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David Brooks Makes No Sense

January 24, 2012

That’s the kindest way I can express myself in relation to David Brooks after reading this. I was attracted to the column because of the title, “Market Socialism.” And, like always, I was with Brooks for a while—until this:

“Democrats, meanwhile, have shifted their emphasis from lifting up the poor to pounding down the rich. Democratic candidates no longer emphasize early childhood education and community-building. Instead they embrace the pseudo-populist Occupy Wall Street hokum — the opiate of the educated classes.”

I love how he uses anti-intellectualism for a guilt-by-association point. But his main point—that the Democrats have forgotten about lifting up the poor—just makes no sense. Relative to whom? Republicans? Under what circumstances? With an uncooperative Republican House, how can one get legislation passed that lifts up the poor?

And look at how Brooks beats down “the educated classes” while he makes his own ideological-intellectual point:

“This materialistic ethos emphasizes reducing inequality instead of expanding opportunity.”

How is concern for inequality, in terms of wealth and income, constitute a “materialistic ethos.”

And then he reduces all poverty to this:

“It does nothing to address those social factors, like family breakdown, that help explain why American skills have not kept up with technological change.”

Is concern for family feelings going to reduce inequality today? How does a family help each other when each is trapped in a dead-end job that doesn’t pay a middle wage? Surviving together by pooling resources may give the appearance of a family working together, but it’s really just survival by necessity—trapping people together economically. – TL

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  1. Darin McGinnis permalink

    David Brooks never met a false dichotomy he didn’t like.


  2. Darin: Indeed–or maybe also a straw man. Whatever fallacy works best for the subject at hand. – TL


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