Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria, recently cited a study which showed that working-class, white Americans were experiencing an increase in death rate due to suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse, specifically mentioning the abuse of pain-killers as a cause. Zakaria couldn't help but point out that this group also comprises the majority of Donald Trump voters, who hope that his promise to "Make America Great Again" will help them regain their "white privilege."
From his column: "The United States is going through a great power shift. Working-class whites don't think of themselves as an elite group. But, in a sense, they have been, certainly compared with blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and most immigrants. They were central to America's economy, its society, indeed its very identity. They are not anymore. Donald Trump has promised that he will change this and make them win again. But he can't. No one can. And deep down, they know it."
Isn't that a lovely way to start the New Year? The working class – you know, the ones the Democrats and liberals are always professing to help – are dying in large part due to addictions and suicide, and the left is triumphant because it means that the country is changing for the better. This is also the demographic that helped put Barack Obama in the presidency. Pew Research shows that 43 percent of Obama voters in 2008 were white, and of that number 60 percent made under $50,000 per year. Perhaps the Hope and Change they were hoping for didn't work out so well. So the same demographic that helped vote Obama into office is now the enemy because they don't like what has happened over the past seven years.
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Zakaria also says that the working-class, white population has always been somewhat elite compared to blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. He says the white working class was central to America's identity, but its not anymore – so that must mean these other groups are doing better these days, right? Not really. Black unemployment remains twice as high as that of whites, and Hispanics are lagging behind sitting at 6.5 percent.
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Since the unemployment spike in 2008, 10 rates have been returning to pre-recession levels and going down overall. But since the mortality rates of African-Americans and Hispanics haven't increased dramatically (which is good) it leads Zakaria to conclude that working-class whites are dying because their privilege is dying. The increased mortality rate is specific to the United States. Zakaria cites Princeton anthropologist Carolyn Rouse as saying that it might be a case of diminished expectations. Traditionally oppressed groups have come not to expect the American Dream so they are less affected by a downturn in the economy, shrinking opportunity, and destruction of the middle-class doesn't worry them as much. So this is the new normal – and this is supposed to be progress? Don't bother to expect to do better. Don't bother to strive to do better, just know that it won't be. This is the changing America we are to celebrate? This is not everyone doing better or a rising tide raising all ships. Instead, the tide has gone out and left everyone, white, black, Hispanic and every other group high and dry. Rouse and the authors of the study point to the possibility of a European-style socialism to possibly ease the transition of America the Great to America the Opiated all the while Europe implodes under that very same system.
Zakaria also takes note that similar increases in mortality were experienced by Russian men following the collapse of the USSR. So the country is changing for the better, and it resembles the complete collapse of a nation, part of Reagan's evil empire, no less? Funny, can't imagine why the country would be collapsing.
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It was historian Arnold J. Toynbee who wrote that civilizations don't die, they commit suicide. He wasn't talking about literal suicide through opioid abuse, either. Rather it was a moral failure on the part of the elite of those civilizations that trickles down to the rest of the society. In essence, following the cultural revolution of the '60s, America has been following a path of moral collapse long before our current economic difficulties. Massive changes were made to the underlying moral girders of American society, and that is leading to a collapse. Note the nature of the causes of death listed in the study – opioid abuse, alcoholism, suicide – are problems of vice, addiction and depression not economy.
Charles Murray writes in his study on white America, "Coming Apart," "Unseemliness is a symptom of the collapse of codes of behavior that depend not on laws and regulations, but upon shared understandings regarding the fitness of things, and upon an allegiance to behave in accordance with those shared understandings. Unseemliness is another symptom of hollowness at the core."
Murray wrote about this issue of white America in 2012, and he noted the massive rift between the upper- and working-class whites. This study probably comes as little surprise to him but appears to be part of a welcome new year for Zakaria. However, like all liberals, he sees this in terms of economic fairness rather than the bankruptcy of cultural ideas that has been steadily flowing forth from the left since the '60s. In its steady march of "progress" the left has broken down piece by piece the institutions that held America up, and now when the girders are giving way, they say it is well-deserved. Unfortunately, when it comes down, it comes down for everyone, not just your oppressor-du-jour of the day.