The Jungle

27 thoughts on “The Jungle”

  1. A savvy working class southerner pointed out how elites conned working class:
    The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is.

    Meanwhile this is the case BEFORE majority of poor kids in public school graduate to join formal and informal working class!
    US has regressed to developing nation status, MIT economist warns

    Peter Temin says 80 per cent of the population is burdened with debt and anxious about job security
    Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong

    The MIT economist Peter Temin argues that economic inequality results in two distinct classes. And only one of them has any power. perspectives/blog/america-is- regressing-into-a-developing- nation-for-most-people

    America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

  2. I think you MAY be missing the point of the comment you copied in your essay. The issue, as the poster, and MANY other people perceive it is that the people who have the MOST influence on social policy neither REALLY care about the poor or the lower-middle-classes at at all — but it behooves them to posture and endorse various things to “help” the poor, but since they have no “skin in the game” as Nassim Taleb is now famous for pointing out, they merely socially signal to other people in their class that they are far from lower-middle class themselves — the sorts of people who tend to actually have to deal with the pathological elements of the poor and their serial poor decision-making.

    The “bubble” for the lower middle class you have pointed out many times regarding your own family: move out to the suburbs. They have also been things like jails, suspensions and expulsions in school for disruptive and violent individuals, etc.

    Trust me, NO ONE likes to live in a bad neighborhood. A few have ideological reasons for refusing to leave when impolite and larcenous folks move in, and a few (such as myself) are looking for a bargain and can tolerate a few pathological types (with a good dose of deterrence, mind you) — but not every one is willing to be a tough guy when needed, especially women, so….. don’t judge.

  3. Agree with the rural person in the White dominated community. There’s no getting away from drug/alcohol addicts regardless of social class; it infiltrates all races,socioeconomic, educational levels and, sadly, is tolerated regardless of its effects on all. In this region, there’s a rough parallel to the stockyards; the ski resort industry. This places have trashed the natural environment, become enclaves for the super wealthy. Lift tickets are $100 on up per person, about the cost of a weeks groceries. The workers, min wage, drive 40 miles one way to work, in substandard cars, on dangerous mountain roads. They live packed in trailer parks totally unsuitable for a 10 k elevation climate, and their water supply is unpalatable. Instead of purchasing healthy, nourishing foods, its bottled water and cheap fats and carbs. Obesity is rampant. Their kids are surrounded by incredible mountains, yet they’re trapped in the trailer park and see their parents late at night if they’re lucky. Our towns infrastructure, mental health/social service network, hospital ER, is overwhelmed serving the workforce of some of the richest counties in the state. Therefore, no one gets help regardless of where they work. We are literally the socioeconomic dumping ground of the uber elite. Much like we should all boycott exploitative and cruel food industries, we should say a resounding h$&& no to the ski industry.

    1. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, on and on never expose themselves or their brand to the truth. They are the slaughterhouses of the Rocky Mountains. If you live in Colorado it must be wonderful. Write more about this please. I grew up in Colorado Springs.

  4. Americans are strongly social dominance oriented. For example, if a driver runs over a pedestrian, it’s the pedestrian’s fault. The 75 years old woman “darted out into traffic”, and was distracted by her smart phone.

    The underlying logic is that drivers are considered to be the socially dominant class. Walking in public is a form of humiliation. The boss gets the “best” parking place next to the entrance. Not having a parking space in front of your house enrages people. Public transportation is considered filthy.

    Cars and the associated infrastructure are a tremendous waste of money, so this is a major source of poverty in the US. It reminds me of the problems they have in some places in rural Peru, where hot water is associated with fever by local folklore. So people refuse to boil water before drinking it. Humans stuck in the wrong mind set are hard to help.

    1. “For example, if a driver runs over a pedestrian, it’s the pedestrian’s fault.”

      This is total nonsense. The pedestrian always has the right of way. And as for the social aspect, most people side with the pedestrian, especially if the driver leaves the scene of the accident.

  5. “We assume a big chunk of the population will be left behind and we don’t mind so long as it’s the undeserving that get screwed. ”

    Like the War On Drugs, until white rural people started getting addicted/convicted. Then we got treatment programs and drug courts so “deserving” people who “made a mistake” could recover their (preordained?) lives instead of being kept in prison with the bad people.

    1. Chris B, you obviously don’t live in a majority white rural area, because you don’t know what you’re talking about. I do, and I previously lived in much larger metro areas. There are some key differences between rural and urban areas that are behind the differences in treatment that urban black and rural white drug users and even dealers receive.

      Black drug offenders mostly live in large urban areas where it isn’t that noticeable if large numbers of them are shipped off to prison. In the rural county where I live, approximately 40% of the local population does drugs. The authorities can’t throw them all into prison. There isn’t enough money for that, and even if there was, rounding up 2/5 of the people in our county and locking them up would be very, very noticeable. It would cause a ton of problems for the local government – and besides, some of them are doing drugs too.

      Another huge difference is that urban areas and the surrounding suburbs have a lot more upper and upper middle-class people who demand that something be done about the drug problems in their cities. I can’t really blame them, because there is a lot more violent crime associated with the drug trade in big cities.

      There’s some drug-related violent crime here in my community, but it’s nowhere near urban levels. A lot of people here are armed and prepared to defend themselves, and urban levels of violent crime just wouldn’t be tolerated.

      1. I’d like to chip in here.

        In California big cities spent the last few decades sending large numbers of people – mostly poor and brown – to prison for very long sentences with a zero tolerance policy. Middle class white people in the metro areas could usually afford lawyers who kept them out of the system. Poor rural white folks? Not so much. It’s a poverty thing as much as a race thing.

        It cost local governments very little to send people to prison since those facilities were on the state and fed’s dime – and the prisons were almost always located in distant rural communities that needed prison jobs in their economically desolate regions.

        Today the state is broke and the cost of maintaining huge prison populations is a burden it can no longer manage. So California is sending prisoners back to the counties where they came from and pushing the cost on to the locals. Now locals have to think twice before they send people away.

        It’s a lot like DOT funding for ever expanding roads and highways. I might have to blog about this…

        1. West Virginia hasn’t ever been able to afford a zero tolerance policy on drug crimes! It sounds like the California state gov’t used to have more money than sense. :-O

          Drug users and even dealers with jobs are less likely to go to prison than those without. Why should the government lose the taxes and have to feed, clothe, and house them? Better to send them to rehab and let them continue to pay taxes and provide for themselves.

          Plus, people with more to lose are less likely to re-offend after the scare of being arrested and spending a few days in jail before getting out on bail. Women also are less likely to go to prison for drugs. Probably because us innocent little angels (riiiigghht!) are seen as less likely to re-offend.

          I guess for druggies who are on government assistance, the government doesn’t have as much incentive to sentence them to rehab. They already aren’t paying taxes, and the government is already feeding, clothing, and housing them. The security required in prison probably makes it more expensive though, but maybe it’s worth it to the state to look like they’re doing their part in the War on Drugs.

          BTW, I really like your blog. Very interesting.

          1. This is a good point. Culture always reverts to the mean. In the South slavery was abolished, but was replaced with Jim Crow. Jim Crow was reformed with the Civil Rights movement, but undone with things like making felons ineligible to vote for life. Prisons (overwhelmingly and disproportionately black) “employ” inmate labor for everything from processing poultry and fish to making Victoria’s Secret underwear.

            I noticed the same situation in Brazil. In the north (which had a slave culture until 1888) the economy and society are still stifled and backward. In the south (where the land was settled by small family farms instead of plantations) the culture was always more advanced, stable, and equitable.

        2. Johnny, I’m back in Alameda on my boat for a couple weeks. Then it’s back to the Mid-West, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina for a couple months. Love to get together and yak. If you are a mountain biker or road cyclist I’ll meet you at the Gestalt Haus in Fairfax for a post ride brew.

      2. I currently live in an overwhelmingly white semi-rural county, at the edge of suburban development, where the sheriff is very tough on drugs and the people he catches are almost all white. The prosecutor is the one pushing drug court and treatment options.

        I’m not ignorant of the situation. One grandson’s (white) mother was a user/dealer accessory in another nearby county; she was caught and sent to drug court. I have no doubt that if she were black, she’d be incarcerated. Over the years in my (urban) neighborhood businesses I employed drug users of every stripe and color, all low-moderate income.

        Incarceration/past incarceration rates in urban majority-black and poor neighborhoods are every bit as high as the number you cite as unacceptable for your poor white rural area, which I think is the point Johnny was trying to make.

        There is no fundamental difference between a poor white rural county and a poor black inner-city township or neighborhood, other than skin tone. Same population (though more condensed in the case of the city) and same proportion doing drugs.

        1. Chris B, women of all colors are less likely than men to go to prison for the exact same crimes. That’s the case for black women too, not just white women like your grandson’s mother. But sometimes even that second X chromosome doesn’t protect a woman from prison, as in the case of my white female neighbor who spent time in prison for dealing drugs.

          There absolutely are differences between urban and rural areas that affect how the drug war is carried out.

          The biggest difference is that the relative anonymity of big cities allows the authorities to lock up more people for drug crimes without it being that noticeable. Where I live, I’m related to half the county. Everyone knows everyone’s business. Overzealous sentencing for drug crimes wouldn’t work out too well for the local government. They’ve still got to live with us afterwards. They can’t segregate themselves into separate neighborhoods and gated communities like politicians, police, and various bureaucrats can in large metro areas.

          BTW, “semi-rural county, at the edge of suburban development” is not the same thing as a rural county. I had to go about an hour and a half away when it was time to have my children. There isn’t a hospital closer that delivers babies. I have to travel the same distance for clothes shopping. The only places you can buy clothes closer than that are second-hand stores and Wal-Mart, which are just not good options. And if you live on the edge of suburban development, you have much greater access to jobs and economic opportunity than most people do in my county.

          You obviously do not know what the rural environment is like. You simply enjoy posturing about how non-racist you are. I have lived in neighborhoods with large numbers of blacks mixed in with poorer whites, back when I lived in a large city. I wonder if you would? Somehow I doubt it.

          1. So you’ve exactly described the mixed-race, mixed-income, predominantly lower-middle-class city neighborhood where I owned a house for about a decade, before moving to the far ‘burbs for the first time in my adult life.

            We’re both guests here; picking a fight in someone else’s house is not cool. For my part, I apologize to our host.

    2. Just to pose a possible explanation as to why our opiate drug problems may appear to be “soft-peddled” politically: these opiates are (often) legal drugs, produced by shareholder-owned corporations, prescribed by bona-fide doctors, and sold at local pharmacies. If you’re a pro-capitalist, pro-business politician, do you not have to talk around this very carefully? Back in the days when drugs came in more via the criminal market it was easier (and safer) to declare who the “good” and “bad” guys were in the drug wars. Now, damning these opiates and their addicts is sort of an indictment against the whole system, is it not? Big Pharma is a power both in the economy and our elections, after all – though not to justify it any way.

      1. Yes, and no. Fentanyl may be a prescription drug in the US, but versions are mass produced (illegally and off-patent) in other countries and imported here (also illegally). It seems to be the “terminal” opioid, as it is many times more potent than heroin or Oxycontin and anecdotally accounts for a lot of the current OD epidemic. See

        More to your point, lots of middle-class people get hooked on opioids like Oxycontin when they are prescribed for chronic (or sometimes even transient) pain issues. For this very reason, I decline them anytime a doctor or dentist has tried to prescribe them.

  6. We are a consumer culture and we have made people a consumable product. We no longer think in terms of communion with one another (if we ever really did) but of the individual pulling themselves up “by their bootstraps” in life. The iconic loner/hero is no longer a real possibility in our culture and the destruction of the family unit as a support system ensures that we’ll eventually collapse as a mass of individuals pursuing each one’s hedonistic escapism of choice. It’ll take time, perhaps a very long time–our economy will keep our foolishness afloat for some years.

  7. Ironically, the “bubble cities” are chock-full of social pathology: homelessness, prostitution, drug abuse, inequality, abusive police departments, terrible schools, single-parenting, ethnic ghettoes, exploitative landlords, you name it. These cities are the centers of political struggle and rights movements because they’re terrible places to live for everyone but the very wealthy. If the elites fled there to avoid this stuff, they don’t seem to have done a very good job of it!

    American urbanism is a catastrophe and always has been, for the reasons explained by you and others (e.g. Nathan Lewis of It’s time to abandon the failed major coastal cities, because they will never be fixed. The country is full of lovely, livable, overlooked towns and small cities (particularly in the midwest) that are so cheap that the idea of needing a six figure job to keep your head above water is laughable.

    1. The more interesting trend is the transformation of previously middle class leafy suburbs with nothing but single family homes and shopping malls. Many are losing value and devolving into low income neighborhoods. Suburbs are built with the assumption that if only middle class housing stock is provided and organized in a manner that can only be lived in by people who can afford a private vehicle the poor will be filtered out. But some places have failed to retain the middle class and are now poor anyway. They’re just poor and spread out with lawns and parking lots. Wealth and poverty aren’t rooted in buildings or land use patterns. It’s the “soft” social and political structures that shape the landscape.

  8. I’d say it’s a part of the widespread and pernicious idea of “karmic justice” in this society; that everybody is exactly where they DESERVE to be, because that is the law of the universe, and fixing the societal structure will be going against said law.

  9. Yes. That is in line with the national obsession with judging and punishing. A really strange society, if you think about it.

Leave a Reply to Noquay Cancel reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.