Friday, May 29, 2009

So who is getting the axe?

This is Waleed Aly writing in the Melbourne Age a few months ago:

In a financial crisis the axe falls on those who have played the least part in its creation - women and migrants.

No clear, consistent ideological principle seems to explain this, which suggests it has just as much to do with the differing values we assign to people.

It is difficult to resist the suspicion that the key determinant of winners and losers in this crisis will not simply be sound policy. It will be social policy.

Waleed Aly's argument is that the decision to axe workers in a recession is not made on economic but on social grounds: those who are treated in society as lesser human beings are those who will lose their jobs.

Interesting then that axe has fallen most heavily, in the US at least, on blue collar male workers:

Rodney Ringler is an unemployed blue collar male without a college degree. He's hardly alone. Men like him have been the main victims of the current recession in the United States.

"I haven't worked since December of 2007, around the time this recession started," Ringler, a 49-year-old computer technician, said as he walked his dog in a Dallas suburb.

One statistic that stands out in America's recession-stung economy is the unemployment rate for adult men: in April for the second month in a row it surged ahead of the national average to 9.4 percent versus 8.9 percent for all workers. The jobless rate for adult women was 7.1 percent.

... "In the 2001 recession, 51 percent of all job losses were for men. It was evenly split. But in this recession 80 percent of the jobs that have been lost have been men's," said Andrew Sum, a labor economics professor at Northeastern University who has studied this issue in detail.

Men also incurred about 80 percent of the job losses in the 1990-91 recession ...

So by Waleed Aly's logic it is men, particularly blue collar men, who are treated as having lesser value. It is men who bore the brunt of job losses in the 1990-90 recession as well as the current one.

This completely upsets the image of society Waleed Aly was trying to convey. He wants us to accept the idea that white males are an oppressor class who have taken a privileged place in society, with a higher human value, at the expense of others - with this being a fundamental breach of human equality.

This image of the privileged oppressor male hides what has really been happening for several decades. Even in economic terms men have been losing ground, with the value of real wages for men declining since the 1970s:

The fact that American males without a college degree are especially vulnerable in this cycle point to more hard times ahead for the U.S. working class, which has endured stagnant and declining wages for the last three decades.

The skilled and semi-skilled jobs they traditionally held have been moving overseas to places like China and Vietnam. The jobs that remain pay less, amid declining union membership.

One study by Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution think-tank found median U.S. family income rose to $53,280 by the middle of this decade in 2004 dollars from $37,384 in 1964. But for males aged 30 to 39, average annual personal income fell from the mid-1970s by around $5,000 to $35,000.

American men are now being paid significantly less than their fathers were. At the same time they have to put up with a hostile view that they are enjoying an unearned privilege which belongs to others.


  1. Who cares about white blue collar males?

    Its not like they can vote for a party that supports their interests or anything.

    They dont matter in the scheme of things, or should I say WE dont matter as I am a white, blue collar male.

    To make things worse I am from the western suburbs! I truely am one of the damned.

  2. I think Westieboy may be jumping to conclusions.

    Although it is true that in many ways blue collar males in general and white blue collar male in particular dont get much representation in the media or in the political sphere this is only the comment of a single man.

    Aly is of course trying to lobby for his community, and as such probably feels the need to stretch the truth a little to make them more into "victims" than they really are.

    The adding of "women" as well is a nice touch, broadening his base of victimhood to attack another victim group which is widely [and mostly secretly] seen be those who hand out victim labels as being oppressers unworthy of the treasured victim status.

    Should white working class males join in the Victim show or should society in general try to draw itself back from the brink of deciding all moral worth on how many wounds you can show and how loudly you can show them?

  3. Power differences are complex and constantly changing, but feminists like to simplisitcally boil down them to men vrs women, with women supposedly always coming off worse then men.

    This tactic allows middle class feminists to gloss over any areas where they may be more powerful than other groups.

    The so called 'glass ceiling' for example, can only apply to middle class women, since blue collar women don't work in management roles anyway.

    Similarly, since white collar workers tend to be better paid than blue collar workers, white collar women are financially more powerful than working class men.

    In political terms white collar women have more support and opportunities than their male counterparts, with political seats set aside for them, government and academic departments to specifically research women issues, and a pro-feminist media which allows women's groups to make anti-male assertions on weak statistical evidence.

    Politically speaking, non-liberal white wing males are probably the most powerless group in western society, since we're denied fair coverage in the media, have little academic representation, and are potentially in danger of losing our jobs and being socially ostracized if we express our views openly.

  4. "In a financial crisis the axe falls on those who have played the least part in its creation - migrants."

    Not according to Steve Sailer.

    Read his interesting article "The Diversity Recession".