Have you heard of the lovely society? No it’s not a quaint reference to salon life in the Belle Epoque or the Gilded Age. It’s a philosophical concept courtesy of the once-conservative David Brooks, writing in the NYTimes. Roll up your sleeves fellow citizens and do your part. If you are to be part of the lovelies.

You see, apparently we all have a choice: to be a lovely or not to be a lovely. To be a lovely is to give. To your employer, to your neighborhood (exactly how remains unclear: by buying groceries? by fighting for subsidized rentals so property values decline?), and especially by giving to the government.

You give to the government. The government gives to you.

While this axiom of socially correct behavior inspires a few easy jokes about what the government gives to you and how they give it to you, Brooks’ new socialism is coached in strange, warm and fuzzy language. There is a sweet reverence for all the gifts that have been handed down over the nearly two and a half centuries since America was founded. There is the warm glow of patriotism. (Does David Brooks now call himself a patriot?) A common shared beauty that is the reward for being a lovely. Or is it a lovelite? Is David Brooks the Jane Austen of the New Socialism?

And if you actively seek to legally minimize the taxes you pay, you are of course, an unlovely. And unloved, and soiled even. This is satire right?

No, it’s another attack on Trump and his bragging about using the very legal method of carrying forward tax losses. And an attack on anyone who questions the economic logic of people like Tim Kaine, for example, declaring that tax cuts caused the great recession. And above all, it is merely David Brooks humbly doing his part for the lovely society. There are some nice little quotes – worthy perhaps of a little book? Brooks’ Little Rainbow Book? To wit:

  • In a lovely society everyone practices a kind of social hygiene.
  • In a lovely society everyone feels privilege but the rich feel a special privilege.
  • Public citizenship is the path to personal growth.

Not apparently the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. In fact, lowering your taxes and advocating for limited government leads away from happiness, according to the lovely society. So while there is a professed sweet reverence for the founders, Brooks comes to bury them. Or at least to try and bury Trump and throw a little dirt on anyone who wishes to lessen the burden of taxes in their lives. And live a little more freely.