“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, March 18, 2016

It's all your fault! (and Trump is still funny)

Some genius at the AEC, which successfully suppressed its studies of the toxic effects of the radiation produced by above ground nuclear bomb tests (thus giving the lie to those conspiracy theory debunkers who claim that it can’t happen here – yes, Virginia, if you have the judicial power to seal as top secret any papers you feel like, you can mount a conspiracy at the highest levels), wrote a memo in the fifties in which, after considering the bummer of fallout, concluded hopefully that at least it was falling on the “low use segment of the population.” This phrase gives us a sort of x ray of the mindset of our betters – the governing class that extends from the plutocrats to the politicos and the high profile journalists and pundits. The low use segment of the population is regularly hauled out for public beatings whenever the governing class feels threatened, or at low ebb, or needs some sportive relief.
Yet of course all is not bleak for the low user – or loser – crowd. Since, as Jesus H. Christ said, we have them with us always, we can always make use of them by stirring up a little racism here, a little panic over welfare there. While they are riled up, you can clip entitlements, lower taxes on the top rates, and sign your fabuloso trade agreements. This process is of course a bit of hush hush – obfuscation on these things is provided free by the media, so the losers don’t get too nosey.
Sometimes, however, as in this election year, out comes the ugly.
Ugly is spelled Trump this season. There’s been a seachange in the thumbsucker community, and it has been decreed that Trump is no longer funny. My ass – Trump is still funny. Of course, all the GOP candidates were funny. Maybe not Cruz, except in that Hannibal Lector way. The thing about Trump is that, like Falstaff, he is not only funny in himself, but he brings out the funny in others.
Case in point is the latest meme among the thumbsuckers: why don’t the losers move more?
This got started with an article published by someone on the masthead of the National Review. NR has been exasperated by Trump, and finally, to much thunder, excommunicated him. It was powerful stuff, but alas, the next day the editorial staff awakened and found out that they hadn’t been elected pope. Quite the shock. They were, as Trump has show every day, mere pipsqueaks in bowties. In fact, of course, the National Review has long cultivated pipsqueak conservatism, but they also peddle a good line in homoerotic worship of tough, “masculine” leaders. Oh how they love those leaders! From Ronald Reagan to Dick Cheney, their bowties have always stood a little stiffer when saluting minor act of mass murder committed in the name of America.
So it stands in the kingdom of Rightwingia. Since the excommunication didn’t work, the next thing, of course, is to empty the vials on the low use segment – which, as they distantly perceive from the newspapers, is where the unfortunate Trumpmania is located. The lecture, given with the appropriate amount of smirking, is that these fat assed white bluecollar types would do better to rent a U Haul and move, rather than disturbing their betters. Vote for what we tell you to vote for, and get a better job! One imagines the high fives. The bowties were showing their legendary toughness once again!
Of course, what happens on the right quickly migrates to the “left”, in as much as Vox, or Mother Jones, pretends to a liberal sensibility. Of course, the smirks were taken out – this is the great White Euphemism Zone, after all – and the question was asked like some Zen puzzle with a gotcha at the end: why aren’t these low enders moving around like obedient fleas in the flea circus as we stage our wonderful globalization act? Is it some dreadful character flaw – oh surely it is – that keeps the blue collar work force from, well, renting a U Haul!
I mean, we aren’t going to reverse history. Put in the appropriate chuckles here. Haven’t the low use people realized? And truly, if you went to Harvard or any of the real institutions of higher education, if your daddy or mommy had risen above the low enders, well, globalisation has been good for you. The maids are cheaper, the flights to Bangkok exquisite, and your real estate deals get mentioned in the Washingtonian, as well as your start up parties. Etc.
Being neo-liberals, however, these thumbsuckers took the problem of residential mobility as something serious that the application of homo economicus could solve. Moving for them comes down to a transaction cost. Sure there are these costs, but generally, surely, the blue collar factory worker just needs more human capital and a move to, say, Manhattan to become a hedge funder. So surely it is some irrational fetish, like attachment to guns, preventing the intersubstitution in the human capital market to move along as efficiently as always.
Being official explainers doesn’t mean anything so vulgar as research for the thumbsucker, however. Myself, I, like millions of people, have access to JSTOR and EBSCO and can actually look up what sociologists have said about residential mobility, cause and effects. Admittedly, this isn’t as fun as sitting in your chair and imagining some lazy rational choice scenario, but there you are: even cherries have their pits.
Sociologists have long connected some dots. For instance, between residential mobility and divorce. Divorce is both a large driver of residential mobility. It was noted by Larry Long in 1974 that married men over thirty were more residentially stable, and this was often accompanied by the married woman joining the work force outside the house. Long, building on this, claimed that divorce was a driver of residential mobility – work that has been amply confirmed – and that it was also possible that divorce occurred more often among one income families that became two income families, thus showing what I dare say is a dialectical effect, which we will all blush about (dialectic is for Commies!). As for the effectss on the children of the residentially migrant, we also have plenty of sociological literature if we are energetic enough to type some letters into our computer. What has been found is that children – I’m talking of course of the losers, who should just rent a U Haul - are more likely to be negatively effected by moving out of neighborhoods they’ve grown up in. They are likely to be more often engated in violence, and dropping out of school, and if they stay in school, their grades suffer. (Castone McLahan, 1994; Tucker Marx Long, 1998;Pribesh Downey, 1999). In fact, one can speculate on the coincidence that spikes in drug taking and crime came at the same time as a higher rate of residential mobility in the sixties and seventies.
Of course, these sociological findings make it unlikely that the trip, so ardently wished for by the likes of Tyler Cowen or Kevin Drum, in which the unemployed dad and his wife and kids flee the ruins of the city for the glorious pastures of a better lifestyle through trade with our Pacific partners is really going to have that uplifting, Horatio Alger end. That’s the downer. On the other hand, if they do it, we can blame them for divorce, single parenthood, and crime! This is nice. Because the rule for our governor vis a vis the low use segment is: it's all your fault!

No comments: