Ok so I have read Berlin and read other people's discussions about his writing and listened to discussions about it and watched documentaries based on it and yet I still just don't get it.
The thing about politics now is that the stupid discourse described in the previous essay is based on the (foolish at this point) idea that, you know, government should do shit. Unfortunately, this stupid discourse delegitimizes that perfectly sensical idea to the point that not only does nothing happen but the people who sit it out, not out of principle (ie the non-addicted), but out of, basically, apathy, selfishness and/or fear, somehow become the moral center of the system. I don't support any position of the hard right but at least I get to use the word position when writing about them. Unlike these flighty fucks.
I always find reading David Brooks amusing,. There is something about his writing style that is calming, seemingly evenhanded. Not that I am ever lulled into agreement with him but if I am not awake the effect of reading an essay like that cited above is not unlike being woken up with a bucket of cold water. I made it halfway through the essay with nothing more than a chuckle at his "herds of cats" analogy before getting to this:
The first thing to say is that this recession has hit the new suburbs hardest, exactly where independents are likely to live. According to a survey by the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, 76 percent of suburbanites say they or someone they know have lost a job in the past year.
Where do I start? Have people in the new suburbs really suffered more than, you know, poor people? Granted, it does actually seem plausible that, for a short period at least, it was probably a better bet to work at McDonalds than, say, "Goldman Sacks", and yet... c'mon, really? And what of the fact that these new suburbs are the epitome of the hubris that got us into this mess in the first place? No down payment on a thin drywall and thinner aluminum "building" where trees used to be? Sounds great!
As for the "statistic" cited above, I wonder if the margin-of-error actually considered the nature of suburban communities, which are, you know, fairly closed. One dude loses his job and it gets mentioned at a backyard BBQ over the summer and, suddenly, calamity. Ok it was probably/definitely more than one dude but you get my point.
The second thing to say is that in this time of need, these voters are not turning to government for support. Trust in government is at its lowest level in recent memory. Over the past year, there has been a shift to the right on issue after issue. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who believe that there is too much government regulation rose from 38 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2009. The percentage of Americans who want unions to have less influence rose from 32 percent to a record 42 percent.
What the fuck does it matter what people believe? These people were probably the vanguard of the "fuck government, let's SUV" contingent who, if they even read the paper, hung on every last drop of spittle emanating from Alan Greenspan's trachea (© Ayn Rand). Probably, though, they missed the time when their hero completely renounced his beliefs in the free market, a tacit admission that his unwillingness to investigate fraud and his willingness to block regulation of the very markets that brought the economy to its current state was responsible for for what we are dealing with now. But, what does he know compared to people who don't?
The logic is mystifying. Bankers play poker with their eyes closed with the wealth of a nation, no regulations necessary. Government gives those bankers back the money they lost, and is blamed for interfering. I almost want to cross the line and become one of those Marxists who desires the complete eradication of all government regulation of capital in the blind belief that complete and utter chaos is the only way people will finally come to realize what has been done to them. Yet, even as I envision the last bankers in America scrambling to the southernmost tip of Manhattan to take the last paper currency left in our decrepit society to the place at which it will be burned, I can still envision some self-righteous "Independent" standing there waiting to tackle anyone with a fire extinguisher.
So the article goes on with more dumb poll results until another stupid paragraph:
It’s time to return to fundamentals. No short-term fixes. Government should do what it’s supposed to do: schools, roads, basic research. It should not be picking C.E.O.’s or setting pay or fizzing up the economy with more debt. It should give people the tools to compete, not rig the competition. Lines of restraint have dissolved, and they need to be restored.
The amount of doublethink here is amazing. Is he already forgetting that the reason Washington started to change Wall Street's diapers is because Wall Street couldn't manage that particular task by itself?