Quotulatiousness

November 8, 2010

Credit where it’s due

Filed under: Economics, USA — Tags: — Nicholas Russon @ 08:22

When I posted an article last week about the people in the bubble, I linked to and credited Margaret Wente as the original author. I didn’t realize she was basing her column to a large extent on an article by Charles Murray in the Washington Post from about a week earlier than that. She mentioned his “recent column”, but that didn’t really illustrate how much of her article was built on his.

As you can tell, Wente used Murray’s model and wrote a Canadianized version of the same story:

When they leave college, the New Elite remain in the bubble. Harvard seniors surveyed in 2007 were headed toward a small number of elite graduate schools (Harvard and Cambridge in the lead) and a small number of elite professional fields (finance and consulting were tied for top choice). Jobs in businesses that provide bread-and-butter goods and services to individual Americans, which make up the overwhelming majority of entry-level openings for aspiring managers, attracted just 1.7 percent of the Harvard students who went to work right after graduation.

When the New Elite get around to marrying, they don’t marry just anybody. One of the funniest and most bitingly accurate parts of “Bobos in Paradise” was Brooks’s analysis of the New York Times‘s wedding announcements. Go back to 1960, and the page was filled with brides and grooms who grew up wealthy but whose educations and occupations did not offer much indication that they were going to set the world on fire. Look at the page today, and it is studded with the mergers of fabulous résumés.

Three examples lifted from last Sunday’s Times: a director of marketing at a biotech company (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MBA) married a consultant to the aerospace industry (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MPP); a vice president at Goldman Sachs (Yale) married a director of retail development for a financial software firm (Hofstra); and a third-year resident in cardiology (Yale undergrad) married a third-year resident in pathology (Columbia undergrad, summa cum laude).

The New Elite marry each other, combining their large incomes and genius genes, and then produce offspring who get the benefit of both.

[. . .]

We know, for one thing, that the New Elite clusters in a comparatively small number of cities and in selected neighborhoods in those cities. This concentration isn’t limited to the elite neighborhoods of Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. It extends to university cities with ancillary high-tech jobs, such as Austin and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle.

With geographical clustering goes cultural clustering. Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows — “Mad Men” now, “The Sopranos” a few years ago. But they haven’t any idea who replaced Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right.” They know who Oprah is, but they’ve never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

Charles Murray wrote the at-the-time highly controversial The Bell Curve with Richard J. Herrnstein, so his insight into social and demographic changes deserve attention.

H/T to Terry Teachout, who uncharacteristically mistakes Murray’s description of a general case and tries to prove that he himself doesn’t fit that mould.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

« « Everybody sing along!| Vikings doze for 3/4 of game before waking up » »

Powered by WordPress