He’s at it again

I’m not linking to David Brooks, but here’s the relevant quote:

“…as baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations.”

I figured someone would take him out in the comments, and several people did:

Re: …baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves at horrendous cost to the next generation. Seriously.

What generation has put as much money into the federal government coffers…paying for our parents’ retirement…including all the mothers who never worked and contributed no dollars to Social Security…and when our parents lived years beyond our grandparents’ lifespans, who paid for all the costs that their Social Security checks would not cover? What generation has put more of their own dollars into the educational system than boomers…graduating ourselves in record numbers and our children as well, with no help from the federal government because we made “too much” as middle and upper/middle-class wage earners to qualify for any financial considerations.

We didn’t even have the benefit of tax-free health care accounts or educational savings accounts to help us with the double-burden of sending our kids to college while caring for aging parents. There are 2 generations that owe us big time…and this is from the mouth of a liberal Democrat, so I can’t imagine how Republicans feel!

In the Reagan 80s, our generation got hit with a huge jump in payroll taxes that was supposed to keep Social Security and Medicare secure. See how well that worked out? Here’s another:

“Baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations.” Perhaps Mr. Brooks is referring to the social security tax that boomers have been paying their entire working lives, a tax which (since the early 80″s) is around 13 per cent of income (when the employee and employer contributions are combined). Rather than being set aside by the government, this money has been spent by the government and replaced by “bonds” which now total 2.5 trillion dollars. However, as it begins to become necessary to dip into these bonds to pay benefits, a hue and cry is raised about how social security is in deficit! So such statements as Mr. Brooks about “boomer lavish living and hard-heartedness toward the following generations” play into the claim that such programs as social security are bankrupting the country, even as the government sits on bonds totally 2.5 trillion dollar of money collected from tax payers that include, what you know, baby boomers! So Mr. Brooks, I think it behooves you to be a little more specific, and perhaps even circumspect, in your punditry.

And another:

Brooks: “There are structural problems in the welfare state as baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations.”

Brooks: “There is a negativity bias in the country, especially among political independents and people earning between $30,000 and $75,000.”

David, why do you insist on consistently contradicting yourself? Most of those baby boomers you refer to in your first statement would most likely fit into the category you refer to in your second statement, and account for well over half the wage owners in the country. Please explain to me how you spend lavishly on $30,000 – $75,000 earnings before or even after payroll deductions?

The Republicans have been using Social Security surpluses and borrowing for their precious tax cuts and irresponsible spending, and driving up the deficit since the 80’s. And now they’re trying to place the blame for their irresponsible fiscal policies on the baby boomers? Give me a break, please!

And another. You get the idea:

A typical lather of Brooksian absence of any insight. So he pokes his head out of his thought bubbles, and notices that Americans are not exactly happy these days. He reads up on stats (false ones, as usual) and announces that things ain’t normal but something is going to go bump in the night and shake things up soon.

Well, duh. The American Empire, spawned mostly by our power position in the wake of World War Two, gave birth to The American Dream. And now the empire is crumbling fast, for the usual reasons – indolence and corruption at home, an over extended and costly military machine abroad and the distortions in the economy inherent in that. So our not-so-legitimately obtained wealth is diminishing, the rich have bought the political system to rig things so they will “legally” (low taxes, vast loop-holes) stay rich or richer while the general public gets poorer. And Mr Brooks says we’re curiously not happy about the alleged modest economic growth pulling us out of the alleged recession.

Nope, it’s “There are structural problems in the welfare state as baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations.” I guess baby-boomers is a new euphemism for the military-industrial complex (half of discretionary spending in the rigged accounting system that hides some of their take) or Wall Street which manufactures its wealth evidently from extorting the public each time it has a “crisis.”

Mr Brooks, it’s time to put on your thinking cap. Or retire from the pretense.

And another. You probably get the idea:

David: You often refer to “the welfare state” in your columns. We live in a country that does not provide universal healthcare, where a college education is becoming increasingly unaffordable, where thousand of people live on the streets and where unemployment and social security benefits don’t come close to replacing lost wages. Where is the “welfare state” in that picture?

You say: “There are structural problems in the welfare state as baby boomers spend lavishly on themselves and impose horrendous costs on future generations.” Where are the numbers to support your claims? I’m a baby boomer and I can’t save fast enough to pay for my children’s education and my own retirement. I worked my way through college and was able to do so because, in the sixties and seventies, you could get an excellent, affordable public education and there was plenty of financial aid for those who needed it. I had grants that paid a third of my tuition ($15 per credit hour), savings from summer jobs, plus a part-time job all through school. My kids could never do what I did.

I, like many of my Boomer peers, have spent my life working in the non-profit sector so that, hopefully, I can leave the world a better place than I found it. I resent being characterized as selfish and greedy.

My parents were part of “the greatest generation” – the generation that, yes, lived through the great depression and WWII. They also lived through the most prosperous decades in history, were able to live a comfortable, middle-class life and buy a home on one salary, and had company-paid pensions to supplement their social security. Many Boomers have none of that. The “welfare state” you describe does not exist. But you’re right about one thing: something has to change: Boomers – get off your couches. It’s time for another revolution!

4 thoughts on “He’s at it again

  1. Why can’t someone stop David Brooks from ever writing or thinking out loud. He is a menace on this country, and has been for a very long time.

  2. Remember the “Cone of Silence” in the old Get Smart show, that didn’t work worth a damn.

    Well Brooks works under a “Cone of Stupidity”.

    And it works just great.

  3. Yeah. Every time this nitwit “writes” the comments are full of just the sort of responses you showcased in this post. His work makes people gag with outrage. Does the NYT think this is good marketing? Should all of us just ignore him? It’s not as if there is a shortage of craven apologists. Could we at least get a backward cultural twinkie that’s more amusing? Christine O’Donnell maybe?

  4. Bobo’s role in the NYTimes and on NewsHour and NPR is to be the “reasonable” and very, very, very “sincere” Republican.

    He does tone down his comments somewhat for NewsHour and NPR, but then goes right back to the lies and misstatements on the other media where he “performs” his schtick of Nice Polite Republican. He’s one of those Republicans who believe that by looking very sincere they can get away with saying just about anything which isn’t too far out, but can be very misleading.

    I’ve only seen him slip up once: He told a bald-faced lie about something the Clinton administration did and Jim Lehrer actually corrected him, using a stern schoolmaster expression. Bobo actually did a little “Oops, you caught me” grin — then just barreled ahead with the conclusion to his misstatement/lie.

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