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The death of American dignity Distracted by identity politics, the Democrats have lost sight of the country

The American road to nowhere (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The American road to nowhere (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


March 4, 2021   6 mins

Take any American road. Let’s choose the I-95, which, for a little under 2,000 miles, cuts a multi-lane track down the eastern seaboard from Maine in the north, to the city limits of Miami in the sunny south.

Pull off somewhere, anywhere. Years ago, my family and I eased our lumbering people carrier down an exit ramp a few hundred miles south of Washington DC, close to Charleston, South Carolina. There was a McDonalds with a huge enclosed playpen for young children. Coffee refills were free on weekdays. No spitting was allowed.

Outside, underneath an impossibly huge Stars and Stripes, the seediness of America was spread out as far as the eye could see. Gas stations, tattoo parlours, Bojangles Pizza, Dunkin Donuts, $30-a-night motels, car showrooms, gun shops; the air was filled with the smell of sweat and fried chicken and car oil.

I realised that afternoon that I was in love with it all. In love with the seediness; but in love too with the gentle, beaten-up faces of the folks who lived in these parts or were passing through. I should offer up a BBC series on McDonalds, I thought (I was the Washington Correspondent at the time) — just hearing from all the people who worked in them, ate in them, wandered through en route to start a new life or leave a lover or escape a jail bond.

Damn. I forgot to do it. Got excited about Obama and busy with stuff. And now the market has been cornered by Chris Arnade, author of Dignity. A book, he says, about “poverty, dignity … and McDonalds.” I wrote about it when it was was published in 2019, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

Arnade is a former Wall Street guy who photographs people at the bottom of the American pile. Trust me: that is a very long way down. You will need to have teeth missing to get into Arnade’s books — teeth and a lot else you can’t even remember you had.

But you will also be more relevant than you know. That is the 2021 truth. Anyone who thought the Trump moment was going to be the last time a Manhattan-based journalist was going to have to visit a West Virginia diner is going to have to think again.

In his writing, Arnade has a single crystallising insight. In a nation we associate, rightly, with striving — a nation born with ants in its pants, laying waste, refashioning, rethinking, now even inventing its own facts — there is a very large group of people doing none of these things.

They are just getting by, or trying to. Great swathes of America, huge numbers of Americans, often with rheumy eyes and saggy faces, are not going anywhere. And here’s the kicker: They don’t want to go anywhere

In a piece written recently for the American Compass think tank, which campaigns for community to be at the heart of the Republican message, Chris Arnade recalls a typical scene:

 “The young man and older women working the afternoon shift alone in a Louisiana Waffle House, her serving, him on the grill, gossiping about work to pass the time. After he complains about everything and everybody for ten minutes, ending with a threat to quit, she matter of factly asks him, “Well, what do you want with your life?”, to which he responds, “Job that pays enough to get a home, have a family, and do my hobbies.”

Arnade points out that this is an inexplicable response to those at the top of American society, both Democrats and Republicans. They don’t understand the experience of ordinary Americans who work with their hands:

“Work is something to endure, and most do endure it, with an impressive resiliency. Our technocratic class, politicians, and the elite media rarely see this, and if they did most would be hard pressed to understand it, because their resume and career define who they are. They are careerists, so they assume everyone else must be a careerist, and they look at everyone else working, including the guy in dirty clothes driving the F150, and assume he is a careerist as well, just one in a different and mostly icky career.”

An F150, by the way, is a basic and rather boring pick up truck.

The politics of the Arnade insight is simple but I am not sure all Democrats take it fully on board. If he is right, they need to appeal to people who are not going anywhere and do not want to be told they can, or should. Campaigns of social betterment look fake to these people, because they often have been.

He certainly seems to be onto something: Democrats’ margins of support among those earning less than $30k per year have dropped every year from 2008 through to 2020. Obama won these voters by a whopping 33 percentage points in 2008. By 2020, even with blue collar friendly Biden at the top of the ticket, the Democrats’ lead was down to 8 points.

When Hillary Clinton talked of breaking glass ceilings, what did that really mean in the Waffle House? Nothing. She may as well have been addressing the populace of a different galaxy altogether.

The Democrats’ problem in widening their appeal is often portrayed as a nervousness about the identity politics pursued with such vigour by some Left-wingers. But that’s not quite it. The problem is not really an objection to anti-racism or anti-sexism. People in Waffle Houses do not want to be victimised any more than anyone else.

The problem is the idea that it can be drummed up into a movement in which you must take part. The assumption that you want to make your own life perfect. You want the job! You want the corner office! You want power! Freedom! Sex with anyone who consents!

In the Waffle House, in McDonalds, in the front seat of the pick up truck, it just feels fake. It feels like talk from another planet. It doesn’t unite: it separates. It creams off all the “deserving” strivers from everyone else and it makes everyone else sullen and angry. And apt to vote for Donald Trump or one of his acolytes or children. Not because you like them but because you know the Clinton pant-suit brigade don’t. That’s good enough for you.

The point that some in the Democratic party are making is that the choice — in constructing a determined effort to win these people back — is not between Left and Right. It is possible to be Left but not woke, just as you can be Right but not against government spending. An obvious example is the campaign for a high federal minimum wage. This matters in the Waffle House. It matters for people who are not energised by anything more than earning decent money.

Ah, decent money. Not knocking down the civil war statues or changing the names of schools or refighting battles about transgender children winning girls’ races on sports days.

According to the think tank The People’s Policy Project, if you took all the wealth in America and divided it up equally per person every family of four would get $1.2 million in the bank and an income of $208,000 a year.

Of course, there’s no end of all-American reasons for not doing this, but it’s a surprise, to put it mildly, that given all the riches there are in America, and the level of inequality, the argument for redistribution is so far outside mainstream debate. The project campaigns for a high minimum wage and universal child benefit. It’s not exactly communism.

Will the Democrats run with these ideas now? Does the threat of Trump-style politics mean that the non-strivers, the low achievers, finally get a look in? There are hints that it could happen. In his CPAC speech last Sunday Donald Trump hit notes he’s hit before, in particular on illegal immigration. If you are down on your luck in Oklahoma City it may well have made sense to you.

But turn over the TV and what do you see? On the same day as Mr Trump made his speech, Joe Biden released a video with a striking new message. Around 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are voting on whether to join a union. Mr Biden took the time to support their right to do it.

“Today and over the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama and all across America are voting on whether to organise a union in their workplace,” said the President. “This is vitally important — a vitally important choice, as America grapples with the deadly pandemic, the economic crisis and the reckoning on race — what it reveals is the deep disparities that still exist in our country.”

What makes the Biden intervention especially delicious is that Jay Carney — Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs at Amazon — is the very same Mr Carney who was then-Vice President’s Biden’s director of communications and later President Obama’s press secretary.

Carney’s move, since the days of Bill Clinton, has been the modus operandi of the well-heeled Democrats. When things get rough in DC you hop off to the West Coast. You fly over the (many) diners on the way. And when you get back into office you fly east again, sometimes getting your jet to write “Screw you” in vapour trails in the big sky high above the duel carriageways and corn fields of middle America.

Well, metaphorically anyway. But now — well, who knows?

As well as backing union membership, Biden is proposing a doubling, in four stages, of the minimum wage. This — if it happened — would transform life for people in those bits of America that Jay Carney and other top Democrats only notice at election time.

In the great greasy wastes of land sprawling for miles around the intersections of roads. In the McDonalds, in the Waffle House, they are approaching the counter for a refill. Perhaps politically they might do the same. And Joe, the fill-in candidate, the elderly man keeping the Oval Office desk warm — Joe from whom the smartest Democrats expect nothing — might be preparing something rather extraordinary.

Extraordinary because it is ordinary. An abandonment of the hifalutin. A repudiation of the Twitter blue ticks.

Joe Biden might greatly assist his party and millions of Americans if he delivers something modest but massive. Dignity. That’s all.


Justin Webb presents the Americast podcast and Today on Radio Four. His Panorama documentary “Trump the Sequel”, is available now on  Iplayer

JustinOnWeb

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘Well, what do you want with your life?”, to which he responds, “Job that pays enough to get a home, have a family, and do my hobbies.”’
Trevor Phillips, in a recent Triggernometry interview, cites research showing that this is what most British people want, too.
It seems to be something that most politicians simply cannot comprehend, preferring people to be either ‘careerists’ or totally dependent on welfare. And they have, to a great extent, destroyed the ‘get a home’ part of the aspiration with their various destructive policies in terms of money printing and mass immigration etc.

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Thanks for the Triggernomery tip

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

that is the best thing on youtube right now in my opinion, was watching the one with Jodi Shaw while reading through these comments. Loved the one with Kellie Jay Keen. And another great one is with a woman whose internet user name is “Rose of Dawn”, a trans woman opposed to the speech police and violent nature of the TRA movement

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

There is a very good one with George Galloway recorded relatively recently.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

They do a great job. I listened to Dr Karlyn Borysenko’s a couple days after I had to complete an online corporate woke seminar. She had me in tears. Watch that one. It is great.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

Karlyn is great. I’ve been following her for a year or so.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes, and the surprising thing is that policy-makers find this surprising.

It’s not just politicians, either. At many places of work, I found there was an unreflecting assumption from the people at the top that everyone wanted to be like them. ‘So attend this course, follow this path of self-improvement, and you can be like me.’ Except, how many people want to? Especially when the message was and these are genuine messages (to trainee lawyers) ‘Your devotion to the clients must be more important to you than sleep’ and ‘We own you 24 hours a day 7 days a week.’

I suppose it’s just that the world is run by people who want to run the world, and they’re too self-engrossed to imagine that others might have ideas of their own.

Hence the need for books like David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere, just as a little reminder to the decision-makers.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

I would recommend David Goodhart’s book too. A good analysis I think of the different lifestyles and aspirations that contribute to current political divides.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It seems to be something that most politicians simply cannot comprehend, preferring people to be either ‘careerists’ or totally dependent on welfare. 

What a good observation. To “most politicians” i’d add broadly “the left”, preferring the ‘careerist’ social climber arriviste middleclass (ie themselves), and the underclass (their pet project and fig leaf).
Meanwhile the working class and the toffs get along with each other on the right, as usual.
As i (a foreigner) see it, the “great British class war” is fought singlehandedly by the arriviste, culturally insecure middleclasses sneering both upwards (“Eton boys”, “inherited wealth”), and downwards (“thick brexiters”, “redwall racists”, “xenophobes” etc. etc.) on behalf of some deified mythical “underdog”: the ‘oppressed’ communities. They sneer up at the toffs because they feel too selfconsciously inferior deep inside; and they sneer down at the working classes because they are an inconvenient (embarrassing) reminder of where they climbed up from. Whereas the underclass ‘communities‘ are removed safely enough for them to wage the noble wealth-redistributing class war for, without being called on the bluff.

Last edited 3 years ago by Allons Enfants
Katy Randle
Katy Randle
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Incisive analysis – chapeau!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

It is toughnes. One Scottish regiment was described as the cream of Scottish prisons led by the cream of the Scottish gentry. The SAS was described as the sweepings of the prisons and public schools. Tough men from ends of the social spectrum look down on the middle class milksops.The middle class milksops are intimidated by the ends of the social spectrum.
What unites aned divides people is character which is why warriors even though fighting each other have more respect for each other than those sitting at home from their own side.Examples include Saladin and Richard the Lionheart and more recently, British/Commonwealth forces figthing Rommel N Africa.
Eton now appears to be a school for the affluent, often effete, rather than gentry with connections to the armed forces.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I don’t think anyone wants people to be totally dependent on welfare. And no politician wants people to be in that situation, however much some tabloids repeat the myth.
On the left, welfare is a safety net for those who cannot otherwise get by. For some right-wing fundamentalists it’s almost as though it’s an unnecessary expense on people who would work (or stop being disabled or whatever) if only they were deprived of enough resources.

Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

What does the Waffle House cook want? “Job that pays enough to get a home, have a family and do my hobbies.” That statement is at once poignant and ridiculous. For Dems, it is an utterly poignant comment about the disconnect between the economy we have created and the economy that people actually want.
For GOPers, it deserves one response, “well then go out and earn it.”

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

Interesting article. The only part I really disagree with is the tagline: “Distracted by identity politics, the Democrats have lost sight of the country.”
I would suggest that the Democrats aren’t distracted by identity politics. They fully and wholeheartedly embraced identity politics. They also strategically dumped the white working class. The Democrats concluded they could assemble an unassailable political majority by cultivating minority groups alone. They believed that’s where the demographics of the country are headed (and, in the long term, they might be right). They appeared to assume that the white working class would tag along for the ride because the Democrats have historically been their party. Didn’t happen. The Democrats also didn’t foresee that a significant portion of minority communities would not vote Democrat because they do not subscribe to the Democrats’ identity politics agenda.
So now the Democrats have rather cynically backtracked and tried to cultivate the white working class with policies such as raising the minimum wage which, while it benefits all low-wage workers irrespective of race, will be of particular help to the large group of white, former middle-class workers who have lost their well-paid jobs due to globalization.
Maybe these policies will eventually work, but I do feel that Democrat-sponsored identity politics has driven deep rifts between the races in America and will ultimately come back to haunt their attempt to be an ‘inclusive’, and dominant, party.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

My lumber yard I get my lumber at has 4 lot men working, always has, my guess is they start at $8 get $10 after a few years and that is top pay. Biden’s $15 an hour would mean there would be 3 lot men.

And in case you people do not know what is happening in USA (global commodities) – the reason I am here (unherd) so much instead of work is I just finished one 18 month job, but it is not worth beginning the next one. Lumber a year ago was $3.60 for a 2″ X 4″ 8 foot stud, now it is $9.00 – !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lumber is almost tripled! The job I should be doing now would use $40,000 of old money Lumber, $100,000 Now. At that price I would not make money as it usually takes me a year to do a job, I need to figure what to do, maybe I will do remodeling, which I despise, Then 12-2, 250ft wire was about $65, now is $120!!!!, PVC drain lines doubled…. Some things not so bad, siding, paint, kitchen and baths, flooring not that much higher, But Commodities? WOW! My carpenter is doing side jobs I get him. The low interest rates I guess, and covid has people on the move because house building is crazy busy for contractors now. Ground is being broken every where for new builds. But they say inflation (using their fake basket to figure it) is 1.4%, it is way higher, things are not as they say. The Lumber prices, (look at it on youtube) they say will be up for years, the saw mills are going flat out. Copper doubling, Uranium doubled, grains up, tin up, things are weird out there. They say infrastructure stimulus is coming, but with what commodities, will they go to 5X? They say greening of the grid coming, but with what copper, silver, steel (doubled), how will that work?

Biden’s head of the Fed, Powell, the mad money printing, M2, up 25% ,says no inflation – says inflation 1.4% says printing any amount will not cause inflation anymore! Remember ‘real earnings’, Bond yield minus inflation’ is now supposedly about zero, was negative, going to be very negative, so interest must rise, and think of all this building – nothing down $400,000 mortgages at 2% going to 5%? All those empty commercial buildings having the debt balloon? Those are 2008 all over again, ON TOP OF COVID printing and unemployment. Here the crazy guy is, same as UK and EU Central Banks saying debt will be fine as no inflation and thus no inflation making debt service unaffordable… right. Hard times coming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGNyCOlIEHY remember, then real earnings go below zero (bond yield minus inflation) it it time to buy gold, market is going to correct, I put my pension into commodities and safe stocks.

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Interesting insights, thank you!

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I read an interesting anecdote once about a fencing guy who put some old fencing parts on Amazon and was amazed at the demand. So he just started collecting fencing doohickies (sorry) and quit fencing altogether. He literally makes his living selling had to find fencing joiners and stuff like that on Amazon. The buyer just happened to ask “how’s business” and he got the whole story of how the guy went from a job installing fences to a job selling spare parts of fencing material that no one could find elsewhere. As someone who has put up my share of fences I can totally understand where that would be a market. I was thinking from your description you might be able to get into something like that. You are right that this will challenge small business, who would probably need an exemption. But for corps like Amazon there is zero excuse whatever not to pay that kind of dough.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You have demonstrated to me how doubling the minimum wage just makes prices rise in the long run and in the end the object is defeated.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Mule and carrot. Lewis Carroll did a great job describing it too. “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” The Red Queen’s race.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’d be interested if you know the price of hardwoods i.e Teak, now and a year ago. I’ve a vested interest, a bit like you,

Arthur Waldman
Arthur Waldman
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I remember my (very bright professor {and if matters a cleric} ) pointing out partly by way of an example in the microeconomics of running a coffee/donut shop. Assume that Inflation was 20% and coffee had been 25 cents and donuts 30 cents. The second year the owner should charge 30 cents for coffee and 36 cents for the donut …..but how practical would be a 36 cent charge….besides as we ought to have learned from his course demand is inelastic; i.e. as price rises demand declines and in fact other charges inputs, freight etc. that the owner would face would rise by cost plus and any other costs like rental etc, even if they could not increase their costs immediately, would at the earliest possible time try to recoup their ‘losses’ they incurred when they were unable to adjust their billing/selling prices . ……and that is the dilemma for the working poor. They consume the highest proportion of their income close to or equal to 100% of their disposable income. Even if they did gain a short term gain, over time they would tend to be more disadvantaged by across the board hikes (inflation or basic wage costs ) than they had been at the start of the cycle.
Economic growth, demographics rather than fiat are the ways real wages rise….(and while we may disagree with the Trump handled it ) open borders for cheap labour and open access of one’s markets tend to depress wages; especially as the US has moved from the 95% closed economy in my school days Today (figures from Google )
ChinaCanada and Mexico are the country’s largest trading partners, accounting for nearly $1.9 trillion worth of imports and exports.
while
What is the current US GDP 2020?
$20.93 trillion
Current-dollar GDP decreased 2.3 percent, or $500.6 billion, in 2020 to a level of $20.93 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.0 percent, or $821.3 billion, in 2019 (tables 1 and 3).Jan. 28, 2021.
The propensity for the use of low cost alternatives to substitute for domestic production (As well as its widespread availability) suggests that unless the USA closes its borders will only increase the unfortunate consequences for the working poor.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

They didn’t think the white working class would walk and that was a huge miscalculation, hence the Qanon conspiracy theory fomented by social media use. Another thing liberal agnostics upper middle class white collar folks don’t get is the way the white middle and working class divides the world into good and evil based on religious belief, which is what made Qanon so palatable. Great point about the wage increase being waved like a carrot to the downwardly mobile. That’s probably what this is about in the end anyway.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Doubling the minimum wage will hit the small businesses badly as they are the ones who will have to pay. What it will do is become a magnet to increase illegal immigration which the Democrats seem very soft on. In the long term prices will have to go up to survive which will affect what your wage can buy and probably lead back to square one in the end. American exports will also be more expensive because of this, which will affect the economy of America. But it may stabilise the Democratic Vote in the short term until the effects on business kick in.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

it’s not a true double. most places start at ten an hour at least.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
3 years ago

As well as backing union membership, Biden is proposing a doubling, in four stages, of the minimum wage. This — if it happened — would transform life for people in those bits of America that Jay Carney and other top Democrats only notice at election time.

It would, but not necessarily for the better.
Many independent businesses wouldn’t be viable if the minimum wage is too high. They’d close, and where would the newly unemployed find work? Would they all pick up better-paying jobs at Amazon?
Those businesses that don’t go under will look at automation. A high minimum wage will bring forward the “robot job apocalypse”.
I’m no luddite. I want more automation. But if making poor people wealthy was a simple matter of doubling the minimum wage, why stop there? Why not triple it? Quadruple it? Increase it ten-fold?

Last edited 3 years ago by Mark Goodhand
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Excellent point. In reality, the only actual minimum wage is $0.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

One could join the civil service with double the minimum wage paid by the government as they don’t have to make a profit only raise the taxes.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

This writer has no clue at all. I have been down with the down and out in USA for decades, 16 years of my life living out of camps, I made my living with my hands, spent years down and out as a hard core drifter. Right now my one employee, a 60 year old carpenter who has been in a hundred bar fights, would tell this writer he makes what he gets because that is what he makes by being a carpenter, he is paid for what he is worth, I pay him $20/hr, but let him work as he wishes, and he tells me how much his pay is every Friday, I do not even have any idea what his hours are and I give him cash, I trust him completely as we both depend on each other and that is how it is, he has worked for me for a year and I do not even know his last name as it never came up, If I stop having work for him he will be working for some other job by tomorrow. My casual helper who does my high work mostly, he is in jail and will not be out for a wile yet, he is a meth head and rough guy all round. This is my world, construction in a tough state, peopled by the people who would make your friends picture book.

These guys and their women will never be Biden voters, they have way too much self dignity to ever vote in someone like him – someone who tries to buy them and treat them like children, and tell them what they can and can’t do. Tell them you are for unionizing Amazon workers and it would be as usefull as saying you are going to raise school teachers pay, it would not even enter their reality enough to notice. You just do not get the low economic Americans. I have a lot of doings with the rough Black guys too – their world has nothing to do with Amazon workers joining unions either. They work hard at crap jobs and that is how it is, every one on the rough side has their hustle going, they do not have pensions and health care and union dues, most work for cash, most have been addicts at some point, most would kill you if you broke into their house, it is just not like the writer thinks, his reality is so utterly removed from the world he thinks he knows.

Peter Lockyer
Peter Lockyer
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

This is really interesting and moving. I’ve never been to America and only get to see it on films.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

SA you really hit a cord with me. I have visited 18 US states on 8 vacations, driving close to 2000mls eachtime. I admit I have not slummed it, I know I run the risk of sounding patronising or worse, but I have always kept my eyes open, if you travel that much across the US the grinding hardness of many Americans lives is something you cannot escape. I am not romanticising things but I have a lot of respect for many of these people, some who helped me out of difficult situations during my journeys. I dont know how to exactly express it…but those experiences somehow gave me a better understanding of myself. The Democratic party may indeed have taken the vote of the white blue collar worker for granted and it may have gone further and tossed that demographic aside, concentrating on other groups that it sees as a politically more profitable a crop to nurture through identity politics and other woke manipulation.
But as SA says these people have dignity, they might drive beat-up pick-up trucks, they might not have had much formal education, but they are not daft, in them is still that undefinable essence of what being American is, and in the end they will not be forgotten because their voice will be heard. In the end it is their cries that just might bring the whole edifice tumbling down and break the Union.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

‘they might not have had much formal education, but they are not daft,’
Exactly. Invariably it is the so-called educated who are the daft ones, and whose daftness causes all manner of hell from the I-95 to Iraq.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

Democrats could win this country back by killing all the right to work (anti-union laws) and opening up the discussion on abortion rights. Pastors in churches all across the south essentially instruct their congregations to vote right on that issue alone. Now that the right wing is the only entity willing to challenge the Holocaust level medical experimentation on children that is about to explode due to proliferation of Tran$ Right$, Inc. more of the middle and class will defect, particularly mothers with children (btw for anyone who doesn’t get it, that’s about a million to million and a half dollars per child over the lifespan for drugs and surgeries, check out the ‘transhumanist’ billionaire funded agenda at Jennifer Bilek’s 11th hour blog, she’s done all the research into the rich heirs like Pritzker, Rothblatt, Stryker, and of course Soros, who are driving propaganda behing mutilating and sterilizing kids for profit).

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

That’s horrific.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

one survivor https://www.newsweek.com/we-need-balance-when-it-comes-gender-dysphoric-kids-i-would-know-opinion-1567277

read this woman’s research…if anyone is wondering how a demographic that is .5% of the human population is dominating the speech of the entire civilized world right now she lays out the billionaire heirs funding the propaganda and the potential for trillions in profit https://www.the11thhourblog.com/
if you have twitter, this account is an attorney that is mapping the child mutilation/sterilization clinics by address https://twitter.com/GenderMapper/status/1360367800011923457

80 percent of these kids will grow out of their Gender Dyphoria without intervention of the surgical or pharmaceutical variety, but not if these ghoulish clinics and their Mengele-ish doctors have anything to do with it.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

wrote you a post with more links and information, it l disappeared right in front of my eyes seconds after I posted it. I encourage everyone to go to the 11th hour blog by Jennifer Bilek who has been researching this for years. The agenda is being driven by billionaire trance (maybe that word won’t get censored) heirs who are calling their movement ‘transhumanism’ and looking to meld humanity with AI. First step is eliminating biological sex. One of the heirs, Martine Rothblatt, owns a pig farm for the experimentation of replacement of organs that wear out, to implement ‘eternal life’. He also is experimenting on animals to make ‘womb transplants’ into former males possible. It’s beyond what the imagination can conceive, the stuff of nightmares…

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thanks for your post, Sanford. I live 30 minutes drive from the I-95 in an area that you pretty much describe.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I hate to be Captain Obvious here but if you don’t have a Patreon you should. I want to hear about the guy of a hundred bar fights and the meth head who does the high work (ridiculously funny pun there). I want to hear about the years spent in camps. Is it online anywhere? Have you thought about at least writing an ebook where people can read these stories? You can do that for free. I googled your name and only came up with Unherd posts…I can’t believe I have to walk away from this discussion not knowing more about these people, I bet you have a lifetime of fascinating stories to tell. For a fee I mean…

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

I had a really weird life growing up as my parents were highly eccentric intellectuals who always chose to live in the most unusual places, my father had a profession he could do anywhere. By my teens I began to go a bit wild, and quit school (in London) and hit the road – at 18, I moved to USA, and lived out of a backpack for 7 years on and off, working as I could, but mostly living rough and poor, (my parents never gave me any money, I had to make my own way) hitchhiked 50-60,000 miles and spent a lot of time in the really remote places and on different continents, and a lot with the drop outs of the world on the streets and even in communes and such, and with the weird folk who gravitate to the odd parts of the world, then spent years living in the Bush in the far North out of camps, and years living out of vehicles, and getting up to stuff, and I built houses, got married to a crazy woman for $1400, and at 50 I settled down and for a living I build an entire house from ground up (over my life I have built 18 houses), I do all the trades. I am multinational, know the world well – life has been a long and weird trip, and really hard as living fringe is really rough indeed, but now it is mostly just dull as I lost any desire for traveling. I go back to London to see family a lot – till covid, I am on the water almost every day. I work for my self, I build good houses, and make good money at it as I know location is all so I buy the best bit of land, I do not even have to work anymore as I managed to keep half a dozen houses for myself, although 2 of them are occupied for free by people I take care of, but I do build because although I dislike working with my hands I cannot justify doing nothing, some sort of work ethic I guess, that one should be doing something as life is short and you need to add to it, or to yourself and not just do nothing and wait for death. I am mid 60s.

It was a hard life, people get jobs and get a regular house to live in because it is really rough to be a poor drifter, I think a lot of the reason I did it so much is I was ultra macho and just had to be tougher than normal people and just became addicted to the road, which is a hellish place, but it grabs some people, and it did me. Read Orwell ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ for a real tale of life down and out. It is true from the days of Rome to today, how it is.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Fascinating posts recently, thank you.

You’ve obviously spent your life pretty much ‘off grid’ and would leave most of us sobbing in the dust like babies had we been in similar positions.

The only thing I would add, and that does not in any way diminish your fortitude, life experience or supreme empathy for those you see as being in a similar position doing what you have to do just to get by and rightly refuse to judge, is that people, whoever they are, in decent, wealthy, civilised countries just simply shouldn’t be forced to live like that.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thank you. That’s a very interesting perspective.

William Hickey
William Hickey
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Arnade is total bleeding heart. That mawkish attitude ruined his book for me, which I bought hoping to like.

Jennifer Silva’s “We’re Still Here” was equally bad. She’s a fully assimilated Woke formerly of the working class.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Were you originally an English Public Schoolboy who went AWOL in about 1969/70, and ultimately ended up in the USA?

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thanks for sharing your experience. Interesting perspective on why some people:

will never be Biden voters, they have way too much self dignity to ever vote in someone like him – someone who tries to buy them and treat them like children, and tell them what they can and can’t do

I’m not sure where the perception of “telling them what they can and can’t do” comes from, but I can see it would put independent minded folks off.
But you seem fatalistic about things that can be changed.

“They work hard at crap jobs and that is how it is, every one on the rough side has their hustle going, they do not have pensions and health care and union dues…”

Unions don’t seem hugely relevant in four or five person businesses, fair enough. But there is nothing necessary or inevitable about having no healthcare or pensions. Most of the rest of the developed world manages it (even for people working for themselves). All it needs is the political will to make changes that will benefit normal people. Fatalism is the enemy here.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

If a business can only survive by paying it’s staff less than they are able to live on then they haven’t got a viable business in the first place. What is the point of the state paying the bulk of the workers wages simply to keep a poorly run business afloat?
It’s much better in the long term to simply let the business fail, and it’s share of the market to be taken by a better run rival who can afford to pay their staff properly. This constant state support and corporate welfare of topping up workers wages just to keep the unemployment rate down is partly the reason productivity has been stagnant for so long.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A $15 minimum wage, while barely providing a living in New York or California, is more than 100% of the median wage in some areas. There’s a reason that the minimum wage is currently set at the state and local level. A Federal minimum wage set this high will just end up destroying jobs in the very places that need them most.
This is a profoundly stupid policy proposal.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

In the UK the minimum wage would get you much more in Lowestoft than it would in London, but that seems to work on a national level. There’s no reason it can’t work in the States as well. Every time the minimum wage has increased we’ve heard the same threats from business about how it would cause large scale unemployment, yet every time it was raised unemployment fell (Covid excepted) so excuse me if I’m sceptical of those that yet again claim paying people enough to live on will destroy the economy

Walter Brigham
Walter Brigham
3 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Look at local unemployment- national minimum wage helps heavily regulated urban areas at expense of rural areas. Chronic unemployment in rural areas drives disgust with Democrats who promise high paying jobs but NEVER deliver.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Brigham

I have lived in those semi-rural to rural areas all my life and know many people who do really well if they are tradespeople or farmers who work for themselves, or nurses or work in some health care field. The only way to bring in other well paying jobs is to court factories. Amazon branches are springing up right and left in my area (southern rural near a major city). There is no way Amazon shouldn’t be paying that kind of wage. Most local manufacturers start at at least ten per hour, even for temp jobs. They step up gradually til you hit the max pay. I haven’t done factory work in a while but when I left my last forklift job I was making almost 14 and that was 20 yrs ago.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Minimum wage only sets a floor temporarily. All wages must rise after a delay. As labor costs rise so then goods prices rise. Eventually the system settles back down to where the lowest wages meet the same relative level. Paying someone more than their worth always fails (except at the executive levels where sheer politics sets a wage). Eventually prices rise, a hidden tax on fixed income particularly, and the public in general. If nobody is willing to work at the minimum wage, the employer needing workers will pay more. Illegal workers and a cash economy distort the labor market and will arise if the government insists on running businesses. But at least those factors avoid inevitable inflation and it’s hidden taxation.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

For most businesses, the wages of their minimum wage staff are not the major expense, so the inflationary effect of a decent wage would not be as high as you suggest.
For the odd sector where it is – like cleaning service companies, they serve enterprises where the cleaning bill is small change – so if that sector has to raise its prices to end low-wage exploitation, then the sky won’t fall either.
These are rich economies – we CAN afford this.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

it really isn’t. Most places these days start at ten or twelve. And the increase will take place in stages. The mainly young staff that works those jobs also may have college debt which has exploded. It slays me that the college I paid 2k a semester to go to 30 years ago now charges ten times that. And from all indications the education these kids are getting is infinitely worse. Kids who get a liberal arts education are walking out of 4 years of mostly wasted time with mortgage level debt. I always tell young people go to community college and become an EMT or respiratory therapist or something with a decent wage and if you want to go to college go piecemeal and pay as you go. Unless you have a full ride and can also afford at least master’s degree, it will not pay off in the end. That’s really who this wage increase is directed at, I believe…many factory workers make well above that and have for decades.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

Well the Dems seem a stupid party which figures.

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

On the other hand, when laws are passed making doing business m,ore expensive, it is the small businesses that cannot meet the cost and which fail. by and large their share of the market is taken over by Amazon, Wal-Mart, Home Depot,Costco or one of the other huge national or Global businesses, which not so coincidentally are often paying for the lobbyists and making large campaign donations to make those laws happen.
The fact is the the big money corporations and banks do not like the fact that small businesses cut into what they see as their market share and they have the resources to make them go away.
Then there are folks like you who want to blame it on the small businesses.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  steve eaton

interesting take.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I worked for a cleaning co. for ten years that paid 8 bucks an hour, I came in making that and left making that. I found out later that as soon as their kids turned 14 or whatever the min age is to work they put them on the payroll at like 12/hr and had them both collecting salaries from the business though they were never there. I understand small businesses sometimes struggle but it’s because of crooked moves like this that they ALL are doing that I don’t have much sympathy.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago

There’s companies and companies. They are not all like that.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I always thought the minimum wage was paid by the company not the government. A better system is tax allowance up to so much which they have in Britain.

Val Cox
Val Cox
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Many already have…you can order your MacDonald’s at a kiosk.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Val Cox

isn’t that true, that blew my mind, you go to the counter to order and they point you to the robot in the corner…this has just happened in the last year around here. I have told so many young kids they need to go into robotics, the community college here opened up a robotics course ten years ago in a separate facility. It’s a great development for another reason which is that robots have to be kept cool so any manufacturing facility with robots will be air-conditioned. As someone who’s worked in plenty that aren’t which were hotter than hell in August I’m all for robotics.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

That’s not wealthy. 15/hr is not even middle class nowadays. The techs that run those robots in plants were making 20/hr to start 20 yrs ago.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

There’s a lot of sense in what you say. They are just tempting the voters with titbits which will be against business in the long run and encourage more robot machinery.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
3 years ago

Anyone remember this by #44?:
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Afterwards we would get all these pathetic lectures about how we misunderstood him. “You’re horrible people who like icky things like guns, Christianity, and naturalization processes, but it’s not your fault. You would just stop caring about those icky things if you just had more money.” Oh no, we understood perfectly. Obama said he was not trying to insult Middle America. Our reply was simple. “Screw you!”

Last edited 3 years ago by Matt Hindman
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

‘And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.’
It all started with NAFTA under Clinton. Apparently, Bush Senior had been pushing for NAFTA but the media and unions etc would never have allowed a Republican to get away with such an open assault on US jobs. But Clinton, as a Democrat, and therefore a ‘good guy’ and acceptable to the media and unions etc, was able to get away with it.
This is why, as Jimmy Dore often says, the ‘lesser of two evils’ is invariably the greater of two evils because they are allowed by the media etc to get away with things like NAFTA (Clinton), financial deregulation (Clinton), Libya and Yemen (Obama, Hillary Clinton), baling out the banks (Obama) etc etc.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Actually, the first neoliberal President was Carter. You can find all the gory details in Judith Stein’s “Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies”

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago

Minimum wage hikes are the laziest way to try to get good press on the economy. As another said…why stop at $15? Give everyone $25!! Just passing the buck on more unsustainable debt to fund it from govt to businesses, many of whom are already “zombies”. (Unable to pay debt interest without borrowing more)
The elites can carry on either hiring lawncare companies with illegal employees they don’t worry about or patting themselves on the back for paying more to their Washington housekeeper.
They aren’t committed enough to actually do the difficult decisions about levelling manufactured goods tariffs, China, incentivising USA industry and corporate crony tax dodgers that Trump started …and if everyone ends up working for a mega corp alongside a robot they don’t care.
The idea that everyone in USA is rich has been a myth for ever.
I noticed that USA black conservatives are pretty universal in their resistance to high minimum wages – no first jobs for all the teenagers to get started in the workplace in that world.
People at all levels need the same thing. Hope and a constructive opportunity to better their situation.

Last edited 3 years ago by Su Mac
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

So how do you transfer all that wealth from the wealthy to the less wealthy? If there is the degree of inequality in the US that the article describes then the poverty experienced by many must be related to the extreme wealth enjoyed by the few. The People’s Policy Project looks like it has some good ideas.

Walter Brigham
Walter Brigham
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Higher income inequality FOLLOWS socialist promises to working class. True in Russia, true in LA

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

So how do you transfer all that wealth from the wealthy to the less wealthy? 
“Transfer” is quite the euphemism for ‘steal’ since that’s what this question seeks to figure out how to do. It’s not the role of govt to transfer wealth and the nation’s poster child for this dreadful inequality some are concerned about is California.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Most people are wealthy because their parents were wealthy. Some are wealthy because they’ve successfully gambled and won by being one of the very few who make it to the top of the corporate world, maintain a successful business or made the right bets in the finance world. They are not inherently more deserving of their wealth than the person who works just as hard in a poorly paid job. Most of the wealth of the wealthy would not exist if it were not for someone, somewhere ensuring the person in the poorly paid job remains poorly paid. So, it’s not stealing.
Transference of wealth is the government’s job if that what they were elected to do.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

There is certainly very little correlation between usefulness and wealth in our societies, quite the reverse in fact. And that applies in the public sector as well.
That said, you should not underestimate the skills and difficulty involved in maintaining an honest and successful business that employs people. Anyone who can do that is something of a miracle worker given the forces ranged against them.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

(they are less deserving than people who actually work for their money)

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I think fraudsters also have that attitude to transference of wealth

barbara neil
barbara neil
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Inequality of what? I’d rather go back to the word “poverty”. At least then the arguments were more honest.
We are born un-equal, I don’t see it as a problem. It does seem though that there are vested interests in making it so.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

Inequality of wealth, power, life chances, life expectancy.
I think you’ve got to the crux of the matter. People are unequal at birth – not because of their personal qualities or attributes but because of the family or locale or country they have the fortune or misfortune to be born into. Some people want to mitigate that in-born disadvantage/advantage to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to live well fed lives, as safely as possible, as healthily as possible for as long as possible and as pleasantly as possible. Some people think that in-born advantage or disadvantage is just the luck of the draw or a law of nature and there’s no point in fretting about it.
There is a vested interest in making inequality viewed a problem and there is a smaller but more powerful vested interest in maintaining inequality as a system.

Last edited 3 years ago by Last Jacobin
barbara neil
barbara neil
3 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I’m sorry (a little) but that sounds like a lot of posturing to me. People are unequal at birth ALSO in their personal qualities and attributes.And hopes and ambitions.
The data points to the fact that, in general and in the ways that count (living standards, health etc) people have never before been better off – and not only in the Western world! Moreover, there’s no reason – bar unpredictable calamity – why this trend should not continue.
No, I think that the vested interests are more in the line of stirring up envy – some people have more than others and as we’re all “equal” , let’s take it away from them!

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

I don’t trust any of it. Poverty to me is living in gov’t housing that is so unsafe I can’t let my children play outside. I can’t marry the father of my children because then I will lose my housing and my abilty to feed them. If I work I have to put them under the care of a stranger who may (and most likely will at some point) expose them to harm. That is true poverty, to be hemmed in on so many sides and have zero hope of ever getting out.

Poverty is not making meth to the tune of thousands and thousands in profit a month. Poverty is not talking poor mouth when you own a dozen or so semi autos, 20 acres of land with 5 chicken houses and 50 head of cattle. If you have quads for all five of your kids and they each have their own gun collection too that is not poverty. Just because people are working class does not mean that they are “poor”. People have to be really careful with how they describe things. I think many college-educated middle to upper middle class people would be literally astounded at how wealthy are so many of the folks to whom they condescend and for whom they feel pity.

barbara neil
barbara neil
3 years ago

Yes I agree. And the antidote to real poverty is opportunity. Only that. Not Aid or Welfare or Re-distribution or any other condescension. But I suspect that this Equality/Inequality business is but a cover for something not easily confess-able.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

I disagree, giving those at the bottom more money is good for the economy, as you create millions of extra customers for numerous industries with a bit of spare change to spend. Letting it accumulate at the top simply sees it being pumped into assets such as housing, driving the price out of reach of the ordinary worker, with sky high rents meaning they have nothing to spend elsewhere

Armand L
Armand L
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

If you lived on minimum wage you’d know it’s a disgusting and pathetic life in which no one ought to live.

Have some empathy.

L Paw
L Paw
3 years ago

Interesting article and comments below it. What is ignored is the role of education in all this.
The sad fact is that the US, UK among others have dumbed down and reduced state education to a shadow of its former self. Hard work, rigour and encouraging curiosity have been abandoned, replaced with cultural marxist studies, dictation of gender politics, climate change and acceptance of low standards. The most hard hit by this are the poor, whose choice of school, certainly in the UK, is minimal.
I imagine its much the same in US schools as in the UK. Until this is addressed and put right in our societies, we will always have huge numbers of poor, ill educated citizens. Still, it provides opportunities for the Radio 4 hacks and writers who obtained a decent education to earn a living writing about it…

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
3 years ago

a doubling, in four stages, of the minimum wage. This — if it happened — would transform life for people…

The faulty assumption Mr Webb makes here, and which is made by nearly all elite-ish, upper middle class proponents of a federal minimum wage, is that dignity can be assigned an arbitrary numerical value. Of course to people whose lives are driven by “careerism”, dignity is commensurate with wage. But it’s wrong.
In case we didn’t notice, there is a big corporation choke-out of small business that has exponentially accelerated over the last year, thanks almost entirely to the ineffective lockdown policies forced on the public by the party who is supposed to be the “corporate watch dogs”.
Amazon can afford to meet a $15 minimum wage because they’ve amassed the capital breathing room to figure out how to make it work (not to mention the virtually endless govt handouts and tax breaks that small businesses don’t get).
The hypothetical “Ted’s hardware store”—which was already seeing its revenue drop since a Home Depot plopped themselves on a highway-adjacent plot of land on the outskirts of town—has no chance to survive when they can’t employ a 17 year old high schooler to work a cash register for $7/hr—because DC decided that he needs $15, because, you know, “dignity” or something. Even though $7 in Batesville, MS is equivalent to $15 in Los Angeles when adjusted for cost of living (yes that’s accurate).
But these nuances don’t matter to people like a “vote blue no matter who” white millennial couple living in Brooklyn who make a combined $205k a year, and support a fed min wage because it makes them feel like they care or have a clue about what makes the lower/working class tick. And these nuances certainly don’t matter to someone like “Scranton Joe”, who is neither “Scranton” or “an everyday Joe”, but a half-century career politician millionaire with that unconvincing, expired Democrat veneer of “working class relatability”.
Ted may have only been paying himself 29k a year, but he took pride in building a business from the ground up over 30 years, as tough as it’s always been. Despite being poor, he felt what one might call “dignity”.
But due to a corporate takeover disguised as “essential businesses only to slow the spread”, and a fed min wage, Ted closed his business and now works as an associate at Home Depot, where he makes $10k more per year.
In the sterile, mathematical, and spiritually-vacuous world of centralized political cold calculations, our hypothetical “Ted” is assumed to be better off because he’s making more money. But in reality, his 30 year dream was swallowed up by a bureaucratic black hole, and now he’s just 1 of 400,000 cogs in a corporate machine.
But hey, at least as he walks around that 200,000 square foot fluorescent-lit warehouse telling the 300th faceless customer of the day that “toilets are on aisle 83C”, he can whisper to himself, “I have $10k worth of extra dignity”.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Jordan Flower

The dignity comes from self-reliance which has been a foundation of US success now being lost in favor of the collective. Not sure the trade-off is worth the gain of simply money.

fhealey1212
fhealey1212
3 years ago

A franchise owner runs that Waffle House. Another owns that McDonalds. Most franchise owners run a single store or restaurant. Many started out working in that same corporation at the bottom.
Most are not getting rich but they are doing better than their employees. Why?
Because they saved and took a big risk. Some lose and have to start over. Many win but they don’t win big.
Nearly doubling the minimum wage won’t affect Bill Gates or Jennifer Lawrence but they will affect millions.
The redistribution numbers are the deception.
Socialism in theory belies the destruction of causes in reality.
Post WW2 Britain is the perfect example of how to weaken what was once the economy that ran the world.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Crikey – a BBC-type who finally gets it, at least to some extent, although to describe Joe Biden as a friend of blue collar workers is just absurd. Biden was a proponent of NAFTA and has spent his entire political career screwing the working classes and locking up young men for minor drugs offences. He is as corrupt and evil as they come.
And I have just watched a Jimmy Dore video in which he claims that the $15 minimum wage is not coming any time soon, and that the Democrats are continuing their sustained attack on the working class.
That said, I have just watched another Jimmy Dore video in which I learned that, owing to bi-partisan objections, the the neo-con corporatist and war monger Neera Tanden has been barred from becoming part of Biden’s administration. So, a tiny piece of good news.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fraser Bailey
G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Quite like Justin Webb, but one can’t help but think that the choice of the waffle house was a rather appropriate one here.

Tackling these things through forcibly raising the minimum wage is a broad brush policy that effectively shifts responsibility on to businesses, many of whom are just scraping a living as it is, particularly post covid, and away from the state.

Minimum wages make little or no odds to an Amazon or a Walmart, but could signal the death knell for small employers and dissuade future ones, never mind that they themselves can be inflationary and swiftly degraded as living costs around them rise.

The tax system, though never universally popular, is by far the most flexible, effective and fair means of approaching this, and increasingly sovereign governments need to grow a pair and be more honest with their electorates if they genuinely wish to tackle endemic inequality and the shameful, entirely avoidable subsistence existences described in this article.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Harris
Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
3 years ago

The hike in minimum wage suits the likes of Amazon right down to the ground and is potentially catastrophic for small family owned businesses. Anyone who thinks the likes of Joe Biden or Jay Carney have the interests of Waffle restaurant employees at heart has completely lost touch with reality.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

the biggest wage hike supporters appear to be people who have never made a payroll and have no idea who earns minimum. And they leave out one huge part – human nature. Say one employee makes $12 an hour and another makes $10. Raise them both to $15 and the one previously making $12 now has a sense of having been demoted. Why is that person now earning the same as someone that was earning less? And in the broader scheme, both have gone from making more than minimum to not.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

This is true to a point. Ideally, ie from a “just wage” pt of v, compensation would correlate directly with productivity. However, the infinite variation between industries and variable supply of workers makes this impossible. So the labor market becomes determinative.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Socialistic schemes always end disincentivizing people.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

“Socialism” (ie., not the bourgeois caricature) signifies ownership & control of the means of production which necessarily entails individual internalized responsibility and reward.

steve eaton
steve eaton
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

And follow that thought up the food chain. The guy who is making $30 an hr. will see the value of his efforts drop from almost 4x the minimum to only 2x the minimum.
Meanwhile, the small companies who’s market cannot abide absorbing the cost of additional wages and so cannot pass it on will layoff workers to keep labor costs level with where it was, resulting in fewer jobs.
The large companies, the Amazons, will absorb the cost of the increased wages while they actively work to automate workers out of their jobs, and due to the fact that they are not dependent on a local market will also be able to pass the increased labor onto their customers to a greater extent. Most all business will pass on this increased cost to their customers to the extent they can.
This last bit will cause inflation so the $15 an hour employee will still have in the end about the same purchasing power as he did before his raise and the $30 an hr worker will see his purchasing power cut in half unless his employer sees fit to boost him to $60 and hr..
Only morons and Democrats (sorry, I repeat myself) would believe that this is in any shape or way a benefit to the working class. This is all about closing down small business which the government finds difficult to monitor and which their allies in Fascism the Huge and ultra wealthy corporations see as unnecessary competition.
this is about bringing the working and middle class under the control of the state.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  steve eaton

The Fed wants inflation, so shall create it via a larger minimum wage. Inflation is sorely needed to amortize the huge debt load of the government. The hidden inflation tax suits government by keeping direct taxes low. Nobody can ever earn wore than they are worth, except the wealthy are somewhat insulated. So the wealth gap simply increases.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

the one who makes 12 will be grateful for the extra three dollars and most likely will not know what the coworker earns. Do ya’ll work jobs at all? Most factories and union jobs have pay scales like this and have for eons.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Mochan

I’m not sure why it’s a foregone conclusion that small business should be on a different wage scale. It would of course make them have to compete harder for employees but that’s a good thing. I’ve worked for enough small businesses to know the game. Small business owners are not near as pitiful and downtrodden as they are being portrayed here. If they were not profitable to some degree, at least in the long run, no one would undertake owning one.

Chris Mochan
Chris Mochan
3 years ago

Because small businesses usually operate with narrow margins, if someone doubles their wage bill it could easily send them under. Alternatively they will have to lay people off or raise prices or something. Amazon is so rich that it makes no dent in their profits, but it just eats up a few more competitors. The more barriers placed in front of business, the more it suits the behemoths. That’s why these crooks are so keen on a minimum wage, and less keen on paying corporation tax.

Earl King
Earl King
3 years ago

it is a simply question. Does the working poor deserve a wage? Who would say no? It is bit more complicated. Akin to his observation that dividing up all the wealth would make every family of four wealthy. But it fails in the face of the old parable. You give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish he’ll eat for the rest of his life. Money is motivating for many. For others its is simple what you need to live. I do not and did not want to be an entrepreneur, I did know want to learn to code and write the next hot app. I had a career, a successful one. So $15 a hour? Why not $25 an hour or $50 an hour? Because economics exists. $25 might be more appropriate in NYC $15 may be too much in Lincoln Neb. It depends on if we want to kill small business. Amazon paying $15 nationwide is likely easy for them. For a Bob’s ice cream parlor in Lincoln not so much. A national wage level is ridiculous. Let’s let it to the local leaders to decide.

Micah Starshine
Micah Starshine
3 years ago
Reply to  Earl King

15 is not that much for factory work even in small towns. Jeff Bezos is one of the wealthiest men in part because he doesn’t pay enough. Zuckerberg foments political propaganda that causes insurrections. Jack Dorsey won’t even address how many moderators he has checking content on twitter, hence the massive child porn problem on that site for which he’s currently getting sued. MindGeek (pornhub) owners now have 5 lawsuits against them and are facing jail because of the proliferation of child porn on that site, of which they until recently had an enabled download button so that every user could resell the illegal and non-consensual content for profit. While they are currently being grilled by Canadian Parliament, there are some indications based on what I’ve gleaned that the same process could have happened in Luxembourg had not politicians desisted (which to me indicates money changed hands) a couple of years ago. The internet has created a whole new class of uber-wealthy amoral males who are now at the level of buying off politicians. These men need to be forced to pay decent salaries and take responsibility for what they have unleashed on the world, it is a small price to pay for admission into the global ruling class. I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be an exemption for small business, I would support one. There is no justifying that the created monsters who’ve climbed over children’s corpses to get in the leagues of the top ten should be forced to pay people real wages. 15 years of domination by quasi-autistic sociopathic tech geeks and all we get for it is funerals? https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2019/05/20/suicide-rates-sharply-increase-among-young-girls-study-finds/?sh=7a1d1ded6b20

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago

There are reasons beyond having all his own teeth that Homer Simpson is a heroic cultural icon.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

Right, he’s a kinda Everyman, the all-American sap.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

The all American sap who, w/all of his personal faults, unlike the Leftist ideal man, is faithfully married, goes to work each day in order to provide for his family, a family he loves in his own clumsy way.
Of course, under Democrat rule, the factory that employed him would have sold out to China, Homer would be unemployed (and his alcohol consumption would increase) Marge forced to do thankless paid work, the family would hover on the edges of despair … Lisa’s dreams of a higher education abandoned in favor of taking a job like her mother’s – and God help Bart.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

“… unlike the Leftist ideal man, (Homer) is faithfully married, goes to work each day in order to provide for his family, a family he loves in his own clumsy way.”
Gratuitous slander. On average they’re identical in every respect but one, the Leftist is not a sap, not afflicted with false class consciousness.
“… under Democrat rule, the factory that employed him would have sold out to China,…”
In bourgeois democracy political parties are a subsidiary function of the ownership class. “Homers” get lip service, the Donor Class gets the goods. Nothing could be more obvious.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago

Max Weber demonstrated this thesis a century ago. The vast middle of the bell curve work just hard enough to reproduce a material style they feel comfortable in; and, that’s why industrial engineers (Fordists) have ever been put to it for incentive strategies. The carrot -profit sharing, health insurance, pension, extra vacation- have only marginal effect; but, the old reliable, the most basic, the stick, is to perpetually come shy of the mark. Keep ‘m hungry. The engineers are telling management at Amazon to speed up the line and lower the wage.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

Lovely, let’s increase everybody’s pay. But there is a small matter of basic economics. In any business which has a high wage content as part of its costs, that means the price of the products produced must go up. That does not hurt the rich, who are not hugely reliant on MacDonalds as part of their eating requirements. But it will affect the poor. Those who still have jobs will be better off (more waffles and fries), so the unemployed poor go to the food banks. But that does not solve the Waffle House or MacDonalds problem; they need to cut costs to keep the product selling. So they cut wages where they can – the office workers, the drivers, indirectly the suppliers by leaning on their margins. So anybody who earns more than the minimum wage will find intense downwards pressure on their remuneration.
That is what happens and whilst it is certainly true to say minimum wages have generally not so far created mass employment there are are several reasons for that:

  • they are usually set at about what the market itself recognises as in practice the minimum it can pay for competent staff
  • they have mostly been introduced at a time when employment is rising anyway
  • they do cause a transfer – limited so far, but real, from middle income earners to lower earners, as above.

Joe may be about to prove that if you raise minimum wages much above market wages at a time of economic stress and don’t care about the middle sector wages his theory does not work. I’d rather he did not experiment on real people though.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

“Lovely, let’s increase everybody’s pay. But there is a small matter of basic economics. In any business which has a high wage content as part of its costs, that means the price of the products produced must go up.”
This is capitalist mentality. It presumes monopoly pricing for output; but, market pricing for inputs -labor above all.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

First time I have heard MacDonalds (or indeed Waffle House) described as a monopolistic pricers. Are you get them confused with government?

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

I always like the way Justin writes and I enjoy his arguments but I often don’t agree with his conclusions and this is one of those cases. I think expecting the Joe Biden administration to recognise the struggle of “middle America”, those forgotten places outside the large metropolitan areas is a fantasy. Why? Well look at his climate change policy. John Karry flies around the world in his private jet and tells people their jobs have to be sacrificed for the good of the planet.
Biden may tinker at the edges, he may increase minimum wage but he will destroy many of the jobs these people have because it will impress the “twitter blue tick” set. Increasing the minimum wage does not help anyone if they lose their job in order to meet climate change objectives set by the elite, meeting in their five star accommodation in a far off place!

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

Donald Trump won the Presidency, in part, because his policies gave Hillary’s designated deplorables jobs, jobs lost due to Democrat policies. Lost again due to draconian Covid shut downs.
Lots of the Democrat disappeared jobs were well paying jobs in the moved to China, etc.,manufacturing sector (many in the vast middle of the USA this author refers to as ‘greasy’ and that the self elected American elite call ‘fly over country’ or ‘the rust belt’).
Trump, a man who truly did resonate w/skilled, albeit under/unemployed blue color workers – because he respects their work and understands their dilemma – (jobless, overlooked by the Obama’s, Bidens and Hillarys of the world, open border policies that screwed them – particularly the less skilled workers, their real needs scorned by the amoral Democrat pandering to identity politics)- was elected by the deplorables because they wanted jobs. Trump delivered. Trump understood the threat of Globalism and so did his base. And, btw, Trump’s base had more college educated, affluent voters than Hillary’s.
Covid came and w/it jobs went. Many of the deplorables then voted for the familiar guy who pretends to get it, but doesn’t .. at all .. Joe Biden. Who, with his absolutely asinine (and dishonest, thank God) proposal to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 (paltry, btw, for skilled blue collar workers ) coupled w/his deadly destruction of the right to work w/out being forced to join a union, will be the final nail in the coffin of a Covid locked down decimated American economy. The very people the $15 will supposedly help will be crushed w/the consequent rise in costs of all commodities, rent, etc. Just as when the Obamacare mandate was foisted on them, business owners will fire employees and stop hiring, which doesn’t work out too well for those seeking to remain employed, or to become employed.
But that’s all right w/Joe, and his bosses Obama and Hillary. They have a whole world to work over on behalf of their Socialist Globalist cronies (while the going is good – until they’re working exclusively for China). Nice for them to have a useful idiot like Justin Webb stumping for them.

Last edited 3 years ago by Daisy D
Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago

It seems to me that the Dems gave up on the ‘deplorables’ because they realized there wasn’t anything they could do for the ‘somewheres’ that wouldn’t conflict with the wants of the ‘anywheres’.
Addressing the issue of “I just want a decent job” will cause all sorts of nasty side effects such as “Sell it here, make it here” and “America first” which means immigration controls and tariffs and we all know the last POTUS that sang that song had orange hair.
Biden thinks he’s throwing these folks a bone by way of a higher minimum wage but proponents of that policy don’t like to talk much about the effects such as businesses will simply hire fewer workers and/or raise their prices so Jack and Jill Deplorable don’t really win in the end.
The wealth distribution advocates just love the ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ but it always ends up as some version of ‘from each according to what we can squeeze out of him, to each according to how best placed he is to the goodies’.

And just a small cultural correction for the author and other non-North Americans.
While the Ford F150 (or any pickup truck) does indeed have an iconic reputation as the hillbilly vehicle of choice, it is more often purchased by middle and high income families sporting the luxury features commonly found in a Lexus or Mercedes. In Canada the F150 has been the best selling vehicle overall – not just best selling truck – for over 40 years.
Sorry, but it had to be said 🙂

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

What’s wrong w/immigration controls?

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

Nothing- if you’re a Somewhere but an absolute xenophobic disaster for globalist Anywheres.

Laurence Morris
Laurence Morris
3 years ago

So Biden doubles the minimum wage. What do you think McDonald’s will do – meekly pay everyone the raise, or flip hamburgers with 4 instead of 6 people, and make the 4 work harder, laying off two. What happens to the two out of work? Mac may get rid of the weaker, say the pregnant woman. Without some form of income support for the poor, raising the minimum wage throws the weakest out of work.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Well, that was a bit condescending. As an aside, the Amazon union decision had a bit of an issue that is pertinent given the presidential election: pro-union people wanted mail-in ballots while the company was pushing for in-person voting. Surprise, surprise; mail-in was deemed okay by the courts and I’ll suggest this makes the outcome almost a foregone conclusion.

kevin austin
kevin austin
3 years ago

As someone who owns an SME in Kensington that is closed until 12 April and has dealt with the corruption of the Banking system in Britain since 2008 ie Andrew Bailey sent us a letter saying BLAH, BLAH when I sent a 100 page Report of a Spanish Bank (BBVA) Knightsbrige that Bankrupted us…
We have been on the FRONT LINE since 2008 and this QE experiment is going to end in tears.

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Joe hidden could not deliver a sandwich onto his plate.
Senior old fool who will be gone soon and then the real president takes over.
Democrats and labour different cheeks of the same bum.
They do not care for the working classes if anything they despise the working classes.
To low brow you see

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I think you project too much!

Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago

As with many things, the extremes of things (the poor and the wealthy) get most of the attention. While that huge middle portion of the population is left to fend for itself! Who, fir example gets the most attention in education? It’s the upper 2% and the lower 2%, classes for the intellectually “gifted” and classes for the intellectually disadvantaged. Biden, I think, is focusing on that big middle section (64%): those who want to work a job that pays enough for workers to buy a house, support their families, and save for retirement. I think that is why he is emphasizing the role of unions. The only way that vast middle portion of workers can stand up to the corporations and the wealthy is through unions and through a government that supports unions and supports laws that prevent offshoring.

Ernest DuBrul
Ernest DuBrul
3 years ago

The problem with a federal minimum wage is that, like all federal giveaways, it is federal, i.e., one-size fits all. The pressure shoiuld be applied to all states to increase their minimum wages to allow the basic necessities of life. The cost of these necessities is substantially different for the Waffle House employees on the different I-95 exits as Mr. Webb travels south from Maine to Florida.
Rural Maine is not Boston which is not New York City which is not suburban Washington DC which is not Charleston and so on to Miami and, then, to the rest of this vast, economically diverse country. Nor do the inhabitants of those areas want to be the same as the inhabitants of other areas. If they did so desire, they would move.
Federal politicians forget this fact. They think we are all one country and should be so treated by them. Their constant attempts to homogenize this country in all things is the root of most of our civic problems.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ernest DuBrul
Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Ernest DuBrul

I hear you, but it’s also not up to States to determine minimum wage (or any wage) It’s best left to employers in a free market to decide what can, and cannot be paid.

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

‘It’s best left to employers in a free market to decide what can, and cannot be paid.’
How can the ‘market’ for labour be free when the employers have all the power? Adam Smith tells us all about this problem.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

Right, they’re “free” to starve or accept gross exploitation.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  robert scheetz

what a shame that no other options exist.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

Competition.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

employers have all the power” – the workers need not work for them. Some employers may pay less than the going rate, but their employees are free to walk for a better job. While company towns may still exist, most places employers pay the going rate. Those workers trapped by poor skills and no education can improve their skills or education.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

How can the ‘market’ for labour be free when the employers have all the power?
Employers still have work that has to be done. Not all of the work requires even levels of skill or experience, and one of the biggest money pits for companies is turnover.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Ernest DuBrul

The pressure shoiuld be applied to all states to increase their minimum wages to allow the basic necessities of life.
It is not the job of the state to allow for necessities, basic or otherwise. It is the job of the state to provide certain services that would be logistically or fiscally impossible for the private sector to perform. Period. Full stop.
I agree that attempts at homogenization are silly, but the idea that every real or perceived problem requires a govt solution is even more silly since the latter carries a far more substantial cost.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
3 years ago

There is a critical need for a legislated link between top salaries and those at the bottom.

While we continue to fall for the same minimum wage smokescreen things will never change.

The reason the politicians perpetuate the myth is they want to maintain the status quo that is feathering their personnel nests already.

We have to link the self serving interests of the upper classes and high earners to the wages of the work forces that actually power and materially deliver them their status and wealth.

Not doing something to correct this huge and still growing imbalance is to support the inexorible creation of the new slave classes, bonded both by debt and by survival servitude to a bleak, embattled and now increasingly shortening life.

G Matthews
G Matthews
3 years ago

I can’t help thinking Justin lives in a fantasy world. In what way is Joe Biden blue collar friendly? Sure, that has been his schtick but the fact is he has never had a job outside politics in his entire life. He spent 8 years as VP shipping jobs to China whilst his son was given 2.8carat diamonds and billions of dollars to manage by Chinese “businessmen”.

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago

Reading the comments, it’s clear that BTL has a much clearer understanding of small business than ATL. For the BBC and Mr Webb, I think there’s an opportunity here to explore what it means to be a small business – something many many people in safe-salary-jobs only understand in a simplistic, cartoonish view.
I think what you’ll find is that money isn’t the only reason for running your own shop. Family. Independence. Pride. Love. Life-balance. Being your own boss. You’d also discover the problem of cash – making payroll when weeks have been bad, people not paying you, burning through savings, inspectors, hassle chasing licences, paperwork on top of your ‘real’ work, getting credit and loans to buy supplies, lack of pensions and financial safety nets. Fear and trepidation when making investments and worry about taking people on, or taking too much on and putting your house and family on the line. Working long hours and forever running just to keep up with the competition, new regulations and to earn the business of new customers. And, if you get it working, choosing whether or not to grow and how to find money to grow and the right people to grow with, or just to attempt to settle doing something you enjoy while the world whirls by around you.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

They will never get it. Pretty writing but what drives the sole trader and family business is something the average BBC writer and social commentator just does not get. My family have been such for generations it is what we are. It is life .

Sauip Leung
Sauip Leung
3 years ago

I am always amazed at how the British chattering classes insist, absolutely insist on being stupid and superficial about America. This article is not worth wasting your time on. Too many words. Too little meaning.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Sauip Leung

It is a type of article intended to get something out for the author, some feeling that has nothing to do with the US. This one has a Waffle House hang-up. It’s a very weird thing to be hung up on. You have to wonder whether the authors of this type of article have ever been anywhere near the US.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  Sauip Leung

He had a career at the BBC, so there were never going to be deep insights …
They can’t even relate to the British people, let alone anyone else.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Barton
Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I would actually say that the overriding message is the same. The majority of people in the UK work to live, they may or may not enjoy what they do but they certainly don’t think they have a career, they have a job – they don’t even want a career, just a decent job. Labour forgets this just as much as the Democrats. As such BLM, gender identity and 99% of what else the chattering classes go on about is totally irrelevant to them and they don’t even listen to it.

Elaine Hunt
Elaine Hunt
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Unfortunately, though, ‘they’ have increasingly fewer options than ‘listening to it’. The broadcast media, most of the print/ internet MSM, manufacturers, supermarkets, their advertising and public relations statements are all pushing the same story, same set of ‘views’.

And recent hate speech legislation is attempting to make expressing any disagreement not merely unpopular ( and thus disadvantageous), but actually illegal.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
3 years ago

I agree with most everything except that the F-150 is a boring vehicle. It does what it is asked to do, perfectly. 90% of the people who own them don’t need either the bulk or the bed; it is an American statement.

willrjones
willrjones
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Donovan

That statement caught me too – the F150 is a big seller and if you go wild with the options list, it can be an expensive truck. It’s also the base of the “boring” Ford F-150 Raptor.
Google tells me that a Vauxhall Corsa is the UK’s best selling car. It looks boring. I’m not sure what special insight it offers into the state of the nation though.

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Donovan

The etiology of this vehicle is similar, cheap & functional, for old-time farmers to what the Beetle was to ’60’s students. But, inevitably, Detroit marketing geniuses co-opted the legend into “burb’n” chic, raised the price and made it dysfunctional -the classic bull with tits. Just another absurd, bourgeois commodity fetish.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
3 years ago

autotrader.com is instructive in the matter of the Ford F-150 Pickup Truck:

“Used 2020 Ford F150 SuperCrew Limited, 6,500 miles. $61,000.”

“Used 2004 Ford F150 XL, 225,000 miles, $10,000”.

Today’s Pickup truck is in no way basic or boing: $61,000 is more than most folks are going to pay for an effete leftie Lexus, or an extended range Tesla Model 3. These late models are also impossible for the average home mechanic to do anything with.

The 2004 model is more likely susceptible to shade tree mechanicery, but still $10,000 is a huge chunk-o-change to pay from your $7-25 per hour burger flipping job.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

There is no $7.25/hr burger-flipping job. They pay more than that. And this idea that people are raising families on minimum wage is fantasy. The small percentage of the labor force earning that is:

  • First-time employees, either students or unskilled labor, neither of which is a permanent condition
  • People who already have a full-time job and are supplementing their income
  • People who live with a full-time earner and are supplementing household income

The idea that millions are raising families on minimum wage is fantasy bordering on sophistry. My kids had typical “kid jobs” growing up and even then, they were paid a bit above the minimum.

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

Before that throwaway line/paragraph, “An F150, by the way, is a basic and rather boring pick up truck”, I had a sense that Justin Webb gets it. Intellectually, he does; but, it’s one word, pickup, and that little sentence suggest some effete disdain for the values of the people he pretends to like. So new liberal of him. Maybe it will protect him from cancellation. Hey, I nitpick – good article.

Last edited 3 years ago by vince porter
Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
3 years ago

I am not sure that $15.- minimum wage will make any difference to these people. $15.- will be worth much less in the coming years after trillions of printed money will be spend by the Biden Admin. on many left wing projects, like the big Green Reset, and only a very small portion will go to the “Deplorable”, who are left behind in the fly-over States.

Last edited 3 years ago by Stephanie Surface
Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

For the reasons you mention and also the difference it will make is that the costs of all commodities, and rent, etc. will rise as a consequence of the new minimum wage. Hiring will most certainly go down. Those most hurt by those increased costs will be minimum wage earners.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 1.6 million workers, or 1.9% of all hourly paid, non-self-employed workers, earned wages at or below the federal minimum wage in 2019. That year, 82.3 million people were paid hourly rates, making up 58.1% of all wage and salary workers in the United States.
The rest of the math is that 41.9% of the workforce was on salary, which is higher than the minimum. And this does not even into who makes that wage. All this puffery for a minute percentage of the workforce, virtually all of whom will advance beyond the minimum.

Last edited 3 years ago by Alex Lekas
Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
3 years ago

“Not because you like them but because you know the Clinton pant-suit brigade don’t. That’s good enough for you.” Spot on! I think this can be equally applied to Brexit. They want us to remain so they must think the EU is good for them and theirs, their friends and peers, and if that’s the case then remaining almost certainly is not good for people like us, so we’ll vote leave.

William Hickey
William Hickey
3 years ago

Well, the GOP, the new “Working Class Party,” is at it again — its stupidest, that is.

“In his CPAC speech last Sunday Donald Trump hit notes he’s hit before…”

“But on the same day as Mr Trump made his speech, Joe Biden released a video with a striking new message. Around 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama are voting on whether to join a union. Mr Biden took the time to support their right to do it.”

Biden and the Democrats, not Trump and the Republicans.

A working class party that doesn’t support unions, especially a union organizing against the owner of the Washington Post, the richest man in the world, a committed progressive and a goddamn book banner, is NOT a working class party.

It’s a talk radio BS party.

The Republicans think they can get by with Culture War issues and unstated white grievance. Try feeding a family on that.

Plus, that approach let’s them keep voting for what their donors want, not what their present snd potential working class voters need.

Even Tucker Carlson falls into the trap. He mentioned that Bessemer, Alabama Amazon union on his program, but only to point out, “Oh look how hypocritical Jeff Bezos is! He’s barring mail-in voting from his union election — Oh, what a double standard!”

As if Jeff Bezos gives a fig for anybody calling him a hypocrite when his interests are involved or that he doesn’t know he has double standards. Could there be a more impotent criticism of a liberal?

What is a local labor union other than exactly what the great conservative Edmund Burke called a “little platoon” of civil society? A place the people organize and run themselves, where they make the decisions, a place where they can go for camaraderie and mutual support, where they are respected as themselves.

Unfortunately, the fops who write about Burke and cite that phrase “the little platoons” all work for non-profit magazines and think tanks and have their nice fat salary checks signed by “conservative” billionaires.

People just like Jeff Bezos.

And that’s why a nitwit like Joe Biden can steal a march on “the new working people’s party” down in Bessemer, Alabama.

Mainstream Republicans want working people to cheer for the GOP as it gives tax breaks and cuts regulations for the very corporations and wealthy people who moved working people’s jobs to China and Mexico.

“Trust them, they really have your best interests at heart.”

Yeah, that’ll work.

No wonder the theme of donor-supported CPAC was a pundit class “issue” like “Cancel Culture,” and not “Immigration,” “The American Family” or ”The War on Whites.”

Jonathan Barker
Jonathan Barker
3 years ago

Never mind of course that although he has recently pretended otherwise the Orange Haired Monstrosity. openly despises such “losers” and has more of less exploited or stiffed all of the common workers and tradesman etc who has ever worked for him.
Never mind too that the Republicans have always opposed or undermined any and every attempt that promotes the health and safety working conditions of the ordinary worker. They have of course always been hostile towards unions.
And as far as I know the war against the common worker began during the Reagan era – see for instance the book The Man Who Sold the World Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America.
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Ronald_Reagan/Man_Who_Sold_World.html

Pamela Dennis
Pamela Dennis
3 years ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G4VGaPTR5s

Thomas Sowell on the minimum wage and the damage it does.

perryforpresident
perryforpresident
3 years ago

I beg to differ. The bottom of the pile is not that far down. I work with disaster survivors. When a disaster hits, owners become renters and renters become homeless. Seniors are especially vulnerable. There have been countless times when I’ve met a previously hard working, contributing Americans sitting in a house with no power or water because their social security check won’t pay for that and food and medicine.
One gentleman woke up every morning and walked to the nearest gas station to clean up and use the toilet. He told me that he was making $800 per month and his expenses, were $900 per month. That was without paying for water, heat, cooling, home insurance or food. He told me his sister “loaned” him that extra $100 per month to cover doctor visits, car insurance and medications. And this was before the disaster.
Afterwards he and many other seniors sit in damaged, moldy, unsafe homes because even with disaster assistance they can’t pay for replacement or even substantial repairs and they can’t sustain a rental agreement expense. They don’t have anywhere else to go.
I’ve seen thousands of disaster survivors of all economic, racial and income levels. Disasters affect low income, non-white Americans disproportionally. They’re in sub-standard housing more likely to be damaged, in communities that are more susceptible (like the Ninth Ward in Katrina) and on property that is dangerous in disasters. (Think floodplains in Harvey and unstable ground prone to liquefaction in earthquake zones like San Francisco)
Millions of people are just one disaster, one accident, one unexpected expense, one illness away from living on the streets. My question is, why do we allow Americans in general and seniors specifically to live in constant fear of dying on the streets in poverty, hunger and homelessness?
And many, many people are loathe to take government assistance in these circumstances. People who’ve worked hard for all they have feel shame at taking “charity”. However the money they receive from places like FEMA is money they’ve spent their entire lives paying in taxes. It’s not government money, it’s their money.
Outside of a cyber attack during the Camp Fire and Hurricane Harvey, I find that fraud is nearly non existent. America is the land of prosperity for a very few. The rest live live on the razor edge of poverty, homelessness and extinction.
Democrats should focus on improving the day to day life of day to day people. Raising the minimum wage, sharing in taxpayer funded health care, increasing social security, funding a national head start program for children and creating affordable, safe and sturdy housing are all programs that meet the most basic needs.
There’s no need for seniors to live in fear of poverty, for children to be hungry or an illness to bankrupt an entire family. And there’s no reason America can’t afford that. We have more wealth in this country than just about any other. It’s time to create an environment in which all Americans can thrive and allow all Americans to live free of fear.

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago

‘Ah, decent money. Not knocking down the civil war statues or changing the names of schools or refighting battles about transgender children winning girls’ races on sports days.’
Why is the one at the expense of the others (which of course Justin is trivialising for effect)? Why are black people and other minorities not as entitled to dignity as much as the majority poor?
And on this issue, the Democrats have not suddenly become converts to the idea of a higher minimum wage. Obama tried to raise it, as did the Democrat-held House of Representatives, but of course they were blocked not by fellow-Democrats but by Republicans.
Trump claimed in 2016 that he wanted to raise it to $10, but guess what? He lied.

Carla
Carla
3 years ago

“According to the think tank The People’s Policy Project, if you took all the wealth in America and divided it up equally per person every family of four would get $1.2 million in the bank and an income of $208,000 a year.”
Mr. Webb, can you point me to the study or report in which this is contained? I’ve been searching the People’s Policy Project and the web, and can’t find it anywhere. Thank you.

John C
John C
3 years ago

Great article. Minor typo with “duel carriageway” at the end though in case you want to amend.

Jonathan Barker
Jonathan Barker
3 years ago

Meanwhile Sonny Perdue who was the Secretary For Agriculture in the Trump (mis)administration famously said Get Big or Get Out (and stop whining).
The process’s that lead to the current situation was described by Wendell Berry in his classic 1977 book The Unsettling of America.
You could therefore say that two essays that Wendell wrote in response to Sept 11 were an extension of the thesis underlying his Unsettling book. namely: Thoughts in the Presence of Fear , and The Idea of a Local Economy both of which were published in the truly conservative (in the real all-inclusive sense of the word) Orion Magazine.
In a culture based on adolescent motive of competitive individualism of which America is the leading edge example everyone inevitably losers, including most/all of the presumed winners. Indeed such an adolescent anti-culture is systematically working to demolish both human culture, and the biosphere too in which we are completely entangled, and upon which we depend for everything.
It could also be said that one of the principal proponents of the themes that Wendell Berry emphasized is Charles Eisenstein – check out his website.

David Otness
David Otness
3 years ago

Some delicious insights here. Thank you.

Ian French
Ian French
3 years ago

This article presents clear picture of what has happened in the US and ( incidentally and to a modified extent) here in the UK. What most Americans have not grasped is the time of their land of endless opportunities ended some decades ago. Just like ours over a century ago. The opportunity of everyman or woman to avail themselves of a haul ass route out of mire has always been open only to a few, like the lottery. That means nothing now for millions whom no longer have opportunity on their doorstep or a sufficient income to subsist from the scraps permitted. Nor does it to pacify them as we witnessed recently. The US from the outside seems a twilight gerrymandered democracy needing a fresh impetus, but with the American mind not open to any alternatives, the future does not look encouraging for an exhausted land.

Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
4 days ago

I have come around to the idea of a “living” minimum wage for people 28 and over, but for young people a high minimum wage makes it hard to lose their work virginity, which is hard to lose and easily regained.

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago

‘Ah, decent money. Not knocking down the civil war statues or changing the names of schools or refighting battles about transgender children winning girls’ races on sports days.’
Why does the one exclude the others (which of course Justin exaggerates for effect)? Are black and other minorities less entitled to dignity than the majority poor?
On this issue, the Democrats are not, as implied, recent converts to the idea of an increased minimum wage. Obama tried to increase it; the Democrat-held House of Representatives tried to increase it. They were not blocked by fellow-Democrats, but by Republicans.
Donald Trump claimed in 2016 that he wanted to increase the minimum wage to $10. Guess what? He lied.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

how did Trump lie? A president cannot unilaterally raise the minimum and the Dems’ primary motivation for raising it is how it impacts union wages, the same constituency Joe shafted with the Keystone cancelation, the same constituency that insists on shuttering schools for as long as possible.

Sidney Eschenbach
Sidney Eschenbach
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

He lied by never actually attempting in any way other than rhetorically, and that in his usually deceitful manner, to make it policy. Democrats have tried consistently to raise the minimum wage, and Republicans have just as consistently tried to stop them. Just a fact.

Daisy D
Daisy D
3 years ago

If you understood basic economics, you’d be grateful to any and all Republicans who’ve blocked federally imposed minimum wage increases.

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

The minimum wage question is one of many that ‘basic economics’ gives the wrong answer to! https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/3/19/18271276/alan-krueger-economist-death-minimum-wage-princeton

Emperor Caligula
Emperor Caligula
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

Linking vox.com as a reference for anything is an insta-fail.

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago

It’s not my fault you’re too lazy to click on the links to the original research.

Kendell Wilson
Kendell Wilson
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

I’m to the left and I’ve got three sites blocked on my computer: HuffPo, Vox, and Buzzfeed. the first two because their bias is just too strong for them to be reliable (Buzzfeed, because Buzzfeed).

linking to an article in lieu of presenting an argument is what’s lazy. particularly when when you haven’t bothered to find a moderately unbiased source.

allsides.com

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Kendell Wilson

You want the argument spelled out? OK. The empirical evidence (to which there are links in that piece) does not support the lazy assumption that minimum wages reduce employment.

gdewan
gdewan
3 years ago
Reply to  Daisy D

Yes. Thank you any and all Republicans.
Let’s bring back slavery.
Lowest wages. Full employment!
Make America Great Again

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

How did Trump lie? He opened his mouth! Did he try to enact this at any time? Did he even mention it after he was elected?