Ah, the charmed life of a New York Times columnist: you can say anything you want, true or not.
David Brooks has a long history of, shall we say, careless use of evidence. Back in 2004, Sasha Issenberg did a masterful fact-checking of his earlier work: “Boo-Boos in Paradise.” Our serial fictioneer is at it again. In today’s column, he defends Germany’s stubborn insistence on austerity for the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) as a defense of “a simple moral formula: effort should lead to reward as often as possible,” an “ethos” this is being “undermined from all directions.” In the case of the eurocrisis, Germans “are being asked to bail out nations with vast public sectors.”
Good thing for Brooks that he didn’t offer any evidence of this claim, because the numbers don’t support his sermonizing. Here’s what the OECD says:
German social spending is almost 6 percentage points above the OECD average—and 9 points above the U.S. It’s higher than every one of the PIIGS. Ireland’s is almost 3 points below the average.
But, hey, it’s always fun to moralize!