I want a job at the New York Times. It is clearly a place that pays people to be stupid. David Brooks gives Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 a very nice review. Coming Apart claims that there is a big divide between rich Americans and poor Americans. I like Charles Murray, and think he is frequently brilliant, but the heads up for him here is that there are always divides. They’ve been by class, geography, politics, culture, etc. To look at income and NASCAR in 2012, is awfully limited.
But I was talking about Brooks. Brooks is horrified by the divide and has a rousing, and “NYT stupid,” conclusion:
I doubt Murray would agree, but we need a National Service Program. We need a program that would force members of the upper tribe and the lower tribe to live together, if only for a few years. We need a program in which people from both tribes work together to spread out the values, practices and institutions that lead to achievement.
If we could jam the tribes together, we’d have a better elite and a better mass.
And there you have my post title. In the years between
WWI and WWII and Vietnam, the big mixer-upper was the draft. No draft, no mixing up. We don’t have a new cultural divide. We have an old, 19th Century era cultural divide.
Some are thinking the draft might be a good thing, but I don’t think our military deserves to have foisted upon it a random sampling of the current younger generation.
By the way, if you’re thinking that this is an unusually sour and snarky post, even by my standards, you’re right. Both Brooks’ column and Murray’s premise rubbed me the wrong way.