Babbling Brooks

Today, Bobo starts off his wretched column with an unusual gambit: he gives us a tautology: Let A = A.

For some strange reason Bobo is comparing Swedes to Swedes, and he marvels at how alike they are. He could compare Irish to Irish or Dutch to Dutch, too, but he is fascinated by the Swedes, and who can blame him?

Now, Bobo having an inquisitive mind and being a man of science who yearns for knowledge, he then twiddles with some of the variables. In 1950, Swedes lived an average of 2.6 years longer than Americans. Over the next half-century, Sweden and the U.S. diverged politically. Sweden built a large welfare state with a national health service, while the U.S. did not. The result? There was basically no change in the life expectancy gap. Swedes now live 2.7 years longer.

Bobo is amazed!!! Amazed that Darwin’s Law of Natural Selection had not increased the life expectancy of Swedes in a single generation or two, from what is essentially an externality. Bobo makes me very glad he was never my lab partner, which is just about the kindest thing I have ever said about Our Miss Brooks.

Bobo stares at his raw Swede data, but suddenly he spots an Asian!

Nationally, 50 percent of Asian-American adults have a college degree, compared with 31 percent of whites, 17 percent of African-Americans and 13 percent of Hispanics.

Asian-Americans have a life expectancy of 87 years compared with 79 years for whites and 73 years for African-Americans.

Now while I’m sure that all of Bobo’s regular readers finds the Mutual of Omaha’s actuarial tables fascinating, we still wonder what his point is, and why doesn’t Bobo return to the Swedes in Sweden to see what their education status is compared to an American Swede’s education. You know, Let A = A, which in this case might actually tell us something about the effects of policy on the same population.

But instead we get a bowlful of mixed nuts. Asians in New Jersey are contrasted with Native Americans in South Dakota. He mixes and stirs, adds a pinch of this and a soupçon of that, and in the end serves up a word salad that looks a lot like a steaming puddle of vomit on the sidewalk: you have no idea what is in it, but you know not to step in it.

But here is the essential thing to take away from Bobo’s column, disingenuous as it is: Bobo cannot show that the policy of the last thirty years — the policies that Bobo championed with his Party of Visigoths — has resulted in anything positive. From the moment that the senile, shoe-polish haired Saint Ronnie of the GOP stormed the gates with his army of mouth-breating morons, and began the raping and pillaging of the United States, all we have to show for it is an infrastructure that is crumbling, a vivisected middle class, an underclass filled with despair, a destroyed economic engine, and a failed education system. Oh, we also have for all intents and purposes a caste system with nobles at the top. Let’s not forget the real purpose and real results of thirty years of Saint Ronnie’s class warfare.

(The Limits of Policy by David Brooks)

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~ by tengrain on May 4, 2010.

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