Friday, October 13, 2017

David Brooks used to build things? Who knew?

Via Health-Politics.

We Used to Build Things

, laments David F. Brooks. Things like the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Fire Department, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The American Philosophical Society, and the Pennsylvania Hospital, in Franklin's day, and the Boy Scouts and the settlement house movement in the Progressive Era. Why, even the government used to build things! Brooks doesn't mention Franklin's US Postal Service, but he does list the Forest Service (where even people who didn't go to Yale could distinguish themselves, he marvels: "The 10,000 men who were rounded up to fight the fire were led by a small group of young foresters, many of them from the Yale School of Forestry, which graduated its first class in 1904. One of the foresters, though decidedly no Yalie, was Ed Pulaski"), the Federal Reserve, the Food and Drug Adminstration, and the compulsory schooling movement, and then

In the 1930s, the alphabet soup of New Deal agencies were created. The late 1940s saw the creation of the big multinational institutions: the U.N., NATO, the World Bank, the I.M.F., the beginnings of the European market.
When you look around today, you see a lot of history-making new companies being created, but you don’t see too many big civic organizations. There are some great social entrepreneurs, like Bill Drayton, who started Ashoka, but the only vast national civic movements I can think of are the charter school movement and the Tea Party.
As Brooks's old party works feverishly but vainly to undo the biggest New Deal agency of all, the one that took 80 years to get off the ground, the third leg of Frances Perkins's tripod of unemployment insurance, retirement security, and universal health care, Vice President Biden's Big Fucking Deal, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, nowhere near providing universal health care yet (Social Security didn't provide anything near universal retirement income when it was seven years old either, and still doesn't provide adequate retirement, for that matter), but providing what turns out to be an astoundingly resilient foundation for building it in. One sixteenth of the economy!

The churches have let us down, too. The Christian churches have been behind most of the big social movements in American history, like abolition, poverty programs and civil rights. But for the past generation the church has been fighting a defensive war against the sexual revolution, not an offensive assault for opportunity and human dignity.
For the past generation there's only been one church! Who knew?The many churches, mosques, and synagogues fighting in the sanctuary movement for the lives and safety of immigrants and refugees, the "strangers" of whom the Bible has so much to say, alongside state and municipal authorities, against federal fury, don't really exist for this conservative, like the ACA doesn't exist. But they may involve more actual, committed people than the Tea Party and the charter school movement (astroturf and a cabal of hedge fund managers and real estate investors) put together.

Also the Girl Scouts, who have become great as the Boys have shrunk, by embracing progress, and women's sports, as in tennis, basketball, and soccer, where American women now absolutely dominate while American men have utterly collapsed.

Driftglass has thought of some other stuff to say, which you should certainly look at. It's silly to work hard on this.

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