I do get annoyed and some people are good at annoying me. David Brooks is one such person. I was especially annoyed when I saw Tyler Cowen quote and link to his column and refer to it as ‘interesting throughout.’ I found that so annoying that it made me question why I like Cowen.
Brooks annoys me because he comes across (to me, at least) as a pompous elitist who fascinates himself and rarely considers that he might be wrong.
While there was much that annoyed me about the quote that Cowen found interesting, I’ll pick on one thing. In one part, Brooks wrote this:
So the story I’d like to tell is this: Over the past half-century, society has become more individualistic. As it has become more individualistic, it has also become less morally aware, because social and moral fabrics are inextricably linked. The atomization and demoralization of society have led to certain forms of social breakdown, which government has tried to address, sometimes successfully and often impotently.
I’ll point out a few things I find dumb about this. I’m willing to consider that I’m the dumb one and maybe you can help me see what I’m missing.
First, his evidence of society becoming more individualistic was that the use of the word “preferences” had increased in books that Google can search over different time periods. Is it possible this isn’t a reflection of society becoming more individualistic? Is it possible that it really has nothing at all to say about society?
Second, society is breaking down, but government is trying to help? Society, seems pretty strong to me. Where is it breaking down? It appears to breaking down in the very parts where government has inserted itself the most.
I wonder if Brooks has ever considered that it is the elitist folks of his ilk, who fancy themselves competent diviners of society’s problems and providers of solutions to those problems (of which, they never pay any direct consequences for being wrong), who may be CAUSING the breakdowns in society?