Dean Baker on white privilege

violentTrump-RallyThe rise of Trump has provoked a considerable outpouring of commentary from the pundits.  Most of it centered on the chief complaint that the white working class is upset about losing its privileged position and see Trump as the ticket to setting things right.

There is considerable truth to this story.  Trump’s strongest support comes from white men without college degrees, although he also does quite well among small business owners.  But before we condemn these workers as hopeless Neanderthals, it is worth stepping back a bit to consider what led them to support Donald Trump’s candidacy in the first place.

The “privilege” that these working class whites are looking to defend is middle-class factory jobs paying between $15 and $30 an hour.  These jobs generally came with decent health care benefits and often a traditional defined benefit pension, although that has become increasingly rare over the last two decades.

Trump-Iowa-supporters-Getty-640x480This is certainly a privileged position compared to billions of people in the developing world who would be happy to make $15 a day.  It is also privileged compared to women, whose pay still averages less than 80 percent of their male counterparts.  And, it is privileged compared to the situation of Americans of color who have frequently been trapped in the least desirable and lowest-paying jobs.

But these factory jobs and other blue collar occupations are hardly privileged when compared to the high flyers in the financial industry, the CEOs and other top level managers, or even professionals like doctors and dentists.  These groups have all seen substantial increases in their pay and living standards over the last four decades.

If you want to see “privilege,” look to the CEO making $20 million a year as they turn in a mediocre performance managing a major corporation.  Or talk to a cardiologist, an occupation with a median annual salary of more than $420,000 a year.

The pundits all know about these disparities in pay, but they want us to believe that they have nothing to do with privilege; rather, they reflect the natural workings of the market.  And they tend to act really ridiculous when shown evidence otherwise.

Source: Dean Baker | truthout

There are people—call them Group A—who are content to be badly off so long as there are others—call them Group B—who are worse off.

There also are people—call them Group C—who are better off than either, but who try to advance Group B at the expense of Group A without giving up anything themselves.

My guess is that a lot of Donald Trump supporters are members of Group A who are angry at Group C.

LINKS

The Elites and the Rise of Donald Trump by Dean Baker for truthout.

Don’t Hate Trump’s Supporters by Gracy Olmstead for The American Conservative.

Ohio’s ‘dirty little secret’: blue-collar Democrats for Trump by Tim Reid for Reuters.

How Donald Trump Could Beat Hillary Clinton by William Greider for The Nation.

Tags: , , , , , ,

One Response to “Dean Baker on white privilege”

  1. Lisa the Infidel Says:

    Reblogged this on The way I see things … and commented:
    Yep I am feeling it!!
    I am a part of Group A – but let me get one thing straight – I do not want others to be “worse off”. What I do want is those that are worse off to TRY!! Do not EXPECT me to do it for you!

    “There are people—call them Group A—who are content to be badly off so long as there are others—call them Group B—who are worse off.

    There also are people—call them Group C—who are better off than either, but who try to advance Group B at the expense of Group A without giving up anything themselves.

    My guess is that a lot of Donald Trump supporters are members of Group A who are angry at Group C.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: