Sunday, February 5, 2012

Classes:  The Great Divorce

... there are vast behavioral gaps between the educated upper tribe (20% of the country) and the lower tribe (30% of the country). This is where Murray is at his best, and he's mostly using data on white Americans, so the effects of race and other complicating factors don't come into play.

Roughly 7% of the white kids in the upper tribe are born out of wedlock, compared with roughly 45% of the kids in the lower tribe. In the upper tribe, nearly every man aged 30 to 49 is in the labor force. In the lower tribe, men in their prime working ages have been steadily dropping out of the labor force, in good times and bad.

People in the lower tribe are much less likely to get married, less likely to go to church, less likely to be active in their communities, more likely to watch TV excessively, more likely to be obese.

Murray's story contradicts the ideologies of both parties. Republicans claim that America is threatened by a decadent cultural elite that corrupts regular Americans, who love God, country and traditional values. That story is false. The cultural elites live more conservative, traditionalist lives than the cultural masses.

Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society's resources. But that's a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20% and the lower 30%. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1% narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.

For more, see The Great Divorce by David Brooks, January 30, 2012 at NYTimes.com.

No comments: