*Dignity: Seeing Respect in Back Row America*

That is the new book by Chris Arnade, insightful throughout and with excellent photos.  Excerpt:

McDonald’s wasn’t just central to my friends, it was important to everyone in the neighborhood.  It was always packed with families and older couples, especially on weekend mornings.  In the evenings, it was filled with teenagers or young couples going out.

There weren’t really many other options.  McDonald’s was one of the few spaces in Hunts Point open to the public that worked.  While wonderful and well-intentioned nonprofits serve Hunts Point, whenever I asked anyone where they wanted to meet or grab a meal, it was almost always McDonald’s.

Arnade indicts “the elitists,” whereas I would lay heavier blame on alcohol and drug abuse.  Many much poorer people never touch the stuff, and furthermore I would have added a comparison with America’s dark-skinned, not entirely popular Muslim immigrants, the non-drinking ones most of all.  There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture, and we need to think harder about what that might be.  Neither sympathy nor empathy changes that fact, and I am happy to be one of the elitists under indictment.  I would rather write what I think than try to make other people feel better, or to support my favored politics, and perhaps that attempt is doomed in any case?  Is it more or less condescending to hold the poor to high standards?


'It was always packed with families and older couples, especially on weekend mornings. '

Well, that made me feel old - I can remember when McDonald's was actually important to a lot of people my age, and it was years before the introduction of the Egg McMuffin.

One of the biggest highlights of being in Cub Scouts was visiting the kitchen of a McDonald's - but that was almost 5 decades ago.

'There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture, and we need to think harder about what that might be.'

Too much meanness to billionaires, and not enough love letters to shark like entities?

'I am happy to be one of the elitists under indictment'

Since when did being solidly middle class make one an elitist?

'or to support my favored politics'

It has been a while, but truly, there are still reminders of what made this the best satire site on the web.

we gonna go straussian big time on this one
"One of the biggest highlights of being in Cub Scouts was visiting the kitchen of a McDonald's - but that was almost 5 decades ago.
'There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture, and we need to think harder about what that might be."

mebbe mcdonalds is friendly to nonprofit charity deductible organizations on a budget?

mebbe mickeyds is

mebbe mickeyd's is not actually so evil after all?

"inequality, addiction, and poverty" Are usually the result of choices made freely and quite happily. Charity and welfare reward these bad choices and perpetuates "inequality, addiction, and poverty".

not to invoke zizek too much, but it seemed relevant to put this Winter’s Tale quote here that has always affected me for mostly non-socioeconomic reasons:

“What he did next, as a matter of routine, made Peter Lake close his eyes in horror. But the doctor continued, his hands glistening, as if nothing had happened. 'They come down here for their own benefit. It's as clear as day that they love it. The great irony and perfect joke is that the wretches on the bottom of the barrel get these self-serving scum as champions. Some champions! They feed off the poor--first materially, and then in spirit. But they deserve each other in a way, because vice and stupidity were made to go together.
"'I know this, you see, because I was poor. But I rose like a rocket, and I know how the whole thing works. The ones who are always on your side, or so they think, are the ones who keep you down. Everything they do keeps you down. They'll forgive you for anything. Rob, rape, pillage, and kill, and they'll defend you to yourself. They understand all outrages, and all your failings and faults, too. Perfect! You can go on that way forever. What do they care? Excuse me: they do care. They want it that way.'
"He bent over to make a short cut, as thin as a hair, across the chest of the emaciated blond girl that he had just eviscerated. 'How would they make a living, these servants of the poor, if there were no poor?”

"these servants of the poor": I remember when "poverty pimps" was used to describe them.

hey deep state surveillance state
time for confession!
the 15 year old "housing first" program/ideology

"Is it more or less condescending to hold the poor to high standards?"

No, whether it's the poor, racial minorities, or anyone else with a (real or imagined) disadvantage, refusing to hold them to high standards because of it is called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

I'm not sure whether "holding to high standards" is the right formulation, but you are correct to invoke soft bigotry of low expectations, and Tyler is definitely on point in comparing writing what he thinks vs. trying to make others feel better (or, left unsaid, trying to appear compassionate or sympathetic).

The question is whether it's better to recognize reality as it actually exists or to appear politically correct. One should ask oneself this question: what would most positively impact the life of any given "Back Rower", abstaining from alcohol abuse or making some change to trade policies, minimum wage laws, or welfare programs? I know when my parents raised me, in thinking about what would most help me, they emphasized the former over the latter. In fact, most parents, when it comes to their own children, emphasize imparting good habits of personal conduct over advocating public policy. They know that the former is what will most help their own children. For some reason, when it comes to other people's children --- and we are all someone's child --- people like to think of themselves as "compassionate" or open-minded for doing the reverse. I don't know any good parent that says, "Forget teaching my children to stay off drugs --- that's victim blaming. I'm going to advocate for more generous welfare, which eventually will create a social environment that will marginally reduce the statistical probability that someone sharing the same demographic characteristics as my children will stay off drugs."

'emphasize imparting good habits of personal conduct over advocating public policy'

Oddly, most parents in Fairfax County were much more interested in the quality of the schools than in whether or not they were imparting good habits of conduct.

Of course, the fact that Fairfax County is atypical - being one of the richest counties in the U.S. - might just mean that the parents living there are also atypical.

Oddly, most parents in Fairfax County were much more interested in the quality of the schools than in whether or not they were imparting good habits of conduct.

And, pray tell us, how you know that? Or did you just pull it out of your ass?

It's always the latter.

'how you know that'

Being born and growing up in Fairfax, where several brothers and a sister still live?

Or maybe it is just parents in neighborhoods like Olde Creeke, Mantua, or Rutherford that think that way - the sorts of neighborhoods that feed high schools like Woodson.

When people talk about a "high quality" K-12 school, what they usually mean is a school at which most of the parents that happen to send their kids there have imparted good habits of personal conduct in their children.

'there have imparted good habits of personal conduct in their children'

Or at least have access to the sort of legal expertise that ensures youthful indiscretions do not become part of a student's permanent record.

In another context and country, the students with the most notable problems with drug use are the students with rich parents. One can see this in almost any private school setting, by the way - of course, it is reasonable to say that such a private school is not a "high quality" K-12 school. Except for some reason, such private schools tend to feed their students into "high quality" private universities.

>One can see this in almost any private school setting, by the way

Nonsense. I defy you to present any solid evidence that rates of drug or alcohol abuse are higher or even equal at private schools compared to public.


It would only be "the soft bigotry of low expectations" if the rich were held to those high standards. Often they are not, google "affluenza" for more details. Middle-class and upper-class communities would rebel if marijuana laws were enforced as zealously and consistently for them as they are for African-American.

That is tedious retort that justifies the soft bigotry of low expectations and which serves only to keep people mired in bad conditions.

'refusing to hold them to high standards because of it is called "the soft bigotry of low expectations"'

Luckily for us, a large number of the well off involved in vast financial misdeeds a good decade ago are serving jail time - all of those signed documents proving extensive fraud were a gold mine to hold the well off to the sort of high expectations those with responsibility have earned.

Which criminal statute would be applied?

" - all of those signed documents proving extensive fraud . . . " Please explain specifically which documents were forged/fraudulent: Loan applications? Loan Notes? Personal financial statements? Mortgage Lien Papers?

Not a fan of calculated risk, particularly Tanta (who has been dead for years, admittedly), are you? https://www.calculatedriskblog.com

This is a fair sample of her style - 'To blame the perfectly predictable and in fact predicted blowup in recent mortgage vintages on some small-time internet crooks, even tentatively, does, you know, seem a bit convenient. I hasten to add, ritually, that of course fraud is fraud and that it's no less illegal just because lenders appeared to be up on their hind legs begging for it. The Nigerian scam is illegal, and should be. But how much sympathy do most of us have for people who fall for it? Well, some, perhaps, if those who fall for it are innocent, gullible, not highly-sophisticated souls who just got their first Yahoo! email account.

You know something's being pulled over on you when the mortgage industry is willing, implicitly, to allow itself to look like a bunch of innocent, gullible, not highly-sophisticated souls who just got their first Yahoo! email account. This reminds me of those famous CEOs who earn their obscene millions of dollars a year in compensation by apparently having no idea how their business works or what goes on in it on an average day. Or at least that's what they've asked a few courts of law to believe.

So, yes, I am violating my "No Enron Comparisons" rule here, but I think I have a good reason for it. It is appropriate to ask how the $10 trillion mortgage industry can be so unsophisticated as to be completely helpless in the face of some pissant internet crook with a fake ADP logo jpg. Either we're the grownups in this situation or we aren't. There will always be a small amount of really good, really sophisticated fraud that will be hard to detect. Any industry who wishes to get you to believe that it is the hapless victim of this kind of crudity on a major scale is willing to look pretty stupid. You would want to ask why.' https://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2007/06/mortgage-fraud-update-back-to-beginning.html

Maybe you could do some reading there - she really was extremely knowledgeable about all the 'shortcuts' being used to commit fraud along the entire chain, which oddly no one seemed particularly concerned about in 2006.

Tanta was great. The housing bubble blog was great (and is still going I discovered recently). Think about NINJA loans and no doc loans -- the amount of fraud there alone was enormous.

When Bernanke said there was no bubble on 2005 it was clear the Fed had either absolutely no clue, which was hard to believe consider all the information available, or was a willing participant in service to the financial industry above the people of the U.S.

'the amount of fraud there alone was enormous'

And basically no one went to jail for it - talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to white collar criminals being punished.

Blaming the victim! Banks should have been more careful! They were asking for it!

Bank management was in on it. If the highly leveraged derivatives went up, they'd rake in the juicy bonuses. If they went south, the taxpayers would bail them out and they would neither be fired nor even have to endure the indignity of a trial. Faced with those incentives, how could a rational person do otherwise, apart from quaint old-fashioned notions of honor and honesty that went out of the window in the 1980s?

I axed you a simple question, Mac.

You said people should be in prison. Tell me the statutes and the evidence of crimes punishable by imprisonment.

The Dems have the same problem. They want to lock up Trump but have no crime.

And I provided an excellent source to allow you to read just how extensively crimes were committed in the mortgage industry so you could inform yourself of the broad array of law breaking.

That link, for example, talked about web services designed to provide fake documentation to get a mortgage. Tanta, a mortgage officer, explains just how many mechanisms were available to prevent such fraud - mechanisms simply no longer employed at the time.

However, you are welcome to read about this guy, and his various legal battles as emblematic of the soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to white collar criminals being punished. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-countrywide-lawsuit-mozilo-idUSKCN0Z326X

Even more amusingly, assuming you have the attention span, you can read about Mozilo and what he is up to these days here, with a quick list of some further Countrywide highlights - 'In 2011, the Justice Department said BofA had agreed to pay $335 million for the largest fair lending settlement in history (at the time), claiming Countrywide overcharged 200,000 minority borrowers.

In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission said Countrywide’s loan servicing companies were fined $108 million for overcharging struggling homeowners.

Another 2010 SEC press release announced a $67.5 million fine for Mozilo, who also was permanently barred from future positions as an officer or director in the industry.

When asked why Mozilo was provided this forum, NAMB President Richard Bettencourt referred me to Freedom Mortgage, the session’s sponsor, as NAMB leaves it up to them to decide.' https://www.ocregister.com/2018/12/13/angelo-mozilo-ex-ceo-of-failed-countrywide-financial-praised-at-mortgage-conference/

There are as many theories (my theory has nearly a hundred policies, contributors, conditions) on the causes of the 2008 financial fiasco as there are writers. 'They' need to do whatever it takes to preclude a recurrence. Sending guys to jail isn't one of them.

PS: Dodd and Frank were legislative architects and cheerleaders of the boom/bust and so they (actually the owner-lobbyists) wrote the resolution. Kind of like 1945 Hitler writing the UN Charter.

Certain buyers of mortgage-backed securities hired our firm to try go after appraisers.

For my sins, I worked that specialty. I reviewed a bunch of residential appraisal reports and compared all to the professional standards. Could not find grounds for civil liability, much less crimes - the comp sales were there. Of course, appraisal firms don't have much money to go after, either. And a sentient being would have noticed that everyone in the US cannot afford a million dollar home . . .

I saw that outrage. Mozilo paid a (not so huge compared to compensation) civil fine because they could not convict him of a crime. If they couldn't jail Moz, they could not anybody.

Again, name the US Code, chapter and verse, where Jamie Dimon should be in prison.

'And a sentient being would have noticed that everyone in the US cannot afford a million dollar home . . . '

Wait, so the fraud was obvious even to you, who worked in the industry? And yet you demand 'Please explain specifically which documents were forged/fraudulent.' Though unlike Tanta, you apparently could not find grounds for civil liability, much less crimes - maybe you should have been reading her writing in the mid-2000s.

'because they could not convict him of a crime'

Well, he was convicted - he then won on appeal. Which kind of splits the difference actually. And the fines were before the appeals - that is, he was convicted and also paid fines.

'Again, name the US Code, chapter and verse, where Jamie Dimon should be in prison.'

Why should Dimon be in prison, and where was that suggested?

The October 2008 headline should have read: "Fed Blindsided Again!"

So this is another case of a very unique definition of p_a that no one else shares. To him "fraud" is not being careful enough to avoid being defrauded by others. The people committing the crimes are the victims! Black is white! Day is night!

And as a technical note, and not having any actual idea what the 'Dems' want, but impeachment is the only thing the 'Dems' can do, and it explicitly does not include any criminal penalties - 'Article I, Section 3:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachments shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States, but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishmnet, according to Law.'

What about the weather in Berlin? Which is about as relevant to the problems of the underclass.

How much of the drugs and alcohol came after the job loss versus before? Certainly each of those situations would be handled differently. West Virginia leads the nation in per capita opioid death and usage but is that because they are a morally failed state or is there something deeper?

'but is that because they are a morally failed state or is there something deeper'

Well, a lot of the miners in West Virginia hate the sort of people they should be writing love letters to. Like to this man - 'In 2016, the former hard-charging chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co. went to federal prison for conspiring to evade safety laws in the lead-up to the worst coal mine disaster in a generation—a 2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners. Manchin, the governor at the time, commissioned an independent probe that reached blistering conclusions about Blankenship’s tight grip over Massey and did a lot to seal public opinion about his role in the disaster.

Years later, as federal prosecutors zeroed in on Blankenship, Manchin, by then a senator, said on national TV that the ex-coal boss had “blood on his hands.”

During his year in prison, Blankenship maintained his innocence, even issuing a press release blaming the federal government for the explosion and referring to himself as a political prisoner. The day he got out in May 2017, he began tweeting insults at Manchin, accusing him of lying about the causes of the explosion and challenging him to a debate. Manchin said he hoped Blankenship would disappear from the public eye. Instead, Blankenship declared his candidacy for Manchin’s seat.' https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-03-19/the-ex-con-coal-baron-running-for-senate-in-west-virginia

Sounds like moral failing, from a certain perspective. Those whose is not supposed to be open to question.

Does "hard-charging" always mean a selfish, reckless bully and cheat?

Well, it is an American term, so maybe one should use an American dictionary for the definition - 'very aggressive, determined, or ambitious : hard-driving ' https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hard-charging

Of course one could be a hard charging selfish, reckless bully and cheat. Or one could be the hard charging prosecutor that sends a selfish, reckless bully and cheat to jail.

So no, to an American, hard charging describes a certain aspect of someone, regardless of how one views other aspects of their personality or actions.

And in this passage, 'former' makes Blankenship seem a diminished figure, compared to his former, more admirable hard charging days as a CEO.

You must tell me what Americans mean when they say "aggressive". I suspect they don't always mean that someone was offering violence, but what they do mean I can never tell.

Depends - one way to look at 'aggressive' as a term is to use 'daring' in its stead for a number of cases.

And here are a number of definitions used in American English -
2a : marked by obtrusive energy and self-assertiveness - a rude, aggressive personality
b : marked by driving forceful energy or initiative : enterprising - an aggressive salesman
3 : strong or emphatic in effect or intent - aggressive colors aggressive flavors
4 : growing, developing, or spreading rapidly - aggressive bone tumors
5 : more severe, intensive, or comprehensive than usual especially in dosage or extent - aggressive chemotherapy https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aggressive

Miriam Webster is an extremely valuable source of information concerning the most common version of English used by native speakers - there are easily twice as many native speakers of American English than all other native speakers of English combined.

Thank you. But daring, energetic, rude, self-assertive, initiative-taking, enterprising, garish, fast-spreading, intensive, and comprehensive are plain different things.

I can see that the medical jargon can be set aside from the rest. But otherwise how am I to tell when which is meant? Is the meaning ever that violence was offered? Presumably it's what a policeman might mean when he describes someone whom he is trying to arrest?

'But otherwise how am I to tell when which is meant? '

And to think Americans have the same problem when dealing with British vocabulary. But hard charging individuals will take aggressive action to attempt to surmount such challenges.

Purdue put a lot of money into pushing opioids, and especially targeted those on union negotiated health plans involving physical labor (nearly all had some kind of "pain" from their work, and the union plans often made the cost sharing $0 on opioids). It's not a huge surprise that a map of where Purdue spent marketing dollars and a map of opiod overdose has a lot of overlap.

Beyond that, the Scotts-Irish have always been kind of white trash.

Excuse me?!? As a descendant of lowland Scottish Presbyterians who signed the Covenant for William, I find that remark unnecessary, unwelcome and offensive. Hounded from Scotland, many made their way to Belfast and on to America. While my family moved west, many stayed in the Appalachian hill country more reminiscent of Scotland. All they wanted was to raise their families in peace. Your comment serves to demonstrate the point that the elites not only do not understand but take pride in their ignorance by denigrating those same people. You'd benefit from trying their shoes on for awhile.

"Presbyterians who signed the Covenant for William": eh?

Agreed. I never understood with the expression "poor white trash" is not as reviled as the N word as applied to African Americans.

By that he probably means people given to drunkenness, low educational achievement, aggressive behaviour and frequent family breakdown.

They are just whites that behave like blacks. The Irish are like that. Scots too.

Actually, it's the (Southern) blacks (wherever they may have migrated to) behaving like the hillbilly whites, if you believe Thomas Sowell (economist) and David Hackett Fischer (historian) and psychologists (Nisbett and others) who have looked into "respect cultures".

That's someone's theory of course, but West African migration direct to Europe, actually despite offsets by fairly *yuge* educational selection (at least to England and Wales), doesn't end up vastly too differently. Although all West African derived minorities in the UK are much closer to the norm than their US equivalents.

Some folk have made extensive arguments from this about how this is West Africans assimilating to West Indian cultural norms, which themselves are then derived from "White hillbillies" in the West Indies, but it all frankly seems rather forced and elaborate.

Parsimony suggests it's most likely just a simpler story of West Africans being West African (even when pretty strongly selected for educational merits), exaggerated by some US specific issues when it comes to crime, and unique African-American cultural features.

Hackett-Fischer's cultures of North America just isn't empirically well founded or informed by migration data, genetic data, data on "Borderer" regions today back in the United Kingdom, etc, etc. Both he and Sowell are much more narrative guys - decent narrative histories and arguments going on there, unfortunately data doesn't really seem to support them, IMO.

The Scots-Irish aren't Irish at all. As said above, they were moved to N Ireland from southern Scotland and northern England to populate land taken over by England. They then moved on to America.

The United States really needs to cash up its Bogans.

We prefer to tell them why their failures are personal and theirs alone. If we do anything that helps the working person that would be Marxism. The elites must never be blamed. This is how Trump will win the next election.

Its worse than that. Given the opportunity to invest in more rural communities to provide better food or better health care and make a very good profit at the same time, the coastal elites snub their noses at rural folks. I know, I have tried. Instead they'd rather invest in another failed inner city project for the homeless than create jobs in Trump country. 60 jobs doesn't change anything in a blue coastal city but 6 high quality jobs in a small town can change the prospects for everyone there. But the elites just don't give a damn.

'But the elites just don't give a damn.'

Luckily for America there is Walmart and Dollar General.

Why doesn't Trump invest in Trump country? If there are big profits to be made there, coastal elites like Trump would be all over it. A good amount of virtue signaling too could be had for helping the oppressed.

If coastal elites are investing in their own cities, then what are rural elites investing in? They are the real villains.

Some (many?) people drink alcohol or take certain drugs as a relief from suffering, whether it is economic, physical, psychological, or social.
There is a cascade effect. Choose any starting point, say job loss. A man loses his job, the family has financial stresses, his wife leaves him, he starts drinking for some relief from the mental anguish. Alcohol has numerous negative side effects. The man spirals into the ground. It happens all the time, especially in areas outside the wealthy metro areas. A factory closes or moves, people lose their jobs, local small businesses close, the community augers in.

In some cases policy plays a role. Policy is made by elites, or is heavily influenced by elites. The people on the bottom have nothing to offer the politicians - no money - politicians don:t care about them, so craft and implement policy that benefits donors. No one cares about the "forgotten man".

Hence this:

"The people he got to know, from Alabama and California to Maine and Nevada, gave Arnade a new respect for the dignity and resilience of what he calls America's Back Row--those who lack the credentials and advantages of the so-called meritocratic upper class. The strivers in the Front Row, with their advanced degrees and upward mobility, see the Back Row's values as worthless. They scorn anyone who stays in a dying town or city as foolish, and mock anyone who clings to religion or tradition as naïve. "

Alcohol is a killer, and many should avoid it at all costs.

I'd say the 'typical' chronology is 1. Man drinks increasingly heavily 2. He loses his job. 3. His wife & family leave him. How many alcoholics actually have been "triggered" by an external event? I'd guess few - most simply fail to resist the siren self-medication benefits of drink as they are exposed to the stressful realities of adulthood. Failure to thrive.

I knew a chap who drank himself to death after his heart was broken by the death of his wife. There's no political or economic moral to this story.

"and mock anyone who clings to religion or tradition as naïve."

Are all traditions equal?

SCOTUS could probably decide that the Holy Constitution implies that, via a penumbra formed by an emanation.

You have described one, maybe common, entry point into the cycle. There are many. Sobriety is a virtue with many rewards. That said, alcohol is celebrated in our culture. It is everywhere. It feels so NORMAL. Once captured by addiction, it is hard for many to admit they are alcoholics - denial is powerful.

Alcohol is a killer.


No it isn't. Europeans and Asians drink more than we do and they seem to do just fine.

I have wondered if true alcoholics are rare; or if alcohol is chiefly a problem when it intersects with a certain personality. After a childhood spent in the shadow of a drunken, raging parent, the link between alcohol and fun was for me permanently severed. But I've not met anyone else for whom this was the case. Obviously, it's not something I would mention, so wouldn't necessarily draw anyone out on the subject, but I try to blend in with a token amount of drinking - and I can tell you, the tokenism is unusual, and nearly always noted by somebody. This has led me to conclude that most people have not spent time with an actual alcoholic. Either that, or some alcoholics are perfectly good-natured even in their cups.

I don't think I could do anything, drunk, that would occasion as much attention, socially, as my failure to drink the customary amount.

'But I've not met anyone else for whom this was the case.'

Seems you don't know many Mormons, military members (some, at least - the USN, for example, does not allow alcohol on its ships, for example), or a certain style of southern Baptist/evangelical believer.

Or hang out with ex-alcoholics either, a group notable for not drinking at any time.

Sorry if I was unclear. I've known non-drinkers, of course. I've not known anyone else for whom drinking was spoiled by the formative experience of an alcoholic in the family. But then I am something of a hermit.

You were clear. It doesn't take much for prior to go off on an unrelated tangent. (or is a tangent, by definition related?)

an unrelated tangent (or is a tangent, by definition related?)

We should consult wikipedia. ;-)

It was this that stood out - 'Obviously, it's not something I would mention, so wouldn't necessarily draw anyone out on the subject, but I try to blend in with a token amount of drinking - and I can tell you, the tokenism is unusual, and nearly always noted by somebody.'

I might add that American military bases also have a zero tolerance for drinking and driving (at least in the past), and anti-alcohol rules are especially strict for military pilots. But I honestly cannot think of any normal social event (rugby parties included) where not drinking, or only drinking a small amount, occasioned any particular comment at all.

And it just occurred to me - maybe ex-alcoholics are a lot more common in the DC region than other places?

I don't think alcoholism is exactly rare, but most of us can drink in .moderation without becoming problem drinkers.
I'm suspicious of claims that booze is behind any of our problems: per capita alcohol consumption has been higher in other historical era in the USA without compromising the economy. In the early 19th century, if stats are to be believed, we we were a nation of stumbling drunks.

Prohibition is on the table now? Just exactly how far back are we rewinding the clock with the Orange one in office.

Mark Kleiman, a sociologist/criminologist who was hired to set up Washington’s regulations on sale of marijuana, has long advocated raising taxes on sales of alcoholic beverages to lower consumption, and other things that lower drinking (like the 24/7 sobriety program for people with a dui). Safe, legal, and expensive.

Looking it up I see, an adult working at McDonald's in Australia, if I 've got the right award, should be paid at minimum in US dollars:

$13.63 per hour weekly.
$17.04 per hour on a Saturday.
$20.45 per hour on Sunday.
$30.67 per hour on a Public Holiday.

They also get an additional 9.5% of their pay put into their retirement fund, so if you count that the weekly hourly compensation is $14.92.

Apparently everyone in the US pays 7.65% of their pay in tax no matter what their income. Here lower income earners don't need to pay any tax on what they are paid. But there is a 10% Goods and Services tax on most things on most things people buy, so if you start looking into taxes it's difficult to compare.

But note McDonalds hires a lot of teenagers who are paid less less than adults so what they pay their average worker would be less than this.

It’s complicated, but in general the earned income tax credit rebates the payroll tax to the poor.

Can those McDonald’s workers afford to put a roof over their head, even if they jammed two bunk beds into a room so as to split the cost among four people? I thought that Australia’s housing was so expensive that PPP indices are virtually worthless now; what is the median rent on a one bedroom in Sydney, and can a McDonald’s employee afford it? If not, it just seems to me that the PPP comparison has done a poor job taking the cost of a dwelling into account.

In Sydney the average weekly rent for a house is US $378 nominal. For a flat it is $371. So two people working full time at minimum wage could afford to share the rent of the average house in Sydney.

In more sedate Adelaide the average weekly house rent is US $266 a week and flat rental is US $217.

'Apparently everyone in the US pays 7.65% of their pay in tax no matter what their income.'

Nope - there is a cap (not a minimum) on the 6.2& of Social Security tax, and that was $128,400 in 2018.

What, you think the U.S. could afford having anyone paying a 6.2% tax on any income above $128,400? Why, that would be even worse than paying an adult McDonald's worker such outrageously high wages for working on weekends or holidays. Though not quite as bad as the fact that such McDonald's workers also enjoy the sort of universal health care that apparently would destroy America's economy.)

Thankfully, socialist countries like Australia are doomed to failure. OK, not really, but this is the MR comments section, so you know there are Americans who would take that statement at face value. Starting with the idea that Australia is socialist, obviously.

2018? Amount is US$132,900 in 2019. 6.2% (Soc.Sec.) is capped on that, but Medicare tax of 1.45% isn't. Of course, that's only in the "mainstream" - grey and black market workers don't pay no stinkin' taxes.

Of course, payroll taxes in the U.S. really aren't 7.65%, they're 16.3% (as anyone who ever works for themselves quickly discovers). So you're not talking about a small additional tax. And, of course, SS was designed to mimic a pension in that everybody (even the wealthy) would receive checks and there would be a relationship between contributions and eventual pension payments. Already the system, on the whole, is progressive, with low income workers receiving more than their contributions on average and high-income workers receiving much less. Uncapping the taxes would make SS an even worse deal for higher-income workers.

Or maybe you think we should convert SS to an old age welfare program for the poor and provide no SS checks at all to wealthy retirees? If so, say so. And at that point, there would be no reason for separate payroll taxes at all -- just pay for it out of the general fund.

'Or maybe you think we should convert SS to an old age welfare program for the poor and provide no SS checks at all to wealthy retirees? If so, say so.'

Actually, I believe in the German concept of a 'Generationenvertrag' - that is, just like children at the beginning of their life are provided for (in the sense that children are not simply abandoned and left to starve), the same applies to those at the end of their life.

That is why the German pension system - in the sense of trying to prevent the elderly from being abandoned and starve to death - has functioned under an empire, a democracy created after the empire was dissolved following its losing WWI, a democracy which itself was dissolved by the genocidal totalitarian ideology that started and lost WWII, and which was further continued both by the BRD and the communist DDR, until that system too was absorbed by the current BRD.

Basically, the American perspective (such as considering SS a Ponzi scheme) is extremely limited, based on a framework that appears to actually not even consider that the U.S. was created with a document that starts with the words 'We the people...'

Of course, there are other German terms which simply do not translate well - Krankenkasse does not mean health insurance to Germans (though clearly it means health care). As for the more modern concept of a Soziale Marktwirtschaft, it seems that basically no one in the U.S. understands the idea at all - though it is hard to judge whether it is the democratic socialists or the free market fundamentalists who are the ones most mistaken when looking at it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy

Samuelson boasted that SS was a Ponzi scheme.

Lots of Americans believe it - in large part thanks to the tireless efforts of the sorts of people behind this web site and MRU.

Nonetheless, the German historical example shows just how limited that perspective is. Either a society is able to keep the elderly from being abandoned and starving, or it isn't. The mechanics (which will never be perfect) are not as important as the basic ability to provide a bare minimum of shelter and food to those at the end of their life. Just as society, one assumes, was able to do for those at the very beginning of their lives.

I can't see why you object to the use of the expression "Ponzi scheme". It seems to be a fair description of the present funding arrangements. It need have nothing to do with the desirability, or otherwise, of the purpose of the scheme. That purpose can be met, I gather, fairly cheaply: the necessary changes are modest.

But equally I understand that the financing of medicaid and medicare is quite the opposite - huge sums are involved.

I'm open to correction.

'I can't see why you object to the use of the expression "Ponzi scheme". '

Because a society's commitment to providing at least a bare substinence to those at the end of their lives is not a matter of any particular scheme.

And the German pension system implemented by Bismarck has managed to survive under a total of 5 (or 4, depending on whether you think the Weimar Republic and the BRD are similar) different governmental forms, withstanding the loss of two major wars.

'It seems to be a fair description of the present funding arrangements.'

Whether SS, as a specific program with a specific mechanism is a Ponzi scheme is much like arguing whether Bismarck's quite similar system was a Ponzi scheme - it is irrelevant to whether a society can keep those at the end of their life from being abandoned and starving.

"Because a society's commitment to providing at least a bare sustenance to those at the end of their lives is not a matter of any particular scheme."

But it IS a matter of a particular scheme. SS is intended to prevent absolute poverty among the elderly, but it does much more than that -- it provides an income stream to all levels in society, whether they need it or not. And, indeed, it pays higher income (and higher contributing) workers considerably more than low income workers (though the difference is nowhere as near as large as the difference in contributions). In this, it is much more like a large company pension, where all contribute, but the executives both contribute and receive more.

'But it IS a matter of a particular scheme.'

So, Germany has a system that is is intended to prevent absolute poverty among the elderly. However, it started under a Kaiser, and the currency was Reichmarks.

The point is not details - like who is the Kaiser today, or how many Reichmarks do people pay into the system - but the fundamental concept behind the idea of SS.

Details matter, of course, and are reasonable to discuss - but you asked what I thought, which is answered not by details, but by the idea of a 'generation contract,' regardless of the details at any particular time or place in how the elderly are provided for.

Honestly I just get aroused by the acronym SS.

After being fired from GMU for asking Jewish students to check their privilege and beg for forgiveness for their genocide and imposition of apartheid, I moved to the righteous nation of Germany. We like to consider ourselves enlightened; with free healthcare, manufacturing, and hating Juden.

"I would lay heavier blame on alcohol and drug abuse"

Let them eat abstinence!

"There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture"

Yes, elites like you regard too much of the population with too much contempt, favor policies that are disastrous to them and then preach about their weak willpower...

"not entirely popular Muslim immigrants, the non-drinking ones most of all"

You do realize that a very large percentage of drug dealers in western Europe are muslims, don't you? As long as they don't enjoy a nice red wine to complement a fine meal it's all good!

"...favor policies that are disastrous to them "

And which policies are those?

A disproportionate number of drug dealers in Australia are Muslim too, many from Lebanon. But people like Tyler like to see the 'diversity' as a good thing and just ignore the stuff they don't like or care about.

I bought some drugs today, but I'm depressed because looking it up I see they are only 6 times more than what I paid in the US. That's hardly worth boasting about.

See? Socialism spoils everything.

Why would Cowen have any idea that there are a lot of drug dealers in Western Europe or Australia that are drug dealers? To an American that sounds bizarre; Muslim immigrants to the US tend to either be highly educated (doctors, engineers, scientists), or highly entrepreneurial (owning gas stations/convenience stores, restaurants, other service businesses). Except for the wholesaling and logistics (which are handled by the cartels), drug dealing is one of the jobs in which Americans haven’t been replaced by immigrants.

TC: Arnade indicts “the elitists,” whereas I would lay heavier blame on alcohol and drug abuse.

Not unsympathetic to blaming alcohol and drug abuse, but... (probably explains much of Americans shorter life expectancy - "We're here for a good time, not a long time!" &c.)

Alcohol is down among Millennials and post Millennials, like smoking. Even adjusting for changing ethnic demographic trend. Less cool than it was.

Drugs are more mixed. Heroin is up, but probably that's something we can blame on opioid pain medication, not uniquely American hedonism. Cannabis is up (because prohibition is hard and stupid). The other trends I'm not clear on but mostly seem stable or falling.

Much of mid-late 20th century booms in drug use were driven by America's enormously affluent society, and boosted beyond this by the glamour given to "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll" lifestyle by a liberal (even libertarian) "college boy" run movie+TV complex that championed openness to these experiences (against the instincts of the conservative and closed minded).

To the extent that's cultural, it's indicting American elites once again.

However, that's a lesser point. The more point is that these trends seem to be declining in intensity; so focus on them may not make a lot of sense, if they're ramping down naturally. Don't waste time solving yesterday's problem today, when it's already being solved by society's experiences and social memory.

Focus on "the front row" / "the Dream Horders" on the other hand, may makes more sense, as this still seems to be ramping up!

On alcohol though, further notes:

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/alcohol-consumption-vs-gdp-per-capita - US alcohol consumption today is in cross-sectional terms low relative to GDP/capita.

US alcohol consumption is likely to be *even* lower relative to Actual Individual Consumption gaps (as US AIC is somewhat high relative to GDP/capita). So this if anything this measure understates the how "dry" the US is relative to its affluence and levels of consumption....

The US may have been relatively high in the past, when it was more affluent, but not today.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/share-with-alcohol-use-disorder-vs-alcohol-consumption - Neither does the US have a particularly high prevalence of problem drinking, or is there any evidence that alcohol consumption is particularly centered among those who are relatively poor. And there is essentially no relationship between the two issues, in these data, on a country level.

https://medium.com/migration-issues/mapping-american-churches-2c2fa9dd051f - in terms of US internal geography, anti-alcohol churches and statistical data on heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking) both tend to indicate that the inland south tends to drink less (and not particularly in the more African American states among these).

If you wish to reduce alcohol use, it's for practical purposes perhaps more a case of "Look to your White Evangelical Protestant southern brother!" than "Look to your dark skinned, migrant Muslim brother!"?

Overall, while alcohol consumption is still of course a problem for the US, its a bit hard to view that or problem drinking as a particular United States cultural problem, or a particular problem which "explains" any US particular underclass "pathology".

This is correct. The causality is more probably poor people abuse alcohol/drugs rather than alcohol/drugs cause poverty. Tyler seems to have an antipathy to alcohol use that is disproportionate to its detrimental effects.

Nice. Also, just because drinking is against Islam doesn't mean Muslim immigrants don't drink. My understanding is that within a generation they tend to assimilate to typical underclass levels of drug use, out of wedlock births, and crime.

It's a mixed picture. At least as I understand it, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis for ex, in the UK retain low marriage out of wedlock (and marriage rates remain generally higher), and low levels of alcohol and drug use. Educational outcomes tend to remain higher by end of education than general UK at low SES as well. Higher rates of involvement in crime though I believe (and specific types of crimes which I need not mention as well all know what they are).

Different nationalities of Moslem certainly behave somewhat differently. Impression is worst performing Moslem group in UK probably ethnically Southeastern European Muslims, the Albanians, at least in terms of crime and corruption (including organised crime), lowered educational outcomes, etc. As much as I know at least one very successful Christian Albanian guy.

One should keep in mind that in the US, Muslim’s are among the wealthiest and best educated religious groups, being well educated and highly entrepreneurial. That’s because most were legal immigrants, and because Hispanics had already filled the niches for low wage illegal immigrant labor anyway.

Yeah, I think they're like 3% of the foreign born pool (as least per the US GSS 2000-2016), and a diversity of countries.

With much mass migration things would be more familiar, but with the above conditions, much selection is therefore possible, and US involvement with Muslim majority countries tends to lean towards elite collaboration which biases things a certain way (beyond what the US long distance visa process and balance of costs/benefits produce).

A significant difference for those at the lower end of the scale (poor or a discriminated group) is that if a person at the lower end makes a misstep, it is far far more difficult to get a second chance. Those at the lower end, by necessity, must hold themselves to a high standard, at an early age.

"There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture..." Could TC be any more vague? Indeed.

Yes, no need for vague on that particular generality. How about American humankind's odd attitudes about animals? People prefer to worship from afar the panda and emperor penguin but detest the raccoons and opossums that dig in their garbage. Whooping cranes are sacred but crows are a pest. Timber wolves are a protected species but coyotes are hated with a passion.

It's illegal everywhere to subject belligerent roosters to combat but just fine to kill and eat them without the ceremony of a fight. It's exemplary to catch and "play" fish and then release them back into the water, ergo the "fun" in fishing is simply torturing the fish. Law enforcement K-9s are dog heroes that aren't intelligent enough to refuse to enter a dark building that might hide an armed killer. But they're not as important as the cop hiding behind his squad car. Go figure.

My medication limits me to one drink a day. That means that if I have a gin and tonic, or a glass of Madeira, then it's no table wine for me! Weep, oh my brothers.

Happily, there are now delicious alcohol-free beers in the supermarkets.

Name three such beers. Because I drink a beer a day, and I don’t care if they have alcohol or not. But they must taste good.

Here's one in a Czech style, one in a Scottish style and two in English styles.

Sainsbury's low alcohol Czech Lager

Brewdog's Nanny State

Adnam's Ghost Ship alcohol-free.

A fourth I've tried that I didn't like, but that I can see that many people might is

St Peter's Without.

There you are - hell, two even have witty names.

My medication limits me to one drink a day.

Cue Victor Meldrew.

Ain't no one in Britain over 40 who keeps it to one drink a day or has a full set of teeth.

What does it mean to “hold the poor to high standards”? What does judging people accomplish? I think you shouldn’t hold people that don’t affect your life to any standards. Let them do what they want—maybe they use alcohol and drugs because they really like them. I really like video games and resent it when people say those are bad for you.

what if they are in fact bad for you

I just don't like being shot at. The south side of Chicago is 15 miles from where I live, and despite it having many people I'd like to visit and attractions I'd like to see, I can't go there (except for a few small areas around the University of Chicago). That may be holding the poor to high standards but when I visit the neighborhoods of the non-poor I don't even think for a moment about being shot at.

By the by: to exactly which high standards of professionalism, intelligence, integrity, honesty, or responsibility are today's rich and famous being held?

I'm thinking of corrupt and corrupting media types (producers, directors, actors, actresses), corrupt and corrupting healthcare providers (pharma execs, healthcare regulators, doctors, credentialing institutions), corrupt and corrupting sports figures (trainers, coaches, players), corrupt and corrupting academic types (whether administrators, deans, coaches, professors, students), et cetera et al.

Who enforces all these high standards for our corrupt elites? Maybe THEY should all be sacked.

There is more than one "something" wrong with American culture, (though TC clearly uses culture in a very broad sense here).

The amorality and hypocrisy of Left cultural institutions is obvious. It's obvious enough to most on the Left that you can reliably predict the evasive stages of reaction once a new hypocrisy is spotted.

Those closer to TC's position have other flaws, but for the most part, the biggest is a tendency to have a "moral mode" for the foibles of "back row America" (to use Arnade's terminology) and a "consequentialist mode" for the errors of "front row America."

The current internecine conflict on the Right will likely end up a real missed opportunity. The Patrick Deneen/Sohrab Ahmari wing has offered a real and bracing critique of American culture. It is certainly over-determined in spots, but, on paper, it could address all of the above.
However, it's pretty clear that when push comes to shove, they'll always prioritize the culture wars against the Left (especially abortion).

I enjoy the fact that you think there is a (noble!) difference between writing "what you think" instead of "what supports your favored politics."


It's funny, but it really indicates that the politics should be realigned.

I didn't quite grasp what he was saying, but I think it suggests not everything is political, or amenable to political solutions, so a "do-nothing" option should at least be on the table - as the frailty of some people in the face of life's challenges is surely answered by an equal fallibility, in the elite, in terms of having of having the correct remedy.

It might be one thing to say but such problems cannot be completely eliminated, but it might be another to say that nothing more can be done, or that this is already the best of all possible worlds.

The first "but" should be a "that"

... as if they are not connected.

"Motivated reasoning for thee, but not for me", Tyler's inner voice says.

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

I'm pretty sure that was Tyrone's voice, not Tyler's.

It is interesting how many different terms we are inventing these days to represent "the underclass."

Why? Is it because today is really different? Or is it because the old term is associated with "progressive" remedies like public education and egalitarianism?

Perhaps conservatives need a way to describe a problem without getting too progressive in the process. To avoid social solutions.

Would it help to accept as a working definition of "wealth"--"the ornamental mask of gaud, glitz, or glamour in which poverty makes all its starring roles."

Poverty IS and REMAINS the essential human condition: wealth in itself (just as its avatars gaud, glitz, and glamour) confers no ontological transformations, as our elites cannot help but demonstrate.

You too can be Scandinavian. Huge business freedom and a solid .. not even safety net .. a solid *foundation* for the underclass.

I lack Scandinavian ambitions and aspirations, alas.

Wealth in itself still fails to transform our wealthy elites ontologically: otherwise, our corrupt elites would themselves not remain prone to petty corruption. (Access to wealth has never made any of our celebrities talented, has never made academic celebrities more astute or trustworthy, has never made Ivy League grads models of integrity or good taste, et cetera et cetera et cetera.)

"You too can be Scandinavian"

No, we can't. Scandinavia is low in diversity, including economic, cultural, linguistic (within each nation), and productivity. Basically, they have a large number of people making approximately equal contributions to the system and they do not have a large, almost permanent underclass nor a free rider class.

That's like saying "I can't run a 5k because I'm sitting here on this couch."

Excuses become their own justification.

If you want that analogy, it's perhaps more like a weak runner, strong lifter deciding to follow his advantage and strength train rather than marathon train.

Scandinavian regimes ended up where they did in the mid-late 20th century* due to a long, difficult process of broad spectrum political buy-in where people agreed to a higher level of tax.

E.g Sweden - https://twitter.com/bengtssonz/status/1133017267451703296 and more income inequality than the US was true of Norway too -https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.102.5.1832

And that process probably would be even more difficult to achieve over a larger scale and with higher diversity, and blunt many of the United States unique advantages in attracting highly skilled migrants and retaining their own highly skilled entrepreneurs.

So are whatever modest gains exist adjusting for diversity and cultural ethic (the famous "Scandinavians do pretty well in the US too" remark, which is perfectly true) actually worth that when there's an opportunity cost to spending your political energy that way? Perhaps you do, perhaps you don't.

*And note, from which mid-late 20th century point they are somewhat converging towards higher inequality norms. Most so in Sweden because they have to earn their money, less so in Norway with oil money and sovereign wealth - https://ourworldindata.org/income-inequality-since-1990

I think the key thing about the metaphor is "I'm sitting on the couch, I think it would be difficult or impossible, so I won't try."

Not to say "trying" has to be jumping with both feet. It might be incremental change, measurement, and evidence based iteration in policy.

For instance, if we are worried about alcohol: Is the alcohol tax perfect? Do states with higher tax, or more restrictive sales, have better health and welfare?

Or, to support our preference for inaction, do we declare this "as good as it gets?"

I am not sure if you didn't understand my post or if you are being deliberately obtuse. Maybe you are both.

Let's consider Denmark.

Population: 5.8M ( SF Bay area alone is 7.1M) The population of the US is 2 orders of magnitude larger.

Nominal GDP per capita : 63.8K

Diversity: ~87% is of Danish origin, 10% immigrant,3% offspring of immigrants. 47% of the immigrants come from other EU countries.

Language: 87% Danish and English bilingual, an additional 47% also speak German, which implies a significant percentage are trilingual in English, Danish, and German, which can be considered a proxy for education. In addition to being fluent in their national language 86% can speak the defacto international language (English) and 47% the language of the biggest economy in the EU (German).

In summary, in Denmark you have a nation with a high percentage of shared origen, 87%, speak the national language, have high levels of education, high per capita GDP.

That translates into high levels of trust, cooperation, education, and economic equality - everyone pulls their weight and contributes to their programs they share - like universal health care.

We can't do that in the US - we don't have the social capital, trust, cooperation. Not everyone pulls their weight.

I don't care what your excuses are, I am only disappointing by the idea that we should not try to improve our methods, even incrementally.

So, "excuse" is a synonym for data in your mind?

We, in the US have low and getting lower social capital, well described by Putnam, and we know why - in diverse communities EVERYONE self-isolates.

That is just a fact. You might not like it and wish it weren't true, but the universe doesn't care what you like.

Humans have a preference for localism - family, friends, community, ... , and nation. Think of them as concentric circles around the individual with the strength of the connections diminishing with distance from the center. Perhaps it is a 1/(r^2) dependence.

What can the US do, though? It doesn’t seem like it can muddle along when such a large proportion of its voters believe that the status quo is failing their communities. Muddling along seems like an invitation to catastrophe (more presidents and legislators like Trump). Also, if homogeneity is important, why shouldn’t the US embark on some nation building? France did that, Germany did that, China has and is doing that, Spain has done that. If you want a country than you have to make the territory and people you have into a nation.

'Nation building' is one of those "You are meddling with forces beyond your understanding" things for me really.

Working for some kind of cohesion between people, OK. But the grandiose idea that "states make peoples, not the other way round" is hubris at its worst. German and Italian unification worked* in the manner of "the rectification of names" (making governmental arrangements correspond to reality).

The idea that this can be done arbitrarily is beloved by bureaucrats who want a fungible and infinite pool of migrants to draw on rather than solve the weaknesses in endogenous production and pension funding within their own country. But it's probably wrong and disastrous in practice. Better to accept the limits that nations are made by culture and communities and circumstance, not bureaucracies and states, and be cautious in selecting outgroups to integrate.

*and in Germany note this worked at the price of a *severe* form of German irredentism and an ideology of ethnic unification that you can draw a direct ideological line from to the 20th century German wars in European.

Why not adopt the camouflage of a foreign tongue? Lumpenproletariat.

Not a coincidence that the progressive drive for social welfare was rooted in many of these same impoverished regions.

This is so wrong it beggars belief.

Scotch-Irish have cherished one thing above all, the desire to be left alone.

Progressives are Puritans. You need to read Albion’s Seed. You’re very confused.



The New Deal programs in Appalachia have long since expired, replaced by programs aimed at the "inner cities," meaning blacks (who now seem to live mostly in the outer cities). The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway is still there, but all it did was bring tourists to the area. They don't spend much money because the cities with hotels and restaurants are a few miles to the east in prosperous places like Charlottesville, Roanoke, and Asheville. Appalachia is still in terrible shape, money is being spent elsewhere, and the Scots-Irish who live in it still want to be left alone.

I think we are seeing history happening before our own eyes. Brazil's President Captain Bolsonaro has ordered a study for a common Latin American currency backed by Brazil's economy. A kind of South American euro. It has the potential to displace the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

Quite a good tease. I'd make that strange "OK" finger sign but I might be accused of being a Nazi.

Consider these two books poverty porn. Hillbilly eligy is the other one. They both provided the frisson of self righteousness that our host experienced

It's easy with the folks. They should stop drinking. They shouldn't take drugs. That is why these books sell. Trump voters, drunks and addicts. There are careers to be made on the public purse doing things for these people.

That justifies the next thoughts. They should move to where there are jobs. They should learn coding. We should socialize health care. We know best. They are racist and deplorable. Why don't they repent of their whiteness. They should make cakes for our victory celebrations.

It is their fault that they aren't superior like me.

It is an old old story of class.

This isn't what the poor people i know look like.

Thread winner (says I)!!!!

"They should move to where there are jobs": that's advice I can't cavil at.

Yikes. It was Cowen who said they shouldn't drink, not Arnade's book.

"This isn't what the poor people i know look like." that's literally what the book is about

We could be harsh with the flip side view: Poverty is part of God's plan, and thank God I believe that, or I might have to adjust my politics.

Or: There is nothing within the framework of my politics that I can do for these people, so I must accept it as a tragic and unanswerable part of the human condition.

Good point.

I guess it's easy to assign blame and just give up, but there are consequences for that too.

I would think the only way the so-called "elites" could be held responsible for these problems was how equity funds pushed manufacturing companies to outsource production to China, mostly during the oughts, thus destroying job opportunities for the people described in this guy's book. The other possibility is that the elites have pushed all kinds of regulatory crap over the recent decades that has made it more difficult for people to start or run manufacturing companies, thus creating more job opportunities for the people at the bottom. I have not read this book. But the tone of the reviews suggests that Arnade is not looking at the problem from this angle (meaning that his book is just ranting and raving and that he is not serious about actually solving the problem).

I'm perfectly fine placing blame/responsibility on the individual. As long as we are consistent. The left doesn't get to talk about systematic intersectional crap and the right can't blame opioid deaths on big pharma. The systematic aspects are the results of millions of individual decisions. Personal morality is where the emphasis should be put.

But the one big think you miss (or maybe don't) when you bring up "dark-skinned muslim immigrants" (and it doesn't have to just be muslim, I've seen the same with Coptic Christians) is that these communities are bound by a religious culture with an active simple law. And trespass of that law brings quick trouble. I would add that that law reflects the harsh deep reality that elites can suspend with money for a while. And the big difference is that there are local elites in those communities that live by the same law. General American elites, what Arnade is real good at seeing, have succeeded from those laws and institutions and their fellow Americans in the process.

Let us be blunt. There is no reason for America allowing Muslims and Zionists to stay in the US. They have their own countries and should go away.

I believe very strongly what Lee Kuan Yew believed. That society owes the individual one and only one thing: opportunity. If opportunity exists and people fail to pursue it, then that is it. Nothing more is owed to such people.

So, basically the Singapore model?

And their system of healthcare as well?

Yes. Singapore's health care system is better and certainly cheaper than ours. If we're going to go to some kind of national socialist health care system, I think Singaporean one is the one we ought to copy.

“Say what you want about the tenet’s of national socialism, but at least it is an ethos,” certainly a sentiment that overseas Chinese can agree with.

Social scientists, a guest on the Heterodox Academy podcast contends (https://heterodoxacademy.org/arthur-sakamoto-asian-educational-achievement-half-hour-of-heterodoxy-54/), are too reluctant to embrace the concept of socially valuable cultural practices, notably among “Asian-Americans.”

The underlying culture that produced the greatest generation faces more devils now than in the past, and we have fewer defenders of that culture than we did then. There is an onslaught of easy access to drugs, mass entertainment the glorifies hedonism and a group of elites who make it their mission to systematically challenge the very norms and institutions that could provide some counter-weight. Once we’ve completely rooted out any personal honor and sense of duty from our cultural fabric, we will no long produce the type of people that can withstand a 5 year ground war.

Pardon me, but I worked at McDonald's. What's the issue? Years ago, when I worked there,I can vouch that the food was of a good quality and we kept the place very clean. I've never known there was a stigma attached to it. I still eat there occasionally, the same old Big Mac and Quarter Pounder. And to think I used tp eat lunch a lot at Chez Panisse.

Let's talk about culture

And ignore 1) tax relief for the wealthy, 2) healthcare for everyone.

The only elites I know are those who cheat and don't pay taxes and hire high priced lobbyists and flood the airwaves with commercials.

Look...bright shiny object over there!!!!


Lowering the marginal rate on income taxes makes the Scotch-Irish shoot themselves up with fentanyl?


And the solution is to subsidize more opiates through Medicaid......

There is no real friendship anymore in America, and the situation is worse in Europe and parts of Asia.

I remember when it was common for our neighbors to drop by unannounced on the weekends for a cup of coffee and spend vacations with them. Now, we don't know the names of any neighbors, let alone hang out with them. Is this a good or bad thing, I don't know - it's fine by me - but that might partly explain the McDonald's problem from that excerpt.

The author would probably appreciate it if you would correct the typo in the title of the post. The book is called "Dignity: SEEKING Respect in Back Row America"

Unconvinced that the poor of today are morally inferior to the poor of 1950, 1850 or 1750, even in the substance abuse department.

So what *did* change?

There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture, and we need to think harder about what that might be.

Pretty cute how we have social hypochondria about flyover country offered by the same people who ignore the slums (and it is, of course, an occasion to advocate more population replacement - all those teetotaling muslims).

I would lay heavier blame on alcohol and drug abuse. Many much poorer people never touch the stuff, and furthermore I would have added a comparison with America’s dark-skinned, not entirely popular Muslim immigrants, the non-drinking ones most of all. There is indeed something wrong with much of American culture

This seems pretty reasonable group criticism.

What gets me is how Tyler Cowen will reverse this when the ethnic groups in questions are switched. Cowen supported Black Lives Matters, which was predicated on the thesis that blacks have higher crime rates and higher school discipline rates due to the fault of white people and US institutions and the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

If white people are doing poorly, with high alcoholism rates or high crime rates or poor SAT scores, it's naturally their fault. If black people are doing poorly on similar metrics, Cowen adopts a reversed rhetorical view to continue blaming whites.

another bad idea from the sociologists?
who exactly was the fuckwit who decided to prosecute
the leo from the florida school shooting!

Is it more or less condescending to hold the poor to high standards?

It is not condescending, of course, but it does seem unfair to hold them to higher standards than we hold the rich to.

Do the poor, as a rule, behave worse than Donald Trump has behaved in his life?

"Is it more or less condescending to hold the poor to high standards?"

When the elites only want to hold the poor to high standards from afar, then yes, it is very condescending. Elites put a lot of time and effort engaging in economic segregation, whether through zoning and moving to "good school district" or by sending their kids to private schools whilst living in low performing school districts.

It's pretty easy to hold others to high standards when you support trade policies where the costs are concentrated among lower-skilled individuals, or technology that puts those same lower-skilled people at risk.

That's not an indictment of free trade or technological advances, but with respect to the subject it very much matters.

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