2015-11-15 – Paul Krugman is looking for the source of despair among middle-aged white American males. It seems that we are indulging in self-destructive behavior—suicide, drugs and alcohol, voting Republican—more than ever before.
I am a middle-aged white American male and I don’t do any of these things, More on that later. First, let’s consider some hypotheses.
Hypothesis one is that lots of good jobs formerly held by middle-aged white American males have disappeared. They have either ceased to exist altogether or they have been outsourced to foreign countries. Some of these jobs may have also transferred to women and minorities. There is anger.
Hypothesis two is that middle-aged white American males are being accused of holding on to white privilege. Many don’t see it that way given the facts underlying hypothesis one.
Hypothesis three is that middle-aged white American males are regularly accused of complicity in rape culture, violence culture, and misogynist culture. Most middle-aged white American males are opposed to rape and violence and want their daughters to get ahead in the world, so they are bewildered.
These are heavy burdens.
I’m not saying these are heavier burdens than those borne by women and minorities. I’m just saying they are heavy. And they may be unaccustomed.
Now, there are two political parties
One speaks of anger about these burdens. That’s the Republican Party, if you didn’t recognize it. The Republican Party tells middle-aged white American males that they are being displaced by women and minorities and immigrants. They may not get points for truth in these claims, but they get points for sympathy.
The other party, the Democratic Party, has little sympathy.
I’ve written before about how destructive this attitude can be. Tell middle-aged white American males that they are responsible for all the troubles of the country and many of them are going to say: fuck you!
And so we get to the absurd situation where middle-aged white American males are (according to liberals) voting against their interest. Well if liberals would stop trash talking, maybe middle-aged white American males might take another look.
At the beginning of this post I said that I am a middle-aged white American male and I don’t do any of the destructive behaviors that Paul Krugman (and others) are worried about.
I don’t fit the stereotype.
I am opposed to rape culture and violence culture and misogynist culture. I see white privilege and believe in equality. And . . .
I believe that the erosion of American jobs is due to technology changes and distorted corporate incentives—and not to women, minorities, and immigrants.
The economy is not a zero-sum game—unless the 1% are sucking so much out of the economy that there isn’t enough left for the rest of us.
I’m not the only middle-aged white American male who believes things like this. And, though we may not be the majority, there are plenty just like me.
So before you sneer at a middle-aged white American male, consider yourself part of the cause for our despair.