Friday, May 18, 2012

David Brooks Stands Life On Its Head

Ordinarily I let Charles Pierce deal with the stuff David Brooks gets up to in the NYT and limit my participation to a comment there.  I don't find much of any use in Brooks' drivel, it is GOPer fluffling without reference to credible sources other than Brooks (incredibility is a hallmark).  This thing is notable for standing history on its head in search of more GOPerisms.  Brooks appeals to a Founder, James Madison, for backing for his idea.
 “As there is a degree of depravity in mankind, which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence.”
Now I"m a bit sorry for Brooks if he is just exactly so deluded as to refer to Madison in search of validation for his idea that voters are voting themselves freebies because they're depraved.  Madison and the Founders were real worried about the depravity that concerned power seeking.  Brooks figures they were Calvinists.
Though the forms were different, the democracies in Europe and the United States were based on a similar carefully balanced view of human nature: People are naturally selfish and need watching. But democratic self-government is possible because we’re smart enough to design structures to police that selfishness.
If you were to read the Constitution and Amendments the first thing that would strike you isn't about how the authors were worried about people getting free things, it is all about fracturing power sufficiently to keep those who seek it from getting enough to be despots and protecting the citizenry and their liberty from the power seekers.  Brooks is among the privileged who would have you believe that the Constitution is somehow an economic document endorsing Capitalism and even a particular form of capitalism.  The only economic system the Constitution endorsed or facilitated is slavery.  The Constitution certainly does interest itself in the concept of ownership and possession of property but the means of the getting isn't addressed.

Buried in the middle of an article excoriating the general citizenry is the money line.
The Citizens United case gives well-financed interests tremendous power to preserve or acquire tax breaks and regulatory deals.
All the indicators of the prosperity of the general citizenry have been falling through the decades of power of the ideas Brooks has promoted.  The only only up indicator is the wealth of the privileged few, it is convenient to talk about the 1% who have done pretty well but the real indicator is the 0.1% who have made out like bandits (hmm).  Here's what he leads into that little line with.
 The Obama campaign issues its famous “Julia” ad, which perfectly embodies the vision of government as a national Sugar Daddy, delivering free money and goodies up and down the life cycle.
Which he then follows up with this gem.
 American senior citizens receive health benefits that cost many times more than the contributions they put into the system.
That is how he bookends the reality of who has access to government power.  I'll go ahead and agree that voters send into office people who get great use from the CU Decision but the idea that voters are rewarding themselves with free stuff is ludicrous and only has any meaning in the circles of wealth Brooks lives within.  I have yet to meet a person who finds writing a check to the taxman a happy occasion, I've known those who feel it is a civic duty they don't mind filling, but...  The GOPer frame has been to tell the citizenry that a couple bucks off their bill means a few should have multiples of the ordinary yearly income off theirs and that it will be good for all of us.  The real deal is that they've stopped really plumping that canard, the operative is to take runs at "moral" issues that have not spit to do with economic well being beyond the benefits of suffering while you're the only ones taking Personal Responsibility.
 Western democratic systems were based on a balance between self-doubt and self-confidence. They worked because there were structures that protected the voters from themselves and the rulers from themselves. Once people lost a sense of their own weakness, the self-doubt went away and the chastening structures were overwhelmed. It became madness to restrain your own desires because surely your rivals over yonder would not be restraining theirs.
Re-read this paragraph and savor the bullshittiness of it.  Who the hell is he talking about and in what regard?  Exactly who is it that has been protected from self-doubt?  The vaginal probe folks?  What chastening structures is he talking about?  The people who publish his drivel?  What desires aren't restrained?  The ones to take on the responsibilities of marrying someone in a couple states?  Well there is this:
The Obama campaign issues its famous “Julia” ad
Which is about bettering yourself?

You can go read Mr Brooks for yourself, it will involve some time you'll never get back and wish you had back, but...

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