Explaining Southern California's economy

Charles Murray and the challenge of being rich and white

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Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Unemployed Americans line up to enter a job fair on the first day of the Labor Day long weekend in the City of El Monte outside of Los Angeles on September 4, 2010. US unemployment jumped to 9.6 percent in August, the Labor Department said, showing the recovering economy is still struggling to create jobs.

I've held off for a bit on writing about Charles Murray's new book, "Coming Apart: The State of Whiteness in America 1960-2010." I wanted to see how his thesis was sorted out by various commenters, after I first came across an excerpt a few weeks back in the Wall Street Journal. It might be Murray's best work yet, although it's sure to provoke years of heated debate. The book is vintage Murray: it's "Bowling Alone" with a right-ish agenda, "Stuff White People Like" with piles of hard data. NPR gets hammered. The "elites" are scolded like spoiled children.

Just for the record, I've strongly disagreed with Murray's views on education, outlined here a few years ago. I think everybody should go to college, if they want. And it's up to us as a society to figure out how to make that happen. Murray thinks that a four-year university education may not a useful path for many Americans. But it's increasingly the only path to economic competitiveness.