Skip to comments.(Vanity) Demographics Are Not Destiny, or, It's Just How We Roll
Posted on 11/25/2012 1:22:31 PM PST by grey_whiskers
In the aftermath of President Obama's unexpected re-election, and the even more unexpected further erosion of GOP power in both the House and Senate, the usual GOP firing squad has swung into action. Some have blamed the loss on Romney's incompetent GOTV tool, Orca; others on various flavors of conservativism, from the religious right to those who favor restrictions on immigration; still others blame the problem on the infamous "47% remark" and Obama's pandering to the single mom demographic. And of course, one of the siren calls from the usual group of DC-consultant-whores and Democrat moles and turncoats, is that not only the battle, but the war itself, is irretrievably lost.
Demographics, the argument goes, is destiny. Whether the legendary quote about voting themselves largesse, or Obama's Life of Julia and "Vote Like Your Lady Parts Depend On It"; whether the pending flood of illegal immigrants; whether the rapidly-diminishing ratio of active workers to Social Security recipients and pension holders; the diagnosis of the problem seems to be "too many takers, not enough makers". And this, it is felt by the chattering classes, is a fundamentally insoluble problem. How can one take away voters' goodies, without (besides being called a rich bastard), a friend of millionaires and billionaires, but also a sexist, misogynist, racist hater? Can't you see we're totally screwed? Much, much better to lie to those extremist Tea Partiers and racist Christianists, while subtly feathering our own nests and preparing offshore accounts against the inevitable collapse.
With Denethor, they have become crazed through looking in the palantir presented to them by the Power in Barack-Dûr, seeing only those items which that power wanted them to see, and giving in to despair. And so they cry, "Abandon your posts! Flee for your lives!"
This piece is meant to be a rebuff, a clue-by-four of Gandalf's staff across their heads. (Followed by the one piece of missing dialogue from the otherwise excellent movie: As Denethor hits the ground, Gandalf should have glanced down at his prone form and muttered, "Asshole!" before calling out like a clarion, "Prepare for battle!") But to do this, we must, like Gandalf, take a step back and look at the whole picture, the larger picture, and not just those elements presented by our enemies.
Now, it is true, that on the surface, there are more and more people who seemingly cannot get along without a helping hand, who are helpless to run their own lives without the benefit of subsidies from the government. But the trick that the Democrats have pulled is twofold: one, to assure the voting public that such a condition is natural and inevitable, and secondly, to tie such dependency inextricably in peoples minds, to certain "preferred victim groups" such as womyn and minorities -- with the intent that any attempt to reduce the flow of goodies must be due to "hate": from the entitled 30-year-old perpetual student at a Catholic Law School, who wants me to finance her boyfriend's thrills, to the minority-member SEIU worker calling out "Obamaphone" like a unionized parakeet. The key to defeating this attack, is to recognize, and then to drive home, that such dependency is neither natural NOR inevitable!
Let's take a step further back. One of the other memes which is always spewed forth from the television and the self-anointed, is that we are living in an increasingly sophisticated society, that we *NEED*TM trained scientists and engineers to compete in a global economy. OK, let's assume that that's true. Obviously, it is AXIOMATIC to the left, that the reason the womyn and minorities are not stepping up to fill these positions, cannot, simply CANNOT be that they are less qualified: that would be discriminatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. You know the drill. But the high-tech positions remain unfilled, according to the elites. Therefore -- since we have already accounted for the lack of womyn and minorities -- this must mean that the dreaded heterosexual white males must not be taking the jobs, either. Which implies...NOBODY is taking those jobs.
And why not? Surely, with the economy running as slowly as it is, people would be dying for the chance to take high-tech jobs, right? Which must mean...the jobs are unfilled because there are not enough qualified applicants, period. Which must mean...the high-tech jobs can ONLY be fulfilled by people with IQs above a certain level. And this cannot be racist, since the distribution of IQs in the whole population is a bell curve: no matter WHICH race or ethnicity or gender you go to, there are only going to be 10% of the people available in the top 10%. And if there aren't enough of those people around...what do the other 90% of people going to do for jobs?
And it is here that we must look at changes in our economy over the past generation, and our values, and not just demographics. Oh, and there will be a lesson from differential calculus thrown in. Just in keeping with our high-tech future.
Recall that at the end of World War II, so the story is told, that the United States was the last intact economy in the world. The Soviet Union, Japan, and greater Europe were bombed into rubble, and pretty much all of their remaining economy was directed towards production of war materiel, not to mention the dislocations among the population. This meant that the United States had a huge leg up for purposes of manufacturing, enabling our country to greatly increase its standard of living, in addition to creating such high wage scales that a man could support a family with little more than a high-school education, by working at a unionized assembly-line job, at which he confidently expected to stay for his entire working life.
And this really was the case, for a period after World War II. Now, I should point out, that in hearkening back to this idyllic time, such visionaries as the New York Slimes' own Nobel Prize-winning columnist, Paul Krugman (eviscerated here and here, hat tip to blogger Instapundit), forget that the United States no longer dominates the world economically, but also seems to forget that we no longer have a baby boom generation fueling demand, that unions are now about 6% of the private workforce, but also that in those days, womyn stayed home and had children, and that there was no vast underclass of pensioners and minorities demanding large entitlement payments from a bankrupt Federal Government. And that, as it turns out, is the key to the whole affair, if he but knew it.
What we had in the 1950s was a socio-economic-political setting in the United States where white males were the main breadwinners; womyn stayed home, having children, fueling ever-increasing demand as well as staving off economic collapse; and (believe it or not) despite discrimination, there was much less of a black underclass than now, because the black family was much more intact. Over time, a number of things changed in parallel, affecting the larger society and each other indirectly. The United States began to suffer economic competition from other countries; the Great Society started up; the Sexual Revolution started up; the Feminist Movement kicked into high gear; the scope and size of the Federal Government exploded; and (later still) in response to new economic opportunities, environmental regulations, and higher taxes, companies began to divest themselves of positions in the United States, moving large numbers of manufacturing and other low-skill positions offshore.
These items in conjunction, had the effect of removing large numbers of lower-paid, low-skill jobs out of the country; lowering the market-clearing price for those low-skill jobs left in the country; increasing the competition for ALL jobs left in the country by adding womyn to the workforce; and increasing both the cost of living for consumers AND the cost of hiring people for companies, due to higher tax and regulatory burdens, to support a newly-created welfare state.
In other words, a lot of the low-skill jobs which USED to be able to support a family, began to pay a lot LESS than they used to, with far more people competing for them, while at the same time a large social safety net was constructed, such that social pathologies, such as having children out of wedlock, became feasible. That is one of the changes necessary for the predicament we are in, but it is not the only one. The other change is perhaps the more dangerous one, and it is attitudinal, developing from within the culture, encouraged by industry, and foisted by government and the leftists behind the scenes.
Back in the day, there was a large group of people who had lower-level jobs, but they were content (or at least, not too discontented) with their lot. For one thing, expectations were lower: the percentage of the population with college degrees, or advanced degrees, was much less; the population was more rural and less urban, so there were fewer higher paying jobs, so there was less to be jealous of; and consumerism was not as rampant, so that people were not bombarded with advertising which encouraged them into conspicuous consumption or out-and-out competition, on a non-stop basis. Now this had the effect, that people tended to make do with less; but it also meant, that people voluntarily restricted their wants, appetites, and purchases, more-or-less to what they could afford; debt and divorce were both openly shameful, as was any kind of reliance on handouts. One went to the church or to relatives, as a rule, and you were expected to pull yourself back up on your feet as soon as possible.
What a change from today! Let's go down the list one thing at a time: due to pressure from the powers that be, as well as the omnipresence of student loans, more and more people are going to college...whether or not they can really afford it, and whether or not they actually learn anything by going there. Recall the Supreme Court case GRIGGS ET AL. v. DUKE POWER CO. which forbade the use of Intelligence Tests during hiring. Companies responded by using a college degree as a proxy for an IQ test -- which worked well until people (and the colleges!) caught onto the game. Not only did far more people go to college, but the content of college courses became easier -- one study has pointed out that the amount of time college students study per week has dropped from 40 hours in 1961 to 24 hours now. Oh yes, and then there's that little issue of the content of college classes -- from Medical Marijuana Growing to majoring in *bagpipes*. Not to mention the skyrocketing cost of college, underwritten by not-dischargeable-in-bankruptcy student loans. So we now have a generation of students, studying less, in less difficult majors which do NOT have any relation to the working world, and far more in debt than before -- while being subjected to a massive dose of self-esteem on the one hand, and a large, comfy governmental safety net if they fail.
What is this a recipe for? Two things -- first, there will be fewer people working, while those that work will be paid less; and second, both those who work and those on the dole will feel no compunction about demanding only the best for themselves. Why, don't you know they went to [insert name of prestigious University here]? And the result of this, is that those who have jobs and those do not, feel that they have a right to whatever they want: and they will tend to resent those who already have "the good life". A sense of entitlement, and an unsustainable one: for while in the past, people worked, even at humble jobs, and were content with their lot, or had the patience to climb the ladder over time -- which meant that debt would not grow disproportionately to income, or to taxes. But now, people feel so -- no pun intended -- "entitled," that they feel no shame in borrowing to live the lifestyle they feel they deserve, or even worse, if they are not working, they have no shame in explicitly relying on others, whose wealth they vilify -- and in voting for themselves as large a share of other peoples' money as they can manage.
The point here is NOT a frenzied cry to "turn back the clock" but only to point out what has happened now that the clock has been wound so tightly that the mainspring has ruptured. It would be one thing to have an underclass, who have no hope of bettering themselves; it would be another to have an underclass who hopes, by dint of hard work and sacrifice, to EARN wealth and comfort. The demands of such a societal structure are"self-limiting" -- the more people work, the more prosperous society grows, and the number of people demanding government help drops even as the ability to support them increases. It is a nation of Bakers, where the more people work, the more Pie there is to go around. (*) But the situation today is that of an underclass, which has neither the solid self-esteem from having EARNED what it has, nor any reasonable path to create wealth for itself: instead, it has the vacuous self-esteem of having been flattered and cajoled, and is faced with the prospect of TAKING from others what it cannot create for itself, even as the few prospects for employment have been offshored and regulated and taxed away. Ironically enough, such impoverishment combined with lack of esteem is more likely to make those on the bottom grow in jealousy of those at the top, and become even more extravagant in their demands for their "RIGHTS," untempered either by a sense of proportion, or by fiscal reality. It has become a nation of Takers, where the "99%" look at the others on the bottom and compete to demand a greater and greater share of an ever-shrinking pie -- not to mention the amount of pie lost to overhead on the governmental knife which is cutting and serving the pie.
The answer then, is a form of repentance, both individually and collectively. For when the government provides for the lower classes, there are so many more of them than there are producers, that they quickly learn that they can vote themselves whatever they want, until the goose that lays the golden egg is exhausted: and the politicians benefit (in the short term) by getting to play Santa until the whole Ponzi scheme collapses. But when people provide and build for themselves, not only are their rapacious wants constrained by their OWN ability to pay, but in their efforts to better their condition, more wealth is created for everyone -- even as there are fewer people in need of government assistance.
Let us join together to explain why the hidden hand of the market, falsely called "Greed," is far superior to the hidden black hole of the State, falsely called "Compassion."
*Here's where the differential calculus comes in: the former situation is like a marble held at the very inside edge of a large bowl. If you let the marble go, it will roll down the bowl, faster and faster, but it will always stay inside the bowl. The slope of the bowl is concave, it has a positive 2nd derivative at the bottom: such a configuration is stable. (People's wants are balanced or checked by reasonable expectations, which balance out.) The current situation is like a marble at the top of a large beachball: as long as everything stays exactly as it is, you are fine, but if you nudge the marble at all, it will start rolling downhill, and speed up more and more. The top of the beachball has a negative 2nd derivate, meaning the slope always gets steeper and steeper, just as people's wants increase more and more, with no check on them. Therefore, the marble will speed up and speed up until it runs into the ground, and comes to a sudden stop. Can anyone say "Fiscal Cliff" or "Weimar Republic" ?
1) a society's worldview shapes its values which lead to its choices which lead to its actions which lead to its destiny.
2) a worldview of unreason leads to values incompatible with happiness which leads to misery.
3) a demographics that favors the worldview of libtardism is a demographic and a worldview of unreason
4) the libtard worldview of this demographic,if unchecked, is leading the country to unhappiness.
The way to check this negative libtard worldview is to reach and direct the minds of the general public in our current era, so that they will posses the proper worldview.The proper worldview has to take the form of concretes of a special kind: concretes that incorporate and communicate fundamental abstractions, but do so largely by implication - while in explicit terms they engage people's interest and assent by offering them specific items of knowledge and/or value they do understand and desire.
Only cultural products perform this dual task. They alone present a worldview in a form accessible to minds oriented to concretes, concretes such as the stories people enjoy,or the pictures they see on TV or in the movies, or the music they here,or teacher's way of teaching a child how to read, or the way politicians debate the issues on TV.
Cultural works are the proselytizers of worldviews. If the cultural works are accepted by a society not necessarily in theory, but in practice-in the form of purchases, enrollments, votes, applause, and the like, reflecting widespread approval-then the idea they embody reveal a society's actual, functioning worldview, whether generally acknowledged of not. And that worldview will be its destiny.
A most interesting and sobering read. Thank you for that.
I agree. A tragic lack of rednecks is one of the weaknesses of LOTR, that otherwise outstanding work. I imagine Jack O'Neil wandering through with his classic Jacksonian snark and roflmao, figuratively.
Which reminds me, I left out the most important part of the piece, the realization which prompted me to write the whole thing.
I guess I'll write it as an addendum.
Leave it to a long-time FReeper to write in a paragraph what took me *pages*.
Thanks for the Cliff's Notes.
Thank you so much for your engaging essay, dear grey_whiskers!
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