Thursday, July 13, 2017

Yes, Culture and Behavior Codes Matter. But So Does Policy

When conservatives get annoyed with David Brooks, the house conservative columnist at The New York Times, they forget his job description. His job is to gently waft a bit of conservatism at NYT readers without turning them off with the nasty smell. It is to hold up s soft-focus mirror to the lumpen-liberals, so that maybe they will laugh at themselves. Just a little.

But never, oh never, make them mad. Because then they will stop reading, and then David Brooks won't have a job.

Conservatives have been laughing and sneering at David Brooks for his recent article, "How We Are Ruining America," that gently suggests that the whole upscale latte culture, with a side of organic food and Italian sandwiches, is just a teeny bit exclusionary. It is what we might call the liberal equivalent of raccoon-skin coats and Stutz Bearcats.

Once upon a time wealthy young college men used to wear raccoon-skin coats and drive Stutz Bearcats. At least I think so. Hollywood made a few movies with those kind of kids in them, so I suppose it must be true. The point about raccoon-skin coats and Stutz Bearcats, I assume, was that you can't afford them.

Paul Mirengoff takes after Brooks and his critics by pointing out that the big divide in America is not about exclusionary cultural markers that tell the hoi-polloi that they are not welcome here. The reason that educated people do well and others do not comes down to "behavior codes."
Brooks and the experts he cites in his column are blaming people with winning behavior codes for the woes of the children of people with losing codes.
And that, for Mirengoff, is missing the point.

Meanwhile Gavin McInnes takes after a documentary by Ben Lear, the son of Archie Bunker's Norman Lear, that present violent Hispanic boys in the US as helpless victims of the system "that does nothing to help." One boy shot and paralyzed a young woman; the other one stabbed a fellow gang member. Both were living in single-parent homes. Gavin McInnes assumes the settled science that the way to avoid raising killer kids is:

  1. Finish high school.
  2. Don't have kids until you are married.
  3. Don't get divorced.

OK, so why don't the folks in the inner city get a clue? Why don't they drive their kids mercilessly to do well in school? Why do they put up with lousy schools? What is wrong with them?

You know what is coming. I propose to analyze the lower orders using my reductive Three Peoples theory and my definition of government:
Government is an armed minority occupying territory and taxing the people thereof to reward its supporters.
 But I want to further sharpen my definition of government to suggest that a government and its supporters are very like an army. The ruling class is the officer corps and the supporters are the "licentious soldiery" that sit around in the barracks doing nothing except drinking and fighting unless mobilized to march off to war and become cannon fodder.

On this view our there is a method to the madness. The underclass and its votes are the liberals' army. They are the People of the Subordinate Self that live in subordination to some boss, whether to the steward of a great landowner or the local welfare bureaucrat. It makes sense to keep the soldiers barracked off from the rest of America in inner-city ghettos with lousy schools and with no jobs, but with welfare to keep the soldiers from deserting the colors. And it makes sense to sell the idea that, boy, those inner-city folks are fierce political soldiers, and you better not mess with them.

Put it this way. If the underclass all suddenly got married and insisted on decent schools and got jobs and got off welfare, what happens to the liberals' electoral army? In twenty years all those welfare recipients would be rock-ribbed Republicans. And we can't have that.

But is it right for liberals to blight the lives of millions of Americans by keeping them lounging around the liberal barracks with nothing to do but drink and drug and fornicate and kill each other? Is it not the vilest injustice ever? To tempt people into dysfunction with the promise of a miserable welfare check? Or, as they say, to pimp out the underclass with money for nothing?

In the old days, of course, the poor just died off. That is clear from Gregory Clark's Farewell to Alms. Before about 1800, in England, the poor had fewer surviving children than the middle class and the rich so society was "downwardly mobile." But the industrial revolution changed all that and society became "upwardly mobile" as the lower classes bettered their condition and rose from penury to decency and then to prosperity.

In recent years, most commentators agree, the upwardly mobile society seems to have stalled, in part because of the decline of manufacturing, and because of the workforce competition from immigrants like me and from women entering the workforce. Oh, and, of course, from so many people exiting the workforce to go on welfare or disability.

I'd say that the reason for this is liberals. It is liberals that gave manufacturing workers privileges so they could be paid above market with union jobs that could not be adjusted until the whole thing came crashing down. It is liberals that have flooded the nation with immigrants and tempted corporations to hire cheap immigrants instead of native workers. It is liberals that have taught women to believe that they should be careerists rather than mothers and homemakers. It is liberals that have relaxed the rules for welfare and for disability.

And why not? For liberals, political power is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. And to do politics you need a political army that will march off to war when the command is given.

So nothing will change unless we break the power of the liberals.

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