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The Boy in the Bubble, Volokh.com Edition
Law Professor Ilya Somin, [Email him] is dismissive of Charles Murray's "Bubble" theory—that elites are betraying regular Americans because they have no idea how regular Americans live. See Charles Murray on Elite Ignorance of Ordinary Americans, January 25, 2012 9:10 pm
He notes that Murray offers, in his new book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 a 25 question quiz that is intended to test readers’ knowledge and exposure to mainstream non-upper middle class culture" which includes questions like "Have you ever walked on a factory floor?" and "Have you ever held a job that caused something to hurt at the end of the day?"
Somin says he "managed a middling 37 on his 0–99 point scale," which is a new definition of middling—I bet he doesn't think law students who score 37 on an exam are "middling."
But he doesn't really believe Murray is right:
"... I am far from certain that the kind of knowledge Murray describes is actually important in improving the quality of public policy. Yes, elites who make policy that affects the lives of truck drivers should have some knowledge of “their priorities.” But it’s not clear to me that knowledge of TV shows, foods, preferred sports, etc., of truck drivers is all that useful to understanding those priorities. Even the experience of living with a low income or working at a job where your body hurts at the end of the day (both stressed by Murray s especially important) may be overrated. You don’t have to do either to realize that poverty imposes substantial constraints on your life, or that physical pain is extremely unpleasant. I actually did qualify for the points you get from having had a job where the body hurts at the end of the day. But I doubt that my attitude towards manual labor would be much different if I hadn’t. Overall, I’m not convinced that a political elite composed of people who scored a 99 on Murray’s test would do much better by the truck drivers than one composed of people who scored 19 or 29."
In the very next post on the Volokh Conspiracy [Jeb Bush on Immigration, January 26, 2012 8:29 pm] he's quoting an Op-Ed by Jeb Bush, one of the biggest elitists in the country, and swallowing whole every immigration enthusiast argument in it.
This includes the extremely dubious idea that “That immigration “strengthen[s] our economy” is the longstanding consensus view of most economists.”
Most of the increase in the economy is captured by the immigrants themselves in the form of wages. The rest goes to the employers of cheap labor. The losers are American truck drivers, and the Americans who do work that causes “something to hurt at the end of the day,” if they still have a job.
Not, however, tenured professors at George Mason, like Somin.