This and that

Yesterday, various news outlets reported an incident of road rage where a grandmother out to do some holiday shopping with her three-year old grandchild was accosted by another driver who said grandma was driving too slowly.  The irate “speedy” driver whipped out a gun and shot the three-year old.

Was this an instance of insanity? Was the driver on drugs or alcohol?  Had the driver with the gun been subjected to a background check before he obtained the gun? Was this a hate crime?  Over the next few weeks we will discover the details, but at this point the incident makes about as much sense as the actions of “outraged” drivers around here, some armed with weapons, who are always in a hurry.

David and I both drive fairly slowly, me because I have always been a cautious driver, David because he has had a few issues with accidents or near accidents lately.

Why hurry anywhere? We are all headed toward the cemetery in the end.

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https://piedtype.com/2016/12/16/more-on-willful-ignorance-and-the-media/

Piedtype.com, a retired editor, (link above) posted a very well thought out diagram of the relative political positions of the various media. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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This month, I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance and Evicted by Matthew Desmond. Earlier this year, I read Listen Liberal by Frank Thomas and White Trash by Nancy Isenberg. All these books describe the underclass in our country, whether Back or White, and several have been touted as “explaining” why some would “vote against their own self interst” by voting for Trump.

Although Vance refers to the white people in his story as Scots-Irish, he is making a gross generalization. Appalachian hill people are the descendants of immigrants from all over the UK and northern Europe. A large proportion tell census takers they are Scots  and Irish, but they are an intermixed people who are also the descendents of the German settlers Thomas Jefferson admired, runaway slaves and servants of differing backgrounds, and indigenous people (many Cherokee) of the Appalachian area.

Listen Liberal, a political analysis of our times, and White Trash, a history, focus on disaffected people from the lowest order of our society. Evicted covers the urban subset of this population.

Each of these books describes people Sociologists have studied for a long time.  Their individual stories are sad, but I ask, how much of their misery is the result of extenuating circumstances like greedy landlords and overly zealous developers, and how much because of the majority of them don’t make an effort to help themselves?

Vance extracted himself from a horrendous situation and bettered his own life, partly because others took an interest in him and offered a hand up, but mostly because of his own efforts.

My conclusion: social programs like health care, housing vouchers and food stamps, as well as public education are necessary, but so are rules against exploitation in its various forms (exhorbitant rents and payday loans).  Most important is personal responsibility.

                                             ***

Today, I am returning to reading mysteries, specifically, the Kurt Wallender series. Oh dear, Kurt is fretting about the collapse of society in Sweden.

23 thoughts on “This and that

  1. Thanks for the link to the website for that chart. My dtr sent a copy of the chart to me but didn’t tell me where she got it — I always want to know the source. Generally, it’s a good breakdown plus agreed with your comment on Piedtype. When I read what Ailes did at Fox in The Loudest Voice I was so repelled, but not surprised because Rupert Murdoch owns it. He’s a good friend of DTs — they met in Scotland when DT was campaigning. Now RM is getting back to buying Sky in Grt Britain from which he was deterred when scandal broke years ago — will give him global control. This concerns me as have to wonder about threats to news quality, what plans for here are as we know DT’s attitude toward media..

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  2. The report of the road rage shooting of a child is deeply upsetting. Take care on the roads yourselves, the world is going a bit mad and anger is often a result of fear.

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  3. Some very thought-provoking items. Two of special interest to me:

    1. I saw the media chart on Pied Type’s page. It is interesting. My feeling is it generally portrays the more left-leaning media as more objective than they are. It also over-simplifies a complex situation. To be more accurate it would be necessary to separate the hard news offerings from the commentary, which gets difficult when some media blur the distinction so much. That said, however, the chart is an excellent device to get people thinking about an important situation and also would be good to start discussions among folks who care about media freedom in our country. The president-elect has displayed disturbing ignorance in this area, and an even more disturbing attitude about the value of free media in a democracy.

    2. We moved a lot throughout my working life, so the comments about the value of willingness to relocate were of particular interest. Another complex area. There are a lot of pluses and minuses depending on personalities and the details of each situation. Each of our moves had different costs and benefits. I think in the final analysis there was net benefit for me and my small family, but I wonder if there were times when I should have given more consideration than I did to problems a move caused for individual family members. Good questions to ponder, although in the end we are where we are in life and should simply continue trying to do the best we can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some moves are probably helpful, some not. However, the data show that vertical mobility (improving your life circumstances) is highly correlated with horizontal mobility (geographic move).

      On the other hand, the poor in cities move a lot, but it tends to be local mobility.

      Children can become enlightened through parents mobility but not always. Both David and I were bounced around as children, and moved many times as adults. Perhaps that’s why we are enlightened? David lived overseas and speaks three languages.

      I like Pied’s chart, and agree one must learn to separate straight news from opinion on the various news channels. I find in-depth reading in newspapers and mags help. Nevertheless, print media has its biases also. No one information source is “perfect.”

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  4. I really feel that many of the social programs are necessary. I think it was Gandhi that said
    “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” I truly believe this.
    However, if those coal miners and others think that Trump actually cares about the poor, they are totally delusional.
    Actually I was just going to say we saw that road rage incident on TV last night and was shocked. What is this country coming to? That had to be an insane person to do a thing like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heartbreaking child death by another person unable to control himself.

      Yes, many social programs are absolutely necessary.

      As for the miners, more people are engaged in the renewable energy industries than in extractive industry jobs. I hope the Trumpets discover just how dependent Red State midwestern farmers and others are on the sale of crop material used in the production of bioenergy before they destroy the program.

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  5. Yikes. People are so angry all the time. Why? Did nobody ever teach them that life isn’t perfect? Every little setback makes them furious and nothing is ever their fault (sounds like that is a theme of Hillbilly Elegy as well … I’ve not read it).

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    • Much anger for sure. The book was touted as providing a ‘reason’ people voted for Trump, but if so, I don’t get it, unless it has to do with blaming others for your own shortcomings.

      I think Delaine’s comment about the book (below) is right on. J.D. overcame much.

      Years ago, Senator Moynihan described the persistence of poverty generation to generation as a culture of poverty. Only the most resilient of souls can overcome this.

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  6. I believe in programs to help people but sometimes the people won’t help themselves in spite of the best programs and the efforts of many good people. The will to change one’s situation is essential, otherwise programs and efforts are wasted.

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  7. “My conclusion: social programs like health care, housing vouchers and food stamps, as well as public education are necessary, but so are rules against exploitation in its various forms (exhorbitant rents and payday loans). Most important is personal responsibility.”

    Absolutely! Couldn’t have said it better!! My husband and I got advanced degrees and moved to where the jobs were. We both have relatives who didn’t and with only 1 exception, their lives went straight downhill.

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  8. I too just finished Hillbilly Elegy and it made me rather angry. The author’s family is made up of horrible people who made lots of bad decisions. Yes, they came from a harsh place, but they were given many advantages along the way and with those advantages, the opportunity to do better. His mother, I gather, has never made a better life for herself though others in his family have done so.

    Okay, jobs disappear or change. One moves or changes. This happened to my parents who lived in the Ozarks. They got the heck out of there and moved to California where they saw more opportunity. they took advantage of those opportunities. They encouraged me to do likewise. They knew farming was a hard life, and times where changing. I was always told to get an education so I could do better. I did and I did. Vance’s family could have done likewise.

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    • Agree wholeheartedly. Sadly I know from firsthand experience that times can be tough, but that you can make an effort and improve your life with positive thinking and a bit of effort. Many examples in my family. Alcohol and drug abuse appear to have played a huge role in the bad experiences in most of these lives.

      Teachers along the way made the difference for me.

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      • You took advantage of the opportunities when they were offered. Vance did, too. The Marines sure helped him and then the professors he met along the way showed him the ropes. He listened and acted. More people need to do that.

        If the Trump voters are sitting back waiting for the government to make their rust-belt lives better, I think they will have a long wait.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My children’s father also improved his life via the Marine Corps as did his brother. Military life can teach one much. Also, many like husband David and several other relatives obtained an education thanks to the military.

        Liked by 1 person

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