Just to make it simple, let’s define Europe’s “illiberal democracies” as those countries where elected leaders profoundly disagree with the liberal, inclusive, affluent worldview of the EU’s political classes.
I mentioned last week that I recently visited Switzerland, Austria and Hungary, and that if we think things have gone nuts in the US, we have no idea.
I just returned from one of those whirlwind speaking tours in Europe – three speeches in four days in Zurich, Budapest and Vienna.
The bottom line of J. D. Vance’s book, Hillbilly Elegy, is that far too many people from southeastern Kentucky are trapped in a hillbilly culture that stands in the way of their own success. As if that weren’t bad enough, hillbillies are discriminated against because people aren’t willing to distinguish between good hillbillies and bad hillbillies.
Last week we tried to imagine how Professor Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-winning author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, would react if he saw a couple of hillbillies coming into his store. This week we’ll re-look at that situation, pretending that Kahneman isn’t a Nobel Prize winning professor at all, but a lowly department store clerk.
In 2013 J. D. Vance graduated from Yale Law School, an accomplishment he shared that year with the following fraction of his fellow Americans: 0.00000063.
We’ve talked about several obstacles to success in middle class Ohio for migrants from southeastern Kentucky: they had horrible accents and they tended to dress funny. But the biggest obstacle was the most difficult to overcome: their behavior.
Last week we discussed one of the major hurdles recent immigrants from southeastern Kentucky faced when they tried to assimilate into middle class society in Ohio: they talked like hillbillies.
Although the parallels between my life and that of J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, seem flat-out astonishing, it’s actually the differences that are more interesting.
If Malcolm Gladwell is right that the cultural legacy of the Scots-Irish explains the poor outcomes experienced by people in southeastern Kentucky, how do we explain the exceptional success of these same people in Pittsburgh?