The New York Times discusses male unemployment in the United States.
I am glad they have noticed, finally.
After decades of celebrating “diversity” and affirmative action [code for anti-white discrimination], deploring the glass ceiling and favouring female empowerment [code for anti-male discrimination], mass immigration of low paid Central American peasants and off-shoring [producing downward pressure on working class wages], the elites may be waking up to the crisis they have engendered. I accuse the Republicans as much as the Democrats for fostering many of these conditions.
Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list….
Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.
It seems that the people in the New York Times may have read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (2012). They are describing what Murray has been worried about for decades.
Murray’s thesis is both simple and well demonstrated. Society is becoming increasingly stratified around intelligence. The more intelligent are marrying and breeding within their cognitive class. The zip codes of the elites are home to the top half of the ninety-ninth centile of wealth. Geographic separation of the cognitive elites is well developed.
In chapter 4 of his book, called “How thick is your bubble?”, he tests the reader to a number of different questions, whose difficulty you will have in answering, will disabuse you of the notion that you do not live among, and are a member of, the cognitive elite.
For most of the rest of the chapters, Murray details the decline in family formation, industriousness, honesty and religiosity of the American working class.
Murray tells us why this matters.
The deterioration of social capital in the lower-class white America strips the people who live there of one of the main resources through which Americans have pursue happiness. The same may be said of the deterioration in marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity. These are not aspects of life that may or may not be important, depending on personal preferences.Together, they make up the stuff of life. (p.253)
The New York Times article points out the centrality of work to self-respect.
A study published in October by scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies estimated that 37 percent of the decline in male employment since 1979 could be explained by this retreat from marriage and fatherhood.
“When the legal, entry-level economy isn’t providing a wage that allows someone a convincing and realistic option to become an adult — to go out and get married and form a household — it demoralizes them and shunts them into illegal economies,” said Philippe Bourgeois, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the lives of young men in urban areas. “It’s not a choice that has made them happy. They would much rather be adults in a respectful job that pays them and promises them benefits.”
[When the New York Times cites the conservative American Enterprise Institute, you know something important is happening.]
The decline we observe comes back to simple moral elements of society that we have done our best to disparage, to consider optional, to treat as way more mutable than they really are, or can be: work, faith, family, children, morality. Yes there are issues of production, taxation, and technology, as there ever were. But when and if the history of this time is written, it will be described as the Great Darkness, a decadent time, from which men and women arose, and not the high tide of human existence, which some people feel it is, on grounds of our material abundance. Measuring civilization by the number of countries that contribute produce to our wine cellars is a deceptive indicator.