I Am Not A David Brooks Fan

by Brien Jackson

A lot of other squishes like the guy, but frankly I find David Brooks totally insufferable and depressingly thin, and this column from last week is a good example of why that is exactly. How does this idiot hold down a job with a publisher who presumably holds his work in high esteem? Hell, how eactly did he convince anyone to hire him in the first place?

Let’s look at what Brooks trades in when he isn’t simply making shit up:

Human nature, in no form of it, could ever bear prosperity,” John Adams wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, warning against the coming corruption of his country.

Yet despite its amazing wealth, the United States has generally remained immune to this cycle. American living standards surpassed European living standards as early as 1740. But in the U.S., affluence did not lead to indulgence and decline.

That’s because despite the country’s notorious materialism, there has always been a countervailing stream of sound economic values. The early settlers believed in Calvinist restraint. The pioneers volunteered for brutal hardship during their treks out west. Waves of immigrant parents worked hard and practiced self-denial so their children could succeed.

So let me get this straight, America’s monied class was unaffected by its affluence because poor people had to uproot their families to make a dangerous track across the continent for a chance to improve their economic status and new immigrants denied themselves by working 16 hours a day for subsistence wages in Gilded Age factories? Ok.

It doesn’t get much better:

Government was limited and did not protect people from the consequences of their actions, thus enforcing discipline and restraint.
Right. Government was super restrained back in those days. Well, if you don’t count giving away chunks of land to anyone willing to move to them or sending in armed police whenever a business owners profit margins were threatened by uppity workers thinking they could unionize themselves. Yeah, other than that, the government was pretty restrained I suppose.
When economic values did erode, the ruling establishment tried to restore balance. After the Gilded Age, Theodore Roosevelt (who ventured west to counteract the softness of his upbringing) led a crackdown on financial self-indulgence.
RIght, Teddy did lots of awesome stuff like…create the FDA, in part as a response to widespread fraud in medicines, which cost a lot of desperate people a lot of money looking for miracle cures. Because the government didn’t protect you from your own bad choices. Or something. Also. Too.
Some of the signs are seemingly innocuous. States around the country began sponsoring lotteries: government-approved gambling that extracts its largest toll from the poor.
Yes, we should get rid of state lotteries so that poor people can’t choose to piss away their money $2 a time on shiny scratch offs and over-makeuped 45 year old bottle blonds announcing random numbers at 7:29 PM every night. Because we don’t….I don’t think even David knows where he is at this point. Quick, dig up some trite cliche and bring it home.
If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small.
So wait a second, we’re going to cut back our consumption, spend less money, and this is going to make us a “producer state?” Because lots of businesses exist to make units no one will buy or something? I mean seriously, what the fuck? It would be one thing if he were calling for a concientious choice to spend your dollars on products made within the United States, because that would, you know, make sense. But if people stop consuming, production isn’t going to rise to meet non-existant demand. This is Econ 101 level shit.

I swear to God, major Op-Ed pages are, at this point, nothing but a side wager between the publisher’s of the papers betting on which one of them can publish the dumbest shit and still have it taken seriously. There’s no other explanation for it.

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