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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

David Brooks is Not a Moron

You might think that a member of PrawfsBlawg (we have got to do something about that name!), that reliable bastion of the Left, is simply calling John Tierney a moron because he is from the Dark Side.  However, I am pleased to -- in proper Brooksian fashion -- congratulate David Brooks for not being a moron, as evidenced in this Manifesto.

Posted by Ethan Leib on May 31, 2005 at 12:03 PM in Article Spotlight | Permalink


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Yeah...I mean, listen to these words,

"The educated class reaps the benefits of the modern economy - seizing for itself most of the income gains of the past decades - and then ruthlessly exploits its position to ensure the continued dominance of its class."


"They have imposed a public morality that affords maximum sexual opportunity for themselves and guarantees maximum domestic chaos for those lower down."

It just seems like he's sort of half-mocking liberal concerns about educated class calcification and half-agreeing with them.

By the way, I think that people are focusing on the wrong side of this debate, policy-wise. Most of the recent articles on class and education have been focusing on the lack of economic diversity among the students at top schools and criticizing university policies that aim to counter this problem as inadequete. Personally, I think that the class/education problem can be addressed at a number of different stages: grade school, high school, college, graduate, and hiring (a la affirmative action). I think that the earlier stages are by far the best place to address the problem; the later in life that you try to bump someone up into a school/job that they wouldn't otherwise have obtained, the harder it is for them to compete there. I mean, if you take a preschooler and place him in an expensive, well-taught first grade, he will most likely be on an even footing with his classmates. However, take that first grader 15 years later and try to send him to Harvard and he will be much more likely than his classmates to fail out.

We should acknowledge that it's the failure our public schools sytems -- especially in the inner-cities -- that are really creating this problem (by not preparing their students for college or college admissions) and try to focus on a solution at that level. That's what I think, anyway.

Posted by: Jeff V. | May 31, 2005 1:06:02 PM

Jeff, I think he's the voice of the manifesto, not mocking it. Brooks is making the same kind of (soft conservative) criticism that Ross Douthat makes in his recent book about Harvard, Privilege. Their frustration, I think, is that the meritocracy is reinforcing and reproducing itself such that it is increasingly difficult to find traction to enter into the upper echelons from the lower ones because the standards keep getting lifted to absurd levels of accomplishment. Thus only those who are the children of meritocrats are being trained to meet these high standards. The costs of this trend are twofold: lost childhoods for the meritocratic children and lack of access to elite institutions to all but a few of the poor and uneducated. One might also add a striking homogeneity of worldviews among the global elite that congregate at Davos, UN Plaza, or Harvard, notwithstanding facial diversity.

Posted by: Dan Markel | May 31, 2005 12:37:58 PM

Yeah, the name "PrawfsBlawg" is kinda odd. I thought it was just two nonsense syllables at first, and then later just one, until it was explained to me.

Of course, I'm not one to complain. I have to tell people that I write on something called a "vallach conspiracy." I'm not sure that's much clearer.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | May 31, 2005 12:36:30 PM

This was one of David Brooks' odder columns. I wasn't quite sure if he was agreeing with the "manifesto" or mocking it...

Posted by: Jeff V. | May 31, 2005 12:17:35 PM

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