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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

"That'll be enough"

A commenter on this blog just sent me this article. It has an excellent description of small town America, and how it has been decimated by globalism. And it is right on target in its characterization of the attitudes of big city liberals toward people they regard as hicks.

The article gets a little farfetched towards the end, when it starts talking about civil war, and the farmers refusing to feed people from the cities. But, it's still a fun read.

20 comments:

Steven said...

Good read. I enjoyed it too. Its pretty convincing as an anti- free trade and mass immigration and anti-17th amendment polemic.

If people used to have well paid jobs in factories and now they don't, its pretty obvious what the cause of their problem is. If farm workers are out of work because of cheap illegal labour, its pretty obvious what the cause of their problem is. The simple and down to earth explanations beat more convoluted left wing ones about neoliberalism or whatever.

This piece also made me reflect on supermarkets. I'm starting to think that the undoubted benefits of supermarkets like walmart are outweighed by the costs. It might be worth giving up the convenience in favour of better deals for farmers, better animal welfare, a good dignified living for people running a small local shop, and the personal relationships and community aspect of that. Capitalism has evolved in this way, things have become more efficient and a few people have gotten really rich but in a lot of ways that you can't give a $ value to and some you can, they've gotten worse for ordinary people (and farm animals).

John Craig said...

Steven --
Yes, it's a convincing argument against globalism. The middle class has been decimated in this country. When I graduated from college in the 1970's, there were plenty of white collar jobs available; not, not so much.

A lot of people have made similar arguments against the big box stores. I'm not as convinced on that one, though I wouldn't argue against it, either. That's one big difference between the UK and USA: when I was in London in 2013, I was amazed at the number of shopkeeper-owned standalone shops. In the US these days, almost everything is a chain.

Anonymous said...

What about automated labour?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Automated labor has replaced some workers, but a more efficient economy is a stronger one, and that should -- generally speaking -- help create jobs elsewhere in the country. What globalism does is help foreign economies at the expense of our own.

Steven said...

re automated labour, if robotics and AI take enough jobs, a universal basic income will have to be introduced. Simple as that.

For now, you can only do something about the thing you can do something about.

Anonymous said...

I wish Trump well in turning things around in our country. I saw an article in Daily Mail Online where Melania and her son, Barron, went to lunch at a restaurant that serves pizza. Some of the commenters noted that the boy was wearing New Balance sneakers (which apparently are made in the USA). Anyway, I hope small town America is built back up in the future, so that people can enjoy, appreciate small town living. Hopefully, Trump will succeed in making America a prosperous nation, get it back on a more even track.

- Susan

The Ambivalent Misanthrope said...

A very interesting article. While I'm very sympathetic to its point of view, I am not fully on-board about the idea of the red belt being a bastion of noble suffering salt of the earth poor honest folk. Having an extensive network of in-laws in the deepest red pockets of poverty, I can say first hand that those areas are profoundly affected by a shocking amount of drug use, manufacture and distribution. It seems like the country has developed a country version of a drug problem, too. Cultural and educational impoverishment is on the scale of the innner ghetto (and by culture and education, I don't mean anything like plating violin concertos. The younger generations have abandoned their form of what used to be great endemic local music cultures, for example). People lead incredibly unhealthy lifestyles. Smoking and obesity are on full display. So while these folk can skin a buck and run a trout line, they frequently do it stoned or high; their children learn both skills very, very early as well.

This is by no means to throw rocks at people who truly can still carry fantastic common sense, loyalty and grit. But they are beset by remarkably similar problems to the innner city. I don't know what to make of it. Any thoughts from readers/blog master?

John Craig said...

Susan --
That's the hope. If Trump even moves the dial on all that a little bit it would be a success.

I wouldn't read too much into Barron wearing NB sneakers, Trump himself had some of his namesake ties manufactured in China. But as he said when he was called on that, he did it because it was cheaper, and wants to make it harder for people like himself to gain a financial advantage that way. He was still criticized for it, though, strangely, no one seemed to criticize Warren Buffett of supposedly paying a tax rate less than his secretary's.

John Craig said...

Ambivalent Misanthrope --
My only thought is, you're absolutely right. Meth is very much a poor white person's drug, and it's made a lot more inroads in the countryside than in the city. And now heroin has made tat jump too. In fact, people in the area where I live keep telling me that heroin has made inroads in the suburbs as well. A couple of kids in towns nearby have evidently died of it. Human nature is not all that different in the countryside, but the point of view is.

But, I think the author's point was not so much that red state folk are all noble as that globalization has left a lot of them impoverished. I think his article went off the rails when he started talking about a civil war based on food supply. But I linked it because the first half was so on the mark, particularly in terms of how he characterized the liberal city-dwellers' attitude toward what they regard as country bumpkins.

The Ambivalent Misanthrope said...

I am in full agreement that liberal city dwellers have an inexcusable attitude towards country folk. So many of them express open contempt towards that vast 'flyover' zone between the two coasts. I heard someone jsut the other day remark that an acquaintance's life was going to take a nosedive because the person moved to a small town in CO, of all places (a failry liberal state). What the hell?

All that said, the article did seem to paint the rural folk as downtrodden but it leaves me wondering: are all the problems they experience due to globalization and the impoverishment of rural communities? have they turned to meth manufacture because there's no other way of making a living? I'm thinking of an excellent film here, Winter's Bone, which portrayed some of those realities really well. The young woman could hunt and skin and gut wild game to help feed her younger siblings, and yet the entire extended family was steeped in a vast dark criminal network of drugs. Is THAT due to globalization?

John Craig said...

Ambivalent Misanthrope --
You're absolutely right, it's far less simple than that article painted it, and people are always to some extent complicit in their own fates. Nonetheless, globalization has had a strong impact, and has turned many formerly strong manufacturing areas into rust belt areas. But, no question, the country isn't divided into Good and Bad people according to whether they live in the city or country. (The only people to whom the world is that simple are liberals, who believe that everyone who believes as they do are Good, and people who believe otherwise are Bad; or, if you prefer, deplorable.)

Never seen Winter's Bone, but will put it on my list.

Anonymous said...

I had a major problem with Winter's Bone, but I'll let you see it first before I spout off.

Puzzled

John Craig said...

Puzzled (and Ambivalent Misanthrope) --
I just looked, Netflix doesn't have it, so I doubt I'll be seeing it in the near future. I took a look at the trailer, and also read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia. It sounds pretty grim, which means it's not really my kind of movie, I tend to prefer escapism. So, since I'm probably not going to see it, what was your problem with the movie?

Anonymous said...

I think we have reached the point where we can stop comparing current automation to to past advances that have been absorbed when full employment was still possible – due to new areas of work that open up, at least partly due to other advances in technology.

I believe we already have a massive over capacity of workers available, worldwide.

In the US we have 95 million people who don’t work at all. We have an ever increasing government payroll – the vast majority of whom do work that would not be missed one bit if they did not do it. Think of climate models – what if we didn’t do them? A: nothing. The models don’t mean jack anyway. We have three things absorbing US work over-capacity now: government; people dropping out of the work force, and disability etc. Further, as technology removes the need for workers, the new jobs that open up are bottom end service jobs near the minimum wage – where bottom dwellers can offer more and more services to those remaining in the work force that pays a decent wage.

I’ve been reading articles occasionally that recognize this. They talk about a world without work, and what people will do with their times, how they will feel needed, etc.

I think Trump is on the right track with bringing manufacturing home. I also think it will have only a small effect; and if he does succeed in forcing a lot more manufacturing in the US we will see a lot of it done by …… robots. I’ve also been seeing that they’re making tremendous advances in robot technology. The only reason we are not seeing more and more work done by robots, is that currently there is so much very low cost labor available worldwide that its not cost effective to bother using robots. But when manufacturing is forced back into the US, with higher cost labor here – they will use robots more and more.

This is why we need labor laws that recognize that paid work is a diminishing commodity. Make everyone work a reasonable amount. Put the brakes on this insane system we have today where we put ever increasing amounts of work and stress on smaller numbers of actual workers, while more and more people sit at home, or idle away their hours on government time, at tax payer expense.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts:

- re: Ambivalent Misanthrope question – is heavy drug use in the middle of the country due to globalization? My answer, in large part, is 'absolutely'. What happens when there is no work? People turn to illicit means of making money (selling drugs) and idle people use the drugs.

- re: possibility for actual violent conflict between the Left and Trump-people in this country – I think its entirely possible.

From a Buchanan article April 2016:

Whatever happens to Trump, the country has spoken. And if the establishment refuses to heed its voice, and returns to the policies the people have repudiated, it should take heed of John F. Kennedy’s warning: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

Since Trump has won, we have a chance at real change for the better. He could still be blocked by Democrats and pro-free trade, pro-amnesty Republicans.

This is a country divided, and passionately so. The Left openly broadcasts their sneering hatred and contempt for Trump-people. The Trump-people, for the most part, seethe quietly in return.

Could this boil over? I think so.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
As far as drugs go, maybe globalization has had some impact, but meth has been around for decades, the term "Rust Belt" has been around for decades, and the term "white trash" has been around for a long time too. ("White trash" would of course be considered a racist term if applied to any other color, but when you really think about it, its implications are in fact racist TOWARD other colors, as the existence of the phrase implies that there is a distinct small subset of people fitting that description, whereas no such distinction is needed for certain other races.)

I used to think people who spoke of a race war were crazy. Now it seems less crazy, though I don't think it's going to happen any time in the near future. I think the chances of any sort of "war" breaking out between Left and Right is almost nil, as the dividing lines would be too hazy, families would be split, etc.

Anonymous said...

From wikipedia on the Rust Belt:
Previously known as the industrial heartland of America, industry has been declining in the region since the mid-20th century due to a variety of economic factors, such as the transfer of manufacturing further West, increased automation, the decline of the US steel and coal industries, free trade agreements such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A.) or accession to the World Trade Organization, globalization, and outsourcing of jobs out of the U.S.

I am not predicting an internal US 'war' per se; and definitely don't see this as a fundamentally race-based conflict. I do think things are ugly in this country and they have the potential to get uglier. One side is predominantly self-righteous, loud mouthed, insulting, and to boot - wrong. The other side predominantly stays quiet - suffering from non-stop written / verbal assault and insult from the MSM and the loud-mouthed Leftists.

I don't know how this situation 'breaks' exactly. I don't see the status quo going unabated.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
Yes, the Rust Belt has rusted for a combination of reasons.

Agree about both the nature of our internal conflict and your characterization of each side. And I agree that the status quo will not stay the same; the current "Cold War" will heat up, though I don't see it leading to any sort of armed conflict, except in isolated incidents.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the Obama electors were able to perform their duty without receiving this kind of abuse: Electors Get Death Threats From Hillary Voters.

- Ed

John Craig said...

Ed --
Thank you for that. Just one more example of the difference between Right and Left. We're constantly given evidence of this kind, but no one in the MSM wants to draw any conclusions from it, for obvious reasons.