However, over the past 40 years, good jobs for ordinary workers have disappeared — not just from inner cities, but everywhere: Adjusted for inflation, wages have fallen for 60 percent of working US men. And as economic opportunity has shriveled for half the population, many behaviors that used to be held up as demonstrations of so-called black cultural breakdown — the breakdown of marriage, drug abuse and so on — have spread among working-class whites too.
These awkward facts have not, however, penetrated the world of US conservative ideology. Earlier this month the US House Budget Committee, under Ryan’s direction, released a 205-page report on the alleged failure of the “War on Poverty.” What does the report have to say about the impact of falling real wages? It never mentions the subject at all.
And because conservatives cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the reality of what is happening to opportunity in the US, they are left with nothing but that old-time dog-whistle. Ryan was not being inarticulate — he said what he said because it is all that he has got.