"Once upon a time, the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are rising out of poverty would have been a source of pride and optimism...But if you listen to the presidential candidates [or Lou Dobbs], improvements in the developing world are menacing."
This was Brooks' somewhat resigned tone in his most recent November 27th article. I can tell you that I hate to hear this. But I understand where he is coming from.
I will tell you that this is scarcely the kind of Brooks that I can easily rally behind. But, I understand that things are complex. Things are not always as clear as people wants them to be.
And, of course, when that subject comes to mind, Lou Dobbs is an obvious culprit. Banging his fists against the table and spouting all sorts of one-dimensional rhetoric. It is, for him, always one thing. One thing at a time. One-a-Day-Lou-Dobbs.
Now, Lou Dobbs is most certainly a little volatile and in this sort of a political atmosphere there is no doubt that he will have to be contended with. Certainly his nightly escapades are eagerly awaited by a number of viewers, but I think that he is a bit over the top. Particularly, his incessant nagging about outsourcing is more than a little grating, especially considering he obviously has a very limited conception of free trade, which Brooks is quick to point out!
"So it’s worth pointing out now more than ever that Dobbsianism is fundamentally wrong. It plays on legitimate anxieties, but it rests at heart on a more existential fear — the fear that America is under assault and is fundamentally fragile. It rests on fears that the America we once knew is bleeding away."
Brooks is, I think, making a quite valid extrapolation here. America is as fragile as we believe it to be. And I agree with Brooks when he bravely rebuffs this Dobbsian fear-mongering. America is our country. And that has been the case for decades. But, if other people think otherwise, I guess that's just how it's going to be.
America, as far as I know, is built on the accumulated smart policy and institutional decisions of the last 60 years, bestowing upon us not the ephemeral glee of a rabidly developing industry but rather the stability and levelheadedness of American ingenuity.
I'm sitting here in Camden, New Jersey and I am looking out my window at a city that was gloriously prolific in its day. Now as the tides of economic fashion have ebbed, there is new possibility. Awaiting are a surplus of labor, efficient transport routes and comprehensive city infrastructure. Now, imagine that the city were to invest in high-speed fibre-optics and if just half the population of Camden were to start their own Internet start-up. Now, I am not saying this is a likelihood, but maybe it is a possibility.
A whole new Internet economy on fast fibre-optic lines. I wonder what Lou Dobbs would say about that.
- Ben Hoffstraugh
- I was located outside of Berlin in a small enclave, which was really quite nice. I lived in a two bedroom flat above a kneipe, which is German for bar. I had a membership to the New York Times Select service, which gave me access to the columnists and the archives. I am a big fan of David Brooks.