Monday, April 23, 2012

Liberals Out of Touch

In the New York Times review of Charles Murray's Coming Apart, Nicholas Confessore tells us a little more than he intends about liberal denial.  Writes he:
You will learn about working-class laziness, but you will find little discussion of the decline of trade unions or the rise of a service economy built on part-time work without benefits.
Murray's thesis is that the welfare state has led to a breakdown in white working class culture, the bottom 30 percent of white America: a decline in marriage, a decline of civic culture, and a decline in men working.  Meanwhile things are peachy keen up in the top 20 percent.  Marriage is doing fine, and divorce is even declining.  People work like mad.

Murray argues that the welfare state has hollowed out the bottom 30 percent.  But Confessore grumbles that things would be fine if only unions were still strong and benefits were still robust.

So let us give Michael Barone a word.  He was raised in Detroit, and there is something he wants you to know about those good union jobs for good wages and benefits.
I don't know how many times I've seen liberal commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line at a unionized auto factory that could carry him through to a comfortable retirement.

As it happens, I grew up in Detroit and for a time lived next door to factory workers. And I know something that has eluded the liberal nostalgiacs. Which is that people hated those jobs.
That's one of the reasons why the unions ended up killing the automakers.  They insisted on "30 years and out" for the workers that hated their jobs, and then they insisted on health benefits for their retirees.  It was a bridge too far for the automakers.

One of the things that advanced lefty thinkers have been pondering for the last half century is that big, rationally-designed bureaucratic organizations are inherently oppressive and exploitive.  They necessarily treat humans as merely a means to an end, a labor resource, whether the big organizations are corporate or governmental.  Of course they have ended by tying themselves in knots over this because they can't let go of the idea politics is everything and that that enlightened thinkers ought to be organizing the lives of the workers.  They can't let go and let the workers organize their lives like any social animal.  They have to butt in and save the workers from themselves.

So we have the rank-and-file New York Times reader in denial about the 1950s and the philsophers in denial about the limits of politics.

I just took a quick look at Wikipedia's stages-of-grief article.  Did you know that there are critics that say the K├╝bler-Ross model is rubbish?  It is perhaps more accurate to term the denial-anger-bargaining-depression-acceptance progression is not a healthy, but a victim response to life challenges.  Since our liberal friends don't believe in adaption in a societal context (because it is social Darwinism, darling) they regard unfavorable trends as an insult to their self-esteem.  Thus they respond to change with disfunctional denial and rage.

We are called all our lives to adapt to changing circumstances.  The liberal model of the bureaucratic welfare state just doesn't work.  We are never going to have an economy again with "good union jobs at good wages" where we can sit back like bumps on a log and extract monopoly wages from our fellow citizens.  It was a fantasy back in the 1950s and it owed everything then and now to liberal political power.  Do liberals want to lead their followers out of a dead end, and encourage them to compete in the new world economy, or do they want to exploit their victim-denial response until the whole system collapses as in Greece?

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