When we asked our readers if they agreed with Charles Murray that the United States is cleaving into two castes, our readers agreed on this much: America is divided into stark economic classes. But when it came to assessing gravity, assigning blame or proposing solutions, our readers were even more divided than the America of Murray’s description. (Not that we would want it any other way; Peter Drucker encouraged dissent.)
George Williams said, sure, we’ve always had different classes, but the difference now is in alliances:
Reagan came along and convinced poor whites they were middle class and got them to give up their unions—their true source of economic advancement. In the 21st century, the rich do not need the poor of any color, and have no interest in their interests.
Reader Mike Grayson saw debt serfdom, special interests and lack of opportunity as a primary cause of our divides:
The bottom line is that people are enslaved by debt, and it is this debt that causes such a stark contrast between classes, and is what has eaten away at the middle class during the past decade. . . . Those of the lower classes must become more financially literate and not succumb to the temptation of debt. Equal opportunity must be defended. The legislation that tips the level playing field must be reversed, and the special interests must be defeated.
And reader Greg Zerovnik echoed David Brooks’ recommendation of an increased governmental role in fostering social cohesion:
In order to for our society to become less individuated, we need to have all socioeconomic levels do more things together—not just any things, but things that inculcate positive, constructive social norms. The answer is for us to require universal service to the country for two years for every man and woman. You hit the age of 18, in you go.