Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Most Important Thing You Can Read Right Now

I just gave a school meeting on race. I was trying to give a broad overview of America's tortured racial history in conjunction with our summer reading and current events.

After completing it, I read this piece by Josh Marshall about a new study delineating the increased mortality among non-college educated whites age 45-54.  Unlike every other cohort in the developed world, this group has since its mortality rate increase rather than decrease.  The fascinating thing he notes is that this cohort of people are killing themselves.  The three main drivers of this trend are alcohol and drug overdoses/poisoning, suicide and liver disease.

Think about that for a moment.

There was an interesting article about why rural whites oppose welfare.  The common assumption - which I've shared - is that rural whites oppose money going to "those people," mainly minorities.  But there is some purely anecdotal evidence that a main driver of hatred of welfare is not the "welfare queen" but "cousin Merle" who is addicted to Oxycontin and living off welfare checks while dealing pills from his double wide.  It is not the faceless "other" but the nearby ne'er do well that makes this group of rural whites oppose social spending.

And yet, we see in this study that opposition to action - whether more economic opportunity or better health care - is literally killing this group of people.

The rage that animates a Trump rally is only part aimed at Mexicans and Syrians and blacks.  It is really aimed at a country that is crushing these people where they live.  Lacking education and opportunity, America is broken for these people.  And they drink and smoke and snort themselves to death.  The rage against "others" is certainly real and certainly virulent, but it's an externalization of a sense of their own failure and the "loss of my country."

Read Marshall's take on it.  It's worth the time.

No comments: