The mortality rate for white men and women ages 45-54 with less than a college education increased markedly between 1999 and 2013, most likely because of problems with legal and illegal drugs, alcohol and suicide, the researchers concluded. Before then, death rates for that group dropped steadily, and at a faster pace.And you might have thought, as I did, well, no wonder: the white working class was doing great for decades after World War II, but in this generation it's seen its jobs offshored, then onshored at much lower wages -- and the jobs that stuck around don't pay so well either. Having excavated everything that can be excavated from the poor and the black, our system has taken to chipping at the lower end of the middle class. Between the economic and the emotional toll of this de-privileging, no wonder so many of these people are killing themselves, quickly or slowly.
National Review's David French read the same story, and of course his conclusion is that liberals are to blame:
While the economic challenges of working-class voters are well documented, the cultural challenges are just as notable.You may think trying to raise kids on twenty grand a year is rough, but your lack of culchah is just as much of a problem -- and cheaper for me, so let's tackle that first!
At every turn, the cultural aristocrats cause harm. Mocking poor whites is among the last acceptable forms of bigotry.You mean like "Li'l Abner"? Or "South Park"? French is unclear -- I assume purposefully, and that the picture he wishes to paint is of callous urban sophisticates laughing at a meth-addled cracker, rather than of salt-of-the-earth middle Americans laughing at "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Even the white working-class voters struggling with declining wages, declining health, and increasing despair are derided as somehow “privileged.” Those who speak for them are labeled bigots.Like how they treated this fella. Obviously it was class warfare against white people.
Meanwhile, people keep dying, and families fracture. This is more than just mocking suffering, though — it’s celebrating the disease while rejecting the cure. Self-indulgence is the animating force behind the sexual revolution, and the sexual revolution is gutting the working class.If you callous sophisticates hadn't done so much coke and had so many orgies, right out there where people could see it, Cletus and Brandine would never have took to moonshine and sex with their cousins.
As Murray notes in his book, cultural progressives flood the nation with messages celebrating hedonism and sexual experimentation even as they tend to preserve their own wealth and power through remarkably restrained and disciplined personal lives — getting married, remaining faithful, and investing in their children. They don’t practice the hedonism they so loudly preach.Make that "if you callous sophisticates hadn't etc. etc. and nevertheless managed to live happy productive lives, etc." Why, it's like having to put up with a cheerful atheist -- it sets a bad example for the proles!
On the one hand you have wingnuts like French crying that the middle class is collapsed or collapsing because of Playboy and rap music; on the other you have wingnuts like David Harsanyi who claim that this shit economy is actually "dynamic" and you should all go get Uber jobs and feel the dynamism of a week-by-week struggle to afford a hovel and slop. Pick your confusion; doesn't matter which, so long as millionaires get all the tax breaks and we zero out welfare.
UPDATE. At The Federalist Ben Domenech gets in on it. He implies -- slightly more gently than other benefit cops like Jonah Goldberg -- that the growing ranks of erstwhile workers on disability are swollen with frauds. And natch, it's about the culchah:
As a cultural matter, the picture is even worse. The surrender to the permanent trap of disability payments is a consequence of a loss of a certain American working class stoicism, which grappled with the tragic nature of life with what was essentially a 19th-century mentality.We were a stronger, more American America when crips were left to forage or beg.
It was hard enough to deal with such a vision before the disintegration of working class marriage in the country – notice the contrast drawn by Charles Murray between the attitudes toward marriage and the experience of divorce in the white working class versus professionals.When we've finally turned into the neofeudal hellscape of Lang's Metropolis for real, I expect there'll be a statue of Charles Murray in every town square.
UPDATE 2. Some very fine comments here. e.g., Susan of Texas:
What is it about white culture that is destroying white Americans?
You vote for politicians who outsource your jobs. Your own crap job, when you can get one, is hard on the body and soul- and dignity-crushing. You go to the doctor for pain-killers to ease the bodily pain and take too many to anesthetize the mental pain. You fatally poison yourself with drug and alcohol anesthetics or get a DWI and lose more jobs or drive away your family. (I'm still waiting for someone to tell us how getting married and not having kids will create factories out of thin air.)...Worth going in and reading in full. I should add that, especially when you get past a certain age, physical labor is hard on you -- which is something you might miss even if you were a waiter at 20 but never a fry-cook at 55. Go to any actual working-class neighborhood and you'll see some people limping or hobbling from the bus to their homes -- and if they stiffen up they tend not to work it out at the yoga studio. I wonder if French and Domenech have ever seen this, or if they think it's really like the Seven Dwarves whistling to and from the mine.