Arnold Kling  

What is Wrong with the New Elite?

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Charles Murray writes,


Far from spending their college years in a meritocratic melting pot, the New Elite spend school with people who are mostly just like them -- which might not be so bad, except that so many of them have been ensconced in affluent suburbs from birth and have never been outside the bubble of privilege. Few of them grew up in the small cities, towns or rural areas where more than a third of all Americans still live.

I am going to disagree with the thrust of Murray's article, which is that the problem of the elite is that they are out of touch with much of America. I think instead that the problem is that those in the elite who go into politics believe that they know more than they really do. In my view, we are in a "cycle of failure," in which policies fail, political leaders respond by usurping more power ("we need to strengthen regulation"), failures get worse, more power gets usurped, etc.

Murray continues,


I doubt if there is much to differentiate the staff of the conservative Weekly Standard from that of the liberal New Republic, or the scholars at the American Enterprise Institute from those of the Brookings Institution, or Republican senators from Democratic ones.

I fear that this is true. The fight is mostly over who gets to hold the reins of power. Restructuring our political system to reduce the concentration of power is a fringe idea.

I was reminded of its fringiness when I spoke several days ago on the themes of Unchecked and Unbalanced. The audience consisted of members of the conservative elite, and the reception was polite bafflement.

Admittedly, I may have been responsible for some of the bafflement. Before the talk, I kept revising it, without coming up with a truly satisfying outline. But what the audience wanted to hear (and what they got from most of the other speakers) was a message that once the Republican establishment is back in power, all will be well. There is no way that I could have said that.


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (35 to date)
RPLong writes:

I think both you and Murray are right, to a certain extent.

You are obviously correct that the political class thinks they know more than they really do.

Murray is right that the elites are completely isolated from some of the most basic parts of the human experience. And I really mean that. And I think this explains why they think they know more than they do.

For example, one of the reasons why there is such a huge "buy organic/local" trend is because the people who believe in that garbage have no concept of how little food we really have with respect to the global population. They have never seen or worked on a real, commercial farm in the West or Mid-West, they have never seen pests wither up an entire crop of otherwise beautiful apples or lettuce... etc.

Their opinions are based on the "everything comes from the grocery store" school of epistemology. The people who actually grow food for a living (or mine coal, or drill for oil, or ship/receive, or build houses, or whatever) are baffled that people so rich and educated know so little about where stuff comes from and what that means about public policy.

DBW writes:

My example is the US Dept. of Education. Abolishing that dept. has been an article of faith for true conservatives for 30+ yrs (as compared to Bush-tolerant NCLB advocates). This year Tea Party type Republicans are bringing it up again on the campaign. Mainstream commentators remark that favoring such an abolition is obviously a sign of wackiness. BUT, these commentators don't make the smallest effort to defend the Federal Govt.'s record on education since the DoEd was started in the '70's or the Feds went all in on education in 1965. The monument to failure that is the US DoEd must be defended at all costs; any attempt to reduce power of the Feds is treated as apostasy. The apostate is treated as respectfully as might be expected.

Jack Stewart writes:

Our political system has been "reformed" to keep the elites from any intimate connection to even the upper middle class.

Great Quote from 1927

"Here in the last generation, a development has taken place which finds an analogy nowhere else. American parties have ceased to be voluntary associations like trade unions or the good government clubs or the churches. They have lost the right freely to determine how candidates shall be nominated and platforms framed, even who shall belong to the party and who shall lead it. The state legislatures have regulated their structure and functions in great detail."

Source: American Parties and Elections,
by Edward Sait, 1927 (Page 174)
Quoted from: The tyranny of the two-party system,
by Lisa Jane Disch c2002

We have not signed the Copenhagen Document of the Helsinki Accords that states in part:

(7.6) - respect the right of individuals and groups to establish, in full freedom, their own political parties or other political organizations and provide such political parties and organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and by the authorities;...

Jack

Rebecca Burlingame writes:

A lot of this has to do with how so much of the knowledge deemed most important has been walled off from individual and public use. Often I think of Reagan's comment "Tear Down This Wall" and wonder why the tea partiers do not use that line for the wall of knowledge which prevents people from healing and educating their own. Sure, homeschooling is out there but it follows the basic precepts of formal schooling with all its stylings of preparing for the elusive job. For generations, teachers and doctors have come to rural communities from the universities because of the money provided to them, but that knowledge never had a chance to stay in the community to enrich it or its members. What's more, those who have been "educated" by the teachers don't feel they can stay to enrich their own community, they always have to find some other place to make a living...more individual wealth leaving communities permanently, property taxes paid for that. And yet rural America hears of the America that thrives every day and wonders why it was brought up to believe that it was somehow supposed to be a part of it.

Arnold, I was concerned about that speech. What gets me is that the new elite is not aware of the tremendous unrest that is already at their doorstep.

Matt C writes:

Is your claim really at odds with Murray's? Seems more like a difference in emphasis to me.

You talk about a cycle of failure--but in a democracy, failure is supposed to result in a transfer of power to new leadership. This *appeared* to happen with Obama, and it will *appear* to happen again in November, but will anything really change? No, because all the new bosses are basically the same as the old bosses. Isn't this Murray's point?

After watching the TARP bailout revote, and then the willingness of many legislators to take it on the chin voting for health care reform, I don't think there's much hope for "bottom up" change. If the peons want the wrong things, they'll simply be ignored.

I suppose that means I should be a "liberaltarian" and hope to influence the insiders instead. But I can't bring myself to do it--I think it's because I can barely bring myself to type "liberaltarian" much less say it out loud.

Rebecca Burlingame writes:

Matt C,
per your last paragraph: does that mean you believe change from the bottom is the only real option?

Rick Stewart writes:

Murray is right (and not just because he is from Iowa, my own state). The top 25% has absolutely no idea how the bottom 25% lives/thinks, and vice versa. What the elites have figured out how to do is to gather votes - this was done by marketers, not leaders. As one would expect from marketers, they work for the highest paycheck, thus Dems and Reps are equally armed, and politics bears as much resemblance to reality as do the Pepsi v Coke wars.

Drug prohibition is a clear example. No thinking person can engage in over 60 minutes of thoughtful debate before reaching the conclusion prohibition is and always will be a catastrophe.

But no thinking politician cares, because a thoughtful approach to the question will lose him/her votes, period.

Michael Jordan writes:

Your comment touches on an issue that causes me some measure of trepidation.

Looking back over my lifetime, it is apparent that Republicans and Democrats have certain traits and techniques that tend to be common to the species. Neither one of which is a complete solution to the issues at hand as each group generally tends to focus on particular aspects of the situation. Democrats tend to elevate entitlement while Republicans tend to do just the opposite. Republicans generally believe in giving the money to the wealthy in the belief that they will graciously care for the less fortunate people in the situation.

Where this finds application to my thought in our current situation is as follows. First off I will lay aside the matter of how we got here and whose fault it is. Given the present situation - massive unemployment and an economy that is barely recovering if at all - Obama has chosen to do what Democrats tend to do. Among other things he is boosting entitlements. This may not be an ideal solution, but at least it is allowing 10% of the employable population to continue to eat and live life. Are there abuses to the system? Sure thing there are. It makes life better for the welfare recipients that drive the new Cadillacs. And anyone who is at all familiar with the entitlement system has to be blind not to see that kind of thing. But considering the fact that at 10% unemployment you are dealing with some fifteen million people, it's reasonable to expect there are going to be some rough spots. There are going to be some slackers in the bunch. So does this approach have its drawbacks? Absolutely - we have a national debt with more numbers than an international phone number. That is a problem that is not going to go away for some time. And in the present situation it's only getting worse.

But here's where the flip side of this coin comes in - and this is what I worry a bit about. When a Republican does gain office again - next term, the one after, whenever - he/she will in short order make a 180 degree change. The entitlements will be cut. The money will be given to the gracious rich so that the poor may be graced with the droppings that the rich cannot hoard. And suddenly you have millions of people in a crisis situation.

Now admittedly, some of those fifteen million are slackers and that change would merely provide impetus for them to get off their derriere and get a job. But there are also in that group a large number of people who simply cannot do anything about their situation. Be it physical handicap, mental challenges, whatever, some things in this life are simply not going to change. It is these individuals that I worry for when a Republican gets the reigns again. The new office holder will have the ideal political tool to not just rob the poor and give to the rich, but to do so in a grand fashion so as to deal with a monstrous national debt that is out of control. And who will truly suffer in this battle of ideologies? The poor and unfortunate.

Mercer writes:

I think the fact that elites watch different TV shows is insignificant. Murray does not explain why this and other lifestyle matters is bad for the country.

I think the fact that so many of the elite work in finance is problematic. It means elites think that what is good for Wall Street is good for America. TARP is one result of this mindset.

I don't blame elite grads for going to Wall Street. That is what the job market is rewarding. Whether it is good for the economy is doubtful. I would like to see economists explain why Wall Street is earning such a high percentage of the country's income. Murray and other right wing elites do not seem to care about this though. People such as Arthur Brooks like to pretend that all high income earners are producing wealth.

Matt C writes:

Rebecca, I was kidding around. My objection to liberaltarianism is a little bit visceral (I identify with the peons, not the policy makers) and a little bit practical (the flea of libertarianism will not move the elephant of progressivism), but I'm not opposed to the project in principle. It's OK to have more than one strategy for pursuing liberty.

I don't have much optimism for change. The insiders have enough control now that they probably won't get dislodged without a collapse or near collapse of legitimacy. Things are bad now, and they're going to get worse, but a civil war would be worse yet.

Rebecca Burlingame writes:

Matt C,
Perhaps we can get an Education Reformation before total collapse, let's hope. (might even be bigger than the first time around) At the very least, people will have solutions ready to go if the government's plan of paying for social services in the future with high finance does not work out.

Gary Rogers writes:

I would add another dimension to elitism. They are certainly out of touch with the rest of America and those who go into politics certainly think they know more than they do. The trait I would add, to paraphrase Mark Twain, is that they know so much that is not true. Common sense seems to get lost somewhere in the educational process and the basic values that make our country work seem to vanish. Elite graduates who can eloquently argue their positions have been taught too many of the wrong things. And, I agree, that goes for both elite liberals and elite conservatives. That is why I am convinced that we are infinitely better off with some fringe candidate that believes in reducing government power than an elite intellectual who has all the answers.

schooner writes:

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Craig Adams writes:

It has been truly said that any culture which limits upwards mobility shortly collapses.

The turmoil caused by accelerating technologies which have rendered an untrained majority abruptly superfluous and created burgeoning joblessness have broken most traditional paradigms for bringing the talented up to the levels they would ordinarily achieve, even while our own leadership turns inwards towards a maintenance of financial security and social privilege.

The results are clear: we DO have an isolated elite which becomes more so with each passing generation. In combination with the lack of gainful employment for many, this has created and perpetuates a perfect opportunity for class warfare to degenerate into the real thing. It did when cottage industries came under terminal threat from centralized manufacturing- and the Luddites rebelled. In this country, the Tea Party has been the only group to successfully exploit the rage of the disenfranchised- but what if it had been a group with more violent goals, and a strong bent against the wealthy? Headlines might be rather different.

What now? How, short of "a sudden, unanticipated population adjustment event", do we redress these issues? We must begin to seek avenues for a shift into new paradigms without the cascades of violent change which appear inevitable at this juncture. That effort, or our failure to make it, will define either our finest hour, or the beginning of the end.

Chris in Wichita writes:

So let me make sure I understand. Charles Murray, who has written a book called the Bell Curve, is lamenting a change from an elite based on heredity to one based on standardized testing.

That's ironic, and not Alanis Morrisette ironic.

PS. Arnold, I love your writing and your site. You've moved me from liberal to liberaltarian.

Hugh Watkins writes:

I think it is fair to say that 99.99% of the people involved in generating the finance bubble that then led to the Great Recession are from the New Elites.

The New Elites therefore deserve a lot more scrutiny, and I think the both Charles Murray and Arnold make valid points that are not necessarily contradictory.

Look at the foreclosure scandal: the New Elites "know" about securitisation, but they don't have a clue about dealing with the paperwork because, hey, since when did an Elitist do paperwork?

[posted from email request--Econlib Ed.]

Ignim Brites writes:

"..insight into oversight reveals the cumulative process of decline. For the flight from understanding blocks the insights that concrete situations demand. There follow unintelligent policies and inept courses of action. The situation deteriorates to demand still further insights, and as they are blocked, policies become more unintelligent and action more inept. What is worse, the deteriorating situation seems to provide the uncritical, biased mind with factual evidence in which the bias is claimed to be verified. So in ever increasing measure intelligence comes to be regarded as irrelevant to practical living. Human activity settles down into a decadant routine, and initiative becomes the privilege of violence."

Bernard Lonergan, SJ Insight: A Study of Human Understanding

Arnie Kriegbaum writes:

Elite? I always thought that elites were made of the best of the best. Since it is unlikely for a person from my current town to ever become a member of such a group, regardless of merit, the group can not be really considered elite. Historically privileged and snappy dressers, yes. Best of the best elites, no.

So, as Arnold said, they probably don't know as much as they think that they do.

miriam sawyer writes:

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Ellen writes:

More than anything, I think the divide is rural/citified. The rural have more humility -- nature tends to do that. Weather, floods, heat, drought, they all remind you there are things you cannot control nor talk into behaving the way you'd like.

Somebody in a big city, a blizzard hits and the streets are clogged, they think all they have to do is vote for a politician that promises better street plowing. They seldom run into a problem that cannot be talked or voted away. And if the problem isn't talked or voted away? That is somebody's fault, not merely the way things are.

fundamentalist writes:

There is a verse in the Old Testament in which God describes how he is going to punish Israel for their evil and rebellion. The punishment is that God is going to place "silly young men" in charge of the nation. The difference today is that we vote the "silly young men" into office.

Yes, I see a problem with the elite, but I don't see a significant different between the elite Democrats and elite Republicans. Democrats are socialists and Republicans are socialist-lite. Still, the majority voted for them. In my opinion, the elite mirror the majority, and their ruling over us is the wrath of God.

WCUdon writes:

What is Wrong with the New Elite?

Murray believes that growing up in a life of priviledge is making our elite out of touch with the issues people are actually facing today. I agree with this point to an extent. I agree that a life of priviledge and being an outsider looking at a problem leaves you distant although it keeps you somewhat aware. By this I mean that those who do not experience things first hand still hear about and have to face issues. Whether it is the newspaper, the internet, or a news show we are constantly inundated with news about peoples' situations all over the world. Do not get me wrong, knowing about a situation and experiencing it are two totally different things but at least the elite are somewhat educated on the issues. However, I feel for the elite to truly be as effective as they want to be and truly help people like they claim that they should be willing to experience the lives they want to impact.

Bob_R writes:

Like others I don't think your take is incompatible with Murray's. The social isolation of the new elite makes them unlikely to be competent at certain complex tasks - business, government, politics, sociology - tasks for which wide experience and judgment are more important than intellect. The cloistered environment is perfectly suitable for narrow technical disciplines - physics, chemistry, banking, law - and abstract disciplines - mathematics, philosophy.

Ken Royall writes:

The difference with the Conservative intelligentsia is that they KNOW they don't know enough to run the country from Wash DC. In fact that principal is a cornerstone of conservatism. True conservatives are not as dangerous because they have no desire to control all of our lives. They understand the "knowledge problem" quite well.

Californio writes:

Reminiscent of Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House - "Remain Calm - All is Well!"

We need to change the game, conversely both major political parties want the voters to blindly "double down" and increase the bet/investment in....their side.

Drieger writes:

Murray argues that the new elite are out of touch with the rest of America, but he also argues that they really are brighter than the rest of America.

Okay, just like Juliard graduates will be better musicians than the rest of America.

But what's wrong with Murray's argument?

First - Comparing Yale and Stanford grads' IQs to the IQs of the rest of America is going to skew the outcome because it's apples & oranges. How about comparing Yale & Stanford grads' IQs to, say, grads of Grove City College, Carnegie Mellon U, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, and Loyola Law School?

I really wonder if you are going to find an IQ difference that matters as much as the *social* benefits a Yalie enjoys over that NMIMT grad.

Second - Even if a quantifiable and significant difference in IQ does exist between the Ivy Leaguers and the rest of America ... why does that give them the right to run our lives via the heavy hand of statism? What parts of "all men are ... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" and the concept of self-government cease to be true when Citizen A has an IQ of 140 and Citizen B has an IQ of 90?

Tea Partiers and small government conservatives are not anti-intellectual or anti-achievement. What we are is anti-statist and anti-buttinsky. The new elite are pro-buttinsky and pro-statist. They believe they are anointed to run everyone else's lives, and that they have every right to use the heavy hand of an all-powerful government to do it.

It wouldn't be quite so outrageous if the new elites had a sustained track record of success to back up their claims. But what they have produced is a big stinking turd of failure: flatlined test scores in a public education system that costs exponentially more than it did 40 years ago; massive pension liabilities facing governments at all levels; trillions spent on a "war on poverty" that has resulted in intergenerational cycles of poverty; a collapsed housing market that took down the entire economy.

Yah, right. They are geniuses like Wile E. Coyote is a genius.

Paul from Hamburg writes:

Dreiger, you make some excellent points.

I would add that the IQ of graduates is poor measure of educational merit. I would like to measure preparation to be an actual, functioning, productive adult. What percentage of Yale vs. NMIMT grads walk out of graduation on Sunday and are ready to start improving an employer's profit margin on Monday? For that matter, what percentage of graduates skip graduation because they have already been working for a couple of weeks and don't want to be bothered.

"What we are is anti-statist and anti-buttinsky." Also well said. How often have we heard members of the current ruling class say "We live in a meritocracy"? Well, they are wrong. We live in a democracy.

Smokelessjim writes:

I think it should be remembered that among the most respected institutions in the US is its military (Disclosure: I am biased, having served 26 years and graduated from two state universities), which has been largely frozen out of the 'elite' universities in ROTC, etc. Yet, despite having to draw its leaders largely from 'non-elite' institutions, we somehow managed to create the most capable military in history. Just imagine what we could have done with more lieutenants from Yale.

John B. writes:

This is not ironic at all; this very topic forms a big part of "The Bell Curve" (which book is not at all about what common knowledge seems to think it is; it is worth reading). Murray worries about disconnected elites. See also his "Real Education" for more of the same worry.

I want to note that while most of the elite has been to good colleges, etc., it is not true that those who have been to good colleges, etc. are necessarily part of the elite; they may share opinions and culture but not every Ivy League graduate is in a position of power or influence.

Freedom Thinker writes:

"The only true wisdome is knowing you know nothing."

- Socrates

I just want the elite to leave us non-elite alone.

Ari Tai writes:

re: shrinking government.

Need not be done directly. Congress could tell the domestic agencies that they have two years to go to all the communities - metropolitan statistical areas of around 300,000 people and ask them if they'd be willing to pay for their work product and processes. And use that input to make changes for a "round 2" when they ask again. Those that get no takers go out of business in six years, those that do, adjust to their revised revenue stream. No different that the downsizing of corporate headquarters' staff in the 70s and 80s as the command-and-control Sloan and Carnegie (industrial-age structures necessary when information was scarce and costly) were made redundant by inexpensive information technology and networks. And if the big companies didn't adapt, the smaller and more agile and focused companies would drive them out of business. So the executives told their own bureaucracies "if the edges of the company don't have work for you (and are willing to pay your bills) neither do I."

Unsaid is the great good of having all civilian agencies go from masters to employees, and to an expression of voluntary-association between communities, rather than dictated. And imagine how the GDP will grow when 9 of 10 of the cream of our system (clearly must be the top few percent given the salary disparity with private business) are moved from a below-the-line cost-of-goods, and in many cases dead-weight-loss to something with at least the potential of an above-the-line return.

Well, I can dream.

Jon writes:

Kling writes: "I think instead that the problem is that those in the elite who go into politics believe that they know more than they really do. "

Well that reminds me of Reagan's line at the Goldwater convention: "Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXBswFfh6AY

Start watching around 13:12.

Mike writes:
Their opinions are based on the "everything comes from the grocery store" school of epistemology.

You couldn't have hit the nail any harder on the head. I personally think this problem is more or less fundamental to the modern leftist way of thinking, but it's there on the right as well. The eternal curse of prosperity.

Tom Grey writes:

Arnold, you are MORE right than Charles. While it is is true that the elites are out of touch, the bigger problem is that they are sure they know how to run other people's lives better -- more gov't spending (as ordered by the elites in power), more gov't regulation.

This is reflected in the attacks against O'Donnell, like previously against Palin, not intellectual enough. For big-gov't Dems, it's clear one MUST be more intelligent in order to run other's lives better. But anti-big-gov't politicians do NOT have to be more intelligent.

Always cutting taxes, always cutting spending; always against more taxes, always against more spending -- it doesn't take an elite to follow these principles.

Big-gov't Reps, or social engineering Reps, also want pols to have the intelligence to design better nudges or rules than honest freedom (or small gov't) needs.

I remember a lesson from a Barbara Brandon book (about Ayn Rand & Nathaniel) -- intelligent people are always smart enough to tell themselves believable lies. The "Fatal Conceit" lie of the elites, to themselves, is that they really believe they do know better.

wlfgngpck writes:

You know, I'll admit I was a bit surprised when I read Murray's article. But these comments are just downright stunning. I only hope that you guys still take the time to read this page so you can see my response because I would like to hear your responses to what I have to say.

I'll start by saying that, based on Murray's definition, I am a member of this new elite. I graduated from Brown University and am now in graduate school at UCLA. Having said that, I think it's a very dangerous generalization that every member of the new elite has no understanding of America. The only ones I've ever known to "live in a bubble" and so on are all the ones that grew up in a wealthy, over-privileged background. But this is nothing new at all (the "old" elite was the wealthy class) so it seems like you're directing your anger towards the wrong group.

Drieger writes "even if a quantifiable and significant difference in IQ does exist between the Ivy Leaguers and the rest of America ... why does that give them the right to run our lives via the heavy hand of statism?" The answer is of course nothing. Believe me, most of us want nothing to do with "running America," at least in the political sense. Those that do are truly no more or less connected to mainstream America than any other politician so I don't see what the complaint is here either.

As far as the job market goes, new elites are more educated because they are generally more talented intellectually. I don't say that to be mean but it's a cold hard fact. And the more talented individuals are going to have a disproportionately large number of the more influential jobs. Is that fair? Actually, yes it is. It's not at all that we expect to run everyone's lives, or believe we are entitled to do so. We believe that our hard work over the years should qualify us for the high end jobs and that does, in many instances, come with having some authority over others. But seriously, how do you suppose we should choose who gets these kinds of jobs, if not by their qualifications? Because not everyone is qualified. If I said it wasn't fair that I can't play professional baseball (even though I want to) would you really feel sorry for me? Or think I have a valid complaint? How is this any different?

"Tea Partiers and small government conservatives are not anti-intellectual or anti-achievement." Really? Because it sure sounds like the crux of Murray's argument is directly against high-achieving intellectuals. So the argument is....what exactly? That those high-achieving intellectuals should make a greater effort to understand the rest of America? Because, throughout my entire life, I've never once seen the rest of America trying to understand us. The griping about entitlement is especially ridiculous here, since you guys seem to believe you're "entitled" to our understanding. You're most likely the same group of people that made fun of intellectuals and high achievers growing up, and made their lives miserable. What right do you have now to seriously suggest that we owe you....well, anything at all?

As far as education goes, I can tell you right away why education is in the crapper, and it has nothing to do with the people running this country. It has to do with the teachers to some extent (because they whine like the students they themselves teach), but mostly it's the parents. Teachers give a child anything other than an A and parents are up in arms because obviously their child is really smart but this teacher just can't teach and obviously this is a bad teacher because of it. Give me a break. The pressure that is put on teachers to grade a certain way is why children are leaving classrooms without truly learning the material (and therefore failing those exams you mentioned) AND is why the most talented individuals have no desire to teach America's youth. So the solution is easy; tell parents they've overstepped their bounds and toughen up schools. But that solution is not practical, so we're stuck with what we have. I'd be interested to hear....what does mainstream America think we should do? If we've all got it so wrong then step up to the plate and show us how it's done.

The war on poverty would be handled poorly by anyone, although again I'd love to hear some practical solutions. Same with the housing market (although again mainstream America gets to shoulder part of this blame also).

Rebecca Burlingame writes "What's more, those who have been "educated" by the teachers don't feel they can stay to enrich their own community, they always have to find some other place to make a living...more individual wealth leaving communities permanently, property taxes paid for that. And yet rural America hears of the America that thrives every day and wonders why it was brought up to believe that it was somehow supposed to be a part of it." It sounds like you're coming very close to suggesting that those educated by a community "owe" the community. I absolutely reject that idea. I grew up in Hinkley, CA (just outside of Barstow, CA if you're familiar with that area), which is an extremely small town. Why should I ever be expected to go back there if I don't want to? That's just ridiculous. And if that's not what you're suggesting then I don't really understand the point of your comment. Yeah, it sucks that people choose to leave, but what do you suggest we do about it? Short of forcing people to stay, there's nothing you can do.

Again, it seems like you guys all think the nation's educated owe you their talents (i.e. that they should make themselves aware of what it's like to be you so that they can make the decisions you want them to make). You treat us like we are resources at our disposal. I really do hope you all choose to re-evaluate your position on this, because your line of thinking is dangerous.

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