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    We don't do bang and boom..., 2012-01-13 13:31:05 | Main | hack bullshit..., 2012-01-24 09:44:51

    the solution to rising political and economic inequality is the adoption of aristocratic snobbery:

    Charles Murray's essay on the imminent dissolution of America in the WSJ is an awesome example of his collected works. He performs a sort of random walk away from celebrating America's unique "cultural equality" through a list of category and correlation errors in order to demand that "the new upper class" "drop its condescending 'nonjudgmentalism'" and "voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms" of "marriage and the work ethic".

    Just to pick a few of his random walks at random:

    The quite purposeful destruction of the industrial workforce by deskilling and unfair trade is described as an "erosion of industriousness". The lone fact brought to bear is a minor drop (5% over about as many decades) in male presence in the workforce over a long period of steady normalization of male and female labor market participation, with most of the drop affecting men with no college education. Labor force non-participation (workers divided by total working age population) is utterly confused with an unwillingness to work at the expense of any other obvious explanation: the general increase in discouragement due to the aforementioned destruction of middle class industrial jobs; increased disability payments; increased competition from lower paid female workers; increased competition from lower paid immigrant labor; increased competition from lower paid foreign labor; increased entry into unpaid domestic labor; increases in working years spent in retraining and schooling (e.g., in response to trade adjustment assistance programs); the vast increase in mass incarceration; employment discrimination against the resultingly vastly increased number of working age ex-felons; and one could go on listing plausible alternatives to kicking insults in the faces of men who have given up looking for work. In any case, one cannot possibly compare the doubling of the rate of female labor force participation and the concurrent 5% drop among men and bemoan a cultural explosion in laziness, as Murray does here. It's absolutely nonsensical at a time when everybody who can find work is working harder just to get by.

    He bemoans the single parent family, "On ... any measure of development ... children who are born to unmarried women fare worse ... even after controlling for the income and education of the parents." A mere five seconds on google and I find papers to effect that "the effect of living in a single-parent family is no longer statistically significant after controlling for family income." The paper quoted is very interesting, at that, on the matter of the confusion of variables that affect both family structure and child outcomes. In any case one cannot find a paper in which controlling for income doesn't dramatically reduce the correlation between family structure and outcomes, which is another way of saying that by any measure of development children who are born into poverty fare worse, even after controlling for family structure. Here, too, any number of explanations for single motherhood could be provided, if it was such an abhorrent monstrosity, and exactly zero are. Elsewhere Murray has supported the universal provision of birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies, he's ostensibly against the drug war that creates so many single parent homes, so it's very strange that this issue comes up and his one piece of advice in the end is for rich fucks to stick their noses skyward and scold single parents.

    He complains about the lack of church attendance by lower class folks because religious people give more to charity. The supposed discrepancy he describes in charitable giving between "secular" and religious populations is more than explained by the 35% of charitable giving that goes to the organizing and maintenance of religion, which in this case is argued to be "social capital" by the thusly circular argument that religious people give more. This all rather elides the fact that much of the "giving" for said social capital is duly offset by the reduction in takings by the government, such that much of the 2% of GDP donated to the private non-profit sector is in fact funded by public sector. Never mind that lower class people have far less to give, and don't get paid by the government to do so, so even if their "secularization" lead to less giving it wouldn't make any difference since any offerings they have are massively overshadowed by the grand munificence of an upper class that the government pays to allocate public funds.

    Another not insignificant chunk of said charitable redistribution of public revenue goes to support the think tanks and publications that patronize Charles Murray and the rest of his woolly headed, unpublishable ilk, who can't muster an argument to survive competent peer review and must subsist instead on wingnut welfare, rather like barnacles attached to the hull of civilization, retarding whatever progress might be had. This is no where better demonstrated than when he proposes that the solution to rising political and economic inequality is the introduction of an aristocratic snobbery into American culture: those lucky enough to have been born into industrious, religious, non-criminal nuclear families must get over their inhibitions and evangelize the benefits of hard work and proper child rearing to poor people, as though there wasn't enough of that in the pages of the daily papers and daytime talk television already.


:: posted by buermann @ 2012-01-23 21:37:51 CST | link





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