Monday, March 5, 2012

Misunderstanding Charles Murray

What is it about liberals, anyway?  Why did they gang-tackle Charles Murray on The Bell Curve? And why does liberal Joan Walsh of Salon miss the point of Murray's latest book, Coming Apart? 

I suppose it's because she sees everything through a lens of social justice, in that everyone's position in society is a consequence of white racism, or a consequence of how much support they get from government.

The point of Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 is that the white working class are suffering many of the same pathologies as the minority underclass: a decline in marriage, an increase in single parenthood, a detachment from community organizations, and a retreat among single men from work.

The reason Murray made his book exclusively about whites was that he wanted to detach from his argument any question of racism.  Folks like Joan Walsh live by the accusation of racism.  If brown people are doing badly, it must be due to racism. The argument that Charles Murray wants to make is that if the white working class is experiencing increases in social pathology then something other than racism must be at work.  Maybe it is government programs!

Joan Walsh lives by the notion that a Democratic majority of "the young, women, lower-income blacks, Latinos and Asians" is waiting to take over--if not this year then next.  The suffering white working class could throw a wrench in the works if it votes Republican in 2012, and that would be a pity.  And in due course, social justice activists will have to pay attention to their grievances.
The forces of social justice have always looked out for the rights and singular insights of minority populations. We’re about to have a new one to think about.
And that's even though "low income white people have benefited from the long legal and extralegal history of racial subjugation and white supremacy".

Actually Walsh is wrong about that Democratic majority.  If it forms, it would be the young, single women, all blacks, lower-income Latinos and lower-income Asians.  And I'm not so sure about the young, since they have been disproportionately affected by Obamanomics and might be having second thoughts about hope and change.

But Walsh does make a telling point about white seniors.  The most Republican counties are the ones that get most federal payments, "crop subsidies, housing assistance, and Medicaid payments".  In other words, Republicans are all on welfare.   Tea Party supporters, for instance, have no intention of giving up their Medicare, yet that is just what Paul Ryan and the Republican Party want to do; they want to end Medicare as we know it.

Will white seniors continue to support the Republican Party if it takes away their Medicare and replaces it with a fixed subsidy?  Maybe that would be the issue that creates a Democratic majority.

But that would turn Joan Walsh's social justice notions on their head, because a Republican reform of Medicare would make wealthy seniors--like me--pay more.  So she is hoping for a realignment based upon Republicans making Medicare more progressive?

No wonder she doesn't get the point of Coming Apart.

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