Magazine September 26, 2016, Issue

Letters

The Wage-Floor Roof of the Working-Class Ghetto

Helen Andrews’ review of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir, by J. D. Vance, in the August 15 issue summarizes Vance’s effort to explain the factors making it difficult for the Appalachian and midwest white underclass to escape “redneck” ghettos. Government is blamed for a number of factors, such as welfare-supported destructive lifestyles. However, the inability to get work is a key factor and one that deserves greater emphasis.

Licensing is one obstacle to employment. However, there are many others. A major element is the inability of wages and employment costs to decline for employers in such areas. For example, a surplus of labor would attract employers only if other cost benefits existed. Wage laws, both state and federal, tend to equalize unskilled wages and prevent distressed areas from competing on the basis of wage costs. Hence both skilled and less-skilled workers must leave established relationships and homes to obtain work instead of waiting for employers to hire in distressed areas.

This destructive lack of labor-market wage flexibility in “advanced” nations retards assimilation, creates ghettos and rural poverty, and, ironically, encourages illegal immigration (since wages are high compared with those of developing nations). It prices labor-intensive production out of the domestic marketplace.

It is also necessary to explore the question of how such policies were foisted upon us. I suggest labor-union influence on the Democratic party: A labor union imposes on its employer in order to survive; Congress and bureaucrats oblige.

Alphonse I. Johnson

Lisbon, Ill.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Duplicity

Hurrah for Richard Brookhiser, who points out (City Desk, September 12) the fallacy behind today’s exaggerated weather-map scare numbers. The first time I saw a TV meteorologist standing in front of a sea of 105s and 108s, I thought: My God, the world is coming to an end! Then, when I started to listen, I found out that the figures were not actual temperatures but the “heat index”: in other words, the real temperature corrected by adding a random number between 10 and 20. The only thing lamer than the heat index is the wind-chill factor, which uses similar fake precision to inform residents of cold places that wind makes you feel even colder. In order of increasing mendacity, the hierarchy is: (1) government budget figures, (2) car dealers’ list prices, (3) overhyped weather statistics for heat or cold.

Peter Sanders

Norfolk, Va.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue

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Letters

The Wage-Floor Roof of the Working-Class Ghetto Helen Andrews’ review of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir, by J. D. Vance, in the August 15 issue summarizes Vance’s effort to explain the factors ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Whoever used that hammer on Hillary’s phones should loan it to Huma Abedin. ‐ Acting as if it were an arm of the Clinton campaign, the FBI dumped the contents ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

A MEMORY OF FRANKLIN STREET Heaven surrounded us, all sweetness then, Bright sky and earth, so calm and more than fair; Warm and expansive, welcoming, so when We passed a building it seemed more ...

Most Popular

Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
Culture

Why Progressives Wage War on History

Princeton University’s decision to remove the name “Woodrow Wilson” from its School of Public and International Affairs is a big win for progressive activists, and the implications will extend far beyond the campus. It hardly surprises me, in today’s polarizing environment, that my alma mater caved to ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More
U.S.

Bad News about the Virus

On the menu today: an important update about indications that the coronavirus is now more contagious than it used to be, with far-reaching ramifications for how we fight this pandemic; a point on the recent complaints about the Paycheck Protection Program; and a new book for everyone closely following the debate ... Read More

Patriotism Is Becoming ‘White Supremacy’

Never before has a speech extolling America’s virtues and the marvels or the nation’s heroes played to such poor — and completely dishonest — reviews. At Mount Rushmore on Friday night, President Trump gave a speech that was very tough on the woke Left, while largely celebrating America — its ... Read More

Patriotism Is Becoming ‘White Supremacy’

Never before has a speech extolling America’s virtues and the marvels or the nation’s heroes played to such poor — and completely dishonest — reviews. At Mount Rushmore on Friday night, President Trump gave a speech that was very tough on the woke Left, while largely celebrating America — its ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Washington vs. Violent Crime

In New York City, 49 people were shot over the holiday weekend. The death count, so far, is eight. With 101 shooting victims in the last week, shootings are up 300 percent over the same period last year; for the full month of June, they reached a level not seen since 1996. Even before this latest bloodbath, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Washington vs. Violent Crime

In New York City, 49 people were shot over the holiday weekend. The death count, so far, is eight. With 101 shooting victims in the last week, shootings are up 300 percent over the same period last year; for the full month of June, they reached a level not seen since 1996. Even before this latest bloodbath, ... Read More