Murray’s WSJ essay: Fishtown versus Belmont

In today’s WSJ, a google link is here. The central notion is a new cultural divide and the main statistical results are striking–De Toqueville wouldn’t recognize current America I think. On the other hand, I sure recognize “Belmont”.

Here’s Murray’s money quote:

Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions.

The question is what to do about it?  Murray and I agree, doing nothing isn’t a reasonable option. Where we disagree is whether voluntary behavioral changes from members of his “new upper class” will improve things. I don’t think so because the feedback loops that are driving “Fishtown” down are endogenous to Fishtown (as he points out, there isn’t a lot of mobility).

Am inclined to take a really hard look at educational reform (writ large) instead. The work is with the younger generation of Fishtowners.