David Brooks discovers inequality, recoils in horror

English: David Brooks

From yesterday’s New York Times column:

Equal opportunity, once core to the nation’s identity, is now a tertiary concern. If America really wants to change that, if the country wants to take advantage of all its human capital rather than just the most privileged two-thirds of it, then people are going to have to make some pretty uncomfortable decisions.

So far, so good…right? Granted, Brooks is a little like the guy who shows up drunk to a party at 4 AM just as everyone’s sobering up enough to drive home. But at least he made it there, right?

Well, not exactly:

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.

Political candidates will have to spend less time trying to exploit class divisions and more time trying to remedy them — less time calling their opponents out of touch elitists, and more time coming up with agendas that comprehensively address the problem. It’s politically tough to do that, but the alternative is national suicide.

And there we go again with the false equivalencies. What does marriage have to do with inequality? Brooks prefers to look at cultural explanations, because cultural-religious rifts are his specialty. (“There are two types of people in America: let’s call them Big-Government Jack and Libertarian Jill,” would be a fairly representative rhetorical style of his.) But even though one huge reason for the current trend towards banana republic-ism is staring us right in the face — tax policy — Brooks prefers to look at something — marriage norms — that might influence something that might influence something that might influence something that might influence inequality. Ever heard of Occam’s Razor, boy?

What makes it so infuriating is that Brooks has a pulpit at the Times, and he consistently uses it to chide Obama for being too enthralled with the idea of government, too ambitious with his proposals, too far left for the nation. But then one day Brooks wakes up to discover inequality, and…yup, turns out marriage norms are the problem.

Time to wake up and start agitating for the policies Obama’s been proposing: sensible, reasonable (by any historical standard) tax proposals that attempt to reverse income inequality and restore some semblance of a little thing we call upward mobility. Call a spade a spade, David Brooks, or risk becoming another Tom Friedman. And the world doesn’t need another Tom Friedman.


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