David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘An Economy Of Grinds’

Full post here.

“The aspiring grinds, meanwhile, are dead in the water. Small businesses are not growing. They are not hiring. They are struggling to stay alive.”

Brooks argues that current government policy is propping up the big businesses (to prevent systemic failure I assume), but is not watering the roots, nor the small businesses.  While a little melodramatic, it’s important to watch is that this does not become permanent.

The Obama administration is looking pretty statist to me (and will still claim those who disagree in principle are merely obstructionist).  I do not trust the left’s internal contradictions (businesss are bad, let’s tax them to support our favored policy…businesses are free so long as they meet our ideals which shall often be overseen by federal authority) and believe them quite capable of crushing small business opportunity under their idealism, the confusion of idealism for politics (how politicians actually behave) and the desire for social, and other, forms of justice.

One of the interesting questions this raises for independents might be:  Do you still look for any shred of a centrist Obama?  He did spend great political capital on health-care.  He did rebuke the teacher’s unions.  He has been decent on Afghanistan.

When I weigh the evidence, however, of some what has been passed and what might be passed:  GM Bailout,  Health-Care Reform, Financial Reform, looking For Cap-And-Trade…I would vote Obama out as soon as I could, for what my vote is worth.

Also On This Site:     Barack Obama President Elect: A Few Hopes From An IndependentRepost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan

Add to Technorati Favorites

David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘The Culture Of Exposure’

Full piece here.

“Then, after Vietnam, an ethos of exposure swept the culture. The assumption among many journalists was that the establishment may seem upstanding, but there is a secret corruption deep down. It became the task of journalism to expose the underbelly of public life, to hunt for impurity, assuming that the dark hidden lives of public officials were more important than the official performances.”

The personal is political?  A culture of spectacle?

I’ll take serious liberties here:  Perhaps there’s a broader theory in the piece, which contains important truths :  The 1960’s was a period of cultural excess and an excessive pursuit of freedom, without sufficient responsibility.  The excessive individualism (bordering on narcissism) of the boomer generation has left a serious impression.  Upon this period of excess, we have been culturally replacing deeper religious traditions which maintained a more shrewd, realistic general opinion of public life…with a shallower, more idealistic (more European left?) set of ideas.  At the very least, this idealism ignores the duties maintained by the public for its public officials in the old setup.

Incidentally, this is why I deeply mistrust progressivism; behind the idealism and very occasional moral high ground are the same old desires to have one’s ideas triumph in policy and government.  Often this means to centralize power and threaten personal liberty.  I don’t see sufficient checks upon those desires, at the moment.

If it is a spectacle, don’t we all bear responsibility despite the blame?

Of course, there’s also new technology.  Use at your own peril:

“Then came cable, the Internet, and the profusion of media sources. Now you have outlets, shows and Web sites whose only real interest is the kvetching and inside baseball.”

Brooks ties this in to Stanley McChrystal, who acted pretty recklessly:

“By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.”

Are you convinced?

Also On This Site:  Repost-From The NY Times: David Brooks On Simon Schama’s New Book-’Mirror On America’

Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’

I’m not sure Charles Murray has convinced me, but he is a loyal contrarian:  Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…and maybe you should still go to college if you can:  Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?

Add to Technorati Favorites

David Brooks On Phillip Blond At The NY Times: ‘The Broken Society’

Full post here.

On Blond:

“Blond argues that over the past generation we have witnessed two revolutions, both of which liberated the individual and decimated local associations. First, there was a revolution from the left: a cultural revolution that displaced traditional manners and mores; a legal revolution that emphasized individual rights instead of responsibilities; a welfare revolution in which social workers displaced mutual aid societies and self-organized associations.

Then there was the market revolution from the right. In the age of deregulation, giant chains like Wal-Mart decimated local shop owners. Global financial markets took over small banks, so that the local knowledge of a town banker was replaced by a manic herd of traders thousands of miles away. Unions withered.”

The excesses of individualism?  Individualism never fully understood?

It should be noted (Brooks notes it too) that Blond is trying to revamp Britain’s Tory party and is responding to British problems.  There’s been no shortage of British influence lately:

“Economically, Blond lays out three big areas of reform: remoralize the market, relocalize the economy and recapitalize the poor.”

Related On This Site:  Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Are we going soft and “European”… do we need to protect our religious idealism enshrined in the Constitution….with the social sciences?…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Is there a causal connection between a move away from religion and the moral structure it provides….and a bigger state?From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:  From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?

Some Anti-modernism:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Add to Technorati Favorites

David Brooks At The NY Times: “A Moderate Manifesto”

Full article here.

David Brooks claims he’s beginning to suspect Obama is more liberal than he may have once hoped:

“But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs.”

He also suggests that a good community organizer, perhaps on principle alone, isn’t necessarily good for community organizing once in power:

“The U.S. has always had vibrant neighborhood associations. But in its very first budget, the Obama administration raises the cost of charitable giving. It punishes civic activism and expands state intervention.”

IF this is likely to happen, would it really be part of Obama’s vision…or would it be the eventual consequence of him not being able to meet such a vision; having to settle short of his expectations in the thicket of liberal redistributionist policies and government bloat?

Brooks, painting himself as a moderate and Obama as immoderate, seems to be questioning any faith he’s put in the Obama express:

“Moderates are going to have to try to tamp down the polarizing warfare that is sure to flow from Obama’s über-partisan budget…

…They’re going to have to offer an agenda that inspires confidence by its steadiness rather than shaking confidence with its hyperactivity.

If they can do that, maybe they can lure this White House back to its best self — and someday offer respite from the endless war of the extremes

Are you convinced?

Also On This Site: Charles Krauthammer seems to be off the express as well, if he was ever on it From The Washington Post: Charles Krauthammer-The Fierce Urgency Of Pork…and Obama did make an appeal to George Will: From Bloggingheads: Noam Scheiber And Matt Welch Discuss Obama’s Appeal To George Will And The Right

Liberal and Conservative Mistakes

Add to Technorati Favorites