He continues that aberrational behavior today in his review of AEI uber-zealot Charles Murray’s new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (which I will not link to here — no Google love from me).
Frum’s takedown is so good that I won’t try to recap it. I’ll just comment on one quote that he provides from Murray (paragraph break and emphasis added):
Recall figure 2.1 at the beginning of the book, showing stagnant incomes for people below the 50th income percentile.** High-paying unionized jobs have become scarce and real wages for all kinds of blue-collar jobs have been stagnant or falling since the 1970s.
But these trends don’t explain why [working-class white] men in the 2000s worked fewer jobs, found it harder to get jobs than other Americans did, and more often dropped out of the labor market than they had in the 1960s.
It doesn’t? Doesn’t “textbook economics” — not to mention common sense — tell us that if you pay people less, they’ll have less incentive to work?
But Murray knows better — they’ve got plenty of incentive:
Insofar as men need to work to survive – an important proviso – falling hourly income does not discourage work.
As long people are reduced to the level of survival — so people have to take any available job, no matter how shitty or badly compensated, or die (along with their families and children) — it’s no problem getting them to work.
That takes a big load off my mind.
Cross-posted at Asymptosis.