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The day after Trump got elected, I went to a panel discussion at Harvard about race in America, where one of the panelists was William Julius Wilson. He was unforgettable.

Some details that stick out to me now: he criticized the BLM activists who pushed Bernie Sanders away from a race-neutral economic message; he criticized social scientists who refused to include data on poor whites alongside poor minorities.

But the most memorable moment was his speech. He mentioned his support for a jobs program in Chicago, and rather than asking the audience to take it on faith, he asked the other panelists if he could have ten minutes to present his case. They gladly agreed. He then walked up to the podium with a binder in hand (I don't know where he got it), and his argument was just overwhelmingly forceful -- not because the conclusions sounded nice, but because his evidence was clearly solid, the result of decades of serious research.

I wish more of my fellow academics would take a page from Prof. Wilson's book and follow the evidence, rather than confabulating arguments to fit trendy conclusions.

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Jan 4Liked by Ben Krauss

"Trump’s core base sort of resembles a white version of the people who loved Marion Barry here in DC." My brain went "aha!" after reading this. A very useful comparison that helps me think more critically about both situations.

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The leftie twitter commentary often demonstrates zero actual experience of being around poor people and troubled areas.

And I admit, I'm doing it to my kids! I was able to escape all that unpleasantness and now I'm raising my kids in a safe stereotypical upper-income suburb. Where it's hard NOT to give them an impression of the lower classes that's either too naive or too paranoid. Tricky stuff.

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Jan 4Liked by Ben Krauss

That screenshotted take is a trip. How someone could watch The Wire and think everything bad is the fault of individuals just making bad choices is a trip. It's rare to see a show address explicitly systemic issues and how those hurt innocent people. The fact that Twitter cannibalized blogging and takes like this now get 116,000 views shows the (political) internet has gotten worse over the past decade.

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Jan 4Liked by Ben Krauss

I'm just here for the perpetual "Wire" citations.

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The moral dimension thing makes me think about how much better our politics would be if the Republican Party hadn’t sought to become “the white party”. Whatever progressives think, the moralizing language is actually pretty popular with African American voters, so long as it’s not coming from random white people.

You could easily imagine a lot of stuff being done that’s largely impossible in the real world simply because both parties have large African American constituencies divided by cultural but united by economic interests.

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Jan 4Liked by Ben Krauss

Wilson's ideas, like those of Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph, are out of fashion with white liberals these days. And it's too bad.

I appreciate SB highlighting these important thinkers.

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Bravo - really well done and made it worth my $8 for the entire month.

As a center right reader originally from the rural part of the PA rustbelt this hit on a lot of levels for me. Overall though, it just feels like there isn't enough opportunity for too many people that aren't fortunate enough to be born into the suburbs (using that term loosely). While a lot of the jobs issues are more macro issues than any specific policy, there are an awful lot of people who are angry about their perceived lack of opportunity and lack of access to the "system" to fix it and are now turning to politicians like Trump as he has been the only one to date that seemingly hasn't paid lip service to their plight (even picking up votes from a historically entrenched Black voting block). If a politician could eschew the current status quo dynamics and just focus on those two groups you would have a really powerful populist base that I think could win a lot of elections (albeit easier said than done).

Trump politics aside, a couple key pieces stood out to me:

- While this might be unpopular here, I'm in pretty firm disagreement that the average person on the right "hates public services and job programs for the urban poor." That feels like a Dem talking point to color your opponent as the enemy. I think the reality is that there is a lot of easy data available that shows further investment in dysfunctional public programs is a really bad use of money. If you could do a better job proving ROI you would get a lot further here. That said, I know you are arguing in good faith here since you mention Lottery Charter Schools. (As an aside, huge believer in Lottery schools. My wife works for one in Prince William County and the results are stark compared to the surrounding area)

- I had never heard of the book The Declining Significance of Race, but it sounds right in the wheelhouse of what I believe personally and echoes my personal experience much more than many of the other mental models that are being shouted at me on Twitter

- The section on When Work Disappears absolutely should be tied to the Rust Belt as well as inner cities. The town I grew up in vs the town I was born in would be a great case study in the knock on effects that happen when the jobs leave vs when you can keep at least a portion of the core. It is a really vicious cycle and requires innovative thinking to get out of the cycle

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>But would conservatives, in fact, favor a significant investment in providing better public services and employment in Baltimore?

How would 'investment' result in 'better public services and employment' in Baltimore? What's the mechanism? This sounds dangerously like suggesting fixing problems is easy, as though public investment is like sticking cash in index funds.

I suppose the deeper question is why has liberal America fallen for the nonsense of Kendi instead of trying to find actual solutions?

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Jan 4·edited Jan 4

I just wanted to come in and say I GODDAMN love the 2nd season - I fight with everyone and say it’s so underrated (there’s ‘white ethnic’ politics and union drama, and that awesome ending)

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I’m from somewhere very close to Middletown Ohio and I remember reading Hillbilly Elegy and nodding my head. I recognized so much of that story.

I don’t understand the sympathy for these people. Work didn’t go away you just needed to become a nurse in Phoenix. But relocating and retraining that a huge swath of professionals did is somehow a non-starter.

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Jan 4Liked by Ben Krauss

Great article I had never heard of William Julius Wilson. I feel like Matt could probably do a series of articles on this guy anyway thanks for exposing me to his work!

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The argument that industrial jobs going away was the first domino in the chain that lead to disfunction among the urban poor is pretty flimsy. There is evidence that (a) this disfunction predated de-industrialization and (b) economic downturns do not cause crime and, if anything, tend to coincide with lower levels of crime. Job loss definitely made things worse, but I think it’s debatable whether it was a necessary or sufficient factor.

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Reading old JD Vance quotes is so mind boggling to me, is that person still inside him? A piece of me thinks he must be, that this is all a fictional persona. I just don't know though.

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"They characterized that as a conservative view, and certainly the emphasis on moral guidance has a rightward inflection."

In this case, perhaps. But I've noted in, oh a case or two recently, the Left does not much shy away from moral hectoring. You can call that "guidance," I guess. Potayto potahto.

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“ The reason isn’t that Trump hates cops, but that Republicans hate giving money to poor cities. And they definitely don’t want to finance inner-city job creation schemes.”

Why would we think dumping more money into underperforming blue jurisdictions materially change anything? Are many of these cities underfunded? Is Chicago underfunded? Is San Francisco underfunded? Underperforming urban school districts often have very high per capita spend.

EDIT: Looks like the City of Baltimore budget is $4.4 billion for a population of 500 some odd thousand people, per capita $8k+. Doesn’t seem particularly underfunded.

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