2008 April 11 Friday
Barack Obama's Dim View Of Small Town Folks

Ronald Reagan never would have said this. Barack Obama sees small town America full of racist, bitter, gun-loving religious nuts. Yes, the paragraph below came out of Barack's mouth and you can expect the liberal media to defend him or ignore it.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

So if you oppose large scale immigration from the Third World you are clinging as a way to explain your frustrations and you have a small town mentality. You have to stop clinging and let the world run you over - oh, and vote for Obama to show you aren't small town.

Obama can get away with saying this stuff because people people do not find Hillary Clinton as friendly and the media wants a liberal in the White House. Plus, lots of people want to prove they aren't racist by voting for a black guy.

With a choice between John "invade the world, invite the world" McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack (uncritically accepted phony) Obama I gotta say I feel like a spectator with no dog in this fight. But I'm disappointed by the lack of real critical analysis of what these candidates say.

A Pew poll says people like Obama because he makes them feel good about themselves.

While Obama's positive personal image plays an important role in his high favorable ratings, the polling found that his ratings are more influenced by how he makes voters feel than by specific characteristics they attributed to him. In particular, views that Obama inspires hope and pride are the strongest determinants of a person's opinion of him. In other words, he is a charismatic candidate who has made large numbers of Democratic voters feel good, and this is even more important to them than specific perceptions of him.

In contrast, Clinton's image is more driven by opinions about her own qualities, rather than the emotions she engenders in others. Although, making voters feel hopeful does register as a significant factor for her, especially among women, it is much less important than for Obama. Honesty is as much a factor for her as for him, though many fewer see her as honest compared to her opponent.

The press could decide to ignore Obama's comments about small town people so that those people can feel good about themselves due to other things he says.

Hillary says Pennsylvanians need a President that does not look down on them. Well, okay, but isn't it too late for someone else to join the US Presidential race?

“I saw in the media it’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that’s not my experience.

“As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children.

“Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families.”

I sure miss Ronald Reagan. And Ike too.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 April 11 07:26 PM  Elites As Enemies

HellKaiserRyo said at April 11, 2008 10:49 PM:

Randall, I could understand Obama's sentiments against small town America. Of course, these are generalizations regarding this phenomenon. However, I can testify to the veracity of some his remarks because I have encountered a conservative who is from the southwest on another forum that is the stereotypical example of what liberals like myself revile. My remarks, of course, do not extend to you Randall, as you are one of the few conservatives who usually has something that is worth listening to. Unlike many conservatives, you appreciate human nature, and as Darwinian leftist, you have my respect.

I do not have any sympathy with conservatives railing against the welfare state that Obama wants to expand. However, I am afraid that a potential welfare state will overextend itself because of illegal immigration. In addition, I understand that the effects of income redistribution are also limited; such redistribution cannot preclude the formation of market dominant minorities, extreme inequality, and resentment. My suggestion for the new conservatives is to de-emphasize tax cuts and focus on immigration. But deep down inside, you know that is not going to happen. The Republican Party is the party of the wealthy, the financially secure - they have little interest in helping lower income whites but express their concern in maintaining the economic status quo and hierarchy as long as the wealthy retain their positions at the top..

black sea said at April 12, 2008 2:57 AM:

" . . . they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them . . . "

In contrast, I suppose, to those living on the Southside of Chicago?

Neo said at April 12, 2008 6:43 AM:

When I posted about this yesterday, I had found the part ..

anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

.. as just breathe taking in regard to the fact that just the day before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had exercised the "nuclear option" and taken the Columbian Free Trade agreement out of contention for an up or down vote.

But why would Nancy Pelosi be bitter ?

But alas, here was the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for POTUS basically saying that this was a cynical act, probably a cynical political act which was not in the interest of the nation, but nonetheless standard Democratic fare of the day.

Does Obama believ that Pelosi and the House are cynical and/or bitter ? .. or is he just being reckless ?

I will watch and wait for an answer.

Randall Parker said at April 12, 2008 9:27 AM:


Yes, the irony of a Democrat who claims to want to renegotiate NAFTA (though whose aide told a Canadian consulate he didn't really mean it) who looks down on small town folks for their anti-trade sentiments. I mean, if you are going to lie and pretend to be against free trade you have got to be careful and not belittle people who are against free trade. This is the problem with lying. It takes on-going efforts to keep your statements consistent.


Railing against the welfare state: Have you ever read Charles Murray's Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950-1980? If not, I recommend it to you. It presents a lot of evidence for the moral hazards and harm of the welfare state. Mind you, it does not present all the evidence. He does not write about Darwinism in that book.

I see the welfare state as encouraging dysgenesis. The welfare state is one of the reasons the dummies and the impulsive are outbreeding the smarties. It is not the only reason. But it certainly is one of them.

I find your support of the welfare state as against Republicans as coming up short (unless you've made arguments elsewhere I'm not aware of on this point) is that you do not advocate policies that would tend to compensate for the otherwise continually widening damage caused by the welfare state. Sure, you want to cut back on the immigration. But even without immigration the welfare state causes progressively greater damage due to both selective effects and effects of behavior of the lower classes unrelated to reproduction.

Randall Parker said at April 12, 2008 9:32 AM:

black sea,

Blacks are not held up to the same moral standards as whites. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both do not hold blacks to the same moral standards as whites. The whites in rural towns are expected to behave much better and think loftier thoughts than the blacks in the Southside of Chicago.

Of course, this liberal double standard about white and black behavior really demonstrates they really believe much the same things about race in their hearts as they claim white conservatives to believe.

America lies about race. Liberals enforce the taboos that produce the lies.

HellKaiserRyo said at April 12, 2008 10:21 AM:

I also read portions of The Bell Curve. It was hard for me to follow the initial chapters because I was trying to ignore their evidence which sundered my worldview at the time.

I am going to say this as a liberal: I support the abolishment of AFDC and replacing it with TANF. Why? Such an agenda effectively dealt with the dysgenic externality caused by giving unconditional welfare money away. Furthermore, there is empirical evidence that welfare reformed worked:

However, these Heritage Foundation articles are rather biased and it is unlikely that the welfare reform legislation alone contributed to the salutary effects. One reason for the decreased poverty after the advent of welfare reform is the expansion of the earned income tax credit, but those Heritage Foundation papers do not mention the effects of the EITC in order to further its ideology. There is evidence that the EITC is an effective anti-poverty tool: http://www.cbpp.org/7-19-05eic.htm . Moreover, the expansion of the EITC was opposed by Republicans in the Clinton era (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE3D81231F93AA2575AC0A963958260). Perhaps, this is one rare example where bipartisan interests worked together to help the condition of the vulnerable in society.

Eliminating the dysgenic externality is a top priority as I do realize that they are a liability and procreation will further increase the burden of the state as much as I hate to overtly admit it. This is the only reason a liberal supports welfare reform.

You do have to remember that some of Charles Murray's views of welfare changed from the period he wrote Losing Ground to the period he co-authored The Bell Curve. Randall, I do not understand how emphasizing personal responsibility for some people on welfare will help them. You do have to remember that some people lack the capacity for exercising personal responsibility. You seem to be one of the few conservatives who understands that. So what are the other "moral hazards" and "harm" caused by the welfare state on its recipients (and the long term damage)? I do not see how programs such as the EITC promote moral hazard; in fact, it is integral for the well-being of people who do not have the leverage in the labor market to negotiate for high wages. Moreover, I do not see how expanding medical coverage for those who do not have enough leverage in the labor market to acquire it independently promotes those effects too. To the contrary, I probably see a dysgenic effect in promoting child credits – I want to promote a childless lifestyle for the unfortunate.

Randall Parker said at April 12, 2008 2:49 PM:


Personality responsibility: It is possible to construct a system where the less intelligent and more impulsive will behave more responsibly. Now, they won't behave with a high level of responsibility. But for most of them behavior improvement is possible.

For example, high tech methods to enforce timely car payments work.

A new gizmo is upping the odds that even the most hard-knock customer will come up with the car payment. Hooked into the ignition system, the gadget comes in a handful of versions with one common conclusion:

No pay, no start.

It's worked wonders at Norfolk's Patriot Auto Sales, where nearly every car that drives off the lot is outfitted with a PayTeck Smart Box, a system that hands over a five-digit code in exchange for each payment. Come due date, the car won't crank until the customer punches the code into a palm-size keypad wired into the dash.

This is great for people who think with really short time lines.

Here's another device that works similarly to decrease car loan default rates:

Sekurus was founded in 1999 and started selling On Time, as the device is called. It has sold 250,000 at up to $250 each. Most are bought by finance companies or dealers who cater to the most troubled car buyers, those who need basic transportation yet have checkered credit histories.

The box's LED light starts blinking when a payment is nearly due. On deadline day, the unit not only blinks, but beeps. Motorists find it so annoying that it drives "them absolutely nuts," Simon says.

When the customer makes the payment, the lender gives them a six-digit code to enter into the box.

The device lowers default rates for subprime auto loan borrowers that typically run about 30% to about 5%, according to Simon. When default rates fall, lenders feel more secure offering financing for more valuable cars to high-risk customers. By forcing buyers to pay on time, the device also rebuilds their credit record.

Why or how would EITC increase labor market bargaining leverage? If someone has more cash and there is less in need of a job they become less likely to work. That strikes me as a moral hazard.

If you want to stop dysgenesis then tie welfare payments to use of birth control.

Medical coverage: It is hard to incentivize people with short attention spans to buy medical insurance to deal with some health problem that might show up months or years from now. But if you just plain give them health coverage then they have less incentive to work and less incentive to hold back on consuming other goods and services.

Child credits: A income deduction for children on tax forms reduces total dollars paid in taxes more for those who have higher tax rates. One could fashion tax handling of children that even more severely benefits the affluent rather than the lower income.

HellKaiserRyo said at April 12, 2008 5:35 PM:

Medical coverage: it is also harder to incentivize people who do not have the money to afford private health insurance to buy it. The only solution I can think of to provide these people with health insurance is Pareto inefficient, but morally acceptable in a utilitarian framework. But I find your claims about incentives regarding health insurance to be risible. Do you have any evidence that people with lower IQs (or lower incomes if you deem that a worthy proxy) will act more cautiously about their health if they are deprived of health insurance? There is evidence that people who have Medicaid have better health outcomes than those who do not. (http://www.cbpp.org/7-19-05health.htm). I do not expect that lower IQ people will utilize health care in the same fashion as more intelligent people, but it does seem that giving them health care improves outcomes. I do not think any wonk has the ability to make policy recommendations that will eliminate health inequalities.

EITC... I do not see how it provides a negative incentive, but it does give people an incentive to work as it does offset the payroll tax. I do not expect some people who get the EITC have the ability to get the necessary training to acquire a higher paying job. The phase-in of the EITC gives people an incentive to work harder.

Dragon Horse said at April 12, 2008 6:26 PM:

Its kind of funny that Randall thinks he is has found the Holy Grail, but no one else is seeing it...like Church Hill type tragic figure of sorts. I guess that gives one a sense of righteousness...like a profit who no one listens to. What is interesting is that in this country that Randell claims to be a patriot of, the vast majority of citizens don't seem to be agreeing with him (as he pointed out he doesn't have a 'dog in the race' this year) and even most educated and published intellectuals (on average) don't reflect his views. It must be a lonely world. Then again if everyone agreed...Randall might get bored.

I thought of Randall when I read this article:


Randall Parker said at April 12, 2008 11:34 PM:

Dragon Horse,

I'm such a tragic figure I find myself in internet discussions with people who can't spell Churchill or prophet and who can't even consistently spell Randall.

Righteousness: Not really that important to me.

Published intellectuals: they lean leftward on average. Very few of them are very quantitative and empirical, both left and right.

Seeing things others don't: It is to be expected given that the average IQ in America is below 100 and dropping. On top of that natural selection produced human brains that have patterns of flaws in how the mind processes inputs.


One problem with just plain giving poor people health insurance is that that decreases the incentive for people on the margin to buy health insurance.

I was discussing health insurance and health savings accounts (HSAs) with a friend who is closer to you than me politically. I think of him as a Truman Democrat. Anyway, he made a few good points. First off, we are better off getting younger people in general into HSAs so that they see the money spent on medical care as coming out of their own pockets. If they try harder to stay healthier then their net worths will grow each year and they'll accumulate money they can use during retirement. He doesn't expect HSAs to get repealed under Obama or Hillary because there are enough people in them to form an interest group to protect them. Governments could put money to HSAs for poor people.

clayton said at April 13, 2008 9:12 PM:

Hey Randall

1) thanks for the reminder, I need to open a HSA this week. Makes sense to me, and is tax deductible.

2) I have had an ongoing discourse with myself regarding the conservative notion of education, and the roll government plays in it. My primary concern is the attempt to reduce critical thinking skills in favor of being able to pass tests (no child left behind) and how this is interconnected to a continued push for a deregulation of industries and diminished opportunities to hold companies liable for their actions. It seems to me that when children are not taught the skills necessary to analyze or differentiate products/ideas , they are in effect less able to make good decisions as consumers/voters (which is the ultimate aim of corporations, get us to shop). The net effect is we do have people voting for hope, and not any real policies. I know I am all over the map on this , but in my mind I see a push to weaken us intellectually, not in a genetic manner as some say "muddying the waters". I guess the desired result (of the CABAL) is a dumbed down population that shops till we drop, fights each other, stays disorganized and doesn't rock the multimillionaire boat. Doesn't it make sense that all should have the opportunity for the cream to rise to the top, and let those that can't make it through college at least be good citizens (intellectually).

3) Genome VS Proteome? Whats is your take.

4) what is the last book you read.

5) Are you aware of the role nutrition plays in stimulating genetic coding. I am a fish oil guy, I work for a leading manufacturer and am constantly being given research on how it effects so many metabolic functions. EPA yields resolvins as exposed by the researcher Charles Serhan. Also I have yet to hear you adress nutritions role in mental decline. You did address DHA's role as a structural component and fuel for the brain with a question about genetic factors for efficiency and high IQ's.

“We're still vulnerable when we're not consuming that vitamin-rich diet. I think we're seeing it today in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. If you take away the fuel, the brain suffers.”

This Letter to the editor is an excellent example of looking at food closely.

Then again

Before the Appleton Wisconsin high school replaced their cafeteria's processed foods with wholesome, nutritious food, the school was described as out-of-control.

just my 5 cents

John said at April 14, 2008 12:56 PM:

I escaped small-town Western Pennsylvania by joining the Navy, seeing the world, then settling in a place I consider much more sophisticated than my humble beginnings--Center City Philadelphia.

At the time Mr. Obama made those comments about small town Pennsylvania, I was visiting sick relatives near Pittsburgh.

I hate to say it, but Mr. Obama is RIGHT about this message.

What people don't like is HEARING THE TRUTH.
They didn't want to know if/who/how to attack someone after 9/11.
They don't want to hear about their own ignorance now.

Walter Mondale lost an election because he spoke truthfully here in Philadelphia, that the next administration would have to raise taxes. True, but unpopular, and taxes were raised anyway.

I don't see why people are offended about this comment--It's dead on target--pardon the pun.
Religion teaches people to distrust the unfamiliar, and if you live in a small town, you're simply not exposed to different ideas, as you are in a city.

Of course, most cities are governed by the yahoos that live in small towns upstate....

A Hillary supporter

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