What’s Wrong With White People?
Joan Walsh, National Memo
Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from What’s the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was by Joan Walsh. Copyright © 2012
Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.
—Senator Jeff Sessions, July 2009
I am repeatedly struck by the extent to which conservatives have given up on the America we all grew up with: apparently it costs too much and we can’t afford it, and besides, we can’t all get along, so we can’t enjoy it.
In 2011 New York Times columnist Ross Douthat warned Americans that we can no longer provide a strong social welfare state—the kind of society that supports people the way we did from the mid-1930s until the end of the 1970s—because we’re too diverse for it. As Douthat argued:
Historically, the most successful welfare states (think Scandinavia) have depended on ethnic solidarity to sustain their tax-and-transfer programs. But the working age America of the future will be far more diverse than the retired cohort it’s laboring to support. Asking a population that’s increasingly brown and beige to accept punishing tax rates while white seniors receive roughly $3 in Medicare benefits for every dollar they paid in (the projected ratio in the 2030s) promises to polarize the country along racial as well as generational lines.
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