Friday, April 29, 2011


Today's David Brooks column is about as Brooksish as they get: he visits the Department of Housing and Urban Development and its secretary, Shaun Donovan (probably at the invitation of the Obama administration, which courts Brooks, but that isn't mentioned), and he concludes that (a) government isn't evil, (b) government can actually do some good, yet (c) government really can't do all that much good. (I'm sure this is precisely what Brooks believed going in, so I wonder why he even bothered to make the trip.)

Now, you may argue that a Republican who sees some good in government is a tiny bit better than the typical Republican of today, who sees nothing good in government. That's true. But even as Brooks is arguing what's nearly a heresy right now -- that government should continue to exist -- he's taking one of his usual cheap shots at liberals:

I observed a strategy meeting led by Donovan and Scott Gould, the deputy secretary of the Veterans Administration, with about 30 career personnel and political appointees. The purpose of the meeting was to see which regions were doing a good job of getting [homeless] veterans treatment and housing vouchers, and which weren't. (Democrats seem to feel comfortable using vouchers to address housing problems but not education and health care problems.)

(Emphasis added.)

Would you like me to explain, David?

If we happened to live in a country in which something like 90% of the population relied on the public sector for housing (as is the case for education), and it was proposed that housing should suddenly and wrenchingly be decoupled from government, with the distinct possibility that many of the housing providers in the new regime would treat non-Christians, atheists, gay families, liberals, and others as second-class citizens or worse, then you'd better believe people like me would oppose housing vouchers. Because that's what we're going to get if school vouchers ever turn the Catholic system and Rev. Billybob's Randian Gospel of Success Academy into our national substitutes for a public school system.

And just as approximately 90% of children in America attend secular public schools, the vast majority of elderly people rely on Medicare to assure them of health care coverage. If we had an employer-based housing system that simply kicked you out of your house (or made the cost of maintaining it prohibitively expensive) as soon as you retired from working, along with an elderly-housing market that charged exorbitant rates (on the assumption that, say, you'd eventually need round-the-clock medical care at your house), then, yes, we liberals would oppose housing vouchers for the elderly that were sure to be inadequate to pay for that housing -- just as we oppose voucherizing Medicare.

Got it, David?

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