7.16.2013

David Brooks longs for Real Men

Another unintentionally hilarious David Brooks column today. It's more or less the same moralizing bullshit that Brooks has been peddling for years. Basically, he's upset with American men, and he's particularly disappointed in their behavior since the Great Recession hit. 

The column is about the contemporary economic struggles of American males, so, naturally, the first eight paragraphs are spent discussing the 1956 movie, "The Searchers." Brooks has a crush on the "hard, confrontational, raw and tough to control" character played by John Wayne in that film. Then he makes a seamless segue from that to male labor force participation:
That image of the man outside the doorway is germane today, in a different and even more tragic manner. Over the past few decades, millions of men have been caught on the wrong side of a historic transition, unable to cross the threshold into the new economy. 
Their plight is captured in the labor statistics. Male labor force participation has been in steady decline for generations. In addition, as Floyd Norris noted in The Times on Saturday, all the private sector jobs lost by women during the Great Recession have been recaptured, but men still have a long way to go. 
In 1954, 96 percent of American men between 25 and 54 years old worked. Today, 80 percent do. One-fifth of men in their prime working ages are out of the labor force.
Amazingly, Brooks still thinks, in the face of all evidence, that male workers are to blame for their lack of steady employment. At this point, nothing will dissuade him of this belief. Brooks writes that "the definitive explanation for this catastrophe has yet to be written," despite the fact that his own colleague on the Times op-ed page has just spent five years patiently trying to explain to him why, exactly, the economy is depressed and so many people are out of work.

Unpersuaded by small factors that might have contributed to the lack of jobs, like the collapse of an $8 trillion housing bubble and the subsequent $600 billion loss in annual demand, Brooks gets his Charles Murray on and insists, again, that it has to do with "dignity," or something:
But, surely, there has been some ineffable shift in the definition of dignity. Many men were raised with a certain image of male dignity, which emphasized autonomy, reticence, ruggedness, invulnerability and the competitive virtues. Now, thanks to a communications economy, they find themselves in a world that values expressiveness, interpersonal ease, vulnerability and the cooperative virtues. 
Surely, part of the situation is that many men simply do not want to put themselves in positions they find humiliating. A high school student doesn’t want to persist in a school where he feels looked down on. A guy in his 50s doesn’t want to find work in a place where he’ll be told what to do by savvy young things.
He's just sure of it, evidence be damned.

Got that, American men? If only you were more "rugged," you see, the job opportunities would be coming at you from all directions. Get "rugged" on that skills section of your résumé. Also, stop turning down all those jobs that require you to submit to the orders of "savvy young things." Yeah, there might be three of you competing for every one job opening, but that's no excuse. Real Men would overcome those odds. David Brooks expects nothing less of you.