Charles Murray in The New York Times on narrowing class divisions Murray's new book Coming Apart discusses the growing gap between professional and working classes in America, and it's elicited a lot of comment and critique. Murray writes: "Some of the critiques are fair, some are frivolous. But there's one — 'He doesn't offer any solutions!' — that I can't refute. The reason is simple: Solutions that are remotely practicable right now would not do much good." He argues against a commonly proposed mandatory national service program for the young. He suggests and argues for some measures that would help, including an elimination of the SAT, a ban on unpaid internships, and replacing a race-based affirmative action system with a socioeconomic one. But even these, he says, won't make much substantive difference. "There may, however, be a symbolic value in these reforms. The changes that matter have to happen in the hearts of Americans."
Joshua Green in The Boston Globe on the folly of reviving manufacturing Both President Obama and Republicans often talk about reviving manufacturing as if it's their most important priority. "New jobs are always desirable, especially during a prolonged economic slump. But few economists show much enthusiasm for the ideas most often put forward to help the manufacturing sector," writes Green. "What's driving the focus on manufacturing isn’t economics, so much as politics." Economists, he says, don't like the proposed programs like tax credits for certain sectors of the economy or trade barriers. But politicians like appealing to the American ethos that we ought to produce physical products (not financial ones). The long term trends that have driven most manufacturing jobs overseas aren't likely to reverse because of the short term fixes proposed by both parties. "That's a fantasy, but one so beguiling that few politicians would dare challenge it."