Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Mainstream country music kills me. Searching for a radio station in Northern California, I came across Cost of Livin' by Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame (and no, this time that's not David Brooks). After the obligatory glorification of serving in Iraq/Afghanistan, the song celebrates the plight of the unemployed man applying for a job:
I work weekends
if I have to
nights and holidays
give you forty
and then some
whatever it takes
This mindset is beyond my understanding. It seems there is a large portion of Americans that have the puritanical view that suffering is good for them. They don't want a living wage, a reasonable work week, regulations to protect them, or a social safety net. They want to suffer to prove they're better than those who would welcome, ask for, or demand something more. Corporate America must love these people, and the millionaires like Ronnie Dunn who simultaneously promote and profit from that sentiment.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Party Like it's 1999

Last week, David Brooks wrote a column saying poor and unemployed Americans should suck it up and suffer in silence like dignified Americans did during the depression. I restrained myself from responding. I thought it might be better for my mental health to let it pass. However, that approach doesn't seem to be working for me, so here's the latest stupid thing from David Brooks.

Yesterday, he was on NPR, commenting on the Occupy Wall Street movement, Brooks said that the Tea Party represents 10-15% of Americans, whereas the OWS movement only represents 2-3% of Americans. How did David Brooks arrive at 2-3%? Was this estimate based on the latest scientific poll results? Of course not. This is David Brooks. He said the OWS movement represents 2-3% of Americans because Ralph Nader got 2-3% of the national vote. While that is hilarious, I am not joking, and neither was David Brooks.

First, it's assinine to suggest that 2-3% of votes was an accurate measure of support for Nader's anti-corporate views. Plenty of voters sympathetic to Nader's anti-corporate message voted for Gore rather than wasting their vote on Nader.

Second, that was 11 freaking years ago! Any OWS protester younger than 29 wasn't even eligible to vote in 2000.

Third, a few things have happened since then that might shift public opinion a bit. The Supreme Court intervened to rule in favor of George W. Bush, the candidate Brooks supported. We went to war in Afghanistan, which Brooks supported. We went to war in Iraq, which Brooks supported. We got deficit-financed tax cuts for the rich, which Brooks supported. We got a financial melt-down caused by lax banking rules, which Brooks supported. The banks were bailed out with taxpayer money, which Brooks supported. Meanwhile the banks/bankers have recovered nicely, unemployment is at it's highest level since the depression, real wages for the middle class have declined, and income inequality is in banana republic territory.

Other than that, it's all good. Americans just need to pipe down. According to Brooks, suffering is good for you, but only if you're poor.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Brooks BS

Krugman reads David Brooks, but directs his ire toward the Tax Foundation
I read David Brooks citing the Tax Foundation this morning, and I thought he must have misread them. They couldn’t possibly have compared one year’s take from higher taxes on the rich with the total stock of debt, could they? They can’t possibly be that stupid, or think that their readers are that stupid, can they?

This deliberate fraud — because that’s what it has to be — is an example of the reasons knowledgeable people don’t trust the Tax Foundation.
This deliberate fraud — because that’s what it has to be — is also an example of why I don’t trust David Brooks. Maybe Krugman focuses on the Tax Foundation instead of his fellow New York Times columnist out of professional courtesy -- maybe contractual obligation -- but I won't let Brooks off the hook. I doubt Brooks "misread" the study. Brooks cherry picks data and cites studies from right-wing think tanks, all while pretending to be the reasonable centrist. It's who he is, it's what he does, and it's his job.