Brooks and the Milquetoast Revolution

In today’s New York Times column, David Brooks mocks the Occupy Wall Street protesters for offering only mild and ineffective solutions to the country’s problems, rather than radical changes that would significantly alter the American system. It’s funny, but I haven’t seen or heard any OWS protesters claiming to be radicals or to want to overthrow the American system. Rather, I have seen people who love their country and want to let their leaders know they are not expendable. This should not be radical; in fact, no one should ever have to assert this position. We should assume all Americans are of value and that repairing our nation will require shared sacrifice.

He says, “They will have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.” I happen to think that removing the Bush-era tax cuts, ending corporate subsidies for corporations making huge profits, and closing tax loopholes that enable rich individuals and corporations to pay taxes at an exceptionally low rate or not at all, you will have an impact on the national debt.

But what if I am wrong? I am a humanist and not an economist, after all. I don’t have the solutions for the economic problems of the country, but I do feel that everyone should be subject to the same laws, same punishments, and same regard. After the financial collapse in 2008, we were told that banks were too big to fail and that we must rescue them. Taxpayers bailed out the banks only to see them become even larger through mergers and continue the same dangerous behaviors that caused the economic failure in the first place. We rescued them, rewarded their bad behavior, and are now being treated as if our voices do not matter.

If the banks are too big to fail, and the government won’t break them up, we must make them smaller ourselves by moving our money to credit unions and smaller banks. We must hold corporations accountable for their crimes. We must ask them to pay their share of rebuilding our country. Mr. Brooks is correct; this is not radical. He may also be correct that it will not solve all the financial problems of the United States, but it will be fair.

It is more important for me to live in a fair and just society than it is to live in a prosperous society. We should not need a revolution to achieve this.

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
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3 Responses to Brooks and the Milquetoast Revolution

  1. mayuran says:

    Well i believe that the rich ought not have loop holes nor should the government keep make us invest in banks when the banks make no attempt to revise their habits. Very good blog and i back your views completely. Our voices are never heard without a protest and that's sad when we are supposed to be in " the land of the free".

  2. Lumnicence says:

    This is something of an aside, but I've heard some folks on campus today talking about the Wall Street protests, and although they were sympathetic, they thought the protesters were "whiners". I recognized the frame the moment I heard it, and lamented how easy it is to frame protester in a negative light, and lamented further how that "negative light" always has a feminine silhouette. On the flip side… it might have been just enough of a prod to get me to make a sign this weekend, and join the Occupy Charlotte folks.

  3. People say they don't understand what the OWS protesters are protesting, but I think it is pretty obvious they are protesting the unpunished crimes (used literally) perpetrated by wall street executives. To me, being against OWS is to be in favor of corporate crime. Who other than a criminal would want to be in favor of crime?

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