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Brooks Brother is a Riot

The New York Times has added another Brooks to its opinion pages.  Arthur Brooks, the President of the  American Enterprise Institute is not really David Brooks’ brother, although their shtick is remarkably similar.  Along with a last name they share an ideology that comforts the comfortable, while appearing reasonable on the surface.  Now you can gather pearls of wisdom  from both men on the op-ed pages of the New York Times on the same day.  What a deal, two Brooks for the price of one.

Arthur Brooks  is the President of the  American Enterprise Institute.  In an earlier column he wanted the 99% to be happy with their lot, because envy is bad for you. Pointing out how the policies of the last thirty odd years have resulted in astronomical growth in the incomes of 0.01% and stagnation for everyone else is inciting envy.   Wage slave be happy with your lot, and be thankful that you are not a real slave. Show some magnanimity for the crumbs thrown your way, worship the rich, if  you know what is good for you.

In his latest column Brooks is using Dalai Lama as a spokesperson to advance his agenda.  Dalai Lama was recently a guest at the American Enterprise Institute.  According to Brooks this is what Dalai Lama had to say,

He insisted that while free enterprise could be a blessing, it was not guaranteed to be so. Markets are instrumental, not intrinsic, for human flourishing. As with any tool, wielding capitalism for good requires deep moral awareness. Only activities motivated by a concern for others’ well-being, he declared, could be truly “constructive.”

Brooks then proceeds to sing praises of free enterprise before grudgingly admitting the obvious;

But while free enterprise keeps expanding globally, its success may be faltering in the United States.

He is vague about what exactly he means by free enterprise. However, anyone with even a minimal background in economics knows that when the playing field is not level, markets don’t produce optimal outcomes for all participants. Look to the labor market if you don’t believe me.

After paying lip service to the problem of economic inequality brought about by the policies of the last few decades, promoted by his think tank,  Arthur Brooks puts forth suggestions to make capitalism constructive,

The solution does not lie in the dubious “fair share” class-baiting of  politicians. We need to combine an effective, reliable safety net for the poor with a hard look at modern barriers to upward mobility. That means attacking cronyism that protects the well-connected. It means lifting poor children out of ineffective schools that leave them unable to compete. It entails pruning back outmoded licensing laws that restrain low-income entrepreneurs. And it means creating real solutions — not just proposing market distortions — for people who cannot find jobs that pay enough to support their families.

Translation: Deregulate everything.  Privatize schools, gut all regulations.  Doing away with the New Deal era financial market regulations turned out well for Wall Street not so much for the rest of us.  Thanks but no thanks for your self serving advice, Mr. Brooks.  Modern barriers to upward mobility are same as that of the last gilded age, concentration of wealth and with it the  concentration of power.   Efficiency of the workers has gone up but their wages have remained stagnant, even when corporate profits have soared. Policy preferences skewed towards the interests of a few (top 0.001%) are responsible for the current situation. A step in the right direction would be paying workers a living wage.  Brooks’ American Enterprise Institute is not only against raising the minimum wage but wants the minimum wage to be $4.  I wonder what  real solutions he has in mind, slavery or indentured servitude?

One Percent Kittehs

By two_kittehs (Picture by: ME!)