The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

Full Circle – Unemployment in the US and the Tea Party or Angry White Men

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on May 6, 2010

Again, another plug for NPR and their insightful reporting.  It is their ability to connect the dots that is admirable, and to connect the dots in a logical, and  not a conspiracy theory angle, it is their objectivity that is so very valuable.  I, obviously am quite fascinated with the rise of the Tea Party, and their philosophies.

So here’s the story:


The pain of current unemployment rates has been keenly felt by the white working class, where men in particular have seen long-term jobs turn into long-term joblessness. It’s a trend that hit black working-class men 30 years ago with the decline of the industrial economy, and the effects it had on families and neighborhoods then are happening again.

WILLIAMS: Well, if you look back to the end of the 1970s, start of the 1980s, it’s black men. Black men went through a period in which they saw a historic leap in terms of unemployment rates, especially older black men who were up then – you know, by about ’83 – to about 12 percent, 13 percent unemployment.

And that’s also the period when you saw a tremendous expansion in terms of young black men experiencing record levels of unemployment. This was during the course of that recession.

INSKEEP: Let’s remember that historic period of time. There’d been the civil rights movement. There’d been improvement – there’d been a spread, rather, of union activity. There were a lot of blue collar jobs for African-Americans for a while. And these are the jobs – manufacturing jobs that went away as the economy shifted drastically in the early ’80s, right?

WILLIAMS: Exactly, right. I think, you know, if you wanted a – sort of an icon at this moment, I think people might think of Michelle Obama’s dad, you know, as someone who was working in a boiler room in Chicago. Hardworking guy, able to support his family, able to be a good dad, able to send his children to school.

That moment, in terms of black American life, is something that I heard about in a recent conversation with a top White House official, who was saying, you know, you look at that period and that you can trace, then, to the development in terms of not only high unemployment but out-of-wedlock births, absent dads, crime, drugs, deterioration of so many communities.

NSKEEP: I feel like you’re telling me the back story of a lot of the news stories that I remember for the last 25 years, when you talk about higher crime and rising single motherhood and so forth.

So now you’re focusing on white men, one of the groups here that seems to be going through a similar retrenchment. Serious, serious suffering, loss of manufacturing jobs. What are some of the possible effects of that?

WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, the effects now – and I think this is what the White House is picking on – the effects are quite similar in terms of increasing rates of out-of-wedlock births among white men, increasing rates of absent dads, lower marriage rates and the consequence it has for family formation.

This is a moment when all of a sudden, you see white men, who experienced half of all the job losses since ’07 the country’s lost 8 million jobs, half among white men. And when you think about blue collar white men, in specific, blue collar white men, who are about 11 percent of the workforce, lost over 36 percent of all the jobs.

So when you add that to the idea of the average length of unemployment now, being at a historic high – more than 31 weeks – what you’re seeing is white men going through something very similar to what black men went through a long time ago, and it having the same consequential effect on sociological issues – and, I might add, on politics.

INSKEEP: Well, let’s talk about the politics. What are some of the political effects, as best you can judge them?

WILLIAMS: Well, if you stop – you know, take something like the Tea Party movement in this country right now. There’s a lot of anger at Wall Street bailouts, at stimulus packages that did more about public sector unemployment than private sector unemployment – specifically, manufacturing and construction, where these men lost so many of their jobs.

But in a recent New York Times poll about the Tea Party, for example, it said two-thirds of the men who identified as members of the Tea Party – of the people, I should say – who identify as members of the Tea Party, said that the recession had caused them a hardship or a major change of life. And 41 percent of white men, remember, voted for President Obama in ’08. Now, his approval rating among white men is down in the mid-30s.

And those are people who say they are now less likely to vote for Democrats in the fall. So part of this, I think, is tied into what we see going on in terms of American politics – people who feel that this administration may be looking out for Wall Street, may be looking out for the poor or immigrants in terms of health-care reform, but not looking out for them.

INSKEEP: Juan, thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: You’re welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That’s NPR news analyst Juan Williams.

That was a tremendously crippling period for black American men – and one that they really haven’t recovered from even as we go forward because, you know, black unemployment remains very high right now.

Then I went and dug up the Gallup Poll Results:


4 Responses to “Full Circle – Unemployment in the US and the Tea Party or Angry White Men”

  1. hoboduke said

    What does it mean “connecting the dots”? Don’t know what dots and what’s connecting, but I do know that the young well educated graduates seeking employment have a much higher unemployment percentage compared to grumpy old white TEA people. About 19% of those under 25 are looking to get a paycheck, especially after building up some debt trying to get ahead in life. Nobody in the current administration really cares about this, since preoccupied with distracting us to import more illegal alien slave labor, since there are no AfroAmerican slaves anymore we need Hispanic slaves to be used, abused, and make the rich richer by using illegals.

    • Thanks for your comment, I think connecting the dots in this context is about when people feel “disenfranchised”, power-less as it were they unite: it is human nature, not a racial thing, just the nature of human beings… and when you feel threatened you seek others who are in your position. Then looking at the demographics of the Tea Party, it made sense to me.. And yes, I also agree and understand that the youth have and are suffering greatly in this economic downturn. just like they did in the early 80’s – I was part of it. I don’t think you can say this “administration” doesn’t care – and I know everybody is tired of hearing blame it on Bush, but this is not a problem that happened when Obama took over, it was a long time in the making, and it was significant, unprecedented.
      On a related point – this is something I notice from my own family, I have a niece who is in debt to her ears with school loans, a zoologist…well that is a really cool degree, and she wants to run the San Diego zoo, well that’s a really cool goal, but guess what she doesn’t have the experience, and she is refusing to taking a job not in her field. It’s called paying your dues, it is called surviving, and there are times in life, when you don’t always get what you want or what you deserve, but you need to suck it up and get on with life. I understand her frustration, I was there once upon a time, but what I am seeing from the youth is a sense of entitlement, and we come into this world naked and we leave naked, anything in between is a combination of persistence and sweat. I didn’t think it was real cool when I got my degree and couldn’t find a job and ended up waiting on tables, but you know what? I did it, and I got into the field I wanted.
      With regards to illegal alien slave labor….I wonder if my niece would take a job in agriculture? Probably not, hard work, those with college degrees don’t have to get their hands dirty right?

  2. hoboduke said

    My question on dots is telling me you are approaching antiquity since nobody born in the last 35 years ever saw the old newspaper connect the dots puzzles. Not much of a puzzle, but it killed time in mindless doodling.
    Some people adapt to get ahead, and some choose to wait for their ship to come in (even if it turns out to be the Valdez). I believe in adapting since I never ever went on welfare in spite of some really lousy job markets.
    I can track a lot of our problems back to President Harding, but who cares. The President has to act now, not explain to us why nothing can be done since it happened before he came on board. With that approach, you have a preexisting condition so I as I doctor can only treat new problems. You have to take your old problem to your old doctor. New President loves doctor coats when making political theater on health care. I prefer nurses over doctors, but to each their own.

    • Antiquity has it benefits..lol! and I am the first to say there is a huge amountf of freedom that comes with age, and you learn to trust your instincts.
      This economic problem is unprecedented, and its reach is literally global, there is no gamebook for this. It must also be acknowledged that economics is an art, not all science. Alan Greenspan, called the Oracle…who let’s face it was the most powerful man on the planet, he was the one controlling the monetary policy admitted there was a flaw in his model.
      Progress is being made, the numbers are encouraging, but one of the most elusive numbers is consumer confidence, the art part of equation, a big part of the equation. Of all the things we cannot accurately model or interpret is human behavior. With groups like the Tea Party instilling fear into the public, even if you are not “one of them” you can’t help but hear the rhetoric, and that isn’t going to boost confidence.
      So back to your analogy of the Dr., your condition has never been seen before, there is no diagnosis, it doesn’t exit, sometimes the best we can do is treat the symptoms and ease the immediate discomfort.
      Nobody needs to paint a rosy picture, and I think Obama is painting a realistic picture, it is a slow steady recovery, with a long way to go. Part of the problem is we are a nation of instant gratification, i.e. I have my degree now I should be making $250,000 a year in my dream job, right? right? We can’t sit and digest a news event unless it is given to us in less than 3 minutes. We have made it ok to charge now and pay later. We had alot of folks who just plain couldn’t afford that home they bought, but they sure wanted it, so they bought it something they were not qualified to buy. So now we have the Republicans who say the debt is too much, what is the alternative? Let it all go down? All of a sudden debt is a problem for Republican who were ok with funding two unfunded wars. One of the worst things history shows us from the Great Depression is that not enough money was being thrown at the problem, ultimately we had that 100% employment thanks to WWII. Government is the spender of last resort.

      We are all great Monday morning quarterbacks, but Monday morning is a long way off….until then call your nurse….

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