On Charles Murray's "Coming Apart": It Comes Apart at the End

So I have to say this about Charles Murray’s just-published, semi-controversial look at the state of White America, Coming Apart: The State of White America1960-2010: I read it all the way through to the end, rather quickly, too—in a few days. The book succeeds in its collection and collation of some fascinating demographic info, such as about the decline of marriage, how many white males are out of work, and the dangers of “cohabitation”  (I thought that was one was almost humorous). But I’d have to say it falls apart at the end. Murray (like Santorum) dismisses any idea of changing the tax code structure to increase the (sometimes minimal, outrageous) taxes paid by the top 1%, in part arguing it is “politically unfeasible,” while at the same time he announces himself as a Libertarian—which the last time I looked, meant “politically unfeasible.” At times he seems to gloat about the “virtues” of the Upper Middle Class and the New Elite, while only paying minimal lip-service to the rampant greed that caused the Great Recession and many financial debacles of the last decade. He implies that the Upper Classes (a narrow definition in his framework) don’t divorce, that we would all have richer lives if we just went to church, and that the problem with the New Elite is that they don’t preach their virtues to the slovenly working classes, which seems a bit laughable. He also relies on surveys about Happiness at one point. I don’t know what I’d say in a survey about my own happiness level, but I can’t say that it would matter one way or the other.

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