Here's what's not absurd: Politicians have wanted to make college more affordable yet, after decades of government intervention, tuition (not to mention public spending on education) rises far higher than the rate of inflation. Politicians have wanted to make housing more affordable yet, after decades of government intervention, home ownership rates among the poor are as low as ever and middle class families must have two working adults to afford a median home. Politicians have wanted to make medical coverage more affordable, yet the more government intervenes in the medical system, the more unaffordable it becomes for the average blue collar person.Thus it's not a "temper tantrum" or "nihilistic" or "false consciousness" to "shake the etch-a-sketch and reset the drawing." Plus fifty or a hundred years of Four of Five Experts Agree on Policies That Fail.
It's not unreasonable for someone working two part-time jobs to make ends meet to believe this system isn't working for them. It's not a leap to see them looking at the people in the education system -- salary earners who encouraged that now blue collar wage earner to take out student loans that paid the educators' salaries but does little for the wage earner -- with suspicion and envy.
I'll just add to that, while many young and educated people believe that the deficiencies of our current system can be corrected after-the-fact through proper tax rates and redistribution programs (and maybe some job training programs or free tuition), many blue collar workers are beyond skeptical of such schemes. The skepticism is not based on the theory behind the policy but on the fact that the policy doesn't originate from a place of true respect.My comparative advantage is in identifying the ways the policies don't work. Others, possibly including Donald J. Trump and Boris Johnson, do a better job of pointing out the ways in which the Acela-riding gentry hold the people they're supposedly "fighting" for in contempt.
How easily does the contempt manifest itself? Back to Mr Marohn. Put yourself, dear reader, in the position of somebody who sees things done to him, without the preparation to understand why.
Now throw in globalization and free trade -- more theories of the elite -- and the feeling that it is hard not to connect your own stagnating situation with the fact that people in a distant land are willing to work at slave wages doing the job you or your parent used to do. Now have some of these distant immigrants move to your state, your city or your neighborhood. They all live together, not quite fully integrating into the American culture, because that's the natural state of first-generation immigrants to a new land. They work cheaply and the big corporations want more.Immigration and assimilation have always been fraught, but with time, it can lead to mutually beneficial sharing of ideas. In a century, though, the intellectual environment has changed from one bad idea (the new arrivals are inferior) to another bad idea (embrace the differences.)
The fact that this situation is naturally tense -- throughout human history migration has always been tense -- is made exponentially worse by the fact that you can't really talk about it, at least not in public, unless you're willing to be shouted down and called racist. The massive set of complex problems that comprise your life are never discussed openly because part of it deals with race. It's easy for me to see why this taboo then becomes the obsession. The lightening [c.q.] rod.Yes, if your calls for "dialogue" and "conversation" are really devices for suppressing honest discussion, sooner or later even the person who is used to having things done to him will say Enough.
And why, when a prominent figure stands up who is seemingly unafraid to trample over these taboo topics, there might be a sense that this person could speak for you.
We need to have a proper conversation about racism. Branding half the population racist is not a helpful starting point. Acknowledging that 100% of the population have some racist beliefs but that most of humanity is comprised of decent, compassionate individuals seems not only to be a better way to have a dialog but also a more discerning way to constructively marginalize truly radical beliefs (and the pied pipers who play off them).Here we're in burden of bad ideas territory. Racist beliefs might be a survival of kinship ties, whilst trade overcoming tribal boundaries is in the scheme of things a recent development. More recently, we have the trendy philosophies that deny coherent beliefs of any kind. It's not too late to stop the incoherence.
Finally, there is the entire issue of a post-factual, anti-intellectual democracy.
If you follow us here at Strong Towns, you know that things are going to get more difficult for America -- much more difficult -- before they get better. You can be left-of-center and be a Strong Towns advocate and you can be right-of-center and be a Strong Towns advocate. Your politics doesn't matter. What really matters is whether or not you listen.Emergence is messy.
We need a movement of people who can work with others. People who, in desperate times, facing a vast array of complex problems, can lead people to respond rationally.
Emergence, when the old saecular order breaks down, will be particularly messy.