And thought his stinking breath was fine perfume

When the revolution comes, totebaggers may not be the first up against the wall, but they will certainly have to be sent to reeducation camps, at least for long enough that they learn to hate David Brooks. Today’s column is a doozy….you see, the only reason liberals are concerned about oligarchy is that they’re jealous of their Galtian overlords:

The modern left is led by smart professionals — academics, activists, people in the news media, the arts and so on — who tend to live in and around coastal cities.

If you are a young professional in a major city, you experience inequality firsthand. But the inequality you experience most acutely is not inequality down, toward the poor; it’s inequality up, toward the rich.

You go to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around. You get more attention than them at parties, but your whole apartment could fit in their dining room. You struggle with tuition, but their kids go off on ski weekends. You wait in line at the post office, but they have staff to do it for them.

The modern left is led by people who regularly go to parties with Galtians? I do understand that the big donors of the modern left (as well as the modern right of course) live mostly in coastal cities, but these big donors are Galtians themselves.

I don’t find myself spending anytime being jealous of the super-rich, do you? I just don’t think anybody benefits that much from living in an oligarchy. I think that even the oligarchs themselves would be better off in a country with a strong middle-class and some semblance of representative democracy. I might mention that I first heard the idea of a wealth tax from a one-percenter finance friend (who’s even more concerned about oligarchy than most of us).

Bobo’s serial scapegoating of intellectuals is straight out of the Goebbels playbook (remember what made him reach for his revolver). Why do so many totebaggers like Bobo, when he portrays them as sniveling, jealous agitators? Don’t they know that he’d actually send them to reeducation camps if he could? I just joke about it in hopes of getting another Moore Award nomination.

Update. Steve M thinks Palin and Limbaugh are better comparisons than Goebbels, but I think Palin and Limbaugh are just trying to get ratings and money. Propaganda isn’t their central mission.

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150 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Name that tune:

    “Education is being redefined at the demand of the uneducated to suit the ideas of the uneducated. The student now goes to college to proclaim rather than to learn. The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated in a contemporary antagonism known as ‘The Generation Gap.’ A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete core of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”

  2. 2
    eric says:

    godwin in 0. But, where is the challenge in that!

  3. 3
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I just don’t think anybody benefits that much from living in an oligarchy. I think that even the oligarchs themselves would be better off in a country with a strong middle-class and some semblance of representative democracy.

    Where would you rather live if you were rich – the Netherlands or the Philippines? Now assume you are poor and answer the same question.

  4. 4
    kindness says:

    Bobo is a point and laugh columnist. Not with him, at him. The awful part is the Villagers love his schtick and eat it up. We’re screwed.

  5. 5
    DougJ says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yup.

    Russian oligarchs spend a lot of time in London, New York, and Paris. How many rich westerners have homes in Moscow?

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Shakespeare, Sonnet 130:

    And in some perfumes is there more delight
    Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    David Brooks is an ass. I thought the first sentence about democrats talk less about the poor, even though they flock to the party, and more time talking about the middle class. As Cliven Bundy proved, the republicans spend a lot of time talking to the moochers. In GA the rural areas are overwhelmingly republican and they certainly support the tea party.

  8. 8
    Hungry Joe says:

    @raven: I remember that tune well. It was sung by Spiro Agnew, with lyrics by William Safire.

  9. 9

    Bobo’s column today is pathetic even by his standards.

  10. 10
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Why do so many totebaggers like Bobo, when he portrays them as sniveling, jealous agitators?

    They don’t see themselves as sniveling and jealous, they see themselves as envied and threatened. Like that infamous UofC professor who complain-bragged about he was barely scraping by after having done the community service of buying and remodeling a Hyde Park house in the Os’ old neighborhood— “My granite countertops created scores of jobs for simple folk! the ingrates!”. When you got it, flaunt it, then whine about how hard it is to keep up appearances.

  11. 11
    Baud says:

    You go to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around. You get more attention than them at parties, but your whole apartment could fit in their dining room. You struggle with tuition, but their kids go off on ski weekends. You wait in line at the post office, but they have staff to do it for them.

    You have boring sex with your spouse, but they have access to hookers and blow.

  12. 12
    Phantom 309 says:

    @Hungry Joe: We have a winner!

  13. 13
    eric says:

    whenever i see brooks or the mustache, i think “We’ve already established that, we’re just haggling over the price.”

    the pathetic part is that they have no sense of self to understand this

  14. 14
    Carl says:

    No, Spiro Agnew.

    The it’s-not-class-war-they’re-just-jealous gambit is one of the more grating and irritating of their distortions.

  15. 15
    Tommy says:

    I am so sick of folks like Brooks that think liberals only live in big cities on the coast. I live in “flyover” country and you almost have to try and find an elected Republican in my district/county. And when you find one, well if they were in other districts they’d be called RHINO. I just think they like to forward this stereotype about liberals to divide the nation. Or something.

  16. 16
    DougJ says:

    @Tommy:

    Me too.

  17. 17
    NCSteve says:

    Holy crap. He won’t be mentioning him by name, but Krugthulu is going to flambe Bobo’s non-existent nuts.

  18. 18
    Belafon says:

    Do you know any totebaggers that actually like Brooks? There might be “like” in the intellectual sense that he represents a reasonable Republican, but is there anyone on the left that “like” likes Brooks?

  19. 19
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    effete core of impudent snobs

    Now that’s a rotating tag line.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    mac007 says:

    @Tommy: It’s a lot easier to set up a straw man and knock him down.

  22. 22
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @Tommy: I live in Iowa. You can’t get more flyover than that. And yet, the state voted for Obama twice.

  23. 23
    Belafon says:

    @NCSteve: Krugman replied to Brooks this morning: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....egion=Body

  24. 24
    Jay C says:

    And for a more-polished and thoroughly professional takedown of Mr. Brooks’ latest piss-poor Op-Ed offering: a choice bit from that polished and professional down-taker: Mr. Charles P. Pierce. For the win, as usual…

    That said, Brooks does have a vague sorta-kinda point about the class distinctions (which aren’t supposed to exist in this country, but never mind that for now) and financial aspirations the upper-middle BoBo crowd in “major cities” tend to live with: though what this has to do with Piketty’s economic analyses is a stretch Reed Richards would be proud to execute.

  25. 25
    feebog says:

    Hahaha, like this will ever happen:

    This is a moment when progressives have found their worldview and their agenda. This move opens up a huge opportunity for the rest of us in the center and on the right. First, acknowledge that the concentration of wealth is a concern with a beefed up inheritance tax.

    Sorry David, I guess you just don’t get that the “right” has been bought and paid for by the .01%. The “right” will approve a “beefed up” inheritance tax when pigs fly.

  26. 26
    eric says:

    @Jay C: Dear David: class envy is a feature, not a bug. Your comrade in arms, Karl.

  27. 27
    eric says:

    @feebog: “porked up”??

  28. 28
    Tommy says:

    @DougJ: I live in a blue collar district. People who gets their hands dirty and drive a truck to work. Maybe not as liberal on social issues as you might think by how we vote, but things like being pro-union and for good public education can get you elected where I live.

  29. 29
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Like that infamous UofC professor who complain-bragged about he was barely scraping by…

    If he had no significant savings (don’t recall the details) he was middle class, upper middle class to be sure.
    I suggested an alternative class metric here, not completely as a joke.
    Roughly, the further one is from destitution, the higher the class,
    -1*log(probability of achieving destitution at least once in the next 5 years)
    So already destitute would be level 0, extremely poor would be level 1 (37%), etc

  30. 30
    Sidhra says:

    @raven: where are the Safire’s of yesteryear? Spiro T.

  31. 31
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Gobbels was interested in doing a good job. Those others, not so much.

  32. 32
    Belafon says:

    @Jay C:

    class distinctions (which aren’t supposed to exist in this country, but never mind that for now)

    Class distinctions are supposed to exist, because the wealthy don’t want to be anywhere near the rest of us. There just not supposed to be talked about.

  33. 33
    Tommy says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: And I am a state over in IL. Heck there is a huge military base by me, so in some bizarre thing we voted 57% for McCain. In the same election we voted 63% to raise our taxes to build a new $60M high school. Try to wrap your mind around that ….

  34. 34
    Belafon says:

    @Belafon: “They’re” not “there” in the last sentence.

  35. 35
    Keith G says:

    Why do so many totebaggers like Bobo

    Are there numbers on this?

  36. 36
    JPL says:

    The capital gains tax has concentrated the wealth at the top. In a perfect world a flat tax on all income with a fifty thousand dollar deductible tied to inflation is more progressive than what we have. Bozo Boortz was spewing that everyone owns stock now but he didn’t mention that a lot of stock ownership is tied to an IRA.

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    This excerpt make it sound like David Brooks is talking to young professionals. How many young professionals read his column? Doesn’t seem like they’d make up much of his readership.

  38. 38
    Hungry Joe says:

    I keep hearing that totebaggers like Bobo, but I suspect that’s (mostly) an urban myth. His homeopathy-strength social-science reporting/skewing would induce vertigo, if not outright gagging, in anyone with half a working brain, which totebaggers have by definition. Just about everybody (save a few editors at the NY Times — probably the same ones who admire/lust after MoDo) considers him a simpering would-be middlebrow weasel.

  39. 39
    dmsilev says:

    @Bill Arnold: The foofrah over that guy wasn’t about however much money he had saved, it was from his comment that, more or less, he and his wife, with a combined family income of something like $400-500K a year, had so many demands on their limited funds that if the top marginal tax rate was raised he’d be “forced” to fire his gardener.

  40. 40
    DougJ says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    His columns show up high in the “most read” and “most emailed” list at the Times, most of whose readers are totebaggers. Plus all older academics I know love him.

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @Belafon: We had an open house seat. We ran a former two star Army general. The Republicans ran a 30 year old worth about $50M (an inheritance from his father). I kid you not, the guy attacked his military service. There was no way he could have won, but even Republicans I know were like what the fuck dude. In the debates he was so upset about the taxes he paid. People just laughed at him. In a working class, blue collar district to bitch you pay a lot of taxes when you are worth tens of millions, well nobody seemed to feel that sorry for him.

    He honestly didn’t seem to be able to connect the dots and not understand where he didn’t get more support.

  42. 42

    @Hungry Joe: He has a NYT column and is on the Snooze Hour, plus he is not shouty. He does have a following as does Charlie Rose.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @DougJ: He’s also a fixture on NPR on their political discussion day–is that Friday?–with E.J. Dionne. Since NPR is the genesis of the totebagger meme, seems like there could be a connection.

  44. 44

    @DougJ: Are you sure it is not because people are pointing and mocking his columns?

  45. 45
    Hungry Joe says:

    @DougJ: Well, I’ll take your word for it. But man, you need to hang out with some different older academics.

  46. 46
    Jay C says:

    @Belafon:

    Yeah, you’re right: who was the right-wing moron (ETA: I remember – I think it was Rick Santorum!!) who said we shouldn’t even use the term “middle class” in public discussions because it was some sort of Evil Marxist distinction, and all Americans are equal, anyway?

  47. 47
    Sidhra says:

    Brooks. He’s no Safire.

  48. 48
    Keith G says:

    @DougJ: You point to his stuff. So…you like him?

    Just as Bobo types out evidence light (or free) assumptions, so are you is this post.

  49. 49
    aimai says:

    @Jay C: Does “they’re just jealous because I’m beautiful” ever really count as an argument in economics? Or outside of highschool?

  50. 50

    @aimai: Doesn’t count even in economics, for all its faults. It is Bobologic divorced from reality.

  51. 51
    bemused says:

    I can’t imagine that Brooks actually believes the gobbledygook he writes. He can’t be that clueless, can he? Maybe he is but I still think he is just one of many who will write anything for that fat paycheck. He tries too hard to sound profound and it still doesn’t make any sense.

  52. 52
    Turgidson says:

    @Belafon:

    Yes. I met one on the way to work not long ago. I live in the SF area, was on BART heading into SF for work, and a guy who looked like kind of an aging hippie who eventually got a respectable job but still saw himself as some sort of idealist sat next to me. I was reading one of Pierce’s blog posts dismembering Brooks on my phone. This guy managed to see that I was reading something about Bobo and taps me on my shoulder and starts talking to me (even though I had earbuds in, precisely so that no one talks to me in the morning) about how much he enjoys Brooks and really wanted me to engage him in a conversation about Brooks and all of his thoughtful musings. I politely but perhaps somewhat impatiently told him I was reading a satire piece about the logical fallacies and hypocrisy in Brooks’s most recent column and put my earbuds back in.

    I was tempted to tell him something like this: “I think Brooks is a worse cancer on our national discourse than idiots like Beck and Limbaugh precisely because dipshits like you think he has something useful to say” but it was too early and it might have made him cry.

    Anecdotally, I’ve also seen some very liberal friends who ought to know better link approvingly to a Brooks column on Facebook and the like. Barf.

  53. 53
    Tommy says:

    @Jay C: Yeah everybody is equal. Saw a news story today of an Internet billionaire that was caught on tape hitting and kicking his girlfriend 117 times over a 30 minute period. Telling her he’d kill her multiple times. Hired the best legal team money could buy and he got probation in a San Fran courtroom yesterday. Probation and community service. Yeah, I am sure if I did something that terrible and got my lawyer out of the Yellow Pages I’d be in jail right now.

  54. 54
    scav says:

    @Tommy: Well, actually that state of affairs isn’t that inexplicable, They could be very well content to raise taxes locally and share resources for local projects, projects dedicated and used by their neighbors, their kind, but not willing to pay taxes at a larger scale to support those others, aka the mixed unknown bag of all Americans. There are other possible explanations of course, but it could just be community based selfishness rather than individual/family based selfishness.

  55. 55
    jl says:

    What a patronizing column. My question is, does it pass Brooks’ own humbility test for sound, serious, and worthy, material?
    Piketty ‘wanders” into a fray? Really?

    Anyway, Brooks makes a big blunder, that makes one wonders if he has any idea what is in the book. Piketty does take into account the fact that there is exit from the top tier of wealth as well as entry. One of the technical things people like Stiglitz and Krugman and Durlauf are admiring is that Piketty derives the laws of the distribution of wealth that he observes from some simple and reasonable, thought not inarguable, assumptions.

    Gee, it could never be that some GOP hack told Brooks about the book, and he has no clue what is in it, could it? That would not present a picture of admirable humbility on Brooks part.

    And I wonder what real criticism Brooks’ presents other than that, besides shallow pop psychology and sneers?

    The idea that the poor, working class and middle class have not suffered from rising inequality is laughable, as is the idea that they are serene and happy because they do not rub elbows with billioinaires while over extending themselves on the payday loans and credit cards just to get by. Elizabeth Warren, a person Brooks has made fun of, but (as far as I know) not dared do so by name, has done a good job at showing that.

    But, I figure, take what good comes from whatever Brooks pumps out. Maybe Brooks has to admit to himself, thought not directly to his readers, that there is a problem. He breaks down and presents some proposals at the end of the column, and there are a few good policy proposals along with some BS, and silly ideas,

  56. 56

    As if one Brooks was not enough, NYT has gone and got themselves another Brooks who comforts the comfortable.

  57. 57
    nancydarling says:

    @Belafon: Brooks is not a “reasonable republican”. He just plays one on teevee.

    Everett Dirksen was a reasonable republican—mostly.

  58. 58
    Steeplejack says:

    You go to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around.

    Brooks is so far out of touch with reality that he strains for an equivalence that doesn’t exist. At the top of the Republican Party are billionaires and millionaires. The “rank and file”—at least at fund-raisers—are six-figure fat cats: corporate executives, local real-estate studs, owners of (multiple) car dealerships, etc. The unwashed masses of the GOP are invisible until they are called upon to hit the polls to vote for guns, for Jesus or against the Negro president. And, oh, yeah, the “school functions” are more likely to take place at Thurston Howell Academy than at P.S. 103.

    On the Democratic side, there are billionaires and millionaires at the top. And there are “people in the news media, the arts and so on” in the second tier. But they are fewer in number than their equivalents on the Republican side. The Democratic rank and file at fund-raisers and party functions are made up much more of what we would recognize as “real people”: five-figure salaries, families with both parents working, kids in public school, etc.—you know, moochers and takers.

    Brooks can’t grok that, because he never gets outside of his bubble, so he presumes that the Democrats are the same as the Republicans, just opposite.

  59. 59
    jl says:

    Good panel discussion of Piketty book, with a presentation by Piketty himself.

    Video: Piketty, Krugman, Stiglitz, and Durlauf on ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’
    Economists View blog, Mark Thoma
    http://economistsview.typepad......ntury.html

    Edit: I hope people hang in there with Durlauf’s technical discussion. He translates into some very good and simple intuitive points towards the end. His presentation is not all technical gobbledygook. But he is an econometrician, and talking all techy is his job. He seems to be largely in agreement with Stiglitz, and I think lays out some of the technical machinery behind Stiglitz intuitive way of explaining things.

  60. 60
    GregB says:

    David Brooks is just like Foster Brooks only with Kool-Aid.

  61. 61
    Barney says:

    Brooks’ argument seems to be the same as McArgleBargle‘s – that the only inequality is that ‘upper middle class’ is jealous of the unlimited spending of the super-rich, but they’re already well off and so can be dismissed as whiners.

    It has a whiff of ‘1984’ to it – the party elite think they need to keep an eye on the party workers, because they’re convinced the proles are too stupid to realise how badly off they are, so will never complain.

  62. 62
    Tommy says:

    @scav: A lot of people have mentioned that to me and I think it is pretty true. I don’t want to out the exact place I live, but lets say my county is more then 95% white. Well expect for the largest city which is about 95% AA. Somehow in a pretty liberal district we figure out a way to cut funding to that city in just about every way possible. Politicians will even basically say we’ve given up on trying to help them. Sad, but true.

  63. 63
    Kylroy says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Here in neighboring Wisconsin, we haven’t gone for a Republican president since the 1984 Reagan landslide. A streak exceeded only by equally flyover Minnesota.

  64. 64

    @Barney: I think they all get the same talking points every morning. I wonder who writes them.

  65. 65
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kylroy: Nah, Wisconsin is a coastal state.

  66. 66
  67. 67
    Holden Pattern says:

    One of Brooks’ major services as a courtesan to power is catapulting propaganda at “reasonable liberals” to help keep them from taking their own side in the political bar fight.

    Sometimes that takes the form of arguing that liberal professionals / academics are should doubt the authenticity of their own experiences relative to correctly conservative RealMuricans, sometimes it takes the form of pointing out the cultural pathologies of the working classes, sometimes it takes the form of this fun little mindfuck [*], where he’s saying to liberal professionals: “Hey, you should doubt your motives for resenting the power that the ruling classes have over you.”

    [*]This “you’re just jealous, don’t hate the player” schtick is also used by promiscuous and manipulative male assholes when other men call them out on it.

  68. 68

    @Omnes Omnibus: It is on one of the great lakes so it has a coast, is what Brooksie will say.

  69. 69
    scav says:

    @Tommy: It’s not unexpected or unusual, have to keep slogging away at the boundaries of “our” kind to include other ethnicities, genders, geographic neighbors, races, religions, economic classes, generations, etc etc. Humans are a clannish bunch with all the perks and downsides of the breed.

  70. 70
    Jay C says:

    @dmsilev:

    I remember that brouhaha well: for all that he made it into a gala pity-party for himself, whiny Professor Poorhouse (probably inadvertently) raised a point about the terrific burn-rate of cash it takes to live anything like an upper-middle-class lifestyle in an affluent area of a big American city. Especially, as savvy commentators were quick to note, they were trying to do so (AFACBD) mainly/mostly out of their current income, with little savings, and little capital (other than whatever equity was in their overpriced and probably underwater McMansion). So the proposed extra tax (?? 9M/yr ??) wasn’t quite trivial.

    Of course, the sympathy level for Prof. & Mrs. Poorhouse might have been a little higher if

    a) they hadn’t already been making (conservatively) TEN TIMES the national average in family income, and
    b) he hadn’t (IIRC) doubled down on the self-righteous self-pity when called on his BS.

  71. 71
    jl says:

    And here is a selection of book interviews of Piketty compiled by Brad DeLong. DeLong helpfully classifies them into the good, the bad and the ugly. It may violate my own code of humbility, but I think DeLong may be a tad charitable to Cowan’s review.

    The Daily Piketty: Some More Reviews of Piketty
    http://equitablegrowth.org/201.....s-piketty/

    Edit: to get all of DeLong’s links to reviews of Piketty, click on his name and look at his entries over last two weeks or so.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It is on two of the great lakes. One of them constitutes an international border.

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Göring was the one reaching for his revolver…at the mention of the word “culture”.

    Goebbels was the Partei intellectual. Who directed book burnings, initially.

  74. 74
    cthulhu says:

    @Barney:

    Brooks’ argument seems to be the same as McArgleBargle‘s – that the only inequality is that ‘upper middle class’ is jealous of the unlimited spending of the super-rich, but they’re already well off and so can be dismissed as whiners.

    I was just going to say the same thing. Makes one wonder if the powers that be feel the best way to short circuit the emerging interest in income inequality is to promote it as a concern of the near rich, and thus should be treated with distrust by the hoi polloi. Wouldn’t be the first time they’ve tried to turn us against each other.

  75. 75
    jl says:

    @DougJ:

    ” Plus all older academics I know love him. ”

    Huh? How? Whaa….: You sure? Maybe they have a dry sense of humor like DougJ?

  76. 76
    cokane says:

    just learned about a week ago that “bobo” means “stupid” or “naive” in Spanish. Pretty relevant

  77. 77
    Tone In DC says:

    Way off topic.

    A certain Mr. Cross (crazed, racist, homicidal) is also lewd and crude…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....13318.html

  78. 78
    Jay C says:

    @Tommy:

    Well, to be fair the poor guy was probably suffering from a medical condition: most likely pernicious affluenza: he obviously needed treatment more than punishment…..

  79. 79
    Sideshow Rahim says:

    The post office? Does he have some paid staffer laughing at him because “yeah Dave, still at the post office.. you know.. Government.. amirite?” gets you a whole afternoon off?

  80. 80
    Violet says:

    @nancydarling:

    Brooks is not a “reasonable republican”. He just plays one on teevee.

    There are no reasonable Republicans. There are the ones who are honest about what they think and want to do and the ones who lie about it. Brooks is in the second category.

    That category is worse because their role is to make the horror show that is Republicanism palatable to the public. They’re the guy who blindfolds the prisoner prior to execution so he can’t see what’s about to happen to him. He’s still going to get killed, but he can’t see who did it and he won’t know when it’s coming. Thanks a lot, blindfold guy.

  81. 81
    KG says:

    I don’t find myself spending anytime being jealous of the super-rich, do you?

    Only when I make my student loan payments

  82. 82
    Heliopause says:

    The modern left is led by smart professionals

    The oligarchs have never quite figured out that it’s those smart professionals who are keeping us rubes relatively quiescent.

  83. 83
    cokane says:

    @Violet: there are reasonable republicans — like colin powell — they just vote for democrats now

  84. 84
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @KG: My problem with most of the super-rich is not that they’re wealthy.

    It’s that they are assholes.

  85. 85
    NotMax says:

    @cokane

    Also the name of a forgettable Peter Sellers movie (set in Barcelona) from the late sixties.

  86. 86
    Tommy says:

    @scav: It is kind of funny/sad. When I take the rail line into the large metro area across the river, there are a few stops in this lower income, AA community. The rail line is totally empty until we reach this town, then packed. I can only assume these residents are going to work in all the restaurants, casinos, hotels, et al. The town is providing cheap labor for an entire metro area. I don’t understand why folks don’t get this and offer to help the city more.

  87. 87
  88. 88
    JoyfulA says:

    @Jay C: What’s a progressive consumption tax?

  89. 89
    Violet says:

    @Belafon:

    Do you know any totebaggers that actually like Brooks? There might be “like” in the intellectual sense that he represents a reasonable Republican, but is there anyone on the left that “like” likes Brooks?

    Are totebaggers actually on the left?

  90. 90
    xenos says:

    I grew up in a 1%er household in the 70s, which did not mean a lot of luxuries and indulgences but certainly was comfortable and secure. Then I was sent off to St. Grottlesex, which was about 20% composed of kids from the .01, and a few from the .001% and beyond. Those fuckers had serious money, and they were quite isolated psychologically by it: Some turned out OK, most had pretty drug-addled adolescences.

    Would it be nice to have that much money? Sure, in the abstract, in a fantasy. But even at 14 I did not feel jealous of them, or want to be them. They were, for the most part, assholes. Their families did not spend any time with them; and it was obvious. Many grew up OK in spite of it all, but their neurotic and status-obsessed families had done a lot of damage, and the economy sucked and a lot of people were hurting, and these kids had to find a way, deep inside, to not give a shit. There has always been an industry based around teaching the children of wealthy people to not give a shit about others, we have just gotten the pleasure of seeing it mainstreamed.

  91. 91
    NotMax says:

    @JoyfulA

    Surcharge for a second trip to the Applebee’s salad bar?

  92. 92

    Directly on point my twitter feed has been blown up all day by references to Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive” conference where all these rich bitches (I am allowed to use the term I am a woman) are telling me that in order to lead a better life I need to nap more, sleep more, unplug, recharge, give to bring yourself joy, and numerous other nonsensical ideas which I am sure are fine if you are worth a million dollars but are fucking worthless if you are never sure if the next paycheck is going to be there on Friday. Talk about out of fucking touch.

  93. 93
    jl says:

    Well, here you go. Krugman explains to Brooks in simple English why Brook’s (I think) only substantive criticism of Piketty is wrong.

    Piketty and Pareto
    Krugman, NYT blog
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....nd-pareto/

    You can access the NYT blog without the silly paywall by looking under the Krugman heading on Mark Thoma’s Economists View blog.

  94. 94
    Archon says:

    I do think the working class is too fractured and demoralized on racial and cultural lines to effect any real change in the short to medium term. If political change does come I believe it’s gonna have to be from working professionals and the upper middle class. Like Doctors and engineers, and other white collar professionals, people who still get payroll checks and are working long hours and wonder why they have 200,000 in student loans while financiers make millions and pay less taxes then they do by basically just collecting rents off our broken economic system.

    Obviously that’s not an optimal strategy for real change since their economic interests are still different from the vast majority of workers but it’s better then waiting on the working class to wake up.

  95. 95
    Tommy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: My parents are rich. Not the ultra-rich, but top .1 percent. I am the oldest son and my parents are getting older, so I have all their estate information. Would have power of attorney. I knew the rich got richer, but until I started to look at the estate documents and their tax returns I couldn’t believe how over-the-top it was. I think if people really knew what was going on they’d be even more pissed off.

    Oh and the inheritance tax is a joke. Anytime somebody bitches about it you should laugh in their faces. We have what we call “the last to die insurance policy,” just to cover any taxes. My brother and I won’t pay a single penny out of our pockets for estate taxes.

  96. 96
    JoyfulA says:

    @Tommy: They ran him because he’s self-funding and nobody else wanted to run a losing race.

  97. 97

    @Litlebritdiftrnt: Huffington is phony and I find her voice grating, like nails on a chalkboard.

  98. 98
    Jamey says:

    Part of me–the worst part, natch–hopes that Brooks is sexually humiliated and then murdered by birthday party clowns. Like, soon.

  99. 99
    Tommy says:

    @JoyfulA: That is exactly what happened. Our rep that retired often won with almost 70% of the vote and had for decades. This is just a losing race for the GOP, although it was only like a 6.5 percent victory, which did worry me a little.

  100. 100
    jl says:

    @Tommy: On the few occasions when a elder’s farm has passed to the younger generation, the teabaggers worry about losing it to inheritance taxes. The sane members of the family, who know the magnitudes involved even if they are not part of the inheritance, if only roughly, from land values in the area, tell them “Like, you should wish it was enough money that paying inheritance taxes could be a problem!”

    The farms have always been ‘trusted up’, but even if they had not been, the threshold is so high that the taxes would have been very manageable.

    Anyway, after repeated assurances, the family teabaggers learn to simply whine about the crushing inheritance taxes that no one in the family has ever had to pay, and how it is crushing the ‘little man’ and preventing him from getting ahead.

  101. 101
    Violet says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: You and me both. Her voice is incredibly grating. Someone should challenge her to do the minimum wage challenge for a month. See how well she does.

  102. 102
    Violet says:

    @Jamey: Can it please somehow involve an Applebee’s salad bar?

  103. 103
    BBA says:

    @Violet: In today’s America the left includes anyone who isn’t bat fuck insane.

  104. 104
    srv says:

    IDK, if Bobo is roasting totebaggers, who am I to get in the way?

    More kindling for the bonfires.

  105. 105
    Fair Economist says:

    I don’t interact with the extremely rich. What’s turned me left is the evil the wealthy show in trying to get a few more bucks when they already have more than any person should want. I lived through statewide blackouts in California, which, as it turned out, were deliberately caused by energy companies trying to squeeze money out of me and my fellow Californians. I watched thousands of useless McMansions built, wasting over a trillion dollars and causing a global financial crisis, so financiers could make 100 million a year instead of 50 million. I watch the Arctic ice melt as the Kochs and other oil barons fill the air with nonsense to delay action that may save the ecology of the planet and most humans alive in a few decades.

    The Kochs are the epitome. They’re worth 100 billion dollars. They could spend a million dollars a year for as long a H. sapiens has spread out of Africa. But they’re risking the survival of human civilization so they can have even more. I don’t need or want more money, I just want these monsters stopped.

  106. 106
    jl says:

    @Fair Economist: David Brooks has declared you untypical.

  107. 107
    JoyfulA says:

    @NotMax: That’s all I could think of, although less wittily.

  108. 108
    Alex S. says:

    Keep paying attention! That is exactly the same argument that McArdle made in her “book review” of Piketty. She said that the poor are fine and not concerned with inequality, but the not-quite rich enough people are those that really complain.

    McArdle:

    But the proportion of this unhappiness due to income inequality is actually relatively small — and moreover, concentrated not among the poor, but among the upper middle class, which competes with the very rich for status goods and elite opportunities.

    I don’t understand the whole strategy yet, but at least, it’s trying to either marginalize academics now that record levels of inequality are becoming a scientific fact, and it’s meant to divide the populace into the handful of billionaires who finance the GOP and its libertarian branches, and the ‘well off, wealthy, but greedy upper class democrats’ – you know the elites in their enclaves at the coast.

    Edit: Oops, I was much too late.

  109. 109
    Long Tooth says:

    “The modern left is led by smart professionals… who tend to live in and around coastal cities”.

    It was once common knowledge that if we lost Vietnam, the Reds next stop would be San Francisco.

    Truer words were never spoken.

    But never in my wildest imagination could I have conceived such a diabolically clever plot, i.e. the establishment of a fifth column of professionally credentialed Americans, operating with impunity on American soil to further the interests of international communism.

    That’s pretty doggone wily. But thanks to Brooks, the dots are all finally connected.

  110. 110
    JGabriel says:

    I said it before in the last open thread, but I may as well post it here, where it’s on topic:

    There is nothing in the NY Times that makes me angrier about it’s prohibition on using the word asshole in comments than reading a David Brooks column.

  111. 111
    Trollhattan says:

    @Long Tooth:

    One sure way to know the commies are in charge: The rent’s too damn high!

  112. 112
    Jay C says:

    @Tommy:

    The inheritance tax isn’t quite that big a “joke” – it all depends on the sums and the circumstances. My father was certainly a top-tier earner over his career, and when my parents divorced, my mother ended up with a multi-million-dollar estate to leave to her only heir (me). And, due to an absolute lack of estate-planning (and/or a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of “tax-free municipal bond”), I ended up having to pay (to Feds and State) over 60% of it in taxes.

    My wife’s parents, OTOH, were middle-class professionals, and left their only heir (Mrs. Jay) quite a smaller, but a much-better-managed estate: she got to keep something like 92% of it.

    Not a complaint, mind you: just an object lesson in the benefits of wise planning….

  113. 113
    Sad_Dem says:

    Bobo forgot to mention “cosmopoletes.” You know, the ones who speak demotic French.

  114. 114
    jl says:

    @Alex S.: If the approach you mentioned doesn’t work, there will be amazement and outrage expressed when it is ‘revealed’ that Piketty is not homeless and not living on a vacant lot outside of Paris with less than 5 bucks to his name. Followed by charges of hypocrisy.

    That logic escapes me too, I guess it is an attempt to tap into bottomless and unhinged cynicism about everything, even if said cynicism is absurd. But that will be next.

  115. 115
    JustRuss says:

    @jl: If “humbility” isn’t a word, it should be.

  116. 116
    WaterGirl says:

    I got a chuckle out of the juxtaposition of these two comments:

    Jamey says:
    April 25, 2014 at 6:43 pm
    Part of me–the worst part, natch–hopes that Brooks is sexually humiliated and then murdered by birthday party clowns. Like, soon.

    ReplyReply
    Tommy says:
    April 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm
    @JoyfulA: That is exactly what happened.

  117. 117
    beltane says:

    Wow. When it comes to Piketty, they’ve really got nothing. Even with all the flailing, they can only manage to punch themselves in the face. This is why inequality is the most taboo subject there is in the media, because conservatism cannot answer the question without stripping everyone but the very rich of their basic humanity.

  118. 118
    jl says:

    @beltane: The problem with inequality, especially as it has unfolded in the U.S. is that the situation contradicts the reactionary sales pitch on every count.

    The rising tide of entrepreneurial and independent self-made small businessperson growth does not raise all boats. And the sinking boats of the middle class and below are left further and further behind.

    Another one of their promises not only unfulfilled, but directly contradicted, by modelling our society ever more closely to their recommended policies.

  119. 119
    Jay C says:

    @beltane:

    Less than nothing, in a lot of cases: there was a comment on Paul Krugman’s NYT column dismissing Piketty and his work, because he “wasn’t a real economist”. I dunno: checking out his bio, he seems to have a pretty good grounding in the field: but then, he was associated with the dreaded Soshulism* (and French Soshulism at that), so dismissal is all he deserves, I guess…

    BTW, does FYWP still block this particular word, or do the recent updates let us spell it correctly?

  120. 120
    beltane says:

    @jl: To make matters worse, there is no rising tide of entrepreneurial and independent small businessperson growth. Mom and pop businesses, if not undergoing a mass extinction event, at least seem to be struggling mightily to the benefit of a small number of corporate monoliths. We see a select few millionaire’s children become billionaires in this new economy, but that is hardly an inspiration to the rest of us. Instead of a rising tide lifting all boats, we have a maelstrom in which all the small and mid-sized boats are dashed against the rocks while a tiny fleet of mega vessels sails full steam ahead.

  121. 121
    beltane says:

    @Jay C: I have conditioned myself to avoid typing the s0c1alist word in its correct form. Someone else will have to test the waters on that one.

  122. 122
    jl says:

    @Jay C: I think soshulism spelled correctly contains letters too close to a certain B 0 n3 r p lll word.

  123. 123
    bootsy says:

    But should you really torture Brooks over a column he wrote at the last minute?

    His “Why Liberals Need to Listen to the Traditional American Wisdom of Cliven Bundy” was going to be a godamn masterpiece, until it got spiked for some reason.

  124. 124
    beltane says:

    @bootsy: This must be why he incorporated the theme of out of touch coastal elites and rootless cosmopolitans; they were leftovers from that other column. Brooks once said that Sarah Palin was a fatal tumor on the Republican party. What he should have said is that Sarah Palin was a herpes lesion on the fatal tumor that is the Republican party.

  125. 125
    J says:

    @DougJ: Also me.

  126. 126
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @jl: Socialism.

    ETA: It posted without a problem.

  127. 127
    angler says:

    DB takes up the old “status anxiety” pop psychology. It’s old, as the hills. According to some the abolitionists were not really concerned about slavery but instead about being displaced by the new elite of businessmen. You had to believe, of course, that all abolitionists were Harvard theologians used to running the show.

  128. 128
    pluege says:

    I don’t find myself spending anytime being jealous of the super-rich, do you?

    anyone who makes an objective assessment of what A-holes most of the rich are, and how thoroughly useless, obnoxious, and usually destructive their spawn are would never want to be anything like them. It is the rich with their infatuation with themselves that assume people are jealous of them. Most people could give a crap about them.

    What people are angry about is how completely the rich have destroyed the chances for them to live a modest, reasonable life with modest financial security; provide a reasonable existence for their families, and retire modestly with decency. That the rich have moved from obnoxious greed to obscene greed AT THE EXPENSE of average people is what has people pissed – has NOTHING to do with envy or jealousy.

  129. 129
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    You go to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around.

    Who is this ‘you’ of which you speak, Bobo?

  130. 130
    Chris says:

    @Tommy:

    I am so sick of folks like Brooks that think liberals only live in big cities on the coast. I live in “flyover” country and you almost have to try and find an elected Republican in my district/county. And when you find one, well if they were in other districts they’d be called RHINO. I just think they like to forward this stereotype about liberals to divide the nation. Or something.

    Doesn’t your average totebagger live on the coasts and belong to that same community that gets stereotyped as “liberal elite?” These guys have always struck me as awkward middle school nerds who know that the cool kids are making fun of them and are desperate to win their approval and prove that they’re not like those OTHER, totally uncool awkward nerds.

  131. 131
    Chris says:

    @pluege:

    What people are angry about is how completely the rich have destroyed the chances for them to live a modest, reasonable life with modest financial security; provide a reasonable existence for their families, and retire modestly with decency. That the rich have moved from obnoxious greed to obscene greed AT THE EXPENSE of average people is what has people pissed – has NOTHING to do with envy or jealousy.

    Yep.

    I don’t begrudge the rich their money, as long as they’ve earned it honestly. (“Honestly” is a much higher bar than “legally” these days. It means you didn’t screw all the people who helped you make that money out of their share of it, that you made money doing something that was useful and not destructive to society – Bain Capital corporate raiding is out – that you paid your fair share to the public services without which none of us would be where we are, etc).

  132. 132
    Chris T. says:

    @pluege:

    It is the rich with their infatuation with themselves that assume people are jealous of them.

    The rich, and David Brooks himself.

    (Or, in a word, “projection”.)

  133. 133
    drkrick says:

    @beltane: I like the metaphor, but it’s not a maelstrom smashing our boats, it’s their damn wake.

  134. 134
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jl: One of the problems with the “entrepreneurial” meme is that in a crony capitalist kleptocracy, like this one, there are no true entrepreneurs. There are a bunch of parasites sucking the live blood out of the economy, gorging themselves in the process..

  135. 135
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jl: They fixed that, because it’s nearly impossible to have a blog that deals with politics and media that does not allow for the word ‘socialist” to be used.

  136. 136
    Jamey says:

    @Violet: Yes, Vi, yes. My dream is open to anybody who dares to wish for a better world.

  137. 137
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Memphis, Egypt by The Mekons is the more likely direct source given the FPer.

  138. 138
    beltane says:

    SOCIALIST!! I feel free being able to type this word here.

  139. 139
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @beltane: I am more of a social democrat myself, but I take vicarious joy in your new found freedom.

  140. 140
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I might add on the subject of entrepreneurialism, that there are very few actual entrepreneurs among the very rich, as the only thing they did to get their wealth was fall out of the right uterus…see the Koch brothers and the Waltons.

    Parasite scum…the lot of them.

  141. 141
    jl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Oh, I see, it’s all the uterus’ fault. Democrats need to try some outreach to the little women and their bits. /snark

  142. 142
    beltane says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I am celebrating our liberation from the tyranny of b0n*r pill spam.

  143. 143
    danielx says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    That’s as in HE goes to to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around. Mofo needs to get out more.

  144. 144
    Jewish Steel says:

    @raven: Well before my time, but who can forget those golden tones. Nice callback.

  145. 145
    the Conster says:

    As a VSP, Brooks had to respond to all the Piketty fooferah, because Krugman. He had a deadline, and his job is to intercept the torpedo headed for the conservative economic ideology, but clearly all he has is nonsense because Piketty did his homework. Brooks is lazy, but he’s smart enough to know he doesn’t want to debate two economists on the merits of the analysis.

    While the .01% head for the lifeboats, Brooks’s job is to tell the folks locked in steerage that it’s for their own moral good that they’re being sacrificed for the good of the country on the altar of humility as defined by David Brooks, but, with this mess of a column he’s exposed himself as an old white male with an expired sell by date. The Obama manhood column was the tell.

    Piketty got all of their numbers, They’ve got nothing, and they know it. The word has gone out! It’s probably the one thing Brooks got right in his column – Piketty’s argument is a boon for liberals.

  146. 146
    James E. Powell says:

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself and the anecdotal evidence of my friends, extended family, and co-workers. Those who generally fit the tote-bagger demo are 100% NYT readers. They all believe that in a world characterized by strident partisanship, David Brooks represents a sensible center. Many of them have argued with me when I say he is a Republican propagandist.

    A question for anyone doubting that Brooks is a tote-bagger favorite – do you believe his popularity comes from ordinary, average Republicans? Really?

  147. 147
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @raven:

    Name that tune:

    Damn, I recognized that even before I got to the telltale line about the impudent snobs. (Nitpick: it’s “effete corps of impudent snobs.”)

    And I wish I could drag Spiro’s sorry ass out of the grave, take him down to Louisiana, and show him “Education…being redefined at the demand of the uneducated to suit the ideas of the uneducated” for real.

  148. 148
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Speaking of “Education…being redefined at the demand of the uneducated to suit the ideas of the uneducated,” here’s a battle worth fighting:

    The Dems should propose legislation denying all Federal aid to education to any state and any of that state’s educational institutions if public schools in that state question the validity of the theory of evolution. They can include a line saying that this law remains in effect as long as there is a clear scientific consensus on the fundamental validity of the theory of evolution.

    Seriously, we should have this fight. Let the GOP fight for the right to purvey intellectual garbage. That might even scare the likes of David Brooks away from the GOP.

  149. 149
    Tyro says:

    You go to fund-raisers or school functions and there are always hedge fund managers and private equity people around.

    I am that young professional and no, I have never actually run into a hedge fund manager or private equity person around at a fundraiser. Lawyers, Doctors, executives? Yes (then again, I was in DC).

    Then again, they do see the effects of oligarchy first hand– places like Manahttan used to have a significant middle class component in which the only requirement was for you to have a decent work ethic and relatively modest tastes. That environment disappeared with the financialization of our economy.

  150. 150
    Jado says:

    @Holden Pattern:

    Brooks is preaching to people who WANT to be reassured that the 1% ISN’T trying to crush them. Professionals with good jobs who will never make the leap into the 1%, but are firmly ensconced in the 10%. Speaking from experience, we have decent cushions for emergencies, and we have good jobs, but we also probably know someone who lost their house in the crash, or we know someone who knows someone. And if it happened to them, it can happen to us.

    So please, please, Mr. Brooks, please tell us it’s not true, tell us that the gibbering lunatics we see on TV aren’t REALLY that crazy, tell us it’s all for show to the rubes, it’s all a pantomime so the blue collars will keep doing what they are doing and we can keep our lucrative jobs. It is all an act? Oh, good. Thank you Mr. Brooks.

    And we put our blinders on, Mr. Brooks cashes his giant check, and the Kochs and Waltons of the world keep the plan churning to turn EVERYONE ELSE into fully owned wage slaves

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