Joni Mitchell: Making Vice Chic Tremendous Moral Error
Joni Mitchell interviewed by Charlie Rose in January 2008: "Making vice, you know, chic I think was a tremendous moral error and I think the entire global village is suffering right now and the generation coming up right now is malformed because of it, that they never had a shot at innocence, you know which is one of the privileges of childhood unless you're in a war zone".
Another quote: "The boys are weakened and the girls are grotesquely aggressive".
What do you all make of that?
Regards vice chic: I'm struck by the glorification of Las Vegas by TV shows (e.g. with Josh Duhamel playing a casino security officer in one of them) and movies. Look, gambling is a vice, a very destructive vice for some individuals and families. Mom or Dad gambles away the food money and rent money. Today state governments run their own lotteries, claiming to need the money to help poor people. But who are they preying on to buy their tickets? People who want a ticket out of the lower classes. That's morally perverse.
Her comments about water and food shortages suggest she's worried about the limits to growth and exhaustion of resources. But these limits (like the idea that vices are bad things which children should be shielded from) are still outside of the range of discussion engaged in by mainstream commentators.
Note that she also saw the severity of the approaching financial crisis before it hit full force. The mainstream economic commentary of January 2008 was not predicting a near collapse of the global financial system that would be prevented only by trillions of dollars from the US Federal Reserve. So she was ahead of the mainstream echo chamber of conventional wisdom. An artist's sensitivity helps to see thru conventional wisdom.
Update: I can see a couple of arguments for letting the lottery stand:
- The poor are already getting supported by more productive people and do not deserve to be parasites. So taxing them thru a lottery reverses an unfair redistribution.
- The lottery acts like natural selection against people dumb enough to spend on it. But I'm skeptical that the lottery (or gambling in general) reduces fertility, especially in welfare states.
Arguments against the lottery and against legalized gambling:
- The poor are unfairly oppressed and therefore need to receive from the state as a remedy to the unfair system. Therefore they should not be tempted to give to state via a lottery. But I'm skeptical of Marxist arguments about class oppression, at least with regard to the vast majority of the poor. Most who are poor in industrialized economies are that way due to their own attributes: they are too dumb to do highly productive work or too lazy or too uncooperative or because they have short time horizons and do not save. Likely multiple reasons apply for most of them. Granted there are exception who are poor due to no fault of their own.
- When the easily tempted engage in vices others pay for a portion of the results. Keep temptation away and people become more likely to support their kids, stay with their spouse, keep their job, etc. That seems the most persuasive argument to me. But this argument, while it would have been persuasive 100 years ago, no longer holds much force among liberals. That's unfortunate for the health of a society.