Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Reason number 10,289 to despise conservatives: New York Times house conservative David Brooks kicks and punches out little old ladies

If you need yet another reason to retch at the mere thought of political conservatives running things, take a gander at David Brooks, the New York Times’ resident conservative and his column of February 2, 2009.

His piece starts off in a mild enough tone, blathering more or less innocuously about Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, unnamed “developmental psychologists” and the claim that “people report being happier as they grow older.”

This last thought seems to bother him.

Suddenly, he leaps off the page — clawing, scratching, roaring, biting and foaming at the mouth like a rabid hyena. He all but spits at the elderly. “Geezers” is the ageist term used on the headline of his piece.

“Far from serving the young, the old are now taking from them,” howls Brooks. “First, they are taking money.”

Specifically, he complains that, “According to Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution, the federal government now spends $7 on the elderly for each $1 it spends on children.” As if it weren't the conservatives in both houses of Congress who are choking off funds to education.

What Brooks appears to be complaining about are the Social Security checks that the elderly receive and Medicare’s reimbursements to their doctors and hospitals.

He goes on to complain that the money the elderly are “taking” (At gunpoint?) means that they are also “taking freedom,” and “taking opportunity.”

Wait a second, Brooks,

you smug right wing nincompoop

First of all, a good part of that money is equivalent to the money that today's elderly paid into Social Security and Medicare for many decades so that they could have a retirement free from hunger and fear.

Brooks whines: In 2009, for the first time in American history, every single penny of federal tax revenue went to pay for mandatory spending programs, according to Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute. As more money goes to pay off promises made mostly to the old, the young have less control.”

Never mind that this analysis fails to account for the million bucks a day it's costing for each soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan — not to mention the salaries of every member of Congress (right wing whacko or not) and the pensions of George W. Bush and his Vice, to name just a few other things tax dollars go for.

Brooks more importantly fails to mention that America used to face tax brackets that went well into 40 percent for the richest Americans. He neglects to mention that the generation that’s now collecting from the government also paid in, by the shovel load — levels of taxation his own generation has never paid. Nevertheless, we had a happier, richer, more extensively enjoyed economy than we have today.

Brooks also neglects to mention that most the kind of compensation CEOs suck out of the economy and income tax revenues today would have caused street riots 30 and 40 years ago.

That CEO greed money used to go back into profits (taxed), into dividends (taxed), into pension funds (taxed when used) and into economic growth. Result? Prosperity for nearly all in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Now the money just goes into some CEO or derivative trader's pocket. Result? Hard times for the young that Brooks also wants to stick to the old and weak.

Brooks self-righteously snivels about loss of control because some “geezer” is collecting Social Security and under Medicare can afford to go to the hospital for cancer treatments.

But Brooks neglects to point out that conservatives have so upset the tax, corporate and legal structure in America that a handful of people hijack not millions but multiple billions of dollars from the U.S. economy.

This money that could support freedom and opportunity and give a huge swath of the young more control over their lives.

“Die, you worthless geezer!”

Not a word in Brooks’ article about the financial rape of America by Big Business, big lobbyists and outrageous compensation for the filthy rich few that goes virtually untaxed.

Instead Brooks blames old people for being alive. He brings to mind a book that horrified people in the 1970s, "The Mountain People" by Colin Turnbull. The author, an anthropologist, described how a once-civilized society, a tribe called the Ik, had so degenerated that people gorged themselves on food rather than share any of it with their starving elders, and literally snatched food out of the mouths of their parents.

That's what Brooks is implying we ought to do. He’s no different from the Ik—or from muggers who beat up a little old ladies at their mailboxes, trying to get their Social Security money. In fact, in moral equivalency terms, he’s exactly the same.

Shame on the Times for giving this guy space to spew and spread hatred of the old, the fragile and often the helpless in our socieety. The least the Times could do is hide Brooks behind a pay wall.


Toni said...

Whew. That was quite a read Mr. Crank (I found your blog through Jack Ayer's). My husband and I watch Shields and Brooks every Friday on PBS's News Hour (or whatever it's now called) and have been astonished that, since Obama's election, Brooks has come across as more liberal than Shields.

But this column of his shows his true colors. It stinks. Thanks for the analysis.

Cheap Stingy said...

["Brooks more importantly fails to mention that America used to face tax brackets that went well into 40 percent for the richest Americans."]

Not hardly. In 1918, the top marginal tax rate was 77%. And later it looked like this:

1919-1920: 73%
1929: 24%
1932: 63%
1936: 79%
1940: 81.1%
1944-1945: 94%

The top marginal tax rate stayed in the 80- and 90- pct range until 1963 and in the mid-70-pct until 1969, throughout the golden age of the American middle class.

From 1971-'81, it stuck at 70% and from there it continued downhill.

From 1982-'86 the top rate went to 50%, in '87 to 38.5%, and from 1988-1990 to 28%. This drop continued:

1991-1992: 31%
1993-2000: 39.6%
2001: 39.1%
2002: 38.6%
2003-2009: 35%

If any of you remember near history, the post-war (WWII) US saw massive expansion of our economy and infrastructure... We had great roads, a family could live comfortably on one income, and the WWII debt was being retired.

Now we have a crumbling infrastructure, people complaining that "Obama will raise taxes" (ooh, to 39.6%!!!), and MASSIVE debt. Is it a coincidence that at the same time that tax rates were most recently slashed (2002-2009) that the Gross Federal Debt increased by 85.5 percent?

<a href="http://www.bushtoll.com/2009/01/03/us-federal-debt-before-and-after/</a>

New York Crank said...

Great info, Cheap Stingy. Or great research. Much appreciate your input which show what a nation of self-defeating idiots we've become.

Raise taxes, not economic havoc.

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

Cheap Stingy said...

Thank you. The historical tax rates are readily available from the IRS or Wikipedia. I did a bit more arduous research (and basic math) on the Bush deficit and Bush recession(s) for my blog at http://www.BushToll.com. I list all my sources.

fyi, it looks like my html link didn't work in my previous comment, but my BushToll posts are easy to find once you get there (sadly because there are so few).