David Brooks deserves to be congratulated. He has discovered that the children of less affluent people don't have the same opportunities as the children of the wealthy. While most of us have long known this, David Brooks still deserves credit for being open to evidence. Better late than never.

Of course he still seems to have some problems figuring out what to do about this fact. He tells readers:

"Political candidates will have to spend less time trying to exploit class divisions and more time trying to remedy them — less time calling their opponents out of touch elitists, and more time coming up with agendas that comprehensively address the problem."

How does this work exactly? If someone proposes taxes on wealthy people to pay for better education for the less wealthy, doesn't this require talking about class divisions? If we were to change rules on corporate governance so that top management could not rip off shareholders and other stakeholders, wouldn't this require discussion of class? If we were to impose a financial speculation tax that would crack down on pointless trading and sleaze dealings (e.g. the LIBOR liars) in the financial sector, wouldn't we have to talk about class? If we adopted trade policies that subjected doctors and other highly paid professionals to the same international competition as autoworkers and textile workers, wouldn't we also have to talk about class? 

Brooks apparently finds discussion of class painful, but it is difficult to understand how one would address the "opportunity gap" he describes without this discussion.

It is also worth noting that the problem of paying too much for benefits for the elderly is not quite what he describes. The problem is not that our elderly are getting excessively generous benefits, the problem is that we are paying too much to doctors and other health care providers. If our per person health care costs were comparable to those in other countries, then our programs for the elderly would not pose a serious burden. 

Please login to comment
  • No comments found

Site Maintenance

"The CEPR website currently takes longer to load than usual. We hope to have this and other issues addressed shortly. While this much needed site maintenance is taking place, our content is still available so please continue to slooowwwly surf the pages of our site. Thank you for your patience."