Narrowing the New Class Divide
Charles Murray with a NYT op ed expanding his views:
THERE'S been a lot of commentary from all sides about my recently published book, "Coming Apart," which deals with the divergence between the professional and working classes in white America over the last half century.
Some of the critiques are fair, some are frivolous. But there's one — "He doesn't offer any solutions!" — that I can't refute. The reason is simple: Solutions that are remotely practicable right now would not do much good.
The solution I hear proposed most often, a national service program that would bring young people of all classes together, is a case in point. The precedent, I am told, is the military draft, which ended in the early 1970s. But the draft was able to shape unwilling draftees into competent soldiers because Army officers had the Uniform Code of Military Justice to make their orders stick.
Administrators of a compulsory civilian national service program would likewise face young people who mostly didn't want to be there, without being able to enforce military-style discipline. Such a program would replicate the unintended effect of jobs programs for disadvantaged youth in the 1970s: training young people how to go through the motions and beat the system. National service would probably create more resentment than camaraderie.
That said, I can see four steps that might weaken the isolation of at least the children of the new upper class.
March 7, 2012