Skip to comments.Are We Coming Apart?
Posted on 02/18/2012 6:37:10 AM PST by Kaslin
We are experiencing an ever widening cultural divide, according to Charles Murray.
Upper-middle class professional types may pretend that they are cultural relativists, accepting of whatever lifestyle their fellow human beings happen to choose. In reality, they live by old fashioned puritan values, however. They get married and stay married. They work hard and work long hours.
Not so for the blue collar, never-got-beyond-high-school class, however. A shocking number aren't even working at all. Many are not getting married in the first place. Of those that get married, the divorce and separation rates are soaring.
What about happiness and well-being? About 65% of the upper middle class professional types say they are in happy marriages. That number has been dropping steadily for the past 40 years for the working class types; and today it stands at 25%!
Murray, by the way, is the author of Losing Ground, the book generally credited with sparking welfare reform in the United States, and The Bell Curve, the book that generated a national debate on the role of IQ in our society. When he speaks, people on both the right and the left tend to listen. His latest book, Coming Apart, is another block buster.
Just so you don't think what Murray is describing is all about race or about immigrants, the entire analysis in it is focused on non-Hispanic whites. Within the white population a cultural cataclysm is underway. One part of that population (about 20% of the total) is firmly attached to traditional values. The other part (about 30% of the total) is undergoing cultural disintegration.
In 1960, these two groups of people lived similar lives. Today, they are headed in opposite directions.
Take divorce. Between 1960 and 1980, Murray shows that working class whites' divorce/separation rate rose from about 5% to about 15%. Over the next 20 years it more than doubled again, rising from 15% to 35%. The professional class also saw an increase in the divorce rate rise between 1960 and 1980: from about 1% to about 7.5% between 1960 and 1980. But it then completely leveled off: the professional class divorce/separation rate has been flat for the last thirty years. The same pattern holds for children growing up in broken homes. There has been a steady increase for the working class and a low plateau for the professional class.
What about work? In 1968, only 3% of prime age males with no more than a high school education were "out of the labor force." By 2008, that figure climbed to 12% almost one in eight. Meanwhile, little has changed among males with a college education.
Part-time work is another indicator of the decline of industriousness among the working class. Among prime age males with no more than a high school education, the fraction working fewer than 40 hours a week doubled from 10% in 1968 to 20% in 2008. Among the college graduates, the rise was much smaller: from 9% to 12%.
Writing in The New York Times the other day, David Brooks noted that the key ingredient in the cultural disintegration of working class life style is the role of men:
Tens of millions of men have marred life chances because schools are bad at educating boys, because they are not enmeshed in the long-term relationships that instill good habits and because insecure men do stupid and self-destructive things.
Over the past 40 years, women's wages have risen sharply but, as Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of the Hamilton Project point out, median incomes of men have dropped 28 percent and male labor force participation rates are down 16 percent. Next time somebody talks to you about wage stagnation, have them break it down by sex. It's not only globalization and technological change causing this stagnation. It's the deterioration of the moral and social landscape, especially for men.
Religious beliefs are changing too. Secularism rose 11 percentage points (from 29% to 40%) for the upper middle class, but rose 21 percentage points (from 38% to 59%) for the working class.
What about cause and effect? It should be obvious that culture affects economic outcomes, but some on the left think it's the other way around. Here's an amazing statement by Paul Krugman writing in The New York Times:
Traditional values aren't as crucial as social conservatives would have you believe and, in any case, the social changes taking place in America's working class are overwhelmingly the consequence of sharply rising inequality, not its cause.
As usual, Krugman has it completely wrong. When Charles Murray was in Dallas the other day I suggested to him that culture is like the economists' notion of a "public good." We all benefit from it, even if we personally do nothing to create it, nurture it, or defend it. But if the institutions that sustain a culture are weak and eroding, then the culture itself will disappear and everyone will be affected by that change.
What is happening in working class America is the disintegration of the American way of life.
America was not long ago, the world’s most powerful manufacturing nation.
We volutarily, send that power and industry to China.
That was STUPIDITY, and it was extremely harmful.
America is now weak. And broke. And it was because we sent what made us strong and rich, to a very powerful adversary.
Wake up America.
Since they removed the Ten Commandments from the town square, the only ‘code’ left to bind us together is the Constitution. Everyone here sees where that’s headed.
They put words in Murray's mouth "Poor people are immoral" and "Rich people are gentically superior" which Murray denied, but they weren't accepting his denials.
Something we have known for quite some time. And yes, Paul Krugman is a clown.
“Theodore Dalrymple,” the British essayist, made this point years ago. As so often happens, Britain is further down the slope than we, in the social devastation of what was once its “working class.”
Liberals have spent the last half a century crushing the values that made America good.
What is happening in working class America is the disintegration of the American way of life.... Exactly as planned. Since 1958.
These are "old fashioned puritan values"?
This is behavior that is indelibly programmed in the DNA of homo sapiens.
It's the sapiens part that's important here.
Yes. There have always been deviations from this behavior, but since long before history began, men and women were establishing permanent relationships, having children, and working long, hard hours--whether at bringing home mammoth meat for the family--protecting everyone from cave bears--making warm clothes for the kiddies out of sabre-tooth tiger skins--or whatever.
It's why homo sapiens is the most successful animal on the planet.
Homo sapiens is still engaged in this highly successful behavior.
Sharing the planet with large numbers of homo non-sapiens hasn't changed anything.
Don't expect homo non-sapiens to understand. It's beyond his/her comprehension.
1958? WHY 1958? What’s significant about that year.(Some people will go for 1948 — the year the supreme court did the seperation of church and state nonsense. or 1961, the year they stopped allowing prayer to be used in school.
I think the real divide is between normal hardworking ethical Americans and the immoral uneducated (by their own choice) parasites. I used to have some slight bit of empathy for these types of people, but after spending the last three years commuting up to 190 miles a day to find employment while watching my slacker neighbors sit on their asses and collect welfare, disability, free health care, etc., I have none.
When the big dust up comes, and that could be as soon as the day Obama loses the election (praise God). I will be up in the wilds of Maine, locked and loaded and anxious to get it ON!
I really have grown to hate these filthy maggots, half of them you could not say are even human, lacking, as they do, empathy, critcal thinking, self-control and yet full of every vice and low achievement.
We are two nations and we are headed for the inevitable clash of two totally different cultures.
By design, grinding America down.
If you ever want to see the “Other” nation, go to a Walmart sometime. I don’t frequent Walmart much, but there is on near my office and (occassionally) I stop in.
The collection of distorted, dysfunctional individuals I see there never ceases to amaze me. Not everyone, mind you, but maybe about 50%. These are the obese people (all races), wearing random t-shirts and sweat pants and look as if they haven’t worked in at least the last decade. They are also the ones who get really nasty with the poor cashiers over the slightest thing. Like when they claim that some that something that costs $20 actually cost $5. And, of course, they use EBT cards to pay.
When I see these people, its hard to believe we’re from the same country. But we are—and my tax $$ make them possible.
Personally, I think 1965 was the watershed year. Its when the Great Society really got rolling and Kennedy’s [highly destructive] Immigration Act was passed. It also saw the first “Long, Hot Summer” of rioting in Amican cities. Our downhill slide started then.
The divide, those that do, and those that refuse too! Later will lose because those that do are tired of carrying the whole load!!
Hmmm, why does Romans chapter 1 come to mind? uhhh, verse 21 or is it 24? or both? Hmmm, better check......
I bought the book and read it and it is frightening.
I urge people to buy it and read it. Heavy, HEAVY on graphs etc.
Why the media loves to defend illegitimacy, drugs, tattoos and lazy men on unemployment/disability is beyond me. They themselves wouldn’t let their kids live like that nor do they.
As for homo sapiens, children of single mothers bcome very much like primates, it becomes a primate horde, with young males running in packs, fighting over females, the young females having babies as soon as they are fertile, the females forming the only relational group. We revert to primates very quickly without marriage.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.