This article is dedicated to J.D. Vance, whose recent essay in The American Mind entitled “End The Globalization Gravy Train” currently has the honor of being the most nothing take down of libertarianism I’ve ever read.
However, among his complaining that libertarians are responsible for Communist China, he gives this quite telling defense of laws which force businesses to close on Sundays:
Research by Jonathan Gruber has found that that state “blue laws” — laws that force businesses to close on Sunday — increase church attendance. Aside from spiritual benefits, Robert Putnam has chronicled how church attendance is actually a positive social good for many attendees.
While we might praise the meritorious worker who finds his way to church despite working a 12-hour shift on Sunday, the average traditionalist will (correctly) want to make a life of virtue easier, and not harder. So close the damn businesses on Sunday. Commercial freedom will suffer. Moral behavior will not, and our society will be much the better for it.
Wait, why is somebody working a twelve hour shift on Sunday?
In the state of Ohio, where Vance lives, the minimum wage is $8.55 an hour. If somebody is working twelve hours, that means they made $102.60 that day. (We’ll assume none of this is overtime.)
Now, $102.60 might not be all that much for someone like Vance, who authored a best-selling book. However, it is quite a lot for a large group of people — those who do not have $102.60. Around 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, 51% of Americans make less than $30,000 a year, and around 15% of all Americans live in poverty.
Is it possible for them that maybe, just maybe, having enough money to survive is more important than being able to go to church.
For that matter, does Vance truly believe that going to any church, no matter who runs it, is a righteous goal? Would he have no issue if the church he increases attendance of was run by Huey Long, Woodrow Wilson, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Jesse Jackson, E.J. Dionne, Micheal Moore, Ed Schultz, Mike Papantonio, Jeremiah Wright, or Al Sharpton — all of whom either were or are very dedicated Christians?
And what about Seventh Day Adventists, who go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday? Are they not included? Do they get to open businesses on Sunday as long as they close them on Saturday? Will we force businesses to close on both Saturday and Sunday? This is especially funny because not only do they believe going to church on Sunday is a sin in of itself, but they also believe the end times will start when everyone is forced to go to church on Sunday.
J.D. Vance, are you the anti-Christ?
Obviously, I was getting kind of sarcastic at the end, however my main point still stands: Vance’s idea would not be helping anyone outside of the churches. Do they need help? Only if you value people going to church more than you value them being able to eat — one cannot help but wonder if Vance has ever had to make such a sacrifice.
Most of Vance’s article is filled with this highly condescending view of working America. Take this question:
How could a vision of traditional virtue possibly map onto the hyper-individualism of people like Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman?
You silly proles, you’re all just to stupid to understand the values of virtue without J.D. Vance forcing them upon you. A man who, might I add, is not under any legal obligation to follow “traditional virtue” but does so anyway. Odd he could figure it out on his own but the rest of us need a Leviathan.
The American Mind is filled with this kind of contempt for working class America, who are often seen as just too stupid to realize that we need a revolution unless they’re just smart enough to realize that something is wrong.
In 2009, Pat Buchanan asked the following:
How can [Congress and Obama] justify bringing in another 1.5 immigrants in 2010 and another 1.5 million in 2011, when 25 million Americans they are supposed to represent are unemployed or underemployed?
I think about that question — and then answer it by pointing out that even the most unskilled immigrant grows the economy and creates 1.2 jobs for the average worker.
However, when you listen to protectionists talk about free trade — it seems like they’re going for the “out of touch” award.
Here are some quotes, many of which I’ve shown before, but they help demonstrate the point so well. Remember when you read them that 41 million people in the United States live in poverty and 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck:
Yes, Trump has had his predictable crisis-management shortcomings, from sending petty tweets at Mitt Romney to loose talk about quarantining New York. But fact is, to his voters, Trump remains an avatar of common sense about China and the whole utopian vision of a borderless world, in which every other good had to be sacrificed on the altar of efficiency and cheap consumer goods. — Sohrab Ahmari
Is it really worth paying $3 for a T-shirt at Walmart, rather than $9? — Ann Coulter
Once a nation is hooked on the cheap goods that are the narcotic free trade provides, it is rarely able to break free. — Pat Buchanan
I must ask a response question to Mr. Buchanan: How can we justify demonizing the concept of “cheap goods” when we live in a country where two hundred million Americans (more than our entire population in 1967) are living paycheck to paycheck?