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I’m Looking at the Boy in the Bubble


Roy has an interesting post up about how Charles “Coloreds Is Dumb” Murray has moved on from explaining why white people are superior to the dusky races and how now Murray is trying to instigate Whitey class war by pointing out that chain-smokin’ cheap-beer-drinkin’ NASCAR-watchin’ God-botherin’ lunchpail-totin’ gone-fishin’ crap-TV zombies are real Americans and those who don’t do any of those things are effete communist space aliens who have invaded America because Mars Needs Arugula. Or something like that.

Roy, his own badself, took Murray’s How Thick Is Your Bubble pop quiz to gauge whether he is a real ‘Murican or just some snotty East Coast book-larnin’ elitist.

Well, Murray’s been making the rounds, as has a quiz from his book which is supposed to tell you “How Thick Is Your Bubble” — that is, how isolated you are from the real down-home white America that Murray thinks needs redemption. Among the questions: “Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian?” “How many times in the last year have you eaten at one of the following restaurant chains? Applebee’s, Waf?e House,” etc., and “Have you ever watched an Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Judge Judy show all the way through?”

Nonetheless I scored 63, as many of the questions had to do with low birth, manual labor, cheap beer, and stupid shit on TV and at the multiplexes, notwithstanding that I have become over the years a hoity-toity scribbler.

Fortunately for Roy, by rolling up that impressive 63 (A ?rst- generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and moviegoing habits. Range: 42–100. Typical: 66), he won’t be rounded up by the Tea Party Freedom Troopers of Liberty & Jesus (following a dramatic yet slow speed Rascal chase) and placed in a reeducation camp where he will be whacked unconscious with a SlimJim due to his inability to make the connection between the number 3 and Dale Earnhardt Sr. (may American Jesus bless his terminated Terminator soul).

I, on the other hand, will not be so lucky. [cont’d.]

Intrigued to find out how white, salt of the Earth, middle-class American I am perceived to be by Murray (what with his plainspoken flyover country Harvard & MIT ways) I took The Bubble Challenge and, well, …. 21.

It would appear that I am Cornel West.

The saving graces that kept me from getting a zero thereby condemning me to a life of solitary confinement, or worse … sent to Indiana (shudder!), was the fact that I own a pick-up truck, I knew who Jimmie Johnson was (mainly because he owns a Chevy dealership in San Diego), I lettered in two sports in high school, I’ve been to Dennys, I have some dumb friends, and I’ve seen a few dumb movies (probably with my dumb friends). Oh, and I knew what Branson was (White Trash Mecca, y’all).

Murray explains how I failed to be white enough and American enough:

The scoring of the archetypes re?ects a few realities about socio-economic background and the bubble.If you grew up in a working-class neighborhood, you are going to have a high score even if you are now an investment banker living on Park Avenue. Your present life may be completely encased in the bubble, but you brought a lot of experience into the bubble that will always be part of your understanding of America.

Oddly enough, I did grow up in a working-class neighborhood that could even be called lower middle-class. And by ‘working-class’, I mean families where the father held a union job or worked in aerospace (like my dad did and not as an engineer; he received his high school equivalency in his thirties). Remember those jobs? Yeah, Republicans are killing them as you read this. More importantly, in my case, I failed to avoid the smarty-pants bubble despite the fact that I don’t have a college education. So where did I go wrong?

Going back over Murray’s test it seems that by not smoking or drinking cheap-ass beer (or, in my case, drinking alcohol at all which automatically makes me suspect provided I’m not a Mormon), not belonging to a men’s club, not coming home from work “sore” (although I worked as a roofer for years and don’t remember coming home sore. Tired, yes. Sore, no) not marching in a parade, not wearing a uniform or having any evangelical friends (doesn’t having dumb friends cover this?) I am somehow missing out on the American experience.

Many of the members of the new upper class are balkanized. Furthermore, their ignorance about other Americans is more problematic than the ignorance of other Americans about them. It is not a problem if truck drivers cannot empathize with the priorities of Yale professors. It is a problem if Yale professors, or producers of network news programs, or CEOs of great corporations, or presidential advisers cannot empathize with the priorities of truck drivers. It is inevitable that people have large areas of ignorance about how others live, but that makes it all the more important that the members of the new upper class be aware of the breadth and depth of their ignorance

To my knowledge, sociologists haven’t gotten around to asking upper-middle-class Americans how much they know about their fellow citizens, so once again I must ask you to serve as a source of evidence by comparing your own experience to my generalizations. This time, I have a twenty-?ve-question quiz for you to take. I hope it will serve two purposes: ?rst, to calibrate the extent of your own ignorance (if any); second, to give you a framework for thinking about the ignorance that may be common in your professional or personal circles, even if it doesn’t apply to you.

Obviously I’m not a “Yale professor, or producer of network news programs, or CEO of great corporations, or presidential adviser” or even close to a member of the upper class even though I test out as one on the Charles Murray Scale of Broad Generalizations That Will Prove My Point, And I Do Have One, but I could tell those who are that they won’t learn much from a bunch of poor people sitting around smoking and drinking and watching NASCAR that they don’t already know. That what people want in this life is a job they can depend on, a house they can call home, a family that is well fed, good health, a safe place for their kids to play, some time off, a buzz every now and then, and some mindless entertainment to fill the gaps in between.

You would think that Murray’s book is an attempt to get through to the elitists (particularly the CEO’s and presidential advisers) to maybe possibly spend some time in sober reflection about how to make these basic amenities once again attainable and then make it happen. It certainly sounds that way. Well, no. Not at all. Murray’s prescription, as outlined by upper-class twat Niall Ferguson, is for the high achievers/low scorers to tell everyone to pull up those saggy pants, comb your hair, quit making bastard babies, straighten up and fly right:

Murray meticulously chronicles and measures the emergence of two wholly distinct classes: a new upper class, first identified in The Bell Curve as “the cognitive elite,” and a new “lower class,” which he is too polite to give a name. And he vividly localizes his argument by imagining two emblematic communities: Belmont, where everyone has at least one college degree, and Fishtown, where no one has any. (Read: Tonyville and Trashtown.)

The key point is that the four great social trends of the past half-century–the decline of marriage, of the work ethic, of respect for the law and of religious observance–have affected Fishtown much more than Belmont. As a consequence, the traditional bonds of civil society have atrophied in Fishtown. And that, Murray concludes, is why people there are so very unhappy–and dysfunctional.

What can be done to reunite these two classes? Murray is dismissive of the standard liberal prescription of higher taxes on the rich and higher spending on the poor. As he points out, there could hardly be a worse moment to try to import the European welfare state, just as that system suffers fiscal collapse in its continent of origin.

What the country needs is not an even larger federal government but a kind of civic Great Awakening–a return to the republic’s original foundations of family, vocation, community, and faith.

And nothing will quite unite this once great country of ours like having the moneyed classes telling the Poors they they can’t have any help until they get on the good foot with Jesus while our upper-class Galtian overlords develop newer and better financial instruments and loopholes with which to vacuum up all the dough and, besides, the Poors have no skin in the game.

Hmmph. Poor white people – can’t live with them … can’t pit them against the Browns anymore.

Not that they won’t use Murray’s entire oeuvre to try, you understand…

TBogg

I’m Looking At The Boy In The Bubble


Roy has an interesting post up about how Charles “Coloreds Is Dumb” Murray has moved on from explaining why white people are superior to the dusky races and how now Murray is trying to instigate Whitey class war by pointing out that chain-smokin’ cheap-beer-drinkin’ NASCAR-watchin’ God-botherin’ lunchpail-totin’ gone-fishin’ crap-TV zombies are real Americans and those who don’t do any of those things are effete communist space aliens who have invaded America because Mars Needs Arugula. Or something like that.

Roy, his own badself, took Murray’s How Thick Is Your Bubble pop quiz to gauge whether he is a real ‘Murican or just some snotty East Coast book-larnin’ elitist.

Well, Murray’s been making the rounds, as has a quiz from his book which is supposed to tell you “How Thick Is Your Bubble” — that is, how isolated you are from the real down-home white America that Murray thinks needs redemption. Among the questions: “Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian?” “How many times in the last year have you eaten at one of the following restaurant chains? Applebee’s, Waf?e House,” etc., and “Have you ever watched an Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Judge Judy show all the way through?”

Nonetheless I scored 63, as many of the questions had to do with low birth, manual labor, cheap beer, and stupid shit on TV and at the multiplexes, notwithstanding that I have become over the years a hoity-toity scribbler.

Fortunately for Roy, by rolling up that impressive 63 (A ?rst- generation middle-class person with working-class parents and average television and moviegoing habits. Range: 42–100. Typical: 66), he won’t be rounded up by the Tea Party Freedom Troopers of Liberty & Jesus (following a dramatic yet slow speed Rascal chase) and placed in a reeducation camp where he will be whacked unconscious with a SlimJim due to his inability to make the connection between the number 3 and Dale Earnhardt Sr. (may American Jesus bless his terminated Terminator soul).

I, on the other hand, will not be so lucky.

Intrigued to find out how white, salt of the Earth, middle-class American I am perceived to be by Murray (what with his plainspoken flyover country Harvard & MIT ways) I took The Bubble Challenge and, well, …. 21.

It would appear that I am Cornel West.

The saving graces that kept me from getting a zero thereby condemning me to a life of solitary confinement, or worse … sent to Indiana (shudder!), was the fact that I own a pick-up truck, I knew who Jimmie Johnson was (mainly because he owns a Chevy dealership in San Diego), I lettered in two sports in high school, I’ve been to Dennys, I have some dumb friends,  and I’ve seen a few dumb movies (probably with my dumb friends). Oh, and I knew what Branson was (White Trash Mecca, y’all).

Murray explains how I failed to be white enough and American enough:

The scoring of the archetypes re?ects a few realities about socio-economic background and the bubble.If you grew up in a working-class neighborhood, you are going to have a high score even if you are now an investment banker living on Park Avenue. Your present life may be completely encased in the bubble, but you brought a lot of experience into the bubble that will always be part of your understanding of America.

Oddly enough, I did grow up in a working-class neighborhood that could even be called lower middle-class. And by ‘working-class’, I mean families where the father held a union job or worked in aerospace (like my dad did and not as an engineer; he received his high school equivalency in his thirties). Remember those jobs? Yeah, Republicans are killing them as you read this. More importantly, in my case,  I failed to avoid the smarty-pants bubble despite the fact that I don’t have a college education.  So where did I go wrong?

Going back over Murray’s test it seems that by not smoking or drinking cheap-ass beer (or, in my case, drinking alcohol at all which automatically makes me suspect provided I’m not a Mormon), not belonging to a men’s club, not coming home from work “sore” (although I worked as a roofer for years and don’t remember coming home sore. Tired, yes. Sore, no) not marching in a parade,  not wearing a uniform or having any evangelical friends (doesn’t having dumb friends cover this?) I am somehow missing out on the American experience.

Many of the members of the new upper class are balkanized. Furthermore, their ignorance about other Americans is more problematic than the ignorance of other Americans about them. It is not a problem if truck drivers cannot empathize with the priorities of Yale professors. It is a problem if Yale professors, or producers of network news programs, or CEOs of great corporations, or presidential advisers cannot empathize with the priorities of truck drivers. It is inevitable that people have large areas of ignorance about how others live, but that makes it all the more important that the members of the new upper class be aware of the breadth and depth of their ignorance

To my knowledge, sociologists haven’t gotten around to asking upper-middle-class Americans how much they know about their fellow citizens, so once again I must ask you to serve as a source of evidence by comparing your own experience to my generalizations. This time, I have a twenty-?ve-question quiz for you to take. I hope it will serve two purposes: ?rst, to calibrate the extent of your own ignorance (if any); second, to give you a framework for thinking about the ignorance that may be common in your professional or personal circles, even if it doesn’t apply to you.

Obviously I’m not a “Yale professor, or producer of network news programs, or CEO of great corporations, or presidential adviser” or even close to a member of the upper class even though I test out as one on the Charles Murray Scale of Broad Generalizations That Will Prove My Point, And I Do Have One, but I could tell those who are that they won’t learn much from a bunch of poor people sitting around smoking and drinking and watching NASCAR that they don’t already know. That what people want in this life  is a job they can depend on, a house they can call home, a family that is well fed, good health, a safe place for their kids to play, some time off, a buzz every now and then, and some mindless entertainment to fill the gaps in between.

You would think that Murray’s book is an attempt to get through to the elitists (particularly the CEO’s and presidential advisers) to maybe possibly spend some time in sober reflection about how to make these basic amenities once again attainable and then make it happen. It certainly sounds that way. Well, no.  Not at all. Murray’s prescription, as outlined by upper-class twat Niall Ferguson, is for the high achievers/low scorers to tell everyone to pull up those saggy pants, comb your hair, quit making bastard babies, straighten up and fly right:

Murray meticulously chronicles and measures the emergence of two wholly distinct classes: a new upper class, first identified in The Bell Curve as “the cognitive elite,” and a new “lower class,” which he is too polite to give a name. And he vividly localizes his argument by imagining two emblematic communities: Belmont, where everyone has at least one college degree, and Fishtown, where no one has any. (Read: Tonyville and Trashtown.)

The key point is that the four great social trends of the past half-century–the decline of marriage, of the work ethic, of respect for the law and of religious observance–have affected Fishtown much more than Belmont. As a consequence, the traditional bonds of civil society have atrophied in Fishtown. And that, Murray concludes, is why people there are so very unhappy–and dysfunctional.

What can be done to reunite these two classes? Murray is dismissive of the standard liberal prescription of higher taxes on the rich and higher spending on the poor. As he points out, there could hardly be a worse moment to try to import the European welfare state, just as that system suffers fiscal collapse in its continent of origin.

What the country needs is not an even larger federal government but a kind of civic Great Awakening–a return to the republic’s original foundations of family, vocation, community, and faith.

And nothing will quite unite this once great country of ours like having the moneyed classes telling the Poors they they can’t have any help until they get on the good foot with Jesus while our upper-class Galtian overlords develop newer and better financial instruments and loopholes  with which to vacuum up all the dough and, besides, the  Poors have no skin in the game.

Hmmph. Poor white people – can’t live with them … can’t pit them against the Browns anymore.

Not that they won’t use Murray’s entire oeuvre to try, you understand…

(Added) UncertaintyVicePrincipal sums up the whole dignity of work conundrum:

As far as I understand it, having a proper work ethic now means working at three jobs so Mitt Romney can work at none.

I think we’ve gone from “Calvinist Work Ethic” to “Calvinball Work Ethic” in just a few decades.

Also. Too. After additional reflection it occurred to me that since I was once a union member (Screen Actors Guild represent, yo) I should be awarded additional valuable points good for prizes (gun rack, pleez) and authenticity but, alas, we had no union hall. Now I know how the homeless feel….

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TBogg

TBogg

Yeah. Like I would tell you....