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[Update: New tune. Thanks to DAS for the nudge to post something appropriate to St. Patrick’s Day.]

Unfortunately (?) I’m not able to read all of Kevin W’s anti-poor screed, but based on excerpts and David French’s column, they both think white Americans living in economically depressed areas should stop being poor and addicted to drugs and just move already. Or maybe the plan is move and then they’ll stop being poor and addicted to drugs, like the town is under a curse and people just need to get out of the blighted circle.

Who knows or cares?

People who never worry about such trifles as where their next meal is coming from, how badly their lives will be wrecked if they get pregnant or whether a police officer will look at them and open fire, like to come up with all sorts of condescending, unhelpful, contradictory, obnoxious, moronic and just plain impossible to implement life solutions for people who do worry about such things.

However, of all the condescending, unhelpful, contradictory, obnoxious, moronic and just plain impossible to implement solutions to ever rattle around some privileged git’s head, “Move,” comes in third after “Bootstraps!” and “Needs More Prayer.”

Whether it’s said of black people living in states run by Republicans or gay people living in states run by Republicans or anyone who makes less than $100K/year living states run by Republicans, the only purpose “Well gorsh, they should just move” serves is to let normal people know they’re dealing with someone who is short on empathy and imagination and stay away. Here’s the latest exhibit.

The first was our decision to accommodate the Chinese manufacturing boom not with increased exports in other sectors, but with a growing trade deficit. The second was the apparent unwillingness of US workers to move when they lost their jobs:


Why? It’s hard to know how to allocate blame here.

It’s also hard to know why blame must be allocated, especially when discussing human beings who have lost their jobs.

On the one hand, you have the big macroeconomic effect of a growing trade deficit, which is outside the control of individual workers. On the other hand, you have an unwillingness to move when the local economy tanks, which is very much within the control of individual workers. Taken together, it’s almost a conspiracy to give up. At a national level, we shrug and simply accept a trade deficit. At an individual level, we shrug and accept that no jobs are available anywhere.

And on both hands, I have a middle finger.

Here are a few questions I wish movementarians would ask themselves before they suggest anyone, including Individual Worker Units, can solve their problems by moving.

How will the worker the move?

And not just how will the worker, already stressed by the loss of employment and concerned about finances, get through the stress and expense of moving? But believe it or don’t, a person who worked at a factory may well own a home and have family and friends and all affections and attachments that serve as an impediment to grabbing the car keys (assuming the worker has a car) or renting a U-Haul, and hittin’ the road.

Who ought to move?

“Individual workers,” isn’t an answer. Individual workers are humans and humans of have this habit of forming relationships and attachments that have nothing to do with work. For example, say IW1 is married to IW2 and between them they have two future IWs ages 11 and 17. They also care for three former IWs – elderly parents. And they’ve all got a variety of emotional connections to the area. Now assume that when the factory closes, IW2 loses her job.

Why is the worker leaving, and where will the worker go?

If the IW’s problem is he spent 18 years at the local ball bearing factory but now he’s unemployed because all the ball bearings are made in China by that [cough cough] “large pool of low-cost workers,” moving to another city where there is no ball bearing work isn’t a solution any more than heading out and hoping to find some sort of employment. “Train for another job,” may be a solution but it isn’t always a feasible option.

(As an aside, the idea that one job is just as good as another for a blue collar/skilled manual worker is bourgeois B.S. However, I encourage everyone who believes this to have a plumber change their car’s timing belt.)

Of course, Movementarians wouldn’t ask these questions if they were able to do so, because asking them would spoil the nice tantrum/JAQED session, but I’m an incurable optimist.

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