David Brooks is one of the most dishonest conservative columnists going. He's not an idiot, but he can take events that have occurred and craft them into complete nonsense. That does take real talent. Only it's a despicable one. In his latest column in the NY Times, he writes one of the most perfidious pieces of excrement imaginable.
Charles Pierce has an excellent debunking of Brooks' latest travesty in Esquire: David Brooks Does Not Get the Moral Norm of Being Broke
He notices that poor people are having fewer babies, which makes him sad. But, things are looking up! People have stopped using their "bank-issued" credit cards as much. (These would be the cards they used so as to support the overstuffed suburban lifestyle that David Brooks so celebrated in his earlier, funnier work.) This means, to Brooks, "Quietly but decisively, Americans are trying to restore the moral norms that undergird our economic system."
Jesus H. Christ in a fking Volvo, no, it doesn't. It means people are broke. People are broke because the end product of 30 years of economic theorizing and political action that you supported has resulted in a shattered middle-class. People are broke because the Wall Street casino that your politics created and celebrated and enabled finally broke the entire country and took the rest of us down with it. People are broke because you and the rest of your "conservative" pals latched onto a crackpot scheme called supply-side economics, married it to a deregulatory frenzy and free trade, and then pitched it to the Bobos as economic liberty. You got rich. You got important. Now people are not using their credit cards because they can't afford to buy the overpriced, Chinese-made crap that you once proposed as the new staple of American society. That is not a conscious mass moral choice. You've got to be on mushrooms to believe that.
"Second, Americans are trying to re-establish the link between effort and reward. This was the link that was severed on Wall Street, where so many made so much for work that served no productive purpose. This was the link that was frayed by the bailouts, when people who broke the rules still got rewarded."
Oh, really? What tipped you off, Sherlock? Got two sources for that insight? Have no fear, though. Brooks has lingered as long as he cares to in the general vicinity of the fact that the people his politics enabled and celebrated were grievously amoral in almost everything they did for a decade. He's got workers to bash.
"The auto bailouts mostly worked, but they are unpopular even in the Midwestern states that directly benefited because those who failed in the market still got the gold. Public sector unions are unpopular because of the perception that benefit packages are out of balance."
The prosecution would like an offer of proof on that first sentence, Your Honor. As to the second, and the ironclad "perception" on which it depends, I guess Brooks was watching the Amanda Knox trial and missed all those people standing around on the lawn in Madison last winter, and he's still missing all those folks in Ohio who are kicking John Kasich's nuts through the roof of his mouth.
Ah, but the real brilliance is yet to come.
"The third norm is that loyalty matters. A few years ago there was a celebration of Free Agent Nation. But now most people, even most young people, would rather work long-term for one company than move around in search of freedom and opportunity."
Yes, you idiot, they would. Everyone would. Unfortunately, and I hate to keep bringing this up, Dave, but 30 years of dumb Republican economics and even dumber Republican politics, both of which you made your bones celebrating, have sort of made that impossible. (A couple of decades of bipartisan "free-trade" agreements haven't helped, either.) Who was it that was cheering on "Free Agent Nation"? It was the politicians and the pundits who were declaring the golden age of the global economy, in which we'd all have two or three jobs before we retired, fat and happy, on the 401k's that the miracle of Wall Street by then would have inflated beyond our wildest dreams. Anyone who meekly suggested that, maybe, he'd like to put in 20 years at his job and collect a pension at the end of it that he could live on, was dismissed as a whiny relic of a past age, or as a state employee. And, in any case, part of the miracle of Wall Street was devising new and complicated financial instruments by which private pension plans could be pillaged for private profit. If David Brooks was concerned about this prior to 2008, when the people who go to dinner with him and who pay his honoraria nearly blew up the world, he kept devilishly quiet about it.
What American capitalism knows about "moral norms" is that they are for other people. The people who did all the real damage are not in any way interested in "repairing the economic moral fabric" that "is the essential national task right now." They are interested in keeping the money they stole and in stealing as much more of it as they can. But David Brooks is far more concerned with some guy, sitting around his kitchen table, bills up to his elbows, who decides that, in the interest of the "economic moral fabric" of the country, he won't take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese tonight on the family MasterCard. Congratulations, good and faithful servant, says David Brooks, and orders another brandy.
Pierce reminds us of this take down by Sasha Issenberg back in 2004 that should have had him booted out of the occupation of masquerading as an intellectual writer of non-fiction.