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Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray
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Coming Apart Quotes (showing 1-28 of 28)
“People need self-respect, but self-respect must be earned -- it cannot be self-respect if it's not earned -- and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. If that same man lives under a system that says the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away. I am not describing a theoretical outcome, but American neighborhoods where, once working at a menial job to provide for his family made a man proud and gave him status in his community, and where now it doesn't. Taking the trouble out of life strips people in major ways which human beings look back on their lives and say, ‘I made a difference.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Instead of feeling sorry for the exceptionally able student who has no one to talk to, we need to worry about what happens when the exceptionally able students hang out only with one another.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Responsibility for the consequences of actions is not the price of freedom, but one of its rewards.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“People need self-respect, that self respect must be earned – it cannot be self-respect if it's not earned – and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Considerable social science research has found that constant praise of children can backfire, because it so often consists of telling children how smart they are, not of praising children for the things they actually do. As a result, many children become protective of their image of being smart and are reluctant to take chances that might actually damage that image.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“They don't know the distinction between taking care of a child and raising a child.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the domains through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life—achieve happiness—the answer is that there are just four: family, vocation, community, and faith, with these provisos: Community can embrace people who are scattered geographically. Vocation can include avocations or causes. It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four domains, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are. The stuff of life occurs within those four domains.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“The tacit assumption of the advanced welfare state is correct when human beings face starvation or death by exposure. Then, food and shelter are all that count. But in an advanced society, the needs for food and shelter can be met in a variety of ways, and at that point human needs can no longer be disaggregated. The ways in which food and shelter are obtained affects whether the other human needs are met. People need self-respect, but self-respect must be earned—it cannot be self-respect if it’s not earned—and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing. People need intimate relationships with others, but intimate relationships that are rich and fulfilling need content, and that content is supplied only when humans are engaged in interactions that have consequences. People need self-actualization, but self-actualization is not a straight road, visible in advance, running from point A to point B. Self-actualization intrinsically requires an exploration of possibilities for life beyond the obvious and convenient. All of these good things in life—self-respect, intimate relationships, and self-actualization—require freedom in the only way that freedom is meaningful: freedom to act in all arenas of life coupled with responsibility for the consequences of those actions. The underlying meaning of that coupling—freedom and responsibility—is crucial. Responsibility for the consequences of actions is not the price of freedom, but one of its rewards. Knowing that we have responsibility for the consequences of our actions is a major part of what makes life worth living.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Regardless of whether people have free will, human flourishing requires that they live in an environment in which they are treated as if they did.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“When the government intervenes to help, whether in the European welfare state or in America’s more diluted version, it not only diminishes our responsibility for the desired outcome, it enfeebles the institutions through which people live satisfying lives.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“The percentage of people qualifying for federal disability benefits because they are unable to work rose from 0.7 percent of the size of the labor force in 1960 to 5.3% in 2010.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“The main vehicle for nineteenth-century socialization was the leading textbook used in elementary school. They were so widely used that sections in them became part of the national language. Theodore Roosevelt, scion of an elite New York family, schooled by private tutors, had been raised on the same textbooks as the children of Ohio farmers, Chicago tradesman, and New England fishermen. If you want to know what constituted being a good American from the mid-nineteenth century to World War I, spend a few hours browsing through the sections in the McGuffey Readers.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Many of the members of the new upper class are balkanized. Furthermore, their ignorance about other Americans is more problematic than the ignorance of other Americans about them. It is not a problem if truck drivers cannot empathize with the priorities of Yale professors. It is a problem if Yale professors, or producers of network news programs, or CEOs of great corporations, or presidential advisers cannot empathize with the priorities of truck drivers. It is inevitable that people have large areas of ignorance about how others live, but that makes it all the more important that the members of the new upper class be aware of the breadth and depth of their ignorance.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“It used to be that parents didn't have to be home. If a neighbor so I child misbehaving, it was considered appropriate for the neighbor to intervene. The parents would be grateful when they found out, and they would take the word of the neighbor if the child protested his innocence.

Unmarried and divorced parents tend not to behave that way. Instead, they tend to try to be the good guy to their children.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“there’s a lot to like about day-to-day life in the advanced welfare states of western Europe. They are great places to visit. But the view of life that has taken root in those same countries is problematic. It seems to go something like this: The purpose of life is to while away the time between birth and death as pleasantly as possible, and the purpose of government is to make it as easy as possible to while away the time as pleasantly as possible—the Europe Syndrome.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“paying taxes is a cheap price for a quiet conscience—much cheaper than actually having to get involved in the lives of their fellow citizens.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“A new upper class that makes decisions affecting the lives of everyone else but increasingly doesn’t know much about how everybody else lives is vulnerable to making mistakes. How vulnerable are you?”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Burlington, Vermont, is an example of a certain kind of small city that David Brooks calls “Latte Towns,” enclaves of affluent and well-educated people, sometimes in scenic locales such as Santa Fe or Aspen and sometimes in university towns such as Ann Arbor, Berkeley, or Chapel Hill. Of Burlington, Brooks writes: Burlington boasts a phenomenally busy public square. There are kite festivals and yoga festivals and eating festivals. There are arts councils, school-to-work collaboratives, environmental groups, preservation groups, community-supported agriculture, antidevelopment groups, and ad hoc activist groups.… And this public square is one of the features that draw people to Latte Towns. People in these places apparently would rather spend less time in the private sphere of their home and their one-acre yard and more time in the common areas.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“the most lovable of exceptional American qualities (is) our tradition of insisting that we are part of the middle class, even if we aren’t, and of interacting with our fellow citizens as if we were all middle class.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married. Divorced parents produce the next-best outcomes. Whether the parents remarry or remain single while the children are growing up makes little difference. Never-married women produce the worst outcomes. All of these statements apply after controlling for the family’s socioeconomic status.14 I know of no other set of important findings that are as broadly accepted by social scientists who follow the technical literature, liberal as well as conservative, and yet are so resolutely ignored by network news programs, editorial writers for the major newspapers, and politicians of both major political parties. In”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Changing the new upper class by force majeure won’t work and isn’t a good idea in any case. The new upper class will change only if its members decide that it is in the interest of themselves and of their families to change. And possibly also because they decide it is in the interest of the country they love.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“There is more to life than work, and a life without ample space for family and friends is incomplete. But this much should not be controversial: Vocation—one’s calling in life—plays a large role in defining the meaning of that life. For some, the nurturing of children is the vocation. For some, an avocation or a cause can become an all-absorbing source of satisfaction, with the job a means of paying the bills and nothing more. But for many others, vocation takes the form of the work one does for a living. Working hard, seeking to get ahead, and striving to excel at one’s craft are not only quintessential features of traditional American culture but also some of its best features. Industriousness is a resource for living a fulfilling human life instead of a life that is merely entertaining.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“The responsibilities of marriage induce young men to settle down, focus, and get to work.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Data can bear on policy issues, but many of our opinions about policy are grounded in premises about the nature of human life and human society that are beyond the reach of data.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“Taking the trouble out of life strips people of major ways in which human beings look back on their lives and say, “I made a difference.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“The human impulse behind the isolation of class is as basic as impulses get: People like to be around other people who understand them and to whom they can talk.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010
“The average Harvard freshman in 1952 would have placed in the bottom 10 percent of the incoming class by 1960.”
Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

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