Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Listen, liberal


I just finished Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank, which I loved and think should be essential reading for everyone wondering how the 2016 election came out as it did. The Democratic Party, Democratic voters and the various unaffiliated liberals who don't declare as Democrats, but vote as Democrats, should all be looking very seriously at the concerns Frank raises in the book.

Mind you, they won't. We won't.

A lot of desperate work will be put forth to find the most "electable" candidate. Everyone will be pressured to rally around whoever they are, because "Look, how electable they are" and, as I say in Dear political parties, that person will lose, as every "electable" candidate of my lifetime has. I'm pretty convinced of this, unfortunately. Democrats love telling people how "electable" their candidates are more than any other group.

Frank's basic premise is that the Democratic Party is hopelessly enamored of people from the professional class, the Top 10%, as he notes. This explains their continuing - even growing - trust in Wall Street, against all evidence, as well as their ceaseless commitment to consensus and bipartisanship beyond anything resembling reason, "If we could only just get all of these well-educated experts in the same room, of course we can find a way that everyone can work with..."

It's not just the powerful left, of course. In the face of Hillary Clinton's defeat, my social media was cluttered well-educated liberals insisting that we had failed the Fourth Estate by not paying for our news media in the Internet age and that was what went wrong. No consideration was made for the failings of the news media that had contributed to their lowering in the public's esteem and assisted in their downfall, or the fact that many of those same failings seem to be as strong - or stronger - than they were before their fall. As with the powerful, it's not that they have a point without a basic value, but that it's so strongly committed to the notion of expertise saving us that it dismisses the many failings of experts to background noise, minor issues that will be solved naturally if only we return them to their proper place.

It's not that consulting for expertise is the wrong way to go. For most people, if their car is not functioning properly, they go to a mechanic, who is more knowledgeable about the workings of an automobile. Most of us, however, proceed with a level of skepticism. We know that a certain percentage of mechanics are dishonest, others are lazy or incompetent, despite their credentials, and try to take reasonable steps to allay those concerns, whether consulting friends or the Internet for details about the expert or getting a second opinion from another mechanic.

The Left seems to have little to no course correction on this. The seemingly obvious way to deal with that in terms of the news media is to consume them omnivorously and try to make sense of their balance or the consensus they draw, although this is definitely not enough in many cases, although the correction isn't necessarily clear. As execution seems an excessively harsh step, I suspect "economists" are a class of "expert" whose vast and consistent failing should simply lead to their dismissal as a expert class entirely.

Mind you, I have concerns about some of what Frank says. He comes across as knee-jerk against many innovations and steps toward globalization that I feel are more complicated than he allows, but in service against the unblinking support they get from nearly all powerful Democrats, it's understandable.

I suspect a whole book could be written on the obsession with education, especially higher education, on the left, and the many flaws it has, at least as the panacea they make it out to be. This is, of course, especially true of Bernie Sanders, who I supported and would support again. I generally agree with giving wider access to higher education, but part of the problem we see today is that having a degree is not nearly as strong a gateway to success that it once was. Giving broader access to higher education seems most likely to only increase the sum total of educated people without jobs, especially in the absence of other solutions to where the jobs for more educated people will come from.

Frankly, the fact that automation is reducing the number of total number of jobs and that it will only continue to, perhaps, per Moore's Law, that increase automated job losses will be exponential at some point. The crisis caused by that radical drop in potential employment might be the only hope we have that anyone will even bring this concern to the table for public discussion, as the only place I'm seeing it raised is the otherwise unremarkable Death Race 2050.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Google Analytics