Thursday, March 30, 2017

The White Working Class Again

The decline of the white working class has shown up again this week. 

Naughty conservative Matt Stoller showcased the commenters to a piece at the Huffington Post on the white working class. He selected the comments that most callously declared that the white working class were a bunch of deplorables that had it coming.

And then Steve Sailer featured the death-by-despair statistics, cohort by cohort, of the white working class since World War II. He features a chart that shows the increasing deaths of each cohort as it ages from causes like suicide and drug and alcohol overdose, and things are getting worse, year by year, cohort by cohort. Much worse.

Reacting to Mark Stoller's piece, I am not that outraged by the hatred and the classism of the young liberals and lefties that read Huffington Post. They have been taught to hate, and contra South Pacific, written in a time when liberals confidently expected to inherit the world and rule it benevolently ever after, you don't "have to be carefully taught / To hate and to fear." It's the easiest thing in the world. Hey, even a government teacher can do that. All those commenters are doing is just repeating the lessons taught them at their government schools and colleges. They were taught, by good teachers and by indifferent teachers, to be the shock troops of the progressive movement and they show that their progressive boot camp was effective.

But on Steve Sailer's piece I was drawn to the units of death-by-despair on the chart. It was in deaths per 100,000, and in recent years, for recent cohorts of white Americans that did not graduate college, it is hitting 100 deaths per 100,000 per year.

What's the big deal? Well, it's because social scientists use the same unit of measure, deaths per 100,000 per year, to report murders and violent death. In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Steven Pinker tells the story. Back in the good old days of the hunter-gatherers, violent death was about 500 per 100,000 per year. Back in the high Middle Ages, it was about 50 per 100,000 per year. And now, in the United States, violent death is about 5 per 100,000 per year.

The death-by-despair for the cohort of white working class Americans that were born in 1945, right at the end of World War II, is peaking at about 20 deaths per 100,000 per year. But the folks born since 1960 are all dying at rates over 100 per 100,000 per year. That is five times the rate for the cohort born right after World War II.

What is the lesson here? No really: why stop at one? Let us count the lessons.

First of all the lesson to the white working class, articulated by a black Republican politician from Louisiana. He warns all and sundry that politicians do not care about you; they only care about your vote. For about a hundred years, politicians on the left just loooved the working class, and wrote legislation to shower the white working class with benefits and privileges. Great: who doesn't want to win the lottery? But the downside is that those benefits and privileges slowed down the embourgeoisification of the white working class; it allowed them to maintain the tribal, subordinate culture of the peasant, and to delay putting on the armor of light, the culture of the urban middle class. So when the day came in the 1960s when the left started pitching for the votes of minorities and women the white working class was left by the side of the road like the soldiers of a defeated army. I go into this in detail in my pieces on the "little darlings" of the ruling class.

This is not the first time that people have died of despair. What do you think that cartoonist William Hogarth and his pieces on "Beer Street and Gin Lane" of 1750 were all about? Not to mention Alfred P. Doolittle, father of a poor Covent Garden flower girl, saved in the nick of time from death-by-despair by the horror of "middle-class morality." And, of course, there is the question raised by Gregory Clark in Farewell to Alms. His study of parish records in England showed that, prior to the Industrial Revolution, England was a downward mobility society. The second sons of the landed nobility moved down into the upper middle class, living as soldiers and clergymen as fictionalized in Jane Austen novels. The less able in the middle class were downshifted to be farmers, as fictionalized in Thomas Hardy novels, and those made landless could end up as vagabonds and highwaymen. But then came the Industrial Revolution and upward mobility. Until now.

Then the lesson to the sneering progressives of the Huffington Post. Right now, you chaps are the little darlings of the ruling class, which enjoys using you as their cats' paws against the racist sexist homophobe Republicans. Have you ever thought about what comes after? When the ruling class no longer needs your services? Or if President Trump succeeds in restarting the economy and moderate voters rally to a winner?

Finally the lesson to the proud liberal ruling class. Do you care what happens to the little darlings of your political projects? I notice, according to Larry Elder, that back in 2013 Sen. Harry Reid was talking about how Obamacare would lead to "single-payer." On "Nevada Week in Review" he said that the country needs to work its way past insurance-based health care.
What we've done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we are far from having something that is going to work forever.
 Er, no, Senator. An administrative program of health care, modeled on Medicare, is not going to "work forever." It's the science, Senator. It is already a century since Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote that socialism could not work because it could not compute prices. It was left to others to fill in the details and realize that any government program is doomed to failure because every government program is an attempt to stop the world and order the tide to stop coming in. In real life things change every moment and everyone has to adapt to it, and the more people you exempt from this universal truth the harder it becomes to deal with change. When you pass a bill to make health care "work forever" as a government administrative program you are just fooling the voters and fooling yourself. You are just buying votes, living high on the hog for today and letting the future take care of itself. Settled science, pal.

I notice, Senator, that on climate, you liberals insist that immediate action is needed to head off gthe global disaster predicted by complicated climate models that have failed to predict the future. But on Social Security, which is known to be heading for disaster, you chaps are doing nothing, indeed the excellent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and other Democrats are proposing an increase in benefits rather than a sensible attempt to match future revenues with benefits. And Medicare is the same, only worse.

We know, not just from the science but from the historical record, that no government program is "forever." Unfortunately, the way that government programs end is not by sensibly adapting every day to reality, or through the temporary pain of bankruptcy as individuals and corporations must enndure. They end in the hurricane of national debt default and the blizzard of inflation. And the horror of defeat in war.

As for me, I wish that the working class had not submitted to the seduction of those 19th century rich kids and abandoned the rugged wisdom of their labor union and friendly society mutual-aid philosophy. But what working girl can withstand the smooth talk of the well-spoken rich kid when he's taking her out to dinner and dancing at swank places and telling her how pretty she is? Yes, we all deplore the vile young Sir Felix Carbury seducing the village maiden Ruby Ruggles who thinks she is too good for the local yokel. But who is out there "peacefully protesting" the vile seduction of honest working folks by ambitious well-born Ivy League graduates and their bribed apologists.

Why is that?

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