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A Reasonable Point Undermined by Self-Conscious Status Signaling

Posted by V the K at 12:32 pm - July 16, 2017.
Filed under: Arrogance of the Liberal Elites

So, unless this is the only blog you read, you heard about David Brooks’s column this past week. Most of the attention was focused on the paragraph where he takes a (probably made-up) friend with “only a high school degree” to a fancy-pants hipster sandwich shop. His poor little friend couldn’t deal with the fancy names on the sammitches and had a panic attack. So Brooksie took her to Taco Bell or something.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

Reminder: David Brooks is a very silly person who thought the sharp crease in Obama’s pants meant he would be a great president. I guess the arrogant liberal elite word for him would be “fatuous.” But if he weren’t so self-consciously status-signaling to his fellow arrogant liberal elites, the main point of his column might not have been obscured. And it was a pretty good point, about how the American upper middle class is screwing over the lower middle and working classes, and one of the way they keep other people down is through self-conscious social-status signaling.

But the other ways are also notable, and he notes them. For example, hyper-leftist cities like New York, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle enact housing and zoning laws specifically intended to restrict the availability of housing. (They call it, “Smart Growth.”) What this does is restrict the housing supply so that the upper middle class can be assured that the value of their homes will increase. They also game college admissions to ensure that the elite colleges act as connection clubs for their own kind. But mostly he focuses on the social status signaling; how the elite signal to each other that they are part of the club through conformity in their tastes and causes. (Which is why upper middle class women are suddenly all nutzoid about trannies.)

The parts Brooks doesn’t talk about are the parts he doesn’t want to talk about for fear of risking his own social status. One is the explosion in the administrative class in government, education, and health care. The reason all of these have become so much more expensive is the proliferation of useless expensive Golgafrincham Arrk Fleet B-Ship people. The amount of doctors and nurses in health care has been fairly constant, but the numbers of overpaid health care bureaucrats has exploded. (Michelle Obama got a no-show $300K per annum administrative job at a hospital when her husband was a senator; a job that was eliminated after she left). Colleges could eliminate every staff member with the word “diversity” in their job description and eliminate all the useless departments with the word “Studies” in them and education would be a lot more affordable to people from the lower classes. But the upper middle class likes these things, or pretends to, for the sake of preserving their status.

Not to mention, unchecked mass immigration … which Brooks supports… is helpful to the upper middle and upper classes, but devastating to the lower middle and working classes. But he can’t say that, or even think it, because what would the other arrogant liberal elites think?

Social stratification — when people become locked into their socio-economic classes and cannot move — is a terminal symptom of a stagnant and declining society.



  1. One thing that would likely help the situation on college campuses would be to allow banks to discriminate on the basis of major when handing out student loans. In other words, STEM majors would be given a better shot of being approved than, say, Black/Wymin/Gender Studies based primarily upon the ability to pay the loan back upon graduation (such unbiased statistics do exist).

    Comment by Craig Smith — July 16, 2017 @ 12:59 pm - July 16, 2017

  2. Yes, loss of social mobility is a disaster and I’d like to add that we’re losing the ability to isolate ourselves from social pathologies.

    Some local news item the other day got me to reflecting on how easy it once was for people of modest means to live in safe areas. While millennials may not believe it, it was not uncommon for kids in primary school to walk to/from school, unaccompanied. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to range far and wide during the summer biking miles from home.

    Parents (both of them) used to send kids to the corner store to buy a pack of ciggies!

    While unsafe and unpleasant areas have always been with us, it was a sign of a functional civilization that it was possible for most people to get out without needing a college degree.

    These days, thanks is large part to gov’t policy, the patholgies that make the bad parts of town, well, bad are actively deposited in once nice areas, populated by people who aren’t in a position to object. If the people in the target area do object, the cloud people in, say, Marin County point the finger of racism from behind their fortress walls without a pang of self-awareness.

    Comment by KCRob — July 16, 2017 @ 3:01 pm - July 16, 2017

  3. Oops, forgot to offer my opinion of David Brooks: tosser.

    Comment by KCRob — July 16, 2017 @ 3:02 pm - July 16, 2017

  4. We identify our civilization as being “Western.” That generally means that our culture and traditions are inherited from the Greeks, the Romans, the Jews and the Christians.

    Civilizations arise from “chaos” where the general behavior is unchecked. It is the establishment of rules of behavior that mark the upward movement of civilization. Ultimately, behavior becomes “stabilized” to the level that the process of questioning the “social order” begins. This questioning starts the erosion of societal institutions such as the family, the community, aesthetics, religion, education, politics, etc. It is “discovered” that everything which is deemed “good” has an “evil” component within it. At that stage we begin to reject “subjective” traditions while dreaming of attaining conceptual ideals.

    One of the first signs of civilizational decline is the rapid expansion of what constitutes “rights” and the inflation of the concept of basic “needs.”

    Cities have always been the seat of “culture.” Because people live cheek to jowl in cities they develop complex ways and means for coexistence out of necessity. One of the first methods for toning down conflicts in beliefs and ways of conduct is through compromise. Eventually, enough compromise challenges the legitimacy of the rule itself.

    David Brooks is a crock of feigned cultural superiority. It is certainly not HIS fault that V the K cannot see the sharp crease in Obama’s pants as a sign of greatness. That, you see, is a weakness on the part of V the K and has nothing to do with the brilliance of David Brooks.

    Now, gang these pseudo-experts on civilization together and you get academia, the mainstream media, the DemonizingRat elites and a roadmap to dystopia.

    The little people have their traditions and their institutions to bind themselves together in a more wide-spread community where they cling to their religion and guns and other “deplorables.” They are relegated to how the cultural elite in the cities define them. And those elites have reduced the deplorables to a state of settled science based on a consensus disdain of the peasants in fly-over country.

    We have reached the tipping point where the city folk and the peasants are nearly equal in political strength, but their mindsets are polar opposites in many respects.

    If “ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette” were tastebud enchanters, McDonald’s would have loaded them on the hoi polloi like mac and cheese. But then, the elites would have to scorn the commoner stuff and come up with something new and exciting like birch bark and possum.

    Comment by Heliotrope — July 16, 2017 @ 3:13 pm - July 16, 2017

  5. Leave it to a pretentious snob like David Brooks to not know that you don’t get a degree when you graduate high school, and to take someone to a place that caters to pretentious snobs.

    Comment by Commoner — July 16, 2017 @ 4:30 pm - July 16, 2017

  6. Leave it to a pretentious snob like David Brooks to not know that you don’t get a degree when you graduate high school […]

    Yeah, that part irritated me the most about the commentary I read about the column. Who in the US (particularly native-born) talks like that? It’s sad when you yourself become a prime example of that which you are railing about.

    Comment by RSG — July 16, 2017 @ 6:18 pm - July 16, 2017

  7. One thing that would likely help the situation on college campuses would be to allow banks to discriminate on the basis of major when handing out student loans.

    I think this is a smashing idea. The amount one would receive would be indexed to the average starting wage for a particular major or area of study, weighted for the amount of paid position openings each year. Before payments were processed for each academic year, recertification as to credit hours, current major and basic information would be supplied. Along with this would come perpetual student reform. Only degrees germane to one area of study would receive financial assistance. You wanna collect degrees? Do it on your own dime.

    Comment by RSG — July 16, 2017 @ 7:15 pm - July 16, 2017

  8. Education funding was supposedly for the betterment of society through the ability to earn a living, support your loved ones, and pay taxes to support society. Grants, loans, scholarships from public sources should be tied to the ability to do accomplish those goals, not to enable young people to avoid the necessities of reality. Once government became so involved in education that it essentially runs all of it, we have versions of Evergreen State in every state.
    I can’t stand David Brooks, btw.

    Comment by Ignatius — July 16, 2017 @ 8:19 pm - July 16, 2017

  9. So, David Brooks doesn’t actually KNOW why her face froze up. He just ASSUMED it was because of “ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette,” because, well, because he doesn’t think people with “only a high school degree” ever go to what he describes as “a gourmet sandwich shop.” The arrogance is staggering.

    Comment by Conservative Guy — July 17, 2017 @ 1:39 am - July 17, 2017

  10. Actually Brooks was being racist as the terms he was slamming his so called friend for not recognizing are all Italian. So would Brooks like some injera with his tibs and kitfo?

    Reminds me of a Woody Allen movie where the “in crowd” signals its status by being amazed at his latest repetitive boring film.

    Comment by Sandra — July 17, 2017 @ 7:44 am - July 17, 2017

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