David Brooks: Through the Looking Glass, Episode III, A Conservative on Poverty Part 2


(“The administration’s policies on school vouchers and religious service providers are demoralizing because they weaken this ecology by reducing its diversity. By ending vouchers, the administration reduced the social intercourse between neighborhoods. By coercing the religious charities, it is teaching the faithful to distrust government, to segregate themselves from bureaucratic overreach, to pull inward.”)

Have vouchers proven to be the answer, even an answer to ‘Educational Reform’? Or simply a way for Conservatives to underwrite religious education, under the political guise of choice? The question of paying for the birth control of employees of religious organizations, who may be unattached to the religious organization except as employees overstates the case.

(“Members of the Obama administration aren’t forcing religious organizations to violate their creeds because they are secular fundamentalists who place no value on religious liberty. They are doing it because they operate in a technocracy. Technocrats are in the business of promulgating rules. They seek abstract principles that they can apply in all cases. From their perspective, a rule is fair when it can be imposed uniformly across the nation. Technocratic organizations take diverse institutions and make them more alike by imposing the same rules. Technocracies do not defer to local knowledge. They dislike individual discretion. They like consistency, codification and uniformity. Technocratic institutions have an unstated theory of how change happens. It’s the theory President Obama sketched out at the beginning and end of his State of the Union address: Society works best when it is like a military unit — when everybody works together in pursuit of a mission, pulling together as one.”)

Here is Mr. Brooks on the inherent evils of Technocracies and Technocrats, so goes the Political Romantic party line of the unintended consequences, of the inherent mendacity of bureaucrats, and government run endeavors to ameliorate the condition of the poor. Is the New Deal an example of the failure of government to address the ecology of poverty and of non-holistic meliorist policies ? The Conservatives governed for six years before 2006, one would have thought that ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ would have produced more tangible evidence of concern and commitment to the poor. On President Obama’s military comment: our society works best when it takes seriously the fundamental concept of the cultivation of civic republican virtue within a constitutional framework.

(“But a realistic antipoverty program works in the opposite way. It’s not like a military unit. It’s like a rain forest, with a complex array of organisms pursuing diverse missions in diverse ways while intertwining and adapting to each other. I wish President Obama would escape from the technocratic rationalism that sometimes infects his administration. I wish he’d go back to his community-organizer roots. When he was driving around Chicago mobilizing priests and pastors on those cold nights, would he really have compelled them to do things that violated their sacred vows?I don’t think so. I think if that Barack Obama possessed the power he has today, he’d want to flood the zone with as much rich diversity as possible.”)

Mr. Brooks cannot resist the felt imperative,that manifests itself as the need to be a public moralist, to engage in one way or another in the hortatory rhetorical mode. He sounds, on so many occasions, like the Puritan scolds of our national beginnings, although he condones and consorts with the corporate Moloch with too much frequency to make the rehearsal of Puritan exhortations anything but nostalgic garnish.

Political Observer





About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer.
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