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Taibbi on Brooks

Matt Taibbi

It’s hard to take NYT columnist David Brooks seriously, especially when he falls into the pontifical mode in which he vastly expands or misstates the applicability of some scientific study in order to draw his desired, unwarranted conclusion. Mark Liberman at Language Log has posted regularly on this proclivity. (See for instance here and here.

The NYT has an online weekly feature, The Conversation, in which David Brooks and fellow NYT columnist Gail Collins discuss some topic. Last week’s topic was Redefining What It Means to Work Hard. You may wish to read it, but even better, read Matt Taibbi’s dissection of it two days ago at his blog. Taibbi, who writes for Rolling Stone, has a way with words, a tendency toward hyperbole, and a seeming inability to resist cuteness, cleverness, and coarseness, but he never leaves you in the dark about what he thinks.

A taste of Taibbi is below. Read it all; it’s well, if coarsely, done.

I had to read this thing twice before it registered that Brooks was actually saying that he was rooting for the rich against the poor. If he keeps this up, he’s going to make his way into the Guinness Book for having extended his tongue at least a foot and a half farther up the ass of the Times’s Upper East Side readership than any previous pundit in journalistic history. But then you come to this last line of his, in which he claims that “for the first time in history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people,” and you find yourself almost speechless. . . .

Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.

Most of the work in this world completely sucks balls and the only reward most people get for their work is just barely enough money to survive, if that. The 95% of people out there who spend all day long shoveling the dogshit of life for subsistence wages are basically keeping things running just well enough so that David Brooks, me and the rest of that lucky 5% of mostly college-educated yuppies can live embarrassingly rewarding and interesting lives in which society throws gobs of money at us for pushing ideas around on paper (frequently, not even good ideas) and taking mutual-admiration-society business lunches in London and Paris and Las Vegas with our overpaid peers. . . .

Then again, maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong perspective. Would I rather clean army latrines with my tongue, or would I rather do what Brooks does for a living, working as a professional groveler and flatterer who three times a week has to come up with new ways to elucidate for his rich readers how cosmically just their lifestyles are? If sucking up to upper-crust yabos was my actual job and I had to do it to keep the electricity on in my house, then yes, I might look at that as work.

But it strikes me that David Brooks actually enjoys his chosen profession. In fact, he strikes me as the kind of person who even in his spare time would pay a Leona Helmsley lookalike a thousand dollars to take a shit on his back. And here he is saying that the reason the poor and the middle classes are struggling is because they don’t work hard enough. Is this guy the best, or what? Does it get any better than this?

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Categories: Journalism, Politics
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