Height Versus Height

Reihan Salam notes that by some odd coincidence David Brooks and Paul Krugman both wrote their columns about height. What’s more, they both live delightfully up to stereotype. The subject of Krugman’s column is that Europeans used to be shorter than Americans, because they were poorer. Nowadays, though, Europeans are (mostly) taller than we (even when you control for race and hispanictude) thanks, it seems, to Europe’s beneficent socialism.

In Brooksland, however, none of this matters, because he’s looking forward to the genetically engineered super-children of tomorrow who’ll all be as tall as you like. Ultimately, I think Brooks’ more optimistic perspective exemplifies the qualities that have led to conservative political dominance. Voters, I think, don’t like this whinging style — “oh, sure, you think we’ve got it good, but they’re so much taller in the Netherlands” — and much prefer to hear can-do spirit “science will make us huge!” The thing of it is that the standard liberal points almost always can be phrased in an optimistic forward-looking manner (“the Krugman Five Point Plan for Increased Stature”) and, I think, we should endeavor to do so.