Thursday, July 18, 2013

NYT Columnist David Brooks Writes the Most Inane Commentary Ever on Unemployment Among Older Men

Has Any So-Called Intellectual Ever Expressed Less Intellectual Thoughts?

[Editor's note:  Mr. Brooks is apparently taking a leave frm the NYT to write a book.  The hiatus may show Mr. Brooks and the Times that they really should part company permanently.]

We think the only reason that the New York Times continues to present the rambling incoherent thoughts of David Brooks is because they want a conservative view and have not been able to find anything better.  That is a commentary on both Mr. Brooks and the state of thinking(?) among conservatives.

Recently Mr. Brooks opined on the problem of unemployment among older men who should be in the labor force, but are not.  His introduction to the problem is not a take on the issues of the Great Recession, on the lack of job training for those displaced by technology or even the problem of prejudice against hiring older workers.  Instead he has a rather long passage on the old John Wayne movie, The Searchers.

Yeah, it’s a good movie and John Wayne is a better actor than his cartoonish image late in life when he became a professional patriot.  The movie itself about the hunt for a young girl abducted and raised by American Indians.  Mr. Wayne’s character, Ethan brings her back.

The Searchers
It's a movie Mr. Brooks, just
a movie

Ethan Edwards made this world possible, but he is unfit to live in it. At the end of the movie, after seven years of effort, he brings the abducted young woman home. The girl is ushered inside, but, in one of the iconic images in Hollywood history, Edwards can’t cross the threshold. Because he is tainted by violence, he can’t be part of domestic joy he made possible. He is framed by the doorway and eventually walks away.

That image of the man outside the doorway is germane today, in a different and even more tragic manner. Over the past few decades, millions of men have been caught on the wrong side of a historic transition, unable to cross the threshold into the new economy.

Somehow this movie translates into a parable about unemployment?   How, well read the piece, no wait a minute, never mind.  No one will have any better understanding after they read Mr. Brooks than they had before.  For example, there is this.

The definitive explanation for this catastrophe has yet to be written. Some of the problem clearly has to do with changes in family structure. Work by David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that men raised in fatherless homes, without as many immediate masculine role models, do worse in the labor force. Some of the problem probably has to do with a mismatch between boy culture and school culture, especially in the early years.

Yes, that’s right, the problem of men dropping out of the labor force has nothing to do with basic economics and lack of jobs or opportunity or lack of employers willing to hire older men.  It is the fact that they were raised in families with no fathers.

One could draw the conclusion that this is a support for gay marriage and for male gay couples to have children.  If the problem is a lack of fathers, than having two fathers in the family must make for a great society. 

Oh, never mind, we doubt if that is what Mr. Brooks had in mind.

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