Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Liberal Fingerprints All Over It

Our liberal friends think of themselves as caring, but rather overwhelmed idealists: fighting hard to make a better world against the WASPs at the country club and the bigots at the megachurch, but overwhelmed by their rather charming academic disorganization.

In reality, we live in the house that liberals built, from the schools to the culture to the safety net.  And it ain't in too good a shape.  There are signs of cracking, and the porch is leaning dangerously.  But don't look for liberals to agree to repairs.  They have other plans for the maintenance money.

Meanwhile the bad news keeps coming.

There's the Gosnell abortion case.  A black businessman in Philadelphia ran an abortion mill for decades, apparently marketing to poor black women, and now he's in the dock for botched late-term abortions and a host of regulatory infractions.  But where were the diligent regulators of whom we've heard tell?  Well, it seems that the regulators were leery about regulating abortion businesses.  You can see why.  They knew that they could get into trouble with liberal activist groups, and that is something that a bureaucrat understands in her bones is the one thing to be avoided in her smooth progress towards that defined-benefit pension.  Jennifer Rubin has a lot to say about this.

For a conservative, the Gosnell case is breathtaking.  Here we have liberals telling us that nobody can be trusted, that regulators are needed to keep and eye on everyone. Health care?  We gotta have universal health care so the government can make sure that everyone is covered.  But guess who doesn't get regulated?  Liberals' pet abortionists.

Then there is the utter mess in the economy and the culture.  It's lucky that liberals are the ones that have cratered marriage in the lower orders, have blitzed a generation of men by allowing them to moulder away on long-term unemployment.  Imagine if Republicans were in charge right now.  Why back in the 2000s then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi started blaming Bush for the "jobless recovery" ere the Nation Bureau of Economic Research had pronounced on the end of the recession.

But let us set the stage with a chart of workforce participation of mature Americans in the last century from Blackrock.
Here's the article link.  It shows how men 55-64 have reduced their participation in the workforce from the 90 percentile to 70 percent over the last century, while women in the 55-64 group have increased their participation enormously.  Meanwhile men over 65 have reduced their workforce participation from 75 percent down to 20 percent while women over 65 have actually increased their participation.

So the great Social Security revolution has principally helped older men (while you could say that Medicare has really helped women).

But then there is the family.  Robert Samuelson presents an even-handed analysis using a Third Way analysis from some liberals and the libertarian case from Charles Murray and Coming Apart.

Samuelson presents Murray's argument thus:
Having a child out of wedlock became more common and acceptable; the sexual revolution enabled men to get sex without marriage. The waning power of religion undermined the importance of family. Feminism and expanding welfare programs made it easier for women to survive -- through jobs or aid -- on their own. Liberalized divorce led to more breakups.
And here is the liberal line:
In a paper for Third Way, a liberal think tank, economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attribute the decline of marriage -- which, like Murray, they say is concentrated among the poorly educated -- to the eroding economic heft of men compared with women. Women are more independent economically; men are weaker. Marriage has lost much of its pecuniary pull.
Is it the culture or the economy?  And did we just fall into the creek, or were we pushed?

The missing link, in my view, is that the whole question about humans as social animals is: what to do with the men.  In the last century we have reversed the question and asked what to do about the women?  But that is nonsense.  Women are never a problem; they always do what they are told.  Men, on the other hand, are like dogs; they get into mischief unless they are given a job to do.

In the hunter-gatherer culture men worked pretty much as full time border warriors, rather like chimpanzees.  So when the agricultural age opened, with the enlargement of the zone of peace, what was there for the men to do?  Well, it turned out that women were particularly ill-suited for plowing: they tended to suffer miscarriages.  So there was the solution.  Men could do all the heavy work around the farm.

Then came the modern era of the city and the industrial revolution.  Now what to do, especially after mechanization started to reduce the amount of heavy labor?  The answer was the Protestant answer, the idea of work as a calling, work made into a religious duty.  Now men could be sent off, not to the border wars or the army or the plow, but to the factory or the office where they could compete with each other for the glittering prizes: money, power, and the love of beautiful women.  Well, at least it kept them out of mischief.

But it worked so well that activist liberal women wanted in on the action.  The result, a century later is that women have invaded the "workplace" and transformed it from a place where men compensated for the lack of wars to fight to a place where women enforce the values of the community of women, discouraging bluff competition and requiring sensitivity.

We have turned the world upside down.  We have created a welfare state that discourages poor men from working and poor women from getting married.  We have destroyed the culture that helped men to sublimate their battlefield aggression into marketplace competition.  At least for the lower orders, closely patronized and supervised by the liberal administrators of the welfare state.

The rich and educated of today, of course, work and marry like mad.  Just look at this story about the two Thatcher grandchildren.  Surrounded by wealth and privilege they are devout Christians and obsessive hard workers.  Why is that, you ask?  Because the rich these days cannot just repose on their estates or their "funds."  They must work and excel; otherwise they will fall back into the the ordinary suburban middle class, and who wants that?

Drip by drip, creak by creak, failure by failure, the liberal cultural and political edifice is starting to fall apart.  Conservatives better be ready to offer an alternative when the revolutionary moment arrives.

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