Tuesday, December 6, 2016

White Plight

There’s no question that angry, disenfranchised and mostly under-educated white voters – once a Democratic Party mainstay – fled to the GOP and Donald Trump in droves. Promises of getting their old jobs back at the old pay scales and returning to an era when white protestant values defined the United States tilted them towards Donald Trump. They easily dismissed their disdained educated elites – professional economists and technology experts – who warned that the progress clock would not be turned back by the slogan driven GOP pledges. Cheap labor overseas for semi-skilled (and more) work or down and dirty robotics enhanced with artificial intelligence could not be legislated against. Horses and buggy hopes and dreams had to die.
But while many in this white cohort believe that Trump will “make America great again,” a whole lot of those white constituents understand the emptiness of those political promises. They have dropped out of the work force, particularly middle aged and older men, and given up hope. Theirs is a story of rampant opioid addiction, alcoholism, hours spent playing video games and an incredibly steep increase in suicides. Hopelessness. Fear. And the reality that no particular current political movement is going to fix that reality. Those fears, it seems, are well justified.
For those who have that nagging feeling that all the good economic news simply does not apply to them and their children, they just might be correct. “The real economy more than doubled in size; the government now uses a substantial share of that bounty to hand over as much as $5 trillion to help working families, older people, disabled and unemployed people pay for a home, visit a doctor and put their children through school.
“Yet for half of all Americans, their share of the total economic pie has shrunk significantly, new research has found… This group — the approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder — ‘has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s,’ the team of economists found. ‘Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent.’
“Stagnant wages have sliced the share of income collected by the bottom half of the population to 12.5 percent in 2014, from 20 percent of the total in 1980. Where did that money go? Essentially, to the top 1 percent, whose share of the nation’s income nearly doubled to more than 20 percent during that same 34-year period.
“Inequality has been a defining national issue for nearly a decade, thanks in part to groundbreaking research done by Mr. Piketty at the Paris School of Economics and Mr. Saez at the University of California, Berkeley… Average incomes, adjusted for inflation, grew by 61 percent from 1980 to 2014. But nearly $7 out of every additional $10 went to those in the top tenth of the income scale.
“Inequality has soared over that period. In 1980, the researchers found, someone in the top 1 percent earned on average the equivalent of $428,200 a year in 2014 dollars — about 27 times more than the typical person in the bottom half, whose annual income equaled $16,000.” New York Times, December 6th.
The people who have to grapple with this horrific trend, including those middle aged and older white men who lack a college education, are not doing very well.  Sadly, those who have always been at the bottom rungs of that economic ladder shrug their shoulders at a system that never worked for them. But for those newbies, those unemployed or under-employed white folks, well… these changes are a shock to their expectations; they’re having shorter life expectancies, and their families are reflecting lower birth rates.
For statistics fans, the folks at engineeringevil.com cull the reports and generate some pretty solid summaries of the reports… and the changes they see in white America (along with the above map, reported November 30th) are quite disturbing.
More white people are dying than being born in a third of the states, according to new research.
The death rate among Caucasian Americans outstripped the birth rate in 17 states in 2014, compared to just four in 2004, the University of New Hampshire found.
While Latino, black and Asian populations continue to grow, soaring death rates among white middle-aged Americans – combined with the fact that white families are having less children – mean certain states are seeing falling Caucasian populations.
White Americans are reportedly dying faster thanks to a silent ‘epidemic’ of deaths from suicides, drug and alcohol poisoning…
The trend, which affects both rural or desert areas, such as Nevada and Arizona, to states with large metropolitan areas, such as California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, has already begin to shake up America’s demographics.
‘The fact that this was going on in states that contain such a substantial part of the U.S. population stunned even me,’ Kenneth Johnson, sociology professor at the university and co-author of the research told the Wall Street Journal.
‘We’re probably going to see it in several more states’ in the years to come.
The research, based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics, focuses on white births and deaths from 1999 to 2014.
It shows that birth rates among white women fell drastically during the recession, between 2007 and 2009 as families – already strained financially to breaking point – chose to have fewer children or none at all.
Birth rates have slowly been recovering but experts believe that those couples may never have as many children as they were predicted to before the recession.
There were also fewer white women of childbearing age between 2000 and 2014 because of low birth rates during the 1970s.
The 2020 Census will probably confirm what we already believe has occurred: traditional-values white protestant constituencies are already a minority in this country… and shrinking fast. The United States has become a majority of minorities. Women are outstripping men in many professional and graduate degrees; the country is changing.
That immigration has become the issue that it is reflects that powerful fear among this white grouping that they are being overwhelmed and marginalized by “non-Americans.” And as they feel backed into a corner, they are fighting back. It’s their political vote that recently matters, but as they are indeed a statistically decreasing presence in American life, they may resort to the violence of a cornered animal.
Liberal America has distanced itself from this faction even as the white traditionalists are gloating that they carried this election. Sooner or later, this old guard will, however, fade in power to the point where they can no long carry any major election, even with voter suppression of minorities. And they will be angrier than ever, living in a heavily armed Second Amendment-justified world. Liberals take heed: ignore this faction at your peril. We either deal with their pain or kiss this republic goodbye.
I’m Peter Dekom, and accelerating addiction and suicide in this white traditional cohort, the canary in the coal mine, tell the real story behind recent changes in our political scene.

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