Tuesday, November 01, 2011

David Brooks wants you to focus on something else:

From his column:
The zooming wealth of the top 1 percent is a problem, but it’s not nearly as big a problem as the tens of millions of Americans who have dropped out of high school or college. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the 40 percent of children who are born out of wedlock. It’s not nearly as big a problem as the nation’s stagnant human capital, its stagnant social mobility and the disorganized social fabric for the bottom 50 percent.
He prefaces that with his own analysis which asserts that there are two types of inequality: big city Blue Inequality and small town Red Inequality. Of course, no numbers are provided in this analysis (except for a lonesome pair that do not make his case).

Dean Baker gets snarky: (emp add)
This is where Brooks lack of access to data is so important. The wage gap between college grads and non-college grads is really a 90s story and even more an 80s story. In the last decade, workers with only a college degree (i.e. no professional or advanced degree) did not share in the benefits of economic growth. The ratio of the wages of those with just college degrees to those without college degrees has not risen much since the early 90s.

Wages of non-college educated workers did suffer badly in the 80s due to policies such as the over-valuation of the dollar that made many U.S. manufactured goods uncompetitive internationally, the deliberate increase in unemployment during the Volcker years which threw millions of non-college educated workers out of work, and anti-union measures (e.g. the firing of the PATCO strikers and an anti-union National Labor Relations Board). However since the 90s, the wages of workers with high school degrees have not departed much from the wages of workers with just college degrees, the vast majority of the economy's gains have gone to the top 1 percent. It is too bad that David Brooks apparently does not have access to this data.
Brooks is becoming more and more transparently a hack. In his column, he tries to re-slice the pie from 1%/99% to a 30%/60% division by lumping college graduates in with the ultra rich. Nice try.

This comment at Baker's blog is apt:
... again and again in his twice-weekly NYT column, Brooks tosses together a pseudo-sociological mishmash straight from Applebee's non-existent salad bar in an attempt to coin phrases that somehow justify conservative selfishness and shortsightness. Thus "Bobos" of the corporate upper class are highly tolerant of others, "cluster liberals" favor maximum unity, "network liberals" favor coalitions, "creedal conservatives" favor transcendent order, and "dispositional conservatives"are Burkean, tempermental types who prize epistomological modesty. Today (gasp), he provides us with two different kinds of inequality: "blue inequality" between the top 1 per cent and the rest in certain big cities, and "red inequality" between those with and without college degrees in certain smaller cities.
And another:
Brooks supports all this Republican regressiveness. His job is to distract with data free false equivalence arguments that sometimes appear "reasonable" to someone who hasn't checked the facts.
CURIOUS POINT: If Brooks wants to go there - the change in inequality during the 1980's - will he denounce Ronald Reagan for enabling that shift? You know the answer to that.


Post a Comment