Opinion | The Welfare State Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It. – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

A ferry crossing the Mersey River at Liverpool, England.CreditCreditAndrea Bruce for The New York Times

“Ella is a British woman who grew up in a broken home and was abused by her stepdad. Her eldest son got thrown out of school and ended up sitting around the house drinking. By the time her daughter was 16, she was pregnant and had an eating disorder. Ella, though in her mid-30s, had never had a real job. Life was a series of endless crises — temper tantrums, broken washing machines, her son banging his head against the walls.

Every time the family came into contact with the authorities, another caseworker was brought in to provide a sliver of help. An astonishing 73 professionals spread across 20 different agencies and departments got involved with this family. Nobody had ever sat down with them to devise a comprehensive way forward.

In her mind-shifting book, “Radical Help,” the British social entrepreneur Hilary Cottam tracks how one of the social workers in Ella’s case spent his days. Roughly 74 percent of his time was spent on administrative matters — recording data, making referrals to other agencies and meeting with other agencies. Only 14 percent of the social worker’s time was actually spent with the family he was meant to be serving. And that face-to-face time was mostly with a clipboard, checking off boxes on the forms that went back to central administration.

The administrative system around Ella and her family costs roughly 250,000 pounds per year.

Cottam asked the government workers involved in Ella’s case if they could recall a time when they’d transformed a family so it no longer needed government help. They couldn’t think of one.”

Opinion |  – by The Big Story You Don’t Read AboutDavid Brooks – The New York Times

“My colleague David Bornstein points out that a lot of American journalism is based on a mistaken theory of change. That theory is: The world will get better when we show where things have gone wrong. A lot of what we do in our business is expose error, cover problems and identify conflict.

The problem with this is that we leave people feeling disempowered and depressed. People who consume a lot of media of this sort sink into this toxic vortex — alienated from people they don’t know, fearful about the future. They are less mobilized to take action, not more.

Bornstein, who writes for The Times and also co-founded the Solutions Journalism Network, says that you’ve got to expose problems, but you’ve also got to describe how the problems are being tackled. The search for solutions is more exciting than the problems themselves.

But many of our colleagues don’t define local social repair and community-building as news. It seems too goody-goody, too “worthy,” too sincere. It won’t attract eyeballs.

That’s wrong.

I’ve spent the past year around people who weave social fabric, and this week about 275 community weavers gathered in Washington, for a conference called #WeaveThePeople, organized by the Weave project I’ve been working on at the Aspen Institute.”

David Lindsay:

David Brooks, thank you for a lovely and profound op-ed. Reading this piece was one of the best parts of my day, and the comment by the Vietnam Veteran, who was saved by a weaver, is to die for. I hope you can weave more of current events into your narratives: climate change, the sixth extinction, income inequality, and forecasts of a future diminished by overpopulation and pollution.  You need to help preserve our environment, if you want to protect all the beautiful weavers.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs a folk concert of songs and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | The Tawdry Trump-Nadler War – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

May 9, 2019, 828
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Representative Jerry Nadler went “there,” declaring the nation is in a “constitutional crisis.”CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Our system of checks and balances requires that political leaders hold two opposing ideas in their heads simultaneously. If you’re a political leader, the first is that your political opponents are wrong about many things and should be defeated in elections. The second is that you still need them. You need them to check your excesses, compensate for your blind spots and correct your mistakes.”

David Lindsay:  Brooks has the clearest argument I have heard, as to why the Democrats should slow down, and not jump into impeachment. They should hold their fire, until they have tried to get Robert Muller to testify, and hear what he has to say. David Leonhardt has warned that impeaching Trump prematurely will make him a martyr, and empower and rebuild his crumbling party.

Opinion | The Difference Between Happiness and Joy – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

An Arizona State University student prepared for graduation on Monday.CreditDeanna Dent/Arizona State University
“On Monday I was honored to speak to the graduating students at Arizona State University. It was an intimidating occasion. A.S.U. is the most innovative university in the world. Plus, there were 35,000 people in the football stadium.

Anybody speaking to college students these days is aware of how hard it is to be a young adult today, with rising rates of depression, other mental health issues, even suicide.

So while these talks are usually occasions to talk about professional life, my goal was to get them thinking about the future of their emotional lives, which is really going to be at the center of everything.

There are two kinds of emotion present at any graduation ceremony. For the graduating students there is happiness. They’ve achieved something. They’ve worked hard and are moving closer to their goals.”

Opinion | Why You Love Mayor Pete – By David Brooks – The New York Times

DL:  Pete Buttigieg is already on my short list, with Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee and Joe Biden. These are all bright, articulate leaders with good character.

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

April 1, 2019, 1353
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Pete Buttigieg, center, at a campaign event in Greenville, S.C., on Saturday.CreditCreditRichard Shiro/Associated Press

“Pete Buttigieg has some kind of magic right now. His campaign bio, “Shortest Way Home,” was the 25th-best-selling book on Amazon when I checked on Monday. That put him just a few dozen places behind Michelle Obama, and thousands or tens of thousands of places ahead of Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and the other candidates who have campaign books out now.

In a recent Iowa poll he surged to third place. His campaign just announced that it’s raised an impressive $7 million since January. And I can’t tell you how many Democrats in places as diverse as Nebraska, Indiana, New York and Washington have come up to me over the last few weeks raving about the guy. I met a superfan in Frederick, Md., who says that every few hours she calls the campaign to give another $10.

This is the biggest star-is-born moment since Lady Gaga started singing “Shallow.”

Why are people so in love with the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who almost nobody had heard of until he did a CNN town hall on March 10?” “

Opinion | We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.” — Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate

“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion and conspiracy in plain sight.” — Adam Schiff, chairman of House Intelligence Committee

“I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” — John Brennan, former C.I.A. director

“The biggest scandal in U.S. history is coming into focus. On Friday Rachel Maddow made it clear. Donald Trump conspired with the enemy.” — Rob Reiner, film director

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Maybe it’s time to declare a national sabbath. Maybe it’s time to step back from the scandalmongering and assess who we are right now.

Democrats might approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. It’s clear that many Democrats made grievous accusations against the president that are not supported by the evidence. It’s clear that people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology. If you call someone a traitor and it turns out you lacked the evidence for that charge, then the only decent thing to do is apologize.

Republicans and the Sean Hannity-style Trumpians might also approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. For two years they’ve been calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. For two years they’ve been spreading the libel that there are no honest brokers in Washington. It’s all a deep-state conspiracy, a swamp. They should apologize for peddling the sort of deep cynicism that undermines our country’s institutions.

And what about the rest of us? What about all the hours we spent speculating about the Mueller report, fantasizing about the Trump ruin or watching and reading speculation about these things? What about the superstructure of scandal politics we have built and live in today?

The sad fact is that Watergate introduced a poison into the American body politic. Richard Nixon’s downfall was just and important, but it opened up the mouthwatering possibility that you don’t need to do the hard work of persuading people to join your side. Instead, you can destroy your foes all at once through scandal.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Dear David Brooks, you can do better than this. Just reading the top comments, and approving them, you sound foolish. First, practice what you preach. I agree there is too much talk about gossip, and not enough about policy. But in this dumb essay, you skip any discussion about policy, and talk only about the history of gossip. And yet, to my disbelief, you seem to equate the real witch hunts against the Clintons, with the stench of corruption and collusion that permeates the Trump family and associates. What do you think of the Green New Deal of Thomas Friedman and Hal Harvey– the four zeros. 1. Zero net energy buildings. 2. Zero waste manufacturing. 3. A zero carbon grid, and 4. Zero emissions transportation?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | If Stalin Had a Smartphone – By David Brooks – The New York Times

David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

  • 90 
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A woman in Moscow taking a selfie with an image of Stalin, on the anniversary of his death.CreditCreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I feel bad for Joseph Stalin. He dreamed of creating a totalitarian society where every individual’s behavior could be predicted and controlled. But he was born a century too early. He lived before the technology that would have made being a dictator so much easier!

In the first place, he’d have much better surveillance equipment. These days most interactions are through a computer, so there is always an electronic record of what went on.

The internet of things means that our refrigerators, watches, glasses, phones and security cameras will soon be recording every move we make. In 2017, Levi Strauss made an interactive denim jacket, with sensors to detect and transmit each gesture, even as minimal as the lifting of a finger. Soon prosecutors will be able to subpoena our driverless cars and retrieve a record of every place they took us.

And this is not even to mention the facial recognition technology the Chinese are using to keep track of their own citizens. In Beijing, facial recognition is used in apartment buildings to prevent renters from subletting their apartments.”

Opinion | The Case for Reparations – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

March 7, 2019,  1194

“I’ve been traveling around the country for the past few years studying America’s divides — urban/rural, red/blue, rich/poor. There’s been a haunting sensation the whole time that is hard to define. It is that the racial divide doesn’t feel like the other divides. There is a dimension of depth to it that the other divides don’t have. It is more central to the American experience.

One way to capture it is to say that the other divides are born out of separation and inequality, but the racial divide is born out of sin. We don’t talk about sin much in the public square any more. But I don’t think one can grasp the full amplitude of racial injustice without invoking the darkest impulses of human nature.

So let’s look at a sentence that was uttered at a time when the concept of sin was more prominent in the culture. The sentence is from Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address. Lincoln had just declared that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. He was fondly hoping and fervently praying that the scourge of war would pass away. But then he added this thought:

“Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” “

Opinion | An Agenda for Moderates – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 25, 2019, 379 c

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CreditCreditBilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“Ideas drive history. But not just any ideas, magnetic ideas. Ideas so charismatic that people devote their lives to them.

In his 1999 book, “The Real American Dream,” Andrew Delbanco described the different ideas that, at different stages, drove American history. The first stage in our history was driven by a belief in God. The Pilgrims came because God called them to do so. God’s plans for humanity were to be completed on this continent.

The second phase, through the 19th century, was organized around Nation. The pioneers were settling the West. It was the age of American exceptionalism. America was to be a universal nation, a home and model for all humankind, the last best hope of earth.

The third phase, from 1960 to today, was organized around Self. Each individual should throw off constraints. The best life was the life of maximum self-expression, self-actualization and maximum personal freedom, economic as well as lifestyle.”

Opinion | A Nation of Weavers – by David Brooks – the New York Times

The top commenters shred this piece as off the wall, but they are poor listeners. David Brooks speaks deeply about underlying problems and solutions.

“On Dec. 7, 1941, countless Americans saw that their nation was in peril and walked into recruiting stations. We don’t have anything as dramatic as Pearl Harbor, but when 47,000 Americans kill themselves every year and 72,000 more die from drug addiction, isn’t that a silent Pearl Harbor? When the basic norms of decency, civility and truthfulness are under threat, isn’t that a silent Pearl Harbor? Aren’t we all called at moments like these to do something extra?

My something extra was starting something nine months ago at the Aspen Institute called Weave: The Social Fabric Project. The first core idea was that social isolation is the problem underlying a lot of our other problems. The second idea was that this problem is being solved by people around the country, at the local level, who are building community and weaving the social fabric. How can we learn from their example and nationalize their effect?”