America’s historic majority isn’t actually more enamoured with laissez-faire capitalism than other peoples around the world, or more “Center Right,” as is commonly asserted. What is unusual about White Americans is that some 50 percent of them consider themselves “middle class.” (This number is, no doubt, significantly higher among those who vote regularly and are politically engaged.)
Whatever the details of their demands, the fundamental cause of the recent protests in Wisconsin is the growing recognition among the American Middle that the lifestyle to which they are accustomed—think a house in the ‘burbs, a reliable pension or 401k, and the ability to live it up on easy credit—is vanishing before their eyes. (The fact that the state of Illinois, for instance, is financing its pensions with new debt issuances reveals the total unsustainability of “set for life” employment.)
In this way, the public-sector employees who have taken to the streets over the past 10 days have quite a bit in common with the Tea Party, despite the two being cast as sworn enemies by the media—the lazy free loaders vs. the Astroturf of corporate capitalism. Both the Tea Party and the Wisconsin phenomena represent genuine, grassroots protest movements of Whites caught somewhere between the stages of denial, anger, and bargaining in mourning the death of their “American Dream.”
(One could say that those who lose their jobs or take a serious hit now should probably consider themselves lucky; they’ll be able to adjust to the new reality before a further downturn. Those who remain in the boobgeois bubble longest will face the rudest awakening.)
Pat Buchanan recently opined that in siding with the unions and criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Barack Obama, ever the Alinsky-ite radical, has sought to “rub raw the resentments of the people; fan the latent hostilities to the point of overt expression.” In fact, something quite different is occurring.
Unlike the violent mau-mauing in Chicago’s South Side, the labor unionists and partisans have demonstrated in a noticeably polite fashion; much like the Tea Party, they’ve made clever signs, dressed up in colourful costumes, congregated at democratic institutions, and only demanded that the government be reasonable and fair.
More important, whatever Obama’s rhetoric, the Power Elite he represents has effectively abandoned the Baby Boom-and-under Whites marching on Madison. On January 8, the chief of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernake, announced publicly that there would be no Fed-led bailout of state and local governments—many of whose debt burdens rival that of Greece. The banksters and subprime loan hustlers will get to have their losses socialized and their jobs and current paychecks protected. State governments will be forced to make do—raise taxes, cut employees, or both. In a word, “austerity.”
And the racial component of the winners and losers should not pass unnoticed.
Wisconsin has the demographics of the American nation in the 1950s: it is between 85-90 percent White (though being the Midwest, Germans outnumber WASPs.) According to state statistics, 95 percent of Wisconsin teachers and 90 percent of administrators are White.
Such employment statistics couldn’t be more different than the Federal Government’s.
In 2007, the advocacy group Adversity.net examined the racial hiring practices of Washington’s Executive Departments and Independent Agencies, from the Department of Education to NASA. The group discovered that with a very few exceptions, federal entities dramatically overfulfill their “Diversity” quotas. Indeed, the best agencies at hiring Blacks put the Post Office of lore to shame: the Controlled Substance Ordering System, the Government Printing Office, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, for instance, overhire Blacks at 800, 500, and 400 percent, respectively. Even the “worst” agency for employing African-Americans, über-nerdy NASA, overhires Blacks at a clip of 50 percent.
In this line, government entities have increasingly dropped their mission of, well, governing in favor of the greater cause of minority outreach and empowerment. In America, one could lament, the Black man is either dead or in jail—or enjoying guaranteed benefits working at the State Department.
A teacher’s union meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, has the demographics of a screening of The English Patient. And however they might disagree on hot-button issues, the Tea Party and the Wisconsinites are essentially the same people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, on the other hand—the Government Sponsored Entities that financed the housing debacle—are around 50 percent Black.
Obama’s economic advisor Robert Reich let the cat out of the bag in 2009 when in a hearing on the economic stimulus program, he dropped all euphemisms and explicitly assured Charlie Rangel that Whites would not benefit from the upcoming round of federal outlays:
I am concerned, as I’m sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to White male construction workers. … In my remarks I’ve suggested to you, and we can talk about it more, ways in the money can be… criteria can be set, so that the money does go to others, the long-term unemployed, minorities, women, people who aren’t necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals.
Rangel’s response was even more revealing:
And one thing you can depend on, you don’t have to be worried about what the middle-class is gonna do. Things are so bad. They have to put food on their tables. Clothes for their kids. Get them in school. I think this is a tremendous opportunity for a stronger America.
Translation: one need not worry about the White middle-class protesting the latest wealth redistribution—they’re too busy... working.
Though I hesitate to put too much weight on ethnicity in federal decision-making, there is no doubt that a central reason Obama is willing to abandon Wisconsin teachers is that he can be confident that White People Don’t Riot. Federal employees are a different matter altogether. And Washington, which values domestic tranquillity above all, must have taken notice of the recent scenes of mass throngs of desperate Blacks congregating outside public assistance facilities and determined that slashing the Controlled Substance Ordering System might not be the best idea.
Certainly, the polarity between expendable Wisconsin teachers and precious Black federal employees doesn’t hold across the board. Detroit, for instance, has been ordered to shutter half of its public schools, owing to budget woes as well as the total desertion of this once-prosperous city. What’s important to recognize is the trend of wealth redistribution and White dispossession in federal hiring, as well as the identity of those who get bailed out and those who get squeezed. (This trend also entails that the Tea Party, however pure its motives, will invariably be labelled “racist” when it makes calls to rein in spending and cut federal bureaucracies.)
Boiled down to their essences, the Tea Party represents White, middle-class private-sector workers who are beginning to realize that their future is being taken away from them; the Wisconsinites represent White, middle-class public-sector workers who are beginning to realize that their future is being taken away from them.
Might these two groups notice that they have a lot in common?