The Disconnect

A friend of mine living in rural upstate New York told me a story that I found interesting. About a year ago, a big construction project was floated out to local contractors. Good paying jobs are scarce in the region so everyone jumped to put in a bid.


Photo courtesy: David Reese

The construction job was eventually awarded to an Amish company. I know, the Amish! I didn’t know they still existed and did that kind of work. But they do and they won because they were able to put in a bid that was way lower than everyone else’s.

Why? Part of it is because the Amish live modestly and, as part of their religion, they believe in taking personal responsibility for everything they do and not blaming others or events. That’s admirable but, more importantly, it means if one of them gets injured on a job site, they won’t sue.

Because of this, the Amish are not required to pay for job site insurance while all the other non-Amish companies do. Freed of this requirement they can put in bids that are a fraction of the cost of their competitors.

In effect, people who are not Amish in the region get hit twice – they are legally required to pay money to a big, impersonal insurance company to work and then they don’t even land the contracts they were supposed to get in return. They are punished for legally playing the game.

But, here’s where it gets interesting, if anyone starts calling this into question, business interests can win over gullible media types by floating stories about “Amishphobia sweeping upstate New York.”

In the 24/7 news cycle, media people in New York City are under constant strain to “feed the beast.” They don’t have time to investigate stories in-depth, they just need a someone who looks good on TV who purports to know a lot about the subject.

So audiences get a bunch of well-paid pundits to appear on TV to say, “We don’t understand this hatred of the Amish. It must be because stupid rednecks living upstate secretly hate people who wear clothes from 1880 or they hate driving behind a horse and buggy” without investigating the true cause.

If you are wondering why Democrats lost, here you go

If you are wondering why Democrats lost, here you go

Then, writers like Jamelle Bouie can seize these stories, because of confirmation bias, and spare themselves the bother of talking to people involved and go on long tirades about the native racism, sexism, and blah, blah of the white working class.

Bouie’s readers can then read about the stupid yokels living upstate while reading Slate on their iPads at Starbucks and feel good about themselves. Everyone who is not the white working class wins!

Unfortunately for Bouie, he appears to have fallen prey to the old saying, “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Bouie’s toolbox consists of a prism of racism and little else.

In an effort to broaden Bouie’s scope a little bit from the narrow one he clings to, I’d like to review the county election map of the last three elections. The following is the results of the 2008 election which pitted Barack Obama vs. John McCain:


And this is the one from 2012 where Obama faced off against Mitt Romney:


I’m struggling to find any evidence of broad-based racism in these results. According to the map, enormous sections of upstate New York voted for a black man for President.

Now take a look at the results of the 2016 map:


Counter to Bouie’s brainless analysis, maybe this election wasn’t about racism, sexism, or Islamophobia, or Comey, or Russian influence or whatever non-reason Democratic leadership is currently citing at the moment.

What appears to have resonated in this region is the message both Trump and Sanders shared, “The game is rigged.” My story about the Amish would support this analysis and would help explain the total failure of the media in NYC and DC to foresee it.

One thought on “The Disconnect

  1. An interesting story that encapsulates a really complex situation. I have very thoughtful and intelligent friends who voted for Trump, something with which I struggle to reconcile, but these sorts of situations give insight.

    Also portrays why I dislike the insurance industry so much. 🙂

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