Lion of the Blogosphere

Murray on Trump in the WSJ

Charles Murray’s Saturday essay in today’s Wall Street Journal is a must-read article for my blog readers (given Murray’s prominence in the HBD world).

Murray points out in the essay that the working class has been screwed, but he really means that the white male white working class has been screwed. The black working class has improved because of affirmative action everywhere, and the female working class has improved because of changing social values and liberal Democrats who have been very supportive of women, sometimes at the expense of men.

Murray mentions that “American corporations exported millions of manufacturing jobs, which were among the best-paying working-class jobs,” but fails to explain that the reason they paid well is because they were unionized. Lower wages for the working class today is partially explained by success of big corporate employers (helped by Republicans) in preventing unionization of the service industries. Bernie Sanders is more right about this than any Republican.

Murray is weak on economics but he is strong when writing about the social class differences between the upper class and the working class.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Bobos, Economics, Politics

53 Responses

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  1. His analysis would be more interesting if Trump truly were a politician of the lower/working class. But he’s not. He’s popular across all classes, and not more popular with the lower class.

    Pundits are grasping to explain Trump. He’s racist, he’s a populist for the ignorant mob, he’s just a celebrity. None of those are it. Trump is popular because he is saying things that people believe. Murray can’t accept that, and blames NAFTA and lower class economic problems. But this just doesn’t explain Trump’s middle/upper class appeal.

    anonymousse

    anonymousse

    February 13, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    • What middle/upper class appeal?

      Lloyd Llewellyn

      February 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    • “[Trump’s] popular across all classes, and not more popular with the lower class.”

      Not entirely true. In the New Hampshire primary he did poll better among those without college degrees vs. college grads. But among those with college degrees, he was still first.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/elections/2016/primaries/republican/new-hampshire/exit/

      anon

      February 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm

  2. “and the female working class has improved because of changing social values and liberal Democrats who have been very supportive of women, sometimes at the expense of men.”

    Female happiness is going down and like a quarter are on anti-depressants. Women have only have been “doing better” if you judge them by male standards like how much money they make. But liberalism has not been good to women.

    Hepp

    February 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm

  3. Not sure if the WSJ piece is shorter than this:

    http://www.aei.org/publication/trumps-america/

    gothamette

    February 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm

  4. “Murray mentions that “American corporations exported millions of manufacturing jobs, which were among the best-paying working-class jobs,” but fails to explain that the reason they paid well is because they were unionized.”

    Time frame: when people talk about this, they are talking about decades of decline, ie, since the 70’s basically.

    But here’s the thing: the fact is that after WW 2, US was the only first world economic power, since all other first world economies have been destroyed or heavily damaged. (Germany, France, Japan, UK) Well, ofc that US was doing great after WW 2 in manufacturing since US had no competition. Things have gradually changed. Over the years, economies have been rebuilt, and new economies emerged. (more European power houses, and more recently BRICS — Brasil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and also Asian Tigers — Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan) More emerging economies are also coming online and they are willing to work for less. This is during a time where there’s more and more inter-connectivity. On research it used to be the case that researchers would collaborate thru snail mail. Now, they can just skype. Transportation is way cheaper too.

    With all these factors, there’s no wonder that manufacturing jobs don’t pay as much — it’s just market forces and environment. The unionization changes are a red herring. In fact I’d go as far as saying that the changes in unionization are not political, but rather driven by market forces too. In this environment, the workforce has less leverage, which makes it harder to unionize. Unionization works best when the workforce has lots of leverage. But that don’t happen anymore, since the margins are smaller in US and businesses can move overseas easily.

    Zack

    February 13, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    • There’s nothing inherent about a manufacturing job that causes it to pay a higher salary than a service sector job. It’s unions. Plus it’s competition from low-wage countries, immigrants, women entering the workforce, but it’s also unions.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      February 13, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      • Part of the reason manufacturing jobs paid more is they were unpleasant and sometime dangerous. The environment is noisy, either hot or cold, with machinery that will hurt you if you aren’t careful, and constant pressure to work fast. And repetitive, monotonous and boring as hell. They either have to pay a premium if people have other options or go places where people don’t have other options.

        Thrasymachus

        February 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      • That can’t be right because service sector jobs are also unionized – especially government employees.

        Tarl

        February 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      • Competition is also coming from the people who would work in manufacturing before, so all the sectors are connected.

        Also, with service jobs things are clear: there are a lot of illegals working there which drives wages down. They also avoid paying taxes. Which waiter declares all his tips in the tax return?

        In the public sector more people are covered by public unions, which now became political (donations, rallies, PACs, straight up bullying people to vote their way), yet, we get less. Education is worse. In NY, NJ, CT a student (grade 1-12) costs taxpayers 20k per each year. Sorry, in a world where a lot of the education can be made more efficient (just look at Khan’s Academy), I think the costs should go down, not up.

        Zack

        February 14, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    • But those destroyed economies also had low demand in addition to low supply. If we were exporting massive amounts to the rest of the world while also being the world’s only supplier that would be unreproducable. But practicing a form of autarky with very little international trade is still a viable option.

      Also you totally ignore the effect of tariffs, currency manipulation, and other policies on trade. Just like immigration is falsely presented as a totally uncontrollable inevitable force that we’re powerless to stop you and other proponents of free trade do the same thing. Immigration and free trade are both choices.

      Lloyd Llewellyn

      February 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    • “But here’s the thing: the fact is that after WW 2, US was the only first world economic power, since all other first world economies have been destroyed or heavily damaged.”

      This standard line needs to go because it’s not the correct explanation. America exports *MORE* as a percentage of its GDP than it did in the post-War decades, so it was not a function of the rest of the world having to buy from us that enabled the large, equally-shared growth of the 50s and 60s — because the world buys MORE from us today than they did then. Further, ALL of the developed countries experienced the same thing — large, equal growth in the post-War decades. Western Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan. It was NOT a uniquely American phenomenon that happened because of America’s unique post-War position in the world. It happened EVERYWHERE, and it was largely because of labor unions. Low immigration and no options for outsourcing helped too, but unions were crucial.

      chairman

      February 13, 2016 at 6:39 pm

  5. It’s a Fail article.

    All articles that explain Trump and don’t mention the I-word, immigration, are fail articles.

    Everybody involved with that 2013 amnesty attempt needs to be run out of town.

    Rotten

    February 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    • He mentions immigration/immigrants like 4 times.

      Lamb

      February 13, 2016 at 5:46 pm

  6. Re the unions: what Lion says is true, but the unions played a large (if not the largest) part in their own demise by becoming bureaucratic avarice machines that drove the employers south to the right to work states and ultimately even farther south to Mexico, and west to Asia.

    Two in the Bush

    February 13, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    • I’m sure unions have done some reprehensible things but refusing to play along in a race to the bottom with regards to wages is not one of them.

      Lloyd Llewellyn

      February 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    • Employers left because they wanted to pay lower wages. Every union in the country could have been a shining example of moral virtue and it still would have happened. Plenty of unions were corrupt but so are plenty of corporations so I don’t see the idea of unions deserving their decline because they were corrupt as at all compelling.

      chairman

      February 13, 2016 at 6:40 pm

  7. Carrier manufacturing just announced they are closing a plant and moving it to Mexico, ending 1,400 American jobs. And in the same day they announced they were closing ANOTHER plant, killing 700 jobs, also going to Mexico.

    Trump should be blasting away at this.

    peterike

    February 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    • No. Carrier makes excellent products but they are too expensive. I can’t sell their units to my customers because the cost is prohibitive. They have to cut costs.

      As far as unions are concerned, I think everyone knows the joke of how many union workers it takes to change a light bulb.

      I’m for workers rights but also for workers obligations. Unions make workers lazy. I’ve never heard them talking about workers’ obligations, just demanding to get more compensation for less work. I don’t think unions in their present form are a good thing.
      I think a good union should expelled all lazy workers and make sure that it’s members are responsible and are on a high professional level. Maybe some do, I just don’t know. Also, they shouldn’t drive businesses into the ground with their ridiculous demands. Also, they have all these ridiculous seniority and pay scale rules. This is completely anti-American. Talented workers should be able to reach the top based on their ability without waiting for seniority. Again, I don’t know much about them, but this is what I’ve heard.

      Yakov

      February 13, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      • @Yakov: I agree w/ what you say about unions’ failings. In some cases union members have let their unions kill their bread & butter and put them permanently out of work. I remember the severe labor strife at Pan American World Airways in 1990-91, especially at their Miami headquarters. The union’s demands, with the members’ full support, put them out of business. Now, every few years, the Miami media does a “where are the now profile” on several of the former PanAm workers – machinists, flight attendants, etc. These schmoes never got back on their feet and never made half of what they made as union members at PanAm.

        Talented workers should be able to reach the top based on their ability without waiting for seniority.

        Well, they can, just not at a unionized employer.

        E. Rekshun

        February 14, 2016 at 5:58 am

      • The problem is that unions are too small. This causes them to focus on small gains for themselves, instead of seeing the bigger picture.
        If the Union was the Union of the entire manufacturing workers in the U.S, it would be worried about setting wages at a competable level, not just taking a bigger slice of the pie.

        Yoav

        February 15, 2016 at 9:37 am

  8. Why would unionization safeguard against offshoring? That’s what makes offshoring even more effective.

    Kaz

    February 13, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    • If you have a powerful enough union it can actually shape the executive culture. In many other advanced democracies a certain number of seats on corporate boards are filled by representatives selected by the workers.

      In a really healthy corporate culture companies would recognize that it’s so much cheaper to build the plant abroad, recognize that while it’s good for individual companies to do that it’s terrible for the country for large numbers of companies to, and petition the government to enact a trade policy where importing from overseas no longer makes economic sense.

      Lloyd Llewellyn

      February 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    • Unions also gain considerable political clout through $$ donations and use this to pressure politicians to block offshoring. See Walker, Scott.

      Also, Unions are able to extract long contracts from companies for 10-15 year periods so no offshoring can happen until those contracts end.

      Camlost

      February 13, 2016 at 6:05 pm

  9. Don’t forget that those AA jobs are often themselves unionized, I.e. in the public sector, so that lots of blacks are positively rich in comparison with working class whites.

    Mort

    February 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm

  10. Murray is weak on economics but he is strong when writing about the social class differences between the upper class and the working class.

    He needs to team up with you to provide economic input in his next book.

    Camlost

    February 13, 2016 at 4:58 pm

  11. And whatever new manfacturing jobs are created are now moving to the South to avoid unions and high regulations elsewhere.

    There’s also a building trend to reshore some manufacturing back to the US. At this time it’s only a trickle, but it is growing and should continue. Also, there’s a minor trend building to reshore tech jobs from India back to rural USA college towns where salaries and operating costs are lower. Hopefully that grows continues, as well.

    Camlost

    February 13, 2016 at 5:12 pm

  12. Scalia’s dead

    IHTG

    February 13, 2016 at 5:12 pm

  13. Blacks are more likely to be working class than whites. So anti working class is inherently more anti black than anti white. It’s true that has been offset by other pro black and anti white policies. But you also shouldn’t assume that anything pushed by the civil rights movement is actually pro black.

    Lloyd Llewellyn

    February 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm

  14. Lower wages for the working class today is partially explained by success of big corporate employers (helped by Republicans) in preventing unionization of the service industries.

    It’s also partly explained by the lower margins of most service industries. Non-union manufacturers (like foreign-owned auto plants in the US) generally pay more than retail jobs (with the exception of high-end retail sales at places like Nordstrom).

    Dave Pinsen

    February 13, 2016 at 5:29 pm

  15. OT: LA Times, 02/13/16 – Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died

    http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-antonin-scalia-20160213-story.html

    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the fiery conservative who used a sharp intellect, barbed wit and a zeal for verbal combat to fight against the tide of modern liberalism, has died. He was 79. Scalia died while on a hunting trip in Texas…

    E. Rekshun

    February 13, 2016 at 5:29 pm

  16. Lion, this is an incorrect analysis. It is not the unions that lead to higher wages. It is tight labor markets that do so. In fact, you need tight labor markets to make unions possible. The tighter the labor market, the more effective the union policy of a “closed shop” becomes. The tighter labor market means there are fewer people to hire as scab laborers in an attempt to undercut the union, since the union attempts to separate the business from access to the labor market.

    More importantly, tighter labor markets mean far fewer people are available to notice the “closed shop” policy of the unions to begin with. They are too busy with their own good jobs and upward mobility to care how others in the union orbit are doing.

    In loose labor markets, either created by immigration, off-shore outsourcing or the civil rights movement, union power drops as companies gain more leverage from hiring scab labor, either here or abroad. Greater numbers of unemployed Americans also turn against unions when the closed shop prevents them from getting hired. As the economy worsens, look toward harder attacks on government employees.

    Finally, union leadership became infested with communists, who used the rank-and-file dummy union workers to make political statements on behalf of communism rather than helping their workers maintain their advantages. This accelerated the decline of the private-sector union.

    map

    February 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm

  17. I see that Scalia just died (via the article above). Too bad, he was one of the good ones.

    Glengarry

    February 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm

  18. “The black working class has improved because of affirmative action everywhere”

    Is this even true? Black unemployment is spectacularly high and has increased under Obummer.

    “female working class has improved because of changing social values and liberal Democrats who have been very supportive of women, sometimes at the expense of men.”

    Leaving aside the question of whether it “improves” the lives of women to have a job that barely (if at all) covers the cost of day care… another source of “improvement” is the increasing number of women in government jobs and private sector roles in diversity, HR, etc., that writ large are a drag on the economy.

    Tarl

    February 13, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    • Blacks are doing horribly, as are working class white women. This is provable fact, not opinion.

      Murray’s article was OK but he hates Trump. He says so on his twitter account all the time. The article is written from the perspective of a lordly chastisement to the upper classes, not someone who truly identifies with the downtrodden.

      gothamette

      February 13, 2016 at 6:08 pm

  19. ^ Re the death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia while hunting – I would guess that most types of hunting is prole. Perhaps, fox and quail hunting; big game hunting in Africa; and bow hunting is not prole.

    E. Rekshun

    February 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    • Correct. My grandfather was bonafide upper class and enjoyed African safaris to hunt leopards, rhinos, cheetahs, etc. Canadian and Alaskan shoots for elk, caribou or musk ox are also very “upper”. Shooting waterfowl such as pheasants, geese and quail or foxhunting on horseback is inherently aristocratic. Anything that your typical American rednecks hunt such as deer, rabbits or wild boar is considered prole.

      B.T.D.T.

      February 13, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      • All forms of hunting are cool and useful.

        Nobody hunts rabbit unless it is for food or practice, like teaching a child to shoot live game with a .22LR.

        Deer hunting is necessary because deer are pests. They have no natural enemies. If their populations are not culled, then they will strip the local flora and starve. A large buck can also be dangerous to people and deer will approach people if they get hungry (they can be attracted to food in children’s lunchboxes.)

        Wild Boar is also a pest and an incredibly powerful and dangerous animal. This is the manliest form of hunting where you can be killed.

        Big game hunting is very useful for local economies and preserving a habitat. Without safaris, a source of cash for local economies dries up.

        map

        February 13, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      • Proles hunt for food, which is good. They eat what they kill, which is healthy. Aristocrats kill innocent rhinos and lions and giraffes for what? This, I think, is very bad, because they kill for no reason. They are phonies and need to be put to work for a living. I worked for a guy in IT and that sob killed 500 ground hogs in one day, or that’s what he said. These are bad people. Just think about it, say a hippo is chilling in mud on a hot day and some dandy just pumps a bunch of bullets into him. Why?

        Yakov

        February 13, 2016 at 7:32 pm

      • Hunting is prole, regardless of location, such as an exotic locale in Africa, the Northern Colder reaches, or in your own backyard.

        JS

        February 14, 2016 at 10:25 am

    • bow hunting is not prole.

      Um, dude, you clearly have NO experience with the hunting or redneck community!

      Don’t take me to be slamming hunting (or proles) – I participate in and endorse it heartily. It teaches outdoors skills, self-sufficiency, and respect for past ways of life. But bowhunters are extremely prole.

      By the bye, hunting is another example, like military service, of something that today is usually regarded as prole, but shouldn’t be. Aristocratic, worthy men SHOULD want to hunt and slay dangerous wild beasts.

      Samson

      February 14, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      • What’s so great in killing an animal with modern weapons? Aristocrats should be put to work. It’s better for the animals.

        Yakov

        February 15, 2016 at 5:50 am

  20. According to CNN Bernie’s now running South Carolina ads featuring Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson.

    Camlost

    February 13, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  21. Obama nominates Godwin Liu or Cass Sunstein, he’s got nothing to lose now and he didn’t achieve his goal of federalizing all aspects of American life.

    Camlost

    February 13, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    • “Obama nominates Godwin Liu or Cass Sunstein …”

      LOL

      I first read this as GORDON Liu (of 36th Chamber fame).

      I’d like to see him on the Supreme Court.

      Robert the Wise

      February 17, 2016 at 9:28 pm

  22. Very interesting article. I’m kind of amazed that no one has pointed out this relatively obvious stuff before. I don’t understand why that is. It’s too much fun calling people xenophobes I guess?

    I’m dying to see the debate between Trump and Bernie/Hillary. He’s the person telling us the Emperor has no clothes. Amazing.

    ModernReader

    February 13, 2016 at 7:37 pm

  23. The Republican party tells it’s followers – if you are out of a job, or underemployed, it’s all on you. (As they import millions of lower wage workers and export millions of jobs.) It’s your fault. I will do nothing for you, except try to outlaw abortion and let you keep your guns and start wars for the hell of it.

    How they get *any* votes is beyond me. Absolutely astounding.

    ModernReader

    February 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm

  24. The main reason US companies leave is state inventory and similar taxes have gone crazy. Federal policy has nothing to do with this.

    Robert

    February 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm

  25. I think IT and engineering would be better careers if they were unionized.

    E. Rekshun

    February 14, 2016 at 6:06 am

  26. I like Murray and his courage should never be questioned. But I also think he stopped evolving as a thinker about 10 years ago. He’s basicly a mainstream libertarian of the Cato type.

    Murray’s opposition to Trump is also a bit petty. If he really doesn’t like populism, why did he support Sarah Palin as VP? Murray is put off by Trump as a person and puts that above Trump’s legit issues.

    Trump is also a huge danger to the AEI worldview, where Murray works. I guess all of Murray colleagues hate Trump. Murray couldn’t like him even if he wanted to.

    maciano

    February 14, 2016 at 8:38 am

  27. Given Murray’s research over the years, you would think that he would be on the Trump train. Instead, he despises him. I wonder who Murray’s candidate is?

    Mike Street Station

    February 14, 2016 at 9:28 am


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