Friday, June 15, 2012

David Brooks has a Joke for You

So this isn't actually David Brooks who wrote this abomination of a column earlier this week, but Jon Schwars from Tiny Revolution wrote something pretty brilliant in response:
Lots of people like Atrios and Dean Baker are complaining about yesterday's column by David Brooks headlined "The Follower Problem." And it first glance it does seem pretty gross:
We live in a culture that finds it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power...our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal and deserve equal recognition and respect [makes it hard] to define and celebrate greatness, to hold up others who are immeasurably superior to ourselves…

I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem … people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else...
But what's going on here is that David Brooks—as widely celebrated as Richard Cohen for being an extremely funny man—is telling his own version of the classic joke:
DAVID BROOKS: Okay, so our act starts with us inflating a giant internet bubble. Then that collapses, taking the country's economy with it, just as we massively cut taxes on millionaires because, we say, if we don't the government will have too much money. Right after that we blow off warnings about terrorism and let 3,000 Americans get slaughtered. We use that as a chance to lie the U.S. into invading a country that had nothing to do with the attack, killing hundreds of thousands of people and turning millions into refugees. In the middle of all that we borrow torture techniques from the Inquisition and use them on people in secret sites around the planet. Then we make billions off another financial bubble, the biggest in human history, and do nothing as it collapses, plunging the world into the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. To fix that we open up the national bank vault and shovel out money as fast as possible to all the criminals who made it happen in the first place. Then—as the amazing finale—we refuse to prosecute anyone for that, for the war, or for torture, and we start killing U.S. citizens with flying death robots.

[LONG PAUSE]

AGENT: ...That's a hell of an act. What do you call it?

DAVID BROOKS: The Aristocrats!
Well played.

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