Kevin Williamson to Working/Middle Class: Go Die in a Fire

Saw this excerpted at Hot Air earlier today and I was astounded by it. I wanted to get the whole article from National Review, but something was screwy with the website and it wouldn’t take my 25 cent payment for it, so I have to go on what is quoted rather than being able to read the entire article. At all events, Kevin Williamson over at National Review has this to say of the sort of people who are backing Trump – and how they view the world:

It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about “globalists” and — odious, stupid term — “the Establishment,” but nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.

If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that.

Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.

If you want to live, get out of Garbutt.

I don’t know quite where to begin with this from a man who, to this point, has been one of the more intelligent observers of politics. Garbutt, for those who don’t know, is a small town in upstate New York. It’s main product in the past was gypsum – a material used in such things as plaster and drywall boards. Williamson’s point is that it is the fault of the people of places like Garbutt that their lives are miserable. They were morons who didn’t realize you can’t make a living out of gypsum and so should have just moved somewhere else and learned a new trade…like, I guess, moving to New York City and becoming investment bankers, art critics or, well, writers for major national publications. Here’s the thing, though: China produced 132,000,000 metric tons of gypsum in 2015. I have a guess that China would not produce that much gypsum if there wasn’t a market for it. Meanwhile, the United States produced a mere 11,000,000 metric tons of the stuff in 2015…but there lies the tiny town of Garbutt, sitting atop a mountain of gypsum and no one is mining it. Garbutt could be a fine, prosperous community based upon gypsum mining but for some reason we just don’t mine it there any more.

The exact why of it all is beyond my immediate knowledge. I’m sure it was a slow decline of the industry over time and a host of factors provided the reasons for the decline. Could have been bad business practices. Maybe labor troubles played their role. The mining companies might not have installed the latest and most efficient means of mining. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if taxes and regulations made it increasingly difficult to mine at a profit. But I’ll also bet that our various “free trade” agreements opened up our gypsum market to foreigners who sweat their labor and don’t give a darn about worker safety or environmental concerns. But whatever the reasons for the cessation of mining in Garbutt, we should be working to restore it – we use gigantic amounts of gypsum in the United States every year and as we clearly have lots of gypsum in our soil, it is pure idiocy to not take advantage of what we have. Why send our wealth to China for something we can obtain right here at home? And don’t try to lay on me a bunch of globalist nonsense about how China’s gypsum has to be cheaper and it is the mere workings of the free market which dictate gypsum comes from China and Garbutt becomes a dead town. It isn’t the blind hand of market economics which makes this happen – but the warping of economic life by government policy that does it; and warping which is often as not done at the behest of big business which isn’t at all interested in wise policy but in just getting a slightly larger profit.

Because we do, as a matter of fact, produce gypsum in the United States. Nevada produced just under 2.3 million metric tons of the stuff in 2014, representing a 40% increase over the year before. Clearly, good profits are available within the United States in gypsum mining. The conditions which allowed Nevada to produce that much gypsum could obviously be duplicated in New York – but they aren’t. Those jobs are gone, boys, and they ain’t coming back – so goes the old Springsteen song and so go plenty of people in the United States…curiously enough, it is always people who don’t do the jobs that ain’t coming back who assert in forthright terms they ain’t coming back. I wonder if we advised Mr. Williamson that his job is being sent to a guy in China who will do it for 40% of Williamson’s wages how he’d feel about it? After all, I’m sure we can get plenty of Chinese who are just as willing to tell large swaths of the American population they are just miserable failures. It’s just economics, Williamson – the blind hand of a completely free market, you dig?

But what about the immorality Williamson notes? True, our moral failures are all our own. We are created by God with free will and everyone is ultimately responsible for their own choices in life. But it wasn’t the people of places like Garbutt who demanded sex, drugs and rock and roll. That demand was created in places like New York City and Los Angeles by bored, rich people who wanted to spice up their dead, empty lives – and woe to anyone in Garbutt who even made a peep about not wanting it in their community. It is a curious thing we’ve seen for well more than a century – the least eccentricity of the rich must become a requirement among the poor. The rich wanted to live in Babylon, and so everyone must live in Babylon as well. Can’t have some rich guy being held up to moral censure, right? So, the vices a rich man can afford because of his wealth must also become vices among those who can’t afford them, at all. Think of it – the Hollywood producer who puts out pop culture garbage which glorifies bad choices can afford to send his drug addicted son to rehab and bail him out of jail time and again…but the poor slob in some small burg? Can’t do it – his son dies of a drug overdose, or becomes a serial jail bird. But let’s not have any nonsense about calling the purveyors of popular culture to account. After all, no one will want to censor it – but it’s not even that; we can’t even call it wrong to do…that would make people feel bad and, worse, it could lead to a drop off in sales of popular culture products. That, of course would be the worst possible thing – a lowering of profits in the corporations making the product.

Understand this – the support for Trump is precisely among those who have been victimized by a system they don’t control. No, there isn’t a Conspiracy making it happen – just rank immorality, as is always the case when things in human life go wrong. A host of factors have all played their role in destroying communities both economically and morally – and our job is not to arrogantly say, “too bad, so sad” but to identify where we went wrong and then fix it. It is not stupid to want small and mid-sized communities of hard working people. It is the only thing a Conservative should want, for crying out loud. What the heck does Williamson want to conserve? Manhattan? Sweated labor and bribery in the People’s Republic of China? What? Trump is, as I’ve said again and again, no answer to anyone’s problem but he or someone like him will continue to garner support as long as people who should have answers don’t provide them. And as 2016 has gone on, I’ve come more and more to the conclusion that a very large number of people on the alleged right don’t even want to try for an answer – they’ve got swell lives as it is and don’t want to rock the systemic boat which allows them to maintain their swell lives. But grab a clue – there are many, many more millions of people who are shut out than doing well…their numbers grow. Many of them have been suckered into voting Democrat because at least the Democrats say they care…but even that is wearing thin. Trump likely won’t get anywhere, even if he did manage to win the White House but if we on the right don’t start thinking about how to fix this broken nation then mark my words, some sort of authortarian dictator who says he or she will fix the problem will gain majority support in the United States.

And fixing this broken nation means, precisely, finding dignified, profitable work for people who are now out in the cold…and not just in dead mining communities like Garbutt, but in the hollowed out cities like Detroit. People don’t want to live without hope – either we give them real hope, or a tyrant will give them false hope. You can say all you want that the feeling of betrayal by Trumpsters and BLM people is based upon falsehood. It doesn’t matter – it is what they believe. And, truth be told, even if the over-arching narrative such people have is false on many points, it is based upon a true enough situation. A working or middle class African-American man can easily feel that the system is against him; that the cops are unfairly targeting him; that he can’t get out from underneath a byzantine set of laws. A working or middle class white man can also feel that the system is against him; that his job was sent to China for no good reason; that Corporate and government bosses are living high while he’s left with scraps. The two men live it, every day – telling them they are wrong to even think that way just insults them.

I think our best bet is to go to people where they are – listen to them, acknowledge their grief and propose solutions to the problems they think they have. I was out and about among the people today – just regular folks at the swap meet. Working people; people with families to support. If I’d been taking a poll, I bet I would have found two men who would be spoken of most highly among these people: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Neither Trump nor Sanders are what these people need – but they are what these people are going for, because no one else is even giving them the time of day. What’ll it be, folks: leave these people to demagogues who will use their rage as the path to personal power, or will we step up and provide them something better? It’s our choice, for now. Very soon, if we do nothing, it will be taken forever out of our hands and we’ll just have to endure what is chosen with no reference to us. One thing is certain in my view, if we just yell about how stupid they are for believing as they do, we’re going to lose.

UPDATE: After I had written this and pondered it for a while, it occurred to me just what I was trying in my very poor way to say – and then I recalled where I had read it before. Below the fold you’ll find it:

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I Think I’ve Figured This Out

On Wednesday I was driving around and I had on the radio the Rush Limbaugh Show. I don’t listen too often because, well, Rush usually doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know; his opinions that I agree with are already internalized and those I don’t agree with never shake me from my views. But, there he was, happily talking away. And then he said it – he asserted that it is absurd to think that we can get Apple to return I-phone manufacturing to the United States…I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of there are 500,000 people working for Apple in China with a built infrastructure for the entire manufacturing process and we just can’t duplicate that in the United States. It infuriated me to hear anyone say that the United States can’t do a thing – and then later that day I happened to run across several other people making the same assertion. And said assertion is nonsense.

I know – labor costs. I realize that China pays it’s workers nearly nothing. I also realize – though our Capitalist Captains of Industry never like to mention it – that to do business in China requires massive bribery…but with that bribery you can pretty much do as you like. No need to trouble yourself too much over environmental regulations, safety measures or other trivia like that. But even with that, I just don’t buy the notion that you can’t make something better and cheaper in the United States.

Go to a hardware store and look for a hammer – I’ll bet dollars to donuts that almost all you find are made in China. What is a hammer? Just a piece of steel fashioned in a certain shape. It isn’t rocket science. It isn’t a complex device. I defy anyone to tell me that we can’t replace that Chinese factory using 500 workers to make hammers with a factory in the United States employing 50 workers in a highly automated manufacturing system…and by using our ability to automate along with our superior infrastructure to make that hammer cheaper than the Chinese can, especially as they then have to ship it thousands of miles before it even arrives in the American market. Oh, I realize that right now – at the moment – we can’t because our tax and regulatory system makes it exceptionally difficult to build and open a factory. But don’t tell me it can’t be done. It darn well can be – as soon as we want to do it. It just takes the political will to say “screw you” to people raking in profits off of sweated Chinese labor.

And thinking all that over, it occurred to me – there is the appeal of Trump in a nutshell. Lay aside for a moment the nauseating racists and anti-Semites who have latched on to him, solely on the strength of his early immigration comments. Such people are numerous, but not all that much – remember, we live in a nation of 317 million people, if even 1% of them hold to a particular view it can seem like a lot – especially with Social Media to magnify their voices (Twitter seems gigantic, until you realize that every day 83.31% of Americans don’t use Twitter, at all). A guy getting Trump’s vote totals – and goosing up GOP turnout numbers to some-times record levels – isn’t getting that because a few people like his Great Wall of Trump idea. He’s getting that level of support because a lot of regular folks are moving his way. And my view is that they are turning out for him because he says we can be great.

Keep in mind when someone says, “those jobs aren’t coming back”, it is invariably someone with a well-paid gig that isn’t affected by jobs moving to China. Lawyers, bureaucrats, corporate executives, consultants, MSMers, professional politicians…it is that sort of person who tells the blue collar slob that his blue collar job is gone for good…and even if he takes a job at Disney at 60% of his previous factory wage, he’ll have to train a foreign replacement, brought in quite legally via the H-1B visa program. Meanwhile, China doesn’t seem to want us to outsource our army of consultants and lawyers probably because the Chinese are smart enough not to want such people in large numbers lawyering and consulting an economy into ruin. An army of experts will rise to ridicule the idea that we can make things in the United States better and cheaper than foreigners can – and I’ll bet not one in a thousand of the people telling us such things have ever made one thing in their whole lives. And the people who do make things are rather angry that they are reserved for the “short end of the stick” portion of American life.

This is the United States of America! We’re the people who in just over a century rose from a colonial backwater to the most powerful nation in human history. We went to the Moon! And someone is going to tell me that this nation that did all that can’t make a hammer? Can’t even make a belt or a pair of shoes? Nonsense! It is our economic policies which have priced American manufacturing out of world markets, not some fundamental inability of Americans to compete. And let me tell you, if you really hold the view that we can’t out build and out compete every nation on Earth, then we might as well close up shop as a nation – allow ourselves to be annexed by some other nation with a bit more grit and determination. Grab a clue – a nation which can’t make things eventually can’t buy things, either. American consulting isn’t going to be enough on the global market to satisfy our demand for consumer goods, folks – in order to continue to get, we’re going to have to give. For 50 years we’ve just been giving money – magically printed up for the occasion by the Federal Reserve…but eventually you can’t print enough money to convince people to provide your needs and desires. Eventually they will want something and your degree in business management won’t be it.

I have been saying for a while now that the way to beat Trump is to out-Trump him – not in the vulgarity, but in the gut…where people live and feel. People who back Trump rather absurdly believe that Trump is on their side even though there is zero evidence that he is actually on their side…but he’s saying he is, and it is working with large numbers of people. So, beat him at it – say you’re on their side, as well…assert that the United States will be the manufacturing leader of the world; the export leader of the world; the agricultural leader of the world; the mining leader of the world; the energy production leader of the world…that we’ll clear out of the way every last tax and regulation which makes it hard for Americans to build and grow. Leave it to the Democrats to tell their voters that they’ll manage the decline and provide a bit of welfare and job training for non-existent jobs…we take the path that says, “we’ll reform things so that there will be X Million new manufacturing jobs by 2020”.

Of course, results will matter – once you promise, you’d better deliver. But if all you’re promising is low-rent stuff like “improving opportunity” then you’re not saying anything at all. What is “improving opportunity”? It is a meaningless phrase which makes it sound like you’re going to do something, maybe. Tell people you’ll bring the jobs back from China and it sounds much more vigorous…and as you’re not Trump, you can actually come up with some plans which will do just that. Part of our problem, of course, is that Rubio and Cruz are both lawyers…lawyers have a hard time understanding regular folks (so, too, do real estate tycoons like Trump…but somewhere along the line he found out that people at least want to hear that something concrete is going to get done for regular folks which doesn’t amount to a government poverty hand-out). Come on, Ted and Marco – think about it! And then go out and say it. Sure, those invested in the current system will rise in fury and scorn over any promise to bring jobs back…but you can see how much such words work regarding votes. And you guys needs some votes – the only way to really stop Trump is to get more delegates than he does, and time’s a wasting.

Anyways, that is how I see it right now – Trump is at least speaking to desires; Rubio and Cruz are speaking to theories and playing around with “vote for me because Trump sucks”. That won’t do the trick…might deny Trump a first-ballot nominating majority, but it won’t actually stop him, nor get either Cruz or Rubio in to the White House.

So, How’s That Whole Economy Thing Working Out?

I think we’ve all wondered just how long an economy built on fake money and debt can keep going – we may be about to find out.

Forget about the stock market slide for a bit – at any rate, it might shoot up 500 points tomorrow on a rumor that the Chinese central bank is going to print up 67 trillion-zillion Yuan. But there are some things which make you wonder about how things are going:

Walmart is going to close 269 stores. Of course, they also plan to open some stores – but it will be a net reduction in Walmart locations in 2016.

Conveniently after the market closed, the Fed estimated 4th quarter 2015 growth at a mere 0.6%.

Empire State manufacturing drops to a low not seen since 2009.

GM/Ford credit risk is pretty high.

Corporate earnings are not exactly what you’d like them to be.

Sports Authority decided they’d rather not pay their debts right now. The energy isn’t right, I guess…

And, a house which has sat empty in San Francisco since 2000 and has holes in the roof and fire damage is listed for $600,000.00.

If all of this – and there is plenty more out there – doesn’t give you a whiff of 2008, then I don’t know what will.

To be sure, I’m ready for some magical trick of debt and fake money to pull us through at least until the day after Election Day. The Powers That Be have managed to keep this ball in the air for seven years and I’m not at all certain they don’t have more in their bag of trickery (though getting unemployment down to 5% by magically removing people from the labor force appears to have gone as far as it can…to get it to 4.5% would take some really interesting “calculations”). But the fundamental problems remain:

1. We have far more debt – personal and government – than we can repay at the moment. This is because

2. We don’t make, mine and grow nearly enough to pay for our debts and current operating expenses and

3. Far too many people are out of the productive economy for the productive economy to support.

Eventually, it all goes smash. Whether it happens this year or next or in 2019 or what have you is immaterial – it will go smash unless and until we radically alter how we do business. We need to balance the budget (it could be done in under five years from any day we say, “go” on); we need to remove the taxes and regulations which prevent full exploitation of America’s vast resources; we need to make welfare far more inconvenient than working (and thus force people back into the productive economy if they are in any way capable of participating). All of these things are currently impossible – because the political class in power doesn’t want to do it. And they don’t want to do it because doing it would remove the need for, precisely, the political class in power (ie, politicians who “solve” problems and “do the business of the American people”). Will 2016 usher in a different sort of political class? Probably not – even electing someone like Ted Cruz would only be a step in the right direction…but unless someone is really willing to go to the mat (like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin) to take on the deep, structural reforms, all we’ll be doing is, at best, delaying the day of reckoning.

Ok, So Maybe the Markets are Getting Pretty Bad

Haven’t paid much attention to the global crash in stocks over the past couple weeks because I’ve been figuring, after all these years, that the central banks would be able to make them go higher before things got bad. I know full well that an economy based upon fake money and debt cannot go on forever, but after watching it keep going for 7 years, I figured they’d be able to keep the ball in the air for a few more years. But, maybe not – from Zero Hedge:

FACTS: By midday break, nearly 2000 stocks down 10% daily limit in Chinese market — only 13 stocks up; Shanghai benchmark index down 8.45%

And:

…It is unclear just what is going on, or whether some prop desk or hedge fund just got tapped out, and/or how the Fed will react but the last time we had action like this, the Fed confused a liquidating SocGen trader for an economic collapse, and cut rates by 75 bps in January of 2008. This time it does not have that luxury.

Indeed – back in 2008, the Federal Reserve – and pretty much every other central bank – got into money-printing and zero percent interest to support the collapsed market: what do they do, now? I don’t know – but we’ll see. I was fully expecting the DOW to sky rocket on Monday morning after Friday’s sell off…and that still might happen. We’ll see.

Another Monday Comes

We just can’t avoid them, now can we?

Seems that whole economy things still isn’t working out as well as promised.

ObamaCare – the disaster that keeps on disasting:

State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obama’s health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment…

…”The viability of state health insurance exchanges has been a challenge across the country, particularly in small states, due to insufficient numbers of uninsured residents,” said a statement from the office of Hawaii Democratic Gov. David Ige, announcing last month that his state’s sign-ups were being turned over to the federal government. (emphasis added)

Insufficient numbers of uninsured residents? But, wait – weren’t we told of tens of millions of uninsured who were all going to die horrible, painful deaths unless we passed ObamaCare? Could it be that – and I’m just spit balling here – they exaggerated the numbers of uninsured in order to create a crisis which they would not let go to waste?

Remain Calm: All is Well!

Just had to put this up from Zero Hedge:

China Bans Use Of Terms “Equity Disaster” And “Rescue The Market”

…And so, with every attempt to manipulate the (Chinese) market higher falling flat in the face of selling pressure from the hairdresser/ farmer/ banana vendor day trading crowd (which has now thrown in the towel on the whole “it’s easier than farm work” theory and now just wants to break even and head for the hills) the only thing left for China to do is “fix” the narrative.

In other words, when banning selling doesn’t work, the logical next step is to ban talking about selling

…So apparently, Beijing will now prevent journalists from accidentally jawboning the market lower so that Party mouthpiece media outlets are free to jawbone the market higher.

Needless to say, we doubt if this hail Mary attempt to rescue the market will do anything at all to save China from its homemade equity disaster.

Indeed. I haven’t paid too much attention to the market slide in China because I just figured the Chinese government would order stocks to go higher – telling the money bags in China that they’d better buy or else, ya dig? But if China’s market has got a huge number of small traders who are now getting burned…well, you can shoot a dozen bankers who don’t cooperate: its a much more difficult prospect to shoot 100,000 small investors who are bailing out.

There is one thing I do know about markets – when average folks start borrowing money to invest in it because it will always go higher, then it is crash time.  We’ll see how this plays out – but China has already lost $3 trillion in stock value since June…ain’t looking too pretty.

Attacking Big Corporation as a GOP Campaign Issue

See? It’s not just me any more – Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) weighs in on how the GOP can leverage a bit of anti-corporatism for electoral victory:

…the fact is that many big businesses are unpopular with the public, aligned with the Democrats, and wide open for attack. And after eight years of the Obama administration’s naked cronyism and support of Wall Street even as the middle class has suffered, the opportunities are there.

One of the most appealing targets would be the tech industry’s wage-suppressing hiring habits. Not only have tech giants like Apple and Google engaged in what a federal court called an “overarching conspiracy” to prevent wage competition, but Silicon Valley firms also abuse H-1B visas to bring in immigrant competition at lower wages, a practice that’s now spreading to other industries. (In Los Angeles, Southern California Edison is firing workers and replacing them with immigrants now)…

Reynolds goes on to note how big corporations – especially big tech – are abusing the H1-B visa program to get rid of well-paid American workers and bring in low-paid foreigners, thus abusing both Americans and foreigners in the name of increased corporate profits. That is just one in a very long line of issues where Big Corporation is working against the United States. We on the GOP side have got to wrap our minds around the fact that big anything is bad. Once a concentration of power and wealth exceeds a certain size, it becomes baleful…and must be controlled carefully, lest is wreck everything. We understand this regarding things like the Department of Education, but we’ve failed to understand that General Motors is just like the Department of Education…an bureaucratic behemoth most interested in using raw, political power to preserve itself.

It is the free market we must defend – not those who are on top of the market and who are abusing their position. That the leaders of these corporations also largely support Democrats (or are at least de-facto liberals), just makes attacking them doubly advantageous for us. It becomes best of all when we realize that a lot of people who vote liberal (but who are not particularly liberal, themselves) can be moved to vote for us when we do this. Defending the worker against ruthless exploitation by Big Tech is just a splendid way to move the needle in our favor…let Democrats defend the H1-B visa program, we’ll defend the workers.

We have a grand opportunity to take the abysmal failure of the Obama years and use it to destroy liberalism as a political force forever. All we have to do is dare to take it.