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Education

The Real Class Elite

I think of all the couples with advanced degrees who have remarkably successful children, and I wonder how other kids can enjoy such success.  Charles Murray has long made this a theme of his. The full account can be found in The New Criterion.  "Many [in the new elite] have never worked at a job that caused a body part to hurt at the end of the day, never had a conversation with an evangelical Christian, never seen a factory floor, never had a friend who didn't have a college degree, never hunted or fished." Here is the excerpt from today's WSJ:

The members of America's new upper class tend not to watch the same movies and television shows that the rest of America watches, don't go to kinds of restaurants the rest of America frequents, tend to buy different kinds of automobiles, and have passions for being green, maintaining the proper degree of body fat, and supporting gay marriage that most Americans don't share. Their child-raising practices are distinctive, and they typically take care to enroll their children in schools dominated by the offspring of the upper middle class--or, better yet, of the new upper class. They take their vacations in different kinds of places than other Americans go and are often indifferent to the professional sports that are so popular among other Americans. Few have served in the military, and few of their children either.

Worst of all, a growing proportion of the people who run the institutions of our country have never known any other culture. They are the children of upper-middle-class parents, have always lived in upper-middle-class neighborhoods and gone to upper-middle-class schools. Many have never worked at a job that caused a body part to hurt at the end of the day, never had a conversation with an evangelical Christian, never seen a factory floor, never had a friend who didn't have a college degree, never hunted or fished. They are likely to know that Garrison Keillor's monologue on Prairie Home Companion is the source of the phrase "all of the children are above average," but they have never walked on a prairie and never known someone well whose IQ actually was below average.

From the full article, his conclusion:

The upper middle class in general, and the new upper class in particular, will continue to do well. But they will no longer be living any resemblance of what used to be called the American Way of Life. They will be the class on top in the same way that all complex societies have had a class on top, with nothing exceptional about it. We are perilously close to being in that world already....

Categories > Education

Discussions - 7 Comments

Obviously, we need class-based affirmative action. Perhaps we should also start busing the upper class kids to lower middle class schools. Mandatory NASCAR trips would probably ask be a good idea.

After all, lack of diversity and lack of exposure to it is supposed to become sort of fatal flaw in the ability of those who would lead too actually do so, yes?

actually, close-order drill. The end of the draft, whatever the military function it served, had some other, undemocratic consequences.

Jackson's inapt sarcasm notwithstanding, the undesirability of legal "remdies" is no reason to be blind to the political reality. But isn't it ironic that a class of people so determined to achieve "social justice" for others should examplity the very problem they sought so earnestly to correct? The purported "meritocratic" system that solidified the class distinction is overrated. Murray has already addressed that in his work questioning the desirability of everyone attending college, or feeling bad because they didn't. At the least, we should oppose Obama's proposal fo finance the first year of college for everyone, doubtnless the first step toward universal, mandatory college attendance. Support, with your contibutions,the colleges and universities (and departments) that still examine the permanent questions and pull the plug on the massive student aid program that helps keep colleges fat and lazy and does little for the debtors/students.

I think we are on the same side here, so it perhaps should be "inept" sarcasm. My basic thrust was that I think we are going to find the concept of "diversity" only extends so far for those of certain world views.

Though I am now essentially of the world Murray describes, I still prefer the idea of a yeomanry-based middle class. I think a way needs to be found for continuing education as people age, not for a college degree per se, but so they can drink of those "permanent questions" as they grow older and assume positions of increasing prominence in their communities. I believe in Jefferson's vision of the farmer who works his plough by day and reads Homer by candlelight at night. I do believe Americans should become increasingly educated and learned as they age.

I'm just not sure they have to become credentialed. And I am not sure a college is the best place for them to drink of those questions--in part because I'm not sure American faculty members (to a certain number of standard deviations) know how to relate to other Americans as equals anymore.

Sounds like the country music song, by Justin Moore.

"never hunted or fished" vs. "He can't even bait a hook", "He can't even skin a buck"

"tend to buy different kinds of automobiles" vs. "ain't never drove a truck"

"tend to buy different kinds of automobiles, and have passions for being green " vs. "I heard he's got a Prius because he is into being green"

"don't go to kinds of restaurants the rest of America frequents"

vs.

"My buddy said he saw you eating that sushi stuff..."

Sorry to misunderstand your sarcasm. That shows the superiority of the spoken word to the written word, as Socrates said to Phaedrus. The mere fact of the difference in manner of living between the elite class and eveyrone else is not nearly as important as the ruling class being supported by taxpayers who make less money and have less generous health care and retirement plans. Then the members of the elite begin to remind us of French aristocrats, who believed that the peasants had a duty to support them in comfort, even if (especially if?) the peasants had little in the way of resources to do that.

I'm not sure that Jefferson actually believed that yeoman farmers were so literate, although Marx is famous for saying that about the "liberated" dennizens of the future communist state. However, if the people read a few good things, like the Bible, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and maybe even Jane Austen, they do better than those hooked on trashy novels, flashy magazines and mindless TV shows. There are web sites available for people to read The Federalist Papers, encouraged by Tea Party supporters.. Quality, not quantity.

Great article and link. This is very relevant because I think this is something the GOP leadership is missing. Romney clearly appeals to what Huckabee called "country club Republicans," but he doesn't fly in Iowa or the South. I think Reagan's three-legged stool is at work here, and the GOP leadership seems to act as if the three-legged stool no longer applied. For some, perhaps it doesn't. But to get enough people to win a general election for a presidential candidate, the candidate has to appeal to fiscal, social, and military conservatives. Romney seems only to be a fairly consistent military conservative. Though a pragmatist with a Mormon/relativistic bent, he's mostly a fiscal conservative. But I think his social conservative credentials are most in question.

My sense is that a disproportionate percentage of social conservatives hail from Fishtown. In a similar way, Fishtown fiscal and military conservatives are conservative in a different way and with different priorities. Much of the Ron Paul constituency (they call themselves supporters) hails from Fishtown, and they have a different idea of conservativism when it comes to defense, i.e. don't spread yourself too thin or overstep your bounds.

I know lots of people from Fishtown. Mostly an in-betweener, I live in Fishtown in many ways. I don't feel my interests are really being represented by most of the GOP candidates. Certainly the GOP has failed to deliver on social issues. This is unfortunate. I see through the Democrat rhetoric, but unless the Republicans can nominate someone who really has a three-legged stool, then I suspect the Republicans will lose.

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