fresh voices from the front lines of change







Buyer: David Brooks

Price: $3.95 million

Details: The New York Times op-ed columnist and wife Sarah are trading up — from their longtime home near Bethesda’s Burning Tree Club to a century-old (exquisitely renovated) five bedroom, four-and-a-half bath house in Cleveland Park. It includes a two-car garage, iron and stone fence, generous-sized porch and balcony, and what appear to be vast spaces for entertaining. The timing seems to have been right: After only a few days on the market, their old place (which also boasts five bedrooms) is under contract for $1.6 million.

Isn’t that special? Somehow I don’t think Brooks is going to have to eat at Applebee’s any time soon. Not that he doesn’t identify with those who do, oh no. And just because he can buy four million dollar houses doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be worried about the message being sent to the peasants if we of give irresponsible, unemployed homeowners a break.

And speaking of which: if you read nothing else today, read Charles Pierce’s ode to Bobo’s dog named Moral Hazard and his master’s ridiculous misunderstanding of economics:

Master couldn’t possibly be thinking of moving into the new family manse while leaving him here to sleep in the pantry. He didn’t ask for much. The porch or the balcony would be just fine with him, better than this stuffy old place, reeking as it did of stale sherry and the previous night’s foie gras. He would find a lovely piece of outdoor furniture on the porch and that would be where he would spend his days, when he wasn’t walking the fence line. He would stay there, calm and alert, basking in the sun, and all the other dogs passing by would say, “There lives a wealthy man… and his dog.” Moral Hazard began singing that song from Fiddler on the Roof to himself. Ya-da-diddle-diddle-dum, he sang. Yeah, that would be cool.

The country is divided when different people take different sides in a debate. The country is really divided when different people are having entirely different debates. That’s what’s happening on economic policy.

Less Filling! Tastes great! It’s a breath mint! It’s a candy mint! You got peanut butter on my chocolate! You got chocolate in my peanut butter! Thanks for dropping by again, Captain Obvious. I believe this lead sentence was written with alphabet blocks.

Many people on the left are having a one-sided debate about how to deal with a cyclical downturn. The main argument you hear from these cyclicalists is that the economy is operating well below capacity. To get it moving at full speed, the government should borrow and spend more. The federal government is now running deficits of about $1 trillion a year. Some of these cyclicalists believe the deficit should be about $1.4 trillion.

And, yes, fans, we have our first Mock Category of the ballgame! As it happens, I don’t know many people on The Left who are arguing that there is anything “cyclical” about what happened to the economy. Most of the people I know believe that the economy got looted by some greedy — and thus far, largely unindicted — bastards in the financial industry who stole what they didn’t wreck. Most of the people on The Left that I know don’t see anything “cyclical” in 30 years of Brooks-approved tax policies, and outright economic moonshine, all of which was calculated to send the nation’s wealth zooming upwards on a rocket sled to the people at the top, and which have succeeded beyond Arthur Laffer’s fondest dreams. Most people on The Left look at what happened to the economy over the past decade, and find themselves debating only one thing — the dunking stool or the pillory. Our lines are open.

Do read on. It’s so worth it.

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