Unemployed White Males

Newsweek recently ran an article about the plight of the formerly great white male. The article reveals that as of early 2011 600,000 college educated white males in the 35-64 age group were without jobs. This is a 5% unemployment rate. The gist of the article seems to be that the white male is in dire straits. However, this claim does not seem to be supported by the available evidence. This is not, however, to say that it would be incorrect to be concerned about the plight of people in that demographic.

While the 5% unemployment rate is twice what it was prior to the economic meltdown, it is still far better than other demographics. This is not to say that the men who are unemployed are not suffering-they surely are. However, this hardly seems to be a clear sign that educated white males do not have a “freaking prayer.” Rather, it shows that the economic mess hit very hard-hard enough to impact even those in the upper tiers.

That said, it would also be a mistake to simply dismiss concerns about this demographic as being groundless. After all, to dismiss the plight of the unemployed white men because they are white and male would be comparable to dismissing the plight of any group based on the gender or ethnicity of its members. As such, it seems right to be concerned about these people because they are, after all, people.

It might be argued that even if these white males are worse off than before, this should not be  matter of concern. After all, white males have been doing very well at the expense of others for quite some time. As such, they certainly deserve to pay for these past injustices.

While this does have a certain appeal, there is the obvious concern about what is actually just. If those individuals who oppressed minorities and women are now paying for their misdeeds, then that could be seen as just. However, it would hardly be just if all white men were treated as interchangeable, so that the men losing their jobs now are somehow justly paying for the actions of their predecessors based on an inheritable white guilt.

It might also be argued that the plight of the unemployed white men should not be a matter of concern because the wealthiest people are still white males. As such, the white male hardly deserves any sympathy.

While it is true that most of the very wealthy in America are white males, it is not true that most white males are very wealthy. If it was reasonable to claim that because some people of type X are wealthy, then we need not be concerned about people of type X being unemployed, then it would follow that we would not need to be concerned about anyone. For example, Oprah is very rich, yet it should not be inferred that we should not be concerned about black women. Likewise, the mere fact that Trump is white, male and rich (maybe) does not entail that we should not be concerned about the white men who are unemployed.

I, of course, am well aware that white, educated men are still very well off relative to everyone else. However, this does not entail that all white men  are well off or that it is foolish to be concerned about those people who are unemployed, but also happen to be white men. After all, the fact that most wealthy people in the US are white males is hardly a big help to the white guy who cannot find a job.

My point is, of course, not that special attention should be paid to the white male. Rather, my point is that the white males who are not doing well should not be ignored simply because some white males are still doing very well indeed.

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13 Comments.

  1. Dennis Sceviour

    Top 10 Reasons Why Nobody Replied To This Article

    10. Posting was held up by the thread monitor
    9. Busy watching the State College Basketball Semi-finals
    8. TPM flagged reply as “inappropriate”
    7. Couldn’t find “white” in the Wittgenstein index
    6. No free T-shirt offered for best answer
    5. Left-wing Philosophers Labour Union on strike
    4. No academic credit for feminism program
    3. Is Mike a bigot?
    2. Article violates “Genetic Fallacy”,”Fallacy of Division” and “Guilt by Association”
    1. Got bored of finding reasons

  2. Hi Dennis,

    That the article violates the “Genetic Fallacy”,”Fallacy of Division” and “Guilt by Association” seems a good reason to reply.

    Where does Mike commit these blunders?

  3. Dennis Sceviour

    Curious,
    This was an attempt to be humorous. Sorry that you did not understand. Perhaps you could list the blunders committed, if you find the fallacies are sufficient reason to criticize the article.

  4. Well, the presence of the fallacies would be sufficient reason to criticize the article yes.

    I did get the humour part but did mistake that particular ‘claim’ for a factual criticism smuggled in amongst the humour.

    The chance of a free t-shirt might indeed have inspired more responses.

    As it is – unusually – Mike doesn’t appear to have written anything here that invites criticism.

  5. Dennis,
    What, the question of my bigotry is not #1? I demand that be moved up at least to #2.

  6. I actually have lots of t-shirts. Unfortunately, they are all from various races (mostly 5Ks) and shipping is pricey. But if any TPM blog reader is ever in Tallahassee, feel free to ask for a T.

  7. If its signed it might just be worth the trip…

    Fancy a road trip to Tallahassee Dennis? On arrival, we might just get to see how fast Mike can run… or indeed how well he can shoot.

  8. Hello Dennis Sceviour,
    I think there are more reasons that nobody reply this article. The obvious one is that the article is not so funny. Haha…

  9. Dennis Sceviour

    Philosophers should remember and reflect deeply upon their option of remaining silent.

  10. Dennis,

    There’s a lot to be said for staying silent yes.

    The philosopher should indeed be mindful of what he would be as well passing over in silence. But for all all the gold in his soul, as a mere mortal, he is not infallible. Outwith the ranks of the philosophers, even the likes of you and I have the wit to recognize whereof one cannot speak usefully but, to our shame, we often fail to employ it. Others lack this wit completely and they alone are blameless.

  11. i really doubt this statistic number.

  12. I just wanted to throw my two cents in, and say that this is a long article that forms no real opinion, and has no factual point. Your conclusion says that you think white men dont deserve to be ignored simply because there are indeed white males that are wealthy, but you did not give any evidence that white males are indeed being ignored.

    Also, i found your comment about white guilt, or that a greater percentage of white men being unemployed may be just for the fact that we’ve done so well at the cost of others to be absolutely ludicrous. If indeed as this article suggests, you feel the white male needs to pay for the injustices of ages past, and if the rest of the country holds this opinion as a majority, i would certainly be looking to move elsewhere, because than I would be prejudiced against about something that i myself had no control over. Dare we get into two wrongs don’t make a right?

    I found this article by googling “Concerned White Men”, this is one of the top responses. Just thought i would throw that in as an afterthought.

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