Comments

1
is anyone attributing it to the jobs of the white working class, where possible, being shipped out of the country? my sister is a HS counselor in rural Indiana - if you don't farm, there's basically nothing left for white men of any age to do. join the army?

the ending of privilege feels like oppression.
2
What @1 Max said - this is a bunch of bluster about the power of the media. I hate them too. But forget it - the core of the country (Flyover Country) is a hollowed-out Hell of oxycontin-cum-heroin addicts and mercenary military / cannon fodder.
3
+1 for #1
4
the RW Media is just giving their racial and class resentment a narrative: blame BLM, libtards, feminazis, atheists, gun grabbers, urban elites, etc. Its not causing their deaths per se; it's distracting them from recognizing their oppressors.

propaganda 101. I get to see it work on my Dad.
5
When your right wing media bubble has you believing it's an incontrovertible fact that Romney was going to win, and then somehow he doesn't win, that's got to hurt. Or that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will end gloriously and honorably, that must hurt too. After a while, those fantasies collapse and they're left feeling helpless. And they've all got a gun sitting right there, because they believe guns make them safer. The ending writes itself.
6
There's are a few reasons the paper didn't get published in a reputable outlet (the data are interesting, but it's purely descriptive and the assertions of what may cause it are pure speculation, not exactly up to social scientific standards).

But maybe the big one is the fact that once you take into account that the relevant age group is older than it used to be (large baby boom bubble means average age in that age cohort is older than it was 20 years ago), it's just no longer that relevant a finding: http://tinyurl.com/puwqa2s

In brief: brief increase, holding steady since 2005, meaning most of the cultural things Mudede is attributing this trend to, which happened in the past decade, are of little help in explaining things.
7
Maybe the massive cognitive dissonance arising from both proclaiming the U.S. the "greatest country on Earth," while at the same time denouncing the U.S. as having lost its greatness and being a shit hole full of immigrants/gays/muslims/atheists/women/etc. is attributing to the despair and death?
8
It may be entertaining for coastal liberals to belittle flyover country this way, but as #1 mentioned, it less about the despair of clinging to a losing ideology and more about the bleak tangible economic realities - the manufacturing jobs that kept their parents afloat have moved overseas and the new American economy is coastal and requires a college degree. And if Democrats want any chance at a majority in Congress ever again, they're going to have to find an economic plan that addresses that malaise.
9
@8: if you think of something let me know. 'let's get the fuck out of here' is probably not a regional economic plan.
11
And yet middle aged white people are still dying less than people of color. The stable or decreasing rates of death of poc does not bring them down to the level that white people's sudden increase has brought them to.
12
#10-> and GOPers invest their self-esteem not just in their professional/financial success but also in DOING BETTER THAN THOSE OTHER LOOOOSERS.
13
Finally, it's worth bringing out Thomas Kuhn, in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, paradigm shifts never persuade the skeptical by virtue of their logical perfection. They only complete their shift when the previous generation dies out.
14
Shorter @10: Affluenza is a real disease!
15
These comments are fascinating. Top notch.
16
Outside the city limits in every state in this country there isn't a station on the dial that isn't either: 1) Christian; 2) conservative talk-radio; or 3) country music.

17
@9 I want to see the comment sections from the articles about cost of living, housing increases in places like seattle to talk with the comment sections of these articles.

My tendentious reading: if you can't handle the high cost of living in Seattle, move to where it's cheaper. If you can't handle the fact that low wages of Nebraska, move to where there are higher paying jobs. This basically reads to me like: if you are not wealthy, you're screwed but let's absolve/delude ourselves by offering futile advice
18
@16: point of order - there's usually NPR somewhere on the dial, usually on a repeater from the University town.
19
Like everything else the right wing does, they're not very good at it. If they were only conservative enough, middle aged whites would be dying in droves.
20
Isn't this putting the cart before the horse, Charles, to blame the media for causing the malaise? I'm no fan of FOX and I certainly see the effect their propaganda has, but for propaganda to work there first needs to be a receptive audience. "Middle America" has been the theater of a slow-motion economic catastrophe for two generations now. I believe FOX et al are simply opportunists exploiting (and monetizing) extant rage & despair. It's worth comparing Middle America to other scenes of decline: thirty years after the USSR collapsed and nothing better took its place, Russian men are destroying themselves with vodka or embracing xenophobia and militarism. In middle eastern states hollowed out by autocratic regimes, men are destroying themselves with nihilistic violence. In central Asia, abused by the Soviets and then set upon by Islamists, heroin addiction is epidemic. And in every one of these places there are ideologues exploiting the malaise with propaganda.
21
The rise of RW radio and the increase of despair in middle america have formed a feedback loop, but they they're both consequences of the real issue - the lack of any real economic opportunity for most of the people who remain there. America is supposed to have a mobile workforce, but there's a large number of people who cannot conceive of leaving their region, no matter how desperate things have become. When they're trapped in a situation they can't see a way out of, they'll look to blame anyone - minorities whose lives seem to be getting better, financially secure urban liberals, or any other "them" that can be a worthy target of their fear and anger.

And RW talk radio speaks directly to them and stokes their anger.

But the real cause is the huge decline in economic opportunity - everything else is just a symptom.
22
Thank you HW3 @11: I find it utterly fascinating/bizarre/telling that all of the media attention that I've seen on this focuses on the fact that the death rate for middle aged white males is going up, while either ignoring or glossing over the fact that it is still lower than the rate for similarly aged black males.

It resembles the sudden calls for a public health approach to drugs now that white suburban kids are dying of overdoses.
23
Good Afternoon Charles,
"Is the Right-Wing Media Killing White Americans?" Well to say the least, your posting title caught my attention. I read your piece as well. The short answer is, no. RW media isn't killing 'white' Americans or anyone else. I did come across the article in the NYT and thought it a bit bizarre that I just dismissed it.

That said, replying to your post @8, 10 & 20 all have points. I do believe America is in decline. I think the loss of manufacturing jobs is the real culprit. They aren't replaceable and anybody w/o a college degree is lost. I think we're a bummed out and divided nation especially racially (Read about the events at University of Missouri & Yale). And that disposition may enable more of the 'white' working class access to escapes (drug, alcohol & suicides). But I don't think it, the RW media however meager it might be, is responsible. I don't watch FOX (or CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or MNBC) at all BTW. I am repelled by televised media.
25
Call me macabre, but I've been saying there was going to be a big Boomer dieoff.

And the results, my Urbist Fieds, will be a vast unleashing of property like never before.

Get ready for a historic plunge in real estate value as the Al Bundy's of the world turn over their 4000 sq. ft. suburban split levels back to the market.
26
@24

I think the obvious answer is to stop making babies.
27
Fox news has been telling people lies for years, long ago dispensing with the idea that they need to cop to it when they're caught saying something demonstrably untrue. their whole 'brand' depends on screaming 'fire' in a crowded cinema - nonstop. after all, if we're not in 'crisis', that might mean that Obama (a black man!) is actually doing a good job. maybe if Fox started pointing out that our economy, while far from perfect, is the envy of the rest of the world right now, its viewers might take a deep breath, look around, and see that maybe things just aren't all that bad - even if we (horrors!) have a black president. Fox is killing those guys.
28
Honestly, as someone who is 39,white, and has gone into treatment for depression and suicidal ideation here is what I think.

It feels like I can't win. If I initiate sex with my girlfriend I feel like I might be pressuring her into sex. When I practice my religion I feel like I might be committing cultural appropriation even though I have a teacher with a long and established heritage and I never claim any title.

I know that I'm going to die and I'm terrified at least once a day because nobody knows what happens(and therefore the right way to deal with it).

I know I'm supposed to want kids but I don't. At the same time I know someone who got a botched vasectomy and it is awful for him.

Progressives call me a privileged oppressor because I'm a white male and conservatives call me what's wrong with America because I think the government does some things well.

So yeah, I get why people would want to start taking the meds they got for when they screwed up their back or screw a .38 in their ear.

Which is why I only use cannabis, aspirin, and very rarely drink and don't have a gun in the house.

I hope some day it will get better.

But I am pretty sure it only goes downhill from here.
29
@28: well, GD, 2 things:
1. i doubt that any progressives call you a white oppressor to your face.
2. if men don't initiate sex, there won't be any sex.
other than that, hang in there. get laid, it helps.
30
Did they interview the dead on their political views? Seems like a huge leap in logic to me.
31
@28

I'm 31, don't have kids don't want kids and happily snipped and married, and I feel you on a few things like the death and the initiating sex (where in the pursuit of being a good person, I don't want to be a caricature of the worst man Jezebel could encounter but on the other hand I love my wife and talk with her openly and she's fucking awesome) , but the other stuff, who gives a shit what other people think vis a vis cultural appropriation. I'm bleeding heart as they come on a lot of things but these things are easy to navigate and not do.
32
Also, you're having an existential crisis, I can spot one by having one. I think pork is the reason for living TBH.
33
(@18 - Psst: That's not a point of order, which refers to procedure, you offered a point of clarification. You could also offer a point of information if the sub-ject hasn't arisen or been mentioned yet.)

@28 - The research I've read is that mid-life crises get better after about 50. It has to do with accepting life as it is, and being at peace with that, something hard to do in your 40s as you see your aspirations become achievable. :>(

I think @20 is mostly correct: The combination of economic shifts away from personal security, plus the old male ideology that they are supposed to be the sole breadwinner (and now cannot), not to mention the patriarchal expectation that men are the dominant ego in any relationship, plus the shift away from White Man's Privilege is a difficult-to-negotiate psychological blow. Men have poorer communication skills, generally speaking, so feeling like you cannot "succeed" due to economic conditions, and feel like "what's normal" or "the way things were/supposed to be" (aka unspoken privilege) is being taken away, and that you are to blame --a common Boomer male ideation--... is all quite difficult.
Thus the propaganda has fertile ground in which to take root and direct that frustration and anger.
34
@33 - "...* as you see your aspirations become unachievable..."
35
If men cannot figure out how to discuss their frustrations/issues in useful ways, share their emotional states without killing someone (à la American Beauty), and get some psychological relief, and hopefully redirect their energy toward new useful objectives, then yeah, they are going to be susceptible to shitty media, and propaganda that tries to get cultural groups to battle each other, instead of creating change that draws power away from those pulling the actual strings.
37
And this is happening at a time when morality rates among other racial and ethnic groups in the United States are in decline. Morality?
38
@18, you haven't driven the freeway in southern Oregon/northern California much, have you.
39
@25:

Your property "glut" is never going to happen, not while there are about 100,000,000 Chinese desperately looking for places to offshore their financial gains away from their own government.
40
@36 - I'm terribly sorry to hear of your recent demise. Please give my condolences to your "loved" ones. I hope you had a will prepared so that your property will go to your heirs, and not the state.
41
@38: NPR stations in Klamath Falls, Roseburg, Ashland, Eugene, Crescent City, Arcata, Redding, Shasta, & Yreka.
42
Well, here we are again ... hashing out the implications of a factoid which - as @6 convincingly observes - is a statistical mirage.

When viewed with an age-adjusting lense with the 45-54 bracket, it seems non-Hispanic white Americans are NOT self-destructing like lemmings ... though the thread is chock-full of reasons why they might do so.

The nugget under the manure pile is that Euro mortality (to say nothing of Euro morality) in the same age bracket is in apparent consistent decline. Why? I may speculate as freely as anyone else, and I speculate it's the effect of socialized medicine over there, vs declining employer-based health benefits (and declining white boomer workforce participation) over here. But that's purely unscientific speculation -- like most of the Deaton paper, and 99% of the current Slog thread.
44
So I'm 43, white, male, working class (I've driven various kinds of trucks over the years, currently work in towing). I'd consider myself fairly small "c" conservative in my outlook; my political orientation is more Bernie Sanders than Tea Party. If there's a political conservatism I look to at all, it's probably more of the "paleo" variety (small towns, organic community, building up of local institutions over generations, non-interventionism, etc.). I know enough socially conservative Christians to know that they aren't monsters. I served 5 1/2 years in the Army so I've got that military background plus a familiarity and lack of fear of firearms. On the other hand, I'm gay and spent several years pursuing a liberal arts degree (hopefully returning next year to finally wrap that up). My favorite radio stations are NPR. So suffice it to say I've got feet in a lot of different camps.

Speaking about people in terms of racial and socioeconomic groups is always dicey, but to the extent one can generalize, I'd say that the white, male, working class broadly has this outlook towards work:

A man's value is defined by his ability to provide for himself and his family.

There are a lot of consequences that follow on from this outlook.

1) These guys are defined by their work. But note: it's not the career itself they find fulfilling (blue collar jobs generally aren't the sort that inspire one to wax rhapsodic about how meaningful one's career is). Rather, it's the ability that work provides to support your family that's important. These guys will go through hell and back in order to make sure there's a roof over their kids' heads and food on the table. This is the economic part of the problem: not enough good, reliable, full-time jobs that pay well enough to support a family on a single income. Right now, that does not exist for a lot of working class white men.

2) Government handouts aren't the answer. In fact, getting a check from the government (whether, UI, disability, food stamps, health care, whatever) actually makes things worse. Why? Because it tells you (and tells the world) that you have failed in your number one priority as a man: to provide for yourself and your family and have been obliged to seek help. This is why a lot of white, working class men support the GOP. Republicans tell them that they can (and therefore should) stand on their own two feet. That's a powerful message to be sending to these guys. It doesn't matter that the GOP's economic program undercuts that very ability.

FDR understood this. That's why a lot of his programs came in the form of things like the WPA. He didn't just hand unemployed workers a check; he hired them to do a job. Likewise, social security (and later Medicare) was carefully structured and sold not as government welfare, but as an insurance program that you pay into as you work and then draw from after you retire, in other words, it's something you earn. That's also why veteran's benefits are generally OK with these guys; they aren't handed out either, but rather earned.

3) Here's where the cultural questions come in: Higher divorce rates are a big problem for these guys. If the wife skips out and takes the kids with her, that's another huge marker of failure. 40 years ago, it was the rising need for working class families to have two incomes that was causing problems. But society now is telling women that they don't need men at all. Single mothers can work and raise a family and everything will be just fine.

4) Not to mention that society tells these guys over and over again that all the stuff they were raised with and believe is wrongheaded (exhibit "A" is Slog commenters, whose favorite punching bag is this group), and that they're nothing but stupid racists and homophobes (never mind that, in my experience, these guys are far more tolerant of diversity than most upper middle class people; they have to be...they live it every day within their own communities and workplaces). This, incidentally, is probably the biggest problem Democrats face in talking to working class voters: their tendency to talk down to them.

Short answer is, things have changed considerably over the last fifty years, economically and culturally. And this group has been on the short end of the stick for pretty much every single change that has come down the pike, both from the left and the right, politically and culturally.
45
@44
Excellent analysis.
46
@44
+1

Speaking of cognitive dissonance: if the opportunities are bleak for lower class whites (and everyone else), then why are our leaders clamoring for massive levels of immigration?

Of course there are plenty of people from Latin America and the 3rd World who can do these increasingly few jobs well, and would add to their respective communities, but doesn't common sense dictate that we try to help the folks already here?

It's beyond frustrating to bring this up in liberal circles, especially ones where nobody has been unemployed and everyone has an advanced college degree. If the Left is all in on #blacklivesmatter, then why aren't they addressing the impact our insane immigration policies have had on their job prospects.

And no, I'm not here to blame immigrants or beat up on them, I just really want to know how this is going to to play out if we're looking at increased automation and outsourcing.
47
@44 - +1

@46 - I would like to see some clear stats on what jobs, exactly, immigrants are fulfilling. Are they taking jobs "away" from US citizens? Or are they doing shit jobs no one else actually wants to do, like picking strawberries.

--

In an "ideal" world, you'd think the "richest nation on earth" would have enough wealth to share it and spread it around, enough to take care of everyone here (through appropriately compensated work, as @44 points out) AND help improve the lives of people in other nations (e.g. via work immigration) ...but apparently that's not happening. Because money is being used to make more money for those that already have it.
48
@44 -

Yiddish Proverb: A good livelihood is a cure for all ills.
49
As a working class woman who has worked for many years I can tell you that being a single parent is very, very difficult for most unless you have an excellent support system. Most do not.
Low pay, lack of community hurt women and men especially single parents. This is a cruel and miserly system and since women’s rights are constantly under attack it feels bad. Telling people not to have children is insensitive to many. Although I think that is often a wise choice. It is not the answer to economic oppression. The fault mainly lies in a profit driven system. We need a movement that can change the world for the better. I fight back. I am an activist.

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