2012 February 09 Thursday
Unfairness Accounts For Failures Of Bottom 30%?
David Brooks on Charles Murray's new book Coming Apart (about cognitive sorting, the dysfunction at the bottom and the conservative lifestyles of the cognitive elite - both liberal and conservative) makes the mistake of shows the extent to which even he can't escape from liberal assumptions.
Murray’s story contradicts the ideologies of both parties. Republicans claim that America is threatened by a decadent cultural elite that corrupts regular Americans, who love God, country and traditional values. That story is false. The cultural elites live more conservative, traditionalist lives than the cultural masses.
Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society’s resources. But that’s a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.
He goes on to seemingly contradict himself in the next paragraph. Click thru and try to make sense of it.
Unfairness? Seriously? If the bottom 30% have lower IQs, low labor market participation rates, high rates of illegitimate (I use that politically incorrect word intentionally) births, and other dysfunction and limits on their abilities then the top 20% are to blame how exactly? Did the top 20% use unfair tactics to drive the bottom 30% to drop out of high school? To make them not show up for work on time? To make them get pregnant out of wedlock? To make them abuse drugs and alcohol?
Brooks and the liberals can't cure the dysfunction at the bottom with more doses of fairness from the top. What might help: The elites could do battle with each other over our media and laws that encourage impulsive bad choices. At the cost of restricting what the cognitive elite can imbibe as cultural products our media should be radically reformed and restrained to deliver far better messages to the bottom 30%. Take away glorification of impulsive lifestyles. Do not even allow a show like Jersey Shore on the air. The impulsive and dumb should get a steady diet of Leave It To Beaver and other large doses of wholeness, conventional families with solid dads, and a total lack of sarcasm directed at guys playing wholesome dad roles. Outlaw gambling. Make liquor harder to get late at night.
I do not expect liberals to be willing to inconvenience themselves in order that lower IQ and impulsive people will only take in constructive and morally restraining messages. But that is what's needed.
What else would help: A total halt and reversal of low IQ immigration. We have far too many low IQ people. Patterns of reproduction are contributing to this as well.
Unfortunately we can't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Automation and global trade are both lowering the demand for lower IQ labor and lowering the status of lower IQ laborers. Mass media and vice industries (e.g. gambling) lure lower IQ people into making bad choices. No fault divorce, decline in religious belief, the decline in the status of males, and other changes undermine the attraction of marriage.
Brooks fails to recognize the elite's role in validating the value system that is decimating the underclass. As an enlightened elite, they refuse to acknowledge the advantages conferred by the very values they embrace for themselves, and toss relativism to the masses. A rich man can afford mistakes that destroy a poor man. Traditional values are the way through the chaos, but traditional values are oppressive and must be discarded. Thus, chaos.
Low income white males income has been hammered by immigration, trade, affirmative action, automation and child custody laws. Low skilled white women have seen their value in the employment market improve relative to men. How can watching Leave it to Beaver instead of Jersey Shore make a difference to these trends? Do you think if a woman watched Beaver instead of Jersey Shore she would be happier at the prospect of a husband who earns less then her?
I have not read Murray's latest. I think David Frum has the best comments on Murray's book.
It seems "unfair" for the elite to promote a destructive lifestyle for other people which they do not indulge in themselves. I don't see why you consider that message to be be controversial.
>"Did the top 20% use unfair tactics to drive the bottom 30% to drop out of high school? To make them not show up for work on time? To make them get pregnant out of wedlock? To make them abuse drugs and alcohol?"
You seem to be under the impression that you're asking a rhetorical question, but the answer to all these is "yes".
The lower IQ have always been with us. They MUST always be with us. They have not always been as screwed up and dysfunctional as they are at present through. It's not their IQ which has changed, it's their morals. And the people who changed those were the leadership class, the high IQ, the upper 20%.
>"Automation and global trade are both lowering the demand for lower IQ labor and lowering the status of lower IQ laborers. Mass media and vice industries (e.g. gambling) lure lower IQ people into making bad choices. No fault divorce, decline in religious belief, the decline in the status of males, and other changes undermine the attraction of marriage."
All of which are either directly or indirectly caused by the upper 20%. Indirectly in the first case, and directly in the second two.
@Stilicho: the underclass is being 'decimated'? Really? They seem to be doing all right on the population front, actually.
Two points: the Great Society and associated programs would be enablers of irresponsible behavior regardless of what the upper middle class might say or do. Given that the lower classes have always been somewhat prone to irresponsibility I expect that simply loosening the strictures this way would have resulted in poor outcomes regardless.
Second, the top 20% of society are *not* the promoters of new cultural values. They may be playing a weird double game where they mouth acceptance of all sorts of stupidity while practicing conservative behavior themselves, but they didn't invent nor promote relativism and moral degeneracy. For that you can lay blame in various places according to preference (cultural Marxists and the Frankfurt School, TV, Hollywood or whatever) but it wasn't the upper middle class. They more or less got take for a ride: in order to demonstrate upper middle class status you have to compete in being tolerant, the more tolerant the better.
it's useful to distinguish several "elites" here. The business elite has helped to wreck the employment opportunities for many proles but them mostly left them alone. By contrast the political / government elite has waged and keeps on waging a continual war on them with measures like divorce laws, policies of "integration" with blacks, wrecked and misguided education, regressive taxes (especially see ObamaCare mandate but also sales taxes) and increasingly severe law enforcement practices (many police are proles themselves, but the policy ultimately originates from the white collar higher-ups). So it's not about the resource hogging, it is all first and foremost about the evil government.
Edward Banfield said exactly the same thing in "The Unheavenly City" as far back as 1968. No one took him seriously then, and even as the problem grew worse and dysfunctional culture became ever more glorified, unfortunately no one is taken you, Myron Magnet, Theodore Dalrymple, et al. seriously today. Make sure you're packing at all times.
--@Stilicho: the underclass is being 'decimated'? Really? They seem to be doing all right on the population front, actually."--
Hell, 1 in 10 dead would be a fucking miracle...
I'm saying that lower IQ and impulsive people are far more easily tempted into destructive behavior. The same messages and temptations (e.g. "No money down!" or "Our gaming action is fast and fun" or "I'm keeping my baby" or "Dial now and talk with one of our hot babes") do way more harm to the bottom 30%. They've got less money to waste. They have a harder time saving. They have a harder time concentrating and learning.
Beaver versus Jersey Shore: The more sexy and higher status males the higher IQ and impulsive female gets shown as idols the harder time she's going to have trying to accept a guy low enough in status and looks and skills that she could hope to keep him. Encouraging female hypergamy is very destructive. Heavily marketing vice (alcohol, gambling, porn, etc) to the society as a whole does damage to those least able to cope.
The business elite will send out any message that makes them money. Damn the consequences. The liberal elite pretends education can solve it all while the liberal elite works in media companies that deliver the destructive messages. There's a complete denial that the bottom just can't handle what modern society serves up.
The credential craze (which is largely a result of elite projects like the Civil Rights Act, which indirectly made IQ tests unusable for the majority of jobs) makes it hard for those whose families lack the resources and connections to get them into elite institutions to move even into the middle class. Mass immigration has driven down wages for those who work in less-skilled occupations. Many white men in these occupations have soldiered on where possible (as opposed to lower-class black men, who've more or less dropped out of the workforce), but the simple fact is that when a Mexican will work for less than minimum wage and live in a hovel with his entire extended family, a white guy looking for a living wage is effectively unemployable.
Lower-class whites have none of the perks afforded to lower-class blacks either. A poor white kid doesn't have affirmative action to promote him beyond his abilities. In fact, the poor white kid suffers this disadvantage even when competing against the child of rich blacks. A poor white kid who beats the odds and gets into an elite institution won't have employers seeking "diversity" chasing after him like they chase after Magic Negroes (and Magic Mexicans). Any time an occupation that does not require a college degree actually pays a living wage, it is taken as a sign that we need to import more immigrant labor to drive down wages in that area.
Given these things, it would not be surprising if lower-class whites assumed that their elites were, far from being merely indifferent to them, actually actively working against them. Hearing someone like Murray, who's been comfortably ensconced in the upper class for decades, insulated from the forces that have decimated the fortunes of the other half of the white population during that time period, condescendingly declare that the poor white trash need to be taught proper morals and discipline, is adding insult to injury.