DEAR Mr. Murray:
It's 20 years since the frenzy over your Bell Curve and so I decided to write you a letter, to express my thanks to you for your life's work. You stopped a number of rhetorical bullets over The Bell Curve, and people like me need to tell you that we appreciate and honor your sacrifice.
Who can forget your Losing Ground, the 1984 book that led to welfare reform in 1996? It is something to have been the intellectual spotlight that forced President Bill Clinton to sorta, kinda, maybe "end welfare as we know it" in the runup to the presidential election in 1996.
My takeaway on Losing Ground is to say that the liberals confidently instrumented their Great Society legislation with studies and social science research that would confirm their "elite wisdom." But when the results came in and pronounced the failure of their policies, they said nothing and did nothing. So liberalism, ever since has simply been a power game, with the ruling class paying the rank and file in the Benefits Brigade for their support, and riling them up crude appeals to race, class, and gender.
I read The Bell Curve and thought it good, but unexceptionable. Of course IQ is important in an age when wealth doesn't come in broad rich acres but right between the ears. I read your warning about a cognitive elite but didn't really pay much attention, not then.
I liked your Human Accomplishment and its disquieting reminder that in creative endeavors all the rewards go to the winners. It tells me that much of the angst and distemper in our liberal friends can be attributed to the fact their culture of creative individualism is bound to disappoint most of its believers. How much better is the conservative/libertarian culture of what I call "responsible individualism" in which almost everyone can participate and be a modest winner.
I think that your Coming Apart is the finest of your books and the best revenge on your critics. Hey kids, let's look at White America and see how it's doing! My takeaway is that you say that the top 25 percent, the cognitive elite, is doing fine. (Hey, why wouldn't it, since the elite has used its power to make America in its own image!) The middle 40 percent are doing so-so, but the folks in Fishtown are in real trouble; the women don't marry and the men don't work.
After reading Natalie Scholl's Bell Curve 20-year interview on the AEI-ideas site I am inspired to look more closely into your "valued places" idea and I will get a copy of your In Our Hands. But I must say that I flinch from the idea of a guaranteed income. In my view this confirms the current system whereby the ruling class gets to use the entire government fisc to buy the votes of the voters.
I like to divide the American people in three. There are the People of the Creative Self who believe in illuminating society with their creative and expressionistic individualism. There are the People of the Responsible Self, who believe in serving society through individual responsibility and service. Finally there is the residue of the peasantry, the People of the Under Self, who used to live by attaching themselves to a landed squire and now attach to a political boss, a union boss, a cacique, a community organizer. The point of your "valued places" I reckon, is that the women that don't marry and the men that don't work get resocialized into useful "valued places" as the followers of some powerful patron. My faith is that we can, we must, do that without the powerful patron being the government. Alternatively, of course, we can return to the 19th century and socialize the People of the Under Self into the middle class with enthusiastic churches and fraternal associations.
Thank you, Charles Murray, for your honest and intelligent witness in a life of worthy human accomplishment. There are many, like me, that honor you and your work.
YOU are a liberal cringing right now at the Keystone Kops routine at the Obama administration over Ebola. It wasn't supposed to be like this. The oceans were supposed to be receding and the planet healing. Because government is the name of things we do together. But there's another narrative about government. Start with Charles Dickens and the Circumlocution Office. It was staffed with ...
EVERY ruling class thinks of itself as God's gift to humanity: We must be the best and the brightest because, look, we got elected to run the country. Back in the day, dead white males in Europe used to talk about the "white man's burden" to civilize the natives. And Brits talked about bringing the rule of law to India. Today we call them all colonial oppressors. Our ruling class of educated ...
THE Paul Krugmans of the world keep telling us that the global slowdown is due to "austerity," meaning government spending cuts and tax increases. Only one problem, writes Brian Westbury in The Wall Street Journal. In Europe governments are spending more of GDP than they did at the height of the Crash of 2008. Euro area government spending was 49.8% in 2013 versus 46.7% in 2006... France ...
LAST week I read a piece about the decline of the culture -- or something -- but it included a chart that I can't get out of my mind. I can't find the article, but I did find the chart at the website of the St. Louis Fed. It's a chart about men and work. Specifically, it's the percent of men actually working, the "Employment-Population Ratio." Actually, it's the percent of men actually working....
THE FINAL PROBLEM for all political and religious movements is what to do after you get to the Promised Land. You’ve defeated the enemy, you’ve conquered the land flowing with milk and honey. What next?
What’s next is that the soldiers of the revolution should get a job, get married, and start a family. And forget all about millennial hope.
But usually they don’t. Instead they get angry.
That’s why blacks rioted in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of ...
Everyone that has half a brain understands that the foundations are shaking. ...
THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM among western cultural elites is that God is dead and we are well rid of him.... more
Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education
Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century
F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law
Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract
John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present
James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.
David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century
David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state
Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China
Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state
David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world
Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Heres how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>
The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
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