Riots, Regimentation and Rhetoric


I am afraid that the third paragraph from the bottom of Wednesday’s E.J. Dionne column on the riots in Baltimore all-too-accurately reflects the state of elite thinking in America, and not in a good way…

[William Julius Wilson] offered a central truth: “Regular employment provides the anchor for the spatial and temporal aspects of daily life. It determines where you are going to be and when you are going to be there. In the absence of regular employment, life, including family life, becomes less coherent.”

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking, where the idea that people who agree upon some bigger meanings in life can work together to build something is replaced by an idea that people cannot find meaning until they’ve first been regimented, seems to have become the dominant philosophy of a wide swath of a “respectable” political elite who, for various reasons, are unable to articulate anything beyond a few economic platitudes when discussing what a society should aspire to (e.g. “Let’s get Rhode Island back to work“), and who assume everything else takes care of itself, if government can be made to function as the comprehensive human-resources bureaucracy for everyone.

Or am I reading to much into E.J. Dionne seeing something profound in William Julius Wilson’s statement above?

  • ShannonEntropy

    So you apparently find the “regimented” life of an employed person somehow deprived of ‘Liberty’ ??

    Or am I missing something here ??

    p.s. I bet you are really ,, *really!* angry at who·ever named you Carroll

    . . . . . .

    … just like I am occasionally flummoxed by people who assume that my handle ‘Shannon’ means I must be a woman =►

  • Mario

    I think it makes much more sense in the opposite formation — widespread unemployment, particularly among the youth and especially when geographically concentrated, is devastating to the maintenance of civil society. I don’t think lives have to be regimented, but they should have a purpose, and employment is central to most people’s self-worth. It is still almost always the first question when you meet someone new.

    Of course, Dionne would blame globalization, when it seems pretty clear to me that an excessive minimum wage would explain what we are seeing far better. But I guess we all always default to our biases.

  • Warrington Faust

    ” In the absence of regular employment, life, including family life, becomes less coherent.”

    For generations, housewifes did not have “regular emploment”. They may not have been as pleased as might be, but they found meaning ahd did not riot.

  • Warrington Faust

    Today’s news indicates that 96% of Americans expect a “long, hot summer”. Gratifyingly, 27% of blacks believe that the riots result from “undocumented shoppers” seeking an opportunity to loot.

  • Mike678

    To be employed, you need to offer the employer something of worth. A culture of attitude versus education, entitlement rather than gratitude does little to make a person marketable. ‘Giving’ someone a job is an oxymoron–you earn the job.