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David Brooks: Yes. I was going to say that for the first time in human history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people. How do you construct a rich versus poor narrative when the rich are more industrious?Matt Taibbi responds:
I would give just about anything to sit David Brooks down in front of some single mother somewhere who’s pulling two shitty minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford a pair of $19 Mossimo sneakers at Target for her kid, and have him tell her, with a straight face, that her main problem is that she doesn’t work as hard as Jamie Dimon.
Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.
I'd like to take this opportunity to praise my parents, and we can call this a Fairness Doctrine post with respect to the post about the shoelaces. I've been lucky in my career, which has mostly been work I enjoy and am good at, and has at worst comprised sitting in a chair in an office staring into a computer screen. When I was teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids, it was only a few hours a week and I wasn't stuck doing it to support a family.
The only remotely strenuous or, to use David Brooks' framework, lower-class jobs I've ever done were my summer jobs, all at my father's insistence. For three months before college I served food and mopped the floor at a movie theater. The next summer I worked loadout at a hardware store. The summer after that he relented and all I did was finish the family garage. The summer before my senior year I did data analysis for my astronomy professor, so already I was in Brooks' happy place. I can't make any kind of claim for abiding empathy and shared history with the working class, but, thanks to my father, I have at least six months of "hard" work on my resume. More than David Brooks, it seems.
Update: I have been informed that the motivating power behind my summer jobs was my mother, not my father.
I'll let Taibbi finish:
I’m not complaining about my current good luck at all, but I would wet myself with shame if I ever heard it said that I work even half as hard as the average diner waitress.
Then again, maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong perspective. Would I rather clean army latrines with my tongue, or would I rather do what Brooks does for a living, working as a professional groveler and flatterer who three times a week has to come up with new ways to elucidate for his rich readers how cosmically just their lifestyles are? If sucking up to upper-crust yabos was my actual job and I had to do it to keep the electricity on in my house, then yes, I might look at that as work.
But it strikes me that David Brooks actually enjoys his chosen profession. In fact, he strikes me as the kind of person who even in his spare time would pay a Leona Helmsley lookalike a thousand dollars to take a shit on his back. And here he is saying that the reason the poor and the middle classes are struggling is because they don’t work hard enough. Is this guy the best, or what? Does it get any better than this?