David Brooks: The Trouble With Liberals Is That They Only Care About Cold Economics

Angry populist David Brooks has another searing indictment of

effete, out-of-touch liberalism

that he’s

uploaded to YouTube

published in the New York Times op-ed pages. The problem with liberals, Brooks recounts, is that they are too blindly devoted to the narrow, inflexible theories of economists.

The liberal technicians have an impressive certainty about them. They have amputated those things that can’t be contained in models, like emotional contagions, cultural particularities and webs of relationships. As a result, everything is explainable and predictable. They can stand on the platform of science and dismiss the poor souls down below.

Really. David Brooks is just funnin’ with everybody now. Brooks, for the record, went to the University of Chicago, a school whose

main intellectual mission

is the autistic reduction of soft human concepts like ”


” (

or “sex”

) to satisfactory rational economic prescriptions. (For some reason these objective and rational findings generally end up being unsatisfactory and

offensive to liberals


Yet here is Brooks worrying about how the economic coldness of liberal technocrats is hurting and scaring the American people in a psychologically vulnerable moment. Some of the American people, anyway:

[I]t has been harder to accept that psychological factors like uncertainty and anxiety really are a mirage. The first time a business leader tells you she is holding off on investing because she is scared about the future, you dismiss it as anecdote. But over the past few years, I’ve had hundreds of such conversations.

And what about the people whose problem is not that they’re nervous about how to invest their money, but that they

don’t have any money

? Because the business leaders David Brooks has been having hand-holding soul-chats with are

not willing to hire them


Well, Brooks doesn’t say he’s talked to any of those folks, but he is sure that with a good dose of humble “common sense”—”simple regulations, low debt, high savings, hard work, few distortions”—everyone will feel better about the state of the country. That’s better than some fancy academic-economic stimulus. How does Brooks know? He cites “a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper” by “Ethan Ilzetzki of the London School of Economics and Enrique G. Mendoza and Carlos A. Vegh of the University of Maryland.” That’s the kind of real stuff you won’t see those ivory-tower liberals listening to, for sure.