Charles Murray addresses critics of his book “Coming Apart: The State of a Politically Acceptable Bell Curve” who complain that he didn’t focus enough on economic factors driving the disintegration of lower class whites. He presents data in this Open Borders Journal article that shows working class men have been dropping out of the job market even during good times.
It is true that unionized jobs at the major manufacturers provided generous wages in 1960. But they didn’t drive the overall wage level in the working class. In the 1960 census, the mean annual earnings of white males ages 30 to 49 who were in working-class occupations (expressed in 2010 dollars) was $33,302. In 2010, the parallel figure from the Current Population Survey was $36,966—more than $3,000 higher than the 1960 mean, using the identical definition of working-class occupations.
This occurred despite the decline of private-sector unions, globalization, and all the other changes in the labor market. What’s more, this figure doesn’t include additional income from the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit now enjoyed by those making the low end of working-class wages.
If the pay level in 1960 represented a family wage, there was still a family wage in 2010. And yet, just 48% of working-class whites ages 30 to 49 were married in 2010, down from 84% in 1960.
I don’t have an argument with his economic numbers, although I think he probably understates the role automation, immigration and skill prerequisite inflation have had in the gutting of working class men’s job prospects and ability to merge seamlessly into functional family formation.
Murray is closer to the truth than a lot of his critics are when he blames cultural factors and bad policy for the dysfunction of the left side of the bell curve. Here he is on that:
If changes in the labor market don’t explain the development of the new lower class, what does? My own explanation is no secret. In my 1984 book “Losing Ground,” I put the blame on our growing welfare state and the perverse incentives that it created. I also have argued that the increasing economic independence of women, who flooded into the labor market in the 1970s and 1980s, played an important role.
Simplifying somewhat, here’s my reading of the relevant causes: Whether because of support from the state or earned income, women became much better able to support a child without a husband over the period of 1960 to 2010. As women needed men less, the social status that working-class men enjoyed if they supported families began to disappear. The sexual revolution exacerbated the situation, making it easy for [ed: alpha] men to get sex without bothering to get married. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that male fecklessness bloomed, especially in the working class.
Right-o! The Chateau has been beating a similar drum for quite a while now, so it’s nice to hear a quasi-mainstream pundit embrace the same sordid maxims bolted to the oaken doors, Luther-like, at Chez Heartiste. But then, just when you think the ugly truth has seeped into every corpuscle of the respectable class, a huge backpedal slams the brakes on enlightenment.
The prerequisite for any eventual policy solution consists of a simple cultural change: It must once again be taken for granted that a male in the prime of life who isn’t even looking for work is behaving badly. There can be exceptions for those who are genuinely unable to work or are house husbands. But reasonably healthy working-age males who aren’t working or even looking for work, who live off their girlfriends, families or the state, must once again be openly regarded by their fellow citizens as lazy, irresponsible and unmanly. Whatever their social class, they are, for want of a better word, bums.
To bring about this cultural change, we must change the language that we use whenever the topic of feckless men comes up. Don’t call them “demoralized.” Call them whatever derogatory word you prefer. Equally important: Start treating the men who aren’t feckless with respect. Recognize that the guy who works on your lawn every week is morally superior in this regard to your neighbor’s college-educated son who won’t take a “demeaning” job. Be willing to say so.
This sounds like a familiar refrain. Say it with me, folks. It’s time for men to…. wait for it…. hold…. hoooooold….. HOOOOOOOOLLD…..
Bill Bennett would be proud.
How absolutely brave… brave, I say!… of Murray to apportion most of the blame for the current state of affairs to men. Or, in this case, white men. This will surely win him lots of enemies amongst the feminists and social elites whose cocktail party invitations he haughtily throws in the trash in righteous, principled fury.
Look, I have no problem with shaming men who don’t want to work, or who can’t muster the motivation to at least try to find work. It’s not like the existence of self-destructive male bums is unheard of. But Murray DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS his proposed shaming solution with his explanation for the bleak male employment scenario just a few paragraphs above in the very same article! Once more:
Simplifying somewhat, here’s my reading of the relevant causes: Whether because of support from the state or earned income, women became much better able to support a child without a husband over the period of 1960 to 2010. As women needed men less, the social status that working-class men enjoyed if they supported families began to disappear.
Where, pray tell, in that explanation does it follow that men are primarily to blame for their poor employment numbers? Doesn’t the exact opposite conclusion — that women’s mate choices are to blame for men dropping out — seem more obvious? Shouldn’t it be the case then, that single working women on the fast track to single motherhood and alpha cock carouseling are the ones deserving of shame?
Murray, like most pundits, is deathly afraid of confronting female hypergamy. For to confront it in full, with all the consequences that entails, would mean arousing the ire of every dim-witted, aggressively stupid feminist, mangina and talk show snarktard with a sympathetic media at its instant disposal. To confront female hypergamy would be to confront the very foundational rationale for the sexual revolution and the fifty year program to equalize social and economic outcomes between men and women.
I have spent time in SWPL-land and in proleville, and I can tell you the forces shaping our ongoing dysgenia are spearheaded by women’s sexual market choices. It isn’t a conscious campaign of male disenfranchisement; it’s an emergent one. Men, like men always do, are simply reacting to the conditions set on the ground by women.
Murray sees this, but doesn’t run with it. Women’s improved employment numbers, education and earning power (some of it contributed by government largesse) has had the effect of SHRINKING their acceptable dating pool. Material resources and occupational status are one way women judge men’s mate worthiness (not the only way, but the one way that viscerally matters to most beta males), and the innate female sexual disposition to be attracted — ANIMALISTICALLY ATTRACTED — to men with higher status and more resources than themselves necessarily means that financially independent women and government-assisted women are going to find fewer men in their social milieu attractive.
Result? Men slowly discover that the effort to win women’s attention via employment is not rewarding them the way it did for their dads and granddads, and that now only herculean efforts to make considerably more than women will give them an edge in the mating market. The male fecklessness that Murray lambasts is actually a rational male response to a changing sexual market where the rewards of female sexuality go disproportionately to charming, aloof jerks over meager beta providers.
And make no mistake, the jerks are exactly to whom women, particularly lower class women, are dispensing their favors. When earning power and employment as a male attractiveness criteria has been subconsciously debased by women who don’t need male provisions, then women will shift their sexual adaptation algorithm to sexy cads for their thrills and romantic chills.
Knowing this, it makes more sense to shame women equally as vigorously as one shames men for social and family breakdown. In fact, as I have argued, if a prosperous, civilized, self-reliant society is your goal it actually makes sense to shame women MORE than men, because women are the gatekeepers of sex, and as such their combined sexual marketplace decisions carry more import in the direction the culture takes.
So to Murray, I would say this: rewrite your program of shaming so that it better reflects reality, the VERY REALITY you yourself identified. In descending order of lethality, your death star powered shaming ray should designate the following targets:
Shame women who actively try to have bastard hellion spawn out of wedlock. “Oh, the child won’t have a father around?” BACKTURN
Shame women with kids from multiple fathers. “Half sister?” BACKTURN
Shame women who get fat and thus make themselves unattractive to men and artificially tighten the dating market. “Those jeans are a little small on you.” BACKTURN
Shame women who date jerks. “Oh, so the guy you’re seeing has no job and gave you Skittles for your birthday?” BACKTURN
Shame sluts. “Nice tramp stamp. Just the thing to make a guy want to marry you.” BACKTURN
Shame eat, pray, love SWPL divorcees. “Was it worth destroying your kids’ emotional health for a romp with Alfonso?” BACKTURN
Shame Samantha types whose weekly highlight is Sunday brunch mimosas. “In real life, Samantha dies alone with her cats nibbling on her flesh for sustenance.” BACKTURN
Shame aging single cougars. “You should really consider settling for a nice, reliable man. You’re not getting any younger, you know.” BACKTURN
Shame “empowered”, overeducated women who wave their degrees around men like it matters. “You’ve just made it harder on yourself to find love.” BACKTURN
Only after you’ve shamed the above basket cases should you move on to shaming jobless, video gaming and porn watching men.
Although it would go a long way toward fixing the problem with lower class men and women’s reluctance to marry them, I don’t see women being persuaded out of the job market any time soon. Never mind the feminists, the whole consumerist regime depends on women working and spending their discretionary cash on useless baubles. The culture will sooner devolve into a dystopian hellscape than women will quit their HR jobs en masse and give up a portion of their frivolous spendthrift ways.
Not to say something can’t be done. We can start with stopping the encouragement and advocacy of women’s economic advancement. There’s no need to kick women out of the cubicle. Just stop affirmative action for women, stop special programs for women (Title IX), stop pushing them down career paths, and stop making them feel like victims of an imaginary patriarchy. Little steps like this will add up in a big way.
Oh, and ruthlessly mock feminist ideology whenever you get the chance. Bonus: it’s fun for the whole family!
Murray ends on this note:
It is condescending to treat people who have less education or money as less morally accountable than we are. We should stop making excuses for them that we wouldn’t make for ourselves. Respect those who deserve respect, and look down on those who deserve looking down on.
I’m a big proponent of non-judgmentalism, but as a metaphysical riddle, isn’t disrespect going to necessarily disproportionately fall on the losers in life? Do these losers really “deserve” their disrespect? There is plenty of evidence that positive character traits like ambition, conscientiousness, diligence, future time orientation, lawfulness and yes, even morality, are genetically influenced and that some people have more of these beneficial genes than other people. The working class likely has a higher concentration of deleterious genes (deleterious in the context of a modern economy) than does the SWPL class.
As a practical matter, though, Murray is right. You can’t have a well-oiled, functioning, K-selected society if you’re not willing to call out the losers for their dumb choices because you think they can’t help themselves, they were born that way. This is really the grand bargain that the fortunate have to make with their moral worldview. “Do as I say, even if you can’t do it as easily as I do.”