In an otherwise excellent piece on the horror of limousine liberals on Wall Street, Walter Russell Mead makes an egregious error. He obviously read The Bonfire Of The Vanities, where the informal networks of current and former New York City cops enabled Sherman McCoy to jui-jitsu Larry Kramer and Reverend Reginald Bacon. However, while the white blue-collar class, particularly cops and firefighters have extensive informal networks, that is not all they have:
The American InterestWalter Russell MeadBut the key fact for places like New York today is that as the model falters, the constituencies who support it are turning on one another. The good government types want to control the excesses (both financial and physical) of the police and the other government unions while continuing to shift state patronage from ethnic whites to minorities. They want “good schools” and increasingly are willing to take on the teacher unions to get them. They respond to the revenue shortfall by seeking to rationalize government, making it more efficient and less expensive so that the upper middle class reformers can continue to attract new resources to help them conquer new fields. The tougher the economic times the more the goo-goos see the need and the merit to rationalize expenses — and the more Blue Wall Street, worried about credit ratings in the municipal bond market and other such matters, supports them.
The police and their allies among state and municipal workers are ready to fight this agenda on the streets. They are often hostile to the social betterment agenda of the goo-goos, and frequently resist efforts of the reformers to replace informal networks and contacts as the way to get municipal jobs with exams and formal processes heavily tilted to help outsiders (minorities and immigrants) break into these jobs. They tend to see welfare clients as parasites on the social body, especially when those clients are recent immigrants or otherwise seem like outsiders. They believe they are competing with these folks for resources and respect, and they bitterly resent the habitual goo-goo preference for the outsider versus the teacher, the cop and the fireman.
In fact, white applicants for firefighting and law enforcement jobs obtain those jobs not just because of family connections, multiple generations in the profession, or, least of all, informal networks, but because they take and pass the exams. They might be fire or police nerds, who keep up with professional development, but they are taking and passing exams that blacks are failing.
That is why IQ matters and why the left, and minority groups in particular, oppose formal processes and exams to chose municipal employees.