25 May 2016

Are Ill Adapted "Brutes" Driving Current Events?

Tyler Cohen has an interestingly posed hypothesis (emphasis in the original):
Donald Trump may get the nuclear suitcase, a cranky “park bench” socialist took Hillary Clinton to the wire, many countries are becoming less free, and the neo-Nazi party came very close to assuming power in Austria. I could list more such events.

Haven’t you, like I, wondered what is up? What the hell is going on?

I don’t know, but let me tell you my (highly uncertain) default hypothesis. I don’t see decisive evidence for it, but it is a kind of “first blast” attempt to fit the basic facts while remaining within the realm of reason.

The contemporary world is not very well built for a large chunk of males. The nature of current service jobs, coddled class time and homework-intensive schooling, a feminized culture allergic to most forms of violence, post-feminist gender relations, and egalitarian semi-cosmopolitanism just don’t sit well with many…what shall I call them? Brutes?

Quite simply, there are many people who don’t like it when the world becomes nicer. They do less well with nice. And they respond by in turn behaving less nicely, if only in their voting behavior and perhaps their internet harassment as well.
His post continues to explore the idea at greater length.

The short response is that I think he is onto something.  In particular, the decline of marriage among working class whites is primarily driven by the stagnant state of blue collar men relative to the rising prospects of women of the same social class. And, it is likewise true that lots of legal changes to penalize what was once acceptable behavior for these men have taken effect in the last generation or two.

They may not be right that immigration and international is taking away their jobs, but the connection is not an irrational one to make.  Both Sanders on the left and Trump on the right are decidedly anti-trade for that reason.

Of course, neither Tyler Cohen nor I can point to easy solutions as there have been good reasons for many of these changes.

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