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The Real Class Warfare

01/26/2012

A friend gave me a copy of an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal last week called “The Great American Divide” by Charles Murray.  He looks at the world of non-Latino whites between the ages of 30 and 50, normally the prime working years, and sees it dividing into the two parallel universes of “white collar” (WC) and “blue collar”  (BC).  While the existence of these two universes is not new, Murray’s contribution is how quickly they are growing apart.

94% of WC America was married in 1970, but that dropped to 83% by 2010.  84% of BC America was married in 1970, but that dropped to 48% in 2010.  In other words, marriage dropped 10 points in WC America but 35 percentage points in BC America.

An important aspect of marriage is single parenthood.  1% of births were out-of-wedlock in WC America in 1970, which rose to 6% by 2008.  In BC America, the percentage rose from 6% to 44%.

In BC America, the percentage of males “out of the labor force” grew from 3% in 1968 to 12% in 2008.  (Remember; these are the 30-50 age demographic.)  In WC Amerca, the ratio remained constant at 3%.

The number of people in WC America who identified themselves as disconnected from religion rose frm 29% to 40%.  In BC America, it rose from 38% to 59%.

The implications from this increasing class stratification are immense and not altogether positive.  One is political.  This morning, Politico announced a survey of those attending rallies for the Republican Primary next week.  It found WC Republicans at the Romney rallies and BC Republicans at other rallies.  (In his study, Murray found there are 50% more BC Americans than WC Americans, which doesn’t auger well for Romney.)

I would like to see a similar survey between WC and BC Americans in the Democatic Party . . .

The big question is NOT what should the government do about this alarming trend but SHOULD the government do anything at all.  Ever the Libertarian, Murray says we as individuals have a moral responsibility to reach out to the other classes and mingle more. 

Maybe, there is more to discussing classes than mere tax rates?

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