Recently, I was sent to a workshop at a Labor Department office to test its usefulness in helping the unemployed find work, helping to determine whether taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. This was in a certain county in upstate New York that I’m not at liberty to disclose, other than to say that it’s in a rural area and it has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
It also has one of the lowest literacy rates in the state. I’ll call it “Methlab County.”
The particular program I sat in on was “Internet Job Search,” about using the web to find work. You might be wondering, in this age of 4G smartphones and ubiquitous Internet access, precisely who would have difficulty applying to jobs online. The answer: fifty- and sixtysomething white ex-factory workers who don’t own computers, don’t even have email accounts. In fact, the second half of the three-hour (!) workshop was devoted to teaching us how to open and use email accounts with Yahoo! or Google.
These people were computer illiterate to a degree I didn’t even think was possible in the year 2013. Not only did they not know how to use email, most of them had no clue how to use a mouse and keyboard. The instructor, a pious, chubby-cheeked middle-aged clerk, had to walk them through the laborious tasks of double-clicking with a mouse, highlighting the text on their resumes (that have been prepared for them by other department cubicle monkeys), and using Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V to copy and paste. This took an hour-and-a-half.
In that time, I had not only copypasted my fake resume, I had enough time to encode a secret message in the text (“FUCK THIS SHIT”).
What’s worse is that the workshop attendees themselves knew that all this was in vain. One of them even commented to the effect of, “I’m just gonna forget all this tomorrow.”
The whole episode put me into an existential torpor. These aren’t bad people; they’re not very smart or sophisticated, true, but they’re law-abiding and did what society expected of them their entire lives. They have a high school degree at most and spent the bulk of their lives stamping widgets at a factory for $40,000-50,000 a year plus vacation time, health insurance, a pension and other benefits. They bought houses, had kids and followed the rules. And at the tail end of their lives, the factory moved to Mexico or China and left them with nothing, not even their retirement.
Now they’re expected to suddenly upend their entire lives and learn a skill set that is completely alien to them, at a time in their lives when they are least capable of learning new things.
And it’s not like we’re in Silicon Valley; the only jobs left in Methlab County are minimum-wage retail ones like Walmart. Except they’re not even qualified for many of those, since Walmart and many other retailers no longer accept paper applications. The reality is that as soon as most of these folks’ unemployment runs out, they’ll be going straight onto welfare, assuming stress and poor health doesn’t kill them first. The mere idea of making these people attend workshops like this, deluding them into thinking they have a shot in the modern economy, smacks me as an unbelievably cruel joke.
Whenever I see some wealthy coastal wonk cry about how we have a moral obligation to bring in more illiterate Latino immigrants to pick fruit for $1.25 an hour, I seethe.
Whenever I see some privileged white girl get all weepy over the ventilated corpse of Trayvon Martin, I bite my tongue to keep from screaming.
Whenever I read someone who’s turned that Emma Lazarus quote into a minor religion, I want to pistol whip them with a .45.
The reason is because there’s a mass of “hungry, tired and poor” already in America. They live in places like Methlab County, New York, where the economy has been devastated by outsourcing and mass immigration. They dutifully followed the script society handed them only to get fucked and left on the side of the road at the most vulnerable stage of their lives.
And you worthless leftist hypocrites not only don’t care about them, you mock them.
While you pump your fists in a “Million Hoodie March,” deifying a middle-class thug wannabe, you attack the residents of Methlab County as “white trash.” While you instigate witch hunts against researchers who show that Latinos have a lower mean IQ than whites, you gleefully bash rural whites as “stupid” and “ignorant.” You’ll piously cry about “racism” and “bigotry” when it comes to foreigners who would gladly slit your throats and gut your corpses, but you openly disdain people in your own country who look like you.
“Eww, those people listen to country music and probably go to church, too. Grooooooss!”
Later that day, after the workshop was over, I gave my supervisor my thoughts. On the record, I said that it was an effective program for people who are out of work and need to learn how to use the Internet. Off the record, I said that anyone who actually needs to take a workshop like that in this day and age is fucked.
He agreed with me.
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