Politics, popular culture and Reagan conservatism spewed maybe once a week...or less
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Something rotten in Fishtown...
After the beating Charles Murray took by critics of his book 'The Bell Curve,' in which he cited racial differences in IQ, he took a different tack this time around in looking just at the culture differences in white America over the last 50 years.
Denounced as racists over the controversial findings in 'The Bell Curve,' Dr. Murray and his co-author the late Richard Herrnstein cited massive amounts of data that decidedly proved their thesis, to the outrage of the left. In his new book 'Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010', Murray now points out the polarization of white classes over a 50 year span that is widening: the rich white folk living in 'Belmont' (Dr. Murray's rich enclave) have virtually nothing left in common with the poor folks living in Fishtown (Dr. Murray's ghetto for the white trash). He leaves out of the discussion any minority populations, and therefore avoids the cacophonous cries of 'racist' from the left this time around.
The disparate upper and lower class white cultures, Murray points out, have so drifted apart from their common roots in the Eisenhower era that the American way of life is coming apart as a result of this drift. Before this happened, all whites valued marriage, religion and voter participation, and now only the rich white folks in Belmont still value this, but keep these values to themselves.
He points out that the Belmont folks get married just like everyone used to in polite society, but not so in Fishtown, where illegitimacy is rampant. White folks in Belmont stay out of trouble, go to college and have jobs, while white Fishtowners end up in prison way too often, and subsist on food stamps and welfare. The reason he cites is that the American industrial base has virtually collapsed, leaving Fishtown high and dry, while those in Belmont figured out a way to thrive despite all of our manufacturing jobs leaving the country.
The conclusion Murray draws is one of dire consequences, should this rift continue to widen, but his remedy is that the Belmont rich folk need to reach out to the Fishtown downtrodden and show them the way.
My conclusion is somewhat different than Murrays, although the facts he presents are pretty solid: indeed Fishtown and Belmont don't see eye to eye these days. However, nobody in Belmont is going to reach out and help anyone in Fishtown, lest they receive a beating or worse. This reaching out recommended by Dr. Murray is ludicrous, and the only obvious way that the downtrodden white folk are ever going to get out of Fishtown is for the government to stop subsidizing their existence there.
The folks in Belmont are living in Belmont for good reasons. They are self motivated to do the right things, to get an education and to earn an honest living. Many of them are prior Fishtown residents, but got some gumption to make things better for themselves. And staying in Fishtown was not in the plans. The government has thrown money at the Fishtowners to alleviate their existential problems, but has not required anything from them in return for public largess. Accordingly, these down and out folks simply stay down and out.
Once the government turns off the public trough spigot, I think things will turn around in Fishtown, Dr. Murray. A little tough love is in order, and not an outreach program from the producers in Belmont.