Posted by | March 12, 2012 00:22 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Charles Murray (author of the The Bell Curve) is at it again.  His new book, Coming Apart, is about the growing gap between the elites and the rest of America and has been cited approvingly by Senator Rick Santorum, who loves nothing more than bashing elites.  Murray gives a perceptive diagnosis of the gap and shows it is not just economic but is also cultural.

Murray depicts the atrophying of America’s white working class over the past generation. It also charts the growing separation of a new lower class from a new upper class – the latter a “cognitive elite” that tends to do all the things its blue-collar counterparts have forgotten how to do, such as get (and stay) married, read to their children, quit smoking, eat salad and get educated.

But as this powerful interview shows, Murray’s reasoning about the cause of the problem (it’s all the fault of welfare) and the solution (um, he doesn’t really have one) are sorely lacking.

Murray’s description of the bifurcation in America’s living standards, values and IQs among the white working class is certainly compelling – even critics concede the force of his observations (if not his explanations). Yet his remedies puzzle me, I say. Having diagnosed such a big and growing problem, his solution is to urge the upper classes to be less nice and more intolerant. What makes him think the preaching of the elites would make any difference?

If reading about how Murray doesn’t understand his own work isn’t compelling reason to click through, then do so because the interview makes him seem like a pompous ass and shows that he does not support the man invoking him, Rick Santorum.

By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.