Saturday, January 08, 2005

Have I Learned Something From David Brooks?

Fascinating. I think I have.
He makes the point in his column these days that the Bush administration's efforts to "reform" Social Security by creating the option of investment accounts is really an attempt to create voters who will vote like Republicans (I assume by this he means lower taxes and fewer controls on business) because they are invested in the stock market.
Now, this may be evidence that I am one of the worst-informed people who ever prided himself on observing politics, but I never thought of this in quite this way.
It makes sense, and helps to explain how 51% of the populace could have voted for Mr. Bush two months ago. Since the 1970s, stock market investments have increased enormously. I know I have read many articles that mentioned this. So we may have many more people who believe their own well-being is closely tied to the well-being of both the stock market and large corporations.
For a time in the late 1990s, there was even some evidence that this might be true.
But what has really happened here, possibly, is that because they have some minor amount of stock -- either through direct investment or through the 401K plans that have largely replaced classic pension plans -- they are investors and should worry about big business in preference to worrying directly about issues that affect them: Jobs, the environment, the rule of law.
This is, I know, a vast oversimplification and perhaps a skewed idea in itself, but I'm starting to work out something in my mind: That to some extent Republicans have tried to build their block by making sure that more people share some bit of economic linkage to the rich fat cats who have traditionally been Republicans.
I need to better understand how "values" and religion tie into this, but in my own thinking, this is a bit of a breakthrough.
It is embarrassing to have to thank Mr. Brooks, with whose opinions I disagree almost universally, but today I salute him for opening my eyes.