Source: Alhambra Investment Partners, by Jeffrey Snider
Commentator Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard reignited a fierce debate this week, though it seems like he correctly surmised at the time anonymity would have been preferable. Speaking with author Charles Murray, Kristol echoed a sentiment that has been underneath a lot of what passes for analysis these past few years of the “rising dollar.” Being one prominent Never-Trumper, the most prominent, in fact, there is a fair amount of disdain that is political more than pure economic interpretation. It was the disillusionment, after all, of the working classes who delivered Mr. Trump his current Pennsylvania Avenue address.
If you google “job openings” chances are very good that in almost every one of the news articles that comes up the words “skills mismatch” are prominently placed. It has become something of an obsession in official circles, to which Kristol is apart, because how could it be any different? After massive infusions of “stimulus”, the economy never caught fire even though it was supposed to at several points along the way. The JOLTS survey of BLS configured data has been at record highs for several years, surging in 2015 as the economy fell off. Therefore it must be something wrong with workers rather than the economy the “experts” worked tirelessly to bring about with the best-designed programs in history.
You can make a case that America has been great because every — I think John Adams said this — basically if you are in free society, a capitalist society, after two or three generations of hard work, everyone becomes kind of decadent, lazy, spoiled — whatever.
Then, luckily, you have these waves of people coming in from Italy, Ireland, Russia, and now Mexico, who really want to work hard and really want to succeed and really want their kids to live better lives than them and aren’t sort of clipping coupons or hoping that they can hang on and meanwhile grew up as spoiled kids and so forth. In that respect, I don’t know how this moment is that different from the early 20th Century.
This is the same, or nearly the same, argument that was raised by Kevin Williamson at National Review in March 2016. Creating enormous controversy, and coming from an all-too-similar perspective, Williamson was far more blunt about how these Trump-supporting communities actually “deserved to die.”
It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about “globalists” and — odious, stupid term — “the Establishment,” but nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.
If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.
Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die.
His argument is basically that the global economy changed, for the better in the aggregate, and those left behind should have instead gone back to school, rented a moving truck and moved to their better life waiting for them elsewhere. They were just stupid and drug addled to realize it. That they won’t do it, and now lash out politically, is deserving of worse than scorn because it is, in his view, holding us all back (their “immorality” as Williamson puts it).
As usual, there are surely some people who fall into this characterization. But it isn’t a true one overall, as the economic statistics bear out. This is really a simple analysis to make, as the relentless progress of rising living standards has always, always been messy. The perfect equivalent was those farm workers (and family farm owners) displaced in America’s industrialization. They surely did not want to participate in the Great Migration from rural to urban, but we, including they, were all better off that they did.
Read More Here: To Die or To Reject? | Alhambra Investment Partners