Two different reports I read this week, though unrelated on the outset, they are in fact very much correlated. The Economist Magazine did an in depth report called ‘Men Adrift: Badly educated men in rich countries have not adapted well to trade, technology or feminism’ and ‘I’m a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing’, written by a former St. Louis Police Department Officer Redditt Hudson for Vox.com. Hudson certainly puts a new perspective on the supposed heroics of police officers and the work they do. Without body cameras to hold their daily interactions with the public accountable and given the deep culture of covering for each other in police departments, there is almost no way to punish police officers for abusing the rights of the citizens they are charged to protect.
Globalization of the world’s economies begun when China opened its borders for trading in the 1980s. After the death Chairman Mao Tse Tong in 1976, his successor Deng Xiao Ping decided that China needed to join the 20th century. It had spent the end of 19th century managing the decline of the Qing Dynasty and fighting the Opium Wars with the British, spent the first half of the 20th century fighting Japanese invasion and illegal occupation, followed by World War II and in 1950 a civil war broke out between the Nationalists and the Communists, which the Communist won and overran the whole country and then shutting its borders to any and all outsiders for the next 30 years. For most of its history, China was ahead of its contemporaries in the West in technology (paper and gunpowder were invented in China 1000 years before any Western civilization even thought of it), learning, literacy, medical advancement and maritime travels. All of the things that are associated with Western advancement was first thought of, created, discovered and invented in China. This is important to point out because most people see China today as a ‘developing’ nation, which was agrarian, just coming to grips with modernity and that’s not an accurate description. The Chinese foundation in society for expansion and development have been in place for centuries, but not for events of history getting in the way, it would not be in the behind position it’s in now. So, when Mao’s successor Chairman Deng decided to open China’s markets to the world, people then predicted and predicted correctly that China could overtake the United States or Europe as the largest and most advanced economy in the world sooner rather than later. China is untapped human potential of one billion strong, they have abundant labor force who are hardworking, will work for cheap, who are happy to work for cheap and will gladly welcome any foreign investment in its cities without too much red tape. It’s true that during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, there was a whole generation of people were banned from getting an education depending on where your name fell on Mao’s encyclopedia of blacklists, but it’s safe to say that in the subsequent generation, they’ve recovered from that. One of the hallmarks of Chinese civilization is the emphasis on learning and bettering oneself, handed down by the great teacher and philosopher Confucius millennia ago, so even Mao’s rowdy band of children soldiers can’t destroy that spirit for learning and advancement for too long.
So, it is only sooner or later where lucrative factory jobs would go overseas to Asia (especially China) and South America, where employers don’t have to deal with unions, strikes, shutdowns and relentless demands in wage and benefit increases. This isn’t a morally right or wrong thing, it’s business. People get into business to make profit and large corporations will go anywhere that makes conducting business easier. Post-war America was basically only country standing that wasn’t blown to bits, whose technology and industrial infrastructure was still in good shape, naturally, America became the biggest manufacturer in the world simply by default. The USSR and most of Eastern Europe took itself out of contention by throwing down the Iron Curtain and Germany, France and Great Britain were rebuilding their countries after World War II. Right now, literally the whole world is competing for fewer good factory jobs. You add to that with the use of robots, computerization and machination of production, the same factory could employ less people. In addition, the factory workers that remain must be computer literate as well, a requirement that wasn’t there previously. The days where you got a union card out straight out of high school, got a job at the local factory, do your 25 or 30 years and retire with a gold watch and pension no longer exists as those factories no longer exist. And there is nothing comparable in salary and similar skill set that replaced those factory jobs. It is against this backdrop that The Economist did its reporting.
The men featured in this essay are men in the deep South of America and Northern England, a former industrial region until all the factories shuttered and are now entrenched in hopeless poverty. Though the interviews were conducted in 2015, the views expressed by the men could easily be mistaken for a previous era. In Tallulah, La, though plagued by joblessness and hopelessness, they all expressed their desire to be a traditional man, which is to provide, one man even went so far to say that if his ‘woman’ has to work even when he has a full time job, then he’s failed her and his family. These views are more congruent with 1950’s than 2015. In Tallulah, La, there was a lumber mill there able bodied men with a strong pair of hands but lacking academically could work, but that mill closed. Men could also work at nearby farm jobs, but with the machination of farming, work that formerly required 100 men now only require 10. But it doesn’t mean that there are no jobs available in Tallulah, there are plenty of service based jobs, such as customer service, teaching, nursing etc., which require a whole different skill set, skill set that is more suited to women. Many recruiters in the area wanted to give opportunities to out of work men, but simply put, they lacked the most basic education, numeracy, literacy and people skills to hold down a service based job. Women, more so than men, are able to be friendly to customers even if they don’t feel like it. Even if given the opportunity, most men will not go for jobs such as nursing, food service or general customer service, they view it as emasculating and the work too emotionally tedious, which is fair coming from the viewpoint of a man, but the world is changing and one must change with it.
Despite the lack of jobs, it hasn’t stopped these men from procreating, many of the men featured have multiple children with different women, but the stories all sound familiar, they were kicked out by their children’s mothers for being non-productive, not contributing financially or to child care, they basically sat around watched TV all day, some were abusing drugs or drinking to excess. It’s not an arrangement that is preferred by women but most feel they have no choice, they simply cannot have an adult layabout around the house not contributing to the finances or the upkeep of the home. The reporter concluded simply that poorly educated men in rich countries simply failed to adapt. They failed to adapt in rethinking the traditional model of where the man provides and the woman takes care of the home, they failed to update their education to include more computer based learning (though this could be the lack of services available in poor school districts) and many of the men featured were high school dropouts so their literacy and numeracy skills are limited at best. Many cite the reasons for dropping out due to getting in with the wrong crowd, lack of proper parental guidance at home, and general lack of interest in school. Many regret this decision later but there’s not much that can be done about it then.
The article also cites feminism as another reason badly educated men in rich countries have been left behind. The women have changed, due to the feminist movement. The undertone is that women are no longer so tolerant and so patient with errant men, because they don’t need to be. Job opportunities have opened up for women, though women still make less than men but it’s enough to make a living with the proper education and training. This also gave rise to broken homes because women are less reluctant to kick out a non-contributing partner or if he’s not contributing the right way. As a woman and a feminist, I personally argue that this is a survival tactic. With the current economic climate of today, and if women still depended on men to bring in bulk of the family income. I am sorry to say we’d all starve. It’s not that women treat men today as disposable, it’s that women treat the men who aren’t contributing enough as optional, no one likes to deprive their children of their father or want to head a household on her own, but sometimes there’s just no choice. There is also a more Darwinian argument which argues that men of today do not need to be as responsible as their grandfathers were because society has placed less pressure on them to provide as women now earn good incomes. And that the whole caveman thing where men provided to protect their brood to ensure his genetic survival has changed because women aren’t so dependent men for their economic survival, well if this is true, I really must agree that men is the weaker sex after all. What about self accountability, self-betterment just yourself, regardless if you have a wife or children to support? We like to make comparisons to cavemen, but we aren’t cavemen, we are thinking sentient beings who have free will and can make choices for ourselves. By the same argument, women could have just stayed our pliant little-selves and behave like damsels in distresses so that the men a) won’t feel bad about themselves and b) there would still be lots of jobs for them…oh wait, we’d all starve. What is Darwinian about this whole scenario is that people who fail to adapt either in thinking or behavior, they will get left behind.
Idle men lead to problems. It’s no accident in high poverty areas, there is also high crime. When you have a lot of grown men with nothing to do all day, you can expect trouble, which leads to the second article by a former St. Louis police officer, Redditt Hudson, he states that in any given police department large or small 15% of the police will do the right thing no matter what, 15% will abuse their power no matter what and the rest fall in the middle, depending on who they are hanging out with and Hudson states that the power abusing cops have an ‘outsize’ influence on others in their department, which explains how even some black cops behave badly. It’s known that police officers are almost like a band of brothers, they look out for each other and have each other’s backs and sometimes that includes covering up criminal behavior of their fellow police officers. If one speaks up, he would be blackballed and his career may be stalled depending on how deep the rot goes, and given the ‘brotherhood’ culture, no matter what, it’s drilled into their heads that they must look out for each other. Hudson gives numerous examples where white police officers have abused their powers for nothing at all, beating down doors of black neighborhoods looking for a suspect, dragging people out on their knees, all because he said there was no home but him.
Had Walter Scott’s murder not been recorded by a cell phone camera, Michael Slager could have gotten away with murder, literally. He even went so far to plant his taser by Walter Scott’s body to corroborate his account that the suspect went for his taser and so he had no choice but to shoot him. It puts into the whole new light of the supposed ‘heroics’ of cops and the media narrative they normally put out there, which is the majority of the cops are good but there a few rotten apples and it’s only the rotten apples that make the news. In areas where there is ‘high crime’ and high poverty, the police usually patrol those areas more closely than an affluent suburb. For example, in the case of drug arrests, the majority of drug arrests are Latinos and blacks but they do not do more drugs than their white counterparts. Drug use across among blacks, Latinos and caucasians are about the same, but it’s the Latinos and blacks that get arrested for drug charges more because they are policed more. So, it’s not the case that white people are better citizens than their counterparts it’s all down to policing. If cities want to clean up the blight that is affecting poor neighborhoods, policing the hell out of them is not the way to go. The reason for poverty is lack of jobs, lack of good education and lack of good vocational training. The people of Ferguson and Baltimore certainly did not choose to live in poverty, in neighborhoods full of blight, the circumstances made them so and now there is no escape. Anyone with a drug conviction is basically condemned to a life joblessness or underemployment. Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of color, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religious affiliation, but they can legally discriminate against convicted criminals and many do. Many of the people in underserved populations are talked into accepting a plea bargain for probation or community service, and this is self-serving to local governments because they want to save costs but what public defenders fail to explain clearly to these defendants is that accepting a plea for a lesser charge is the same as having a conviction on your record. Having a conviction on your record (especially drug convictions) will immediately limit your chances at anything, from public assistance (including public grants for education), decent employment, employment in certain sectors etc. The repercussions are huge and can be avoided.
Affluent and middle class folks know this and that is why you see parents spending thousands of dollars to make sure their kid doesn’t have a DUI on his or her record. It may seem easier and more cost effective to just accept a plea and enroll in alcohol education class and do community service, but the record will be there for perpetuity, especially for drug offenses. Knowledge and resources that are available to affluent folks are not available to poor people with bad education and poor access (attorneys, children’s advocates etc) they often get stuck in this repeat cycle of arrest, incarceration and reoffend. Laws have to change regarding a person’s criminal past, someone with a minor drug conviction at age 18 shouldn’t mark them for life. The criminal justice system needs to be reformed in the manner which the performance of the prosecutor isn’t dependent on his or her rate of conviction (a plea bargain counts as a conviction) so they just go after everyone for any crime so they can boast that they have good conviction rates. Many of these kids, their lives are over before it even begun due to a minor drug charge in their youth and that’s the real miscarriage of justice.