If They Would Just Stop Blaming Latinos And The Young for the “Collapse of Middle-Class White America”

By Alex Gonzalez

Many baby-boomers would like us to think the cultural fabric of our nation is collapsing because the “white ethics” of 1960 have been abandoned. These boomers have even developed a sense of white victimhood, a class of people oppressed by government programs that favor the young and minorities. And to prove this they longingly speak of the perfect 1960s “white America,” where they were the sole bearers of moral standards. In their minds everything that has gone wrong with our nation is either the fault of young Americans, Hispanics, or blacks.  But the truth is that the collapse of white American is the result of 1960s self-indulgent generation of Americans who grew up with government programs where they developed a false sense of white cultural cohesion and morality. And to protect this myth, they blame others.

For example, T.R. Fehrenbach, a columnist writing for the San Antonio News Express argues that the current middle-class and cultural divide is caused by fact only 48% of Americans who are having children are married. Which, according to T.R. Fehrenbach, is the reason why since 1960, crime has not risen much statistically in middle-class enclaves but has quadrupled in poorer precincts.

Those raised in single-parent families are virtually doomed to poverty unless supported by the government. Americans pontificate about the needs of children. Too many put their individual druthers first. Since 1960, crime has not risen much statistically in middle-class enclaves, but has quadrupled in poorer precincts.. However, today even churches put their own solid supporters down, tending more to practice than religion. In any case, the social connections have ruptured; 59 percent of the working classes are secular…The middles once tried to set standards, educate and help the poor help themselves. Government, circumstance, and they themselves, falling into the sin of ultra-tolerance, destroyed all that. The old social ethic is seen as reactionary, intolerant, and the middle class is so beaten down that it can’t express contempt for social policies it knows are wrong and over 50 years have proved disastrous.

So in his melancholic romanticized version of the 1960 Op-Ed, which is titled middle class hated by many Americans, T.R. Fehrenbach  thinks that the old white 1960s middle-class is under attack. Also, according to him, that generation can no longer set the social “standards to help the poor, and instead,  government standards are creating more dependency and social decay and economic woes, which leads to violence, poverty; but the 1960s generation can’t even show their “contempt” without been label as “intolerant”, according to T.R. Fehrenbach.

On the other hand, columnists like Pat Buchanan openly make comments about race, arguing the social decay of America is in fact caused by demographic shifts. He blames the new minorities for the social and economic the decay.  For Buchanan it is all about race/ethnicity. In his article Did ‘The Great Society’ Ruin Society.

Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food program, Medicaid, public housing, low-income energy assistance and the Social Service Block Grant… Children of the poor are educated free, K-12, and eligible for preschool Head Start, and Perkins Grants, Pell Grants and student loans for college Federal and state spending on social welfare is approaching $1 trillion a year, $17 trillion since the Great Society was launched, not to mention private charity. But we have witnessed a headlong descent into social decomposition. Half of all children born to women under 30 in America now are illegitimate. Three in 10 white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic babies and 73 percent of black babies. Rising right along with the illegitimacy rate is the drug-use rate, the dropout rate, the crime rate and the incarceration rate

But  Buchanan,  overlooks the fact that of the money paid into social programs the majority of it , $2 trillion, is paid on mandatory programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, or 60% of federal spending.  Moreover, only 14% of federal spending is currently spent on social programs while in the 1960s, 40% of the federal budget was spent on social programs to educate those like Buchanan and T.R. Fehrenbach.  Instead of talking about how our cultural and financial woes have originated with the white culture of the 1960, Buchanan argues that the cultural and  demographic trends are to blame for everything that has gone wrong with our county.

However, though Buchanan and  T.R. Fehrenbach claims that the 1960s generation was a self-reliance class, it is just myth; In the 1950s and the 1960s, while baby boomers were being educated, and cocooned with an abundance of federal military speeding and social programs. As s result, it was Government programs gave them this sense of security and “exceptionalism.”   Postwar prosperity was rooted in more than military spending. New technologies boosted productivity in both the industrial and agricultural sectors.  By the 1950s the U.S. was spending about 50% of the federal budget, or 9% of its GDP on the military with combined partnerships:  Federal direct spending, State direct spending, and Local direct spending contrasts. But this massive federal spending was also aimed at educating baby boomer.   In the book The Economic Collapse: Getting to the Roots of the Crisis by Arthur McEwans and John Miller point out that  military Spending provide a big boost to the early post-WW II decades, but government spending on social programs such education, housing and Social Security increased from 25% in 1950, to 40% by 1970.  Thus, that idea that “white America” in 1960s was self-reliance (no government assistances) is just a myth perpetrated by those who want to claim a “white” righteousness so that they can openly blaming others while redirecting the attention from their own self-inflicted wound.

Neither Buchanan nor T.R. Fehrenbach want to talk about the fact that whatever social cohesion there was in the 1960s, it was a byproduct of government spending, social services.  Conversely, rather than acknowledging that our financial and cultural problems are rooted in the culture of dependency from the 1960s, both Buchanan and Fehrenbach want to look for groups of people to blame, and  thereby, avoid talking about the real source of our financial and moral flaws, entitlements.  Instead, both want to use an old myth of social cohesion to acquire legitimacy and reclaim some kind of “ethical” moral rectitude, or racial white righteousness as in Buchanan’s rhetoric.  So in creating a new social nuisance, whether the Hispanic Minority, as Buchanan argues, or a generation of young Americans with no “ethical standards” as T.R. Fehrenbach argues, both men want to create a sense of middle-class white victimhood.  As such they can morally victimize the shrinking middle-class, and they can legitimately  claim that they used to be the moral ideal middle-class of America. But both of these gentlemen, do this to and avoid a generational self-assessment of how their generation is financial bankrupting our country through entitlements, and in the process blame others—Young Americans–for it when in reality entitlements programs are one of causes our inequality.

Both, Buchanan and  T.R. Fehrenbach come from this government-made age of  1960s American expetionalims.  Today, they presume that government school programs and food stamps are the source of inequality.  But as Michael Barone from the American Enterprises Institute argues Entitlements, Not Tax Cuts, Widen the Wealth Gap:

“It turns out, Ryan reports, that federal income taxes (including the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit) actually decreased income inequality slightly between 1979 and 2007, while the federal payroll taxes that supposedly fund Social Security and Medicare slightly increased income inequality. That’s despite the fact that income tax rates are lower than in 1979 and payroll taxes higher… Perhaps even more surprising, federal transfer payments have done much more to increase income inequality than federal taxes… In effect, Social Security and Medicare have been transferring money from low-earning young people (who don’t pay income taxes but are hit by the payroll tax) to increasingly affluent old people”

And Michael Barone and Paul Ryan are not alone in this claims that Entitlements are creating inequality in America. Robert J. Samuelson, a conservative economist, points out that the “elderly should be sharing the burden” of financial woes because they have been taking more in services than they need. According to Samuelson

“The table — based on an academic study — estimates the net worth of the 65- to 69-year-old population. Net worth is the value of all a household’s financial assets minus its debts. To avoid confusion, I’ve simplified the table by including only total net worth and the portion represented by estimated Social Security benefits. All the rest comes from a variety of sources: normal savings and checking accounts; retirement accounts; defined-benefit pensions; and equity in homes (among those 65 to 69, the homeownership rate is about 80 percent). These calculations exclude the value of Medicare and Medicaid. If they were added, each total would increase by about $180,000.”

So 30% and 40% of seniors who grew up in 1960s are well-off and making $180,000, yet they collect Medicare Social Security benefits. Therefore, unlike what Buchanan and T.R. Fehrenbach argue, the collapses of the 1960s “white America” is created by those that grew up in 1960s and who are consuming 40% of federal spending in education social programs and who now receive 60% of federal spending via Entitlements benefits. It is true that, according to Shelby Steele for the Hoover Institution agues, LBJ”s War on Poverty destroyed the black family structure and made blacks more dependent on government. But who destroyed the 1960s “white” middle-class if was not black or, government,  Hispanics?

In his new book titled:  Coming Apart: The State of White America1960-2010, American Enterprise Institute  Researcher  Charles Murray, argues the real cause of the collapse of  the “white middle-class” “is  the fact that Americans have formed a new lower class and a new upper class that have no precedent in our history. American exceptionalism is deteriorating in tandem with this development.

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Baby-boomer white middle-class 1960s commentators and writers like Buchannan and T.R. Fehrenbach want us to believe that the Collapse of 1969s “white America” is cause by young generations of American, Hispanics, and blacks. So they scapegoat government by suggesting that programs for poor and education, but avoid talk about entitlements.  They scapegoat the young with claims that our society is more violent notwithstanding the fact the FBI shows the lowest numbers in violence and crime in 25 years. They claim the young are less educated when in fact the millennia generation is the most educated generation in American History. Buchanan Blames Hispanics for the cultural erosion and the collapse of “white America” when in reality Hispanics are reviving religiosity in America and they will be the main bearers of the burden of Entitlements.  Perhaps, if they would stop blaming other for their mischief, the optimism  for the future of this nation will still be high.

send comments at alex@latinosreadytovote.com

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