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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wax & Alexander: Paying The Price For Breakdown Of The Country's Bourgeois Culture

Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed:  Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country's Bourgeois Culture, by Amy Wax (Pennsylvania) & Larry Alexander (San Diego):

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more raised are by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. ...

Would the re-embrace of bourgeois norms by the ordinary Americans who have abandoned them significantly reduce society’s pathologies? There is every reason to believe so. Among those who currently follow the old precepts, regardless of their level of education or affluence, the homicide rate is tiny, opioid addiction is rare, and poverty rates are low. Those who live by the simple rules that most people used to accept may not end up rich or hold elite jobs, but their lives will go far better than they do now. All schools and neighborhoods would be much safer and more pleasant. More students from all walks of life would be educated for constructive employment and democratic participation.

But restoring the hegemony of the bourgeois culture will require the arbiters of culture — the academics, media, and Hollywood — to relinquish multicultural grievance polemics and the preening pretense of defending the downtrodden. Instead of bashing the bourgeois culture, they should return to the 1950s posture of celebrating it.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/08/wax-alexander-paying-the-price-for-breakdown-of-the-countrys-bourgeois-culture.html

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Comments

I think it was more than the bourgeoisie, it used to be called the Protestant Reformation . . .

Posted by: mike livingston | Aug 13, 2017 5:17:08 AM

“Above the Law’s” headline is so over-the-top (the bit about “things better when women…behaved like white guys…”) that the author does not deserve a thougthful response. However, I would love to the author get one from Professor Deirdre McCloskey, arguably the leading light behind the Burgeois Culture theory. (As only she could.)

Posted by: MG | Aug 13, 2017 6:24:50 AM

What! Are you saying the last 30 years of political correctness, starting with the Murphy Brown show idea that not only was it okay to be a single mom, it was desirable, are wrong?

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Aug 13, 2017 6:55:21 AM

I like watching poker tournaments and noticed a couple of years ago that many of the smartest, driven people were professional poker players rather that entrepreneurs creating new goods, services and technologies.
I attribute this to two things. One, the social stigma against professional gambling is almost nonexistent compared to the past and two, the regulatory hurdles involved in starting up new businesses/companies is enormous compared to the past. So I'm not surprised that a lot of people say 'eff this' and make a nice living from gambling.
While on the one hand I don't have a problem with people making a living off of playing games however, I can't think that it's a good thing when many of the smartest of the current generation are doing so.

Posted by: TBlakely | Aug 13, 2017 2:26:10 PM

@MG I read the Above... article. Basically a poor fisking with exceedingly thin SJW talking points and ad hominem. Because racexism.

Posted by: spmat | Aug 13, 2017 2:58:32 PM

The hardest part? Reaccepting the legitimacy, importance and value of religious belief.

Posted by: Uh Clem | Aug 13, 2017 4:02:05 PM

The so-called bourgeois culture --
Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.
-- predated the Protestant Reformation. By a lot.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | Aug 13, 2017 6:29:08 PM

A reply to this comment from Professor Livingston: "I think it was more than the bourgeoisie, it used to be called the Protestant Reformation."
Maybe you mean Protestant Work Ethic. Reformation is theological. Work Ethic is cultural.

Posted by: Pat Oglesby | Aug 14, 2017 5:00:39 AM

This is 80% social hypochondria. The rebalancing of the formal sector workforce (wherein it went from 70% male to just over 50% male) was largely complete by 1980. It remains majority male. The employment-to-population ratio (i.e. the ratio of employed persons to the non-institutional population past the age of 15) is, at 0.6, almost precisely the post-war median.

Posted by: Art Deco | Aug 14, 2017 7:23:41 AM

The 'breakdown in bourgeois culture' is manifest in statistics on abortion, divorce, and illegitimacy. These are terrible social defects, but they are conditions, not crises. It's also manifest in such things as casual use of profanity (not done prior to about 1974 bar in strictly stag settings) and in affluent people shlepping about in public places in T-Shirts, shorts, baseball caps, and sneakers.

Posted by: Art Deco | Aug 14, 2017 7:28:27 AM

Amy Wax does not approve of single motherhood. What does she propose? Laws to require birth fathers to stay to raise the child or abortion?

Posted by: Cheryl Preston | Aug 14, 2017 2:04:04 PM

What does she propose? Laws to require birth fathers to stay to raise the child or abortion?

Status loss for sluts. Keep your pants zipped, shotgun marriage, and adoption.

Posted by: Art Deco | Aug 16, 2017 6:19:21 PM

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