Rampell refuses to budge: We were intrigued by a line near the end of Paul Krugman's column in yesterday's New York Times.
"I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to miners and industrial workers," Krugman said at the start of his final paragraph. We were struck by that because we already thought he did sound a bit unsympathetic to Those People, the lesser breed.
That doesn't mean that what he was saying in his column was "wrong." It means that he may have had just a bit of a tone.
What did Krugman say in Monday's column? He seemed to say that "the public discussion of job loss" focuses on mining and manufacturing to an excessive degree, "while virtually ignoring the big declines in some service [industry] sectors."
Krugman provided job loss numbers for various sectors. "All jobs matter," he cheekily said.
Was Krugman "wrong" in his basic claims? Presumably, no—he was not. Having said that, we'll also say this:
If you're going to say that you don't want to sound unsympathetic to someone, it might be better to say it at the start of your column, before the unwanted impression may have been spread.
In his column, Krugman offers some possible reasons for the emphasis on job loss in the manufacturing and mining sectors. Inevitably, he ended up saying that these jobs may get extra attention because they're disproportionately held by white men.
In the modern liberal world, such ruminations are required. Left unexamined was a related question: if that speculation is accurate, why has our liberal world made so little attempt to address the lack of emphasis on jobs in the service industries?
For ourselves, we don't know how much mining and manufacturing job loss has been over-emphasized down through the years. If those sectors have been over-emphasized, we can think of one explanation that Krugman skirted but missed.
Along the way, Krugman made an extremely important point—but wouldn't you know it? As he made his important point, he seemed to kick down at those People:
KRUGMAN: [W]hy aren’t promises to save service jobs as much a staple of political posturing as promises to save mining and manufacturing jobs?In that passage, Krugman describes the conduct of demagogues, but then mainly seems to sneer at the regular people who believe their bogus statements and promises. It's the demagogues who are mainly at fault, but it's the regular people they misled who get snarked at in that passage.
One answer might be that mines and factories sometimes act as anchors of local economies, so that their closing can devastate a community in a way shutting a retail outlet won’t. And there’s something to that argument.
A different, less creditable reason mining and manufacturing have become political footballs, while services haven’t, involves the need for villains. Demagogues can tell coal miners that liberals took away their jobs with environmental regulations. They can tell industrial workers that their jobs were taken away by nasty foreigners. And they can promise to bring the jobs back by making America polluted again, by getting tough on trade, and so on. These are false promises, but they play well with some audiences.
When we liberals kick down in such ways, we give the impression that we enjoy kicking down at our lessers. We also create a world in which we have to say, at the end of our columns, that we don't want to sound unsympathetic.
The demagogues are the culprits here, not the people they mislead. Also at fault are the liberal leaders who have never quite bothered to address the dynamic Krugman describes.
Alas! We liberals often seem to enjoy kicking down at "some audiences!" It's long been a basic part of the way we play our (losing) game.
And sure enough! In this morning's Washington Post, Catherine Rampell continues to sneer at working-class women in rural Kentucky who can't afford to go to the doctor. As in this column from December, she finds it "puzzling" when such people are dissatisfied with this state of affairs.
Rampell is the Princeton-graduate child of two other Princeton graduates. Truth to tell, she sounds like the Princeton grad child of two Princeton grads in the passage shown below.
Four months later, she still doesn't get it! A super-privileged Princeton kid just can't be more clueless than this:
RAMPELL (4/18/17): Many of the stories in the booming “blue-state reporter ventures into Trump country” genre have featured Trump supporters with deep hostility toward Obamacare, among other government programs. Some of these Trump supporters are, perhaps puzzlingly, themselves Obamacare beneficiaries, receiving government subsidies for private insurance on the individual exchanges. But often what these Trump voters say they want is not a return to pre-Obamacare days; rather, they want in on the great insurance deal that they think their lazy, less-deserving neighbors are getting.In fairness, the problem may be genetic. At any rate, Rampell is still unable to understand the situation described in late November, when Sarah Kliff interviewed white working-class women in rural Kentucky.
As in her earlier column, Rampell remains "puzzled" by the way one of Kliff's interview subjects views her Obamacare coverage. The 59-year-old woman in question was paying $3000 per year for an Obamacare policy. But uh-oh! Because of her high deductible and because of those high premiums, she couldn't afford to go to the doctor. At all!
This woman did have health insurance. But she couldn't afford health care! At the age of 59, she can't afford to go to the doctor. (This is a problem Catherine Rampell is never going to have.)
At the same time, this woman's neighbors, who were less well off, were receiving free health care through Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid. For reasons which are perfectly obvious, this woman thought that she was getting a rather terrible deal.
Who but the Princeton-grad child of two Princeton grads would find this matter "puzzling?" Let's review:
The 59-year-old woman in question was paying $3000 per year for her health insurance. Despite this, she was receiving no health care. By way of contrast, her less affluent neighbors were paying nothing at all, and they were receiving health care. The 59-year-old woman thought her neighbors had the better deal.
Only a kid who prepped at Andover would find it "puzzling" when the 59-year-old woman thought she was getting a lousy deal. For better or worse, our liberal team is crawling with people like this.
What makes Catherine Rampell seem to be so heartless? Whatever it is, it has long been part of our liberal world's standard approach to Those People, the rural white working class. This is one of the self-defeating, correctable ways we put Donald Trump where he is.
We thought Krugman flirted with condescension before he issued yesterday's last-minute disclaimer. One day later, Rampell plowed ahead with unvarnished class contempt. She's puzzled to think that a 59-year-old woman might want to go the doctor!
Earlier in her column, Rampell made us wonder why we send these brainiacs to Princeton at all. This involves her rather clear implication, early on, that the federal government "gives insurance to the elderly" through the "single-payer health care" program known as Medicare. (Emphasis on "gives.")
We'll leave that point for another day. But our team's condescension toward the lesser breed just keeps marching along.