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‘McKinsey,””Goldman,’ and Other Political Epithets of Our Time

The New York Stock Exchange, September 3, 2015 (Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

The U.S. Navy has one, overarching goal: “Beat Army!” And Army, no doubt, wants to beat Navy. And Republicans want to beat Democrats, and vice versa. So whatever your opponent is — whatever’s in his background, whatever’s in his makeup — must be bogeyized.

Is he experienced? Then experience is no good. Is he inexperienced? Then inexperience is no good. You see how it works? We’re flexible.

In the last several months, I’ve noticed that “McKinsey” has become an epithet in the right-wing lexicon. That’s because Pete Buttigieg worked for McKinsey. It’s also because business is icky to much of the Right, as is our free-market system itself.

Not long ago, it was mainly the Left who were the corporation-bashers. The Right has demanded equal time and gotten it — and then some.

I have been thinking of some people I know who have worked at McKinsey & Co. — really good people. Smart, decent, public-spirited, charitable, problem-solving. Three of the people who come to mind once worked at National Review. Two of them are still kicking around this planet, and I won’t name them, lest they become targets of the bashers. But let me talk for a minute about Dusty Rhodes, who was a big part of NR: our president, for years.

McKinsey was his first job out of business school. The story of how he got it is a darned good one. I’ll tell it some other time. He prized McKinsey and learned a lot working there — helped a lot of others, too.

All of us benefit from business, whether we know it or not. We need it for employment and we need it for goods and services. You know what could increase appreciation of business? The lack of it.

In addition to McKinsey, Dusty worked for — hold on to your socks — Goldman Sachs. Indeed, he was a partner there. Goldman Sachs, too, is a bogeyman of Left and Right, and its former CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, is a particular target.

Blankfein has the distinction of having appeared in a Donald Trump ad and an Elizabeth Warren ad. He was a bogey in both. I wrote about this distinction last month, here.

Dusty Rhodes was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. When he was growing up, sometimes his spoon was silver, sometimes tin. His mother sometimes had money and sometimes not. He did much of his growing up in the care of his grandparents — Welsh immigrants in Harlem. Dusty’s grandfather, Llew (for “Llewellyn”), was a construction worker and building super.

Dusty was a great believer in the free market, free enterprise — freedom in general. He saw the power of capitalism to lift people up. He made no apology for his beliefs and career. He saw nothing to apologize for — quite rightly.

Let the collectivists and statists apologize.

He gave millions of dollars to just causes — including school choice and charter schools, trying to give poor kids a chance. He not only gave his money, he gave something perhaps more valuable: his time, and experience, and energy. He was on the board of anything and everything, from the Heritage Foundation to the Manhattan Institute to the Bradley Foundation to National Review.

He was also on the board of the International Rescue Committee. He was determined to help refugees, taking them up as a cause.

In October of this year, the United States accepted zero refugees. It was the first month in which we accepted zero refugees since record-taking began. A lot of people are proud of this. It is not the kind of conservative Dusty was, and his conservatism lingers, a bit.

You will have to say more than “McKinsey!” or “Goldman!” to make me think “Bad.” You’re going to have to give me more. If you don’t like a person, fine, make your case, but the current epithets — “McKinsey!” “Goldman!” “Deep State!” “Technocrat!” — are not gonna cut it, at least with me.

And a few others. We meet at a corner booth at Denny’s on alternate Tuesdays. Join us. Maybe someday — to adapt a line from Jaws — we will need a bigger booth.

Meanwhile, ask yourself this: Does your average populist really do more for humanity in any given week than your average capitalist? To be discussed . . .