Up There Where the Air is So Rarefied

Up in the AirI could make a bunch of lame Scrooge jokes about George Will’s latest column, but you’re a sophisticated bunch and can probably handle the task all by yourselves. I can say that it’s an odd day when Will echoes Frank Rich on anything, but that just shows that “Up in the Air” has something for everyone. I haven’t seen it yet, though I feel like I have with all the hagiography that’s already floating around opinionsphere. I have to question whether Will really drew the right – if you’ll pardon the pun – conclusion about the movie he loved so much.

The Inited [sic] States has an aging population and has chosen to have a welfare state that siphons increasing amounts of wealth from the economy to give to the elderly. Having willed this end, the United States must will the means to it — including the severe economic efficiency that generates the revenue needed to finance an entitlement culture. So Up in the Air is sobering entertainment for a nation contemplating a giant addition to the entitlement menu.

In addition to being perhaps the best American movie of 2009, Up in the Air is two mature themes subtly braided and nuanced for grown-ups. One is the sometimes shattering sense of failure, desperation and worthlessness that overwhelms middle-aged people who lose their livelihoods. The other is that such shocks can be reminders that there is more to life than livelihoods.

Let me recap that for you: Decent, affordable health care is an entitlement that will cause job losses we can ill afford, and it’s good when you lose your livelihood to reflect on how unimportant a livelihood really, truly is in the scheme of life. Yes, it’s our fault – bwess ouw pesky, entitwed heahts – that the economy is a shambles. If we would just agree to live in a nation that does not take care of the sick, the elderly, or the poor, we wouldn’t lose our jobs. But since we won’t live that way, it’s important to take time to be grateful the economy has meant millions of lay-offs, because gratitude should be our attitude. We should be taking time to think about what money-grubbing scum we are for wanting to do meaningful work at meaningful wages. Can that really have been the point of this movie?

Is this guy for real? Will should git on down ta Appalachia and tell ’em to be glad about the no work thar, it gives ’em time to reflect on all the natural glory that surrounds ’em. Especially that which has been raped and ravaged by the coal industry. Instead of complaining about their dirty water, they should be happy to remember there’s more to life than work. Like, for instance, their starving families who lack access to medical care and nutritious food, as well as clean drinking water. Georgie boy could call it “The Good Will Tour: Focus on the MORE in More to Life than Livelihood” and take that shizzle on the road. I bet he’d be real popular and inspiring. It would certainly distract people from their struggle to put together a decent holiday for their families in the entitled year of 2009.


  1. James

    December 23, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    George Will has slipped over the edge into doddering old fart who can no longer connect the dots.

  2. Belle

    December 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I was going to say something witty but I think that James above has pretty much iced your excellent tome cake. I’m sad about it, too – Will used to seem like a sensible, open-minded chap.

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