Lexington on the classes drifting apart:
Last February I posted a letter I had written Charles Murray about his book, Coming Apart.  I recently reread the review (Lexington The classes drift apart ECONOMIST vol. 402 no. 8770 February 4, 2012 page 36).  This has afforded me something of a gallows humor smirk. 

You see the thesis of the book is that not only is the American middle class vanishing but that what used to be called middle class values are vanishing from among the poorest.  They are the usual things like hard work, education, moderation, family values, church and generally being good neighbors and good parents.  These are now the values of the elite.  What the poorest need is not money but an infusion of the moral virtues of the most successful.

I like the general idea.  I always thought the middle class was a matter of values, not of income.  I may be alone in that regard.  As to the validity of the proposition, I must let the book speak for itself.

The smirk comes from the fact that I have noticed (but not made careful note of the source) a number of writers saying that belief in God is in rapid decline in America and the church attendance is falling.  This is considered a sort of victory for the vocal atheists among us who deplore religion in all forms.  So on the face of it, people are getting more rational, more intellectually driven and accepting the arguments of the atheists.  That is the way it seems if you accept those arguments yourself.

But according to Murray, church is a marker for the elite.  Atheism or at least religious indifference is the marker of the disintegrating bottom class.  On that logic the rise in atheism should not be seen as the rise of rationality but the rise of despair.

Of course the interest to me is the fact that the richest and most successful are interested in family.  In fact, they start out bright, go to the best schools, work hard and marry another who is similarly bright and industrious.  The children are thus expected to be bright as well (although regression to the mean dictates that they will not be quite so bright on average as their parents, they will still be brighter than the community average.) 

This pattern would not stir doom and gloom, except that by going to exclusive schools means that the elite will be marrying far from their circle of kin and thus pay the biological price of low fertility, right along with the rest of us, in spite of any laudable values they might have in support of family. 

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