferring to “believe” in religious nonsense, healings, karma, soul mates and that “everything happens for a reason.” 

We quote religious writings but worship money. Our wealth gap is about average among developed nations, but we actually do less than any developed country to remedy the gap.  

Hurley and Grossman, both from very provincial cultures and unaware of their fortuity, are deluded by very strong false beliefs about the way society truly operates. Their commentaries imply an aversion to any information that invalidates their prejudices.

Jeffrey Lehman


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