Money for Idiots (Chicks for Morons?)

Dave Schuler and I had a similar reaction to the reactions to David Brooks‘ “Money for Idiots” column:

Even the quickest glance at Brooks’s column and at these posts suggests that the bloggers simply don’t comprehend what he’s saying. They are functionally illiterate.

Alternatively, they were just distracted by the shiny title.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Education, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. SavageView says:

    Nah. Brooks’ column is just the continuation of the basic “we’re all to blame, so no of us is” meme now taking hold on the right regarding the causes of the financial crisis. Have a look at McArdle’s blog over the past two day for examples.

    I guess blaming Fannie, Freddie, the CRA, and that poofter, Barney Frank didn’t take hold.

  2. legion says:

    Well said, SV, but I’d go a little farther.

    Brooks’ column is a whiny, self-serving piece of tripe that tries to continue the meme of blaming the victims for not being omniscient.

    It’s based on the idea that people have to live with the consequences of their decisions. This makes them more careful deciders.
    Unfortunately, making careful decisions requires making certain assumptions – like the idea that the rules and regulations involved in the system are actually being evaluated and enforced fairly (or at all). The SEC flatly has not done that, and it means all decisions made regarding such systems are based on faulty logic, skewed to benefit people thought were ‘good guys’ (cough)Madoff(cough) without regard to whether they were following the same rules as everyone else. Brooks knows this as well as anyone else.

    The stimulus package handed tens of billions of dollars to states that spent profligately during the prosperity years.
    This is intellectually dishonest, if not a flat-out lie on Brooks’ part. First, states have spent a lot over recent years a large part because the federal gov’t stopped providing programs and money that taxpayers demand.

    Secondly, Brooks seems to have completely forgotten the enormous chunk of ‘stimulus’ the Bush administration handed out, no strings attached, to financial institutions last year. You know, the money that was _not_ actually used to help loan-seekers or the economy, but instead went directly into executive bonuses and acquiring other companies that didn’t get bailed out.

    The nation’s economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together.
    What a load of self-serving crap. I really can’t deconstruct this cowardly, pathetic, responsibility-dodging douchebag paragraph without completely violating the language guidelines here, but I think Brooks’ idiocy speaks for itself – suffice to say that it is, as SV notes above, just another aspect of the “nobody could have possibly predicted” BS the people who profited off & helped cause this disaster have been peddling for months now.

  3. Bithead says:

    Apparently, James, we can add two more that simply can’t read.

  4. legion says:

    OK Bit, why don’t you guys show us where we’re not grasping Brooks’ point? I reference a number of direct quotes from his article; you and James just say “these guys can’t read”.

  5. Bithead says:

    Face it, you’re TRYING not to understand it, because admitting you did would force a change in your mantra.

    It’s much much easier to claim you simply don’t understand.

    Fine by me..just don’t expect credibility going forward.

  6. James Joyner says:

    why don’t you guys show us where we’re not grasping Brooks’ point?

    You weren’t among those linked at memeorandum who got distracted by the “idiots” business and couldn’t see that Brooks is arguing that moral hazard doesn’t work during systems failures and that, regardless of whether any given person was greedy or stupid, fixing the macroeconomy trumps schadenfreude.

    He’s decidedly not arguing that everyone who is in a pickle right now is getting what he deserves and that any bailout is largess from the smart and pure.

  7. Pug says:

    He’s decidedly not arguing that everyone who is in a pickle right now is getting what he deserves and that any bailout is largess from the smart and pure.

    No, that’s not Brooks’ argument. That is Mr. Santelli’s argument.

  8. Bithead says:

    That is Mr. Santelli’s argument.

    Is it, indeed?
    I’ll be interested in the quote.