Monday, September 21, 2015

The Liberals' Modest Proposal

A couple centuries ago, Jonathan Swift wrote "A Modest Proposal" to solve the problem of poverty in Ireland. The subhead for the article was:
For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being A burden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public
The solution? Parents should eat their children. And this was over a century before the Potato Famine.

Yesterday I read Charles Murray's review of the book of a fellow poverty intellectual, Robert D. Putnam. Putnam rose to fame on his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse of American Community, which bemoaned the fact that Americans don't join organizations any more. Gosh, I wonder why?

Now Putnam has written Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. It is the liberal answer to Murray's recent Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Both books demonstrate that things are not well with America's working class.

Like Charles Murray, Robert Putnam grew up in a small town in the 1950s.
Port Clinton had class divisions in the 1950s, but the town corresponded closely to the American ideal: lots of interaction across social classes, stable and mostly loving families in all social classes, low crime, and high levels of community engagement. I grew up in the same era in the same kind of town.
But things are different today.
Since Putnam left Port Clinton, it has become a radically different place, with haves and have-nots separated by chasms not just in income, but on a wide range of cultural dimensions that, to borrow from the book’s subtitle, have put the American dream in crisis. The kids of today’s working class have it worse in so many ways that climbing the socioeconomic ladder, as many of Putnam’s classmates in the 1950s succeeded in doing, has become dauntingly difficult.
Murray's book tells a similar story. Things are great in Belmont, a suburb of Boston, where folks like Mitt Romney live. Things are horrible in white working-class neighborhoods like Fishtown in Philadelphia, where the women don't marry and the men don't work.

From Murray's perspective, Putnam's book provides a good view at the liberal conventional wisdom on how this could have happened.
The leading culprits are economic—globalization, stagnation of working-class wages, and loss of manufacturing jobs. When cultural factors are involved, they are such things as the sexual revolution.

Could the policy reforms of the 1960s be a cause? Not a chance.
This is not rocket science. Why do women marry? To bind the father of their children to them. Why do men work? To provide for their children and maintain access to sex. But marriage to an unskilled, undisciplined man is a hard row to hoe. It's much easier to take free stuff from the state.

In Visible Man, George Gilder showed how this works. He tells the story of a disabled vet from Vietnam that knocked up an underage girl and worked hard to support her and his child. But when the girl got old enough for welfare she ditched him and got a nice apartment.

Putnam has a raft of liberal ideas to fix things, including universal pre-K. But Murray argues that pre-K doesn't make that much difference. What really matters is IQ, and that is inherited.

So that set me to thinking. If you look at the range of liberal policies they appear as though they were designed to hammer the poor. Margaret Sanger and abortion and cleansing the race of the unfit with Planned Parenthood conveniently close to minority neighborhoods? Check. Welfare policies to discourage marriage and fatherhood and so make lower-income boys into gang-bangers? Check. Lousy inner-city schools that don't even succeed in basic discipline? Check. Race and identity politics that divide the poor and recent immigrants from the basic cultural myth of the American Dream? Check.

Here's another issue that Charles Murray brings up. The IQ chasm between college graduates and high-school graduates has been getting bigger. Back in 1960 the gap was 14 points. Today it is 23 points.

So the result of another liberal policy, that "everyone goes to college," means that everyone with an half decent IQ goes to college and the rest get left behind. And their children get left even further behind.

Now we all know what a big premium liberals put on being the smartest people in the room and how they know that they are more evolved, more intelligent that other people.

People like that would instinctively make life difficult for people with a low IQ. They would naturally segregate themselves into a kind of Brahmin caste. Oh, they would care for the Untouchables, but not so much that they would dirty their hands.

And think about it. The modern workplace requires people with a certain facility for service and interacting with computers and media. There is not much need for the strong back. Wouldn't it just be a kindness to put the low IQ People of the Strong Back out of their misery?

I don't know. You tell me.

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