Saturday, January 15, 2011

Columnists White People Like

There's a minor industry in the web and journalism in making fun of Times columnist Thomas Friedman, but to my mind David Brooks is far worse, despite being slightly more fluent in English. Brooks marries a breathtakingly banality to hackwork in the service of conservativism, and there's something about his absolute blandness that makes my skin crawl. Well, somebody let him loose in a bunch of pop psychology and sociology research and apparently he ha a book coming out with the stunning title "The Social Animal". Apparently people are social, derive much of their pleasure, cognition, values, etc from other people. Who knew? Anyway he's flogging parts of in the New Yorker, including this choice bit:
There's a debate in our culture about what really makes us happy, which is summarized by, on the one hand, the book "œOn the Road" and, on the other, the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." The former celebrates the life of freedom and adventure. The latter celebrates roots and connections. Research over the past thirty years makes it clear that what the inner mind really wants is connection. It's a Wonderful Life was right... According to research by Daniel Kahneman, Alan B. Krueger, and others, the daily activities most closely associated with happiness are social -- ”having sex, socializing after work, and having dinner with friends. Many of the professions that correlate most closely with happiness are also social--”a corporate manager, a hairdresser.
Apparently freedom and adventure are incompatible with social connection. Who knew? So we definitely shouldn't try to pursue them. And apparently Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and Allen Ginsberg were not into having sex and rarely had dinner with friends. Who knew?

But speaking of "It's a Wonderful Life", Brooks is the person who wrote this:
It'™s easy to see why politicians would be drawn to the populist pose. First, it makes everything so simple. The economic crisis was caused by a complex web of factors, including global imbalances caused by the rise of China. But with the populist narrative, you can just blame Goldman Sachs.
Brooks is trying to discredit populism using the inane argument that it is divisive -- just like racism! So apparently it's bad to criticize any group of people whatsoever. Now, if you've ever seen It's a Wonderful Life, and who hasn't, you'll know that it's an essentially populist tale, pitting a local, caring, socially-involved businessman (Jimmy Stewart) against the more heartless capitalism of Mr. Potter. Here in the 20th century, who do you think is the Mr. Potter laying waste to local communities? Well, it's the entire system of globalized capital, but Goldman Sachs is a good stand-in.

I simply do not see the point of David Brooks. I guess it's to have a conservative who is housebroken and can turn a phrase adequately enough that he'll be acceptable in the pages of the New York Times, but I can't imagine anybody who wants to read this incoherent pablum. Is it people who want to be reassured that they were right to put aside their youthful longings to be a beatnik? Hm, yes, maybe that's it. The New Yorker piece starts out with an exceedingly long and apparently pointless portrait of some very upper-crust elites (summer in Aspen, etc, attending Davos, grinding their own spices, that kind of thing) -- and I guess Brooks is also working to reassure his readers that they don't have to worry about not measuring up to that standared either. OK, now I think I get it -- he exists to bring comfort to boring middle-aged, middle-class, middle-management, middle-of-the-road white people that it's OK to be that way. Your life may be dull and static, you may envy the rich, the hip, and the activist, but David Brooks is there to tell you really have the better deal. In terms of politics, his purpose is to try to take the wind out of the sails of any possible political movement for change.

21 comments:

4bow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
4bow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
4bow said...

No one actually LIKES David Brooks. Conservatives think he's a traitor for working at the Times, and for being too wussy and not as rantfully angry and bitter as the screaming ninny columnists at the Wall Street Journal. Liberals hate him because he SOUNDS reasonable if you don't listen to the actual words he spews out, and thus gives the appearance of being a reasonable, articulate conservative pundit, and even though we know there is no such thing, the presence of someone giving that impression is not good for progressivism.

Just don't go all Matt Taibbi on us and become obsessed with Brooks' idiocy to the point of... monomania...

TGGP said...

Brooks is too boring to care about most of the time. Even when I want to I usually can't muster up the energy, so I just link to that Philly debunking of his surf-and-turfing. Friedman is just completely ridiculous.

scw said...

I found Brooks's book "Bobos in Paradise" a mildly amusing and generally accurate portrayal of the social type it describes. In general, he is not much of a conservative - as one would expect from his publishing the New York Times, which unashamedly clings to the Pulitzer Prize won by Walter Duranty.

You have, I suspect, misunderstood his critique of populism.The sort of populism to be expected from "middle-aged, middle-class, middle-management, middle-of-the road white people" is not going to favor change in a leftward direction. In fact, the populism Brooks almost certainly has in mind is that of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.

As for blaming Goldman Sachs, that is hardly inconsistent with such populism. Goldman has long been a strong institutional supporter of liberal Democrats. Goldman employees contributed almost a million dollars to Obama's election campaign. Lloyd Blankfein is a prominent social liberal and Democratic contributor. Three ex-Goldman executives currently hold positions in the Obama administration: Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission; Mark Patterson, chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and Robert Hormats, undersecretary of state for economic, energy, and agricultural affairs.

And how much to blame is Goldman, or are people associated with it? A scrutiny of the role of Robert Rubin in the meltdown of Citigroup gives but one example. Rubin, a former Goldman executive, Clinton-era Treasury secretary, and prominent Democrat, shows that even as Citi was engaged in disastrous business practices, Rubin occupied a sinecure directorship that netted him $126 million in compensation. Surely this says something about his sense of fiduciary responsibility.

The right-wing populism that Brooks fears is perfectly capable of distinguishing between the corrupt state capitalism exemplified by the Goldman crowd, and the market capitalism of its home-town institutions. This is why Brooks, the tame lap-dog conservative of the Times, fears it. He doesn't want the sort of change it would bring, any more than you do.

mtraven said...

The point (sort of) was that his boringness is so extreme as to become an interesting phenomenon in itself.

mtraven said...

scw -- you prompted me to reread the Brooks column on populism. I'll say one thing for it, his language is extremely lucid, all the weasling is conceptual. So it's quite clear what he is trying to do.

Unlike your comment, which I can't even begin to untangle.

Brooks: The people who try to divide it on the basis of social class we call either populists or elitists...These two attitudes...seem different, but they’re really mirror images of one another. They both assume a country fundamentally divided. They both describe politics as a class struggle between the enlightened and the corrupt, the pure and the betrayers....The populists have an Us versus Them mentality. If they continue their random attacks on enterprise and capital, they will only increase the pervasive feeling of uncertainty...They will have traded dynamic optimism, which always wins, for combative divisiveness, which always loses.

Translation: all political movements are bad because they entail a horrid divisivness. Instead, we should all be good little worker bees in the hive of the state, no matter what our station. For some reason it reminds me of the kind of talks CEOs give to the employees at company meetings -- designed to reassure and tamp down any possible restlessness or movement for change that is not dictated from the top. The US is not supposed to be as hierarchical as a corporation, so instead of a CEO we have flacks like Brooks doing the work of keeping everybody in line with the supposed interests of the larger institution.

scw said...

Your point appeared to be not about Brooks's boringness, but rather that "in terms of politics, [Brooks's] purpose is to try to take the wind out of the sails of any possible political movement for change." At least that's what you wrote in the last sentence of your original post.

The populism Brooks finds distasteful is the right-wing populism of the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. There is no possibility in any event for a left-wing populism amongst "middle-class, middle-aged, middle-management... white people." The left long ago deserted them for the black underclass, feminists, gays, illegal immigrants, etc. The middling group of white people you describe sounds like the demographics of the Tea Party - not so "middle-of-the-road" any more.

Brooks is not a conservative of their stripe. He and his employers at the Times would, no doubt, like to discourage any sort of populism that might threaten rich Democrats like Lloyd Blankfein and Robert Rubin, with whom journalists like Brooks might hob-nob at the Council on Foreign Relations and similar New York fora. Hence Brooks's antipathy to anyone who might "blame Goldman Sachs." A genuine right-wing candidate, and the kind of political change he wished to bring, would be far more distasteful to Brooks than is Obama, or anyone else who might stand to get millions of dollars in contributions from Goldman executives.

That ought to be comprehensible even to someone as professionally obtuse as you.

mtraven said...

Filtering out your rudeness and confusion, I think you are basically agreeing with me -- Brooks is essentially a creature of the establishment. Right and left don't mean much to the likes of him. Both parties are in roughly equal hock to powerful financial interests, although slightly different sets of them, and the chief concern of someone like Brooks is to make sure that nothing emerges to challenge that.

Any genuine populism is inherently left-wing, almost by definition. The right-wing pseudo-populism of the tea parties is largely fake, ginned up by Republican party operatives as yet another tool to defuse any sort of genuine populist anger that might find a true and proper target. And of course, historically right-wing populist movements have been a precursor to fascism.

scw said...

Fascism? You mean like that of Mussolini, the ex-socialist newspaper editor, or Oswald Mosley, the ex-Labour Party leader? They were to the right only of Stalin. See Wolfgang Schivelbusch's "Three New Deals."

The Tea Party was not "ginned up by Republican Party operatives." It is a genuine populism of the right, akin not to the modified syndicalism that was European fascism, but rather to the Tertium Quids' opposition to the First and Second Banks of the United States and the politicized allocation of credit (see in particular John Taylor of Caroline's "Arator" and the speeches of John Randolph of Roanoke), culminating in the election of Andrew Jackson; and to the post-Civil War Redemption, under figures like Ben Tillman. The Republican Party is, undoubtedly against the wishes of its neocon faction (represented by Brooks), becoming consciously the white people's party - Sailerism has happened by default. The closest European parallel is not fascism but rather Poujadisme.

Certainly this is not a phenomenon that rich Democratic liberals of the Blankfein and Rubin stripe, or Mr. Brooks's bosses at the New York Times, welcome at all.

mtraven said...

Re the origin and control of the tea parties, see here. Not that there isn't some genuinely populist sentiment to be found there, but because the people involved are political naifs, to put it mildly, they are easily manipulated.

If you want to refight the political battles of the 1930s, find someone who cares. Maybe you can find a 100-year-old Stalinist who was there.

And if you want to refight the political battles of the 1800s, you will really have to find someone else, since my knowledge of the period is spotty. But since you have in the past used Random of Roanoke as a synedoche for aristocracy, I'm a little puzzled about how he can now serve to stand for populism, which is its opposite.

I see you are saving me the trouble of identifying the racism that underlies the tea parties by doing it yourself. "Sailerism" is a nice euphemism, I kind of doubt it will catch on.

scw said...

Randolph of Roanoke and Taylor of Caroline were populists in the sense that they resisted Hamilton and the centralizers, believing that local government, close to the people, was better than a distant central government in the hands of an elite. Randolph was, despite his criticisms of his cousin, basically a follower of Thomas Jefferson, and a supporter of Andrew Jackson. That Randolph and Jefferson were born aristocrats was not incompatible with their small-r republican sentiments. They were assuredly populists as compared to Hamilton and Adams.

I don't wish to re-fight the political battles of the 1930s, but do wish political terms to be used with accuracy. If fascism means anything, it ought to mean what the original fascists meant by it, rather than being a pejorative term for any political tendency you don't happen to like.

Fascism was at bottom an economic scheme derived from syndicalism, and was characterized by an all-encompassing government intervention in private economic activity. Such activity was to be organized for the benefit of the state. This is of course completely antithetical to the laissez-faire approach of nineteenth-century liberalism, which is the viewpoint of what we now call conservatism in the United States.

The paramilitary organization of the Italian Fascist party and its strident nationalism were purely incidental to its economics, and were phenomena reflecting the relative newness and weakness of the Italian state. Mosley copied the Italian style, but it was a poor fit for Britain, with its long history as a great power - which explains in good part why he amounted to more than a side-show in the British politics of the 1930s.

If fascism - when there was real fascism - appealed at all to the right, it was only because it was seen as a lesser evil than Bolshevism. This only came about because in the climate of the 1930s there seemed no possibility for revival of the aristocratic-bourgeois governing philosophy that had prevailed before World War I. The remaining advocates of that philosophy - for example, Pareto in Italy, or Spengler in Germany - had a wary relationship with the ascendant Fascist and Nazi parties, which in turn looked at them with suspicion.

It is ridiculous to compare American right-wing populism, past or present, with fascism. Fascism seeks to enlarge the state, whereas American right-wing populisms - whether in opposition to the Banks of the United States in the early nineteenth century, or in pursuit of Redemption and local control in the post-Reconstruction South, or today in the Tea Party - seek to limit it and reduce its size and scope, particularly at the Federal level. A smaller and more limited government, as sought by these populist movements, would appear to be quite incompatible with the authoritarian statism of a fascist government.

If the Tea Party were simply ginned up by Republican Party operatives, I'm sure that ex-Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, ex-Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who were candidates of the Republican establishment, would like to know - they were all defeated in their primaries by Tea Party challengers. Nor did those Tea Party challengers necessarily serve the Republican establishment well. Had Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell not won their primaries, Republicans might now hold two more Senate seats. The course of the recent election does not support your argument.

scw said...

Randolph of Roanoke and Taylor of Caroline were populists in the sense that they resisted Hamilton and the centralizers, believing that local government, close to the people, was better than a distant central government in the hands of an elite. Randolph was, despite his criticisms of his cousin, basically a follower of Thomas Jefferson, and a supporter of Andrew Jackson. That Randolph and Jefferson were born aristocrats was not incompatible with their small-r republican sentiments. They were assuredly populists as compared to Hamilton and Adams.

I don't wish to re-fight the political battles of the 1930s, but do wish political terms to be used with accuracy. If fascism means anything, it ought to mean what the original fascists meant by it, rather than being a pejorative term for any political tendency you don't happen to like.

Fascism was at bottom an economic scheme derived from syndicalism, and was characterized by an all-encompassing government intervention in private economic activity. Such activity was to be organized for the benefit of the state. This is of course completely antithetical to the laissez-faire approach of nineteenth-century liberalism, which is the viewpoint of what we now call conservatism in the United States.

The paramilitary organization of the Italian Fascist party and its strident nationalism were purely incidental to its economics, and were phenomena reflecting the relative newness and weakness of the Italian state. Mosley copied the Italian style, but it was a poor fit for Britain, with its long history as a great power - which explains in good part why he amounted to more than a side-show in the British politics of the 1930s.

If fascism - when there was real fascism - appealed at all to the right, it was only because it was seen as a lesser evil than Bolshevism. This only came about because in the climate of the 1930s there seemed no possibility for revival of the aristocratic-bourgeois governing philosophy that had prevailed before World War I. The remaining advocates of that philosophy - for example, Pareto in Italy, or Spengler in Germany - had a wary relationship with the ascendant Fascist and Nazi parties, which in turn looked at them with suspicion.

It is ridiculous to compare American right-wing populism, past or present, with fascism. Fascism seeks to enlarge the state, whereas American right-wing populisms - whether in opposition to the Banks of the United States in the early nineteenth century, or in pursuit of Redemption and local control in the post-Reconstruction South, or today in the Tea Party - seek to limit it and reduce its size and scope, particularly at the Federal level. A smaller and more limited government, as sought by these populist movements, would appear to be quite incompatible with the authoritarian statism of a fascist government.

If the Tea Party were simply ginned up by Republican Party operatives, I'm sure that ex-Senator Bob Bennett of Utah, ex-Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who were candidates of the Republican establishment, would like to know - they were all defeated in their primaries by Tea Party challengers. Nor did those Tea Party challengers necessarily serve the Republican establishment well. Had Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell not won their primaries, Republicans might now hold two more Senate seats. The course of the recent election does not support your argument.

scw said...

My comment of last night remains unposted for some reason.

As to the alleged racism of the Tea Party, this is simply a smear designed to preclude further debate. The matter of fact is that the left has very successfully institutionalized a racial spoils system under which an official victimology identifies certain groups of people as entitled to preferment under "affirmative action," whereby they enjoy quotas for university admissions and hiring, set-asides when contracting with government, and other subsidies. This serves to lock in votes for Democrats, which Republicans, advocating a race-blind policy with respect to such things, are incapable of prying loose.

For this reason, Republicans have become the party of white people (Sailerism) not by intent but by default. So far from endorsing anything that might reasonably be called racism, both the Republican establishment and the Tea Party bend over backwards to avoid any association with the HBD crowd, much less 'white nationalists' and other less savory types. With amusing futility, everyone from the Heritage Foundation to Glenn Beck mouth the praises of Martin Luther King and solemnly intone their wish that people might be judged on the content of their character than by the color of their skin. It is all to no avail - the clientele of the Democrats' racial spoils system naturally prefer candidates whose promise to "spread the wealth around" implicitly includes them as recipients.

The great political conflict of the last two years has, according to the most recent issue of "The Economist," been "between taxpayers and what William Cobbett, one of the great British liberals, used to refer as 'tax eaters'." The constituency of tax eaters is a large and remarkably diverse one. It includes everything from the big banks and businesses that have benefited from bail-outs, to the vast and powerful government employee unions, to (somewhere down the list) the beneficiaries of the above-mentioned racial spoils system. If merely criticizing this makes one a racist, then the term has lost all meaning, and will soon lose its effectiveness as an epithet.

scw said...

Since you haven't seen fit to allow my comment of last night to post, I'll attempt to reprise it.

If indeed the Tea Party was "ginned up by Republican operatives," I'm sure such Republican establishment figures as ex-Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), ex. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Delaware), and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson would like to know. They were all defeated in their primaries by Tea Party challengers. Nor did such Tea Party challengers always serve the interests of the Republican Party well. Had Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell not been nominated on the strength of Tea Party support, the Republicans might now hold two more Senate seats. These facts undermine your contention.

I don't wish to re-fight political battles of the 1930s, but I do wish that the word "fascist" might be used accurately, i.e., to describe politics resembling that of actual Fascists in the 1930s, rather than simply being a pejorative applied to people with whose opinions you disagree. Genuine fascism was at bottom an economic doctrine, under which commerce and industry, though nominally left in private hands, were organized and regimented for the benefit of the state along basically syndicalist lines. The paramilitary form of Mussolini's party, and the strident nationalism it expressed, were superficial characteristics that reflected the newness and weakness of unified Italy, and were not essential to its economic doctrine. Mosley copied these outward aspects of the Italian model, which was not a good fit in Britain, which was already a great power and had an extensive empire. This probably explains why Mosley's BUF gained only a small following, and remained a side-show in the British politics of the 1930s.

If fascism had any appeal for the historic right, it was only because it seemed a lesser evil than Bolshevism, which was even worse. There was no hope at the time for a revival of the aristocratic/haut-bourgeois philosophy of government that had prevailed in Europe before World War I. Those identified with the latter - e.g., Pareto in Italy, Spengler in Germany - had a wary relationship with the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

The Tea Party, manifesting a distinct tendency in American politics that is more than 200 years old, seeks to reduce the size and scope of government, particularly at the Federal level. It strains credulity to suggest that this is a precursor of fascism, which elevated and enlarged the authority of the state.

John Randolph of Roanoke and John Taylor of Caroline were part of the Jeffersonian faction in early American politics. They supported the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions and opposed the Banks of the United States and the centralizing policies of Hamilton. They preferred a small and local government to a distant and large one. That Randolph, like his cousin Jefferson, was a born aristocrat, did not conflict with his small-r republicanism. Randolph provides a link between Jefferson and Jackson, the latter of whom he supported, and who appointed him Minister to Russia. Certainly there could be no more authentic American populism than that of Jefferson and Jackson. It had a continuing influence on the Democratic Party in the South well into the last century - consider the example of the late Sam Ervin, whom Jesse Helms, when they were both representing North Carolina, called the state's more conservative senator.

mtraven said...

Antifederalism is not the same thing as populism, by a long shot. In practice in the US it has been largely reactionary, as is obvious in the so-called State's Rights movement in the South.

it ought to mean what the original fascists meant by it, rather than being a pejorative term for any political tendency you don't happen to like.

I use the term with its generally accepted definition. You can make up whatever you like, but I have no obligation to speak your private language.

the laissez-faire approach of nineteenth-century liberalism, which is the viewpoint of what we now call conservatism in the United States.

Hahahahahahahahahah. The actual conservative movement in the United States bears no relation to 19th-century liberalism. The small-government rhetoric it employs is a trick for the rubes.

It is ridiculous to compare American right-wing populism, past or present, with fascism.

Why? I'm hardly the first to do so.

Fascism seeks to enlarge the state, whereas American right-wing populisms - whether in opposition to the Banks of the United States in the early nineteenth century, or in pursuit of Redemption and local control in the post-Reconstruction South, or today in the Tea Party - seek to limit it and reduce its size and scope

Bullshit. The size and scope of government has been vastly increased by Republican administrations, and the teabaggers had no objections at all to it.

If the Tea Party were simply ginned up by Republican Party operatives...

It's more complex than that. Any political party or movement contains a mix of actors and motivations and alliances. But it's very clear that the tea parties are largely fueled by standard-issue republican thinktanks, Fox News, and the like. If their creation is spinning out of their control, well, that's part of the game.

As to the alleged racism of the Tea Party, this is simply a smear designed to preclude further debate.

You introduced the issue (as usual).

For this reason, Republicans have become the party of white people (Sailerism) not by intent but by default.

Indeed, the Republican party is looking more and more each day like the party of the Confederacy. And they are just as doomed.

The great political conflict of the last two years has, according to the most recent issue of "The Economist," been "between taxpayers and what William Cobbett, one of the great British liberals, used to refer as 'tax eaters'."

Oddly enough, it is the red-state (former Confederacy) areas that are the largest "eaters" of Federal money. The economically productive parts of the country are the civilized, urbanized parts, which vote largely Democratic.

mtraven said...

Tea flows downhill.

scw said...

You were the first to use the word racism in this thread. My observation of "Sailerism by default" is borne out by recent elections, in which the white population has become increasingly Republican. That is not racism, it is a demographic fact, and it has happened in spite of all the efforts I pointed out on the parts of Republicans and Tea Party people to join in the hagiolatry of MLK, etc.

The Tea Party didn't exist until 2009, so I don't see how you can blame it for failing to oppose Republican expansion of government. It wasn't around to do so. The expansion of government that was going on in 2009 took place at the behest of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House. There was plenty of unhappiness expressed by the Tea Party about past Republican extravagances, though, and a number of incumbent Republicans suffered for it. I have mentioned the names of a few.

Are you describing Andrew Jackson an "antifederalist" rather than a populist? You ought to know that the Federalist party had ceased to exist by the time of Jackson's candidacies. Go re-read your American history.

There is no wish for fascist-style economic dirigisme either amongst the Tea Party people or within the Republican party. To compare them to Mussolini and Mosley is simply another smear. The opposition to bail-outs, expansion of social welfare programs, and other political payoffs to favored constituencies is much more in line with the historic views of Jefferson and Jackson - particularly their opposition to the Banks of the United States and the accompanying political allocation of credit.

If 'red' states are historically the beneficiaries of more Federal expenditures than they pay in Federal taxes, we ought to ask who within them gets the money, and why. It is not necessarily the Republican voters in them that do. I personally live in a 'purple' state. My family and I have paid vastly more taxes than we have ever received in even the most indirect benefit from government at any level. The government cannot even repair the potholes in the roads, they are so busy lavishing money on public employee unions and the lumpenprole population, both of which are reliable Democratic constituencies.

The only way a party supported largely by the white population will be "doomed" as you gloat about is by some sort of move to legitimize illegal immigrants and enfranchise them. This, of course, is a left-wing stratagem of some long standing. How bitterly amusing it is that the American left, in enacting Ted Kennedy's Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, took as straightforward instruction what the communist Bertolt Brecht meant with irony in "Die Lösung":

"... would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?"

Uncontrolled immigration was meant from the start to dilute the votes of people of old American stock, the better to facilitate the election of leftists.

As it happens, though, the population of the 'blue' states is not growing, perhaps because it is contracepting and aborting its children at a greater rate than that of the 'red' states, which are exhibiting relative gains in population. New York, Ohio, and other rust-belt states are lagging in population and losing Congressional seats; for the first time in decades, California's growth is stagnant. The conservative South and intermountain West are gaining in population and in Congressional representation.

So I suspect that the wish is the father of the thought that 'doom' is in the offing for them. Making citizens out of illegal immigrants is your only hope, and I suspect is not as likely to happen as you might wish.

scw said...

"The economically productive parts of the country are the civilized, urbanized parts, which vote largely Democratic."

You mean, maybe, Detroit or Newark? Certainly they are urbanized and largely vote Democratic, but I'd dispute both their economic productivity and their civilization.

Your comment prompted me to think of where I live, in a county outlying a large metropolitan area. The central city, indeed, votes largely Democratic, but the suburbs and exurbs (in the latter of which I live) vote solidly Republican. And it is in these suburbs and exurbs that the economically productive people live. They have fled the high taxes, toxic ethnic politics, and corruption of the city, to a Congressional district represented by one of the most conservative members of the House, someone you'd recognize as a prominent Tea Party favorite.

An interesting phenomenon has been unfolding here for more than a decade - businesses have followed these productive people out of the cities, and for the same reasons. A new office complex is likely to be safely across the county line from the city. A new manufacturing plant is likely to be in another state, where workers' comp insurance is cheaper, and income taxes are lower than they are here or non-existent (conditions which exist in all of our neighboring states).

My guess is that this phenomenon is duplicated all across the nation. As not only the better class of citizens withdraw outside city limits, but businesses do as well, the future for such cities is going to resemble the present in Detroit or Newark. Government can only abuse its most lucrative revenue sources so much before they go away.

I suspect my state will remain purplish for some time; the urban population is large enough that it can continue for a while to send substantial numbers of Democrats to the state legislature and can exert its force on the state's Congressional delegation. But looked at on a county-by-county and district-by-district basis, it is evident that both the productive element of the population and the physical presence of productive industry will increasingly flee the 'blue' areas for the 'red.' Looking at a county-by-county map of my state, the highest rate of economic growth is in the counties surrounding its principal urban center. Growth is stagnant there. It is a little blue area of purulent necrosis, surrounded by healthy red.

How's the bond market treating California lately?

Anonymous said...

SCW,

California is too big to be allowed to 'fail'. They will be bailed out by Obama and the decreasing pool of tax payers all over USA will pay. This will happen more often. And will this result in reform of the biggest debt-anchors - Public service Union entitlements? Nope.

Big blue States , all urbane and cosmopolitan and indulging in the usual infantile feel-good progressive policies - unable to confront the monetary blackhole caused by their incestuous relationship with these Unions ....God , its like going to sleep in the snow.

scw said...

Here's what I mean by Sailerism by default:

"By any standard, white voters' rejection of Democrats in November's election was daunting and even historic.

"Fully 60% of whites nationwide backed Republican candidates for the House of Representatives; only 37% supported Democrats... Not even in Republicans' 1994 Congrssional landslide did they win that high a percentage of the white vote."

This, together with much more interesting information, may be found in Ronald Brownstein's article "White Flight" at:
www.national journal.com/magazine/in-2012-obama-may-need-a-new-coalition-20110105

And it has happened by default, because there is little evidence that Republicans have made an overt appeal to induce whites to vote as a bloc. As I noted earlier, from Glenn Beck to the Heritage Foundation, they all join in the official canonization of Martin Luther King and advocate a color-blind policy.

If bloc voting by whites is "racist," then what is bloc voting by blacks and Hispanics, which is routinely encouraged by the left - e.g., Obama's speech last year to an Hispanic audience urging them to "punish [their] enemies" in the coming election?