Don’t Ask Government for Love, Tucker

 

Tucker Carlson is completely right about one thing – the decline of marriage is a great challenge of our times. I’ve written a whole book about it. So, you’d think I would rejoice that Carlson’s rant-heard-round-the-right focused on it. Sorry, no. I’ve rarely seen such a cynical and misleading use of television.

Everything that is going wrong with this country, Carlson instructed his viewers, is the consequence of “uncaring” politicians. They don’t care about your 19-year-old son who’s high on pot. Why? “It’s not an accident.” It’s because “our leaders understood that they could get rich from marijuana.” Never mind that 62 percent of voters say they want to decriminalize marijuana.

“Our ruling class,” Carlson intones, doesn’t care that firms like Bain Capital strip mine companies and leave retirees without benefits because “it’s the way they run the country.” To the barricades, comrades!

Citing election results in France, Brazil, Sweden, the Philippines, and Germany, among others, Carlson detects “entire populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.” Not quite. France chose a centrist by a huge margin. In Sweden, the fascist party made gains but still received less than 18 percent of parliamentary votes. In Germany, Angela Merkel is being replaced by her own hand-picked successor. Sounds like continuity. Only Brazil and the Philippines made big changes.

But focus on that word “refuse.” Governments are not misguided or simply unsuited to cure the woes of mankind. Nor are they following the will of electorates who demand lower taxes and higher benefits. No, they are lining their own pockets and laughing. Yes, Carlson actually suggests that our unhappiness results from indifferent leaders:

Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would want if they cared.

Kim Jong-un, call your office.

Carlson comes within range of some important matters – but only to shed heat rather than light. He states that “manufacturing, a male-dominated industry, all but disappeared over the course of a generation.” That’s false. As a share of total employment, manufacturing has declined steadily for three generations; from 33 percent in 1947 to 8 percent in 2015. And yet, thousands of high paying manufacturing jobs are going begging. It’s estimated that 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may go unfilled in the coming 10 years due to a shortage of skilled workers. And sectors beyond manufacturing are also hurting for workers. Trucking, agriculture, hotels and restaurants, and Silicon Valley are all having trouble hiring.

When Carlson compared the situation of inner cities in places like Newark and Detroit with current strains in rural America, I hoped he was going to make a worthwhile point about what family disintegration does to communities. Instead, he made no sense. He made slashing reference to liberals not caring about high-crime, low-employment, broken-family inner cities because “they were benefiting from the disaster, in the form of reliable votes.” Conservatives, he continued, diagnosed a failure of big government. But that was not entirely true because “virtually the same thing has happened decades later to an entirely different population. In many ways, rural America now looks a lot like Detroit.”

Wait a second. If the problem was government programs that encouraged a culture of poverty, the extension of the same patterns to new populations supports, rather than undermines the case, doesn’t it?

But Carlson isn’t interested in analysis, he’s interested in incitement. For him, the demon is free market capitalism, which he blames for “destroying families.” He doesn’t explain how it is that intact poor families so often manage to enter the middle class or above despite capitalism.

A better explanation for the troubles of inner cities as well as rural areas is that single-parent families damage people’s capacity to achieve. They cause poorer school performance, more mental illness, more crime, less employment, more drug abuse, and, yes, less overall happiness. One is tempted to say that if Tucker Carlson really cared, he would take the time to examine the families who are doing well despite economic changes. He would note that married men with only high school diplomas are more likely to be employed than unmarried men with some college.

Carlson did no more than state the obvious when he thundered that culture is linked to economics. Who has ever denied this? Describing our troubles as the result of bad faith on the part of our leaders (who do not love us, sniff) or “worship” of capitalism, is infantilizing and manipulative.

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  1. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    In particular, he thinks federal policies are partly to blame for the decline in manufacturing jobs and in less-educated men’s wages.

    There is a video on Real Vision, interview with Doug Nolan, that explains this. Production got outsourced far faster to China etc. than it should have, due to Western central bank policy. China produced cheaper stuff we gave them cash and then they bought our treasury bills and mortgages. Deficit spending and asset bubbles. Now housing’s too expensive for the poor. It’s insane. The only people that make out are people in government people that make money off of asset bubbles.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Carlson’s last key argument is simply that elites are complicit in all of this. They have flourished in today’s postindustrial economy, profited from policies and corporate moves that keep them at the top of the economic order, yet seem to evince little authentic concern that the currents they have ridden to success are undercutting the fortunes of those lower down the ladder.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    This is negligence on a massive scale.

    He’s not very good at explaining it, but he’s right. The problem is no one on TV wants to understand a bunch of abstract crap about central banks, China, and the connection to the poor.

    I know none of you guys care, but if central banks do anything but back up the financial system in a punitive way, you’re better off without them. All they do is grow government and cause social problems.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Contra Mona . . .

    It’s possible to recognize the value of personal agency and nevertheless admit the extent to which the stagnation of working-class wages and increases in job instability for less-educated men have stemmed from elite policy choices. Appealing to a lack of virtue on the part of the poor or the working class is at best a category error, and at worst an all-purpose rhetorical device for neutralizing responsibility on the part of elite policy makers.

    This is dead-on.

    As far as I know the only people working on this are Representatives Steve Scalise and Tom Emmer.

    If you are mad about Trump and populism, I suggest you read some David Stockman and David Horowitz.

    The last time I saw David Stockman discussing economics and other political mattes was while he was on C Span back in 2015 or so. At the time, he was totally fed up with the leadership in both parties. I wonder how he feels about Trump?

     

     

    • #61
  2. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Viruscop (View Comment):
    Considering that she thinks that marriage issues are better explanations for problems in rural and urban America than the entire economic system on which the US economy is based,

    The preferable alternative being, what? Collective farms and tractor factories with Five-Year Plans? The dole for all?

    I’m serious – what would your ideal replacement look like?

    Deirdre McCloskey and Yarom Hazzony talk about things need to be collectivist at the microlevel-the family in the community to some extent, the rest–no. It’s a thorny topic.

    • #62
  3. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    “Maybe this supply side economics has a down side – if everything is built overseas, we don’t have young people with wallets fat enough to purchase any consumer goods.”

    If there’s billions of people overseas that can supply cheap labor and robots and automation are going to do nothing but increase what is that? It’s deflation. Prices going down because of productivity. We have to switch back two deflationary economy or we have to go full Stalinist. Those are our choices.

    • #63
  4. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    DonG (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: detects “entire populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.” Not quite. France chose a centrist by a huge margin

    This is clearly wrong. Protests in the streets for 8 straight weeks and Macrons approval rating is in the single digits. Is being wrong some kind desperate trolling?

    France has too much socialism and to much centralize power and the EMU and the EU just make it worse. That is why the average person wants fewer taxes and more government services. She believes this is all manageable. She wants a version of this, here.

    • #64
  5. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    In particular, he thinks federal policies are partly to blame for the decline in manufacturing jobs and in less-educated men’s wages.

    There is a video on Real Vision, interview with Doug Nolan, that explains this. Production got outsourced far faster to China etc. than it should have, due to Western central bank policy. China produced cheaper stuff we gave them cash and then they bought our treasury bills and mortgages. Deficit spending and asset bubbles. Now housing’s too expensive for the poor. It’s insane. The only people that make out are people in government people that make money off of asset bubbles.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Carlson’s last key argument is simply that elites are complicit in all of this. They have flourished in today’s postindustrial economy, profited from policies and corporate moves that keep them at the top of the economic order, yet seem to evince little authentic concern that the currents they have ridden to success are undercutting the fortunes of those lower down the ladder.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    This is negligence on a massive scale.

    He’s not very good at explaining it, but he’s right. The problem is no one on TV wants to understand a bunch of abstract crap about central banks, China, and the connection to the poor.

    I know none of you guys care, but if central banks do anything but back up the financial system in a punitive way, you’re better off without them. All they do is grow government and cause social problems.

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Contra Mona . . .

    It’s possible to recognize the value of personal agency and nevertheless admit the extent to which the stagnation of working-class wages and increases in job instability for less-educated men have stemmed from elite policy choices. Appealing to a lack of virtue on the part of the poor or the working class is at best a category error, and at worst an all-purpose rhetorical device for neutralizing responsibility on the part of elite policy makers.

    This is dead-on.

    As far as I know the only people working on this are Representatives Steve Scalise and Tom Emmer.

    If you are mad about Trump and populism, I suggest you read some David Stockman and David Horowitz.

    The last time I saw David Stockman discussing economics and other political mattes was while he was on C Span back in 2015 or so. At the time, he was totally fed up with the leadership in both parties. I wonder how he feels about Trump?

    He wrote a book about it. Listen to his interviews on Contra Krugman and Tom Woods around September 2016.

     

     

    • #65
  6. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    DonG (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: detects “entire populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.” Not quite. France chose a centrist by a huge margin

    This is clearly wrong. Protests in the streets for 8 straight weeks and Macrons approval rating is in the single digits. Is being wrong some kind desperate trolling?

    Of course there were protests in France. But not from the entire population. And Mona was speaking of the elections they had there. She is not the one who is wrong.

    • #66
  7. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    The last time I saw David Stockman discussing economics and other political mattes was while he was on C Span back in 2015 or so. At the time, he was totally fed up with the leadership in both parties. I wonder how he feels about Trump?

    He wrote a book about it. Listen to his interviews on Contra Krugman and Tom Woods around September 2016.

     

    To clarify: he is just talking about why Trump elected and then he has some good policy prescriptions.

    Trump is the worst inflationist than Yellen, the average American, and all of the politicians combined, but he can’t do a lot of damage in this sense.

    • #67
  8. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Tucker may be overdoing it, but the type of governance Mona wants just can’t go on. 

    Listen to the last time Ben Sasse was on Jonah Goldberg’s podcast. Jonah asked some very poignant questions at the end that Ben just could not handle. We need better policies instead of complaining about what people “ought” to do.

    I would also like to point out that Jonah knows Austrian economics cold. He doesn’t wear it on his sleeve, but you can easily hear it on his show with Peter Boettke. We need a more libertarian economy, but there is no leadership.

    • #68
  9. carcat74 Member
    carcat74
    @carcat74

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    I suggest everyone follow @Halsrethink on Twitter and make up your own mind about Europe and what is happening to this country. He worked for every president from JFK to 43. Very connected.

    Europe is toast. All of that EU and EMU stuff is completely overwrought. We truly do have a regressive economy.

    He also recently published a new book, The Myth of Capitalism, his survey of the profit margin phenomenon and its consequences for investors and citizens alike. In this episode, we discuss the social and economic consequences of increased consolidation and regulatory capture in corporate America and what it means for markets going forward.

    RufusRJones—that’s a name I haven’t seen in a long time!  My dad, brother, and I used to watch wrestling together (weird, huh?) and always liked his style.  He was a crowd pleaser, funny, and not a slouch as a wrestler.  His head butts were epic!  Of course, a lot of it was for show, but more entertaining than wrestling today.  Your avatar brought back so many memories—thanks!

    I’ve seen little to encourage about the future of the EU.  Many countries seem to be defecting, pushing back at Germany’s edicts.  France’s Yellow Vest movement shows little sign of slowing down, and Macron shows no signs of understanding his predicament, countrymen, or how to repair the damage he’s caused.

    • #69
  10. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge
    Chris Hutchinson
    @chrishutch13

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    RufusRJones—that’s a name I haven’t seen in a long time! My dad, brother, and I used to watch wrestling together (weird, huh?) and always liked his style. He was a crowd pleaser, funny, and not a slouch as a wrestler. His head butts were epic! Of course, a lot of it was for show, but more entertaining than wrestling today. Your avatar brought back so many memories—thanks!

     Not at all weird! His avatar brought memories for me, too. Our living room bookshelves were filled with boxing and wrestling magazines, and some of my favorite memories with my dad were watching wrestling with him in the 70s and 80s. Man, I used to love when Mid-South would come to Blackham Coliseum!

    • #70
  11. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Rufus R. Jones is the greatest human being that ever lived after Don Rickles. lol

    • #71
  12. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    I’ve seen little to encourage about the future of the EU. Many countries seem to be defecting, pushing back at Germany’s edicts. France’s Yellow Vest movement shows little sign of slowing down, and Macron shows no signs of understanding his predicament, countrymen, or how to repair the damage he’s caused.

    Everything that is what I call a “political superstructure” is going haywire because they are reducing generalized prosperity and they are not democratically accountable, or they are causing and not finishing wars. It’s ridiculous. The EU, the EMU, all of the big central banks, NATO, etc. Centralized political power is breaking down everywhere.

    And then many of the anti-Trump types don’t see what the big problem is. 

    For those that are interested in this type of thing, check out Yoram Hazony’s lecture at Yale and the last two interviews of Nassim Taleb on Econ Talk.

    • #72
  13. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    Rufus R. Jones is the greatest human being that ever lived after Don Rickles. lol

    Rufus was the (real life) father by adoption of WWF manager Slick.

    • #73
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    One time Rufus was losing to the bad guy and the time was running out. It was like he was stumbling around in a fog because of all the blows. I couldn’t believe it. I almost started crying. Then the bad guy made at the mistake of hitting Rufus over the head with a folding chair. LOL that woke him up and then he finished the bad guy off in 30 seconds. LOL

     

    • #74
  15. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I love the fact that a Mona Charen column turned into a discussion of All-Star Wrestling.

    • #75
  16. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I love the fact that a Mona Charen column turned into a discussion of All-Star Wrestling.

    Well, Slick was the manager of The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, so there is a Middle Eastern/Russian (!) connection.

    • #76
  17. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    magazines

    All-Star Wrestling, as opposed to Mona’s column, had the virtue of being at least somewhat entertaining. 

    • #77
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    I’ve seen little to encourage about the future of the EU. Many countries seem to be defecting, pushing back at Germany’s edicts. France’s Yellow Vest movement shows little sign of slowing down, and Macron shows no signs of understanding his predicament, countrymen, or how to repair the damage he’s caused.

    Everything that is what I call a “political superstructure” is going haywire because they are reducing generalized prosperity and they are not democratically accountable, or they are causing and not finishing wars. It’s ridiculous. The EU, the EMU, all of the big central banks, NATO, etc. Centralized political power is breaking down everywhere.

    And then many of the anti-Trump types don’t see what the big problem is.

    For those that are interested in this type of thing, check out Yoram Hazony’s lecture at Yale and the last two interviews of Nassim Taleb on Econ Talk.

     

    • #78
  19. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    I’ve seen little to encourage about the future of the EU. Many countries seem to be defecting, pushing back at Germany’s edicts. France’s Yellow Vest movement shows little sign of slowing down, and Macron shows no signs of understanding his predicament, countrymen, or how to repair the damage he’s caused.

    Everything that is what I call a “political superstructure” is going haywire because they are reducing generalized prosperity and they are not democratically accountable, or they are causing and not finishing wars. It’s ridiculous. The EU, the EMU, all of the big central banks, NATO, etc. Centralized political power is breaking down everywhere.

    And then many of the anti-Trump types don’t see what the big problem is.

    For those that are interested in this type of thing, check out Yoram Hazony’s lecture at Yale and the last two interviews of Nassim Taleb on Econ Talk.

    https://twitter.com/GreenMonsterah/status/1084526006281605120

    2 minute video

    • #79
  20. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Freesmith (View Comment):

    All-Star Wrestling, as opposed to Mona’s column, had the virtue of being at least somewhat entertaining.

    And more honest.

    • #80
  21. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    carcat74 (View Comment):
    I’ve seen little to encourage about the future of the EU. Many countries seem to be defecting, pushing back at Germany’s edicts. France’s Yellow Vest movement shows little sign of slowing down, and Macron shows no signs of understanding his predicament, countrymen, or how to repair the damage he’s caused.

    Everything that is what I call a “political superstructure” is going haywire because they are reducing generalized prosperity and they are not democratically accountable, or they are causing and not finishing wars. It’s ridiculous. The EU, the EMU, all of the big central banks, NATO, etc. Centralized political power is breaking down everywhere.

    And then many of the anti-Trump types don’t see what the big problem is.

    For those that are interested in this type of thing, check out Yoram Hazony’s lecture at Yale and the last two interviews of Nassim Taleb on Econ Talk.

    I went and read “what the big problem is.” Decent article although I would argue that as far as this paragraph:

    Fast forward to 2017, however, and the case against democracy is being made right in front of our eyes. Witness Hillary Clinton, who not long ago gushed about our “sacred” right to vote — that is until her stupendous loss to Trump. Today she clings to the specious nonsense that the Russians somehow influenced our election by planting stories and using social media, which if true would be an excellent argument against voting rights. If the natives are so easily duped by a few silly posts in their Facebook feeds, why on earth is their vote meaningful or sacred?

    Then really it should be pointed out that the proven Russian FB ads came out after the election. (Maybe 72 hours after or something like that.) That would mean that only citizens utilizing time travel would have been affected by those advertisements.

    • #81
  22. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I love the fact that a Mona Charen column turned into a discussion of All-Star Wrestling.

    They just had the WWW Federation competition for  women on the other night. I sure would have watched if Mona had been one of the contestants.

    • #82
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