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Kay S. Hymowitz
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In the past, when generous government assistance was non-existent, children that could not be cared for by their parents were given for adoption. If neglect continued, the state interceded and put the child into a stable two-parent home. That system worked to the benefit of all, child, mother, and society. We need to return to it.

Bastardy is the biggest cause of social problems costing me taxes. It needs to be discouraged, financially and socially.

Quote: “Pearlstein cites economist Benjamin Scafidi, who has offered a rough calculation of how much family breakdown costs American taxpayers annually. Scafidi considered TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), Food Stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid, S-Chip, child welfare services, justice system costs, WIC, LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), Head Start, school breakfast and lunch programs, and foregone tax receipts. The annual bill to taxpayers: $112 billion.

But Scafidi was being conservative, Pearlstein argues. He didn't include the Earned Income Tax Credit, the costs to schools that accrue from additional discipline problems, the special education costs that increase in lock step with chaotic family environments.”

:jidcat (Jan. 31, 10:51AM)

Ah, yes, Howard Gardiner and his theory of "multiple inteligences"(MI). I've always liked John White's reply to Gardiner ("Multiple Invalidities," in "Howard Gardiner Under Fire: The Rebel Psychologist Faces His Critics," Open Court, 2006).

White claims that MI is an "a priori" concept and not the result of empirical validity as Gardiner claims. This is philosophical death for any empirical (read psychological) claim. Here's John:

" A fundamental question about MI theory is whether it is empirically testable. Because it is not clear when a candidate passes or does not pass the 'criteria' test, it is uncertain under what conditions it might be refuted. Empirically refuted, that is. If I am right in what I said about development and symbols, it might be that MI theory is refutable on philosophical grounds. But Gardiner needs not 'a priori' but empirical refutability." p.59

I won't go into White's "development and symbols" here, but will if you want. I met White some time ago at a philosophy conference at New College, Oxford. Nice guy.
But, in my view, what Gardiner has done, in effect, is to "psychologize" and "democratize" intelligence to the point where the concept becomes empty. But, of course, that is what psychology does in any case to everything it touches.

: Toady (12:10PM)

It looks good on paper Toady, but do you think that ceasing the cornucopia of government benefits will eradicate fruitful, promiscuous sexual relations? And what happens to the children then?

Reflect on that, Toady.

A pleasure as always.


Solutions? Easy. Cease the cornucopia of government benefits that substitute for husbands and fathers.
If you define the "elite" not just as cognitive, you'll find that other types of "eliteness" exist and can be exploited to provide the good life. Gardner's intelligences provide a good start. There are many elite without high quantitative or verbal intelligence. There are gifted musicians, athletes, dancers, singers, politicians, managers, farmers, technicians and others whose eliteness depends primarily upon something other that quantitative and verbal skills. Then, there are the genetic elite: tall, dark, handsome men and women with bombshell beauty, who tend to find navigating life fairly easy, at least while they are youthful. Good health, itself, can be a life-long advantage, not to mention the advantage of being born without talents into a well-off and/or energetic family. Finally, multiculturalism makes difficult the discussion of the overarching advantage of being heir to the visions and influences of an energetic and self-responsible subculture.

: Sean (Jan. 31, 1:49AM)

Sean, that wasn't a very penetrating comment. In fact, one wonders why you bothered to post it.

Your reference to "quite a bit," however, indicates that the two situations are not identical. Perhaps you could give us a more fine-grained analysis. (And try to get to bed earlier, Sean.)

A pleasure as always.

This reminds me quite a bit of what they've had in the UK ever since the end of WW2. Can't wait to read the book. Excellent review.

: john werneken (Jan. 29, 12:30PM)

"The key is salvaging the progeny of the lower 99% capable of joining the 1%."

First, John, you've got to get your percentages right. We're not talking about the 99% and the 1%. We're talking about the top 20% in Belmont and the rest - my estimate (see below) is 20% Fishtown and 60% a mixture. The second point refers to your "key" to salvahge the progeny of the 99%. That would that be, John?

: jibreel riley (12:35PM)

"Our Civic Engagement is lost as it is destroying the opportunity for many of our communities to be world class. The Metro Areas that seem to do this the best are also many of the places that survived the the housing bubble."

jibreel, that doesn't make sense. It is incoherent. The second sentence doesn't follow from the first. But the question is, WHY is our "Civic Engagement" lost? Tell us about that, jibreel. What's your theory?

: Toady (Jan, 30, 1:28PM)

It looks that way Toady. At least in Fishtown. Any solutions?

A pleasure as always.

"Many experts would define the cause as a dearth of “marriageable” men (see above)."

Men not good enough to marry but good enough to reproduce with?
"Fishtown is home to a “new lower class” whose lifestyle resembles The Wire more than Roseanne" the writers idea of "the welfare state" I want to say its not what you might think but more of the lost of Civic Engagement throughout America. We will bend over backwards for a stadium or casino however neglect local infrastructure thus our priorities are messed up. Cities have become Balkanized between The Belmont's vs The Fishtown's (oooh scary poor people, lets keep them poor and hopeless with job sprawl). Our Civic Engagement is lost as it is destroying the opportunity for many of our communities nationwide to be world class. The Metro Areas that seem to do this the best are also many of the places that survived the housing bubble. I'm saying there a wide invested interest in making your city work beyond a slot machine.
A Utopia for the creative and a dystopia for the rest is no new thought. The key is salvaging the progeny of the lowwer 99% capable of joining the 1%. Then society as a whole does not lose and individuals may still achieve what they may achieve. Sorry, best we can do on this.

Regardless of the subject matter, a sufficierntly large random distribution of the population will sort itself into a bell-curve configuration. Sexual activity? patronizing the local library? The appeal of vanilla ice cream? It doesn't matter. A smaller percentage of the distribution will be found at either extremity of the bell curve while the majority will be somewhere in the middle. It's an all-purpose configuration. But in both cases under review, the original "The Bell Curve" and the current "Coming Apart," something is missing which renders the conclusions to both either platitudinously obvious or simply irrelevant. While the first dealt with intelligence as a class/race marker, the second deals directly with class itself within the white community. But the response to both is the same: "So what?"

The problem with "The Bell Curve," in spite of purporting to be based on distinctions of intelligence, never actually defined "intelligence" itself. Without specifying its content, the authors referred to intelligence simply as "g." Intelligence, in circular and vacuous fashion, was therefore identified with that which intelligence tests measure. No substantive definition was attempted. Of what did intelligence consist? Well, it all depended on whom you asked.

For some intelligence was a natural, homogeneous mental attribute like having red hair and blue eyes. In theory, its possessor need say or do nothing. One just either was, or was not, intelligent or, more probably, somewhere in between. The problem with this unitary, homogeneous view of intelligence was that it lacked explanatory force and therefore research potential. Nothing could be done with it.

On the other hand, after the debut of Howard Gardiner's "multiple intelligences" (there were eight at last count ranging from logico-deductive ability to something called "social intelligence") the meaning of intrelligence took on manifold, heterogeneous forms. The problem with this, however, was not so much its lack of explanatory force as the question as to what would NOT count as intelligence. The concept became dispersed and diaphanous to the point where it was empty. "The Bell Curve" was dismissed, primarily among Afro-Americans who claimed that the tests were culturally biased and who was to deny it?. They had scored well below the Orientals and the Caucasians in the intelligence sweepstakes so the response to "The Bell Curve" eventually was: "So what?"

With "Coming Apart" the problem is different. Part of the bell curve is missing. We see a new intellectual elite comprising 20% of the population in comfortable Belmont, while the new low- class is located in Fishtown. But wait, the bell curve, if nothing else, is symmetrical. That is why it is called a "bell curve." It looks like a bell. So, to balance things out, there must be 20% (more or less) of the population located in Fishtown. But that makes up only 40% of the total population. What about the other 60%?

They are located in the middle ranges of the bell curve, somewhere between Fishtown and Belmont. So, as one leaves Fishtown one begins to ascend the bell curve - call the gradient "Fishmont" - until it reaches the apex of the curve and then begins the descent - call it Beltown - until, at long last, Belmont itself is attained. But this is just a re-description of what was a commonplace to begin with. It is simply the bell curve based on class, something of which no one was in any particular doubt. The response, as in the case of the bell curve based on intelligence, is: "So what?"

But what, if any, is the conclusion to all of this? It seems to me to be the vacuous nature of psychological/sociological research itself. In purporting to be "objective" and free of any substantive (read philosophical) content, it amounts to little more than a conceptual air balloon which can elicit nothing more than the response: "So what?"

A pleasure as always.
The reason the book turned out this way is because not everyone is capable of going to the best college. Think about the uneducated person who has worked all his life and has been an honest man. He is your garbage man and letter carrier. Without them you over intelligent would have to take out your own garbage. You would probably have to keep moving from house to house for the stench that would build up.

I haven't lived on Long Island in many years but I remember the neighborhoods, the kids I went to school with and the families. We were a good people that built America and the communities in them. If it weren't for our hard work mental derelicts like you wouldn't be able to write even one word of your book.

As far as crime goes the working class doesn't have the money to buy the government. You cannot show me a judge who wouldn't take a payoff or a political system that isn't corrupt.

Let's put aside the make believe and go for real. On Long Island the government wanted to get rid of the duck farms so when an apartment complex was built right on their property line of a large farm the complex sued and the owner of the farm and they had to stop working the land within 100 feet of the complex. That wastes a lot of acreage.

Without question this is your college educated at work buying off he government although the farm had been there many years. If you were the judge how would you have ruled?

If that were my farm I would have built low income apartments and filled it with drug dealers and pimps so the rich in the next complex would have easy access and I am sure that they would have appreciated it.

You can twist and turn any report any way you want but the fact is in the 40's and 50's the working man worked hard and no one complained about the rich man because he kept his people working.

Today the scum can't wait to get rid of you to make more money for the stock holders and when every company does it, it puts many people out of work. So stop lying to yourself and the so called stats that you used. The working class know exactly what life is and what is going on.
Murray cannot be ignored - I must read this new book to see what he really said. But the comments in the article and from other readers seem to miss the point Murray made in The Bell Curve that broken and dysfunctional families don't do nearly as good a job of raising children into productive citizens as stable families do. The divorce revolution of the sixties and scores of governmental policies since then have reduced women's incentive to wed. Many women (white and black) now rotate lovers into and out of their homes and have three or four children by as many different men. These children are at a terrible disadvantage when competing with children from stable families in school or the workplace. Worst of all, the girls learn to expect very little of the men who ultimately rotate in and out of their own lives, and the cycle perpetuates itself.
I think Jay 4 has it right--given that, since at least the 1970s, "middle class values" were explicitly sneered at, rejected, and blamed for all problems, it's no longer possible for the poor and disadvantaged to be exposed to them in the public schools. No, that would be cultural imperialism, or something. So, the disadvantaged show up in school (or not, and have administrators chasing them and coaxing them to come) and at best pretend to learn what the system pretends to teach them. Not a recipe for success.
Jesse C. Anderson January 27, 2012 at 8:19 PM
For the life of me I can not see how this is in turn of a math problem. First of all how did he come up with the 20/80 point of view, it almost like saying that there is only a few sun in space which is way off base.
Kay Hymowitz- "Those of us who reject Murray’s fatalism..."

I wish Kay Hymowitz would explain why she rejects Murray's thesis (i.e. Murray's belief that the upper class is becoming genetically more intelligent than the lower class). Does she believe that Murray is wrong as in the factually incorrect sense of "wrong", or does she believe that Murray's thesis is factually true, but that Murray's truth is just so horrifying to a proper modern Western mind (steeped in social egalitarian views) that perhaps she has to think of it as wrong in the moral sense of "wrong".
Kay Hymowitz writes that the "new upper class" is "something quite different from the 1 percent that makes the Occupy Wall Street shake their pitchforks." Well, pehaps it is numerically different - "Belmont" it seems comprises the top 20 percent of the population rather than just 1 percent - which leaves "Fishtown" at about 80 percent. Assuming the numbers are roughly accurate, this points to two nations caste society where Belmont becomes increasingly concentrated and detached from Fishtown which, in its turn, becomes correspondingly more widespread and increasingly embittered. This heralds an eventual "Clockwork Orange" scenario where the weapon of choice will not be pitchforks but snub-nosed 38s.

Bizarrely for some, the solution lies, on the one hand, in less government involvement which, it is claimed, creates dependency in Fishtown while, on the other, teacher unions must be crushed in order that the best schools may continue to flourish in Belmont.
(Admittedly, the logic is a bit elusive.)

The real solution, however, is just the opposite. It must involve a massive and sustained investment in good schools for Fishtown which, in uts turn, can come about only by assigning the highest value to education in general and, in particular, to the dedicated teachers who provide it.

A pleasure as always.

My sense from all this is not that it is income per se, but values and standards that matter. My wife and I both have post-grad degrees, but aren't high-income. We are comfortably middle. Our neighborhood can be best described as more working class, and we see the social scene described here-high divorce, unemployment, disability. As our economy shifts, I fear that the cultural values will be eclipsed by our lack of resources.
"From what people are saying here in the US the 'elites' divide equally between conservatives and liberals"

No, the "elites" in America whether Democract or Republican tend to be almost entirely liberal.
such actions don’t have a chance of changing the fortunes of Belmont and Fishtown. If only it were that easy.In what way would you change the fortunes of Belmont?

Having worked in a family service job for the past 40 years in southeast Michigan, I have watched this slow drift of white lower middle class and working class families slide to the behaviors we saw in the African American families. I have always felt it was the result of Government policies put in place by LBJ in the late 1960's. I do not see a way for our society to pull out of this decline, either.
I live in a fairly typical (I think) town in Central New Jersey, population 100,000+. Mostly white and Asian, middle class: knowledge workers, clerical, small businessmen, professionals (medicine, law), a lot of teachers. Large Asian component (Chinese, Korean, a former mayor was Korean), a growing Orthodox Jewish population clustered around the south end of the township. A very large Indian population, most of whom are either small businessmen or work in hi-tech;many are citizens, some here on H1-B visas, many illegal but working nonetheless. Also a growing Mexican population - men all work in laborer or hourly blue-collar trades - married to the mothers of their children. The mothers either are stay at home moms or work part-time at shops and fast-food places while the kids are in school. Maybe 10% black population, some of which is decidedly middle class, with married parents, much of this group, however, lives in apartments scattered about town and consists of unmarried females and their offspring, mostly by different, absent fathers.
In our current society, I think that Mr Murray would have to classify the above non-black populations as 'white',if we consider these families' values and desire for stability and upward mobility.
This country has a lot of strengths. We will always have an underclass which is measured more by behavior than by income. We need to spend more time and treasure on helping the aspiring middle class to achieve their goals and less on throwing money at the permanent poor.
However, one of the underpinnings of the Belmont families is that their salaries come from the government (they work in universities, funded by gov’t grants, or in the public sector) and government overall is running huge deficits. (Some states have balanced budgets but those are not the states with large Belmonts. The federal gov’t is running a deficit of 1.6 trillion annually.) The huge deficits are making it difficult for businesses to operate and this fits with the difficulties in Fishtown.

But something that can’t go on forever, won’t. The government will have to reduce spending. Jobs will be lost in Belmont. Businesses will be able to recover and begin hiring. Fishtown will start to recover.

I am eager to see the process begin, but it won’t be happening next year, that’s for sure.
Herre in Australia, the vast majority of people would fit into Middleburg, half way between Belmont and Fishtown.

Ninety percent of Belmontians would vote conservative and 90% of Fishtowners vote for left wing parties. Middleburg splits between the two.

From what people are saying here in the US the 'elites' divide equally between conservatives and liberals; ie half of those who should know better are lefties, because the inane and stuid policies of the left don't affect tham, but just sound nice and compassionate. Class traitors are always annoying, but American class traitors are worse, because they should have seen from the experience of other countries that leftist policies are always wrong and lead to massive social problems.
Agree the worth of this book depends on the worth of its data., i.e. whether it is presented in terms that are comparable apples to apples, as opposed to the usual fruit salad due to the wide-spread elitist disease— Innumeracy.

In contrast, the worth of David Kennedy's 2011 "Don't Shoot" is experiential— Author's Presentation 10.2011, Harvard Bookstore:
Very interesting and entirely predictable.
"The welfare state has sapped America’s civic energy in places like Fishtown, leaving a population of disengaged, untrusting slackers. It has also diminished upper-class confidence: the well-to-do dare not suggest they have a recipe for the good life."

America's upper class ooze (often unwarranted) self-confidence from every pore. They don't enact simple and straight-forward policy changes which would benefit the lower class because they don't want to, because those changes would run counter to their own prevailing beliefs. The welfare state is a consequence of those beliefs, not a cause.
What Murray (and Hymowitz) fail to point out is that the social changes hammering the people of Fishtown were and still are promoted by the Belmontians. For instance, the anti-marriage laws which are doing so much damage to the lower-class were enacted and are stll supported by the upper class. The people of Fishtown are much more than just losers in the genetic IQ sweepstakes, they are losers in the culture war. The values which the upper class foists on the lower class via movies and television are not values which the upper class itself lives by.
how do you come up with this stuff?
This echoes, almost exactly, Theodore Dalrymple's essays on the decline of the white working class in Britain into "chav scum." The backbone of prosperity, just like the Puritans used to say, is having strong moral values.
I'm going to have to read this book, because nothing in this article made sense to me.

Neither Fishtown or Belmont describe the lives of *any* of my friends. Where does the middle class that I'm living in fit into these rough metaphors?

And if a caste-stratification problem does exist, how would a limited government solve it? I'm not arguing that it wouldn't, just that there's nothing in this article to show how it would help.
I'm not sure I agree with Doug that Murray is not a fatalist. He definitely is not a genetic fatalist as Hymnowitz suggests. There is a genetic component to intelligence, but there is also an environmental component. As Murray warned in The Bell Curve, the educational stratification of society is not due to genetics. Smart people produce smart children because 1) they have good genetics and, more importantly, 2) they value education, instill this value in their children, and sacrifice time and treasure to see to it their children are educated in the best way possible. And the best way means with children from families of similar values. Trouble is, no one has a good, workable mechanism for defeating this environmental fait accompli.

As an aside, I often wonder where we would be if people had really read and understood The Bell Curve's message instead of inventing a message of racism. This problem could have been brought to the fore for discussion in 1994!

Half the population is below average in capacity to function. At one point, functioning was pretty simple. Nowadays, it's highly complex and involves conceptualizing many schemes of information, integrating them if you can. It's a losing struggle for most people.
The problem with these books is that the authors set forth a series of assumptions adding up to conclusions that really aren't justified. Simply cherry pick facts and studies to support the assumptions. The concept they lay out is presented in an interesting and novel fashion though, but it does seem to be a sweeping conclusion.

However, there is one important fact mentioned here. It's that the welfare (disguised as disability claims among others) state saps the will of the populace. Who could disagree with that?

The article also says that this changed for the working white poor in the '90's. This analysis could also be applied to the inner city poor, where the change was at least 20 years before that. One only has to go to black inner city communities to see the terrible consequences of Democratic supported "anti" poverty policies, which have led directly to enormous numbers of children being born to unmarried mothers. The consequences? Enormous amounts of crime, low educational achievement and a high degree of governmental dependence - both directly to mothers and indirectly through maintenance of the criminal justice system.

But, as I've argued elsewhere, the Democrats wouldn't have it any other way. Why? Simply because this state of affairs has, paradoxically, led to the African American community, which Democrats have systematically looted, raped, pillaged, sacked and burned, in league with a similarly corrupt media (which calls those who even makes mention of this "racists, having previously made that the worst insult one could give) giving the Party 100% of the vote. No reason to change a thing!

Two America? It should be based on whether families stay together - this seems to be touched upon here but doesn't appear to be the basis of the fundamental difference between the two communities. While this is anecdotal, children in my own community from families where parents split up or children raised by single mothers have problems - drugs, delinquency etc. that are typically not experienced by children of parents who stay together. Not all, of course, but more than parents that stay together.

And yet, I have yet to hear of a single comprehensive study that compares outcomes of children from single parent families against those with both parents at home. It isn't easy to figure out why such studies are either not done or not publicized - to do so would make Democrats look bad since Democratic social policies led directly to single parent families.

And besides, such studies might actually support the notion that the government should adopt policies that encourage families to stay together, and women not to have children unless they have a solid relationship with a man living at home hopefully legally bound by marriage. To Democrats those who are "pro-family" and support pro-family policies are radical right wingers. (and I bet that as you were reading this you squirmed slightly at the thought of government being pro-family - this is your conditioning talking, as all of us have been conditioned to some extent by Democratic media to reject notions like this - it's amazing isn't it?).

Or to put it another way: Democrats do much better where people are poor, dependent and uneducated. So for Democrats, the more poor, uneducated people from single parent families there are, the better. And the easy way to keep people poor, in criminalized communities, with low education achievement and dependent is by subsidizing single mothers, and to discourage father's from being in the home or taking responsibility for the children. That's now done on a massive scale in Democratic communities, where the Party, supported by media, encourages, directly and indirectly, single parent families and discourages the father from taking any responsibility for his children, who become supported by the State.

And so it goes on and on and on and on - a never ending cycle of misery promotion, supported by the most corrupt organization on the planet.

Yeah, I know this is far afield. But, it's something I see every day, in Paterson, Newark, Passaic and other cities in New Jersey, an unending series of governmental abuses disguised as poverty relief with no end in site since the people responsible for this situation will do anything to keep things exactly the way they are, and the people affected have been conditioned to blame others for their misery. Is it any surprise that Cory Booker was utterly unsuccessful in his attempt to turn around Newark? And yet, you have to search and search before you even discover that fact, since our media clearly doesn't want anyone to know. Why? Because it would make corrupt black Democratic leaders look bad. And that's something that need to be carefully hidden to keep the system working. It's a cynical and sickening system, but the worst is that there is no end to it, the "tipping point" is long past, and, furthermore those who would do something about it have been cowed into silence.

Apparently religion plays no role except as a social organization. There is located the black hole.
If the book is similar to this review, it is at very best a simplistic and reductionist view of the poor -- and the rich, as well. I come from a "Fishtown" -- the South Bronx -- and would find this kind of thinking insulting, if I weren't so utterly contemptuous of it.
I live in a town somewhat like Belmont, and I would say that both Belmont and Fishtown should improve their schools. But its also true, as another commenter stated, that it doesn't take a college degree to do okay. What it does take is a direction, and application of effort along it. That could be in a high demand trade. The habits needed to succeed at a trade used to be reinforced in the K-12 schools, but not so often anymore. And of course, there is the contribution of poor family structure, which is a huge problem.

Murray isn't a fatalist. He just reads the scientific literature. Intelligence varies from one white American to the next, and a lot of that variance is linked to genetics.

What is {not} inevitable is that intelligence should function as a proxy for virtue. In most times and places, it has not.
The Belmonters are indeed grossly ignorant about the Fishtowners and they could care less - not that they could do anything about it - except get their collective heads out of where the sun don't shine and stop voting for all the programs that make it easier for the lazy to become lazier.
For all the stuff I read about the problems in America, no one mentions the fact that the biggest SINGLE problem is sloth - not race or lack of birthright or physical or mental impairment - although these are signifigant problems.
Among contractors, of which I am one, it is universal common knowledge that white kids wiil not work, so you gotta hire Mexicans - try teaching that at Villanova. But these are good respectable jobs that can lead to advancement and careers. Many of the guys I started with 30 years ago have made 6 figures for years.
A university education is worse than useless if you want to really understand what is happening in the US population.The real action and education comes by working in the various neighborhoods and seeing how the people live.
People become industrious when they have to. Expensive gov't programs designed by the out of touch intelligentsia of Wellesley will not help anybody but sociology majors that draw the big salaries of the program.
I could rant longer, but the biggest unsolveable problem is the destruction of the stable two parent family. Fishtown may be doomed.
The concept floating in the background is "hereditary meritocracy" - the better off genetically and educationally do their best to pass the same along to their offspring - good genes and good education. But why is this new, if at all? Partly the increased advantage of IQ in the world economy of today, but also for another reason. When society had a stronger consensus of values to be taught within schools, the less economically advantaged could (sometimes) be "programmed" for greater success than their parents. Now, it is nearly impossible for that to occur in the public schools of the poorer communities - where the need is greatest. So will the gap between the Belmonts and Fishtowns of tommorow be even geater? It may, if education does not improve in the Fishtowns.