Maiello: Defeat the Press
Miami Fans Mistakenly Chant "Let's Go Eat" During Playoff Game
Funny day in Op-Ed land. David Brooks veers hard right to try to explain why Republicans have veered hard right. His line is, "This is the source of Republican extremism: the conviction that the governing model is obsolete. It needs replacing."
Brooks argues in favor of a society that values "effort over comfort" and "risk over safety." I would argue that this is the society we have. But Brooks thinks that we live in a welfare state. Only somebody who has never been on welfare could possibly believe that America coddles its poor.
"This is what this election is about: Is the 20th-century model obsolete, or does it just need rebalancing? Is Obama oblivious to this historical moment or are Republicans overly radical, risky and impractical?"
Which brings me to Washington Post columnist Matt Miller, the Democrat in our tale. Miller believes that people under 35 should band together and form some sort of union of the young who will demand cuts to current Social Security beneficiaries to fund college tuition grants.
Now, I didn't believe it when I as 35 and I still don't believe it now that I'm 37, but we apparently don't stay young forever. Miller basically wants these people to rob their own futures. Or, maybe Miller believes that today's under-40 generation will never retire which, in a world without private sector pensions, is a distinct possibility.
What we have, between Miller and Brooks is the left/right assault on what Brooks calls the welfare state but that looks to me like a less-than-generous safety net. But, you've heard me go on and on about that before. I'll spare you.
Instead, I'll point you in a different direction. Both Brooks and Miller identify some real problems with contemporary America. First, Brooks with an amazing observation:
"Wages have failed to keep up with productivity."
True! This is true!
And now Miller:
"The job market for young people is a disaster, the toll of a burst financial and housing bubble that both parties let fester. The crisis has reached the point where years of unpaid labor (in the form of internships) have become a way of life for millions of Americans in their 20s."
Indeed! Absolutely right! But tell me, David Brooks: how will cutting Social Security, revamping Medicare as a "market solution," and backing off on business regulations while pushing more global trade, which seems to be what you want, address the issue of wages failing to keep up with productivity? It seems to me that allowing laxly regulated corporations to exploit the cheapest labor it can find anywhere in the world, all while discouraging union membership, may well be one of the causes of the wage/productivity disparity. It seems to me that the fruits of that productivity are going somewhere. Perhaps to shareholders. Perhaps to upper management. Wouldn't the David Brooks world bring us more of this?
Of course it would.
Now, to Mr. Miller. Please explain to me what in the heck unpaid internships, which are a function both of the industrial race towards lower wages and the existence of rich kids who can afford to work without pay, has to do with Social Security. Also, explain to me how 20 and 30 something workers would be better off if their parents suddenly had their Social Security benefits cut, potentially becoming reliant on their struggling young ones?
If you want to make a moral argument about why we should all not take Social Security checks and why businesses should be free to do whatever, that's fine by me. We can have that argument. We're always having that argument. But, come on. Loosely regulated markets do not drive wages up. And, you know, if they turned Social Security off tomorrow and stopped taking those taxes out of your check and your employer's check, your wages would not shoot up by a corresponding amount. Why on Earth would your employer just give all of that money to you?
And, seriously... by the standards these two have set for causality in opinion writing, I might as well write my next column about how fried eggs for breakfast can make hydraulic fracturing for natural gas a safe and inexpensive process.