The decline of the family farm and the family business explains much, as Jefferson warned us. Children of the elite not only do not feel they have to work at distasteful jobs, but have no idea how labor contributes to the viability of their own family. Something is wrong when agribusiness claims they need guest workers, but the unemployment rate among youth of all races often exceeds 20 percent. To drive through a rural central California community at 10 AM is to see hundreds of young males not at work—even as we are told there are scores of jobs that go unfilled.
I don’t think this is just an idle agrarian rant, because we see the symptoms of society’s sense of something missing almost everywhere: the fascination not just with the farmers’ markets, but with those who raise and sell produce at them; the desire of metrosexuals to outfit with pricey work clothes, heavy hiking boots, 4-wheel drive cars, snow tires, and rugged coats, as if the suburbanite is eagerly headed out to work on an oil rig, or climb on a John Deere; the growing dread that the present system cannot go on, which leads the homeowner to stock up on food and emergency staples; the explosion of gym and workout centers, not just to keep in shape, but to look as if one had the muscles of a railroad worker or lumberjack; the fear and respect for the shrinking muscular classes (as if the kitchen remodeler or Mercedes mechanic is doing something as esoteric as brain surgery and may charge too much out of spite at the more privileged clueless). The attraction to someone like Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie I think owes in part to the fact they do not look or talk like the usual blow-dryed, nasal-speaking bureaucrat. I suppose the end of the U.S. is when we all end up speaking and acting like a Jay Carney.
To sum up: Politics aside, I prefer the world of George Meany to Tim Geithner; or of Gary Cooper to Matt Damon. The former showed a little wear, the others none at all.
Read the whole thing. He’s a classicist; I wonder if he thinks we’re Rome.