Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Discovering America

Every once in a while, David Brooks reads a book and comes up with a new theory of America. These theories are usually worth the amount of high quality thinking he has devoted to them, that is, not much. The latest is The Talent Society.

Brooks reads that half of the women in the US under 30 are having babies out of wedlock, and decides that this is the badge of a new spirit of independence and a society in which everyone's talents can be exploited to the fullest. The amount of evidence he brings to bear on this is, uh, zero, but hey, he had a column to write.

It's not that there aren't other theories out there, for example that the poor and lower middle class have been shattered by the economics of a society which gives more and more to the rich and less to everybody else. That theory not only has some evidence to back it up - especially the distribution of out of wedlock births by economic status - but also doesn't fit the current conservative fantasy story.