Brooks’ Words of Wisdom

Every once in awhile I am privileged enough to come across a person that is easy going regarding politics yet has the ability to intelligently discuss them, even injecting their own opinions.

David Brooks is such a person. I was reading on the New York Times website where Gail Collins and David Brooks have an online “discussion”. Throughout the whole article, Brooks banters in his usually witty manner, even lauding Obama for his recent approaches to several problems. Conversely, Collins is bitter and very partisan.

This is why I prefer Brooks and Friedman over Paul Krugman and Collins. Brooks has that uncanny and unfortunately all-too-rare ability to speak intelligently about problem solving, bringing together opposing parties in search of an intelligent solution and humble recognition of the fact that sometimes we as humans are just dead wrong. It is just a part of life.

For example, in a recent NY Times editorial Brooks noted that factors such as “historical experiences, cultural attitudes, child-rearing practices, family formation patterns, expectations about the future, work ethics and the quality of social bonds,” matter much much more than policies brought about by government.

Thus when most people get heated over politics, they are choosing to fight the wrong battle because the focus is not on the right target. Brooks says:

“Finally, we should all probably calm down about politics. Most of the proposals we argue about so ferociously will have only marginal effects on how we live, especially compared with the ethnic, regional and social differences that we so studiously ignore.”

It is good to be intelligent about the problems and subsequent policies in today’s world. But unless it is mixed with common sense (mostly not of the Glenn Beck type), an understanding of the importance of social capital, and the recognition that we could just be dead wrong, that intelligence is useless.


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