Colleagueship at the The York Times

Probably, the New York Times doesn’t have meetings where the columnists they publish sit down around a table and talk about how things are going at the paper.  Maybe they never did.  But if they used to do that, I’d recommend that the practice be suspended, at least briefly.

Here is a brief excerpt from David Brooks’s column for May 21.

Forty years ago, corporate America was bloated, sluggish and losing ground to competitors in Japan and beyond. But then something astonishing happened. Financiers, private equity firms and bare-knuckled corporate executives initiated a series of reforms and transformations.

The process was brutal and involved streamlining and layoffs. But, at the end of it, American businesses emerged leaner, quicker and more efficient.

Now we are apparently going to have a presidential election about whether this reform movement was a good thing. Last week, the Obama administration unveiled an attack ad against Mitt Romney’s old private equity firm, Bain Capital, portraying it as a vampire that sucks the blood from American companies. Then Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. gave one of those cable-TV-type speeches, lambasting Wall Street and saying we had to be a country that makes things again.

And here is a brief excerpt from Paul Krugman’s column for May 24.

Actually, before I get to that, let me take a moment to debunk a fairy tale that we’ve been hearing a lot from Wall Street and its reliable defenders — a tale in which the incredible damage runaway finance inflicted on the U.S. economy gets flushed down the memory hole, and financiers instead become the heroes who saved America.

Once upon a time, this fairy tale tells us, America was a land of lazy managers and slacker workers. Productivity languished, and American industry was fading away in the face of foreign competition.

Then square-jawed, tough-minded buyout kings like Mitt Romney and the fictional Gordon Gekko came to the rescue, imposing financial and work discipline. Sure, some people didn’t like it, and, sure, they made a lot of money for themselves along the way. But the result was a great economic revival, whose benefits trickled down to everyone.

You can see why Wall Street likes this story. But none of it — except the bit about the Gekkos and the Romneys making lots of money — is true.

Let’s see now.  We know that David Brooks is not “on Wall Street” and Krugman gives us only two categories to choose from.  So I guess Brooks is one of Wall Street’s “reliable defenders.”  And the “fairy tale” Krugman is “debunking” is the previous column of his colleague at the New York Times, David Brooks.

Oh well, maybe they laugh about it over a beer afterwards.

 

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About hessd

Here is all you need to know to follow this blog. I am an old man and I love to think about why we say the things we do. I've taught at the elementary, secondary, collegiate, and doctoral levels. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. I have taught political science for a long time and have practiced politics in and around the Oregon Legislature. I don't think one is easier than another. They are hard in different ways. My wife, Bette, is the First Reader (FR) of the posts. I have arranged that partly because she helps me write better posts than I would otherwise and partly because I can hold her responsible for the mistakes that I would, otherwise, have to own up to myself.. You'll be seeing a lot about my favorite topics here. There will be religious reflections (I'm a Christian) and political reflections (I'm a Democrat) and a good deal of whimsey. I'm a dilettante.
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2 Responses to Colleagueship at the The York Times

  1. Doug says:

    That’s a really interesting contrast, and it’s amazing that you found two nearly perfectly mirror-image opinions. As much as I like and tend to agree with Paul Krugman, I’m often surprised by how seemingly balanced David Brooks is in his approach to things. He’s doesn’t seem to be as starkly partisan as so many people on my Sunday morning shows, including Krugman.

    -Doug

    • hessd says:

      The heart of Brooks’s effect is that he does not “seem” to be starkly partisan. He is, I think, but you don’t see it by following the words. You see it by following the effects of the emphases that are important to him. Brooks is a cultural conservative, for instance. Mostly I like that. But when his topic is economic, particularly the maldistribution of income in the U. S., he is still the cultural conservative. That means that he thinks people should be better educated and make better choices and work harder and save more. And they should. But all those things together will not change the distribution of income so much as a half a notch. To change the distribution of income, you have to go with Krugman, who knows what his topic is and pretty much sticks to it.

      It is Brooks’s subversive conservatism that drives me so wild.

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