Saturday, May 22, 2010

David Brooks Almost Gets It

David Brooks is a smart guy, but has a reputation of being a pseudo-conservative columnist. But he is still worth reading periodically because he can still provides occasionally brilliant insight. Consider this discussing a hypothetical and angry voter named Ben, who isn't tied to any political party (the whole article is worth a read):

For Ben, right and wrong is contained in the relationship between effort and reward. If people do not work but get rewarded, that’s wrong. If people work and do not get rewarded, that’s wrong. But Ben believed that America is fundamentally a just society. He loved his country because people who work hard can usually overcome whatever unfairness is thrust in their way.

But when Ben looked at Washington, he saw a political system that undermined the relationship between effort and reward. People in Washington spent money they didn’t have. They just borrowed it from the Chinese. People in Washington taxed those with responsible homes to bail out people who’d bought homes they couldn’t afford.

People in Congress were caught up in a spoils system in which money was taken from those who worked and given to those with connections. Money was taken from those who produced and used to bail out the reckless, who were supposedly too big to fail.

Brooks has captured the essence of the Tea Party with those paragraphs. But he can't bring himself to endorse the Tea Party itself after so eloquently portraying the dismay and disgust of average Americans for the current political mess. He somehow believes that sending Tea Party endorsed candidates to Washington will only exacerbate the current mess and that somehow, "centrists" who are passionate will solve the problem. What? In fact, only those who are passionate about the issues of debt and spending will make a dent and centrists, as well as liberals, have shown a deafness to those concerns over the years.

The passion is needed because there will always be pork barrel incentives. When people aren't paying attention to the big picture, they can be bribed with a few pieces of other people's money. But as the nation and electorate become more self-aware and mature, they realize that such a path is unsustainable. The result is a bi-partisan movement to reign the size of government, because it is its size that allows to be the affront to the values of Ben.


  1. Brooks is a tool and part of the NYT's transparent ploy to limit debate to viewpoints from left to center-left and to pompous Ivy-league hacks in the NY-Washington corridor.

  2. W.C.
    Maybe so, but I read him for the same reasons as I read DailyKos and myDD. I want to understand their view point, so that I can rebut and persuade. Occasionally, they also make good points.

  3. I call this transitional awareness.