Kevin Williamson has a new article at National Review on the Christmas miracle of Walmart:
“The more squared-away among us have been doing their Christmas shopping for a while. People like me are getting started. It’s fashionable to dislike shopping. Men of course aren’t supposed to enjoy shopping, because shopping is a stereotypically female thing, and we men are weirdly delicate in the face of such threats. But many women say they dislike shopping, too: It’s a hassle, it’s stressful, and taking pleasure in the mere exercise of consumption strikes many as suggestive of shallowness. It’s a fine argument, but I don’t buy it. …
When the alien archeologists land on Earth in some future age, they’ll see the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal and they’ll know that there was once a real civilization here on Earth. (“And the wind shall say: ‘Here were decent Godless people: Their only monument the asphalt road and a thousand lost golf balls.”) They’ll wonder at some of our strange and barbaric practices, but they’ll know we had something going on. I hope they find a Walmart.
I’ve been to the Taj Mahal, Mount Rushmore, and St. Paul Outside the Walls. (“The alabaster columns were a gift from Muhammad Ali,” the priest showing us around said. “The real Muhammad Ali.”) And each lives up to its reputation — none disappoints. But spare a thought for the everyday miracle of the Walmart Super Center, which contains within its walls a selection of worldly riches and exotic treasures that Cleopatra would have blushed to contemplate. A 60-inch flat-screen television was, until the day before yesterday, a token of wealth. You can buy a good one from Samsung for less than $300, or just a couple of bucks over what a minimum-wage worker earns in a 40-hour week. …”
In a nutshell, this is the difference between the Alt-Right and mainstream conservatism.
Here is what I see when I go into a Walmart: while the cavernous aisles of Walmart are filled with cheap products from China and Latin America, I see lots of fat people, elderly White grandmothers with their mulatto grandchildren, interracial couples, gender non-conforming lesbians, plenty of Hispanic illegal aliens who work at the local chicken plants and tons of ordinary White people who strike me as demoralized and who are getting visibly poorer year after year.
It is a depressing experience. I don’t believe it is unique to my area either (spoiler: my local Walmart is located adjacent to an abandoned textile mill). I can go pretty much anywhere in the South these days and behold the same Walmart miracle. The buildings and their utilitarian layout are exactly the same. The people who are shopping there fit the same profile. Many of the Walmart associates are college graduates who can’t find jobs that match their education in this economy. This is what it feels like to me to be losing your country in exchange for cheap imported Samsung televisions.
How do we explain this paradox of cheap imported goods and White working class misery?
1.) First, Walmart is now the biggest employer in the South. It is symbolic of the reality of the post-industrial, low-wage, non-unionized service economy:
2.) Second, the United States has run a trade deficit since 1975. The big story here with Walmart though is the trade deficit with China that has soared since the 1990s:
3.) Third, the American middle class is shrinking as wealth is being concentrated at the top of the social pyramid in our service economy:
4.) Fourth, real wages for most US workers has stagnated for decades:
5.) Fifth, average household income has declined since the late 1990s:
6.) Sixth, the national debt has grown by leaps and bounds since 1970:
7.) Seventh, the foreign born population has swelled since the 1970s as millions of immigrants have been admitted to the United States:
8.) Eighth, the value of the stock market has soared since the 1970s:
The moral of the story: neoliberalism has devastated the United States on two fronts.
Economically, the trend since 1970 has been toward economic liberalism. Conservatives have won across the board on this front. We’ve moved toward a low-tax, low-wage, deregulated, open borders, free-trade economy, which has hollowed out the middle class while expanding the ranks of the very poor and very rich. The national debt and the value of the stock market has soared.
Culturally, the trend since 1970 has been toward social liberalism. We’ve seen the family collapse, divorce and out-of-wedlock births skyrocket, millions of babies have been aborted, the legalization of gay marriage, religion has retreated from public life and millions of non-English speaking immigrants have poured into the United States from all over the world. We’ve seen the normalization of miscegenation, cohabitation, homosexuality and transgenderism.
The Obama years gave us gay marriage. The Trump years are giving us tax reform. We oscillate between social liberalism and economic liberalism. The result is always more liberalism. The answer to every problem is always MORE liberty or equality at the expense of everything else. Over the long term, it has produced BOTH a loss of cultural cohesion and extreme economic inequality, or your depressing experience at your local neighborhood Walmart.