The NYT’s block of editorial blockheads have had quite a week for themselves. First Tom Friedman embarrasses himself by writing about economics as if he knew what the word meant, and now David Brooks notices the country isn’t in very good shape after years of the austerity and corporate theft he’s been championing as solutions without actually realizing that’s what he’s doing. Pretty good trick for a normal person but a necessary skill for right-wingers. Without it their heads would explode collectively.
First, he does a brilliant job (well, he doesn’t but the source he’ ripping off did) drawing a word picture of the economic devastation that is trickle-down America. The excuse for the column is his concern that Americans lack the “energy” they used to have, which is proved for him by a study that says we don’t move as often as we used to. A slim reed to be sure, but in the process of discussing various theories about why, look at he detail he comes up with. And the explanations they led him to.
It’s also true that labor markets are getting more homogeneous. It used to be that the jobs found in Pittsburgh were different than the ones found in Atlanta. But now they are more similar, so there is less reason to move from one city to another. But that also fails to explain the tremendous drops over decades.
No, a big factor here is a loss in self-confidence. It takes faith to move. You are putting yourself through temporary expense and hardship because you have faith that over the long run you will slingshot forward. Many highly educated people, who are still moving in high numbers, have that long-term faith. Less-educated people often do not.
This loss of faith is evident in other areas of life. Fertility rates, a good marker of confidence, are down. Even accounting for cyclical changes, people are less likely to voluntarily vacate a job in search of a better one. Only 46 percent of white Americans believe they have a good chance of improving their standard of living, the lowest levels in the history of the General Social Survey.
So we’ve lost faith in capitalism. We no longer believe it’s going to make our lives better or that the “better” job we might move to look for actually exists. To David, this is an attitude problem. We’ve gotten lazy and don’t want to move because nobody’s guaranteeing us a soft landing when we get…wherever we’re going. And this doesn’t faze him:
Fifty percent of Americans over 65 believe America stands above all others as the greatest nation on earth. Only 27 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe that. As late as 2003, Americans were more likely than Italians, Brits and Germans to say the “free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.” By 2010, they were slightly less likely than those Europeans to embrace capitalism.
Thirty years ago, a vast majority of Americans identified as members of the middle class. But since 1988, the percentage of Americans who call themselves members of the “have-nots” has doubled. Today’s young people are more likely to believe success is a matter of luck, not effort, than earlier generations.
This, as all of us stuck down here rather than in the rarefied atmosphere of private schools, limousines, gated communities, and private jets can attest, is a simple acknowledgment of reality in corporate-run America. We don’t “embrace capitalism” because it’s perfectly clear to us that capitalism is tying to kill us. David runs down all the reasons we feel that way and then acts like it’s, like, a fad. He even calls it a “trend”, like pink Ipads or sneakers with lights on the heels. Those kids today…
His solution when he finally gets to it? Vouchers.
I kid you not.
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. If we could induce more people to Go West! (or South, East or North) in search of opportunity, maybe the old future-oriented mind-set would return.
Vouchers, tax cuts, and no govt regulations are the three answers the right-wing has for every problem you can think of. And btw, looking for solutions from anybody that works for AEI is like asking an arsonist to take over the fire department.
It’s amazing to me that at his level of disconnection from reality David Brooks has the mental capacity to dress himself in the morning. OTOH, maybe he doesn’t. Hmmm. That could explain one or two things….
A few little tidbits:
1) Thomas Friedman isn’t just an idiot, he’s ignorant too. But then he’s an ideologue and ideologues are professional morons.
2) The 1% can justify every single policy in their (financial) favor…but only if they lie their asses off.
3) Jeff Bezos has just made Amazon a CIA asset and himself The Bagman. In retrospect, it was predictable if not inevitable.
4)Exxon CEO and Frackmeister extraordinaire Rex Tillerson is a strong advocate, even a champion of fracking technology but only until it’s his backyard getting fracked. Then, not so much.
Rex Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to stop construction of a water tower near his $1.3 million estate on Dove Creek Road. That water would be used in fracking, a process to drill oil and gas.
Tillerson even appeared at a Bartonville Town Council meeting to speak against it.
The lawsuit claims the project would create a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.
Yah. Well. You know.
5) Budget hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles – two of Pete Petersen’s most reliable anti-SocSec thugs, set up an anti-deficit group. In the Irony of Ironies category, this group is now, um, broke. (scroll down)
While slamming Democrats, [American Postal Workers Union president Mark] Dimondstein reserved special condemnation for Issa, the Republicans’ leading voice on postal reform. Noting that Issa had proposed eliminating Saturday postal service as part of a bill undoing veterans’ pension cuts, the union president called the congressman “a pure enemy of the Postal Service…”
This is, of course, a half-truth. In fact, Issa has shown himself to be an enemy of all public services, including free parks and libraries. He has consistently advocated the privatization of all govt functions, proposing that even police and military be replaced by private security firms and fire depts be paid for by subscription. So it really isn’t fair for the postal workers’ union to single him out. Still, it’s typical of the Issa wing of the party (the wing which is, after all, in control of the party) to attach an attack on a public union to a bill cutting veterans’ benefits. Sort of a Pub’s Dream Two-fer.
An Issa “spokesperson” (you can never get these guys to reply personally to any communication from the hoi-polloi) replied to the union’s criticism this way:
This false claim about privatization is being pushed by entrenched special interests who oppose common sense and bipartisan reforms in both House and Senate postal modernization bills.
“Special interests” may be accurately considered as a reference to unions since Issa defines “public interest” as anything a corporation wants, but the interesting word here is “false”. Whenever Issa and his people have claimed that some unpleasant fact reported about this peppy little stooge of the powerful was “false”, all the evidence proved it was true, which in turns mean this flat denial likely proves it’s exactly what this is all about.
The most obvious question here is: did Staples contribute to Issa’s campaign and if so how much? But Salon’s reporter, Josh Eidelson never asks – let alone answers – that question. Instead he delves deeply into Dianne Feinstein’s husband’s connections to Staples (to no very great effect) because he’s suspicious of La F’s refusal to support the union’s preferred bill (offered by Vermont senator Bernie Sanders), a bill he doesn’t bother to explain.
It seems that even “progressives” can’t bring themselves to directly attack extreme corporate puppets like Issa, who has never had a thought a corporation didn’t put in his head.
PS I don’t have to explain why privatizing the Post Office is a really bad idea, do I?
So what else is new? Is there, that anyone can remember, any topic that Friedman can’t blather about with the bewilderingly incoherent and blazingly ignorant certainty of the true moron? No, I can’t think of one either.
As if to prove it, today Tosspot Tommy threw in his cent-and-a-half about Nelson Mandela. Seems Mandela’s best virtue was his “moral authority”, which, according to Tommy, he got only when he went against his base.
Much of the answer can be deduced from one scene in one movie about Mandela that I’ve written about before: “Invictus.” Just to remind, it tells the story of Mandela’s one and only term as president of South Africa, when he enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land. Before the games, though, the sports committee in the post-apartheid, newly black-led South Africa tells Mandela that it wants to change the name and colors of the almost all-white Springboks to something more reflective of black African identity. But Mandela refuses. He tells his black sports officials that an essential part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols. “That is selfish thinking,” Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, says in the movie. “It does not serve the nation.” Then speaking of South Africa’s whites, Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.”
There are so many big leadership lessons in this short scene. The first is that one way leaders generate moral authority is by being willing to challenge their own base at times — and not just the other side. It is easy to lead by telling your own base what it wants to hear. It is easy to lead when you’re giving things away. It is easy to lead when things are going well.
Are you listening, Obama? There are the lessons of Mandela: Don’t listen to your base and bend over backwards to accommodate your opponents. That’s the path to “moral authority”.
Uh-huh. Awright, enuff about Lil Tommy Friedman and his latest right-wing anti-Obama talking point. Let’s spend some time on something really important:
When is Sleepy Hollow going to let Crane buy a new suit?
Reprinted from 12.24.06 – And it will continue to be printed until the O’Reilly-originated “War on Christmas” BS ends. There’s no antidote to lies except truth.
This would be the time, if ever there was one, to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, but before we can do that to any purpose we need to clear away some of the dead wood by exploding a couple of the myths that have built up around it since the holiday became popular in the late 19th century. Chief among these is the legend that Christmas is Christian, or even religious. Read the rest of this entry »
Just when you thought corporate greed couldn’t sink any lower, Coca-Cola, based in not-too-far-away Atlanta, takes it to a whole new level.
Coke [is] urging restaurateurs to stop offering plain old tap water to customers: “Every time your business fills a cup or glass with tap water, it pours potential profits down the drain.” Cap the Tap can put a stop to that, says Coke, “by teaching [your] crew members or waitstaff suggestive selling techniques to convert requests for tap water into orders for revenue-generating beverages.” Read the rest of this entry »