The Trashing of the White Working Class

February 15, 2012
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There is a revealing book by Charles Murray called “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010.″ Its big focus is on what nobody really wants to talk about: the white American working class. Santorum’s preaching about social values has merits, but he panders and makes it mostly about black people or illegal immigrants. So does Gingrich. Obama is an enabler. This is just one more elephant in the room that is being politically ignored: the ghettoization of the white working class. I am not even sure the “99%” term really defines this one.

In the book, the white working class is defined as someone with no academic degree higher than a high-school diploma. If they work, it must be a blue-collar job, a low-skill service job (such as a cashier) or a low-skill white-collar job (such as a mail clerk or receptionist). Murray calls this community of workers “Fishtown.” People who qualify for Fishtown constitute about 30% of the white population of the U.S., ages 30 to 49. Some of this data is from 2008. It is worse now. See the food stamp participation chart below.

-In 1960, an extremely high proportions of whites in Fishtown were married— 84% in Fishtown, now just 48%.

- In 1960,  just 2% of all white births were non-marital. In 1970, 6% of births to white women with no more than a high-school education—women, that is, with a Fishtown education—were out of wedlock. By 2008, 44% were nonmarital.

- Men 30-49, not available for work—they are “out of the labor force.” That percentage went from a low of 3% in 1968 to 12% in 2008. 10% worked fewer than 40 hours a week in 1960, a figure that grew to 20% by 2008.

-Fishtown, today has a violent crime rate that is 4.7 times the 1960 rate.

-”De facto secular” is someone who either professes no religion at all or who attends a worship service no more than once a year. For the early GSS surveys conducted from 1972 to 1976, 38% of Fishtown fell into that category, now 59%.

According to Murray, the best thing that the educated 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.

This is hard hitting stuff although I DO NOT AT ALL AGREE with this strange Murray observation: “Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won’t make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won’t make a difference.

If there is a silver lining for the less educated working class, it is that they haven’t incurred a trillion plus in student loans to feed the “so called education” beast.

 

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