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Brooks: Let Them Eat Work

POSTED:

Unlike 90 percent of America, I was rooting for Duke last night. This was widely cast as a class conflict ? the upper crust Dukies against the humble Midwestern farm boys. If this had been a movie, Butler?s last second heave would have gone in instead of clanging off the rim, and the country would still be weeping with joy. 

But this is why life is not a movie. The rich are not always spoiled. Their success does not always derive from privilege. The Duke players ? to the extent that they are paragons of privilege, which I dispute ? won through hard work on defense.

via Redefining What It Means to Work Hard ? Opinionator Blog ? NYTimes.com.

I know, I know, I was supposed to lay off David Brooks for a while. But how can this latest gem of his possibly be ignored? I?m beginning to absolutely love this guy ? for sheer comedy value, he really doesn?t have any peers at this point, especially with Thomas Friedman seeming more subdued and gloomy than ever. In fact I?m beginning to worry that Friedman might take himself out of the comedy game for good by shaving his porno mustache, thereby eliminating the Boogie Nights factor from his work and leaving Brooks the runaway clubhouse leader.

Anyway Brooks in the above column ? a sort of running conversation he has with Gail Collins ? manages to take the experience of watching the recent Duke-Butler NCAA championship game and turn his impressions into the missing last chapter of Atlas Shrugged. He starts with the above observation that the reviled Dukies, who are often painted as college basketball?s spoiled children of privilege, won because they simply worked harder than those poor mid-major farm boys from Butler. Then he has a remarkably funny exchange with Collins in which he expands this observation to the rest of society. The whole passage reads as follows:

David Brooks: A few hours after that atrocity of opening day, Duke went on to beat Butler the national championship. You should know that Duke is one of my alma maters. I am very generous in my definition of alma maters. I claim that affiliation with any school I went to, taught at, lived near (Villanova and St. Johns) or parked at.

Unlike 90 percent of America, I was rooting for Duke last night. This was widely cast as a class conflict ? the upper crust Dukies against the humble Midwestern farm boys. If this had been a movie, Butler?s last second heave would have gone in instead of clanging off the rim, and the country would still be weeping with joy.

But this is why life is not a movie. The rich are not always spoiled. Their success does not always derive from privilege. The Duke players ? to the extent that they are paragons of privilege, which I dispute ? won through hard work on defense.

Gail Collins: I?m sorry, when the difference is one weensy basket, I?d say Duke won neither by privilege nor hard work but by sheer luck. But don?t let me interrupt your thought here. I detect the subtle and skillful transition to a larger non-sport point.

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?

I had to read this thing twice before it registered that Brooks was actually saying that he was rooting for the rich against the poor. If he keeps this up, he?s going to make his way into the Guinness Book for having extended his tongue at least a foot and a half farther up the ass of the Times?s Upper East Side readership than any previous pundit in journalistic history. But then you come to this last line of his, in which he claims that ?for the first time in history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people,? and you find yourself almost speechless.

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Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Please direct all media requests to taibbimedia@yahoo.com.

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