Monday, June 17, 2019

Social Justice Hurts Those It Pretends to Help

Joel Kotkin takes the measure of the current mania about social justice and concludes that it hurts those it most wants to help. Policies enacted by the most “woke” among us more likely damage the prospects of those they profess to care about. It's a pungent irony, don't you think?

Thus, social justice warfare is more likely to damage the oppressed. Happily, this makes social justice warriors feel more needed than ever. Besides, if the only thing you know how to do is to protest against social injustice, the absence of same would quickly put you out of business. And we cannot have that, can we.

So, social justice warriors will always blame someone else when their schemes fail. Happily, Joel Kotkin calls them out in an excellent op-ed column. He begins by explaining that good intentions do not always produce good results. If you modify your policies as a function of the results produced you are pragmatic. If you refuse to modify your policies no matter what, you are an idealist, a social justice warrior, who rejects the verdict of reality.

Kotkin begins:

Perhaps no issue more motivates progressive activists than social justice. Good intentions may motivate the social justice warriors, albeit sometimes sprinkled with a dollop of self-hatred. But good intentions do not necessarily produce good results. Indeed, often the policies favored by progressive idealists hinder the economic and social progress of the very people they seek to rescue.

Consistently, their policies fail to help:

They do this in many ways, emphasizing subsidies and preferences based on race while undermining the economic growth that most poor people, of any race, according to a recent You Gov poll, believe would be more effective than entitlement spending in reducing poverty.

In the real world — where most people live — intentions do not necessarily produce results. Opposition to charter schools may please progressives’ allies in the teachers’ unions but removes from poor and minority communities one proven way to achieve better results. Lowering standards might allow some of these students to emerge from under-performing public schools and enter elite colleges, but the evidence is that such students do poorly in these environments, often dropping out and, if they stay, segregating into departments, like ethnic or women’s studies, devoted to, you guessed it, social justice.

Indeed the emphasis on social justice, which is now filtering into the younger grades, seems destined to lower the actual achievement of those who so indoctrinated. The emphasis on race, gender and — horror of horrors, white privilege — is no substitute for the proficiency in math, science or literacy, things actually valued in the real world.

Emphasizing social justice undermines the education of those its proponents pretend to want to help. The same applies to anti-poverty programs:

In California and other progressive states, woke policies are clearly not helping the poor. Indeed despite all the progressive rhetoric, African Americans and Latinos suffer considerably higher rates of poverty in California than in the rest of the nation; the Golden State already suffers the highest percentage of poor people among the states. The twin pillars of woke politics, California and New York, also suffer both the highest rates of inequality in the nation.

Social justice warriors despise income inequality and all other forms of inequality. And yet, in places where they hold fast to the reins of power, we see more, not less inequality:

The deepest blue cities — San Francisco, New York, San Jose, Los Angeles and Boston — may be ruled by social justice activists but, according to Pew research, suffer the largest gaps between the bottom and top quintiles. Long-standing minority communities like Albina in Portland are disappearing as 10,000 of the 38,000 residents have been pushed out of the historic African-American section. San Francisco’s African-American black population is roughly half that of the 1970s, constituting less than 5 percent of the city’s population. More than half of the Bay Area’s lower-income communities, notes a recent UC Berkeley study, are in danger of mass displacement.

The eco-friendly policies propounded by the young “woke” generation has succeeded in undermining employment prospects for the working class:

A direct result of climate policies, high energy prices place enormous burdens on California’s working-class families, particularly in the less temperate interior. These policies also discourage growth of manufacturing and other blue-collar industries that long incubated opportunities for working people. As the state’s manufacturing sector has stagnated last year while industrial jobs expanded 14 percent in neighboring Arizona, 5 percent in Nevada and by 3 percent in arch-rival Texas.

The same is true of regulations. You know that the Obama administration excelled at strangling the economy with regulations. The current champion of regulating business is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president:

Regulations in California have also slowed construction growth, and left employment considerably below the industry’s 2007 numbers. Residential sales have dropped statewide, and California’s rate of new housing permits has fallen behind the national average, making construction workers’ economic prospects even dimmer.

Kotkin proposes a new movement opposing the enlightened clerical class of bureaucrats, intellectuals and lawyers… people who feel so deeply about the plight of the masses that they cannot bring themselves to do anything consequential to change things:

To restore the prospects of minorities, the middle and working classes, we need a new movement opposing not just the ultra-rich but also those who, like the medieval clerics, consider themselves the anointed benefactors of the masses.

Kotkin is heartened to see labor unions fight back against climate legislation. Because, don’t you know it, the people who will suffer the most from the Green New Deal will be the working class.

A healthy first sign of the potential of such a movement was demonstrated by the state’s private-sector labor unions, who organized a “Blue Collar Revolution” protest against the Democrats’ climate legislation. Already state policies have threatened the jobs of those in building-trades unions, which count 400,000 members statewide. Calls for the elimination of fossil fuels by 2030, as well as the loss of nuclear power, another heavily unionized industry, would devastate workers in the large state’s energy-production sector. In 2012, the oil and gas industry alone employed over 400,000 Californians. These generally well-paid workers would have no place in the world promoted by progressive Green New Deal policies.


trigger warning said...

Kotkin makes the assumption, incorrect in my view, that SJWs sincerely seek to "rescue" the "victimized". I agree that SJW marketing pushes that notion (cf., George Lakoff's "Little Blue Book"), but any fool can see that the policies they advocate make things worse by virtually any measure.

This is precisely why SJWs, and leftists in general, measure success by inputs, not outputs. As long as more is being spent on X [schools, teachers, housing, cancer research, climate, energy, mental health, etc...], it's Progress. In fact, that's precisely why a change in the rate of spending from +5% to +3% is labeled as a spending "cut", and zero-based budgeting and legislative sunsets are anathema. The most important variable to the Progressive left is control of the money flow, not the welfare of the "victims".

whitney said...

Social justice isn't about helping people it's about power so they are actually succeeding in their goal

Anonymous said...

Just a personal experience here but I once volunteered at a community center for adult continuing education. It was rewarding and the students seemed to really appreciate it. I felt I was making a real difference for them, helping them and encouraging them. Many of the students came from very disadvantaged circumstances.

But the center was very progressive and pushed the gay and trans agenda plus all women must be believed. In recent years this kept cropping up in my discussions with students. It had nothing to do with the mathematics at hand but you could tell it was taking up a lot of space in their heads.

Oh, and privilege. White privilege. Being an older white male you increasingly felt like you had a target on your back.

The deal breaker was the metoo movement. I knew a couple of girls, or whatever they identified with, were very hostile to men. Maybe they had bad experiences in their past, maybe they hadn't but like the attention and validation that comes from claiming it did.

I'm a professional and the personal and career risk was just too high. I had stuck with it for too long as it is and it was time to go.

I didn't explain my reasons for leaving because as good intentioned as the people running the program were they were completely blind about consequences to actions. Intentions were the reality for them.

In online forums I've found many adults are simply pulling back from contributing to their communities like this and for the same reasons. One more thread that's become unravelled in our modern society.

Sam L. said...

"Social justice warriors despise income inequality and all other forms of inequality. And yet, in places where they hold fast to the reins of power, we see more, not less inequality:" They get theirs, and everyone else doesn't, and they are perfectly fine with that.

For SJWs, words are greater than actions by orders of magnitude.

Who remembers the movie, Little Murders(1971)? Somehow, it seems connected here.

Anonymous said...

The Swedish government sees it differently. If it cannot be happening, then it is not happening. It is easier to cover up the problem than to address it. It is easier to see it as a public relations problem, not as a Muslim migrant problem muhfugen bix nood.

UbuMaccabee said...

Social justice is justice with a professors finger on the scale. They crave power more than anything else. What good is being so wise if no one does what you tell them to do?