My wife and I dizzily coughed flu sputum at each other this weekend, taking turns holding our sick baby son on our laps, lugging his tons of accoutrements cross-country as he screamed through delayed wintry flights, and all I could think was: Pity the monied urban childless! How may we improve their lots?
Plenty of the childless do have it hard. Plenty of them live in debt and toil and turmoil and perhaps wish in vain to not be childless someday. These poor souls have no single online champion, no moral arbiter or intercessor.
But the rich privileged rentier class of child-free Beltway dipshits, fortuitously, has Matt Yglesias.
Amazon has a program called Amazon Mom that's a pretty neat way to save some money on common household items. But here's the thing. It turns out you don't need to be a mom to sign up. You don't need to be a dad, either. You just need to be a liar. Enrolling in Amazon Mom requires you to offer up some information about your baby, but there's no verification involved whatsoever. You just type in some made-up stuff and suddenly your fake baby is getting you some sweet discounts.
I'm not going to sit here and blanketly tell everyone reading this not to take a discount on goods if it's available to them. I'm a vet, but not a very distinguished one, and it feels weird to get the same 20 percent off my car service that a legless Navy Cross recipient gets. I take it just the same. We're all just trying to get paid and get through this world, and skimming off of a retailer's profit margin to do it is jelly with me.
But then, Matt Yglesias—that special little liberaltarian snowflake who owns two homes in Washington, D.C., with a total assessed value of roughly $1.5 million—isn't just trying to get by. He's trying to get an extra 5 percent savings on his mail-order purchases of "dried pasta, Zevia sodas (delicious if you've never tried them)... Kashi bars, tea bags, hand soap, dish soap, and beans." An extra 5 percent that's intended for folks with kids—who, you know, might face slight added costs, in terms of real money, opportunity, and emotional strength, from their decision to raise new life.
You just need to tell Amazon some stuff about your baby—birthday and such—presumably so they can target you with baby-related offers. Except your baby can be fake. My baby, Tim Duncan Crawford, named after my wife's favorite basketball player and given her surname, was born on Dec. 14. Except he's just a lie I created to get cheaper soap.
Under normal atmospheric conditions, this self-justifying bourgeois dude-ism, down to the Spurs joke, would be so obviously odious as to be dismissed out of hand. Matt Yglesias is rich, he has no heirs, and he can afford to pay a little more for his goddamned Trader Joe's calorie-free malted battery acid.
But we don't live in normal conditions; we live in the horse latitudes of libertarian man-think, which demands that we take Yglesias' avarice seriously and adjudge whether it's consistent with a robust liberty of contract. Thus does Doug Mataconis ask "Is It Okay to Lie in Order to Get Amazon Discounts?":
There don't appear to be any penalties associated with misrepresenting the existence of a child set forth in the terms and conditions that Amazon has set forth here... Given that, it's not clear to me that what Yglesias is suggesting here violates the contract that a user is effectively entered into when they sign up for the program.
Yes. It's very likely that a high-volume online retailer doesn't give a hoot if an individual consumer is a harried mom split between career and kids, or a scruple-free Harvardian stack of privileges with a Logan Circle brownstone and a contract to vomit capitalist preferences into a content management system for more money than most families see in two years. Our money all looks the same to Amazon.
But that doesn't mean that we, as a society, shouldn't care about our differences. Forget about discounts. Forget about our status as consumers. Think about people as people. Think about what we need. We all need help. People with children, people without. Young, old. But we don't all need the same help in the same way.
For harried parents—and if you don't know any, go out and meet them, and find out what it takes to raise life-sustaining funding these days while keeping a child from killing itself—for harried parents in this endlessly acquisitive society, mail-ordering for sundries and staples is a godsend, and discounted mail-order is a blessing, indeed.