Friday, November 11, 2011

David Brooks on Occupy Wall Street

David Brooks has an interesting piece on real radical and lasting economic change--and it's not the Occupy Wall Street movement.  His essay The Milquetoast Radicals is worth reading.  Here is one quotation that is reasonable but the ideas are overlooked by the mass of those protesting.
If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent.
This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite.
Unfortunately, almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way. A group that divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent will have nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They will have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. These are problems that implicate a much broader swath of society than the top 1 percent.
Brooks ends his piece with these well-chosen words:
Don't be fooled by the cliches of protest movements past.  The most radical people today are the ones that the look the most boring.  It's not about declaring war on some nefarious elite.  It's about changing behavior from top to bottom.  Let's occupy ourselves.