Here's the good news: Somebody influential on the right -- and Murray is beloved by many conservatives -- is acknowledging the growing class divide in America. That is a breakthrough.Ben says "America's ruling elite has much to answer for." Mostly, they have to answer about sex. You'll have to go to the link to read his take.
The bad news: Murray is big into victim blaming. If life among America's working class has declined during the last 50 years, Murray says it's because its members have abandoned the habits of work and marriage that made the country great. He offers a lot of statistics to prove his point.
But there's a crucial piece missing in Murray's story.
It is most apparent when he describes the "real" Fishtown, a Philadelphia neighborhood several miles from where I live. Murray describes in great detail the rise of single motherhood and jobless men in the neighborhood.
But he never mentions Fishtown's most-defining feature: It was once a center of manufacturing and industry -- particularly the textile industry -- and now it isn't. The factories are gone. Residents can no longer walk out of the neighborhood school and into a decent job that can sustain a family.
That's precisely what happened across the country over the last 50 years: The manufacturing sector withered -- jobs went overseas -- and so did the wages of many Americans. Read The Atlantic's January cover story, "Making It In America," and you'll find many manufacturing jobs that mostly go to Americans with a costly college degree in science or math.
Simple hard work doesn't get you as far as it used to. This matters.
Murray talks about the disintegration of the working class, but not the disintegration of the work. "I focus on what happened, not why," Murray writes. Without the "why" though, he cannot and does not offer plausible solutions.
Instead, Murray urges the elites to preach more about virtue to the working class. Workers don't need a lecture, though. They need real opportunity. That can't be found in Murray's book.
UPDATE: The sex comment was kind of a cheap oversimplication on my part. I apologize to Ben.