Posted by: CJ | September 25, 2010

Random Links

This mom, like most, was much better before she had kids. And she cops to it.

This Tyler Cowen posts scares me. He’s not particularly prone to exaggeration, but he seems to have concluded  our federal fiscal health is doomed.

4. Taxes won’t be raised much (do the Dems seem to have great love for reversing the Bush tax cuts?), spending won’t be cut enough (the recent Republican document is extremely weak), and within twenty years we will have a sovereign debt crisis in the United States, as one day a Treasury auction won’t go well.  I’ll predict, but not favor, the emergency passage of a VAT, a’ la TARP, which will restore fiscal stability but lower the long-term rate of growth.  When that time comes, the VAT will indeed be necessary, though ex ante I would opt for less social protection and a higher rate of economic growth.

I view this as even scarier than “just” a sovereign debt crisis. It shows that Cowen thinks we’re currently at the point where our federal politicians are not capable of governing effectively for the medium- and long-term. I have to wonder what that implies about the environment and efforts to improve the economic health of the working and middle classes.

I’m also fascinated by the Eminem song “Love The Way You Lie”. It seems to get at some of the love-hate, dramatic, occasionally violent, and often depressing nature of a particular strain of working class relationship.  A strain that’s not uncommon in my hometown. I’m increasingly appreciating that Eminem can do a surprisingly good job of speaking to white working class realities. I’m not sure what other current singers, if any, can also do that. Makes me vaguely wonder if there’s a fruitful comparison to be made between Eminem and Elvis.

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Responses

  1. How much Springsteen or Mellencamp do you know? Those may be better comparisons than Elvis; his background was working class, but only a small percentage of his songs reflect that.

  2. Apparently not enough. I like some Springsteen, but I haven’t listened to a huge amount. I’m not sure I’ve listened to any Mellencamp, at least not actively. I’m unsure what to think of their hair.

    I guess I was also thinking of the comparison because I’d heard Elvis described as really popular because he put a white face on a music style blacks had been pioneering at the time. But yeah, you’ve pointed out that media at that time was, by design, much more kumbaya-ish. Working class concerns rarely fit into that box.

  3. You are right about Eminem — but I would modify it to be “urban” working class. (And Springsteen and Mellencamp are good examples of “suburban” and/or “exurban” working class perspectives.) But you’re missing the classic American musical outlet for working-class concerns: country music. (Not the pseduo-pop that evolved out of the Nashville Sound, but the real unvarnished stuff.) Take a tour of the oeuvre of the likes of Merle Haggard, George Jones, or even Jimmie Rodgers (who worked on the railroad), and you’ll see references to the gritty reality of working-class life (and dysfunction). For that matter, “race records” — i.e. classic blues and R & B — also open a window into life that was conveniently airbrushed out of popular music for wider audiences.

    I get where you’re coming from re Elvis, but all of these are much more apt comparisons…


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