Barbara Ehrenreich is best known as the author of Nickel And Dimed, where she went under cover to expose the travails of the American working class. The book, in my view, did some great analysis but came to the wrong conclusions on key issues.
Now she has an article in last Tuesday’s International Herald Tribune (which I get here in Stockholm) entitled ‘The recession’s racial divide’. You can see what’s coming, of course.
Blacks are ‘taking the brunt of the recession’ apparently. Quelle surprise? as the French would say. They’re suffering job losses and pay reductions, which in turn are leading to foreclosures on their homes. Could this be due to the millions of illegal Latino immigrants taking their jobs and working at dirt-level pay?
Apparently not. These possible factors are not mentioned at all, in fact.
Could it be due to the well-documented failings of the black community, poor work ethic, low IQ, high predisposition to criminality, unstable family environment?
No, these are not mentioned either. So what’s the cause. It’s simple. Racism (on the part of whites, I need hardly add)
Ok, that's cleared that one up then.
Then she moves on to the sub-prime bust. She explains how, for generations, and ‘thanks to a legacy of discrimination’, ‘solid black citizens’ were denied house loans by mortgage lenders. Studies have shown (and she's correct here) that lenders were reluctant to lend to blacks
Why? Could it have been their well-documented lousy credit ratings? No. This factor was not mentioned.
The real explanation then? More racism.
Ok, we can see a consistent pattern emerging here. And I for one am convinced.
But as I read on, I must confess, I get hopelessly confused. Because, just before the sub-prime bust, it seems that those same mortgage lenders, by some mysterious and unexplained mechanism, have turned around 180 degrees. Not only has their racism totally disappeared, they’re now actually seeking out those very same ‘solid black citizens’ to offer them all the money they want to buy houses!
Isn't that remarkable? And isn't it wonderful? Barbara must have been thrilled.
But no – apparently not. It seems that these lenders were greedy unscrupulous capitalist pigs, ‘forcing’ loans on confused and vulnerable people, after which they ran cackling all the way to the bank. But here’s the confusing bit. If the greedy capitalists are only interested in grabbing all the money they can (and I agree with her on that one) why did they pass up all those wonderful opportunities with the ‘solid black citizens’ over all these years?
Alas, she doesn’t explain.
Ok, the foregoing has been facetious, so let’s get serious for a minute. In the name of Jesus, how can we expect to solve what is a serious problem if we resolutely avert our gaze from the real causes? You would think that a sociology professor (which Ehrenreich is) would have had enough exposure to empirical research-based methodologies to at least get somewhere close to reality.
Maybe you would, but I wouldn’t. I've spend many years in the university academic field, in several countries, and I can tell you that professors, especially those in the soft ‘sciences’, are the most useless collection of wasters you’ll find on the planet. They represent the polar opposite of what a university should be. I mean that, instead of honestly seeking out true explanations, they have their preconceived views and they use their (usually pitiful) abilities to retrofit the facts to support those views.
It’s little wonder that William F. Buckley said of his colleagues at Harvard ‘I’d rather select the first 600 names in the phone book to run the country than the faculty at Harvard’.
The ultimate irony of course is that, by failing to identify the real causes of the problems they purport to address, they’re actually perpetuating them. But just as in Sweden where the ‘leaders’ promote mass immigration to bolster their own self-esteem, a similar pathology is at play here.
And where would sociology professors be without their lab rats?