According to the esteemed New York Times columnist and expert on humility, one not only needs to lead a perfect life but also needs an impeccable pedigree to expect any kind of fair treatment at the hands of police or other authorities. In the case of Freddie Gray, the most recent victim of police brutality in the news, Brooks puts both Mr. Gray and his mother on trial in his latest column.
Despite all these efforts, there are too many young men leading lives like the one Gray led. He was apparently a kind-hearted, respectful, popular man, but he was not on the path to upward mobility. He won a settlement for lead paint poisoning. According to The Washington Post, his mother was a heroin addict who, in a deposition, said she couldn’t read. In one court filing, it was reported that Gray was four grade levels behind in reading. He was arrested more than a dozen times.
How is this even relevant? Mr. Gray may or may not have been an angel and had an ideal childhood but how does that excuse what happened to him. I wonder if Mr. Humility come down so hard on Bush II’s youthful alcohol related shenanigans? Did he blame the former First Lady and the President for their parenting skills or the lack thereof?
After trying the Tom Friedman shtick of writing about technology last week, David Brooks, is back to being a pseudo intellectual sociologist in his column yesterday. Even the title is pretentious gibberish,
The American Precariat
The what again? Brooks deigns to explain only in the third last paragraph,
According to the British academic Guy Standing, the Precariat is the growing class of people living with short-term and part-time work with precarious living standards and “without a narrative of occupational development.” They live with multiple forms of insecurity and are liable to join protest movements across the political spectrum.
David Brooks is sad that Americans are not moving as much as they used to. He says that Americans lack the energy they had in the yesteryears. They don’t move around as much and live in the same house for a longer period.
In 1950, 20 percent of Americans moved in a given year. Now, it’s around 12 percent. In the 1950s and 1960s, people lived in the same house for an average of five years; now people live in the same house for an average of 8.6 years.
What I don’t understand is why this makes Brooks sad, isn’t refusal to change a hallmark of conservatism? Brooks then enumerates the various factors that have caused the decline, namely the state of the housing market where many houses are still underwater, aging populace that is less mobile and finally the most important; a geographically undifferentiated labor market. In Brooks’ own words
It’s also true that labor markets are getting more homogeneous
So how does moving make sense if there aren’t any jobs to move to? Brooks is unhappy that people are behaving like rational economic actors and decides that decline in mobility is not mainly due to concrete economic realities but because of lack of faith,
No, a big factor here is a loss in self-confidence.
Brooks spends the rest of the column skirting around the reason for the pessimism. Since he won’t articulate it, I will.
The reason for their pessimism is economic uncertainty, which is no accident, but the direct result of the economic policies advocated by conservatives like Milton Friedman. These policies that favor capital over labor have hollowed out the middle class. We are slowly returning to the stratified society of Downton Abbey with the few ultra rich and the many struggling to just keep their heads above water. In the aftermath of the financial crisis corporations are sitting pretty on heaps of cash while the rest of us struggle to survive.
David Brooks and his party don’t want to lift a finger to change the status quo and have acted as a road block to all of President Obama’s initiatives to deal with the sluggish economy. They have bitterly opposed health care reform which could mitigate the economic uncertainty brought about by a sudden illness, they have advocated cutting government spending during a recession, now they are fighting an increase in the federal minimum wage, I could go on and on. I have never read Brooks question his party’s leadership on bread and butter issues. In his earlier column on income inequality Brooks like the rest of his party demonized the poor for being poor, in particular he singled out single mothers. Tax cuts and vouchers are their solution to all economic problems. Take it away, Mr. Brooks;
No one response is going to reverse the trend, but Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute believes government should offer moving vouchers to the long-term unemployed so they can chase opportunity.
LoL by: two_kittehs
Somehow Dave must have managed to outwit HAL because there is another vacuous column under his byline this morning. If I am reading his column right, David Brooks seems to be yearning for a strong man, a dictator. He wants the President with expanded powers.
We don’t need bigger government. We need more unified authority.
The democracy thing is too messy for Mr. Brooks. As is his wont he tries to legitimize his spurious analysis by quoting a scholar. Francis Fukuyama serves this function in this morning’s column. Also, what is it with NYT columnists and their yearning for dictators, Tom Friedman is always praising the authoritarian governments of China and Singapore. All I can say is be careful what you wish for.
LoL by: two_kittehs (Picture by: SWNS)
The only Overlords I don’t mind are of the furry kind.