Home / General / Shorter David Brooks: Let Them Eat Simpson-Bowles. And Then Lots of Expired Baby Food.

Shorter David Brooks: Let Them Eat Simpson-Bowles. And Then Lots of Expired Baby Food.


Mr. David Brooks, op-ed columnist for America’s most prestigious newspaper, has read a book. The book says that democracy doesn’t really work because it fails to always produce the kind of outcomes that they (and, as it happens, David Brooks) like. But autocracy might have its downsides too! How to solve the problem! The answer may do the same to parody that China does to political dissidents:

The quickest way around all this is to use elite Simpson-Bowles-type commissions to push populist reforms.

These populist reforms would apparently include slashing Social Security for poor people*, severe cuts to medical services including silly “market-based” reforms, vacuous promises about “immigration” and “social mobility,” and states’ rights and plenty of ’em. Why anti-democratic measures are needed for “populist” reforms is a question that, needless to say, Brooks never grapples with. Maybe he can ask some people at the Applebee’s salad bar about what they think about Pain Caucus boilerplate.

*In addition to the dread euphemism “entitlement reform,” Brooks says of the autocratic countries he admires that “[t]he safety net is smaller and less forgiving. In Singapore, 90 percent of what you get out of the key pension is what you put in.” He then goes on to say that “If you wanted a model for your pension system, would you go to Singapore or the U.S.? ‘These are not hard questions to answer,’ Micklethwait and Wooldridge write, ‘and they do not reflect well on the West.'” Uh, really? I’m afraid that the virtues pf eliminating most of the redistributive effects of Social Security are not in fact self-evident, unless you recently lived in a $4 million dollar house and are paid in the mid-six figures to do work that is not only physically undemanding but on the available evidence apparently mentally undemanding as well. I think we can see why Brooks thinks implementing his “populist” ideas requires an “unapologetically elitist” procedural approach.

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