Home / General / The Vance Grift

The Vance Grift

Comments
/
/
/
329 Views

index

Liberals are rubes too. There’s a certain kind of grift they will fall for. It’s the kind that claims to help them understand part of the world they don’t understand, even if the material being pushed is hooey. And right now, there’s no shortage of desire from white liberal NPR listeners to know something about the white working class. And J.D. Vance is there, ready to profit off their curiosity, with his garbage book that does a good combination of providing justification for conservatives doing nothing for the poor with satisfying that liberal curiosity. Whatever Vance is doing here, it’s not for the people he writes about. But he’s certainly making himself seem as a Reasonable Knowledgeable Voice of Those People to liberals who don’t understand how poor white people could vote for Donald Trump even though they would benefit from the social programs of Democratic presidents. Personally, I would recommend listening to 40-year old Merle Haggard songs as a more insightful view into the white working class than Vance provides. Or, you know, spend time around white working class people. Or not. But don’t fall for the bullshit that Vance is peddling. From The New Republic take down of his book a few months ago.

Elegy is little more than a list of myths about welfare queens repackaged as a primer on the white working class. Vance’s central argument is that hillbillies themselves are to blame for their troubles. “Our religion has changed,” he laments, to a version “heavy on emotional rhetoric” and “light on the kind of social support” that he needed as a child. He also faults “a peculiar crisis of masculinity.” This brave new world, in sore need of that old time religion and manly men, is apparently to blame for everything from his mother’s drug addiction to the region’s economic crisis.

“We spend our way to the poorhouse,” he writes. “We buy giant TVs and iPads. Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. Thrift is inimical to our being.”

And he isn’t interested in government solutions. All hillbillies need to do is work hard, maybe do a stint in the military, and they can end up at Yale Law School like he did. “Public policy can help,” he writes, “but there is no government that can fix these problems for us … it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”

Set aside the anti-government bromides that could have been ripped from a random page of National Review, where Vance is a regular contributor. There is a more sinister thesis at work here, one that dovetails with many liberal views of Appalachia and its problems. Vance assures readers that an emphasis on Appalachia’s economic insecurity is “incomplete” without a critical examination of its culture. His great takeaway from life in America’s underclass is: Pull up those bootstraps. Don’t question elites. Don’t ask if they erred by granting people mortgages and lines of credit they couldn’t afford to repay. Don’t call it what it is—corporate deception—or admit that it plunged this country into one of the worst economic crises it’s ever experienced.

No wonder Peter Thiel, the almost comically evil Silicon Valley libertarian, endorsed the book. (Vance also works for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management.) The question is why so many liberals are doing the same.

An acolyte of Peter Thiel. Well, I guess the true route to pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is selling the blood of your children to the living Nosferatu!

nosferatu-featured

But yes, the key issue is why white liberals want to buy this garbage. You know, it’s not hard to go find white working class people to talk to if you want to know about them. They are all around you. Certainly, you don’t need a National Review contributor who serves Peter Thiel the blood of the young to do so for you.

And if you need more evidence that Vance is full of it, see the following:

J.D. Vance is 32 years old. And I have to say, if there’s one thing we know about the 90s, it’s that no one cared about making money!

This is pure 100% bullshit, just like his whole schtick.

How could this get any hackier? How about a Ron Howard movie adaptation! My own projection is that, assuming anyone actually watches this thing (and really, why would you watch a Ron Howard film), the audience will skew about 90% Democrats.

Or maybe the real lesson is the missed opportunity. I should have written a book about growing up in a dying Oregon logging town with no economic opportunities, talked about all the bootstraps I pulled, and use it as a way to get liberals to buy my book so I can explain all the whites. I just never think of the good scams before someone else gets to them first.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • humanoid.panda

    Little known fact: Vance’s book became a thing because Rod Dreher wrote about it ion his blog, and it went viral. Which tells you all to need to know both about the quality of Vance’s arguments, and about the validity of Drehers’ “I’m Anne Frank waiting for the gaystapo to pick me up from my benighted flyover town” shtick.

    • Junipermo

      Ha! You win the internets today!

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Drehers’ “I’m Anne Frank waiting for the gaystapo to pick me up from my benighted flyover town” shtick.

      Wait, it’s the gaystapo that runs the FEMA black helicopters?

      Hmm…it DOES make fashion sense, I guess.

  • Nobdy

    Countertake: JD Vance is bad but Apollo 13 was a pretty entertaining movie.

    Peggy Noonan is also very bad.

    Americans are incredibly invested in the myth of self determination and the “self-made man.” They are also shockingly willing to put up with widespread dysfunction if they can be told that the most excellent cream of the crop can get out (why can’t we agree that society should also offer a decent time to the Schmuck and the Noodnick?)

    “All these people decided to become poor and unhealthy of their own free will” is kind of an insane thesis, but it is one that Americans happily eat up with almost no evidence to wash it down.

    • lizzie

      Peggy Noonan is also very bad.

      Have we talked about the fact that she just won a Pulitzer for commentary on the election. No, I am not kidding.

      • Caepan

        First time I read that, I thought to myself, “How? Was she the first person to answer the phone call and say the correct catch phrase?”

        • John Revolta

          Somebody said in another thread, and I think it’s correct, that they thought it was time to give an award to somebody on the Right, for to look “Fair and Balanced”.
          And at least Nooners probably won’t show up at the ceremony will food stains on her shirt.

          • John Revolta

            (“They” meaning “the Pulitzer people”)

            • John Revolta

              And “somebody” being gocart mozart

          • Caepan

            She’ll most likely be drunk on G and Ts at the ceremony, and ramble on about her beloved St. Ronnie’s loafer-clad sock, but no – she might not show up with food stains on her blouse.

            Unless such food stains come from her getting hit in the face with a pie. That I will wholeheartedly approve.

          • Donna Gratehouse

            That’s exactly what I think too. The Both Siderism disease is so prevalent in mainstream journalism it wouldn’t even occur to them to acknowledge the obvious fact that right wing opinion writing is garbage at this point and there’s no need to reward any of it.

          • Bitter Scribe

            Yeah, it’s been a few years since the even more vapid Kathleen Parker won one, so why not?

            • Kathleen

              Also, too, MoDo won.

              • Ahuitzotl

                that was the point where I realised the Pulitzers are as meaningless & worthless as the Oscars

              • Manny Kant

                The Pulitzer for commentary is pretty much a shit show – Tom Friedman, Bret Stephens, Paul Gigot, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, David Broder are all one-time winners.

                • Manny Kant

                  Meanwhile, Krugman has never won. (I’m surprised to report that David Brooks has also never won)

          • Ahuitzotl

            although she almost certainly will show up shitfaced & boozestained

      • Ithaqua

        Not in the universe I choose to inhabit, she didn’t.

        Think I’ll try… this bottle over here… next.

      • Manny Kant

        Noonan’s terrible columns have slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.

    • aaronl

      How about a Charlie Kaufman adaptation?

      • Caepan

        I’d pay to see a David Lynch adaptation.

        • JustRuss

          +1 cup of steaming black coffee.

        • Ahuitzotl

          no love for the Roger Corman oeuvre ?

    • Halloween Jack

      Apollo 13 was over twenty years ago. What has Opie done since then? Let’s see… he did A Beautiful Mind, which won a bunch of Oscars (and neatly excised Nash’s out-of-wedlock child and arrest in a sting operation directed at gay/bisexual men), he’s got the Dan Brown adaptation franchise, and… a documentary starring Jay-Z? Huh.

    • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

      Ron Howard movies are exactly as good as the source material that he’s given (although now being a powerful producer, it’s more “that he chooses”) to work with.

  • TroubleMaker13

    J.D. Vance is 32 years old. And I have to say, if there’s one thing we know about the 90s, it’s that no one cared about making money!

    This is pure 100% bullshit, just like his whole schtick.

    I mean, in his own Twitter bio he ID’s himself as an “investor at Mithril Capital”.

    • Nobdy

      The dream at Mithril capital is about family and stability.

      The business at the company is probably ruthlessly extracting money from others, no matter the carnage caused, but the DREAM is family and stability.

      • In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming of family and stability.

        • catbirdman

          Thx so much for the spit-take, Lee!

        • Vance Maverick

          I had to look up Mithril. Alas, it’s another mythos (though one that blurs at the edges: “In the anime series Full Metal Panic! “Mithril” is used as the name of a covert anti-terrorist private military organization tasked with protecting Kaname Chidori, a spirited Japanese high school girl.)

          I have nothing to do with this Vance, I’m afraid (it’s conceivable we’re very distantly related, but Vance is a common last name).

          • rm

            Wait. Are you saying the Evil Tech Bros named their investment fund as an anime reference that they did not realize is a Tolkien reference? Do they say that somewhere? I’m confused, but I’d put no atrocity past those guys.

            • porwin

              “The Dwarves tell no tale; but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin’s Bane.” (Gandalf) A little on the nose, I think, but then tech bros are not known for their deep thinking about allegory. Not sure I would name my investment group after something that was bright, shiny, and valuable, and brought destruction to those who sought it. Just me, tho

              • porwin

                reminds me of Palantir which is obviously named by someone who never thought very hard about LoTR (or anything else, I’m thinking).

                • ForkyMcSpoon

                  He also has a venture capital company named Valar Ventures. That name ends up being ok, I guess (the Valar are gods of Middle Earth).

                • ForkyMcSpoon

                  Oh, that is, Peter Thiel owns Palantir AND Mithril Capital AND Valar Ventures.

                  He likes Lord of the Rings a lot.

                  Speaking of missing the point, in the LotR and related works, the desire for immortality is a frequent source of evil (see: the Nazgul, but also some events outside of LotR). Thiel desires to feed on the blood of the young to extend his lifespan, probably not recognizing that he would be a villain in his favorite works.

                  Then again, who knows, maybe he identifies with Sauron and thinks Frodo was an asshole.

                • maybe he identifies with Sauron and thinks Frodo was an asshole.

                  I’m not saying this hypothesis is definitely true, but I wouldn’t consider it safe to bet against it, either.

                • Rob in CT

                  Oh, that is, Peter Thiel owns Palantir AND Mithril Capital AND Valar Ventures.

                  He likes Lord of the Rings a lot.

                  Speaking of missing the point, in the LotR and related works, the desire for immortality is a frequent source of evil (see: the Nazgul, but also some events outside of LotR). Thiel desires to feed on the blood of the young to extend his lifespan, probably not recognizing that he would be a villain in his favorite works.

                  Yeesh.

                  The obvious answer is that Thiel thinks of himself as an ubermensch (who does not understand the book he apparently loves).

            • Vance Maverick

              No, I imagine it was after Tolkien. It’s just the variety of other things named after Tolkien’s coinage that amused me. (“other games such as The Bard’s Tale, Shining Force II, Bravely Default, Terraria, The Sims Medieval, RuneScape, Hexen II, Elsword, Guild Wars 2, Diablo II, World of Warcraft, Landmark (video game), Dark Age of Camelot, Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy, Zenonia 3, Xenoblade Chronicles, NetHack, Dungeons of Daggorath, Golden Sun (series), Dungeons and Dragons, Kingdom Hearts, EverQuest, Patapon, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, “Star Ocean (series)” , Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magic Obscura, Dota 2 and Lineage II.”)

    • wengler

      I hear their investment into the mines at Moria didn’t work out.

      • Should have gone long on Bitcoin.

        • Ahuitzotl

          ah, the dread Barrows of Bitcoin

        • Manny Kant

          “The TechBros tell no tale; but even as bitcoin was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Nakamoto’s Bane.”

      • Scott P.

        Why do you liberals always try to keep those self-reliant Balrogs down?

  • Steve LaBonne

    The information that this turd works for Peter fucking Thiel truly completes the picture.

  • Karen24

    Vance apparently has a real problem with his mom, who in turn had substance abuse problems. Near as I can tell, she’s about the same age or a little younger than I am — 53. If he had an ounce of decency he would have talked to her and tried to understand something about what caused her problems and what might have ameliorated them, and he wouldn’t even have to excuse her treatment of him. (Clue: birth control and abortion would have prevented an addict from having a baby before she was old enough to care for him. That would require a bit more self-examination than Vance is capable of.)

    • Wow, parents with substance abuse problems. Real exclusive club there. Glad he can explain the entire white working class based around it.

      • Karen24

        My thoughts exactly. Allow me to introduce him to pretty much every other person I know except myself, at least if booze and cigarettes count. (And they should, because all the smokers among my friends’ parents died before they were 65, many after long and expensive illnesses.). The difference between my friends and Vance is that my friends parents had enough money to provide a margin of error for their folly, as well as things like the GI Bill.

        Actually, if you want to be even harsher on him, note that he managed to end up as a venture capitalist despite his mom’s problems, mostly through his grandparents and a long string of government programs beginning with the military and the perks provided to veterans. Mom didn’t have those things.

        • Junipermo

          Direct government action largely built the white middle class with the GI Bill, federal housing support for the creation of suburbs, etc. It’s ridiculous to think that government can’t be deployed to solve problems now; the issue for too many folks is that all us blahs could theoretically benefit from government largesse, and we can’t have that.

          • jamesepowell

            That last sentence pretty much sums up American politics my whole life.

            I don’t know if forcing that sentence into every political debate would improve understanding or change the way people vote, but I do know that burying it in euphemisms and revisionist history hasn’t made anything better.

          • The GI Bill, it should be mentioned, though, only benefited families with living husbands and/or sons, as did industrial unions after the war when women were pushed out of those jobs they had. Jobs with middle-class salaries weren’t on offer for the girls, and even if they went to high school they did vocational programs, not the college-prep courses for the upwardly-mobile. That was the case in the cities, at least, where there were enough people to support both kinds of programs.

          • ColBatGuano

            But those solutions would require people like Vance and Thiel to pay more in taxes and that is another disqualifier.

    • DrDick

      Not to mention her having access to education and a supportive social network.

      • Pete

        His Mom had that access. Didn’t work out so well for her.

        • jamesepowell

          Nothing works for everybody.

        • DrDick

          Somehow I suspect that she lacked the supportive social network. I have known a lot of people with substance abuse problems and very few actually had that.

          • Pete

            You could well be right, given the severe family problems when she was young.

    • Pete

      If he had an ounce of decency he would have talked to her and tried to understand something about what caused her problems and what might have ameliorated them, and he wouldn’t even have to excuse her treatment of him.

      I can tell where your sympathies lie here, perhaps understandably. But even if she was willing and able to talk to him about all that, you really are asking a lot for anyone to be able to formulate and execute that approach in their late 20s and early 30s after an abusive/neglected childhood. I’m a lot closer to your age with my own set of Mom issues (she is 75 now), and there’s a lot we just can’t and don’t discuss in our limited, polite but emotionally strained contact.

      (Clue: birth control and abortion would have prevented an addict from having a baby before she was old enough to care for him.

      True, and Vance’s Mom apparently had some pretty shitty parents of her own who later evolved into his grandparents — but I’m not sure how he should write a memoir saying that he should never have been born.

      • The Lorax

        My exposure to Vance was listening to him on a couple podcasts. I had no idea about the conservative connections he had. I found what he had to say helpful to me in that I think that I had underestimated the extent to which Real Americans (which I used to be) were feeling aggrieved by Coastal Elites (which I am now).

        Anyway, thanks for writing this, Erik. Usually I can sniff conservative grifts pretty quickly. But I simply hadn’t here.

        • Pete

          There’s a reason for that, I think.

        • Life in Queens

          The top 1% rakes in 50% of the national income, but us top 20% take 80%. The top 1% are invisible. Us 20% are very visible, and easy to resent if you’re in the 80% who have to get by on just 20% of the national income.

        • weirdnoise

          I think that I had underestimated the extent to which Real Americans (which I used to be) were feeling aggrieved by Coastal Elites (which I am now).

          Thirty years ago I drove solo across the US, spending two weeks camping and staying in cheap motels. I often spun the radio dial (well, actually pressed the tune-to-next-station button) and it was remarkable even then how little music and how much “talk radio” there was everywhere I went. Then as now it was mostly right-wing talk, with call-in shows especially popular. The callers almost all had a beef of some sort, usually against the government or liberals or “elites” (I don’t think the adjective “coastal” had been added yet). Of course, the host was right there with them. It was depressing to listen to any one show for more than a few minutes, though idle comparison from one talk show to the next kept it more interesting. Everyone was a victim of some sort of repression.

          I’d give up after a bit and pop in a tape for the Nth time, and try the radio again after a while.

          I can only imagine what a steady diet of that shit did to people. The sense of aggrievement has been building for a long, long time.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        (Clue: birth control and abortion would have prevented an addict from having a baby before she was old enough to care for him.

        It’s not too late for Vance’s mom to go for a post-natal abortion, just saying.

    • Patick Spens

      Vance goes into detail about the trauma and dislocation his mother faced growing up, and how that shaped her own problems and maladaptive coping strategies, with an amount of empathy that is quite laudable given the abuse she put him through.

      • Pete

        Yes, he does.

    • djw

      Yeah, from the book-store skimming I gave the book that was my prime takeaway; “this guy isn’t even faking an effort to consider the possibility that his family’s problems might not be a perfect microcosm for the WWC.” That could be caused by narcissism, intellectual laziness, or an awareness that such awareness would complicate a good grift. Or some combination of the three.

      • sigaba

        Well of course he’s figured out every problem of the white working class: he’s a wealthy white veteran, he possesses literally every token of honor and esteem our culture bestows, It Is Known these people can pontificate knowledgeably on any issue and the worlds’ problems would find resolution if only we would Get Out of Their Way.

        • DrS

          Yes.

          I mean, look at all he’s accomplished with us in his way?

  • DrDick

    Dear sweet Cthulhu’s appendages that is bad. I grew up around hillbillies and my mother’s family were actual Ozark hillbillies. He gets none of this right and simply engages in more reflexive conservative victim blaming.

    • FMguru

      reflexive conservative victim blaming

      It’s fascinating the way that the rural white poor & working classes have recently been downgraded from “god-fearing Real Murricans” to “worthless drug-addled trash who refuse to help themselves” in conservative ideation. Not just Vance, but Kevin Williamson at NR has been beating this drum for a number of years, too. I wonder what caused this shift.

      • catbirdman

        It’s just the latest phase of Blame the Hippies for Peeing on Christ and Making Pot and Prematital Sex Look Fun. Their young’uns found out about MTV, started listening to rap, and niw they’re eating opioids like popcorn shrimp.

        • Caepan

          When a friend of mine forwarded me this link about how opioid abuse has turned our home town into “The Most Unhappy Place in America,” I wrote him back telling him how shocked – shocked! – that a region that traditionally has had a bar on almost every street corner would somehow have a substance abuse problem.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I have a friend who grew up in Appalachia, and his take on mountaintop removal coal mining and fracking and coal ash pond dams, etc etc, is that rural white America is the new Indian reservations – there to be dumped upon in any way useful or necessary – but they just can’t imagine it.

      • Chetsky

        Charles Murray also, from what I’ve read in book reviews.

        • FMguru

          Oh yeah, him too.

          Aristocratic disdain for the lower orders is, of course, a foundational principle of conservatism – it’s just they used to downplay it and keep it behind closed doors in order to sell their “snooty ivory tower showbiz limousine liberals vs. salt of the earth heartland Real Americans” angle. I mean, this is their own base they’re shitting on here.

        • msmarjoribanks

          Only sort of. They are still the real Americans (there’s even a quiz on some affiliated site to see if you are a real American that puts a lot of weight on what TV you watch and whether you enjoy Applebees and monster trucks). They are also performing badly and it’s sad, but it’s the fault of the elites, of course, who Murphy Brown and let women have fancy jobs and so on without realizing they are hurting others.

      • Pete

        It’s fascinating the way that the rural white poor & working classes have recently been downgraded from “god-fearing Real Murricans” to “worthless drug-addled trash who refuse to help themselves” in conservative ideation. …. I wonder what caused this shift.

        Without agreeing that your second quote represents either the truth or what Vance said or implied, the problems have spread to the point that they can no longer be widely ignored. (And most social media platforms have really developed in the last decade.) A number of Ohio PDs issue Narcan injectors to the police now. There has been a big shift.

        • witlesschum

          Here in Michigan, the rural white person’s drug of choice has been meth for quite a while. It used to be a real pain in the ass, but they’ve come up with a cleaner and easier way of cooking it at home, so there are less problems from things like old-style labs poisoning houses and farmer’s fertilizer tanks being raided for ingredients.

          I wonder if these are the Ohioans who used to do meth and have switched to heroin and/or oxy? Or did meth never hit that part of the country big time the way it did the country parts of Michigan and points west of here?

        • lahtiji

          That’s the contradiction I can’t get over: the crack epidemic in the 80s was dealt with as a law enforcement crusade. But when it’s white people on opioids, it’s a public health crisis.

    • JR in WV

      I’m from a small coal town in southern WV, and married to a coal miner’s daughter, just as my Dad was. Wife is reading the book right now, I’ll talk to her when she’s done. I mentioned this post/thread, and she said “I’ll take a look after I’m done.”

      Her Dad was a civil engineer working on bridges mostly, but put himself through school working in the mines. He was also an alcoholic. Her Mom was a HS teacher, Advanced Placement English and French. And a narcissist.

      My parents were pretty good, even with difficult children (like me) to raise. I read an extract of this book in one of the magazines, don’t remember which one. Or perhaps it was a review with extensive quotes. I was not impressed.

      I am even less impressed with the knowledge that he works with Thiel as a blood-sucker, er, uh, Venture Capitalist. Have I got that right?

      The theology of the names of the companies involved is more interesting than his auto-biography of the Appalachian middle class.

      Who authorized him to write an auto-biography of me, anyways?

      Thot so. No one.

  • SatanicPanic

    Isn’t this just a form of denialism? Literally everyone has talked to working class white people at some point in their life, and I suspect for a lot of us liberals, these interactions often don’t go well. We’re often on the receiving end of some insensitive and/or downright assholish comments by people who aren’t used to regulating their speech the way we often are. But us liberals who want to believe the best in everyone so we’re casting around for someone, somewhere to explain these things to us in a way where we don’t have to write off an entire segment of the country. (for the record we shouldn’t) Or, to get more cynical, maybe some white liberals just want someone to whitesplain to minorities that WWCs are just misguided, that those of them with awful views have them for a reason.

    Hey maybe there’s a book here I can sell. Explaining why liberals can’t accept things at face value. Something like that.

    • Katya

      Why do you assume that WWC and liberal are mutually exclusive categories?

      • SatanicPanic

        I don’t. I know I’m speaking in broad generalities, but I don’t know if there’s any other way to

      • jamesepowell

        The Venn diagram has a sliver in the middle.

        • lunaticllama

          Actually, an easy way to find liberal WWC people is at the shows with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead (and to a lesser degree, Phish). A lot of jamband hippies are WWC, and, from what I have been told, this has historically been the case.

          • petesh

            Yeah, but there are others: Ann Coulter was a deadhead.

        • DrDick

          Actually, it is a lot larger than most people are willing to credit and I have known a lot of them.

      • NewishLawyer

        They aren’t necessarily (but in broad strokes they can be) but there is still going to be a huge cultural and other divides between upper-middle class urban professional liberals and WWC liberals.

    • pianomover

      I’m white wotking class and liberal and fuck you

      • SatanicPanic

        urban city liberals. My fault, I assumed it would be obvious that I wasn’t talking about WWC liberals since they’re probably not the intended audience of these sorts of books

        • Katya

          An awful lot of working class people live in cities, too. Your definition of liberal seems to actually mean “white upper-middle class adult children of middle- to upper-middle-class parents who live in cities.” So yes, more precision is advisable. (Speaking as a UMC city dweller who comes from a WWC family and interacts with WWC people all the time.)

          • SatanicPanic

            OK, how about “liberals who are likely to read books about people they are not”? I know WWC people live in cities, that’s why I’m suggesting it’s weird that people claim to never meet them.

          • SatanicPanic

            Also, I was definitely not implying that this impulse to read these kinds of books is limited to upper class white people. I have heard PoCs recommend this book as well.

      • Dennis Orphen

        You’re certainly that, but also more (step-son of C.?, Marin County MTB pioneer?, kind of guy I wanted to be when I grew up (which might explain why I’m posting this from Grass Valley). You’re not limited by being WWC, probably quite the opposite.

    • MikeJake

      I’d say 95% of my interactions with white working class people have gone just fine. Which is in line with the 95% of interactions with all people that have gone just fine. So I don’t know what your issue is.

      • SatanicPanic

        Short version- I have had too many conversations come to a grinding halt because I have had the nerve to mention that my mom is a Mexican-American.

        • SatanicPanic

          I should add that I grew up in a rural farming community. Man i miss the edit button.

    • NewishLawyer

      I don’t know if it is explicitly about being white liberal but it could be about feeling insulated in your little island of blue. I know some upper-middle class Asian-Americans who also do the “We need to understand Trump Country” thing.

      Upper-middle class professional liberals have hugely disproportionate influence to their numbers and economic power. We also tend to have very different tastes than the nation over all many times.

      • SatanicPanic

        That’s probably part of it too.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        How many divisions has the Ira Glass?

        • NewishLawyer

          Ha but basically. A lot of stuff like TAL and most “prestige” TV has very small viewerships or listenerships (3 million at most if that) but that audience has a good amount of discretionary income usually.

      • Donna Gratehouse

        Upper-middle class professional liberals have hugely disproportionate influence to their numbers and economic power. We also tend to have very different tastes than the nation over all many times.

        There’s still no excuse for writers from that arena to ignore the entire existence of a shitload of liberals outside of their own bubble in their “Democrats need to learn to talk to Trump voters” pitches. I’ve been smack dab in Red America for 30 years now. I know who these people are.

        • witlesschum

          Yeah. Never lived anywhere but Michigan and I work in a rural area. Don’t need anyone to explain the wonderful whites to me.

        • Origami Isopod

          Cosigned.

          Just as I’m tired of “working class” as a synonym for “white men with minimal education and lots of racial and gender resentment,” I’m tired of “liberal” as a synonym for “snobbish affluent wanker, frequently with a bad case of Manhattan parochialism.”

          • witlesschum

            Amen, agreed, fuck yeah, etc.

    • msmarjoribanks

      Hmm. Something like that.

      I haven’t read the Vance book, but have thought about doing so. My impression was that it might explain more about the source of the resentment and the particular form it takes (and specifically the claimed dislike/disdain for gov’t help of any sort when the mythos of “gov’t stay out” that is not actually true to the real experience of those communities historically. I have certain non-charitable views about some of that, and wouldn’t mind a more nuanced explanation.

      I DO have lots of family members who are “white working class” and Trump voters, and others who are culturally but not actually such and Trump voters. Contrary to Eric’s suggestion, I CANNOT talk to them — we tiptoe around anything remotely political.

      Speaking for myself, since the election I feel like I’m hated (not me specifically by my family members, but that they hate people who they should know I am among, and that people like them do hate me) and don’t understand why and want to understand (and I know this is stupid and overly dramatic), and that’s why I’m drawn to books like this.

      • They’ve been told to hate us for twenty-five years by the right-wing puke funnel. That’s pretty much all the explanation that seems necessary. They think we’re an existential threat to the country because the people they trust keep telling them we are. They also have enough fear of anything or anyone different to avoid interacting with us and finding out that their perceptions of us aren’t accurate. (Right-wing religious extremism probably doesn’t help here either; many of their leaders often caution their followers to avoid interacting with non-Christians, warning that doing so may threaten their faith.)

        There was a good article in Scientific American about a concept known as “blue lies”. I think vacuumslayer posted a link to it in a blog post; I recommend tracking it down. Basically, the idea is that people tell lies to benefit an in-group at the expense of an out-group. This is present in several aspects of society, and no one really thinks much about it; espionage is a great example. It’s basically officially, state-sanctioned lies at the expense of other governments. And, of course, you can see this at the political level, as well. I’m sure a lot of the rabble are true enough believers, but cynical people like Mitch McConnell and Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and the shitgibbon don’t give a tin shit about the truth. They’ll lie as much as they want if they think it benefits their cause.

        It’s also worth pointing out that the more likely someone is to know an actual immigrant, the less likely they are to be xenophobic; the more likely they are to know a Muslim, the less likely they are to be Islamophobic; and so on.

        Anyway, yeah, the explanation, to me, has always been quite simple: there’s an in-group, and we’ve never been in it. That’s basically it. It’s lizard-brain fear. Every accusation is a confession. They accuse us of living in bubbles because they themselves live in bubbles and never interact with us. That’s basically it.

        • Here‘s the blue lies article I mentioned; don’t know why I didn’t think to link it.

          • msmarjoribanks

            Thanks! I will read it.

        • Origami Isopod

          Pace Sissela Bok, I question the moral equation of espionage with murder, or declaring it to be morally equivalent to whoppers told in other situations. Of course, it sucks for the people who have come to trust a spy. That said, if you have a country that’s big enough to play in international politics and wealthy enough to provide for its citizens, it’s going to engage in espionage, because that’s a vital source of information. Decrying it wholesale sounds to me like pie-in-the-sky “Can’t we all just get along?” thinking.

          • Eh. Maybe I’m misreading the article, but I don’t read it as saying espionage is necessarily wrong, just that it’s dishonest. Which, well, it is.

            • Origami Isopod

              It’s possible I misread the article, as I read it last night while tired (and slept on my comment, as it were). But I got the impression of stronger condemnation than that. I wouldn’t question that it’s dishonest.

              • To be fair, I’d last read the article a couple weeks ago. I don’t read it as saying deceit is morally equivalent to killing, just that we accept both in the service of our countries (particularly in war), while we wouldn’t accept either in other contexts.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Isn’t this just a form of denialism? Literally everyone has talked to working class white people at some point in their life, and I suspect.

      All I know is that the last time I walked past the waterfront, some crude ruffian tried to sell me a monkey

  • cleek

    there’s no shortage of desire from white liberal NPR listeners to know something about the white working class

    actually, i change the station every time NPR starts up again with their anthropological studies of the mysterious WWC/Trump Voter.

    from my perspective, it’s NPR management that wants to know about the WWC, not its listeners.

    • SatanicPanic

      Man I hate the anthropology. Who is this demographic that manages to never encounter WWC? People who live in art collectives in Oakland? Residents of the smaller Hawaiian islands? WTF

      • NewishLawyer

        I think that it depends on what and how we are defining WWC or Working Class which is something nearly impossible in the United States because we seem to divide on culture lines and education lines just as much.

        The woman who runs the front desk at my Regus suite probably does not make that much money but she is college educated, spent a good part of her adult life living in Europe, and told me she makes a Sunday ritual of reading in the NY Times. Her cultural proclivities take her out of the Working Class in American parlance it seems.

        Are firefighters and cops working class despite making relatively high salaries? Etc.

        • SatanicPanic

          I tend to think that culture is more relevant than income. There were some very wealthy white farmers where I grew up, but other than maybe having more money to spend on motorsports they weren’t much different than the guys who drove their tractors. You’d hear Rush Limbaugh was coming from the windows of the trucks of the rich and the poor white people. Of course, I’m sure a few of them were liberals, though I can’t think of any that stuck around after high school.

          • NewishLawyer

            But that is the problem and it is also what the Palinista brigade wants. The right-wing wants this to be about “culture” and not about income because it makes it easier to divide and conquer and get their policies through.

            It also means I can make a colorable argument that my interactions with the WWC are indeed extremely limited by living in San Francisco because the woman I described does not count as working class. Or does my friend the adjunct because she has a graduate degree.

            • SatanicPanic

              It is the problem, but I have no idea how to fix it. Those guys who are listening to Rush are also listening to country radio and it’s the same right-wing message there too.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                In my experience, male country star = lyrics overflowing with Nixonian/Wallaceite resentment, female star = quite palatable songs.

                (Well, politically.)

            • LeeEsq

              Class has never been strictly defined around income though. Its why the notion of genteel poverty existed or why the Cratichits of A Christmas Carol were seen as middle class despite being poor. Bob Cratichits job as a clerk marked him as middle class despite him having no money for most of the story. The United States tied class and income closer together than Europe but that was mainly because we don’t have a hereditary nobility.

          • But then you get into a recursive definition. If you’re trying to figure out “why does the White Working Class like Rush Limbaugh”, you can’t include “likes Rush Limbaugh” as a signifier of that group. Eventually all of these “WWC” definitions scrape down to “conservative white people who live in particular regions”.

            My childhood best friend used to work in a glass factory and now he’s a tow truck driver. He did not go to college. (I didn’t, either, for that matter.) He lives in a small apartment full of furniture he made with his own hands, his Hot Wheels collection, his film photography of nature settings and punk shows, and his painstakingly assembled record collection full of everything from GG Allin to obscure jazz EPs. He likes to drink cheap beer. He’s lived here in Portland his entire life. His mom was a secretary and his dad a musician at night and a painter by day. He’s disengaged from politics but thinks racism, sexism, and xenophobia are stupid, the Republicans are monsters, and the Democrats are too cozy with corporations and Wall Street.

            Is he a member of the White Working Class?

            • SatanicPanic

              Economically he is, but culturally, maybe only sort of. I know guys like that, they definitely exist and if I asked I imagine they’d say yes, they are white working class guys. But yeah, this gets at the question of whether “working class” means how much money they make vs. what they believe. I don’t know if there is a right answer. I will say that guys like that generally aren’t the WWC that people who buy JD Vance books are trying to understand.

              • If “white working class” is defined by a particular belief system/set of attitudes, it’s no longer interesting to ask “why does the white working class have these attitudes”? It becomes a tautology.

                So at this point we have a definition for “white working class” that excludes many white people who make a modest amount of money working with their hands, and includes wealthy white people that just happen to have a particular set of political attitudes. At that point, isn’t “working class” stretched to the point of breaking? Can’t we just call them “white reactionaries”?

                • ColBatGuano

                  At that point, isn’t “working class” stretched to the point of breaking? Can’t we just call them “white reactionaries”?

                  This has been bothering me as well. Who we are really talking about is white Trump/Republican voters. And if a significant portion of them wouldn’t be helped by anti-poverty or economic development programs, then how can Democrats/liberals reach them?

                • SatanicPanic

                  If “white working class” is defined by a particular belief system/set of attitudes, it’s no longer interesting to ask “why does the white working class have these attitudes”?

                  I guess I’m not choosing my words well because I’ve been trying to express that I don’t think it’s interesting at all. If someone is WWC and says they voted for Trump, I’m not curious about their motivations. I believe they have made them clear through their own words.

                  Can’t we just call them “white reactionaries”?

                  Yes we can!

                • djw

                  Stepped pyramids is killing it here. Either we define this category in some bloodless, deliberately unnuanced way, as in “white, no college degree, income between X and Y” or it becomes recursive and tautological, easily manipulated to serve our preferred cultural narrative, and of marginal-at-best analytic value.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              He sounded like a neat guy until it got to G.G. Allin…

              • Bri2k

                Agreed. The guy almost played a gig at a house party of mine. Glad I asked around about him first. Dodged a bullet there.

      • Matty

        I mean, a lot of upper-middle and upper class people have managed to arrange their lives so they only encounter any kind of working class in passing (and in a subordinate role). Given how narrowly we talk about the “white working class” especially, I’d imagine that a lot of well-off folks have never had a conversation with someone from what we’re calling the WWC at all.

        • SatanicPanic

          Sure, maybe they are only occasionally meeting the cable guy or whatever, but are these the same people who are wondering about what the WWC wants? Seems like they’d be incurious, but I don’t know, upper class people are more exotic to me than WWC.

          • Matty

            Well, yeah, this type of article seems to be aimed at exactly the kind of tote-bag carrying, NPR-listening liberal who lives in the suburbs and wants to know what went wrong last November. Who do you think is the audience for the NPR anthropology and J.D. Vance book tour?

            • SatanicPanic

              I suppose you’re right. It’s just very odd to me. Maybe there’s a book for me explaining what motivates middle class suburbanites. Then again I’m a bad liberal because I’m not that curious plus I suspect it’s by David Brooks so I’d probably take a pass on reading it haha

        • NewishLawyer

          How are you defining arrange their lives but it is probably more by accident than design for me?

          I live in SF and spend a lot of hours working. A lot of my free time is spent reading and my girlfriend is a non-white expat whose friends are mainly not-white expats. A lot of my friends are not part of the GOP set for a variety of reasons because they are not white, or Jewish, or they LBGT or a combo.

          My general interactions with the working class tend to be my clients because I do employment litigation and PI type of law.

          • Matty

            Sure, by “arrange their lives” I’m not talking about some nefarious plot to separate themselves from the toilers, but thinking about my cowokers who, by and large, grew up MC/UMC, went to good 4-year colleges, married other people with 4-year diplomas (at least) and moved to either the “good” parts of Chicago (if young) or to the suburbs (for the schools, you know). This is their social circle. Not a lot of WWC folks (which is distinct from the “GOP set”) in general.

            • Rob in CT

              Bingo.

  • PhoenixRising

    Ah, America’s Leading Diversity Recipient* strikes again. Of course he approves of Peggy Noonan’s bone-headed victim-blaming.

    *’JD Vance’ is hillbilly for ‘Clarence Thomas’. Young man…you won a tallest midget contest by getting the best grades in West Virginia. Affirmative action moved you into the elites, who you promptly decided had the right approach to class warfare all along just after they moved you to the winning side.

    • Pete

      Actually, Vance grew up in Ohio, and his family hails from Kentucky. So all y’all might want to adjust the streotyping.

      • Brenda Johnson

        A whole lot of Ohio may as well be West Virginia. I say this as an 8th gen Ohioan.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I suspect things changed after I left the area and the factories that employed them closed down, but certainly in the 1960s there were a lot of people from KY who worked in the Dayton area. (Middletown, where Vance apparently grew up, is near Dayton.)

        Back in the 1960s, there would be long lines on Friday night leading to the bridge at Cincinnati which connected to KY, and on Sunday nights traffic would flow in the opposite direction. Lots of people wanted to see their extended families, plus I suspect most of them were more comfortable with KY than OH culture.

        • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

          The technical term for those lined up on the bridge is “briar jumpers”.
          There used to be a saying that all they taught in Kentucky schools were the three “Rs”: Readin’, ‘Ritin’ and the road to Ohio.
          I used to like to tell people from Ohio that they would have t they would have shut down the state if all the Kentucky rxpats left.

          • MAJeff

            Reminds me of a saying from when I lived in ND: “North Dakota has three exports: grains, energy, and young people.”

      • Coconinoite

        The guy across the dinner table from me grew up in southern Ohio – his family originally hailed from Tennessee and Kentucky. They are most assuredly southern hillbilly WWC, with all the political ill will toward anyone and anything different. The guy is lucky he escaped (and I’m sure glad he did, too). I love his family very much, but I have to look the other way on social media. Even though he hasn’t read the book (Vance is from maybe two communities away), the guy said he felt a strong emotional response to a description of the book and Vance’s upbringing. The ironic thing is that he and I live more like trailer-trash hillbillies (in a New Mexican sense) than his southern Ohio family with all their toys and lovely brick homes.

      • Patick Spens

        Seriously people, it’s a short book, you could probably polish it off in an evening. Get it from the library if you don’t want any of your money going to Vance.

        • Origami Isopod

          Nah. Life’s too short to read conservative bullshit. And it’s not like there aren’t other, better sources on Appalachian culture.

      • PhoenixRising

        Wow, he’s just like me!

        Except I’m not spending my life talking trash about the people who didn’t get out that happens to absolve both them AND the elite hierarchy exploiting them and blaming immigrants and Black people.

  • Crusty

    The first time I ever saw this guy on tv doing his hey, look at me, I’m from West Virginia but I went to Yale Law school isn’t that fascinating schtick* I thought he was a shallow guy looking to quickly “build his brand” and cash in. And didn’t he recently make a big to do about moving away from San Francisco back to rural America, rural America being Columbus Ohio, a city of over 2 million? What a phony.

    *The redneck-Yale law schtick has been done already, particularly in the person of Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States.

    • djw

      Come back Jedediah Purdy all is forgiven

      • witlesschum

        That’s a helluva deep cut.

    • Caepan

      At least Clinton did something good with that schtick, instead of write some shitty book that will gather dust on nightstands across America.

      • sigaba

        Clinton’s “My Life” anybody?

        Barack Obama at least wrote a memoir that’s a compelling read, granted his schtick wasn’t “WV and went to Yale,” it was “Mixed-race Hawaiian and went to Harvard.”

        (I believe the original version of this story was “lowly North Dakotan went to Oxford and became a millionaire bootlegger before drowning in his own pool.”)

    • Murc

      The first time I ever saw this guy on tv doing his hey, look at me, I’m from West Virginia but I went to Yale Law school isn’t that fascinating schtick

      This stuff always grinds my gears. West Virginia has plenty of folks with money, connection, and plain’old luck. Some of’em are going to go to the ivies, same as anywhere else.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Yep. I’ve been out and about in the quietest counties of West Virginia and have yet to even see the stereotype. I’m sure it’s around, but it’s not the whole story, by far.

      • gmack

        Yes. The thing is that there are and always have been a lot of very wealthy people living in rural southern Ohio. Many of them are well educated, and some of them (gasp!) do yoga and drink espresso/craft beers.

        A quick side note on this: I grew up in Chillicothe (a small city about 50 miles south of Columbus, OH), and I went to school at Ohio University (in Athens). At least three times when I was going to school, my hometown was used as the exemplar of a backwards, impoverished place: “Maybe you didn’t grow up privileged, and maybe you aren’t from Upper Arlington. Maybe you’re from Chillicothe.” And (spoken by a Black woman): “One of the things I like about teaching in Chillicothe is that they aren’t impressed by educational privilege; them, I’m just another n***r.”

        I always found such comments to be, well, odd. I grew up pretty privileged, with plenty of money and opportunity. Chillicothe is just a place, like any other place. The people living there are also just people. Many are assholes, and many are uneducated, but regardless, they’re not some exotic species that is inevitably more backward/bigoted/religious/into NASCAR (or ketchup!) or whatever than everyone else.

        • witlesschum

          I stopped there last summer to see the Mounds on my way to nerdcon in Virginia. Seemed indeed like a place and not the most run-down I saw driving across Ohio and West Virginia, some on backroads. Though I talked to a lady at the con who lived there and was super down on her city for general fuckedupedness.

          • gmack

            Mound City is one of the genuinely awesome parts of Chillicothe. And yeah, the city itself isn’t too run down (downtown still looks pretty nice); the outlying areas–Massieville, Huntington township (where Knockemstiff used to be are where the real concentrations of poverty are.

            Your last remark is also interesting. Chillicothe has its fair share of fuckupedness, but one of the main cultural features of the area (and in a lot of areas like it, in my experience) is that the people living there are invested in the narrative of how fucked up the community is. It’s part of the identity of the place, the idea that this is a backwards town (“a one horse town and the horse left” is how my dad always used to describe it) with a lot of ignorant people with drug use, etc., etc. In my own wholly unscientific and unsubstantiated view, this is one of the key dimensions of Trumpism: it’s not necessarily that his supporters are those who have been “left behind”; it’s that they are invested in the narrative that they–or more specifically, they’re communities–have been left behind.

            • witlesschum

              That would fit, though the first specific she brought up was a suspected serial murderer in the area who’d been killing women. Pretty sure she wouldn’t vote for the Trump, but Stein might be a possibility.

              That narrative is interesting. When I was growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we had a more generalized distaste for outsiders (which included more or less racism by individual), but nobody would have done the left behind thing. Yooper self narrative was more like we live on the back of beyond away from everyone else because we like it and we’ll mainly tolerate you if you want to come here on vacation but we don’t care what you do.

              • Q.E.Dumbass

                racism by individual

                have an idea what this means but not how the distinction is meaningful

                • I think you’re misreading in exactly the way that I know I misread the phrase, at first. What I now think witlesschum meant in the parenthetical “(which included more or less racism by individual)” could be rephrased more clearly (though more clumsily) as “(which included racism, to a degree that varied from one UPer to the next)”.

              • gmack

                Oh yeah, I forgot about the serial killing in the area (this is actually more a matter of active forgetting on my part; as it happens, I have a family member who is a drug addict and she fit the profile of many of the victims; I more or less consciously decided not to follow that story).

                I’ve never actually been to the U.P. Some of your description seems similar to southern/southeastern Ohio, especially the distaste for outsiders, which is often racially inflected but also frequently inflected by class/culture. They often are disdainful of relatively wealthy outsiders from urban areas. This can even include the residents of Chillicothe themselves; that is, the folks in the poorer outlying areas view the folks in Chillicothe (particularly those from the wealthier west side of town) with some disdain. Indeed, this tendency led to some near-violent confrontations when I was in high school, as me and my friends nearly got our asses kicked because we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

                We don’t get much by way of tourism in the area, or at least we didn’t when I was living there. Chillicothe is a kind of rural area, but not nearly as remote and wild as the UP is perceived to be.

        • Archie Goodwin came from Chillicothe.

    • tde

      Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky.

      Odd the way that people who probably think themselves attuned to cultural sensitivity just lump those states together.

      • Hogan

        Odd that people who think others are culturally insensitive treat whole states as undifferentiated masses.

      • PhoenixRising

        Again, me too. Unlike Vance, a child of a 90s suburb, I grew up in the other part of Ohio, the one that used to be Ford and Chevy and US Steel country before Reagan slashed the unions til they bled to death.

        But I’m not making a career out of attacking hill people, or Rust Belt former-but-never-again manufacturing workers, as the engineers of their own destruction.

        And that’s where I get the moral high ground to call him what he is: An affirmative-action diversity admit who made the best of the opportunities his ‘unusual’ ‘outsider’ ‘working-class’ ‘Appalachian’ background got him at an Ivy.

        JD Vance and his dime-store insight can go jump in a lake.

        • LFC

          re “affirmative action diversity admit”: he writes that he graduated summa cum laude, and in approx. 2 years, from Ohio State, and also did v. well on the LSAT. So he might’ve gotten into Yale Law School on the strength on his numbers alone. His background didn’t hurt, presumably, but I don’t think it’s clear that he was an affirmative-action admit.

      • LFC

        “Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky.”

        He grew up in both Ohio and Kentucky, for a time shuttling between the two, as the book makes clear. Spent more time in Ohio, where he went to high school, but he presents himself in the bk as having grown up in, and being the product of, both towns (the one in Ohio and the one in Kentucky where his family orig. comes from).

  • hickes01

    Did he borrow that blazer from Jared Kushner?

  • cpinva

    that’s funny, when I was a kid (50’s, 60’s, early 70’s), making money and improving on your parent’s status was all the rage (my parents being children of the depression). it’s why going to college was so heavily pushed, as the means of climbing the financial/social ladder. it’s why I damn near killed myself to pass the CPA exam, and planned to go to law school (a dual certified asshole!), until I found out we were with child. all of this was to take care of family and provide stability (and, hopefully, make our parents proud of us, that they had raised competent, responsible children.). what planet was Mr. Vance raised on, that no one cared about making money? it must be in a galaxy far, fucking far away.

    I also recognize that I (and my peers) were very fortunate. between being white, having a middle-class upbringing, and parents determined to make certain we didn’t fuck around, and got the necessary education, all the ingredients for success were there, I just needed to avail myself of them. a whole lot of people (of all ethnicities) weren’t so fortunate. Mr. Vance knows this, or should, which makes him an even bigger dick than the average republican/conservative asshole.

    • medrawt

      Indeed, my dad (born ’55), inspired in part by the admonitions of his own depression-reared father, interpreted providing stability to his family as “making as much money as he could to secure as good a life as I can for my wife and child.” You could argue about whether he should’ve worked a little less and shot hoops with me a little more (he worries about this more than I do), but trying to detach “money” from “stability” is nuts. Hell, “money,” in the form of my father’s income, is what gave my family the “stability” for my mother to only work part-time, and then not at all, so that I could reap whatever benefits accrue to having a parent around pretty much full-time.

      I don’t know from West Virginia, but I grew up in a small and dying post-industrial city in Massachusetts, so it’s not like I didn’t grow up with examples of economic anxiety and people making poor life choices all around me, even though I was more fortunate than that, in large part because my dad was able to make a fair amount of money. Does this stupid fucker who works for Peter Thiel know what capitalism is?

      • tde

        Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky.

  • Pete

    These two sentences you wrote:

    And he isn’t interested in government solutions. All hillbillies need to do is work hard, maybe do a stint in the military, and they can end up at Yale Law School like he did.

    Don’t seem to me to match the passage from his book that you quote:

    “Public policy can help,” he writes, “but there is no government that can fix these problems for us … it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”

    Also — I’ve read the book, and I grew up not terribly far from his hometown (mine is mentioned) in a neighborhood full of poor whites from Appalachia — I can say tell you that the picture Vance paints rings quite true. I also have a very hard time understanding how anyone can read that book and derive the takeaways you seem to: (a) that Vance isn’t interested in government solutions to help the working poor; or (b) that Vance thinks he pulled himself up by the bootstraps and succeeded on his own merits.

    As I recall, Vance is clear that he feels pretty damn lucky, almost didn’t get out, and owes a lot to some key family members and other mentors who took interest and helped him along the way.

    Why the hate?

    • humanoid.panda

      “Public policy can help,” he writes, “but there is no government that can fix these problems for us … it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”

      Maybe its unfair that Erik is attacking without reading, but let’s face it, 99% of the time, any statements begins with ““but there is no government that can fix these problems for us” what follows is bullshit.

      • Pete

        If Erik attacked without reading, that would explain his conclusions.

    • libarbarian

      IBecause it fucks with the narrative.

      LGM is getting positively schizophrenic about this subject. On the one hand they are irredeemable racists whom Democrats should make no effort to reach out to because it will necessarily require us to compromise our principles ….. but apparently they are also victims who should not have their choices judged (except by perfectly orthodox progressives who write for and work for acceptable entities).

      And since when the fuck is “stop blaming Obama” something that could be ripped from conservative media? What conservative media have they be reading or watching?

      • tde

        Good point about the schizoprenia.

        • yinz

          Thirded. What the hell?

          • There’s a tendency in progressivism to criticize strivers as insufficiently attuned to the virtues of community, to feel poor people are moral and have good social values until corrupted by the lures of money and (new-)liberalism, and to blame populism and other social ills (like racism) on those who succumb to those lures. This may be based in the true observation that poor people shouldn’t be attacked just for being poor.

            But then Vance accepts this tendency of the left and turns it instead on the poor. It’s an easy switch to make.

            That’s my take, anyway.

      • Patick Spens

        Drug addiction and child abandonment are predictable reactions to not having enough money, and should not be condemned. Voting for a racist is a mortal sin.

    • agorabum

      the hate seems to be not for the descriptions but for the prescriptions.

      A cycle of poverty and hopelessness actually could be helped by a major government investment in healthcare and addiction services, which sends a message to citizens that their nation does care about their health and well being and wants to help them improve themselves (vs more jokes about trailer trash).

      People asking “what can we do to make things better” is good, but the idea that leadership or outside assistance is useless also doesn’t seem right.

      And Loomis seems to be pretty hostile because he was the same guy who got out of a dying rural town and didn’t talk bad on everyone once he was out.

    • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

      Yeah, having read the book, it’s 99% descriptive about his life, with maybe part of the remaining 1% prescriptive. He doesn’t sound great when he cites Charles Murray, or convinces himself that payday lending is a boon for impoverished communities, but I also don’t recall him making sweeping claims to have thought deeply about the issues.

      And really, the backlash seems to be more about Trump than about Vance. Vance, by luck of being in the right place at the right time, Forrest Gump’d his way into being there when the media was looking to Explain The Election. Call what ensued a grift if you want, but I think the written work stands on its own.

  • Tzimiskes

    Thanks for writing this. I had heard enough about this I was considering reading it, but it hit so many conservative notes I was on the fence. Since I almost never don’t finish a book I started knowing this book is a waste of time saves me some reading hours.

    On another note, are there any actually good books that give a better look at the working class? Going out and talking to people gives some local insights but are anecdotal and doesn’t help me understand the WWC in the south or Appalachia.

    • Ronan

      Related(a bit) this is coming out in a few weeks (prob out already in the US) looks decent

      https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/amy-goldstein/janesville/

      • Ronan

        Though Jesmyn Ward’s memoir ‘Men we Reaped’ (about the African American ‘WC’) which came out a few years before is superior to it in every way. (so much so that the comparison to is probably unfair on Ward)

        http://www.npr.org/2013/09/17/221024438/in-reaped-5-lives-that-are-far-more-than-just-statistics

        Did anyone else read this? (Ive always been curious to know what people with more knowledge about it than me thought of the book.)

        • Katya

          It’s not quite right to say I loved Men We Reaped, because it’s such a hard book, but it’s an amazing work. Partly, I think that’s Ward’s gifts as a writer, but it’s also the way that she doesn’t have to make the men who died either heroes and saints, or villains; she can just share them with the reader.

          • Ronan

            She really is an excellent writer. I keep meaning to get around to one of her novels (she has a new one coming out iirc)

        • Pete

          Thanks for the link. I’m buying it now.

    • Pete

      Well, I’d actually recommend Hillbilly Elegy, but then I’m not one to turn to for progressive street cred.

      I also think Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: [Long Subtitle] conveys some interesting insights and information — covers the scope of American history and the existence and manipulation of the perennial underclass throughout.

      • Ronan

        I liked a lot of Hillbilly Elegy, but Ive no experience of the culture so for all I know it’s complete bullshit. Aspects of it(descriptively) seemed plausible to me though.
        Prescriptively it’s fucking nonsensical (but that’s to be expected) I felt the same about Charles Murray’s ‘Coming Apart’ though, so….

        • Tzimiskes

          Ugh, just finished Coming Apart. It lined up well enough with what I knew about the subject when he was describing the situation. But Murray can’t help but editorialize with his crack brained theories and seems completely incapable of understanding what liberal researchers have to say on topics like single motherhood. The most frustrating thing about the book is that it got so much attention when there really isn’t much in it that hadn’t already been covered elsewhere but without the framing. People seem to stop and stare at a Conservative writing a book while completely ignoring liberal takes on the subject.

          • Ronan

            ” But Murray can’t help but editorialize with his crack brained theories”

            I know yeah. Murray really cant resist jumping on one of his many ridiculous hobby horses (the cognitive elite need to lead the underclass back to traditional values and industriousness by mingling with them more at Church..or whatever his overall solution was.)

            • I think his solution was that rich white people should abandon drugs, rock and roll, and, you know, liberalism, and be better moral examples, like, say, Mitt Romney or Mike Pence, and then the poor people would follow.

              • Ronan

                It’s been a while since I read it, but Wasnt His argument that they(the ‘cognitive elite’ as he’d call them) were already living a more ‘traditional’ life (ie had less divorce, attended Church more often) but that they had self segregated from the rest of the population. The solution (as per Murray) was for the upper class to adopt a paternalistic attitude towards the rest and show them how to live properly (Im not supporting this nonsense, fwiw, just that’s how I remember it)

                • Ronan

                  Though in fairness I think we’re both really saying the same thing.

                • Tzimiskes

                  I just finished it a couple weeks ago, and I remember that being basically his argument, though I don’t remember that his recommendation flowed very well from the rest of the book. The other part of it was regarding assortative mating and that the cognitive elite was to some degree a genetic elite (he didn’t put it this bluntly in Coming Apart, having learned from The Bell Curve and Losing Ground, but having read Losing Ground the continuity of the argument was unmistakable.) There was also a non-sequitur about Europe’s eminent collapse showing that Social Democracy not being an answer and some special pleading about his values excusing the fact that he didn’t reach similar conclusions to liberal researchers on the subject, despite not really having any novel evidence which pointed in a different direction from other researchers.

                  I’m preaching to the choir here, but I came away from the book really irritated that he didn’t engage with the comparatively high prime age labor force participation rate in Europe, how sexual mores and gender roles (thinking of things like delayed marriage and more equal task sharing in marriage) differ so sharply between the American “cognitive elite” and the WWC he is studying and how this may relate to the relative success of marital relations, and several other connections that seem like they should be obvious to anyone with even a casual introduction to the literature and much more obvious to someone that supposedly has mastered it well enough to write a book on it. But there’s no reason to confront these connections because VALUES!

                  Sorry, the book really frustrated me and has me almost motivated enough to post a long rant on all the problems I had with it. I probably would if I had it in text instead of audio book so could quote rather than paraphrase it.

                • I’m going on media coverage, excerpts, etc., for the rich people section. I read the first part on Kensington, made a list of books to read on Phila. history because it didn’t ring true to me, and had to return it to the library.

                  I would bet good money, if there were any way to confirm this, that he wrote the thing believing he was writing about actual towns, and some reviewer said “No.” And he had to pretend it had been fiction all along.

                • Incidentally a family friend with a son maybe 10-15 years older than me grew up around there; he vanity-published a memoir much like Vance’s, and much like many other articles you can find in regional publications, about how when he was growing up this rather dangerous-to-outsiders neighborhood was a good place to grow up. But Not Now. I remember his argument spent some time on the cultural significance of men’s hats.

                  Vance is possibly commendable for not going the “it was better then” route, at least in the book, but it could be that he’s just a lot younger, and sets the golden age farther back relative to himself.

                • And now that I think of it, it may not be insignificant that the book spent almost no time on his mother and stepfather, with whom he lived, and quite a lot on his father and his hats (in the 70s, which I guess could be true, but I don’t remember a lot of that myself).

        • Patick Spens

          My mother has extended family that comes from Appalachian hillbilly stock, and she says the book rang true, and help her understand where some of that behavior came from.

    • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
      https://www.amazon.com/Nickel-Dimed-Not-Getting-America/dp/0312626681

      • I’ll second this recommendation. In fact, if everyone in the country read this book, I suspect it would become a much better country almost immediately.

    • Ronan

      “On another note, are there any actually good books that give a better look at the working class?”

      I should have mentioned Justin Geists book aswell

      https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-new-minority-9780190632540?cc=ie&lang=en&

      which is quite interesting, and doesnt seem to have gotten a lot of press (it’s academicy but readable)

      • Tzimiskes

        Thanks for the book recommendations everyone. I’ve got some reading cut out for me.

      • Kerans

        From an anthropologist: The Livelihood of Kin: Making Ends Meet “The Kentucky Way” by Rhoda Halperin.

        • Ronan

          Thanks, that looks very interesting. I’ve put it on the list.

  • JackLondon

    To all white NPR listeners:

    My dad’s side of the family is from poor, rural Tennessee. Neither of my dad’s parents graduated from high school. I grew up in a desert community in Southern California full of the permanent white underclass. My sister and her husband voted for Trump.

    You don’t have to read Vance’s book, or anyone’s book, to learn the reason why these people voted for Trump. I’ll tell you right now. Come in close so I can whisper it in your ear. . . . IT’S RACISM!!!

    • PunditusMaximus

      Just like the reason for why they voted for any other Republican ever.

    • Justin Runia

      At least Redneck Manifesto had the courage to correctly identify it as racism, before going on to blame the economic elites for stoking the noble Scots-Irish’s tribal tendencies. Hillbilly Elegy scrubs even that honesty, exchanging it for some metaphysical hand-waving about ‘culture’. As stated in other ziggurats, the book works just fine in the descriptive, confessional sense, but lacks any coherence when moving out to abstract statements.

  • Downpuppy

    Please don’t write about growing up in Oregon. Richard Brautigan did that well enough for quite a while.

  • brewmn

    But he’s certainly making himself seem as a Reasonable Knowledgeable Voice of Those People to liberals who don’t understand how poor white people could vote for Donald Trump even though they would benefit from the social programs of Democratic presidents. Personally, I would recommend listening to 40-year old Merle Haggard songs as a more insightful view into the white working class than Vance provides.

    Oh, FFS. As if Merle wasn’t promoting a brand of his own that was at least as stereotypical of the lives of the WWC.

    • Pete

      If you’re talking down Merle Haggard, Hoss, you’re walking on the fighting side of me.

    • Eric was not, I think, suggesting that 40-year-old Merle Haggard songs were very insightful at all—merely that they were more insightful than Hillbilly Elegy. Which may well be true.

      • I mean, I think Working Man Blues is more insightful than anything JD Vance has to say, but that doesn’t mean that’s a high bar to clear.

  • jamesepowell

    Or, you know, spend time around white working class people.

    This is what most will never do. They’ll go to a public event or two, maybe talk to the guys at a sports bar, but never spend enough time to really understand white working class political behavior.

  • I suspect we’re going to be seeing a lot of pop culture circling around these issues with the predictable and frustrating blindspot for the racism that underpins them. I mentioned this in another thread, but when I was in New York two weeks ago I saw a play called Sweat – which won the Pulitzer yesterday – which had some smart things to say, but ultimately felt to me like Economic Anxiety, Not Racism: The Play. The whole thing hinges around an assault whose racist motivations are not nearly sufficiently acknowledged, and the anodyne conclusion complete ignores the way that racism on the part of one assailant (and his enabling mother) has poisoned and blighted the prospects of their entire social group.

    • Origami Isopod

      Interesting. I hadn’t heard of Sweat and looked it up; the playwright is Lynn Nottage, who is African American.

  • Murc

    Or, you know, spend time around white working class people.

    You know, it’s not hard to go find white working class people to talk to if you want to know about them. They are all around you.

    Why?

    Serious question. If I want to understand the white working class, to which I belong economically although not socially, the idea that I can come to do so by hanging out with .00000001% of them seems dubious at best.

    Let’s put aside the fact that I have, you know, a job, and familial responsibilities, and precious little time to spare to conduct amateur cultural anthropology. Even if all those things weren’t the case, what precisely am I going to learn by, say, gritting my teeth and making the time to hang out with my brothers hunting buddies two or three times a month?

    I mean… isn’t this what academics are for? If I want to understand the British, or the French, or European social and political economy, I don’t just throw up my hands and go “well, I do not have the resources to cross the ocean and spend time with these people, nor do I have the training to conduct in-depth studies of them and analyze the results. I guess I’ll never understand them.”

    No! That’s ridiculous. Instead I go and read books by people who were qualified to conduct that sort of anthropological study and put in the time to do so! That is why the field exists. If it cannot fulfill its basic function then what good is it?

    I do want to understand the white working class, Erik. That’s relevant to my life in a salient way because of the outsized role that the myths and facts surrounding them play in our political system and because there’s a decent case to be made that fascism has arrived in the White House riding on their backs. This seems like a pretty good reason to want to understand those folks, if for no other reason than to come to a decision as to if they need to be converted, destroyed, some combination thereof, or if I’m asking the wrong questions about them.

    But I don’t have the resources or the expertise to, say, go live in West Virginia doing intense study for five years and then combine my observations with wider datasets in order to form solid conclusions.

    This is not to defend Vance specifically, as he’s a giant hack. I mean, good god:

    As I often say: American Dream wasn’t about money when I was a kid, it was about stability and family.

    Where does he think that stability and came from? Hmm? I would submit that dependable weekly paycheck of sufficient size was perhaps a big part of it!

    • Pete

      Don’t conflate the tweet with the book.

    • Rob in CT

      I’ve always wondered how, exactly, the out-of-touch well-off liberal (i.e., me) is supposed to go about this either. You know, without it being a total shitshow.

      I don’t interact with WC people socially. This wasn’t some conscious choice I made. But it’s the reality of my life. So I’m supposed to, what, seek them out and strike up political conversations? Seems like kind of an assholish thing to do.

      Listening to (W)WC liberals about how to rebuild local Democratic parties in certain areas seems like the best route. Other people can help fund those efforts.

      • Murc

        Sometimes I worry that you and I are secretly the same person, Rob.

        • Rob in CT

          Hah.

          Thinking about it some more, there is one person in my social circle who qualifies as WWC. Not a college grad, did auto repair when he worked, now a stay-at-home dad.

          He’s kind of “my racist friend” (met via his wife, who we knew first) though he’s been slightly better over the past year or two about saying overtly racist shit – maybe the side-eye he was getting clued him in. But he flat-out admitted at one point he pulled his son out of a magnet school because it wasn’t white enough for his comfort.

          We’ve only talked politics once or twice. It didn’t go THAT badly, but let’s just say he’s no liberal and never will be.

          So.

      • tde

        I don’t interact with WC people socially.

        I’ve learned a lot by hanging out and chatting with my gardeners and pool boys.

        • I’ve learned a lot by hanging out and chatting with my gardeners and pool boys.

          I believe that many fine documentaries about just such learning experiences are available on the internet!

          • Origami Isopod

            “Hanging out and chatting”? Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

          • wjts

            Unless Field and Stream lied to me, they may not be all that interesting.

            • Well, I suspect if you’re interested in learning about gardening, you might not find them all that satisfying.

    • Katya

      I agree on both points. What Vance is peddling, while interesting as a family memoir, is not good anthropology or sociology, but that doesn’t make those fields useless. And the idea that “stability” wasn’t about money is ridiculous. Economic stress can be toxic to those “family values” he loves.

      • MAJeff

        What Vance is peddling, while interesting as a family memoir, is not good anthropology or sociology, but that doesn’t make those fields useless.

        The “sociology” and “anthropology” sections in most bookstores contain very little sociology or anthropology. You’re more likely to see Brooks and Vance there than Pager or Cottom.

      • JR in WV

        Did Vance study sociology or anthropology? I don’t know for sure, but I didn’t really pick that up. Not your typical LSAT prep work, either.

        So taking this as pure memoir is one thing, expecting it to be scientifically (academically) relevant to, well, anything, is probably expecting way too much.

        Mr Vance isn’t the first person to leave the Hill Country of the eastern mountains via a liberal arts college. Not by any means.

    • tde

      Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky. Not West Virginia.

      Odd the way that people who probably think themselves attuned to cultural sensitivity just lump those states together.

      • Yes, we get it. He’s a fake hillbilly.

        • Pete

          You don’t think there are hillbillies in Kentucky or SouthEastern Ohio?

          • He’s not from SE Ohio. He’s from Middletown, just north of Cincinnati.

            • Q.E.Dumbass

              Well

              And Mike Brown is exactly what these charmless, drunken, bad chili-eaters deserve. Shit, they even racially profiled their OWN team’s running back. Cincinnati is, perhaps, our least essential city. I can never spell it right on the first try and I don’t care to learn because who gives a fuck about that place. It’s a city that blends the worst parts of Ohio with the worst parts of Indiana and Kentucky. It’s the bad guy in its rivalry with Cleveland and doesn’t even realize it. Did you know they eat goetta here? That’s scrapple with oatmeal mixed into it. Good God. Why would you eat that? These people eat horse food. They’re fucked in the tongue. There’s nothing to redeem that racist, tasteless bore of a town.

              Cincinnati wishes it could be in the South so badly. It’s the only perma-grey Rust Belt city that wishes it could fly a Confederate flag. Bengals players can’t shop in the metro area without getting racially profiled. Most of the town’s best exports are bands that often sing about how bombed out Cincinnati is.

              Carol, the Oscar nominated drama starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, was set in 1950s New York but filmed in present day Cincinnati, a city proudly stuck sixty years in the past.

              That “Ohio not WV” is a rather pointless quibble, however.

              • Sure, but SW Ohio is part of Appalachia, which is what the epithet “hillbilly” refers to. Cincinnati is not in Appalachia.

                • SE Ohio, of course. I lost the edit link finally. I should try debugging that.

                  Figured it out. There’s a broken script on the page. I’ll email the admins.

                • Hogan

                  If you get that fixed I will buy you all the beers.

                • JR in WV

                  Actually, using the term Hillbilly in Cincinnati is regarded as a slur, the same as ni**er in other places. Wife worked for decades to get that same distinction made in the AP Style Book.

                  Success about the same time The AP began its current swirl around the drain with the rest of the standard media giants.

                • JR in WV

                  When I said “regarded” I should have been more specific. Legally, it is regarded as discriminatory in the same way that use of a racist epithet would be.

                  You can’t treat someone differently at work in Cincinnati because they are from KY or WV any more than you can because they are Black or Asian. Tricky to prove, perhaps, without a smart phone’s recording function…

                  WOAH!!! Edit button appears!!!!! YES!

          • tde

            There can be, sure.

            But there have been about 1/2 dozen comments up in her about West Virginia for some reason.

            • for some reason

              West Virginia presidential election results, 1996:

              * Bill Clinton (D) – 51.51%
              Bob Dole (R) – 36.76%

              West Virginia presidential election results, 2016:

              * Donald Trump (R) – 68.5%
              Hillary Clinton (D) – 26.4%

              • witlesschum

                People can’t handle the complexity of higher percentages of rural white people voting for Republicans without shorthanding to one particular that’s has almost no one else to balance out all rural white people?

    • Patick Spens

      Vance’s grandfather had one of those stable factory jobs where you could work your entire life in the same place. And it paid for a house and a car, and all the other trappings of the american dream. And his grandmother (who is basically the hero of the first half of the book) lit him on fire when he came home drunk one night. Elegy is Vance grappling with why dependable weekly paychecks didn’t lead to stability for him and his.

  • King Goat

    Interesting that calls for cultural change as reform seem to never start with, say, corporate culture.

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      Easier to change 16M Trump voters than 16 millionaires, I guess.

    • What C-level executive is going to chuck it all for a chance to write a book for Regnery about the moral destitution of his people?

    • DrS

      Corporate culture, by it’s direct influence by the Invisible Hand, is already perfect, of course.

  • malraux

    This is excellent. As I often say: American Dream wasn’t about money when I was a kid, it was about stability and family.

    Alternate theory, parents/authority figures hid talk about money from kids. Also, money is pretty good at buying stability.

    • This is excellent. As I often say: American Dream wasn’t about money when I was a kid, it was about stability and family.

      Alternate theory, parents/authority figures hid talk about money from kids.

      Yeah. If four-year-old me hadn’t crept out of my bed to the top of the stairs to listen to my parents down in the kitchen, I’d never have heard them saying “we’re going to go to the poorhouse!” to each other at night.

      Of course I might have picked up a hint of economic anxiety in the air anyway.

      • JR in WV

        Wow, you did that too??

        I thought I was the only one curious about the tension!! 1954.

    • American Dream wasn’t about money when I was a kid

      America was great in 1975 when I was ten. I had my own bike and survived comfortably on ten bucks a week allowance which I spent mostly on baseball cards, comic books and an occassional Mad Magazine.

      Why can’t America be great like that again?

      • Addendum: I never understood why the adults would always gripe about how times were now tough unlike the late 50’s/early 60’s when achieving the American Dream was so much easier.

      • Juicy_Joel

        ten bucks a week allowance

        In 2015, the relative value of $10.00 from 1975 ranges from $35.10 to $107.00.

        • it may have been five bucks I forget.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Lugghsury! I got two dollars!

            • Hogan

              You got cash? I got vouchers that could be redeemed only in the coal cellar!

  • D.N. Nation

    Hillbilly Elegy is trash, but part of me always thinks Sarah Jones decries it so because Vance became West Virginia Whisperer before Jones ever got a chance to peddle that schtick.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      How long did John Cole take to mellow out?

    • tde

      Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky.

      Odd the way that people who probably think themselves attuned to cultural sensitivity just lump those states together.

      • In your haste to copy-paste this comment, you didn’t even bother to notice that this comment didn’t actually say he was from West Virginia, nor did Murc’s. Maybe read things before you comment.

        • tde

          Hillbilly Elegy is trash, but part of me always thinks Sarah Jones decries it so because Vance became West Virginia Whisperer before Jones ever got a chance to peddle that schtick.

          Yes, indeed, maybe read before commenting.

          Oh, and let me save you the trouble of feverishly pecking away something along the lines of “Well just because it says he is a West Virginia Whisperer, that does not mean he is from West Virginia” because my response to that is you can fuck right off.

          • With that kind of charm, it’s surprising more people aren’t paying heed to your important ideas.

          • D.N. Nation

            West Virginia Whisperer implies that the person feigns to speak for people from WV, not that they are necessarily from WV. HTH.

      • Morbo

        Are you a bot, or do you think this is actually an insightful corrective?

        • tde

          COMMENTER IS NOT A BOT.

          COMMENTER IS NOT A BOT.

          But, seriously, yes, I do think there is a meaningful difference between growing up in Ohio and having parents from Kentucky versus growing up in West Virginia.

          The fact that you don’t recognize that suggests that you don’t have much insight or familiarity with those states and that, to you, there is just this amorphous blob of unwashed white folks in the fly over states.

      • los

        Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky.

        I don’t know whether those two locations are similar or not, but can’t there be more similarity between selected locations in two states, than between two selected locations within a single state?

        For example, flat rural is not like hilly rural.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachia

        Large old, urban center, etc. cities in two adjacent states:
        2015 populations
        Columbus OH 835,957
        Louisville KY 597,337

        _________
        List of cities in Kentucky – Wikipedia click header to sort table by column; county seat etc.
        List of cities in Ohio – Wikipedia, sortable table

      • los

        Vance grew up in Ohio and his family is from Kentucky.

        I don’t know whether those two locations are similar or not, but can’t there be more similarity between selected locations in two states, than between two selected locations within a single state?

        For example, flat rural is not like hilly rural.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachia

        Large old, urban center, etc. cities in two adjacent states:
        2015 populations
        Columbus OH 835,957
        Louisville KY 597,337

      • MAJeff

        That’s quite copy/paste you’ve got going.

  • lige

    32! I assumed he was a baby boomer from all the bootstrap platitudes. The millennials may be worse!

    • los

      Inherited idealogical heritage baggage from the Heritage Baggage Society’s cobwebbed Lost and Found room in the basement.

      • los

        (ideological)

  • Caepan

    I grew up in Appalachian PA, and left for good in 2001. (Though I do go back to visit family and friends.)

    Candidate Barack Obama had the WWC pegged in 2008:

    You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

    And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

    And man, did it piss a lot of them off that a ni(CLANG!) could describe them so accurately!

    It’s why I thought it was funny (well, not ha-ha funny) that so many people from my home town would go to a rally held at an arena that was built using federal and state tax dollars (provided by a Democratic president, a Democratic governor, AND a Democratic US Representative) to listen to a fake rich guy (whose inherited wealth was built on federal housing developments) tell them that Democrats were wasting their tax dollars. Oh, and that only he could bring their obsolete jobs back!

    • los

      Candidate Barack Obama had the WWC pegged in 2008:

      (particularly WWC single-industry abandoned zone. And little different than AA/black WC single-industry abandoned zones of old cities)

      And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

      I had forgotten Obama’s “anti-trade sentiment” point and his “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them” (blue coast libtards!)

      “guns or religion” was RWNJ MSM’s most disseminated cherrypicklet. It was the attack pros’ (NRA…) “moneyshot”.

    • los

      Caepan says:

      that only he could bring their obsolete jobs back!

      The perpetual problem. When improvements (“solutions”) are nebulous and difficult, the glib liars driveby and profit.

      tell them that Democrats were wasting their tax dollars

      Also obvious: People who have lost obsolete jobs aren’t paying taxes.

  • tsam

    This is excellent. As I often say: American Dream wasn’t about money when I was a kid, it was about stability and family.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    K, bro.

    • brewmn

      Family and stability will get you through times of no money better than money will get your through times of no family and stability.

      – Hedge Fund Harry, the least entertaining Fabulous Furry Freak Brother.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Shouldn’t it be the other way around for a head fund bro?

        PS- for years my spouse had my collection of FFFB comics in a file at the office. When she was at her wits end about something, she’d pull out an issue and get mellow again.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          PS- and I know for the FFFBs money was secondary.

  • Um, . . . The fourth paragraph of that pull quote is pretty bad.

  • Gone2Ground

    Even though I know he got in trouble for misusing his sources later, I enjoyed “All Over But the Shoutin” much more than even the reviews for “HE” and I thought Bragg vividly portrayed the grinding poverty and endless work his mother had to do just to keep the family fed. Unsparing. Tough.

    And reminded me in some ways of my WWC MIL, who got married at 13 during the Great Depression and managed to successfully raise 8 kids with a much older husband.

  • and really, why would you watch a Ron Howard film

    Howard misses more than he hits, but he’s made some pretty good movies. If you’re bored some night, I highly recommend “The Paper” from 1995. Great script, and an outstanding cast with Michael Keaton in the lead backed up by Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, pre-insanity Randy Quaid, and even a mid-Seinfeld Jason Alexander.

    Also, JD Vance is bad and should feel bad, but won’t feel bad because Thiel doesn’t hire non-sociopaths.

  • PunditusMaximus

    After digging in the weeds for a while, I came to understand that Libertarians are conservatives whose (possibly justified) hatred for their mothers pushes them a specific direction.

    I have yet to meet a Libertarian that didn’t hate the shit out of their mom. Again, often justified. But not necessarily the right axiom for understanding how humans should make decisions as a collective.

    One wing of my family is part of this ethnic group. And yes, substance abuse and terrible decisions are their defining characteristics. But that’s white people in general. It’s a question of whether you can make enough money to paper over the bad decisions and not push you into full-blown destructive addiction or not. Many of my friends’ families have fairly specific dates when one final job loss, illness, or what-have-you pushed the parent in question into total submission to their addiction, and those dates are generally the central ones in their lives. Others don’t have one of these days, and they’re ok, but they still can’t stand their bad-decision-making, racist, sexist, anxiety-ridden parents.

    White culture is super mean and it cranks out damaged people. That’s the only rational explanation for how a set of ideas as fundamentally deranged as conservatism could conceivably have a constituency.

    • los

      PunditusMaximus says:

      After digging in the weeds for a while, I came to understand that Libertarians are conservatives whose (possibly justified) hatred for their mothers pushes them a specific direction.

      I have yet to meet a Libertarian that didn’t hate the shit out of their mom. Again, often justified.

      ! . That may be the basis of a short book, or a series of “magazine” articles.

      • That may be the basis of a short book, or a series of “magazine” articles.

        Pro-Tip: in (some) working class dialects (in particular, that of Fall River, MA, and environs), what you are calling a “‘magazine'” is called a “book”. Surprised the hell out of me when I first took note of it, but there you are.

        • los

          Surprised the hell out of me when I first took note[2] of it, but there you are

          Webmag[♥]?
          Webbook[1]?

          /you old suspender-hosiery wearing fuddyduddy! get offa yer own lawn!

          _____________
          1a. Watch for my next web essay, “More Vaporware – Why ToiletPaper 2.0 was an Investor’s La Brea Tarpit.”
          1b. “Wither the Hopes of Finches and Dockside Fishmongers in the Cyber Age.”
          1c. But wait. I have the full set of wikipedias.
          1huh. There’s more, but that deaf old man can’t hear me shouting at him to get offa my lawn.

          2. left as an exorcise/incitement for the reader.

          ♥. WebRag.org – how did you guess?

          • los

            Addendum.
            1d. “How Internet White Papers Stay So White – A ToiletPaper 3.0 Explainer.”

        • los

          beyond the joking… there is some crossover/transistion between “magazine” and “book”.

          hardbound short story collections.
          hardbound collections of a single author’s newspaper columns.
          reader’s digest.
          those “debate both sides of [issue]” books.
          hardbound yearbook collection of papers of technical associations.

          • tde

            Don’t some people who work at “magazines” refer to their book. As in “How is next month’s book coming along?”

            • Yes. Also “front of the book”, “back of the book”.

              But I’d call that jargon, not dialect. (And then run away if anyone asked me to make a principled distinction.)

          • Jim in Baltimore

            Hardbound yearbooks are still periodicals. Annuals, to be specific.

      • PunditusMaximus

        Ya know, a series of interviews in which people interview prominent libertarian folk about their relationships with their moms would be pretty good. I’m not the human who could get those interviews, though.

    • lizzie

      I have yet to meet a Libertarian that didn’t hate the shit out of their mom.

      I read this, and then I thought about the one purported libertarian I know well, and by God he hates his mom. That’s eerie.

      • PunditusMaximus

        It’s a thing.

    • Mike G

      White American culture is super mean and it cranks out damaged people.

      Fixed it for you.

      • PunditusMaximus

        American culture is white culture and responses to white culture.

        • Eh. Largely, maybe. But I’m not really sure works like The Wire and Moonlight can be characterised as “responses to white culture”, and they’re certainly not “white culture”; to me, they both look like more or less objective looks at the country, not as particular responses to any specific works. Then again, one can question whether they qualify as mainstream American culture, but Moonlight just won the Academy Award for Best Picture and grossed roughly sixty million dollars at the box office (or roughly forty times its budget) so I’m not sure how much more mainstream it could be.

          And those works aren’t mean, either. So I dunno. I kinda have ambiguities about the whole premise. White American culture is certainly mean overall, though, yes.

        • witlesschum

          Isn’t David Hackett Fisher going to come shoot a gun at you or something for lumping all white cultures together?

          The reaction to white culture description doesn’t seem right for many groups of Hispanics, either.

        • Origami Isopod

          Nah. Even if you go old-school by restricting the term to Northern and Western European peoples minus the Celts, European “white cultures” aren’t the same as U.S. white culture, nor are they perfectly homogeneous themselves.

    • Origami Isopod

      I have yet to meet a Libertarian that didn’t hate the shit out of their mom.

      None too surprising, given the creepy misogyny in that subculture that frequently manifests in the form of regarding romantic/sexual relationships as economic transactions.

      Also, libertarianism doesn’t deal well with the existence of children, who are by necessity “takers.” I’ll note that none of Ayn Rand’s books even mention kids. I guess I can see how, if one’s parents were abusive, you can develop the notion that one cannot and should not ever rely on anyone else. But that’s not inevitable.

      • PunditusMaximus

        That was my entry point. Why would any group of people have a blind spot so utterly vast? When you talk to Libertarians about family life, most of the bluescreen.

      • I always read Rand as having been tremendously emotionally scarred by the Russian Revolution, which occurred during her childhood. Her entire life can be read as a reaction to that event. She was a horrible person but I’m willing to give her a slight pass for some of it that I’m not willing to give her followers: she has what TV Tropes might describe as a “Freudian excuse”.

        She also heavily objected to the term ‘libertarian’, saying that she would have more chance of coming to an agreement with a communist than with a ‘libertarian’. Given her childhood, the depth of her loathing becomes apparent here. She herself ran her own personality cult, so it’s kind of surprising that so many ‘libertarians’ worship her, and I find this rather telling about ‘libertarianism’ as a whole.

        The word ‘libertarian’ was initially coined as a synonym for ‘anarchist’; the right-wing later successfully hijacked this term, as they also tried (less successfully) to do with ‘anarchist’ itself. Capitalism, consisting of a hierarchy, is intrinsically not libertarian at all: you do what the boss says or you don’t eat. There’s an authoritarianism implicit in the entire structure here. If libertarian is the antonym of authoritarian, then it is impossible for any society containing a structure as authoritarian as the corporation to qualify as libertarian. It’s an intrinsic paradox, which is probably why you get alleged ‘libertarians’ such as Hoppe and Rothbard expressing sympathy to some frightfully authoritarian views.

        And yes, the disturbing sexual politics and complete ignorance of how to deal with families (Rand herself also qualifies for all of this) are also quite telling about the entire movement.

        • Origami Isopod

          The term “works” if you adopt the the definition of “liberty” that, per David Hackett Fischer, was commonly understood by Borderers: the freedom of the white male patriarch to do whatever he pleased, including to his “inferiors.”

          • Well, that only even applies to well-placed white men; the WWC people are so fond of discussing these days wouldn’t have such freedom in a lolbert society. I suspect you’re correct anyway though, and while we’re at it, lolberts’ lack of focus on women’s rights issues is another tell, as is their general lack of focus on racial justice issues that aren’t drugs. Radley Balko is just about the only one I can credit with actual intellectual consistency on this issue, which makes the old characterisation of lolberts as “pot-smoking Republicans” seem dead on.

            • Origami Isopod

              the WWC people are so fond of discussing these days wouldn’t have such freedom in a lolbert society.

              Yes and no? There was a lot of open (read: cleared of Native Americans) land for the Borderers to settle in. A poor white man, at least initially, could have a few acres on which he was king over all women, all PoC, and his own children. They wouldn’t have been good acres, in terms of farming, but he could’ve gotten by.

              Bryan Caplan’s declaration that U.S. women were “freer” in the late 19th century than they are today is like the ne plus ultra of lolbertarian thought on women’s issues. I give Balko props for his reportage on police brutality, but I can’t read him on other subjects.

              • I haven’t read Balko much on anything that isn’t somehow related to criminal justice issues (including police brutality), but he’s one of the best reporters in the country about that specific subject.

                But I mean, yeah, in the 19th century even poor white men probably would have had some of those kinds of freedoms, but these days I don’t see how that would be possible. Most people don’t have the knowledge to farm, for starters, and even if they did, most probably wouldn’t want to support themselves that way.

                • JR in WV

                  Speaking as a back-to-the-land educated young man who worked hard to learn how to farm, helped elderly neighbors with their farming in order to see how it was done. WOW that’s a lot of very ahrd work!

                  Even if you have an established farm with all the accessories, good solid barns and sheds and coops and pens, fenced with ponds and developed springs, tools, tractors with equipment for the tractors to run with. Hard work.

                  If all you have is land, even if you have money, the work of developing a piece of land into a farm takes years of unremitting work by more than one person… several, really are necessary.

                  Just sayin’!

  • los

    some lines from linked J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America | New Republic

    Vance also works for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management.

    Wall Street!

  • LifeOntheFallLine

    White people have been ripping off Black people for so long they went and got themselves their very own Moynihan Report…

    • DrS

      hahahaha

  • los

    More newrepublic link, quoting Vance book:

    We buy giant TVs and iPads.

    TVs, yes – but not giant TVs, unless it’s a projection TV passed-along from a more stable household.
    Cheap no name Chinese smartphones, but sometimes a no name tablet.

    Our children wear nice clothes

    Still Walmart, not Nieman Marcus. But I have seen Brand Name items that might be the most expensive line sold at Target?

    thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans.

    (Payday Loans is the conservative Free Markets ideal of “society’s winners”, as is, “Trump is a smart businessman”. None of that is “left”.)
    Low-income persons lack financial self-defense. Maybe North Dakota’s state-run bank (“Money Panels!”) isn’t so bad?

    We purchase homes we don’t need

    Rent. Though that might be different in the Appalachians, but I don’t know why it would be. Any home inherited from grandparents should have been lost by now (and was purchased by the grandparents).

    • los

      refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake.

      What I’ve seen in midden piles:
      Furniture from pre-particle board era, sometimes pre-plywood (tongue and groove panels). I’ve seen classic name “mid-century” manufacturers. Furniture is too bulky to move to the next rental, and suffers from rain exposure quickly. Thus most furniture in midden piles are:
      + heavy built-to-disintegrate “photo veneer” particle board.
      + bulky upholstered items.
      Repurchasing after every move is expensive.

      Also, Children grow out of things.
      + toys scattered indoors… and outdoors (some sinking into ground surface, raked into leaf piles, etc.) if the rental is single-unit type.
      + bags of clothes that didn’t make it into the Hyundai shuttle.

      Thrift is inimical to our being

      Portable requirements forced upon a family in a non-portable society.

    • los

      Sanctified Disruption:
      Also, children get moved in a new school, losing school friends. School staff have lower percentage of familiar students.

      and they can end up at Yale Law School like he did

      That looks like sarcasm – not a Vance claim.

      However, Vance is certainly of the brain drain escapees. So heed that as a symptom.
      To discern some causes, maybe Vance should examine similar dysfunctionalities of redstate “power structures” to those of Banana Republics?

      • Dennis Orphen

        dysfunctionalities of redstate “power structures” to those of Banana Republics?

        I’ve used the term Suburban Fiefdoms in the past, always to descibe something sad, sick and wrong, to be escaped and/or avoided.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Yeah, I don’t know a lot of Appalacians who buy homes they “don’t need”. That was a middle class white thing. Appalacia is depopulating; homes are inheritable / fixable if one wants them.

    • These complaints are the same decade after decade, with minor changes to reflect what’s become newly cheap. Anything that isn’t how they did it in the 1930s–extreme thrift and homemade clothes and cooking from scratch–or that would surprise an outsider’s eye as apparently unaffordable–probably with no knowledge of how much things and their alternatives might cost–is ridiculed, and in the same terms year after year.

  • AMK

    There is a more sinister thesis at work here, one that dovetails with many liberal views of Appalachia and its problems. Vance assures readers that an emphasis on Appalachia’s economic insecurity is “incomplete” without a critical examination of its culture. His great takeaway from life in America’s underclass is: Pull up those bootstraps. Don’t question elites.

    Haven’t read the book, but “culture matters for socioeconomic outcomes” and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” are completely different arguments. Or more to the point: the first may be true, but the second is not the policy solution.

  • NewishLawyer

    One of the reasons I think liberals will always be at a disadvantage is because the very nature of liberalism is one that makes us want to understand the “other side.” We will take calls of “you live in a bubble” seriously and try to change it or understand where the opposition is coming from often enough.

    Or we like to believe the good in people and that racism/bigotry will disappear once someone’s economic insecurities are dealt with.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Liberals want to believe that they still aren’t racist.

      • Lord Jesus Perm

        It’s why the comments whenever Erik brings up school segregation are such a shitshow.

      • Origami Isopod

        Liberals and leftists, to be fair. But it’s true. It’s fine to listen to “the other side,” but not as much to those we claim to speak for — PoC, women, LGBT people, disabled people, etc. — when they have criticisms of the people with the loudest megaphones, and especially not when they want louder megaphones themselves/ourselves.

    • Joe Bob the III

      I have heard enough about liberal urban bubbles to last me a lifetime. Want to know who really lives in a bubble? Someone who has lived their whole life in a 15-mile radius around a rural town with a population of less than 2,000. If you want to talk about a rarefied existence with very little exposure to people different from you, there you go. And these are people who tend not to expend a lot of psychic grief trying to understand the city folk.

      • NewishLawyer

        Oh I agree with you but those people are not inclined to looking outside their bubbles like liberals are by nature. It is why we tend to have a hard time winning these debates.

    • Hogan

      So understanding where people are coming from makes it *harder* to persuade them? That’s a new one on me.

      • Vance Maverick

        Not to go all bank-shot on you, but maybe there’s a divergence between who you’re supposedly trying to understand and who you’re trying to persuade. Rush Limbaugh showering contempt on “liberals” might attract some “moderates”.

  • Murc

    Jesus Christ.

    This is only tangential but its related enough that I feel like I can post about it while I’m still mad:

    I’m on my way home, and a car pulls up next to me at a stoplight. A hatchback that’s seen better days but is clearly still being well-maintained with the back seats folded down and a bunch of indeterminant tools there. Driver wearing heavy worth clothes.

    Three stickers on the rear window: a union sticker. A sticker for the Italian-American Civil Rights League. And, you no doubt saw this coming… giant-ass MAGA sticker. MAGA hat sitting on the dash.

    I just. You make me ashamed to be both an Italian-American and the grandson of Italian-American union rep, you unbelievable asshole.

    Whiteness really is a hell of a drug.

    • Joe Bob the III

      I did a project in 2015 for the local Ironworkers union, just as Trump was gaining real political traction. The union leadership was unanimous in supporting Clinton. It could have been any Democrat because they know the Republican party is the enemy of organized labor. Period. Always.

      Well, a plurality of the rank and file loved them some Donald Trump. Probably about 40% of them. Why did they like him so much? $1 trillion of infrastructure? Big steel border wall? No, those were afterthoughts. They ate up every bit of racism and misogyny Trump spewed. You would have thought the absolute worst thing in their lives was political correctness. They got off on the bigotry but more than anything, voting for Trump was going to be their big Fuck You. To who exactly? And about what? Everybody, nobody, everything, and nothing.

      None of it made any sense at all. All of that crap about making American great again? These guys never stopped living the great part. They were all making at least $35/hour, had excellent health insurance and a rock solid pension plan.

      • Dennis Orphen

        They also had a platform for expressing their own racism and sexism by rejecting the Democrats.

      • los

        Joe Bob the III says:

        their big Fuck You…. to… Everybody, nobody, everything, and nothing.

        in reality, to themselves.

        And MSM tells us that 2016 Trump voters had voted for Obama in 2008.
        If that is true, then I wonder if the 2008 election “snuck up” onto conservatives faster than they could “subtly” embed the racism/misogyny into Fox viewers.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        These guys never stopped living the great part. They were all making at least $35/hour, had excellent health insurance and a rock solid pension plan.

        And yet, somehow they’re filled with rage. Continuously. At a level of 11, like they jammed the knob and broke it.

        I could sort of understand it if they were young. Guys in their teens and early twenties are still high on the hormones that puberty has put in their bloodstream.

        But I suspect these are older guys mostly. When did spending your life as a pissed off asshole become a thing to be admired and emulated? And, why?

  • arthur

    Ron Howard is the absolutely perfect director for this project. He actually grew up in the place where Vance uncomfortably sites his own memories: On a Hollywood studio fabrication of what some Coastal elites thought was a romanticized, but respectful evocation, of small town flyover America in the previous generation, before it got all complicated and Colored and such.

    • Dennis Orphen

      On two different shows, no less. TWO!

      Sit on it, libtards!

    • Origami Isopod

      So….Howard could actually subvert Vance’s story, perhaps? I still wouldn’t pay to see it, but that’d be interesting.

  • Mike in DC

    If Ron Howard did an Arrested Development-style take on the book, I’d happily shell out 12 bucks to go see that.

    2017 is like what would happen if the Bluth family was running the government of the United States of America.

    • To be fair to the Bluths, the incestuous overtones in that family are nowhere near as disturbing. They also aren’t as overtly malicious (except maybe Lucille).

  • Donna Gratehouse

    And he isn’t interested in government solutions. All hillbillies need to do is work hard, maybe do a stint in the military, and they can end up at Yale Law School like he did. “Public policy can help,” he writes, “but there is no government that can fix these problems for us … it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.

    The word “neoliberal” is flung around so much these days it’s become meaningless but isn’t it properly applied to attitudes like this? Why are liberals, and especially those of the Bernie persuasion, falling for this?

    • PunditusMaximus

      Liberals of the Bernie persuasion are not. “Falling for this” is a Clintonite liberal failing exclusively.

      • ColBatGuano

        So, just Bernie himself then?

        • los

          Vance writes for National Review, so I don’t think any ‘left leaning’ person – outside of the punditry business – “fell for” the complete Vance package of “this”.

      • Origami Isopod

        Yes, I’m sure all the black people who voted for Clinton are eating Vance’s book up with a spoon. /s

  • tsam

    Ugh–ok–so having a mother myself who grew up with divorced parents, both of whom often went to bars and drank all night, leaving my mom and her siblings in the car then driving them all home drunk…I want to sympathize with this guy a bit. Having a parent neglect you for substances and fucktoys robs kids of a childhood.

    I don’t even know what to say to all this. On some level, I feel for the guy. On another, I’M fucking WWC–the suburban half, and I have NO fucking time for blaming black people or immigrants or anyone else for my own problems, let alone the problems inflicted on me and my family by greed, a backwards tax code that rewards being rich and punishes people from about $30-80K/year.

    I don’t want to hear how poverty or watching your home town whither and die because the local factory moved to Mexico means I should sympathize with bigotry or how bigotry is something that is a product of these conditions, rather than the product of shitty parenting or other shitty influences.

    I don’t want to hear anymore stories about people buying into MAGA and being SHOCKED that they’re targets of the regime just like all the people they hate so fucking much. I just don’t want to hear it. Nobody should have been fooled by this fucking clown and his sideshow. Why would I sympathize with these people when other people who didn’t buy stock in TrumpScamCo are actually suffering out there? Fuck that.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this except to say this–we already understand who these people are. We already know why Hillary Clinton lost this election. We already know why a majority of white people voted for Trump. For now, I want to focus on taking back 1/2 or all of Congress next year.

  • los

    Erik Loomis

    I should have written a book about growing up in a dying Oregon logging town … I just never think of the good scams before someone else gets to them first.

    the market will be ripe for another in about 9 months.

  • Tyro

    In these dysfunctional communities, you know what distinguishes the stable, middle class people in those communities from the others? Almost to the last man, it is a government job. They’re either teachers, post office workers, or clerks in the local government. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! But it is the distinguishing feature that I never hear these scolding nags point to.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      And coming back home from 20 years’ military service with a pension and a VA cneck.

    • los

      government job

      Yep. The county seat usually does well, even if it is as small a town as others. (population less than 3000 is common in states[1] with small counties, containing numerous towns with populations in the low 100s or in the 10s)

      Retail business tends to be in the county seat. But out-of-towners noticing the old well-kept homes[2] only a few blocks from the courthouse might feel some resentment, which aggravates a dislike of taxes. (sales and property taxes)

      College towns are similarly more economically energetic.

      _______
      1. I see many county seat populations in mid 100s. One at 81, Booneville. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Kentucky#List
      2. not huge homes, but it’s easy to theorize that they are owned by mostly judges, lawyers, councilpersons…

  • OT: KS-04 special election winds up R+5.8%. For record, the presidential election in that district went R+27% (there’s that number again). More evidence for “off-year elections advantage opposition party of President” thesis over “off-year elections advantage Republicans”. Ossoff’s upcoming election will be another good test case. This also bodes extremely well for Democrats’ chances in the House in 2018; if Rs see a 21.2% collapse in support nationwide, it’ll be a wave election on an unbelievable scale.

    • Holy shit, R+5.8%? 538 was saying that a result of R+20% or less would be notable. This is great news.

      Of course, Kansas has been particularly badly fucked by its state GOP. It might be an outlier.

      • I think the final tally might have ended up at R+8%, which is still absolutely astounding. If we get a 19% collapse in GOP support nationwide, I’ll be quite happy with that. But yeah, Kansas might be an outlier. We’ll get more info next week with GA-06 and MT, I believe.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      I’m getting tired of all this “winning”.

      Yeah, it’s good that we’re coming closer to winning elections, but until we actually start winning them, my assumption is there’s a floor beneath which Republican voters won’t fall and it’s unfortunately above 50%.

      I still think that despite being incredibly unpopular, if he wasn’t term limited Brownback would get re-elected yet again if he didn’t lose in the primary.

      The core of the Republican Party seems incapable of not voting for a Republican, no matter how much they despise a particular Republican candidate. Maybe people who study addiction can explain the phenomenon.

      • djw

        The core of the Republican Party seems incapable of not voting for a Republican, no matter how much they despise a particular Republican candidate.

        In an era of very high partisanship, this is absolutely expected, and almost certainly not going to change going forward, no matter how spectacular Trump’s failures. In such a context, a ~20% swing (which we also saw in the CA-34 special election) is a minor miracle.

        The intra-caucus politics of the AHCA demonstrated that some Republican legislators weren’t willing to play along with Ryan handing over the store to the Freedom House hostage takers, at the expense of their reelection chances. This result probably increases the numbers and nervousness of such legislators, making Ryan’s job harder. A key to cracking up the Republican coalition is making the threat of losing to a D as great, or greater, than the threat of losing to a right primary challenger. This result helps with that for scores of Republican legislators. This is a very good outcome.

      • Origami Isopod

        Eh. It’s Kansas, possibly the reddest state in the union after Oklahoma. R+5.8% is breathtaking for Kansas. The takeaway is “keep pushing harder and don’t expect things to change immediately.”

    • Rob in CT

      That is good news (though like GBWR, I’ll be a whole lot more hopeful once this starts being “we won” rather than “hey, we lost by a lot less than normal!”)!

  • NickUrfe

    I’m coming to this a little late, but it strikes me that Vance’s book, and especially Vance himself, are perfect microcosms for contemporary conservatives. Most of the success they’ve enjoyed in life came from some combination of collective benefit programs that began before they were born, that they find their peers and the younger generation do not deserve, and they attribute their own success to ‘hard work’. By his own account, Vance’s most significant influences were his grandparents and his stint in the military. His grandparents essentially raised him and his sister while being retired and could afford to live in two modest homes, all on his grandfather’s pension (…and Social Security). The military is quintessential government support, one that provided Vance with employment, as well as a structured, rigorous life experience, to say nothing of the GI Bill that paid for his BA (if not his JD).

    To that extent, I found the book useful. Vance’s political views and policy suggestions are ridiculous – but what did anyone expect? It’s easy to say, as Vance can’t help himself from repeating ad nauseam, that ‘money’ in this areas won’t solve everything, but neither will indifference and this bizarre bit of self-hatred that his book represents. But that really is all it takes to be a conservative today: a deeply self-protective sense of injury at the hands of some nameless other, a true snowflake’s hidden sense of self-importance, and a deeply willful ignorance of the contribution others have made to their success. Vance’s book has these in spades, with none of the self-reflection that could make the memoir like this interesting or revealing. Don’t read the book for what Vance can tell you about conservatives and hillbillies, but rather, for what the book itself says them – as well as for what it says about Vance.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Since you came in late, I’l have to fill you in: he’s not from West Virginia.

      Also, good post. I appreciate cogent, since I’m usually not, myself.

  • My in-laws live in SE Ohio, part of Appalachia.

    Nice folks, but not an ounce of ambition to be found.

    Most of them have no concept of money management either.

    No drug or alcohol problems that I can see, however. Most of them don’t even drink.

    • Origami Isopod

      Nice folks, but not an ounce of ambition to be found.

      I don’t see anything wrong with a lack of ambition. At least, once your quality of life is at a decent level. Not everybody wants to continually advance until they’ve got a corner office, or become an entrepreneur; some of us are content as “worker bees.” And that should be better respected in our society.

      • There’s work and then there’s work.

        I can’t say any of them has a decent job, or at least one that doesn’t put you on disability by the time you’re in your early 50s.

        There’s no economy down there to speak of. Plenty of jobs here in Columbus, a mere 90 minutes from where they live. However they seem to think Columbus is some gang-ridden concrete jungle out of “Taxi Driver” or “The Warriors”.

        • Harkov311

          However they seem to think Columbus is some gang-ridden concrete jungle out of “Taxi Driver” or “The Warriors”.

          I swear, this is the same bullshit attitude I run into in small-town parts of VA. It’s like they don’t realize that even if this is true (and it hasn’t been for 20 years at least) it was never true of the suburbs, where most people who work in and around cities actually live.

          • Rob in CT

            You know how for some people, when economics comes up, it’s always 1979?

            With crime, especially in urban areas, for a lot of people, it’s always 1988.

            People’s views on crime are so detached from reality. Probably especially older people, though I don’t know for sure.

            My town is pretty old. We’re dealing with a budget crisis (state-driven). We were discussing making some cuts. One proposed cut had to do with public safety, and I swear someone literally opened their spiel with the claim that things are so much worse these days… (this person wasn’t particularly old, actually), and there was this room-wide grumble of agreement.

            We’re a tiny rural town with no crime to speak of. Now I’ll grant we did have 1 fairly spectacular crime a couple of years back. Honestly shocking in a town like ours. A category that almost always reads “0” read “1” that year. It was the talk of the town. But come on…

            • Racism of course. Of course white people don’t live in cities and don’t have gangs or beat up outsiders. They’re not poor either. And of course it’s not projection because they would be shocked if an outsider got beat up in their rural town. And it has nothing to do with grade school teachers telling them not to be like the kids in Columbus. Or anything like that.

              • Rob in CT

                In the case of my townsfolk, that is no doubt involved, but with a solid side of OMG, school shootings.

                In fact I suspect that was the driver for the remark. Another person opened up with that, and others chimed in with “look what just happened in California!” instantly.

                • Rob in CT

                  And thought it wasn’t stated, believe me nobody needs a reminder to think of Sandy Hook.

                • I don’t remember if this has come up, but I’ve mentioned further up the thread that the neighborhood Murray writes about in Coming Apart is one I would not have visited myself. Do you think we were making that up? How much background do I have to give you about where I grew up, and anecdotes from the past, and making distinctions between reasonable and unreasonable fear, to persuade anyone this wasn’t unreasonable? I’m not saying you or anyone else thinks that, I’m just curious, especially since I agree with those in the thread who are finding this blog’s and comment section’s attitude to things like Vance’s book in need of a bit of clarification.

                • I’ve mentioned further up the thread that the neighborhood Murray writes about in Coming Apart is one I would not have visited myself.

                  If you did so, it was so elliptically stated that I can’t find it (searching the thread for your name). Pointer or quotation, please?

                • Search for “Kensington.”

            • witlesschum

              People being scared of society to a bizarre degree is a thing.

              The studies that show watching a lot of local TV news makes you overestimate the crime rate by 200 percent or whatever the actual number suggests a big part of the puzzle to me. Local news is devoted to selling advertising in between crime coverage, five ass doppler weather and sports. TV stations differ in how sensationalistic their crime coverage is, but only by degree.

              In between the news, the networks show a bunch of murder of the week shows which while I’m not suggesting people don’t know they’re fiction I think do contribute to the idea that society is dangerous and scary. You can’t help but shit what you eat culturally, I tend to believe.

            • Hogan

              With crime, especially in urban areas, for a lot of people, it’s always 1988.

              And those people include the producers of local TV news in pretty much every urban area.

        • Well, there’s also ambition and ambition.

          If everyone in your town or neighborhood or family has a a college degree, it’s not ambitious in one sense to aspire to the same. If they’re unemployed methheads, it is ambitious in another way to aspire to be gainfully employed.

          There’s some social schizophrenia around this, because we think more education and more money are always better. We think jobs where you decide things are better than jobs where you get bossed around for most of the day, and jobs where you are “fulfilled” are better than jobs where you just do the work so you can have a hobby or focus on home life. At the same time, and I think OI understates this in her comment, we do worry about excessive pressure and not taking time for family and respecting your roots and so on. And we don’t really like to talk about the distinctions in the previous paragraph, and when we try to do that we do it badly.

          • Origami Isopod

            At the same time, and I think OI understates this in her comment, we do worry about excessive pressure and not taking time for family and respecting your roots and so on.

            My comment doesn’t mention them at all because it was meant to rebut what I perceived as the idea that ambition is an unalloyed good in all circumstances.

            On a separate note, how much each of the things you list matters depends on social class. More-affluent people might wring their hands performatively about excessive pressure and no time for family, but their choices often do not reflect these professed concerns. And they are choices, at least much more so than lower-class people are able to exercise. As for “roots,” the only time I see rich people making a fuss about that is when they’re Goopers trying to strike a “common man” pose.

            • how much each of the things you list matters depends on social class.

              Yeah, I think it’s not that simple. You disagree. Not going to be resolved here, I guess.

        • Origami Isopod

          Well, yeah, that’s a different matter.

          Also, while I understand that moving is expensive in general, moving a bit closer to Columbus sounds a lot more doable than just packing up and moving to another region altogether.

  • LFC

    I’ve read Hillbilly Elegy. There’s a quite a lot in it I disagree with, but it’s not a “garbage book,” contrary to what Erik L. says in the opening of the post.

    It makes no sense to use epithets like that loosely, because then you have nowhere to go, no epithets to use, when you encounter a book that really is a garbage book.

    • LFC

      typo correction: “there’s quite a lot”

    • Origami Isopod

      Or… Loomis could’ve read the book and had a different takeaway than you did. It happens.

  • Thursday

    Awful damn hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you gotta rent the fuckin’ boots at 18.25% interest, the owner doesn’t rent to “Those People” and charges an additional Strap-Pulling Fee.

It is main inner container footer text