There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending "nonjudgmentalism." Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn't hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices.To the sheltered inhabitants of the "SuperZIPs," those giant gated communities near New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, he recommends rethinking their priorities:
Here are some propositions that might guide them: Life sequestered from anybody not like yourself tends to be self-limiting. Places to live in which the people around you have no problems that need cooperative solutions tend to be sterile. America outside the enclaves of the new upper class is still a wonderful place, filled with smart, interesting, entertaining people. If you're not part of that America, you've stripped yourself of much of what makes being American special.Most people won't listen to Mr. Murray. In order to strip out results that can be explained by ethnicity or racism, he looks strictly at statistics relating to white people. His ideas in this new book, like the ones in the past several, will therefore be dismissed as racism.
Something like the same sorting trend was described in Bill Bishop's 2009 "The Big Sort," a book that I found unsatisfying. Bishop was persuasive in his statistics about the clumping of like-minded communities, as revealed in fine-grained analysis of changing voting habits over a number of election cycles. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to know what to make of the data, other than to bemoan the increasing difficulty of civil discussions about deep political disagreements. Also, while he thoroughly understood why nice people would naturally congregate in progressive neighborhoods in his own in Austin, Texas, he seemed a little bemused about what all those Americans in red precincts could be thinking.
Mr. Murray, in contrast, has done a lot of analysis over several decades about how much more efficiently our education system now works to sort out Americans by I.Q. I was surprised to read (in "The Bell Curve"), for instance, how relatively recently the Ivy Leagues began moving toward a fairly strict meritocracy. Before 1960, they demanded a moderate minimum level of scholasticism and then mostly sorted by money and class. Back then, the brightest students from flyover country were far more likely to attend local schools and stay in their home towns performing a variety of jobs, rather than gravitate to Wall Street or the Mayo Clinic as they tend to do today.
Our neighborhood is very mixed in education and income. We like it that way.