The Bush years, I suspect, will be studied by historians for a long time. It’s not that Bush was all that interesting. It’s that he and his band of neoconservative fanatics sent so many people into a permanent state of insanity. Most of the old paleos went nuts over the war mongering. Many eventually embraced the weird anti-Israel paranoia that used to be the private domain of the Lyndon LaRouche followers. The Left, of course, was taken over by the Cult of Modern Liberalism. I tend to think the collapse of the Old Right open the door for this new Rousseau-ist religion we call liberalism in America, but that’s a topic for another day.
There were minor figures who also went bonkers. Rod Dreher was a conventional Catholic Conservative in the Sam Francis vein. Then he started getting squirrelly, writing about “crunchy-cons” and then he wandered off to find himself. His work today has all the hallmarks of a man who was defined by his faith and then lost his faith. There’s a maudlin obsession with suffering. The source story is here. My bullshit meter is at eleven on this one. Poor people don’t write books, even in England. A little google work and I see it is a hoax.
The fact is we have four types of poor people in America. The first and most common is the dependency class. Unless you’re like me, these are the folks you never see. They live in the bad areas or what you assume to be bad areas. In the ghetto, the women get on the dole and the men sell drugs, get high and get in trouble. There are some of the other type of ghetto dweller. This is the working poor. These people have jobs and try to live decent lives. Ferguson Missouri was full of this sort until the liberals moved a section of the St. Louis ghetto to Ferguson.
Then you have the temporary poor. These are young people starting out and divorced mothers trying to bounce back. The former often made some poor early choices and are struggling to recover. They do and it builds character. The latter are women who end up divorced with kids and living in an apartment. Again, it is temporary. Eventually their salary rises and the kids move on or they find a new man. The thing with this group is they just don’t have money. That’s different than poverty, which has a behavior component. Give these people more money and they put it away for a rainy day. Give the ghetto dweller more money and they blow it on drugs.
The final category of poor people are the imaginary ones. These are the poor the SWPL-types like Rod Dreher read about or see on TV. The imaginary poor are designed to elicit feelings of pity followed by an urge to “get involved.” The tale offered up by Linda Tirado, for example. hits all the current fads in SWPL-ville. She smokes and eats junk food. SWPL’s are big into self-denial. She prefers abortion to motherhood, but the closest abortion mill is too far away so she has kids she does not want. The whole point of the thing is to function as a morality play for the types of people who think religion is for losers.
This weird form of Mercerism would be harmless if not for the fact public policy is all geared toward helping the imaginary and temporary poor. Rod Dreher spends hours coming up with ideas to do something about the imaginary poor. Democrats in Washington are always championing polices to help the temporary poor, but end up writing laws for the imaginary poor, cause that’s where the emotion lies. It is why Mao packed off the intellectuals for the rice paddy. Not only did it feel good to see these barnacles humiliated, there was some hope they would learn something useful about the people.