No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
Our image in the Muslim world would probably improve if we stopped killing so many Muslims.
Combat operations have concluded for:
- Marine Lance Cpl. Terry C. Wright, 21, of Scio, OH.
- Army Spc. Robert E. Dyas, 21, of Nampa, ID.
- Army Spc. Jakob J. Roelli, 24, of Darlington, WI.
- Army Sgt. Timothy D. Sayne, 31, of Reno, NV.
- Army Spc. Ryan J. Cook, 29, of Fort Walton Beach, FL.
- Army Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano, 30, of Edcouch, TX.
- Army Spc. Chazray C. Clark, 24, of Ecorse, MI.
- Army Sgt. Garrick L. Eppinger Jr., 25, of Appleton, WI.
- Army Staff Sgt. Michael W. Hosey, 27, of Birmingham, AL.
Days since Washington Post has updated its Faces of the Fallen site: 101.
I’ve been absolutely riveted by the Wall Street protests. The best resources are the Twitter OurWallStreet and OccupyWallStreet (trend here) tags. Live stream here. Amy Goodman’s thoughts. I posted open threads/links at Corrente here and here yesterday. Users chimed in with some great points and comments, so that’s not just link whoring.
Years ago I had a subscription to The Atlantic (don’t judge) and in April 2001 there was a feature written by David Brooks that I read (don’t judge).
He took on one of his favorite themes - the repudiation of the hippie - and gave it the kind of exhaustive workout only a magazine cover-worthy think piece at The Atlantic can offer. It’s almost all self-confirming tripe (he visited an Ivy League school and - what do you know! - found a cadre of conforming, industrious and somewhat coddled children of the uber-elite), then proceeded to superimpose his “morals in decay” narrative on them - through a lens of tranquil affluence (all emph. mine):
So they’re all a bunch of moral relativists raised by spiritually dead parents, but it’s all good! They are also obedient and have fabulous job prospects! That’ll keep ‘em on the straight and narrow!
- These super-accomplished kids aren’t working so hard because they are compelled to. They are facing, it still appears, the sweetest job market in the nation’s history. Investment banks flood the campus looking for hires. Princeton also offers a multitude of post-graduation service jobs in places like China and Africa. Everyone I spoke to felt confident that he or she could get a good job after graduation. Nor do these students seem driven by some Puritan work ethic deep in their cultural memory. It’s not the stick that drives them on, it’s the carrot. Opportunity lures them. And at a place like Princeton, in a rich information-age country like America, promises of enjoyable work abound — at least for people as smart and ambitious as these. “I want to be this busy,” one young woman insisted, after she had described a daily schedule that would count as slave-driving if it were imposed on anyone.
- They like to study and socialize in groups. They create and join organizations with great enthusiasm. They are responsible, safety-conscious, and mature. They feel no compelling need to rebel—not even a hint of one. They not only defer to authority; they admire it.
- Today’s elite college students don’t live in that age of rebellion and alienation.
- They’ve mostly known parental protection, prosperity, and peace.
- When I asked about moral questions, they would often flee such talk and start discussing legislative questions.
- When it comes to character and virtue, these young people have been left on their own. Today’s go-getter parents and today’s educational institutions work frantically to cultivate neural synapses, to foster good study skills, to promote musical talents. We fly our children around the world so that they can experience different cultures. We spend huge amounts of money on safety equipment and sports coaching. We sermonize about the evils of drunk driving. We expend enormous energy guiding and regulating their lives. But when it comes to character and virtue, the most mysterious area of all, suddenly the laissez-faire ethic rules: You’re on your own, Jack and Jill; go figure out what is true and just for yourselves.
- This young man took me to lunch in his college dining room, and when I asked him about character-building, he spoke more comfortably and thoughtfully than anybody else I had met….He was talking in a language different from that of the meritocrat—about what one is, rather than what one does. He really did stand out from the other students, who were equally smart and equally accomplished but who hadn’t been raised with a vocabulary of virtue and vice.
A country with a secure and prosperous middle class will be stable. I don’t think that’s rocket science. And I doubt they were as indifferent to morals or ethics as Brooks seemed to wish and hope. But if you don’t know what to do, you don’t know where to start. If you have been gently shunted away for your entire life from anything that has a whiff of activism, you might not know how to find an outlet to express it. Yet it’s interesting to note that in the same goddamn month of Brooks’ Atlantic article, John Nichols had a piece in The Nation about that same Ivy League elite staging sit-in strikes for living wages for university workers.
This week Brooks once again lamented the awful state of young people’s souls: “The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste.” June Carbone had a sharp response:
Brooks writes as though the country has – or should have – a set of shared values. Yet, he ignores class and cultural differences in the way values are formed and expressed. In doing so, he fails to address the most critical question the country faces: how can we maintain a sense of shared values when the institutions that support one part of the country flourish at the expense of those critical to the part of the country in decline.Loss of faith in institutions is central to the Wall Street protests. It is not a demand for, say, an investigation into J.P. Morgan’s activity during the last financial crisis. It’s a systemic critique. The young people there talk of not being able to find a job and struggling under an enormous load of student loan debt. Brooks’ rosy outlook from a decade ago might look like a bait and switch to them, not a promise of a better life.
The dream has curdled, and their diligence and organizational skills have suddenly found a wider means of expression. And they are highly educated, and have lots of time on their hands. And that clearly is scaring the shit out of Brooks.
It’s not a new critique from him, though. It has been his bread and butter for a long time. He just sounds as if he never expected the generation that he gently teased and regarded with such avuncular indulgence to start turning on the ruling class so ferociously. Life is full of surprises, eh?
Having the government repeatedly lie to you about its burgeoning surveillance state is also not a very effective way to foster trust in institutions.
Winning headlines from Corrente:
- Garçon! Another round of free money!
- Details, with devils in them, from Obama’s proposed changes to Medicare/Medicaid
ECONNED EXCERPT from page 178:
Large capital markets firms have two major command system problems. The first is the speed, volume and decentralization of decisions, which is compounded by the fact that in many cases, making those decisions required narrow expertise. In combination, these decision-making issues make effective supervision very hard to achieve. The second problem is that industry evolution has increased the already high focus on short-term profits. And just as one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, what looks like dubious behavior on the outside is often celebrated and rewarded internally. So not only has power shifted toward the producers, but to compound the problem, it is a viable, often winning, strategy for them to operate as buccaneers.