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Thursday, January 24, 2013

David Brooks, "The Great Migration": Obama Distances Himself from Hope and Change

Chuck Hagel, Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, has served as something of a lightning rod, diverting the Senate's attention away from the president's other nominees, notably multi-millionaire John Kerry, a "dear friend" of Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad, who is soon to approved as secretary of state, and John Brennan, his nominee for head of the CIA, whose involvement with drone strikes is the source of no small amount of controversy (see: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/peek-at-the-ruling-elites-letter-of-recommendation-for-john-brennan/267431/). By comparison, the president's nomination for secretary of the treasury of Jack Lew, his current chief of staff and Citigroup expatriate, who once received a $940,000 bonus before the bank went begging for federal assistance to stave off collapse, is almost under the radar.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Great Migration" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/opinion/brooks-the-great-migration.html?_r=0), David Brooks observes how America's brightest students, recruited from every distant corner of the nation, find their way into a select group of elite universities, where their value systems undergo change:

"They’ve been raised in an atmosphere of social equality and now find themselves in a culture that emphasizes the relentless quest for distinction — to be more accomplished, more enlightened and more cutting edge."

After receiving their degrees, these young persons often migrate to hubs of prosperity, far removed from their humble origins:

"The highly educated cluster around a few small nodes. Decade after decade, smart and educated people flock away from Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J. In those places, less than 15 percent of the residents have college degrees. They flock to Washington, Boston, San Jose, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. In those places, nearly 50 percent of the residents have college degrees."

According to Brooks, this disparity is then aggravated by a concentration of power, influence and resources in Washington:

"The final problem is that, in an effort to reduce the economic concentration of power, the administration is concentrating political power in Washington. If the problem is that talent is fleeing blighted localities, it’s hard to see how you make that better if decision-making and resources are concentrated faraway in the nation’s capital."

In his second inaugural address, President Obama declared:

"What makes us exceptional, what makes us America is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today we continue a never ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time."

And so, a coterie of millionaire white guys installed in Obama's second term cabinet is going to "bridge" the noble aims of the Declaration of Independence with modern day "realities"? Yeah, right.

If the Obama administration was truly serious about resuscitating the fortunes of "Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J.," thereby contributing to social equality, tax incentives could be provided to corporations, particularly of the high-tech variety, willing to open new offices and factories in downtrodden locales.

But it's not going to happen. "Hope" and "Change" have been inseparably stranded from "the realities of our time," as perceived by the governing elite from their isolated aeries.




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