Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A David Brooks Correction


Yesterday I opined that Our Mr. Brooks would very likely used Mayor Cory Booker's "shiny mayoral armor" as a figleaf behind which he could scold President Obama for daring to question the untrammeled goodness of vulture capitalism and its poster boy, Willard Romney.

But I was wrong about Our Mr. Brooks.

Terribly, terribly wrong.

This time, Our Mr. Brooks did not bother with the fig leaf:

Private equity firms are not lovable, but they forced a renaissance that revived American capitalism. The large questions today are: Will the U.S. continue this process of rigorous creative destruction? More immediately, will the nation take the transformation of the private sector and extend it to the public sector?

While American companies operate in radically different ways than they did 40 years ago, the sheltered, government-dominated sectors of the economy — especially education, health care and the welfare state — operate in astonishingly similar ways.

The implicit argument of the Republican campaign is that Mitt Romney has the experience to extend this transformation into government.

The Obama campaign seems to be drifting willy-nilly into the opposite camp, arguing that the pressures brought to bear by the capital markets over the past few decades were not a good thing, offering no comparably sized agenda to reform the public sector.

In a country that desperately wants change, I have no idea why a party would not compete to be the party of change and transformation. For a candidate like Obama, who successfully ran an unconventional campaign that embodied and promised change, I have no idea why he would want to run a campaign this time that regurgitates the exact same ads and repeats the exact same arguments as so many Democratic campaigns from the ancient past.

I guess over the past +20 years I just got too distracted by personal matters (having two careers destroyed by loot and scoot vulture capitalist plunderfucks) and crazy media nonsense (hundreds of headlines about tens of thousands of factories closing and millions of decent, middle class jobs being exported overseas) to notice capitalism's awesome renaissance.

Management regret the error.


Anonymous said...

Well, Mr Brooks is certainly right about one thing: these folks have certainly been good about "creative destruction"--of the entire American economy, in fact. (Say D. Brooks, didn't you notice that little thing that happened in 2008? Or didn't it register on your radar screen, what with you having a nice fat job at the NYT and all?)

CAfram said...

"revived American capitalism" = "Made a shit-ton of money for our Randian Overlords"

LJ said...

We have now wandered into some alternate universe where up is down. Now all that "creative destruction" is a good thing. And Bobo is wondering why Obama doesn't want to creatively destroy education, health care, and Medicare. The mind reels.

Grung_e_Gene said...


Good job making Martin Longman's alternet piece,

A blogger who goes by the nom de guerre driftglass recently wrote about New York Times columnist David Brooks' tendency to "waddle into the threshing blades." I like that imagery. That's what the Republicans have been doing to the country for a while now. Under Gingrich, they shut down the government and impeached the president after hounding him for six years with specious investigations. Then they disgraced the Supreme Court and stole the election away from its rightful winners. Then they dropped the ball on al-Qaeda. Next we wound up in Iraq with no plan.

Art said...

I've seen all the destruction I care to behold but haven't seen much of that happy creative side.

Then again I don't make a living acting as the Judas goat guiding the middle class into the public policy and financial slaughterhouse run for the benefit of the Masters of the Universe. A dirty job to be sure but clearly one that pays well. Used to be thirty pieces of silver was the going wage for that sort of betrayal.

How many Silver Shekels does it take to buy a four million dollar house?

Anonymous said...

I know this is saying something, but that might be Brooks' Magnum Opus of cluelessness

Anonymous said...

This is saying something, but that may be DFB's Magnum Opus of cluelessness.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you Driftglass, I have finally caught on to the essence of Mr. Brooks and have learned to appreciate his genius. Yes, I do mean that. He is a man who knows his audience well and chooses his words to communicate with precision. Notice here that he talks of how the private equity firms have "revived American captialism", not American industry or the American economy or the American workforce, because those are not quite the same things. Are we ready for this revival to be carried forward to a transformed educational system, health care system and welfare state? A simple example of what is to come is the state-by-state privatization of the prison system. No longer an institution for correction and rehabilitation, it is now to be a profit center, which capitalism demands. Therefore, the goal is to maximize capacity. And if that effort requires lobbying to increase the inmate population and their sentences, creative destruction commands us to go full speed ahead.

n1ck said...

Of course, American manufacturing was still highly profitable before Private Equity came in and destroyed it.

The problem that Brooks identified is that it was stagnant. In other words, American capitalists were making less profit than their competitors, so they shipped their factories overseas, fired their American workers, and kept all the extra profits for themselves.

Private Equity "revitalizing" American Capitalism® is just an euphemism for killing the middle class.

The middle class isn't capitalists...they're laborers. At least they were when we still had one.

The Republican party is built upon cognitive dissonance, and their platform is euphemisms and lies. Brooks' primary role is as Euphemists-on-high. He's a "centrist" who wants "compromise". He makes his money selling the nice version of conservative lies.

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