Tag Archives: David Brooks

Truth and Traditions Top Five

1 May

1. Declaration of Independence

219 years ago our originators “brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Today we have less liberty. Inequality has reached obscene proportions as millions die of preventable diseases and starvation each year, and over a billion children suffer sociogenic brain damage worldwide, as the rich get ever richer.

2. Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

David Graeber recounts the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). As an exercise you might want to read the story as one about the recent mortgage mess in the United States.

3. David Brooks, Fooled by Inequality

He’s at it again, being reasonable out of one side of his mouth while makin’ it up out of the other. I’m talking about David Brooks, Mr. Reasonable, the Mr. Blizzard of plausible risibility. His column, The Wrong Inequality, is a masterpiece of rhetorical legerdemain and misdirection.

4. Truth and Traditions Defined

The inconvenient truths of peak oil now, peak drinkable water now, peak everything on the horizon, as far as the eye can see. The many, many ugly truths of war and waste have been systematically unexamined by our corporate owned mass media who stand to profit by ignoring news unfit for them to print or speak. . . . Those thousands of animistic traditions that peoples all over the world lived by for 99.8% of human existence: feeling the “spirit” in all life forms, honoring reciprocities and gift circulation, maintaining hospitality and generosity, sharing tools and talents in daily life, replanting three trees for every tree cut down, minimizing division of labor, maximizing individuation and Self-expression.

5. Wall Street: The Dead Face of Domination

IMGP4452rd - The Face of Domination

Those buildings are in New York City’s financial district (aka Wall Street). That’s where the captains of finance manipulate our world while playing ‘King of the Hill’ against one another. Those buildings are machines. They are the Borg. We ARE living in The Matrix. We are nothing but feedstock for the adolescent games those machines play with one another.

The Inequality Map – NYTimes.com

11 Nov

This is an amusing piece by David Brooks. As you can see, it takes the form of advice to a foreigner about what kinds of inequality are acceptably displayed in America and what kinds must be hidden. On a quick read the advice appears to be reasonable. And so Brooks opens:

Foreign tourists are coming up to me on the streets and asking, “David, you have so many different kinds of inequality in your country. How can I tell which are socially acceptable and which are not?”

After cruising through this that and the other, Brooks gets to the what surely is the heart of the piece:

Income inequality is acceptable. If you are a star baseball player, it is socially acceptable to sell your services for $25 million per year (after all, you have to do what’s best for your family). If you are a star C.E.O., it’s no longer quite polite to receive an $18 million compensation package, but everybody who can still does it

That, of course, is NOT what the Occupy Wallstreeters are saying. Notice how he defuses the issue. His first and primary example is that of a star athlete. Everyone knows the best of the best get paid outlandish sums of money, and everyone knows THAT’s not what’s being protested. It’s the corporate CEOs—thanks for mentioning one, David—and bankers. And what’s bothersome is not simply the huge sums of money, but the sense that it’s not earned. What’s bothersome is that these folks have distorted the system so they get piles and piles of loot without really earning it. But then, Brooks doesn’t want us to think about THAT, does he? No the whole purpose of this piece is to make us forget that.

Then more examples of this and that until Brooks reaches his acceptably bland conclusion:

Dear visitor, we are a democratic, egalitarian people who spend our days desperately trying to climb over each other. Have a nice stay.

That is, just business as usual. NOT. Business as usual is NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE. Deal with it, Mr. David “Flim Flam Man” Brooks. And have a nice day.

via The Inequality Map – NYTimes.com.

David Brooks, Fooled by Inequality

1 Nov

He’s at it again, being reasonable out of one side of his mouth while makin’ it up out of the other. I’m talking about David Brooks, Mr. Reasonable, the Mr. Blizzard of plausible risibility. His current column, The Wrong Inequality, is a masterpiece of rhetorical legerdemain and misdirection.

It’s about two inequalities, call them Inequality One and Inequality Two. That’s not what he calls them, but his labels are part of the misdirection, so we’ll skip them for the moment. Inequality One is the 1% vs. the 99%. Inequality Two is the college educated vs. those without college.

After laying them out Brooks helpfully observes: “These two forms of inequality exist in modern America. They are related but different. Over the past few months, attention has shifted almost exclusively to” Inequality One. And, yes, he’s right on all three counts. America has both, they’re related, and attention is now on One, rather than Two.

The point of Brook’s advertorial is that, while Inequality One is bad (his loss leader), Inequality Two is Much Much Worse. For it affects many more people, a big percentage of the 99%, though he doesn’t quite put it that way. Here’s his oh so reasonable conclusion: “If your ultimate goal is to reduce inequality, then you should be furious at the doctors, bankers and C.E.O.’s. If your goal is to expand opportunity, then you have a much bigger and different agenda.”

Notice, first of all, that that conclusion is apples vs. oranges. We’re angry at the beneficiaries of Inequality One (apples), but we’re supposed to expand opportunity in response to Inequality Two (oranges). Umm, err, Mr. David Brooks, Sir, if we’re angry at the One Percenters, what are we to do about it? He doesn’t say or suggest. All he does is divert out attention to the need for more opportunities for, well, the bottom 50%. Well, yes, they need opportunity, and debt forgiveness, health care, and jobs would be nice too. Continue reading