AirTalk for February 23, 2012

What is the state of white America?

By Charles Murray

Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960 – 2010

Whites in America are divided into two groups: a new upper class, defined by educational achievement, and a new lower class, characterized by the lack of it. This, according to libertarian and social scientist Charles Murray, means our nation is coming apart at the socioeconomic seams.

In his new book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” Murray argues that those in the new lower class are less industrious, less likely to marry and raise children in a two-parent household and more politically and socially disengaged. Why does Murray’s research focus on whites? Because, he posits, our assumption that race is the great divider is wrong. It’s really about class. And if upper class whites have reached their elevated status by adhering to values like frugality, monogamy, the pursuit of higher education, postponing pregnancy…they ought to champion these values and preach them to their less fortunate brethren.

But, Murray claims, they don’t currently do that. Instead, upper class whites maintain a ho-hum, non-judgmental attitude about lower class behaviors and attitudes and shirk their rightful duty to lead by teaching. Without that, our society will be driven farther and farther apart, resulting in greater economic polarization, as well as wage and opportunity gaps.

How truly different is this from the past? Is this a dangerous situation? How responsible are the more fortunate among us? Can anyone tell others how they should live their lives?

Guest:

Charles Murray, Author of “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960 – 2010” (Crown Forum)

Read an excerpt of Murray's book below:


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