Thursday, March 12, 2015

Someone Corrects David Brooks So I Don't Have To

David Brooks wants poor people to adhere to the social mores of the elite he rallies behind as a matter of course. If only the poor would behave like the rich, everything would be all right.

This kind of talk from Brooks brings out my daggers, but I don't have to lift a finger this week. Other folks abound that will do the work. My fave is this article in The Week by Jeff Spross. I liked that he took on fellow Brooks travelers Ross Douthat and Charles Murray at the same time.

Key here is that if we take money and jobs away from a class of Americans -- say, the working poor and the middle class -- we shouldn't be surprised if their lives go to shit. Spross makes all the right connections. Kudos.

Another slap to Brooks' notions comes from Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig of the New Republic. She gets it, and the last line states it best (I've placed it in bold):
Morality should teach us how to live a good life. But to impose the easy virtue of the well-to-do on the poor is to request the most stressed and vulnerable members of society to display impossible moral heroism. To abstain from relationships, sex, and childbirth until financially secure enough to raise a child without assistance would mean, for many, a life of celibacy; to pour limited resources into education in order to score a respectable job would mean failing to make rent. If the problems plaguing poor communities persist after poverty is drastically reduced, that would seem an appropriate time to pursue the matter of a better "moral vocabulary," as Brooks calls itand even then, the participation of low-income communities would be essential. But before that conversation can happen, the obvious solution to the “chaos” Brooks observes among poor communities is to reduce poverty, and let its moral quandaries resolve on their own.
Thought experiment: Figure out how to square the contradiction that conservatives -- who in the Brooks-Murray-Douthat world hold truest to their lofty values -- are the ones who could give a damn about climate change, petroleum-based pollution, death, injury and destruction from wars, and all the mayhem that results from our burgeoning culture of guns, death penalty, and law-and-order mentality with the values the poor are supposed to emulate. Neat trick if you can do it.

Square all that and plug it into you round hole, Brooks.

Soldiers lining up for jobs after following the conservatives' advice to be good patriots.

Update. Meant to include a link to this article on how sticking to American values while the world  falls apart around you hasn't served the people of Appalachia who have nowhere to go, with nothing left but to leave the homes they grew up in and believed in. I guess this world doesn't count for much to moralizing bastards like Brooks.

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