Brooks Finally Gets It
August 30, 2012
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I enjoy reading and listening to the New York Times’ David Brooks. Too often, though, he enthusiastically parrots the Republican party line. To his credit, in today’s NYT column he admits that the GOP has morphed into a mindless, cold, heartless band of individualists who assume everyone gets exactly what they deserve. If you have an inherited disease, it’s your fault. If you get rear-ended by a logging truck, you deserved it. If your employer goes belly up and you’re without a job, you need to work harder. The only role for government is to ensure that those fortunate folks who “have made it” continue to get every possible benefit, like lower tax rates and guaranteed health insurance. Here’s a snippet of Brooks’ conclusion:
|I don’t see what the party is offering the waitress with two kids, or the warehouse worker whose wages have stagnated for a decade, or the factory worker whose skills are now obsolete.
The fact is our destinies are shaped by social forces much more than the current G.O.P. is willing to admit. The skills that enable people to flourish are not innate but constructed by circumstances.
Government does not always undermine initiative. Some government programs, like the G.I. Bill, inflame ambition. Others depress it. What matters is not whether a program is public or private but its effect on character. Today’s Republicans, who see every government program as a step on the road to serfdom, are often blind to that. They celebrate the race to success but don’t know how to give everyone access to that race.