The Fop & His Briefcase

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, The Corporate Bund at 12:54 pm by George Smith

Milk toast of privilege Arthur Brooks occasionally shows up here, mentioned for bizarre columns at the New York Times, pieces peddling his belief that true happiness comes from embracing your entrepreneurial self and, further, combining it with a faith-like fervor and devotion.

Shorter version: A religious joy is derived through being a salesman in America.

Some excerpts from the past, this in March:

The American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks comes in for special mention because I used a quote from him yesterday.

The essence, envy of the wealthy is bad for America:

[We] must recognize that fomenting bitterness over income differences may be powerful politics, but it injures our nation. We need aspirational leaders willing to do the hard work of uniting Americans around an optimistic vision in which anyone can earn his or her success. This will never happen when we vilify the rich or give up on the poor.

“Only a shared, joyful mission of freedom, opportunity and enterprise for all will cure us of envy …”

Like Paul Ryan, Arthur Brooks is just another wealthy libertarian dickhead.

He is most famous for writing a series of books promoting the insipid idea that only through entrepreneurship can all Americans know true happiness and freedom.

In other words, those who run their own small businesses are the most happy of Americans. Of course, Arthur Brooks has never been an American entrepreneur, making his living only writing that it is the best thing in life, over and over, for a right-wing business institute.

But never you mind that. As a logical Brooks extension, people who are Christian, centrist-to-right and supporters of totally free markets, are the most happy of all.

In October, Brooks sought to coin a new name to describe burgeoning tech companies like AirBnb, a firm that leverages the lousy economy and its desperation by making it easier for people to sub-let their living quarters to the more well-off, through smartphones.

Brooks thought these firms, the engineers of the new sharing economy were getting a bad rap. This because many thoughtful people now consider sharing economy a two-word synonym for scamming.

AirBnb was part of the “helping industry,” said Brooks:

As in, “Everyone wants to help. Wouldn’t you want to be part of such an industry, helping people with more money than you by cheaply renting your home to them at their convenience????


WHAT is a “helping industry????

To hear him tell it, [AirBnB co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk] started the business because it was fascinating and fun. And most of all, he says, because it could help ordinary people who needed an affordable place to stay or had some excess capacity in their homes. That’s right — Nate sees Airbnb as a “helping industry.???

Some will howl at this …

Ordinary people, especially vulnerable people without power and privilege, find Airbnb empowering and useful. It lifts Americans up …

Any of us can work in a helping industry. That includes teachers, nurses, stay-at-home parents … The blessing of our free enterprise system is that any of us can sanctify our work. We just need to ask if what we are doing truly lifts others up.

As an example of how the helping industry lifts people up, allowing them to sanctify their work, Brooks dug up a woman, down on her economic luck, who now uses AirBnB to lease out her home to strangers a few days a month while she sleeps on the couch for free, courtesy of her parents or a friend.

Just so you know, the word sanctify means to “set apart as or declare holy.” This shows the intense weirdness of the mental space in which Arthur Books resides.

It’s all through his work: a mish-mash of stupid armchair philosophies insisting Christian faith, fulfillment and happiness come naturally from existence as a capitalist small businessman.

In this week’s column, the semi-celebrity pundit devotes his time to describing how being gifted with two briefcases by Mormons in Provo buoyed him. And how that can be a lesson for all to find their way to a state of good will and tranquility.

It’s genuinely fucked. Brooks apparently doesn’t see that he’s being given briefcases, swag, what it’s called in the entertainment industry, because he’s someone who gives speeches and is rewarded just for being that special someone, like a columnist at the NY Times:

SEVERAL years ago, I visited Provo, Utah — in the heart of what its residents call “Happy Valley??? — to deliver a lecture at Brigham Young University. My gracious hosts sent me home with a prodigious amount of branded souvenirs: T-shirts, mugs — you name it. The Mormons are serious about product placement.

One particularly nice gift was a briefcase, with the university’s name emblazoned across the front …

[It] soon had a major effect on my behavior. I found that I was acting more cheerfully and courteously than I ordinarily would — helping people more with luggage, giving up my place in line, that sort of thing. I was unconsciously trying to live up to the high standards of Mormon kindness …

Almost like magic, the briefcase made me a happier, more helpful person.

This was something called moral elevation continued Brooks. And we could all have it, by getting nice things, perhaps, or by watching episodes of Oprah.

And such moral elevation is needed now, more than ever, in our time of paralysis, political and economic dysfunction. We can choose to reject negativity.

So Arthur Brook went back to talk to the Mormons in Utah, and told them his theory of moral elevation.

But later in the week, Arthur was feeling down again, discouraged by the “negative tenor” of the upcoming election.

Then something miraculous happened:

It was at that moment that the mail arrived with a package from Utah: a new briefcase from my friends.

To paraphrase and steal from Shakespeare: Were you like this you’d throw yourself away.

It’s also Small Business Saturday, another thing designed as a suck-up to the American myth that small businesses and entrepreneurs mean everything to our country.

Which is why everything in the dollar stores, Wal-Mart and the super-market chains are made by small businesses, right?

Fuck Small Business Saturday.

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