Arnold Kling  

Discussing Charles Murray

The Predatory Lending Fallacy... My Beautiful Bubble...

I organized a video conference to discuss Coming Apart. Participants were Brink Lindsey, Bryan Caplan, Megan McArdle, Reihan Salam, and Ross Douthat. There was not much discussion of the findings in the book, because everybody seemed to accept them. However, the participants disagreed with Murray, and with one another, about how to treat the social problems Murray documents.

Is our approach to moral evaluation of one another "soft niceness" (Lindsey) or "incredibly authoritarian" (McArdle)? Is the ability to defer gratification something we are born with, something we can be trained for, or something that the welfare system could encourage or discourage? These are the sorts of Vicky and Thete issues that get batted around. It confirms my view that The Diamond Age is the best book to read about social class in a technologically advanced society.

(Warning: the volume when I speak is low, and it is much higher when others are speaking. If you raise the volume when I am speaking, your ears will be blown out when others start to speak. I admit I could put more time into post-production editing of these videos, but it's not what I want to do with my life.)

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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Rick Hull writes:

I haven't watched, but the audio issue could be the result an overeager compressor, either at recording time or in post. This *is* the stuff I like to work on. Perhaps we can work out an arrangement?

ajb writes:

Comments still tended to downplay or not to dwell on the cultural or ethnic reasons for the underclass. But just compare the bottom rungs of US society (white or black) with Japan's. Can there be any doubt that the Japanese version -- with much less illegitimacy, crime, violence, and disorder -- is better? [See the linked article.]

So the real challenge: If a certain type of social rigidity buys you this at the expense of less freedom for the upper classes, isn't it a legitimate choice for a society to make? Of course the upper classes won't choose that, but perhaps the shift in social, legal, and moral rules we've seen has been a kind of transfer from the lower to the upper classes. Modernization in the post 60s US drained the social capital of the poor to buy a more liberated lifestyle for the rich.

Jeff writes:
I admit I could put more time into post-production editing of these videos, but it's not what I want to do with my life.

If you had a closer affiliation with a think tank, I'll bet you could get one of their interns to do it. Better audio for your videos may help create a wider audience, thus raising your status. ;)

eric writes:

audio is very difficult...

Floccina writes:

The upper class still stigmatizes stuff just different stuff. Drive with your children om the shelf in the back of your car and you will be stigmatized. Smoke in front of children etc.

Peter Twieg writes:

Arnold -

I noticed some of your earlier conferences with Reihan made it to Mercatus' podcast feed. Any chance that this will happen with your more recent ones? I hope so.

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