“’E pluribus unum’ was always a mouthful. ‘ I love the poorly educated’ should be the our new national motto.”
–Michael Ian Black
An essay entitled “Trump’s America” by Charles Murray in the Feb. 13 Wall Street Journal had some interesting demographic information.
The first fact of note is that working class men in their 30s and 40s had a 96 percent participation rate in the labor force in 1968, but it dropped to 79 percent in 2015. That labor force participation rate appears to partly to blame for a reduction in the number of men married during the same time period from 86 percent to 52 percent.
That is a stunning decline.
For myself, I recall that being single in the 30s felt like being an incomplete person. And no matter how much fun I had dating, not being married felt lonely. For that reason I felt lucky to meet and marry Cherie. It’s been the best 36 years of my life.
But, what of these working class men? The author, Murray, is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Among his books are “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission” and “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.”
Here is what really caught my attention in his WSJ Weekend essay: “ In today’s average working-class neighborhood, about one out of five men in the prime of life isn’t even looking for work; they are living off girlfriends, siblings or parents, on disability, or else subsisting on off-the-books or criminal income.
“Almost half aren’t married, with all the collateral social problems that go with large numbers of unattached males. In these communities, about half the children are born to unmarried women …”
There is something more than economic malaise at work here. It falls into the realm of cultural disintegration and desuetude.
For real cultural shock and astoundment look at what is happening n Japan. When we did the walking tour of Japanese gardens five years ago the talk of the tour host was about unattached Japanese men called “herbivores.”
“Herbivoire men” is a nickname first used in 2006 by columnist Maki Fukasawa, according to Tech Insider.
Quoting a survey by the Japan Times, the same article said this: “Among male respondents, 17.9 percent reported little or no interest in having sex — or even an extreme dislike of it,” the Japan Times reports. “The proportion came to 20.3 percent for men between 25 and 29, up 2.5-fold from the level in 2008.”
A 2009 Japanese advertising agency survey found as much as 75 percent of men in their 30s identify as “grass eating Herbivores.”
Herbivores are just not interested in getting married, and even more startling, are not interested in dating. They often live at home. They are not interested in being a traditional Japanese “Salary man.” They shun traditional careers and work at less stressful jobs such as convenience store clerks.
The consequence is more people are dying than are being born in Japan. In 2014 the birth deficit was 268,000. That is slow cultural implosion for a country that doesn’t allow immigration.
So, in America there are big percentages of young working-class men not working and sponging off their girlfriends and others. In Japan there are big percentages of young men, many living with their mothers, and not interested in dating. Neither scenario bodes well for either side of the Pacific.