Thursday, June 12, 2008

"The Great Seduction"

Writer David Brooks' Op-Ed column has appeared in The New York Times since 2003, and The Washington Post has called him "The Right's Ambassador to the Liberal Establishment."

He is the author of one of our favorite books, "Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There," about the convergence of Bohemian and Bourgeois cultures, and those who live this lifestyle, "Bobos." (C'ville is one of the leading contenders for Capital of BoboLand--we say this even though some of our Best Friends are Bobos.)

In a recent piece, Brooks asserts that the most rampant decadence today is financial decadence, the trampling of decent norms about how to use and harness money. He says:

"The United States has been an affluent nation since its founding. But the country was, by and large, not corrupted by wealth. For centuries, it remained industrious, ambitious and frugal.

Over the past 30 years, much of that has been shredded. The social norms and institutions that encouraged frugality and spending what you earn have been undermined. The institutions that encourage debt and living for the moment have been strengthened."

Brooks cites many culpable parties in encouraging financial decadence: state government, payday loan outfits, credit card companies, Congress, the White House, and Wall Street, via investors who were eager for the Mortgage Products which became the Mortgage-Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligations that led to the current Credit Crisis (click here for a very clear explanation by David Leonhardt, if you're still hazy on this topic).

We're all about financial stability, sane spending, and accurate valuation here at this blog, so of course we're anti-financial decadence.

To read "The Great Seduction, a compelling, and brief, Op-Ed, click here.

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