Dumb quote of the day--maybe he should just move to Spain, already, edition

>> Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Liberals are going to have to be willing to champion norms that say marriage should come before childrearing and be morally tough about it. Conservatives are going to have to be willing to accept tax increases or benefit cuts so that more can be spent on the earned-income tax credit and other programs that benefit the working class.
- David Brooks, "The Opportunity Gap",
The New York Times, July 9th, 2012.

David Brooks went all the way to Spain to see Bruce Springsteen--maybe he needs to just go ahead and live there, seeing how he probably has a better grip of politics and culture over there than he does here.

The man's an idiot.

I realize bagging on David Brooks is like shooting fish in a barrel. Dead fish. Dead fish in a small barrel. Dead fish in a small barrel with a low-yield nuclear weapon. (I.e. it isn't difficult.)

And David Atkins does a fine job demolishing this latest post from The United States Of David Brooks (hat tip, by the way). But I just have to add this obvious point: that there aren't all that many liberals (if any) who aren't championing marriage before childrearing, in fact a pet issue on the left would be making it easier for gay people to get married so they can raise kids in two-parent households; and conservatives may balk on raising taxes, but "benefit cuts" are right up Grover Norquist's alley (and tickling his prostate while they're up there). I mean, seriously? Is David Brooks so alienated from the very subject he's paid to write about that he doesn't understand that he's recommending liberals and conservatives champion two respective issues that they are, as a matter of fact it turns out, actually already championing?

Just how long has Brooks been following Bruce Springsteen around France and Spain? Since the Nixon Administration?

Now, mind you, I can understand David Brooks confusion: liberals also believe that single parents shouldn't be professionally, economically or socially punished for their choices or circumstances nor should the children of single parents be allowed to fall through society's cracks; and conservative politicians are all for benefit cuts up to the point their constituents catch wind of it and the politicians have to backpedal furiously, pinky-swearing all the while that they only meant to cut food stamps and weren't planning on destroying Social Security (note: they really were planning to destroy Social Security, just in case that slipped past you in all the flustered walkback and vigorously streaming denial). So if you happened to be very dim, or perhaps had just arrived from Mars and were still struggling with human customs, or perhaps even just happened to be a very dim Martian, you might mistake the first set of policies for libertine-ism and the second set of postures for, well, "sincerity". But so far as I know, Mr. Brooks has been here for many of our Earth-years, and assuming his planet's elders know he's here and he isn't some unfortunate exile or stranded castaway, surely they could send him a book or a knowledge crystal or gold-plated-thought-scroll or whatever it is they use up there. (Though one can't neglect the possibility he's an exile--if Martians are indeed an older and wiser race than we, it only stands to reason they wouldn't want David Brooks, either.)

Mr. Brooks, please: phone home.


timb111 Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 2:20:00 PM EDT  

Brooks says: "Equal opportunity, once core to the nation’s identity, is now a tertiary concern." Was it? I don't recall that being a priority, but then I'm observing from afar. Was there a time that anyone, regardless of money could get into Harvard, Yale or MIT?

As far as being married before children goes, as a Grandfather who looks after three boys ages 1-5 by myself on weekends for their single mother, I can appreciate how much easier it is to have someone else around to help out. Would their "father" still be around if they'd married? I doubt it. Though if they had been married the children would have been entitled to some aboriginal benefits that will be more difficult for them to get.

The problem isn't marriage before children. The problem is absent parents. I can read "Goodnight Moon" to them two nights a week but the rest of the week I think my daughter feels lucky to get them all into bed at a reasonable time.

Eric Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 5:40:00 PM EDT  

Brooks says: "Equal opportunity, once core to the nation’s identity, is now a tertiary concern." Was it? I don't recall that being a priority, but then I'm observing from afar. Was there a time that anyone, regardless of money could get into Harvard, Yale or MIT?

Well, that's our mythology, anyway. Horatio Alger and up by your own bootstraps and "land of opportunity" and all the rest of that. As far as the execution of all that goes, the reality is that this is a country in which equal opportunity has been limited by race/ethnicity, class, gender and creed, in more-or-less that order. There was a time when a Jewish daughter of Polish immigrants wouldn't have been allowed into Yale for any amount of money, though she could have at least dined at some restaurants that wouldn't have even allowed her past the front door if her skin were darker. But the idea of equal opportunity (especially for white, Protestant males with a certain amount of money and/or a sufficiently-respectable last name) was still, nevertheless, a core part of our nation's (delusional, yes) self-identification.

John the Scientist Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 7:32:00 AM EDT  

I think you're missing a bit of both the myth and reality of America - Harvard and Yale represent the old boy network, and we have always provided opportunities to succeed outside that WASP Old Money system. Witness the Jewish immigrants who said "screw that", and left the Northeast to found the movie industry in Hollywood. No arguments on the gender issue you highlighted in business, though there were exceptions there, too. That's part of the reasons guys like Stanford founded alternative universities, too.

What has happened since the 80s has been a narrowing of those non-traditional paths to success and a debt requirement for education as the top earners squeeze competition, innovation, and middle class incomes and benefits.

Warner Friday, July 13, 2012 at 11:59:00 AM EDT  

Eric, however there was some chance of her brother getting in and of her getting into what ever Yale's sister school was (I'm assuming there was one).

However I don't deny your main point, simply the exceptional could generally get around it.

Me, my father was a 10th grade dropout (he could get a job, his father couldn't), I'm the least educated of his sons with only a BA.

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