Today I read an article by John C. Goodman called, Are We Coming Apart?, that I thought was well done. Mostly I liked it because it dealt with “the basics”. He discusses comments made by Charles Murray in his book Coming Apart. Murray is he author of Losing Ground and The Bell Curve. One sparked welfare reform and the other is still as inflammatory today as it was when originally published, and is still the primary book that generates unending studies and commentaries on the “role of IQ in our society.”
Murray states “that we are experiencing an ever widening cultural divide”. He claims that “upper-middle class professional types may pretend that they are cultural relativists”, when in reality they practice old fashioned values. It has always amazed me that so many who spout liberal/progressive leftist claptrap practice conservative principles in their own lives.
They have jobs, they get up and go to work every day, they work hard and long hours, they get married, they have children, they largely stay married, they invest and save their money, they pay their bills, they live below or within their means, they send their children to school and teach conservative personal values to their children; if by no other means then at least by example. It still fascinates me that since conservatism is clearly what they are practicing; they must believe conservatism works! If that is their personal value system; why is it they still preach liberalism? Clearly this must be a case of cognitive dissonance; and these are the smart ones!
What about the poorly educated or uneducated blue collar working class? He notes that a “shocking number aren't even working at all. Many are not getting married in the first place. Of those that get married, the divorce and separation rates are soaring”.
He goes on to say;
"In 1960, these two groups of people lived similar lives. Today, they are headed in opposite directions. Take divorce. Between 1960 and 1980, Murray shows that working class whites' divorce/separation rate rose from about 5% to about 15%. Over the next 20 years it more than doubled again, rising from 15% to 35%. The professional class also saw an increase in the divorce rate rise between 1960 and 1980: from about 1% to about 7.5% between 1960 and 1980. But it then completely leveled off: the professional class divorce/separation rate has been flat for the last thirty years. The same pattern holds for children growing up in broken homes. There has been a steady increase for the working class and a low plateau for the professional class."He continues by saying;
"In 1968, only 3% of prime age males with no more than a high school education were "out of the labor force." By 2008, that figure climbed to 12% — almost one in eight. Meanwhile, little has changed among males with a college education. Part-time work is another indicator of the decline of industriousness among the working class. Among prime age males with no more than a high school education, the fraction working fewer than 40 hours a week doubled — from 10% in 1968 to 20% in 2008. Among the college graduates, the rise was much smaller: from 9% to 12%."I believe that people do things for a reason. If you reward sloth, slovenliness and irresponsibility those qualities will not decrease. If you punish hard work and responsible behavior those qualities will not increase. He makes what I consider the most cogent observation as to why this is happening to a nation known for hard work, industriousness and a deep sense of personal responsibility. He notes that;
"Religious beliefs are changing too. Secularism rose 11 percentage points (from 29% to 40%) for the upper middle class, but rose 21 percentage points (from 38% to 59%) for the working class. What about cause and effect? It should be obvious that culture affects economic outcomes, but some on the left think it's the other way around, like Paul Krugman who says that; "Traditional values aren't as crucial as social conservatives would have you believe — and, in any case, the social changes taking place in America's working class are overwhelmingly the consequence of sharply rising inequality, not its cause. "Goodman goes on to show that;
."..culture is like the economists' notion of a "public good." We all benefit from it, even if we personally do nothing to create it, nurture it, or defend it. But if the institutions that sustain a culture are weak and eroding, then the culture itself will disappear and everyone will be affected by that change."Everyone keeps saying that values don’t count...or as in the case when Bill Clinton was running for president the first time...'character doesn't count'! According to this line of thinking, social issues don’t matter. Just give us jobs. Just talk about economic issues, don’t deal with morality. I say that if the values displayed by society as a whole are ‘valueless’ then it doesn’t matter how many jobs people have; that will only create a temporary lull in this destructively downward trend.
A ‘valueless’ society will eventually disintegrate into dystopia. Pundits are constantly advising everyone that welfare, taxes, national debt, massive government expenditures; government expansion into our lives, corruption, Social Security and such things is all we should be talking about. Yet all of these things came to be out of control problems because we stopped talking about the things that really make a society work. Values! In order for things to turn about the hearts and minds of the citizenry that must be captured. That is foundational. Fix the foundation and eveything else will fix itself.
Here is what we really need to get! Every problem has a solution. You may not have the necessary facts and understanding. You may not have enough money or the necessary technology. You may not have the will or desire to find it and if you do; you may not like the solution. None of this changes the fact the solution exists. Wisdom is the application of knowledge and understanding. Everything is the basics. Some things really are right and some things really are wrong. There really is such a thing as good and evil in the world. Everything has an historical context. Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to what we see going on in reality.
None of that is brain surgery. Thomas Sowell once noted that the difference between traditional wisdom and conventional wisdom is that traditional wisdom has stood the test of time. Conventional wisdom is merely what everyone believes at the moment but may not last as long as the latest ladies fashion. We really do need to get that.
I am afraid that it won’t happen though. Why? Because the corruption runs so deep that even the religious institutions, that are supposed to be the repository of societal mores, morals and values, are now part of the problem. There seems to be but a mere hair’s breadth of difference between their views and secularsim. Which has to make you wonder what they really believe!
Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions! - G.K. Chesterton