Tag: Wisconsin

Conventional Meaninglessness

By James Kwak

David Brooks may be a wonderful person, but I don’t like his columns (and I didn’t like Bobos in Paradise, either). It’s hard to put my finger on why, but he helped me out with yesterday’s column. For one thing, he has this annoying habit of trying to claim the reasonable center, often by making false equivalences between the two things he is trying to sound more reasonable than. So, for example:

“No place is hotter than Wisconsin. The leaders there have done everything possible to maximize conflict. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, demanded cuts only from people in the other party. The public sector unions and their allies immediately flew into a rage, comparing Walker to Hitler, Mussolini and Mubarak.”

Comparing the other side to Hitler is bad.* Pushing for legislation that hurts the other side is something else. In the abstract, that legislation may be justified; Walker did just win an election, after all. But it’s a completely different category from making stupid signs to hold at rallies, and it’s a classic David Brooks false equivalence.

But that’s just a minor peeve. It’s when Brooks adopts his pseudo-reasoned “everybody knows” tone that I get really mad.

“Everybody now seems to agree that Governor Walker was right to ask state workers to pay more for their benefits. Even if he gets everything he asks for, Wisconsin state workers would still be contributing less to their benefits than the average state worker nationwide and would be contributing far, far less than private sector workers.”

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