Something’s Not-Quite-Right in America

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 is a fascinating and thought-provoking book. In it, Charles Murray makes the case that there are diverging classes in America and that, rather than a division based on race, the division is most acutely indicated by trends in what he refers to as “white America”.

Acknowledging at the outset that there are “lies, damned lies and statistics” Mr. Murray uses ample statistical analysis to paint a picture of two divergent worlds, existing simultaneously yet seldom-if-ever intersecting. Metaphorically existing in a “thick bubble,” the “upper class” (his term for the top 5% in both education and income) have no concept of how the “lower class” lives. There is even a “quiz” in mid-book that allows the reader to determine how thick of a “bubble” they live in. With scores from 0-99, the quiz categorizes the expected results for various people/classes. He asserts that the main readership of the book will likely be “OES” (“Overeducated Elitist Snobs” — a group to which he assigns himself), and judging by the two most “helpful” reviews on Amazon.com (positive and negative) he is correct. Obviously, some people with good educational backgrounds have read and reviewed “Coming Apart”.

He creates hypothetical communities to anthropomorphize his numerical arguments. The white, highly-educated, wealthy world is deemed “Belmont” while the world of high-school dropouts and ambition-less workers is “Fishtown”.

The conclusion drawn is that there has been a decay in four areas causing an immense discrepancy between the “upper class” and the “lower class” in America. Those four areas are: marriage, industriousness, honesty and religion.

I would encourage people to read Coming Apart.  While all the issues may not be as clear-cut as they might seem at first glance, there’s little denying that that the fabric of American society has changed — and not for the better.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Filed under Non-Fiction, politics

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