John C. Goodman

We are experiencing an ever widening cultural divide, according to Charles Murray.

Upper-middle class professional types may pretend that they are cultural relativists, accepting of whatever lifestyle their fellow human beings happen to choose. In reality, they live by old fashioned puritan values, however. They get married and stay married. They work hard and work long hours.

Not so for the blue collar, never-got-beyond-high-school class, however. A shocking number aren't even working at all. Many are not getting married in the first place. Of those that get married, the divorce and separation rates are soaring.

What about happiness and well-being? About 65% of the upper middle class professional types say they are in happy marriages. That number has been dropping steadily for the past 40 years for the working class types; and today it stands at 25%!

Murray, by the way, is the author of Losing Ground, the book generally credited with sparking welfare reform in the United States, and The Bell Curve, the book that generated a national debate on the role of IQ in our society. When he speaks, people on both the right and the left tend to listen. His latest book, Coming Apart, is another block buster.

Just so you don't think what Murray is describing is all about race or about immigrants, the entire analysis in it is focused on non-Hispanic whites. Within the white population a cultural cataclysm is underway. One part of that population (about 20% of the total) is firmly attached to traditional values. The other part (about 30% of the total) is undergoing cultural disintegration.

In 1960, these two groups of people lived similar lives. Today, they are headed in opposite directions.


John C. Goodman

John C. Goodman is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts."