I mean, there's too much misery out there, so distance yourself. Drug addicts took the drugs in the first place, so fuck them. The homeless probably did something to be homeless. (Confidential to the doughfaced frat rat I overheard mouthing that crap in a bar last weekend: When I see you on the corner in a few years after you get injured at your Five Guys job and your landlord evicts you and the cops pick you up for that joint I could smell a block away? You will be my exception to the rule that if I have a buck in my pocket it goes to the first one who asks for it, you ignorant fuck.) People on welfare are just scamming the system. Public housing is for failures. We shouldn't give people extra assistance for their children; they'll just go off the birth control. Whaddayagunnado?
This is not to say that policy choices are meaningless. But we should be realistic about them. The influence of politics and policy is usually swamped by the influence of culture, ethnicity, psychology and a dozen other factors.
It is very hard for policy makers to use money to directly alter these viewpoints. In her book, “What Money Can’t Buy,” Susan E. Mayer of the University of Chicago calculated what would happen if you could double the income of the poorest Americans. The results would be disappointingly small. Doubling parental income would barely reduce dropout rates of the children. It would have a small effect on reducing teen pregnancy. It would barely improve child outcomes overall.
So when we’re arguing about politics, we should be aware of how policy fits into the larger scheme of cultural and social influences. Bad policy can decimate the social fabric, but good policy can only modestly improve it.
Right. Let's not try to fix anything. Fuck it. I'm tired. You know what I'll do today? Go shopping. Because when I die what I want it to say on my tombstone is that my throw pillows matched. Jesus Banana Bread Christ. Are we really that scared to give a shit about anything? Yeah, you can try to fix the world and not get all the way there, but honest to God, is it really better to cite a source that says we should just basically ignore the poor because who cares, and then ... do what, exactly?
Because this is my problem. I do not know what to do once we've reached the "what are you going to do hurf durf" point in the conversation. Where do you go from there? Yes, the world is fucked up, yes, the water is coming in faster than we can bail it out, yes, but ... grab a fucking bucket and start bailing anyway. I mean, am I missing something here? Or does just about every Brooks column (and lots of those written by his colleagues, for that matter) just basically stop before he gets to the uncomfortable part about NOW WHAT? What do we do? Talk about Sandra Bullock's divorce?
I do get that the misery is overwhelming. I do get the desire to shut the door on it. And I will take this shit from people who worked 40 years as social workers or juvie cops or public school teachers, I will take this shit from people who have been beaten down by actually trying to save everybody. I will take impotent despair and rage and fatalism from people who've spent a decade or more trying to fix the world's problems and getting kicked in the face for it, because man, they put their two hands to work pushing the tide back. Lately, in the South, literally. So they're owed.
What I won't do is take this crap from Brooks, who not only has never gotten filthy trying to help the people he now says are beyond it all, but actually supported those who nurtured systemic poverty and a permanent underclass in the first place.
And this is because, as one of the Last Non-Shoutycracker Defenders of Conservatism's criminal ideology, Bobo is a bit like a Capulet stuck at a Montague funeral.
With Montague blood still wet on his hands.
And a dozen trophy Montague ears dangling from his bandoleer.
Wearing a "F*ck The Montagues!" tee-shirt.
In other words, in each column he must move Vewy Vewy Slowly towards the exit, making polite, meaningless journalism-like noises en route.