1. Do you agree with Murray that the erosion of traditional middle-class morals/values helps explain inequality in contemporary America?
2. What other forces might have contributed to increasing inequality in American life?
3. Based on your personal sense of fairness, is a large and growing gap in income and wealth in America an ethical wrong? Explain.
What forces have caused the growing income and wealth gaps in America? Libertarian scholar Charles Murray in his controversial book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 looks at the blue-collar, white working class for some answers. He points to declining moral values in that group as a crucial factor in American inequality and reduced mobility. He provides evidence of an alarming fall in white working-class social capital (neighborliness and civic engagement) prompted by decreasing industry, community, religion, and marriage. Murray does not ignore similar problems in the black working class, but his focus is on white people.