Working class whites are giving up economic hope, according to a recent poll. They did not vote for Obama.
The article did talk about single-mother households. They are in poverty, of course.
—For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households who were living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.
What did the social planners expect? If the government subsidizes a particular behavior, we get more of it. That was the conservative argument a generation ago. It was dismissed as heartless by liberals.
It has now come to this.
Sometimes termed “the invisible poor” by demographers, lower-income whites are generally dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are also numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America’s heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.
More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks. . . .
In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults — falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.
How bad is it? Very.
By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.
By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.
This is what 80 years of welfare state politics have produced. But of course, no one in the mainstream mentions this.
“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.”
Pessimism now reigns.
Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, which is conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.
The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class: 49 percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of non-whites who consider themselves working class.
In November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since 1984.
The reason is not stated. It is discussed at length by Charles Murray in his 2012 book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. The reason is moral. Lower-middle-class whites have adopted the lifestyle that we usually associate with inner-city blacks.
What can be done about this? Murray has no suggestions, other than this one, aimed at successful white liberals: “Preach what you practice.” They practice stable marriage. They preach unfettered sexual liberation. Their message has been heard, with disastrous results.
There will be no solutions from Washington. The welfare system has failed. That was Murray’s message in 1984: Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980. Left intellectuals hated that book. It is now 25 years later. Its dire predictions have come true.