Dear David Brooks:
I read your recent editorial, "Money for idiots" and wanted to make the following observations, but before I do I wanted you to know that I will publish this letter on OpEd News. I would hope that you would take the time to offer a response, not because of me but because there are many angry people who are trying to get a grasp on this financial disaster we find ourselves in. I have watched you for years on the News Hour, along with Mark Shields and of course Jim Lehrer. Your politics are well known, as well as Shields', but I think you have tried to give balance over the years, realizing you give the Republican view.
You start your editorial by reminding us of our responsibility and the consequences of our decisions, which is fine as far as it goes; but you say, "This means that society tends toward justice - people get what they deserve as much as possible."
One of the problems with this statement is, I don't believe most people think "they" get what they deserve. A poor kid with a bag of pot does not get treated the same as a Bernard Madoff or a R. Allen Stanford. We bail out banks for billions, and then watch them give bonuses for a billion--but criticize attempts to help people who accepted foolish loans. Home ownership has been part of the American dream since WWII and there is no doubt some not-so-sophisticated people (along with some irresponsible ones) took on loans they should not have. Behind each loan there was a lender that smiled all the way to the sub-prime department, dropping fees along the way and insuring the mess with CDS's.
The homeowners many times have gotten "what they deserved" the day they had to move out. The banks got what one might call "what they deserved" when they received TARP funds. You mention Rick Santelli and his screaming on the floor at the traders in the pit in Chicago, asking if any of them wanted to bailout any of these homeowners and there was a resounding "NO." But I wonder what the average income of those traders is, and yes I expect most of them are a bit too wise to take out an absurd loan to buy a home. Once again, do "they" get what they deserve?
You do deserve credit for being amongst the first of your fellow Republicans, to realize something had to be done and also to criticize the Bush Administration for getting the country into the mess we are in. The Obama Administration did not create this fiasco and the President has admitted that the road ahead will be rocky and mistakes will be made. However,we hear almost nothing from Republicans except criticism of the Administration. The President has reached out to Republicans, only to be called naïve and have his hand bitten. His attempt to reach out to them is fulfilling his campaign promise to the American people. Is he "getting what he deserves" in trying to live up to his promise?
David, I think you are one of the good guys and although you may represent the conservative side, I think you want what is best for the country and you end your editorial with this:
"But at least they (the Obama Administration) seem to be driven by a spirit of moderation and restraint. They seem to be trying to keep as many market structures in place as possible so things can return to normal relatively smoothly. And they seem to understand the big thing. The nation's economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we're all in this together. If their lives don't stabilize, then our lives don't stabilize."