Joined: 16 Dec 2009
|Posted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:38 pm Post subject: C. Murray examines the white working class in "Coming A
|I offer this as part of a running argument I am having with Cosmostein, Progressive Tory, and other leading people on this site. It's because I am appalled at their lack of any awareness of the damage that the welfare state and its spawn -- feminism, multiculturalism, and drugs -- are doing society.
Charles Murray is that rarest of birds, the conservative sociologist. He is one of the figures currently being chanted at and denied a platform at elite universities all over the USA. His work amounts to a fact-based critique of the welfare state. In a nutshell, he compares two towns, one a working class suburb (dubbed Fishtown) and another a suburban town full of professionals, named Beaumont. The working class area is ravaged with social problems, while the professional classes -- whose political issues include the environment, feminism, and racial liberalism -- are carrying on surprisingly like life in the 1950ies.
You could say that Trump has mobilized Fishtown to gain his electoral victory. That's why so few of the Beaumont types who -- report and comment on current affairs -- have so little comprehension of what has happened.
In some ways, it's more evident in the US, but Canada is the home of the leading critics of feminism and other such programs, but it is kept out of the newspapers and mainstream media. But go on YouTube and you will find it's the dominant voice.
If you want to TV version of Fishtown, you can watch the series Shameless on Netflix.
|Tramps like them
Charles Murray Examines the White Working Class in ‘Coming Apart’
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE FEB. 10, 2012
For some decades now, a popular conservative narrative of modern America has gone something like this: Our center-right nation, devout and industrious, is ruled by a politically liberal elite that disdains family, despises religion and celebrates indolence with government handouts. Many people find this story convincing. It helped fracture the postwar Democratic Party and midwifed the culture wars. Today it feeds the political frustrations of the Tea Party movement.
Charles Murray, the influential conservative scholar and provocateur, believes this story is wrong. In his new book, “Coming Apart,” Murray flips the script that has energized Republican politics and campaigns since Richard Nixon: the white working class, he argues, is no longer part of a virtuous silent majority. Instead, beginning in the early 1960s, it has become increasingly alienated from what Murray calls “the founding virtues” of civic life. “Our nation is coming apart at the seams,” Murray warns — “not ethnic seams, but the seams of class.”
Using a statistical construct he calls Fishtown — inspired by an actual white, blue-collar neighborhood of the same name in Philadelphia — Murray sorts through demographic data to present a startling picture. Women in Fishtown now routinely have children outside of marriage. Less than a third of its children grow up in households that include both biological parents. The men claim physical disability at astounding rates and are less likely to hold down jobs than in the past. Churchgoing among the white working class has declined, eroding the social capital that organized religion once provided.
Illegitimacy, crime, joblessness — these are not merely the much debated pathologies of a black underclass, Murray finds. They are white people problems too.
And what of the white upper class? In place of an aristocracy of inherited wealth, Murray suggests, we now have an aristocracy of inherited intelligence. Drawing liberally on his own past work, most notably “The Bell Curve,” a controversial 1994 study of intelligence, Murray says those with high I.Q.’s have replaced the old WASP elite in a modern economy that rewards brains over bloodlines.
High-I.Q. Americans have come to dominate elite colleges. They tend to marry one another — “cognitive homogamy” — and produce children statistically more likely to be smart themselves.
Cocooned in the same neighborhoods, this new upper class has its own culture. Its members don’t watch game shows or go to bars with pool tables in them. They are skinnier. They don’t smoke. They are, Murray insists, predominantly liberal. Yet this overclass, Murray finds, is also truer to the founding American virtues than is the white working class.
Murray constructs a fictional town for this new upper class as well, which he calls Belmont. While marriage did indeed decline among Belmont whites, the drop stabilized in the mid-1980s. In Belmont, births outside of marriage rose, but far more gradually than in Fishtown. The men — and many of the women — hold down jobs and work hard. Couples may have babies later in life, but they are meticulous about rearing them and obsessive about getting them into college.
The problem, Murray argues, is not that members of the new upper class eat French cheese or vote for Barack Obama. It is that they have lost the confidence to preach what they practice, adopting instead a creed of “ecumenical niceness.” They work, marry and raise children, but they refuse to insist that the rest of the country do so, too. “The belief that being a good American involved behaving in certain kinds of ways, and that the nation itself relied upon a certain kind of people in order to succeed, had begun to fade and has not revived,” Murray writes.
Few people today would dismiss the idea that values, culture and intelligence all play a role in economic success. But it is hard to know what to make of some of Murray’s findings. As with David Brooks’s “Bobos in Paradise,”Murray’s sociology depends a lot on his own, sometimes highly idiosyncratic, fieldwork. To demonstrate that the elite are more likely to drive foreign cars than domestic ones, Murray notes the makes of automobiles in a couple of mall parking lots. In an otherwise persuasive chapter arguing that Ivy League graduates tend to live near one another, Murray quotes a remark by Michael Barone, the conservative commentator, complaining about the profusion of Harvard and Yale graduates on his former block. If Murray believes that wealthy yuppies suffer from creeping nonjudgmentalism, I invite him to spend an hour on UrbanBaby.com.
“Coming Apart” is also rich with charts, footnotes and regression analyses: Like “The Bell Curve,” written with Richard Herrnstein, it is presented as a work of scholarship. Yet it will be reviewed first not by other academics but by professional amateurs like me, so it’s worth noting what happened long after “The Bell Curve” fell off the best-seller lists. Once Murray’s fellow social scientists finished peer-reviewing his data, some accused him of massaging his results to produce the book’s central assertions — that I.Q. tests are a good measure of general human intelligence, that intelligence is largely heritable and that there is little government can do to improve the lot of people who are born less smart.
Those questions linger for “Coming Apart.” One of its overriding themes is that economic insecurity doesn’t have much to do with eroding civic values, so we shouldn’t bother using government to tackle inequality. You will learn about working-class laziness, but you will find little discussion of the decline of trade unions or the rise of a service economy built on part-time work without benefits. Murray dismisses research by scholars who have found that people in bankruptcy court usually end up there because they lost a job, got divorced or faced catastrophic medical bills, pointing to a contrary study of a single year’s worth of bankruptcy filings in Delaware, home to many of America’s credit card companies but very few of its citizens.
Though a self-described libertarian, Murray is not immune to the rage of the 99 percent. He lashes into bloated C.E.O. pay, but chiefly as a symptom of collapsing codes of behavior and propriety. And he is also skeptical that working-class whites are employed less because they can’t find decent jobs. How can the economy have anything to do with it, he asks, when the decades in question have included periods of rapid economic growth?
Perhaps because not everyone has shared in that growth. While Murray’s new upper class was taking home an ever greater share of national wealth, incomes for almost everyone else were stagnating. During the decade preceding the 2008 bust, according to the Census Bureau, median family income in the United States dropped from $61,000 a year to $60,500.
Indeed, in comparison with the early 1960s, American workers today are less likely to have pensions, less likely to be able to support a family on a single income and, until the much-reviled ObamaCare law kicks in, less likely to be able to afford health insurance if their employer doesn’t provide it. Working-class whites are different from the cognitive elite in at least one way: They have less money.
The State of White America, 1960-2010
By Charles Murray
Comments are invited.