Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hillbilly Elegy: Blaming the Poor in America

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.


I recently read Hillbilly Elegy. I hated this book. Imagine a country where a thin swathe of out of touch types, ignore the growing lack of middle class and above jobs, the crumbling infrastructure and where a book that blames the poor, especially white poor people for their own lot, becomes a best seller. Yes, that's America.  It is the land of denial, and delusions. The people who love this book are probably mostly older evangelicals who all support Trump. Their lives probably still include out of state vacations and garden furniture. They call the millennials and Gen X folks who didn't obtain their same socio-economic level "losers" and "snowflakes". They are disgusted with us. We supposedly failed and it's our fault supposedly.

The media and ultra rich will tell us the economy is booming, even as we drive around our home-towns and see the emptied out stores, cracking parking lots, pot-holes, broken windows, unpainted houses and decaying bridges that look like they are ready to fall into our rivers. Sure the economy is doing fine for them but not for most of us.

One thing they are doing too, is playing the usual narcissist/sociopath games of telling people their economic failures are all their fault. As they tie people's hands and knock them about, they will tell them, "You did it to yourself". There's plenty of sold-out types to stand up and repeat the chorus. The elites who profit off suffering in this country don't want much honesty to break out about poverty or what is happening. Even when I and my husband visit some churches, for food pantries and  food co-ops, the lecturing about moral lifestyles and living healthy, where we were told to 'exercise" at the last food co-op, never ends. Very little of reality is dealt with. There's no open discussion of real survival, it's all pretense.

 I suppose many conservative evangelicals aren't much into reality in general. It's constant patronizing and lectures. I told my husband at the last food co-op meeting, "Why are we getting all these health 101 lectures, you can tell where the assumption is, that "WE ALL LIVE WRONG".  It is a relief when we have had a better month, and don't have to be converted or talked down to for bags of food or hot dinners. At least the Lutherans are easier going but the constant pressure to join people's churches for charity does get tiring. How would a public and out atheist around here get any help? Don't forget most of these churches get money via government faith initiatives for the charity programs. Ignored is that with money comes more options.

J.D Vance loves his family, and his hard-working grandparents, even his supposedly rough uncles earn some of his respect but like others who have "made good" and won the job Lotto, he looks back at the younger members of his family as all "losers" who just decided to "drug" and "bum" their way through life.  His success has brought him a giant dose of self-righteousness. This is nothing new to me. His mother has drug addiction problems and this is growing in our society but to hear J.D. Vance tell his story it's like every poor white person is starting each day with an injection of heroin instead of a bowl of cereal.

My mother came from poor farmers and could be called a "hillybilly" though more technically her family was Ohioan dirt farmers. She made it out to the upper middle class. She hated poor people and openly called them "losers" including me. I grew up with my better off parents, telling me "Only losers end up poor!" I certainly was not given life skills or knowledge regarding how the world really worked. J.D. Vance reminds me of one of my narcissistic uncles who went into business instead of law, but had nothing but disdain for those who did not get rewarded by his same efforts. That's my Tea Party uncle who is racist to the hilt and considers every poor person a bum. He too like J.D. Vance loved the older people of his family, he had affection for my hard working grandmother-- his mother and father who were farmers, and a lot less appreciation for anyone in the family who didn't escape the farm or the country or obtain the middle class.  Older people became idealized in these cheery accolades to the past while younger people were "lazy entitled snowflakes". Reading this book was like reading a screed by my uncle if he had been literate enough to come up with one.

I grew up rather uncultured. In fact a lot of my own knowledge and culture came from meeting that ex-millionaire friend in college, and while the friendship went kaput 30 years later. I was basically introduced to the more's that JD Vance and Charles Murray keep waxing on about.

While at home it was meat and potatoes and processed cinnamon rolls with orange icing out of a can, and a few National Geographic magazines, at my millionaire friend's house it was the NY Times, health food stores, caviar, and other class-based things I had no inkling of. My ex millionaire friend introduced me to more upper crust pursuits. We would attend museums, nature centers, musicals and lectures.  My interests switched to away from low brow TV and heavy metal music to PBS and British imports at the record store. It's ironic I probably was considered as being "too big for my britches" especially for a scapegoat became a snob to my family, while later, the real snobs, would kick me to the curb for being "too poor". Some here may point out but your family was upper middle class itself, but this came about from my father's STEM talents, the household culture still remained that of my mother's upbringing. These books seems even more ignorant to me because while they extol the virtues of education, proper "breeding" and "proper" living, most of these things cost money. 

My mother read Harlequin novels and cookbooks. She was very low-brow. She had the cunningness to "make it" but she was a very non-intellectual woman. She was not someone I could talk to about art shows or documentaries. What is odder for me is that my father came from bluebloods, they were immigrants but once owned a multi-million dollar  horse racing track. His father was disinherited though, and ended up working at a munitions plant that made chemical weapons. I was told it was a steel factory but found out some interesting things on my geneaology pursuits.

J. D. Vance's book was odd to me, I often wonder how no one who has gone the opposite way on the ladder is ever allowed a voice, it reminded me of Horatio Alger Stories, when books were published about immigrants who came to America and became millionaires. His book follows that formula too.  So much of our society now is just like the 1890s gilded age as the divide between rich and poor becomes wider and wider. I suppose the formula of an impoverished boy making it to middle class and upper middle class stability is being revised. There too, the impoverished masses would be told they would be rich too with enough pluck and morality.

Ironically while my money nose-dived and I became a member of the lowest classes, my knowledge of the upper middle class world increased. Perhaps this led to more discomfort on my part. I had the odd mixture of being my mother's family's first college graduate ever but then entering a level of poverty where I became the "embarrassment". J.D. Vances fortunes were just the opposite of my own.

Most people won't see through J.D Vance's book, but I did. Here's the problem, it's really the re-telling of another book. I read Charles Murray's book,  Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010 a few years ago. Remember the racist who co-wrote the Bell Curve? Yes, it's the same guy. These books converged in an odd way for me. J.D Vance actually does praise Charles Murray in this book.  Why wouldn't he? They follow the same theme. The two have joined together in giving a lecture. While Murray's book Coming Apart, was an academic screed, and J.D. Vance's book a memoir the same message is the exact same. Here is that message stripped down to the core:

The American poor [now with the focus on whites instead of other races] are poor because they are immoral failures. They cannot blame society and have only themselves to blame for their failures. 

 Now Republican eugenics types have turned their jaundiced eyes not only above the "unwashed masses of other races" to debase but now they have turned those same eyes towards poor white people.  While black people were told for decades, they were "too violent"and "not smart" enough by conservatives and deserved their ill-economic futures as the elite dismantled manufacturing after the northern migrations, the same spiel is now being used on poor whites. 
This book is basically a memoir to back up these themes. People in America are not poor because of the jobs being sent overseas or automation or the 1 percent cleaning out the tills, or a sociopathic and narcissistic society, they are poor, because they are "immoral", because they "do too many drugs", or "are lazy".

“The wealthy and the powerful aren't just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores.” 

― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis


Charles Murray followed those same themes, claiming that even for poor whites, low IQ means lower income, and higher IQ means higher income. Education is not really something that costs money but is obtained via higher effort and morality. Charles Murray is an apologist for the our neo-conservative/neo-liberal uber-capitalist oligarchs and so is J.D. Vance. Trump fooled the masses claiming his billionaire pals would bring in more wealth to average people and these authors carry the same message.

In Charles Murray's book, he prescribed the Protestant work ethic, morality, working harder, patriotism and other Calvinist prescripts as the answer to poverty. People weren't poor because they got laid off or the factories closed in America, they were poor due to their own "bad behavior" and other shortcomings. To be frank this entire country is being gaslighted by many elites and conservative academics, as the infrastructure and economy go into the trash. Charles Murray and J.D. Vance are definitely among their number.

"Murray goes on to provide evidence that religiosity, work ethic, industriousness, family, etc., have either remained strong or have weakened minimally in the New Upper Class, whereas these same attributes have either weakened substantially or have become almost nonexistent in the New Lower Class. Much of his argument is centered on a notion of self-selective sorting that began in the 1960s and 1970s, when he argues that cognitive ability became the essential predictor of professional and financial success, and people overwhelmingly began marrying others in the same cognitive stratum and living in areas surrounded largely by others in that same stratum, leading to not only an exacerbation of existing economic divides, but an unprecedented sociocultural divide that had not existed before in America."

Remember Murray followed this same formula on blacks and other races, where the Bell Curve claimed that some races all had "lower IQs" and now has turned his attention to poor whites. According to Murray, the rich are richer because they are "better people". He waxes on about the higher IQs of the wealthy as if intelligence is a guarantee for the money to pour into one's personal coffers. It's so bad, its nauseating, it's cemented and institutionalized classism.

I don't agree with either of these authors attitudes about intelligence, or better morality among the rich.
For those of us who have studied narcissism and sociopathy, we know this society is rewarding the amoral more then ever. Here we have neo-Victorianism shoved down our throats where to have money supposedly meant "better breeding" when the trappings that money could buy displayed that breeding to begin with. In today's more profitable STEM careers, there is a degree of elitism happening in some circles and those who focus on certain modes of thoughts as being more acceptable. Linear thinking as opposed to global thinking. Lack of empathy sadly seems to be one growing blight among the technocrats. Maybe this is why we are sending up with such obtuse social science such as from the likes of Charles Murray. 

Even basic analytical thinking can call these two to task, what did the money bring first? What came first? The poor do not have the same access to ballets, museums, the same science educations--an impoverished school will not have an lavish lab. As they give judgment for the drug abuse, would be violence and perceived brutishness among the poor, they hide the bigger picture. They won't admit that the despair is leading to the drug use, or that poverty in itself breaks down civil order out of the desperation. They expect poor people to live like rich ones, ignoring the basic fact the money isn't there.

The conservative eugenics lens that once was focused on other races aka the Bell Curve to advance racism pertaining to African Americans and Latinos, has now been turned on poor whites. Sadly most in this country won't wake up. They will buy this feel-good story, with it's blame and disdain towards the poor and internalize it. Same as they bought the racism, they will buy the classism. They voted in Trump after all.

Hipcrime Vocab explained this quite well on reddit, and in various articles in his blog by the same name:

"Since African Americans did not own the land they farmed, and had few, if any, assets, they had no other choice than to become deracinated migrants and headed to Northern industrial cities in one of the largest internal migrations in world history, from 1940-1970 (the "Great Migration"). This was to places like the Atlantic seaboard, the Ohio Valley, Great lakes industrial cities, and Western cities which had significant manufacturing jobs (New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Oakland, etc.). America was the only major industrialized power to emerge unscathed from the war, and dominated the global manufacturing economy. Work was abundant. Blacks who had been primarily associated with the rural south became "urban" overnight.

These plentiful factory jobs allowed African Americans to develop burgeoning lower-middle-class urban communities. That all came to a halt starting in the mid-1960's, as a combination of automation and suburbanization decreased the number of jobs and moved them away from urban areas. Low-skilled occupations were the first to go, and African-Americans soon found themselves without jobs before they were able to build up significant wealth or assets. Inner-cities and downtowns became the empty, hollowed-out ghettos we simply take for granted today, as "white flight" promoted by the newly-constructed freeways allowed whites to follow the jobs to the distant fringe suburbs, purchase houses with Federally subsidized home loans, and build wealth to pass on to future generations. These opportunities were denied to African-Americans due to the cost of transportation, redlining, aggressive policing, etc. We all know that "job creation" is mainly suburban nowadays, from "office parks" to strip malls.

And what happened to African-Americans when their work disappeared? Their communities came apart. The only jobs left were government jobs which could not be suburbanized, and low-wage service work which did not pay enough to support a family (Popeye's, hair salons, etc.). Families broke down, drug abuse became epidemic, and many African-Americans rationally chose a shorter, riskier life of higher wages and self-respect in the black-market drug trade to the subservience and low pay of fast-food work. Were it not for government jobs (thanks to laws passed to favor the hiring of unemployed blacks), the inner-city unemployment rates and lack of good jobs would be even more acute. With no more use for their labor, blacks became virtual wards of the state, and a welfare-industrial complex allowed blacks to administer the conditions of their own dependence.

Entire cities became no-go zones for significant numbers of Americans, and creeping normalcy conditioned us to accept this situation as "just the way things are." We justified it by claiming that blacks are subhuman, have no self-control, have lower IQs, have poor family structures (which were destroyed by the legacy of slavery), were lazy, and so forth. Talk to any inner-city activist and what will they tell you is the root of the problem? "No jobs" (or perhaps poor schools, which is related).

Some escaped, but not all could. A small portion moved into the professional class and did well; a tiny handful became superstar millionaires in our winner-take-all culture (in entertainment, music, athletics, etc.), but by and large, African-American communities suffered a level of deprivation and destitution that most societies would consider literally inhuman. The success of the few escapees was used as a continued justification for the grinding poverty and ghettoization of the vast majority of the African-American community.

Meanwhile, suburban whites just avoided the inner cities their parents had grown up in and derided blacks as "lazy." The specter of "Cadillac-driving welfare queens" drove the now-suburban white working class into the arms of the Republican party, even in traditional Democratic strongholds in the formerly unionized North.

The mass incarceration of unemployed black males was the response to the unrest that automating and offshoring work had created. A "law and order" policy started under Nixon and accelerated under Reagan and his successors. The drug war was ramped up, and "three strikes" laws were passed. Blacks were portrayed as "superpredators," and we promised to "end welfare as we know it" (both under the Clintons). The end result: there are more African Americans in the legal/justice system today than there were slaves in 1860. One in four of the world's prisoners is in U.S. jails.

None of this was blamed on lack of jobs or automation/offshoring, rather it was "poor family structures," single parents, a lack of desire to get married, insufficient educational attainment, and so forth. Job training was touted as the solution, despite the fact that schools are funded by local taxes (and hence of poor quality in urban areas), and the fact that the jobs don't exist. Ghettos contributed to a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty. Many generations since the 1960's have never known steady work, and this is attributed to "work-resistant personalities" rather than automation, suburbanization and offshoring.

Now we're seeing the exact same arguments applied to lower-class whites. They just have poor work skills (which they never had before), it's just "bad behavior, "they have low IQs, they get married too soon, they talk, look and act wrong, they deserve their plight, blah, blah, on and on. Just like blacks, females are more able to secure jobs in the new "service/caring" economy because they are more amenable to low-pay/service work, while the men engage in self-destructive behavior because they can no longer afford a family. They are told, just as the blacks after sharecropping, to just get in the U-Haul and move to where the jobs are. Sound familiar?

We're now dehumanizing poor whites in the media the exact same way we did to blacks, because the media is owned by the same very corporations benefiting from offshoring/automation. The sneering derision of upper-class whites parallels the dehumanization of blacks when the jobs disappeared in the late 1960s and 1970's. You want to know why Trump? That's why Trump. Of course, keeping blacks and whites (and now, Hispanics) at each others' throats has been a fundamental tactic of the ruling classes since day one in America, which is why Trump supporters tend to despise Black Lives Matter, Mexicans, and Bernie Sanders supporters, despite the fact their core interests are aligned (higher wages, better jobs and working conditions, and getting the money out of politics). Whites' life expectancies are shrinking, family formation is down, single parenthood is common due to the lack of family-supporting wages (laughably blamed by conservatives as a cause, not as a result, of decreasing job opportunities), educational attainment is falling, social dysfunction such as child abuse is rampant, and drug use is reaching epidemic proportions (in this case, painkillers and opiates, predominantly). In other words, all the same pathololgies we attributed to the African-American community just being "different." Turns out, whites aren't so different after all.

The lesson of how African-Americans have been treated is an ill omen for the future, I'm afraid. Drive through any Rust belt inner-city today; that's the future, except now the faces will now be of every race instead of predominately African-American. Libertarian economists such as Tyler Cowen already predict massive favelas and giant ghettos housing 80+ percent of the American population in the years ahead thanks to outsourcing and automation.

Look at Detroit. That will be every major city in America in 20 years' time. A tiny sliver of prosperity behind walls and armed guards, surrounded by third-world poverty. That's what history tells us will be our future under mass automation, based on the African-American experience.

tl;dr: Automation decimated the African-American community and we turned a blind eye. The exact same dynamic is now unfolding for 80+ percent of White America. The outlook is not good.

I agree with this post.

Hipcrime Vocab has warned sociopathy in America is growing. I have discussions with my husband about how much I hate the culture of America, and how it has become racist too and "winner take all" and far more oppressive to people it has deemed "throwaways". We see now authors who defend the "winner take all" ethos. They defend the lack of empathy of this society. Their response to all these poor people is not real help or any future but just blame, and "work harder" and put your nose to the grind stone as the jobs go away. I noticed long ago in the evangelical world, no one wanted to talk about what was really happening. The prosperity gospel ruled even in the non-Word of Faith churches. They had the Charles Murray and J.D. Vance outlook on the poor, the whole "I got mine, tough for you" attitudes.

J.D. Vance in his book gives the same prescriptions to "stop being poor", work hard, be religious--he goes on about how church attendance is higher among better heeled people, and how the military whipped him into shape into being a man who followed rules and learned not helplessness but willfulness. If you think about this, isn't this the message that serves the powerful? Obey, Obey, Obey and don't question the system. I wonder what kind of lawyer he will be? Will the realities of our court and political system wake him up?

JD Vance follows the same themes as Charles Murray though using his own life as an example His own classism makes itself more then apparent.

“In the past few years, I’ve vacationed in Panama and England. I’ve bought my groceries at Whole Foods. I’ve watched orchestral concerts. I’ve tried to break my addiction to “refined processed sugars” (a term that includes at least one too many words). I’ve worried about racial prejudice in my own family and friends. None of these things is bad on its own. In fact, most of them are good—visiting England was a childhood dream; eating less sugar improves health. At the same time, they’ve shown me that social mobility isn’t just about money and economics, it’s about a lifestyle change. The wealthy and the powerful aren’t just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores. When you go from working-class to professional-class, almost everything about your old life becomes unfashionable at best or unhealthy at worst.” 
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Isn't lifestyle mandated by the money available? That reality is ignored by both Charles Murray and JD Vance. You can afford better food, you can afford more educational opportunities. They of course forget that the egg [the money] had to come before the chicken [the better and healthier lifestyle]!

In Charles Murray's world and JD Vance's world, the poor are simply lazy. Somehow they missed the memo on all the unemployed college educated people.

"“People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown. You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than twenty hours a week and find not a single person aware of his own laziness.” 
― J.D. Vance Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

He forgets here, that many jobs now only offer part-time hours and one new thing, is to require that one have open scheduling hours even for those few hours.

Of course in J.D. Vance's world, people like my husband do not exist, who put in 12-14 hour shifts and who did work hard, and got laid off.  He would not imagine that a woman like me once worked 4 and 5 part-time jobs at once to keep a roof over her head. Supposedly all the poor are bums who lost their jobs due to malfeasance.

“We’ll get fired for tardiness, or for stealing merchandise and selling it on eBay, or for having a customer complain about the smell of alcohol on our breath, or for taking five thirty-minute restroom breaks per shift. We talk about the value of hard work but tell ourselves that the reason we’re not working is some perceived unfairness: Obama shut down the coal mines, or all the jobs went to the Chinese. These are the lies we tell ourselves to solve the cognitive dissonance—the broken connection between the world we see and the values we preach. ” 
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

One thing I noticed about this book, is he kept repeating the phrase American Dream without exactly defining it. You mean the dream, that George Carlin used to say you have to be asleep to believe it? Here you get the usual lectures about "hard work", but even here I would say to have "hard work" work, you need the opportunities in the first place. I certainly heard a gutsful myself about the "fucking losers" who didn't make it.

“Mamaw and Papaw believed that hard work mattered more. They knew that life was a struggle, and though the odds were a bit longer for people like them, that fact didn’t excuse failure. “Never be like these fucking losers who think the deck is stacked against them,” my grandma often told me. “You can do anything you want to.” 
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

You know, America's a funny place, all this preaching about self sufficiency and independence. Maybe in agricultural and trapping and hunting days one could make their own way dependent on their own person. It's like a mythos has replaced reality in America, the self made man taking over, but I noticed J.D. got a string of lucky breaks. Did any of you know, that one of his professors was the lady who wrote the Tiger Mom book, and got him this book deal to begin with?

With attending Yale, he definitely learned a new lingo, and culture. When I read the below, what part of the money bought those good things that he does not get? One thing I learned as someone who fell down the ladder, twice now, out of the upper middle class the first time and out of the working class the second, that the one's who most often had the least empathy sometimes could be better off adults who were poor as children. They left behind their poor relatives, and looked back with a mixture of distaste and self-loathing. I suppose this describes some of the problems I had with my own mother. She complained of having no shoes and having to eat pop corn for dinner, and her built in loathing for her childhood poverty gave her no empathy for my adulthood fall into it.

“As a cultural emigrant from one group to the other, I am acutely aware of their differences. Sometimes I view members of the elite with an almost primal scorn—recently, an acquaintance used the word “confabulate” in a sentence, and I just wanted to scream. But I have to give it to them: Their children are happier and healthier, their divorce rates lower, their church attendance higher, their lives longer. These people are beating us at our own damned game. ” 
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

He sees the forest and not the trees, and with his religious blind spots, money buys that stability, money buys that happiness after a certain point. One researched pegged around $75,000 being that cut off point around 10 years ago. One of his major blind spots I notice is that his own grandparents escaped "hillybilly" destitution by moving to Middletown Ohio, where his grandfather held a good middle class providing factory job at Armco. His book, has an extreme disconnect in not tying the destruction of American manufacturing to the destruction of economic lives. Someone who worked hard and could provide properly for his family gave him the foundation to build his life upon. His lack of empathy for the very fact these opportunities have been removed from American people is sickening.

One could say I come out of a hillybilly past though these were Ohio dirt farmers on one side, they just happened to be "more north". For those who made good, there was a loathing for those who failed, it's one puzzle piece to my own story in why my family threw me away beyond the narcissism. I grew up being told to be poor, was to be a failure and money counted for everything. My mother's own family was divided with a crack between those who had "made it" and those who didn't. J.D. Vances' attitudes are not that foreign to me. I was the first to earn a college degree in my mother's entire family. Yes, I was the first. I remember the odd jealousy at the time, almost like I didn't deserve it. My mother did not go to college and got her good job via my father remember.

I lived in an area considered a "white trash"/"hillbilly"/"poor rural whites" area for over 10 years. The jobs disappearing affected that place. It went from a stable small town to having multiple abandoned houses, a problem with heroin, and home invasions. I knew the jobs disappearing destroyed family lives, and unlike J.D. who saw the drugs as the cause of the poverty, I saw drugs as a symptom of the despair that came to settle on my old small town and the future young people were losing out on. Sadly J.D Vance and those who support him see the drugs as the cause and not the result.  They also ignore the fact that unlike his grandparents, the same jobs like they had at Armco are no longer there.

Older people with empathy would tell me they feared for young people and told me their lives were much harder. They realized the rug had been pulled from underneath people in being able to make livings or support families. Republican types like J.D. Vance of course blame people for failing in a system when the moorings have been removed. I would even try to tell people do what you can, to survive and succeed, but you wonder about those who serve as apologists for the system, and defend the status quo, in claiming poverty is a result of one's own laziness and immorality. I suppose that's the only answer for the right in America. After all it's easier to steal this place blind and refuse decency, while blaming the victims and gaslighting them about the true causes of their economic misery. 

Gen X: The Scapegoat Generation is Dying Young


  1. If you're really 500lbs, well, http://www.reddit.com/r/keto just give it a read, give it a try ...

    You make extremely good points, I'm sitting here in Silicon Valley making $16 an hour half-time with no benefits (1099) because the electronics tech jobs I'm trained for are gone. All of them.

    Still, I have some ways to "steer" my life. I don't "invest" in a daily pack of cigarettes,or in tattoos. I don't have regular interactions with the law. While pot's legal at the state level where I am now, I don't smoke the stuff. I mention this because lower-class whites where I am do all of these things. Plus domestic violence, poor hygiene, you know the types.

    Yes, I did everything right and I'm still stuck at $15k a year for the rest of my life and I live in a place with no running water now, but my life would still be much harder if I embraced "white trash" culture.

    1. Yeah read the rest of the blog about the 500lbs, it's a long story. Lipedema high stage. Kind of a rare process to get there. Some do keto. I have to eat healthier then average folks to stay alive AND NOT GAIN.

      Wow Silicon Valley, the way they talk about that place here, they tell us everyone makes 100,000 or more. Sorry to hear that. So they managed to destroy electronic tech jobs too? All outsourced? I know of kids studying that, because it's one of those supposedly secure STEM fields. How's things going to be for the young people training on the 3 D printers?

      Sure I agree life is better to avoid those things, but isn't there a stereotype running about poor whites? Am I a strange poor white to watch PBS and never drink or smoke pot? [it's still illegal here] We have to be cautious of stereotypes. Even there, I see the drinking, the drugs, the pot smoking as a way some people chose to escape hopelessness. Not saying I agree with it, but examining the motives for these lifestyles is of interest. This guy's book definitely wants to peg poor whites as all "losers" deserving their fate.

      Remember while you may be an educated person stuck at 15K, you're being lumped in with the hillbillies as "deserving" nothing more. These wealthy eugenicists won't care that we spend our time watching PBS or taking art classes at the art center or reading books on Star Trek or whatever you do for hobbies. They'll lump us in with everyone else they left behind by plan.

  2. J.D. Vance is the poor white man's version of Dr. Ben Carson. They became successful because they did well on SAT for undergraduate admissions to a top university and a standardized test for admissions to a professional school. Both of them had access to education in Yale, an Ivy League university. I noticed from reading their book that they became arrogant since they graduated from Yale.

    Both of them are traitors to people they left behind. Dr. Carson who grew up poor is a current Security of HUD housing programs. He grew up poor in public housing in Detroit, and now he wants to dismantle a housing program that helped his single mother to survive and helped him to stay in school. He eventually got into Yale for his undergraduate degree because he had 1200 in SAT score at the time when American approved of affirmative action policies that helped African Americans, women, and other minority students to get into college and find a job.

    Last year, when Dr. Carson visited a public housing apartment complex, Dr. Carson made comments about tenants of public housing programs being too comfortable and that he wanted to eliminate amenities that made tenants feel at home. He used senior citizens as models for his segment on for a news channel, where he said that senior citizens needed to move where they would not be comfortable. His "goal" was to get tenants out of their "comfort zone" so they would get out of a public housing program and get an apartment in an expensive market rate.

    J. D. Vance used poor white people's erratic behavior, poor attendance history at work, long breaks in the restroom and during their lunch breaks, job terminations, and substance abuse history to demonize them. He loves his older sister, grandparents, and an aunt who became middle class, but he does not speak in respect of his mother, biological father, and stepfathers. Yes, he loves prosperity gospel he heard in churches and spending time with his evangelical Christian father. However, he does not spend time with his father's side of the family during the holidays. (cont.)

    1. LOL this statement you wrote sums things up:

      J.D. Vance is the poor white man's version of Dr. Ben Carson.

      I read Dr. Ben Carson was saying poor people need to be made to feel more uncomfortable. I thought that was insane. He claims he was poor as a child but he sure must have been sheltered to have attitudes like that. I thought what in the hell is this guy smoking? I have stayed out of public housing in my state fearing limited repairs, bed bugs and other horror stories I have heard even about buildings in so called "good areas". I could be forced to go into public housing one day, but we have stayed in higher priced private for now.


      Does this mean he wants more bed bugs, broken windows and lack of heat and air conditioning? A senior/disabled building lost most of the heat for weeks in my old town. They also have a bed bug problem. The senior/disabled tower here has such a bad bed bug problem in an other wise good area, people have fled there, who I know. Another building in a ghetto area, one woman at a food pantry told me that the elevator broke constantly with people getting trapped upstairs, or in it, and some of these folks are wheelchair bound and otherwise. I have a rule never to live in a place where it is dependent on an elevator, we have too many power outages here, I could be trapped in my apt or trapped outside it like if I was coming home from somewhere and power went out. I can do a few stairs, but not flights and flights of them, it has more to do with my legs being too big and balance then lung power to get up or down them though with enough stairs that's an issue.

    2. I think when people are poor as children, they blame the adults that raised them and consider their good educations fortunes, and breaks and ability to work hard, and have it pay off on their own positive attributes. I have seen this is some narcissistic family members who never faced job lay-offs EVER or not being able to get a job they were educated for.

      I consider them traitors too. With Vance, I feel like oh he loved his family and had some good memories of them but there was the underlying tsk tsk tsk of a nanny berating them for
      "bad behavior". He truly believed they were all poor via their own fault. He got a lucky break to meet someone even to publish his book...[the tiger woman professor]

      With Dr. Ben Carson, I see those same attitudes in him as in Vance. He does sound like he came from a home although poor his mother worked hard to promote education and working hard, and so did Vance's middle class grandparents who had escaped their former poverty.
      It is kind of scary isn't it, Carson wants to dismantle the very programs that allowed his mother to raise him in some semblance of safety. Don't forget these Republican types, want less money for schools and more public school educational programs to be defunded as well as college programs that allowed for them to get ahead and escape poverty. It's like they used ladders to climb up themselves that they are now taking a saw too.


    3. Test scores can determine a future too, some test better then others. I do believe some tests are totally biased. I did far more poorly on the SAT not understanding the literature and other questions and holes in my own education, that probably life among more cultured people would have allowed me, but I was able to get into an honors college when I was young, a separate part of my state school that allowed me to bypass some requirements and have close knit honors classes of 10-12 for my generals, rather then the usual auditoriums of 200-300. The ACT was far different test. Yes when Carson got in, there was Affirmative Action.

      I think it is kind of creepy he wants people not to be comfortable. What good is that for seniors who are at or near the end of their lives and unable like the young healthwise to supposedly "fight" their way out to better circumstances? His lack of understanding there is astonishing. From what I can tell public housing is being defunded and allowed to deteriorate, NOW.

      J.D. Vance does demonize poor white people. He ignores the realities of low-wage low-hour manual labor, how it affects the health, how now hours are restricted, and the job themselves aren't very dependable with constant lay-offs and people even being sent home if the business is slow. He blames the employees for their poor pay, and records when often the reality of low-paid jobs, does not bring one a stable life. I worked 4-5 low paid jobs once at a time myself. Notice how he takes the narcisstic employer's view ah they are all lazy bums anyway. One thing I can add here is that low wage work, gets no respect and I do believe along with the backbreaking aspect of some jobs and the abuse that has increased this leads to SOME workers losing motivation.

      I noticed too he loved the relatives who became middle class as well, the lauded grandparents who benefited from the post-WWII economic boom, and the older sister and aunt. With his mother while substance abuse is a problem there, I notice the lack of respect or understanding for those who "did not make it". I have lived this own divide in my family. Recall that even as a 14 dollar an hour art teacher, and when my husband made around 10-13 an hour at newspaper jobs, we were seen as "failures" and "embarrasments" even then. There's a certain middle class lifestyle that is acceptable to these types, trust me on that one.

      The evangelical world really does hold his attitudes. There is an economic line there, most do not talk about, it's not the poor people going to church in our dying rural communities, most have already left.

    4. I read somewhere online from sources that claimed members of Democrat Party investigated Dr. Carson during the primaries in 2016 and investigators learned that Dr. Carson’s stories were hoaxes! According to investigators, Dr. Carson, his mother, and older brother never lived in public housing but lived in a house that was in the same neighborhood as public housing or apartments.

      Dr. Carson’s stories about professor tricking students to retake a math test and that many students left while Ben stayed did not add up. Investigators were unable to find a professor who could make this story, so it was a hoax. Ben finally admitted his story about the test trick was not true!

      Dr. Carson claimed that the West Point offered him a scholarship, which he turned down to go to Yale on a full ride. Investigator checked with the West Point records only to find that the West Point and the military did not have a record on Ben Carson.

      Ben Carson wants to play games with people and to play God. Bed bugs, broken windows, the lack of heat and air conditioning, inadequate water and pipes, and any substandard housing conditions will not make him go away. He will find something worse whenever things get worse for public housing residents.

      He will not get what he wants because legal aids representing low-income people would sue HUD making sure that the HUD housing protects residents from substandard housing conditions and rats. Like many Republicans, Dr. Carson enjoyed the attention he received from poor and hurting people. J.D. Vance and other low-class Republicans are like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in that they enjoyed attention from people who protested against their decision. They became famous for being jerks. That’s how narcs got their attention.

  3. Vance uses his wife's family and his sister's husband family as examples of people he wants to emulate. He chose to leave his childhood hometown behind and look down on some hillbilly people who stayed the same. He claimed that he outgrew his childhood home and he wanted to move on to a greener pasture in his current middle-class neighborhood. Because his sister lives well, he does not need to support her. However, he is critical of his mother whom he has to support financially.

    I'm sorry to hear that you felt like you were reading your redneck uncle's screed or book when you read "The Hillbilly Elegy." I did not read Charles' Murray trashy book called "Coming Apart" yet. But I want to tell you that Murray and Vance had high scores in standardized exams (SAT, LSAT, GRE) that helped them to get into a college of their choices at their first application. Based on my experiences with the college entrance standardized exams, I conclude that high test scores breed deep-seated narcissism, racism, classism, eugenicism, and arrogance. I noticed that those who had high verbal and quantitative scores tend to be critical and insensitive toward those who had below-average scores. I talked to one woman who got into a prestigious doctoral program because she had high GRE scores. She was very arrogant about it when she sent me an email criticizing me and putting me down.

    Standardized exams have a long history of racism and classism against underrepresented minorities and low-income people who could not earn high test scores that would have helped them to get into a first tiered university. Based on what they said about those who have low scores, I could tell that those who have high test scores do not have empathy or the good personality. A director of an admission office in a business school of an elite university noted that he had experiences with those who had perfect test scores who tend to be jerks or have poor social skills. He did not want to offer these people admissions to his business school because he did not want to open doors for jerks to become executives and decision makers. Nowadays, many universities stopped requiring test scores, or some admissions committee chose to place test score as a lower priority over other components of the applications.

    J.D. Vance and Charles Murray had access to social and educational capital since they went to an Ivy League university. Charles Murray claimed that he got into Harvard College because he had high test scores. J.D. Vance mentioned that he had high test scores, but he did not make a big deal out of it as much as Murray did. I noticed from reading Vance's book that he was conservative before he got into Yale Law School but he became less charitable to poor white people after he graduated from Yale and married his middle-class wife who grew-up in a non-abusive home. Vance claimed that his mother and stepfathers abused him because they had substance abuse problems. He made statements about poor white people yelling at each other, becoming emotional and violent, and people in Kentucky living like homeless people. I'm sorry you felt you read your uncle's book. Murray and Vance inspire racist white people who want their factory jobs back and to live like those who were upwardly mobile during the great prosperity in American from 1946 to 1973.

    1. I truly wonder how Vance got into Yale, maybe he saved a lot of money as a Marine. He got a cushy posting as a Marine too if I remember correctly. He was not one of the grunts in the trenches. I found myself wondering how he lucked out so much? He definitely had the health and ability to be in the Marines. Many have economic barriers against Ivy League. I did not even try to apply to advanced state school, that is known among the Big Ten knowing I could not afford it. I fell in the cracks of my parents making too much money and knowing what part I could afford or they would be willing to pay for on their end. I worked every semester in college. In fact during two years of college, I had two jobs, working in the cafeterias and also working in catering. Catering was considered so hard, that only foreign students did it, and I was the only white among a dozen Thai students who worked in catering. We plated and handed out hundreds of plates for college dinners and were waiters and waitresses and then did all the washing up. I find Vance's and Murray's crap about poor people never working hard disgusting on multiple levels

      He definitely wants to emulate the wealthier people in his family. Hey I was given the same instructions of Vance, "Don't be losers like your Aunt Scapegoat, etc etc" I know those pressures. To end up poor among the formerly white trash can be utter misery. I noticed in the book his family seemed to have some of the dividing lines that formed in my own. Yes I noticed too he criticized his mother a lot.


    2. LOL the book reminded me of my uncle so much. He got out like my mother and got a good job and he entered the middle class, though not as upper as my mother, and he has the same exact attitude. He would post on Facebook against losers who were on disability [!!!] even though his sister was on SSI, and he had a niece me on SSD. He posted endless right wings screeds about how people are lazy and "won't work hard". He knew my husband was a published author--by the way he is having a book published this summer of a book he co-authored, and I volunteered and still did art work while disabled, but he still continued with this crap. So yeah this book reminded me totally of my uncle. Just like Vance, he idolized his farmer parents but in this case my grandparents never became middle class, they held working class jobs. However I notice the same idolatry for the older people who "didn't make it" while lambasting those in their same generations and younger people. My uncle got his first job right out of high school which was professional. No college needed though he later went to school and his company paid for it. Hired right at 18 by his best friend's father, right into the company he has worked for, for 30 or more years.

      He never knew what it was to piece multiple part time jobs together, or to go to work while sick, or to take 21 credit hours while working 2 jobs. He had it easy. With Vance, I see the same string of "lucky breaks" and constant would be "connections" and being invited in the door happening. Such times will go on to tell people how hard they worked. I applied for probably 100 jobs not to be homeless circa 1994. My uncle never got put through any paces and I see the same of Vance and they still got the same snotty attitudes.

      Oh my last job, I forget this, but I actually had TWO jobs then too, at times, and beyond my 60-70 hour work weeks at residential counseling, I worked part time in a law office and on a temp basis. LOL I sometimes forget what my life was like for so many years. [I was still trying to become a paralegal though no schools would transfer me in, in Chicago]

      Charles Murray's book "Coming Apart" is a horrendous screed, the basic premise is that wealthier white people are smarter and better "bred" and are more moral people aka they marry instead of doing serial mongamy etc.

      Ignored in that book are the realities of how money changes things.

      I get the feeling on many of these upper level tests, that they do affect some to be narcissists. I have noted a technocrat element to society that even those with certain stances are being drummed out and agree about the racism, classism and eugenic attitudes.


      Here's one odd fact about me, I did very badly on the SAT, I tested high on other tests, etc, I got the feeling the SAT weeded out non-linear thinkers too, it was extremely biased towards STEM thinkers. How can I explain this, a math gifted Spock would do well, while an artist, historian or philosopher would do poorly.

      In fact the ACT scores that got me into the honors program, I remember the scores, I got 30 on several sections. The math score averaged things down to 26-29, it was somewhere in the high 20s. I blew the SAT so badly, it was like the test results of a C or lower student. I don't remember those scores, 540 verbal? Math was in the 300s, I remember being sick that day but the test scores were abysmal. If the ACT did not exist I may not even gotten into college. Maybe my GPA of 3.45 would have been enough. I even wondered at cultural and other factors impacting my taking of the SAT.

      I believe we are in a society, where certain type of thinking is being advanced. I see this in the professional class, maybe the SAT has already had an effect.

    3. Corrections above, times should be type, etc. Coughing my brains out sorry for errors above.

    4. In the above, I worked at the cafeterias all four years of college, well 3 and half years spent in dorms--student teaching took up last semester out of the dorms. The second job was held for two years with the cafeteria work.

    5. Some poor people, minorities, and adults with disabilities became traitors to those whom they should support and help. I dealt with a deaf woman who got into a doctoral program at a prestigious university and graduated from that program ten years ago. I sent her an email asking for tips how she succeeded getting into a doctoral program as a deaf woman and asked if she was able to convince admissions committee to accept her application to a doctoral program if she had low GRE verbal score.

      She sent me a very nasty biting email criticizing me at every turn. I realized that she succeeds because she was a narc. I refused to sell my soul to the devil and did not contact her again. Yes, she had high GRE scores and rubbed it in my face. Here was her statement:
      Thank you for writing. I am happy to talk with you about applying for doctoral programs. I think your low GRE scores are going to be a big issue. Unfortunately, there were also several grammatical errors in your email, so I also suspect your writing may have been a problem. Did you have anyone edit your essay?

      I didn’t take a course for the GRE, but I used GRE preparation materials, including practice tests. My scores are private, but I feel comfortable saying that they were very high. I also had high grades in my Master’s program, so they knew I could do the work. They also look for people who have some work experience, so they know candidates are focused and understand their fields. People get a PhD to expand what they already know and study research techniques – not to learn new information.

      (Her doctoral program) is very competitive, and with (her advisor who specializes in disabilities) leaving, there won’t really be anyone there who knows disability-related issues in higher ed or K-12. I’m not sure this would be a good fit for you, since no one would be available to advise you on that specific field. Is there some reason you are pushing hard for (her doctoral program in a bigger city) over other programs? I usually recommend students think about what they want to study and then look for campuses that have faculty working in that field. From your statement about research interests, it sounds like you may need to take some time to consider what you want to study, focusing on one or two related topics. If I were reviewing your application, I’d worry about whether you were ready. This may be another reason faculty are not responding to your emails – if they think you are not ready for the doctoral program, they would be reluctant to meet you at this time.

      Sorry to be pessimistic, but I think it’s important to be honest, so you can find the right program for you at the right time for you.” (cont.)

    6. Where was the support? I did not see any of the support I sought from a deaf woman who was there and succeeds. I found out several hours later that she was late-deafen, so she did not spend years in special education courses. She did not have experiences dealing with schools that placed her in a class for “educationally handicapped” or “educable mentally retarded” in the early 1970s. She was not deaf until she was sixteen. Furthermore, she was able to obtain information and gain language skills that helped her to succeed in a standardized exam that works against 98% of deaf and hard of hearing test takers. Her lack on sensitivities and empathy made me wonder that she succeeds because she's a narc rather than being a real deaf woman who succeeds. She no longer inspired me. On a side note, my professors and friends in graduates school read my essays, statement of purpose drafts, writing samples, and emails. They did not see many grammatical errors!

    7. I think Vance got into Yale as a diversity admit: first-generation, low-income, veteran, and regional (Appalachia). Yale has a history of recruiting low-income, underrepresented minority and accepting their applications. Because Yale is laid-back compared to Harvard, they accepted applications from those that Harvard rejected. It’s a long story why Yale accepted Vance’s application to its Law School. However, not all low-income first-generation students and alumni hold similar views, and attitude as the one Vance is holding. Reading his book made me realize that Vance has emotional and psychological issues that made him conservative and hateful toward other poor whites.

      Like many traitors such as Ben Carson and a deaf woman who unjustly criticized me in an email, J.D. Vance does not want to give back to the community. He and other traitors do not want to be mentors or role models to those they left behind. They want to move up on the economic ladder and to be with upper-class wealthy people. A deaf woman who criticized me does not want to help fellow deaf and hard of hearing adults succeed. She has a great job where she deals with adults with disabilities, but she is not empathetic. I did not send her offensive emails, and we never met each other. I was looking for advice and tips. She criticized me. By doing so, she reminded me of my abusive adopted narc mother and abusive teachers who held me back during my elementary and secondary school years.

    8. I did much worse on the SAT than I did on the GRE for many reasons. I remember I got 380 or 390 verbal and 460 math based on my educational attainment at that time. I would take your verbal score in a heartbeat. On the GRE, I did much better; 5.0 in analytical writing (AWA), 153 quantitative (680 in the old GRE) and a better verbal score than I did in SAT. However, because I was an athlete who maintained 3.29 GPA with several AP courses, I applied and got into two top public universities and a small liberal arts college. I did not apply to Ivy League universities or one of the top 25 national universities because I was not with scholars or teachers who would encourage me to apply there. My high school was a different world and culture from those communities and schools who would groom their students to obtain their credentials for admissions to elite universities. In fact, my high school teachers warned me against applying to a university in my state because it was as impersonal as UC Berkeley was, and it had a reputation of having students leaving there after their first year.

      SAT is still culturally biased against low-income minority students and students with sensory disabilities (deaf, hard of hearing, learning disabilities, ADHD, and visual disability). The College Board claims that they made their test equitable because they have business interests. SAT is about money and business. Many colleges and universities stopped requiring SAT while some top-tiered universities who still require SAT found ways to evaluate applicants without relying heavily on SAT scores. I noticed from reading articles and books that those who prefer to use SAT and GRE scores to evaluate applicants and who are arguing in favor of continuing college entrance standardized exam are narcs and those who enjoy bragging about their high test scores.

      I'm sorry you had bad experiences with getting scholarships for college that would have saved you money and paid for your education at a top-tiered university. SAT hurt your chance to get a full-ride scholarship. I remember having problems getting scholarships and into internships because of my SAT scores. Policies started to change recently. Hopefully elite universities that offer no-loan financial aid package and paid internship program will stop requiring SAT scores within the next few years.

  4. 1/Thanks for your wonderful post. You are so well written and I appreciate the way you compared Vance and Murray's books. Online (in groups) I hear the same kind of blame-the-victim smug and snarky garbage that you are describing: people who are completely ignorant not only of their own fortunes (my friend's sister who complains about her ACA costs which I figured put her her husband at $500,000 annually) but also denying the privilege that got them where they are financially. Not only that, when I come back with facts and also criticism of Trump et al policies, she comes back with: My retirement fund is doing great, how's yours? Really I wanted to say FUCK YOU, you are a heartless bitch. Because why would she not want another person to do okay in old age? Just because of online fights?

    1. Thanks Patricia. Yeah I hear the same garbage too in online groups it sucks. I don't have much tolerance for rich Republicans anymore who all hate the poor. Just sick of them. Everything is about punishing and controlling people. Did you hear about Trump's food boxes for food stamps. Sigh. Many of them do play blame the victim and superiority games. I can't even bear to speak with them anymore, it's a waste of time. On my facebook because I think I have sent all conservatives running, any I am still friends with--very few, probably are avoiding the tppic on [purpose. Ugh with retirement fund. Hell she is so out of touch, most people have no retirement funds. Gig employment's not going to give my husband one and the newspapers from years ago, ha ha ha ha ha, no one has one, maybe top publishers? Sometimes I want to tell the heartless bitches and spoiled to fuck off. Imagine I had a whole family like this, and the majority all voted uber-Republican. I think some get off knowing others will do worse then them. It GIVES THEM PLEASURE< which honestly must be why they vote the way they do. :/

  5. 2/I, too, have come from mid to upper middle class background. My dad was a lawyer and so we moved to a higher class neighborhood but we were probably house rich and money poor. (Having to get a wood stove because we couldn't afford oil, in the 70's). I went to college (dropped out first from Penn State, having undiagnosed ADD) and then later doing very well in a private college. I worked and went to school full time. I've ALWAYS worked physically hard, in my life. And have been paid dismally. I married a man whose family owned a large New England Rose growing company and settled into a very comfortable middle class life. I still worked hard at the rose factory but was always criticized by my husband (now ex) for being lazy (undiagnosed ADD + messy house). In retrospect I realized he never worked as hard as I and my coworkers did (he was the manager and could go in his cool office when the greenhouse got too hot). But he made me think there was something wrong with me. And my siblings. (My sister had children at 18 and was always struggling with money; her husband was a carpenter and a drinker who had a tough childhood I think, two parents with polio.My brother an itinerant artist). When I got pregnant (which he wanted) he got pissed (that he had to support me AND a child; the child was fine, it was me he was pissed about). He blamed me for not working when my young one turned four and was in preschool. He undermined any part time job I got (You're putting too many miles on our van, for my research interviewing job, or mad if he had to come home for a sick child when I was working for $3 something an hour, etc.). He didn't help or support my ventures (farmer's market vendor) and always always acted superior to me. He had financial security, I did not. His came from his well to do family. Mine came from him. I did better in college than he did but it didn't matter to him; for him it was about me sacrificing my dreams for a career to our small family and just getting a job in a bank (which would be soul killing for me).

    1. I wish sociologists would study those of us who have fallen down the socioeconomic ladder, isn't it odd, I never have found a book or article addressing this issue. Yeah wood stove and house rich and money poor or he could have been cheap, that is possible too. Wow so you were married to a well off man, sounds like he was emotionally abusive too. It's sad he made you work in the hot greenhouses while kicking back in the office but yeah all these narcissists guilt and shame us into the worse, and it takes time to learn our rights and see how unfair things are. Having him be stingy over taking care of you and the child, wow that sucks. Sounds like anything you did was never good enough, so he probably was a narcissist. I hope things are okay between you and your children now...

    2. Dear Patricia, the yuppie wood-burners just kill me - them with their high-end wood-stoves, and everything else just ever-so. i can't help but to wonder if their fancy wood-stoves are powered by cheap labor (i.e., wife and kids). i know for a fact that sort of thing goes on, while pee-wee sits around and glories in himself because he cut some logs with his high-end chainsaw, while the wife (who already works near full-time at the bank, and does most the houseeork) and kids are lugging the logs and dumping ashes day in and day out. Wood-burning...blech! Real people who burn wood only do so because they have to. Wood-burning is just another symptom of a sick economy.

  6. 3/We got divorced during all the bad economy stuff in the 2000's including the housing bubble. He suffered a blow I'm sure but I ended up with a limited stash of money and an ongoing fight with him about what child support was for. (Knowing his parents would always help him out financially). He would say negative things about the house I bought (fixer upper; his was bought new by him, a single man in his 20's). He would tell me how most divorced women ended up bankrupt in 10 years post divorce. His family was able to prosper off the Puerto Rican and immigrant Guatemalan workers along with a few white people. The whole setup was anathema to me, but there I was in this marriage (and then divorce).

    After years of stress and financial struggles I decided to go back for a Master's in Public Health. I spent $80,000 to do it (in loans) but I needed to get out of manual labor jobs. I had gone to Berkeley for a presentation on their program. I felt very out of place and definitely not what they wanted (young and super experienced in humanitarian work; I was older and awkward because of my processing speed issues and ADD even though I did very well on the verbal part of the GRE and average on the math part and had almost a 4.0 from undergrad).

    I ended up at University of Washington (ironically higher rated than Berkeley but more down to earth) but struggled there because of ageism and some of the same elements I saw at Berkeley. I was constantly feeling I was not good enough. Coming out of school (I'll put aside family drama that brought about problems for me) and back in Massachusetts I could NOT find a job. I suspect ageism (I am not 25/30) and this sort of rude culture on how business treats applicants for their posted jobs. Long waits for interviews, or no reply. Long long lists of job duties for $15/hr. No reply to direct asks TO WOMEN for any tips/ideas on how I could perform better.

    I became disabled before I found a job (in fact had to cancel an interview because I got sick). Now I don't have enough money to keep me sustainable (including SSDI). I have fallen into poverty. I can trace the trajectory but not in the moment because in the moment I kept thinking I could make it. Especially at the last point where I got a Masters. But a single mom, with those kinds of jobs where they only give you part time or won't hire you to begin with; my daughter with ADD and then a late diagnosis of T1 Diabetes (where I did ALL the work with her figuring out her new life style; not her dad, me.)

    I realized this year because of my illness I am now in poverty. I can't take in money that I could possibly earn (say through ebay or etsy) because I would lose SSDI and Medicaid. It's a catch 22.

    So fuck those people who think others are not working hard enough and they got to better positions based purely on their own genius and hard work. I know it's not about that. And you are right, this is why we have Trump because people hate the poor and they sure don't want to see themselves as maybe headed that way. All the sociological analysis you gave is correct. I agree. It depresses me to live in this country, waking up to the lie. My sister died young with four children left motherless, because of poverty and all these other things (lack of education, children too young, drugs, lack of health care). When I hear some conservative or libertarian coupled with religiosity say: well, poor people die... (as if we should not care) I go ballistic. Thanks for your elegant post.

    1. I am not surprised it all led to divorce, it's terrible what you went through. That's sad they used low paid immigrants, I wonder how many have built wealth exploiting cheap labor. Sick isn't it.

      It seems like a Public Health Masters would be marketable, but yeah in the workworld age discrimination is in full tilt. My husband got laid off from the newspapers and then short term copy-ad writer job in his late 40s, I guess you can see how that panned out to scrape by gig employment, though due to his health and my own it's better he is here with me.

      I believe the hiring system needs revamped, where it is not run the way it is, that is very controversial I know. All those laws about discrimination on the books have become a joke now. So many do great in school and then find out this doesn't translate to the career world. Yeah so many feel they are not good enough. Well I struggle with that due to my issues but the world world is repressive isn't it, and self esteem destroying in the cut-throat competition and open discrimination.
      I believe ageism is extreme now. If somneone loses a job in their high 40s or low 50s or older, they could be looking a very impoverished older age. It is happening all over this area.
      Yeah given no information, low wages--pay that doesn't match at all the education borrowed for it, etc etc. That's terrible what happened to your sister too.

      Were you able to get SSDI? Well I know being on it can mean poverty too. It sounds like you did everything you were supposed to. The system now is so frustrating, like people doing everything and the Lotto system with the thumbs down. So much wasted time and energy and for what. I think the whole thing needs changed. Single mothers have it very hard, it's tough. Yes I know SSDI, and Medicaid is lost with more income you get or your spend down goes up like a rocket ship, and premimums raise to the ceiling.

      Yeah I am sick of the assholes who say "just work hard". All I had to is get one decent art teaching job and I may have been okay, and I worked "hard" and many others did too including husband who got thrown away after years of hard work. Sometimes I think Republicans are just jerks. [lol it's my blog guess I can be "offensive" but anyone who supports that orange faced monster you left moderate land long ago] I have no understanding of you. You support the people trying to destroy my very life.


    2. oh correction above, one decent art teaching job that didn't disappear or ended [grant based] I found an old newspaper article with me in it, from years ago, when I was doing a program at the juvenile home and looked up old coworkers, that was kind of weird. I think one still works there 25 years later.

      I see enough of them on Facebook always shaming the poor, cheering for the craziest shit, I saw this one lady saying of Trump's new food boxes, well that will keep all those rotten welfare people from selling their SNAP Cards. They really do hate the poor. This is NOT a stereotype and instead of caring about fellow Americans they want to crush them. I guess one negative side of human nature, they feel oppressed, they decide to kick someone below them or something like that. I am sad to be American now. This place seems hopeless now, like a giant dystopian shithole. I even was waxing nostalgic over the 1980s today, I was watching Footloose and while those people were only working class, said to husband remember when they had all those different shoes and colored socks. Can you imagine buying different colored shoes just for fun? This place is depressing. I find myself telling young people to leave if they can, find place with an intact social network and one where you could learn the language or know it. Yeah it's like waking up to a lie everyday. What makes me sad is most people like this Vance guy, all the brainwashed Fox newswatchers who think the poor have what's coming to them and deserve even more "punishment" to "whip them into shape".

      Sorry about what happened to your sister. Yeah I am sickened by the religious conservatives and libertarians too. I had a lot of cognitive dissonance clinging to this religion where the majority had politics I found abysmal and hateful. I am so happy to be free of that crap. Thanks for your kind words and I hope things get better for you.

  7. Hello Peep,
    This was a lot you put up here, and very interesting, thanks. Have you by any chance read any of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts books? On his blog he also speaks about identity politics and the plight of the white American male in today's society, as well as the lack of jobs in America, and many other subjects. You can Google him for his bio, books and blog.