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January 04, 2013


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Austerity will make it even worse. When people are fighting over scraps the resentment of people outside their "tribe" escalates. Witness the rise of a scary neo-Nazi party in Greece.

I agree that the lack of nuance, along with disregard for a vast swath of alternative options, render these "mood rings" ridiculous.

What really chaps my hide, though is the characterization of the "Average Independent" as inhabiting the absolutely fictional "center."

I don't believe in a "center."

I'm a Post - Modern.

Is that another way of saying I'm past my sell-by date??

I'm having trouble posting here again. This time I used no links, did not cut and paste, and composed entirely within the Rogue Columnist comment window.

I found that it was possible to take both surveys without answering all questions. Doing so, the second survey classified me as "very liberal" overall, even more "very liberal" on economic issues, and firmly in the center on social issues, which actually is probably a fair assessment, though I don't think that the "overall" assessment means anything because the economic and social categories are qualitative and generally non-overlapping.

The first survey, by contrast, made errors, particularly insofar as it grouped me with "disaffecteds" even though I indicated NO concern about immigration (and answered positively regarding immigrants), don't watch Nascar, etc..

There is obviously a great deal of error in the construction of the surveys, even the second. It's interesting that "moderate Republican" is about an inch to the right of center, whereas "moderate Democrat" is three or four times as far to the left of the scale.

As Mr. Talton pointed out, the second graph has a category for "tea-party Republican" (but none for libertarians), and no representation whatsoever for socialists (democratic or otherwise).

A different weighting of answers and a more subtle selection of questions, as well as the explicit option to not answer questions that are foolishly over-general, might have resulted in much different percentages associated with the political philosophy scale.

Some of the questions were galling in their naivety. For example, in the first survey I was asked to choose between "Racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can't get ahead these days" and "Blacks who can't get ahead in this country are mostly responsible for their own condition", both of which I strongly disagree with.

I am probably one of few Whites who support race-based hiring quotas (particularly in large job markets, where there is little excuse for failing to find qualified applicants representing the local population pecentage for that demographic).

On the other hand, I think that there is a strong subcurrent in Black youth subculture which is reflected in the lyrics of certain types of (popular) rap music which glorifies drug dealing and usage, ruthless violence as a way to solve social frictions, disagreements and rivalries, disrespect for women, and even general disrespect for Blacks: use of the term "nigga" to refer disdainfully to other Blacks comes directly from the plantation days when hierarchies among servants caused some (e.g., indoor servants) to "lord it" over field hands by imitating the master's form of address for Blacks.

No amount of argument claiming that Blacks have made the term their own will convince me: it is almost uniformly used when arguing with someone or when speaking ill of someone, or when trying to bring someone "down to size". If I were Black and had a son that used this term I would patiently explain its history, and if he persisted the bar of soap would come out.

The general absence of the organized Left for the last few decades has in itself changed positions within the political spectrum. When the old Left drops out of existence, by definition the new left is further to the right and the "center" moves automatically. The near complete decay of private unionism in the United States (less than seven percent of the private workforce is unionized) has also had a huge effect on the nature of political discourse in this country, as the last large, well-funded and organized political force (not always on the left but generally) has shriveled and retreated into the public sector, where it is now (predictably) coming under increasing attack.

New comments for the Front Page guy in that thread.

Hey, I didn't post that comment above saying "Test".

When Typepad gets cranky, I post the word "test," which always goes through. Then I go into the control panel and feed in the comment you emailed me.

Apparently, at least according to that first quiz, I'm an 18-year-old black female.

Pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum from what I see in the mirror every morning...

Oops... I meant second quiz.

Mr. Fish, Political Spectrum

I am a Post-Modern/liberal. I also skipped some of the questions where neither choice fit.

Petro, I happened upon this article at The Nation Institute: http://www.nationinstitute.org/blog/nationbooks/3098/climate_change_and_the_limits_of_growth/ > Climate Change and the Limits of Growth I think it relates well to your listening piece ( by Geoffrey West ) entered in Book It: 2012 hottest on record.

Thank you, Suzanne!

(BTW - here is the repaired link:

Climate Change and the Limits of Growth)

Thank-you Petro, I left a comment at Deconstructing The Manifest.

Interesting and inspiring new post on the year-old Phoenix 101 Maryvale column:


Took the test. Hit last button. Got no response. Took it again. no response. got an e-mail from PHEW.
it read congratulations you appear to be a direct desendant of Attila the Hun.
This survey is about as objective as FOX News.

I don't know you were necessarily doing so, Emil, but your post landed -- at least with me -- as typecasting young black males as glorifying drugs and violence, and having general disrespect of others. I imagine it is hard enough being a 16 year old black boy in Phoenix, regardless of your righteous virtue and upstanding character, and playing defensive tackle for the HS football team, without automatically being doubted as violent, disrespectful, and probably dealing dope, because of some inane music genre that you may not even like.

Regardless that we may believe racism is not a cause for holding young black men back, I don't think it is fair to look to rap music for a better indication of why they are unable to climb the ladder of financial success as proficiently as their white brothers.

Chuco, I agree with your comment"I don't think it is fair to look to rap music for a better indication of why they are unable to climb the ladder of financial success as proficiently as their white brothers."

Here is a comment "the bar of soap would come out."
That tells me more than the Pew Survey.

Regarding "making it" I offer you.


Ah, yes - Nelson Algren. Part of the reason this teenager went "Red." :)

I can't get my reply to Chuco to post: bear with me while I contact Mr. Talton.


This isn't a telex machine. You just type in the "Post a comment" box, then hit "POST".


Chuco, I believe that racism and cultural factors are both reasons why today's generation of African Americans aren't doing as well as they could. Obviously I'm making a generalization which doesn't apply to many individual cases.

Racism hasn't disappeared (which is why I support race-based hiring quotas, at least in large job markets), but it shows itself in its more virulent, more overt forms far less often; and long-ingrained attitudes toward Blacks will probably ameliorate still further as the older generations conditioned by racist parenting, peer pressure, and media stereotypes become less influential in retirement or disappear. Still, racism is an attitude that can be passed from one generation to the next; and in many societies the marginalization or persecution of those who look different is not uncommon; so I don't expect racism to disappear entirely from American culture.

Some of the cultural factors (and socioeconomic factors are part of a subculture) are themselves the result of many decades (well, hundreds of years) of institutionalized racism in the United States.

In any society the advances made are partly determined by the social and economic capital one starts with. For a long, long time, American society discouraged Black literacy, refused to hire Blacks into positions that were above the menial, segregated them into impoverished neighborhoods and tenements, and refused to make business loans to them, much less on terms that were comparable to similarly situated applicants.

When segregation ended, those populations didn't suddenly inherit good schools, well-capitalized businesses, or family traditions that prepared them to pursue professional careers. It takes decades to change the socioeconomic status of a historically oppressed subculture, to bring it up to speed with the population average.

Now, with all that said, it's time to step up to the plate and admit that cultural attitudes can also influence (or deter) success. Single-parent homes (usually single-mothers) make it difficult to provide a strong, responsible male role model to a growing child or teen; and aside from gender issues it's difficult to be a supervisor and enforcer of discipline when you are the only source of family income and cannot afford child support; grandparents (if available) have limited authority and may not be in a better position to push junior into the right, rather than the wrong channels.

The absence of sufficient parental oversight is particularly problematic in tough urban areas. Peer influence and the mass media fill in the gap, for good or ill. In areas where street toughness is overvalued, scholastic achievement is undervalued, and hard-work in exploitative jobs is "for suckers", the general lack of economic opportunity leaves little open for those who want to live the good life, and feel that they deserve to live the good life, except for criminality.

That's where the constant bombardment of media messages (combined with the need to accept such messages to gain social acceptance with peers) enters in, in a big way. The vacuum of parental support is not enough; impoverished neighborhoods are not enough; but all of these things taken together with the constant media messages are enough for some.

These are messages that assert that the one worthwhile goal of life is to get rich as quickly and easily as possible; that drug dealing is not only an acceptable and realistic, but a romanticized means to this goal; that keeping your reputation in the face of "disrespect" is more important than keeping your freedom (staying out of jail or prison) and that violence (especially gun-violence) is the way for a MAN to deal with disrespect; that getting high is a leisure activity to be elevated to the level of an avocation; and in general glorifying "gangsta" culture.

Even if these influences do not succeed in prodding individuals to criminal behavior, they scarcely prepare someone for a serious and disciplined life. They incline one toward instant gratification and encourage acting out to express frustration.

Now, compare this to some Asian subcultures: these do not suffer from the same history of oppression (at least, not to the same extent) as Blacks within the United States, but Asian immigrants are often poor, as are Hispanic immigrants. Both Asian and Hispanic immigrants place a large value on family, on responsibility not only from parents toward children, but also from children toward their extended families; both have a very strong work ethic. The primary difference is that Hispanic immigrants traditionally apply that ethic to physical labor in service industries, construction, landscaping, hospitality, etc.; whereas Asian immigrants tend to measure family responsibility of offspring by applying strict standards of academic achievement, which leads to better career opportunities.

All of this shows up in the socioeconomic demographics: you have very high rates of incarceration (frequently on drug charges) for Blacks and comparatively high levels of unemployment, and (predictably) comparatively low levels of household median income. For Hispanics unemployment levels are considerably lower, and incarceration levels (excluding recent booms in immigration-related offenses) are much lower as well, while incomes are better but still lower than Whites. For Asians, you find that the culture of academic achievement and nose-to-the-grindstone (as an expression of family responsibility) has produced economic opportunities and income levels that actually EXCEED those of Whites; incarceration rates and unemployment rates are consequently comparatively low.

Chuco, U seen this?

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