Which brings Murray to his proposed bridge across the great divide: Competent, responsible rich people should move next door to incompetent, irresponsible poor people, who will then supposedly be inspired by the former’s example to pull themselves up by their own Air Jordan laces.
Murray realizes readers will balk at his prescription:
That’s it? But where’s my five-point plan? We’re supposed to trust that large numbers of parents will spontaneously, voluntarily make the right choice for the country by making the right choice for themselves and their children?
Yes, we are, but I don’t think that’s naive.
“Naive” is the least of it.
Unlike Murray, I grew up below the “poverty line” (should you choose to believe in such things). Of all the single moms in my neighborhood, mine was the only one who worked, and at a job she loathed. The rest were slatternly welfare bums and liked it that way.
Since the first day of kindergarten, the phrase “I need to get the hell away from these people” (or its five-year-old-girl equivalent) has been sounding in my brain like a car alarm. I’ve succeeded and can’t imagine going back, certainly not to “help” the lazy, stupid losers who mocked me for spending recess in the library.
Today’s “poor” are the “rich” that Jesus warned about: lazy, grasping, heedless, amoral, and ostentatious. Their possessions would dazzle the Sun King, they have more disposable income than I do, and they sure as hell can’t fit through the eye of a needle. I wish Mitt Romney had said he didn’t really care about the poor, because I don’t.
Murray’s startling reverse-Beverly Hillbillies “solution” to the great divide’s “problem” is his new book’s biggest “takeaway,” and not always in a good way.
Writing in The American Conservative, Rod Dreher remarked dryly:
But why, concretely, should a particular family choose to do that? Murray, a libertarian, suggests that it would make life more interesting for them. I bet it would….
(Naturally, The New York Times’ David Brooks thinks Murray’s idea is just dandy and would be even better if it was turned into a federal government program.)
Charles Murray has forgotten more about race, class, education, and intelligence than I could ever learn, so I feel deeply sheepish issuing the same challenge to him (and to David Brooks) that I would to any semi-anonymous, upper-class, bumper-stickered do-gooder preaching “zero population growth,” state-sponsored solar-powered homes, and a ban on the internal-combustion engine:
After you, sir.
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