Friday, March 06, 2015

Work Smarter Not Harder

Says the man who does neither.

Today Mr. Brooks went looking for a new and different way to once again tell the peons his same old story:  STFU about better wages and pile up more mad skillz because then something something the Productivity Fairies come and elevate your ass into the upper class.

But he also wanted to have Something To Say About Hillary, so he entitled today's mess "The Temptation of Hillary" and stuck in a few lines about hoping that Hillary won't be tempted by the Dirty Hippies into believing there is something fundamentally wrong about a system where mediocrities like David Brooks can become wealthy and powerful by relentlessly rising to the defense of the wealthy and powerful while millions of formerly middle-class Americans now dance for nickles and feel blessed when someone throws them a dime.

But don't be fooled, it's not about Hillary at all.  It's about the Red Menace the Dirty Hippies coming to take David Brooks' cool stuff --
Over the past few months a stream of Democratic thinkers and politicians, including natural Clinton allies, have moved from the human capital emphasis to the redistributionist emphasis. (It’s a matter of emphasis, not strictly either/or.) For Clinton herself, the appeal is obvious. The redistributionist agenda allows her to hit Wall Street and C.E.O.’s — all the targets that have become progressive bĂȘtes noires.

Unfortunately, this rising theory is wrong on substance and damaging in its effects.
-- when everyone knows they could have cool stuff their own if they just followed the David Brooks Method of getting into the First Class section of the American Dream.

First, get a bachelor's degree in history.  That you will never use.

Then, get into this "journalism" thing while Angry White Conservatism is a rising tide.

Then -- and this is very important -- jump onto the Reagan bandwagon with both feet.


Write wingnut hit pieces until you get Bill Kristol's attention.

Work for Bill Kristol for several years, chin deep in neocon sludge, steadily advancing your career by learning how to write longer, more complicated wingnut hit pieces.

Then -- and this is very important -- jump onto the Bush bandwagon with both feet.


Milk every last erg of career go-juice out of Dubya's Operation Endless Clusterfuck and crackpot economic schemes.  Yes, David. A few of us haven't forgotten that your record of economic prognostication is every bit as fucked-in-the-head as your record on foreign policy.  So before we round the clubhouse turn and head for home,  let's take a little side trip down Memory Lane and picnic on some of your leftovers I found moldering away in the back of Bloody Bill Kristol's office fridge:
Yes, There Is a New Economy 
Thanks to once-in-a lifetime productivity gains, Bush's plans are easily affordable
MAR 19, 2001
This year's tax and budget debate really comes down to one essential question: Is the money going to be there? The Congressional Budget Office projects surpluses of about $ 5.6 trillion over the next 10 years. The Republicans insist that those projections are conservative, so the government can afford to return $ 1.6 trillion to the taxpayers and still have money left over for Social Security, Medicare, and an $ 800 billion contingency fund. The Democrats cry that projections are notoriously inaccurate, that the tax cuts will blow a hole in the budget, and that the Bush administration's risky scheme (which sailed through the House last week) would cast us back into the days of piling debt.

...even if today's productivity improvements are only on the scale of, say, the improvements our economy saw after World War II, we may be in for a long and sunny ride. There is a rough historical pattern here. A new technology is invented. It takes a long time before people figure out how to use it. The electric motor was invented in the 1880s, but it didn't transform factories until the 1920s, economist Paul David has noted. Once the technology is fully deployed, however, there are decades of positive results. Daniel Sichel of the Federal Reserve points to previous technology-driven surges that lasted 10 and 25 years. That suggests we may still be near the beginning of this particular period of bounty.

If we are, an occasional period of slower growth or even a recession may occur, but the U.S. economy is fundamentally strong, and both laymen and legislators have good reasons to believe it will remain strong for many years. Industrial productivity is surging. Americans are not only the hardest working people on earth (the average American works about 10 weeks a year more than the average European) but also the most productive workers -- by far. If you measure value added per hour worked, Americans do about 20 percent better than Germans and the French, and 40 percent better than the Japanese.
Note that, not only was Mr. Brooks as spectacularly wrong as one could be about how awesomely awesome the coming Bush Age of Prosperity Through Tax Cuts was gonna be (and how craaaaazy those Democrats were for warning that it would lead back to the Bad Old Days of Republican deficits) but 14 years ago, there was leading Conservative Intellectual David Brooks, bragging that the productivity and hard-workingness of the American labor force were already off the fucking charts.  

And yet, 14 years later, as we look back at 30 years of an America workforce which has seen none of that productivity and hard work rewarded with salary increases concomitant with the astronomical wealth they have generated for the 1%, we find leading Conservative Intellectual David Brooks telling the American worker that what they really need to do is shut the fuck up about "redistribution" and just work harder (emphasis added):
The redistributionists seem to believe that modern capitalism is fundamentally broken. That growth has permanently stagnated. That productivity should no longer be the focus because it doesn’t lead to shared prosperity.

But their view is biased by temporary evidence from the recession. Right now, jobs are being created, wages are showing signs of life. Those who get more skills earn more money. Today’s economy has challenges, but the traditional rules still apply. Increasing worker productivity is the key.
Which leads us back the the final step in the David Brooks Method of getting into the First Class section of the American Dream:  ride your shameless whoring for the catastrophic policies of the Bush Administration into a job-for-life at the New York Times, where the quality of your work is never reviewed, you can take long breaks away from the keyboard whenever the mood strikes you, you have an unlimited expense account, and you are paid obscene amounts of money in exchange for producing 1,600 words of plutocrat apologia every week.

I'd dwell on these Olympian concerns furthers, but one of the part-time, no-benefits, barely-minimum-wage jobs I work to keep my family from living under a bridge demands my attention.  After that, I will send out this weeks' resumes for positions for which I am ridiculously overqualified, at places from which I will never hear back.

Besides, as I recall, everyone on Earth took a large bite out of Mr. Brooks' ass last year when he once more got dressed up in big boy clothes and pretended to know anything about the working world.   Chopped that column to bits, we did.  Torched it, scattered its ashes to the winds, and had a big ol' larf over what an ass Mr. Brooks had made of himself in the pages of America's Newspaper of Record:
On the plus side, these days when Mr. Brooks makes a poo-poo in the pages of the New York Times there are usually more than just one or two threadbare bloggers of the Night's Watch trying to push back against The Stupid. Today, for example, Dean Baker made immediate and tasty mincemeat of Mr. Brooks' idiocy.  Talking Points Memo ("David Brooks Is Tired Of All This Income Inequality Talk") jumped in.  Since this story involves math, Paul Krugman effortless disemboweled his fatuous colleague without (per arcane New York Times custom) mentioning him by name.  The American Prospect dubbed this "David Brooks’s Worst Column Ever", which it isn't, but only because Mr. Brooks' decades-long record of massively ill-informed drivel has set that bar so terribly low.

The kids at Demos make the adorable, newbie mistake of thinking that maybe Mr. Brooks just doesn't understand the issue, and maybe if they just explained the realities of it to him very carefully.

Media Matters points out that Mr. Brooks scapegoating single moms is both kinda shitty and ignores the underlying economic fundamentals of income inequality.  They also very diplomatically avoid any mention of the huge comedic potential lurking just below the surface of someone who has just divorced his wife writing about single mothers.

Also the comment section of Mr. Brooks own article (675 and counting) is a full-on acid bath of well-informed, open-mouthed incredulity that Mr. Brooks still has a job that involves putting words together.
But you know what?  For all the clever words all those writers, including me, piled up to demonstrate beyond any doubt that Mr. Brooks is a fraud and a farce, in the end, none of it made the slightest difference.

David Brooks wins.

He wins every time.

Because he knows that the secret of his incredible success has nothing to do with redistribution or better education or increased productivity.  He knows the secret of his success comes from the oldest and most reliable source of wealth known to man: relentlessly flattering your patron and telling him whatever the fuck he wants to hear.


Mike Lumish said...

If you trouble yourself to read past the happy talk about Silicon Valley Tech creating sexy new toys for the kewl kidz and the latest gee-whizz knurdgasms from NASA, Science is in big trouble. The great industrial laboratories were dismantled after Reagan killed the regulations that made them profitable, the National Institutes of Health are in a screaming death spiral, and the National Science Foundation has pretty much fallen off the map due to starvation levels of funding. All this, paradoxically, while university administrators are rolling in cash and tuitions have passed the tropopause.

As a natural consequence, scientists are leaving the business in droves while students are flocking to other disciplines that might possibly one day afford a decent and stable standard of living.

So Brooks can drink his own piss&bullshit cocktail about skill sets. The big money boyz won't pay the workers what they are worth, and they sure as hell won't pay to train the workers on the company dime, so it's no wonder that our once proud industrial economy has gone tits up.

Bruce Kent said...

This is the best thing i've read all day : D

Red Hand said...

Nice deconstruction DG, but let me focus on one little absurdity in DFB's analysis, that unintentionally emphasises how little he gives a sh*t about the economic fate of the vast majority of Americans:

It is true that wages for college grads have been flat this century, and that is troubling. But this is not true of people with post-college degrees, who are doing nicely.

As of 2012, he's talking about 8.05 percent of the U.S. population in the ages 25 and older, who have master's degrees, while another 3.07 percent have doctoral or professional degrees.

The figures speak for themselves. Too bad DFB didn't add some "context" to his observation how good the 8.5% and 3.07% have it as a justification for continuing to screw the hoi polloi.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Sort of OT, but I just wanted to tell DG I've some some love his way on Balloon Juice (Anne Laurie quoted him in her post) and Lawyers, Guns & Money (there was a post about Brooks' previous column spew and a commenter said he wondered if that last column would push you over the edge.
Also, too, wouldn't you love to see him date MoDo?

Yastreblyansky said...

Just to say I saw the comment at LGM and saw they'd left out a link, soI added one. In addition to pimping my own piece of course.

Neo Tuxedo said...

[David Fucking Brooks] knows that the secret of his incredible success has nothing to do with redistribution or better education or increased productivity. He knows the secret of his success comes from the oldest and most reliable source of wealth known to man: relentlessly flattering your patron and telling him whatever the fuck he wants to hear.

The comment I set out to write, sparked by that final paragraph, referred to the hooker in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish who has "a very special service for rich people..." Luckily, I googled 'special service for rich people' on Blogspot and discovered that our host had already devoted an entire post to it. So that's covered.

Kathleen O'Neill asks:
Also, too, wouldn't you love to see him date MoDo?

In the immortal words of the man who had three arms, "Oh, Jesus! What issue!"