New Social Divide Slams CA, Budget

JAN. 20, 2012

By WAYNE LUSVARDI

The recent capsizing of the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy is symbolic of both Italy’s and California’s inability to continue to fund welfare states.  A lack of “social capital,” not income or taxes, is tearing at the social superstructure of California from within.

The Costa Concordia departed from “Civitavecchia,” an ancient second-century port of the Roman Empire near Rome.  In Italian, “civita” means civilized or civic society.  “Vecchia” refers to old age, as in, “you’ll support me in my old age” (sara il bastone della mia vecchiaia).

The initial reports of the shipwreck indicate that the captain may have abandoned ship in violation of maritime laws.  If the media reports are correct, it was not the ship’s officers but the Filipino cooks, maids and rank and file crew who saved passengers during the chaos to abandon the ship.  Plausibly, they had enough social capital from a Catholic-Asian-influenced social culture to save 4,000 passengers.

The capsizing of the Costa Concordia is symbolic of what is slowly happening to the government cruise ship “Costa California.”

Cruise Ship ‘Costa California’ Coming Apart

The metaphorical cruise ship “Costa California” is listing to port. It can’t find a way to plug a structural $20 billion annual state budget deficit.  But contrary to Gov. Jerry Brown, who proposes to raise taxes, Costa California isn’t leaking taxes from its ballast tanks.  Rather, it is leaking social capital.  There aren’t enough young, intact families to take out mortgages to support the pensions of public or private retirees.  Thus, the economy is coming apart.  But it is really the social fabric that is fraying.  It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you are trying to escape going down with a sinking ship.

According to the Occupy Wall Street movement, California is divided along social class lines with the rich comprising 1 percent and the not-rich comprising the other 99 percent. But libertarian sociologist Charles Murray says the reason for California’s social class divide is not primarily due to an income gap but due to a gap in social capital.

By American social capital, Murray means those institutions that bring about industriousness, neighborliness and lack of class envy; and which promote marriage and family formations along with a culture of entrepreneurialism.

Murray’s soon-to-be-published book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960 to 2010,” says it is the lack of marriage and religious institutions that is resulting in greater social division, fewer liberties and a declining economy.  A synopsis by Murray of the book can be found online in an article titled, “Belmont and Fishtown: On Diverging Classes in the United States.” The article is a comparison of two fictional neighborhoods in upscale Boston and working-class Philadelphia, respectively.  An audio of Murray stating the evidence for the thesis of his book can also be found here.

Although similar divisions exist among other races and groups, Murray concentrated on whites because other groups are more influenced by racial discrimination and recent immigration. By isolating whites in his study, Murray more easily can focus his analysis on class divisions.

The focus of Murray’s book is not the middle class.  Instead, he compares the top 20 percent and the bottom 30 percent on the social class ladder.  What he finds is a growing social class divide.   The Tea Party’s focus is on the preservation of the middle class. And the Occupy Movement’s focus is on the growing social divide.  Both are misdirected social movements when it comes to rescuing California.

Social Divisions

To Murray, the origins for the divide are social and not due to the “greed” of Wall Street.  In 1960, about 88 percent of the “upper class” and 83 percent of the “lower class” in the U.S. were married.  Today, 83 percent of the upper class still are married, but only 48 percent of the lower class.  The result is that there aren’t enough intact families to take out mortgages and start new businesses to support the pensions of the elderly.  Thus, the inter-generational financial structure of the economy is coming apart.  But it is really the social superstructure that has self-destructed with the “nudging” of government.

What Murray is concerned about nationally has also taken place in California. California saw a leveling off of intact nuclear families from 2000 to 2007. The number of two-parent families with children grew from 4,117,036 in 2000 to only 4,218,469 in 2007.  This reflects a minus half percent (-0.5%) decline relative to total population growth. Two parent families with children constituted 35.8 percent of all state households in 2000 and 34.7 percent in 2007. This reflects a 1.1 percentage-point decline. Meanwhile, state population grew 8.1 percent over the same seven-year period.

What apparently has grown in California are the number of single-parent families due to divorce and out-of-wedlock births, not childless households. Unmarried partner households (same-sex) only represented 0.9 percent of all households in 2007.

Virtue Gap

What is causing this is the lack of socially institutionalized “virtues” that foster family formations, the work ethic and social responsibility.   This can only be derived from religion that is separate from the state.  It can’t be manufactured by government funded non-profit clones, academia, some faddish therapy or churches captured by politicized extremes.

In California, “occupying” Wall Street will not fix the state.  Nor will increased public school expenditures per student.  Fully funding state and local government budgets so that pension obligations can be met is not the long-term answer, either.  Figuratively speaking, that would just take on more water to the Costa California cruise ship.

Repealing Proposition 13 would not close the social class divide.  It would just widen the divide, as the widow and small business person couldn’t withstand the tax shock.

Neither would restoring redevelopment or imposing Obamacare make a difference.  Such discussions are like trying to pick a chair in a game of musical chairs on a sinking ship.  But the band plays on.

Restoring the Sacramento Delta and curtailing urban sprawl would be of no consequence either.  Global warming may or may not become a problem in our lifetimes or ever.

But the cooling off of marriage has, within one generation, wreaked structural devastation on the economy and compelled California to look to rampant immigration to offer a partial solution.  But immigration hasn’t brought enough intact two-parent families with entrepreneurial values to plug the gap.

For that matter, reducing the size of government alone would also not produce the social capital needed to keep the family and the economy from eventually declining.  However, Murray nonetheless says that reducing the size of government is a necessary pre-condition for social and economic regeneration.

Civil Society, Not Social Authoritarianism

Murray is not considered a “social conservative” but a libertarian.  Social conservatism is associated with a form of authoritarianism that wants government to have a greater role in the supporting of morally correct choices.

This is the kind of subtle social authoritarianism that Obama has adopted with the “nudging” policies of technocratic guru Cass Sunstein.  Only these policies are secular, so they are considered politically correct. Sunstein is opposed to free markets and believes that elite policy experts know what is best for the public.  But “nudging” policies can’t replace the family, free religious institutions, neighborhoods and other voluntary associations.  Because they reflect government coercion, they add to social alienation.

That is not what Murray is driving at.  Murray is interested in purely voluntary associations cultivating social capital for the public good.

Murray attends a Quaker church, not one that’s Evangelical, fundamentalist or liberal Christian.

Murray says non-religious people are as moral as those who are religious.  But the irreligious don’t leave behind primary social institutions that continue their social values.  Free religious institutions are, if I may say so, California’s original “Think Long Committees.” 

Such free institutions cannot be cloned by the state or by wealthy philanthropic organizations created by social elites.  There is no DNA from which to copy truly voluntary religious associations into the secular world.

In the language of the new genetics, the family and religion are “epigenomes” that self-program DNA by diet or behavior.  The epigenetic code can be inherited by succeeding generations. For example, it was found that binge eating in years of abundant agricultural harvests in Sweden cut 32 years off the life spans of the next two generations of farmers due to a single year of gluttony. By analogy, California government has experienced two decades of budgetary gluttony and thus has several years of self-inherited problems to solve.

Social institutions are like epigenomes that reprogram DNA code in the human cell.  Their effects are long-lasting.

De Tocqueville Libertarianism

Murray might be called a “de Tocqueville” libertarian because he believes that primary social institutions, such as the family and religion, are the creators of social capital that generates political liberties.  Alexis de Tocqueville was a famous French writer who visited America in the early 19th Century.  His famous book, “Democracy in America,” found that the American brand of democracy and business enterprise, and the work ethic, came from participation in voluntary associations not controlled or subsidized by the state.

The ideal of most libertarians is the naked individual with “inalienable” rights facing huge bureaucracies.  This is the image portrayed in Ayn Rand novels. Consider the fictional architect Howard Roark battling the bureaucracy in the novel, “The Fountainhead.”  But Roark is an “unarmed prophet” with no social capital.

Libertarianism can lead to an alienated individual who is part of the “lonely crowd” and who “bowls alone.”  Murray’s libertarianism sees the need for primary social institutions to serve as a buffer from the huge Wall Street corporations on the one hand, and the Federal Reserve and predatory eminent domain for redevelopment by the elites on the other hand.  “Wall Street,” “Big Corporations,” and “Too Big to Fail Banks” reflect icons of social alienation to the political Left.  “Fannie and Freddie Mac,” “the Federal Reserve,” “Redevelopment” and “Eminent Domain” reflect alienation on the Right.

People who are religious tend to become Little League organizers.  They fight for installing traffic signals at dangerous intersections.  They want a better world for their children and the children of others.  They are politically involved in more than a self-interested way.  They create lasting social capital that can be transferred to bigger issues.

The Maligning of ‘Prop. 8 as Hate’

In California, Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage is seen by liberal cognitive elites as just another form of social authoritarianism.  Libertarians just want “government out of the family.”

But Jennifer Roback Morse of the Hoover Institution has made a libertarian case for the exclusiveness of the “traditional” nuclear family.  This does not necessarily mean that gays should be prohibited from “civil unions” or other legal protections.

How to Re-float the Cruise Ship ‘Costa California’

According to social scientist Charles Murray, California can refloat the cruise ship “Costa California” if it can right-size government to allow voluntary associations to fulfill their irreplaceable role without resorting to social authoritarianism.

This even extends into an alternative to Obamacare.  Health has a social basis, as even liberal policy makers know.  Using “civil society” to form self-care and mutual aid groups focusing on health care is a viable alternative or complement to either socialized, privatized or “single payer” health care.

Murray points out that his findings are contrary to the stereotype that the working class is more religious and thus has more social capital than the upper class.  To the contrary, it is the lower classes that are sinking as the welfare state has replaced free religious and social institutions.  Moreover, upper class elites do not socialize with the lower classes anymore and have limited the pathways for social mobility in a high-tech society.

Murray writes: “Encompassing these specific ways in which declines in the Founding virtues diminish civic culture are the class divisions that have emerged in the raising of the next generation. In Belmont, the intact two-parent family is still the norm—about 90 percent of all Belmont children are still living with both biological parents when the mother turns forty. In Fishtown, that figure has fallen below 30 percent. The socialization of children in Belmont and Fishtown has become radically different, and everything we have learned about the problems associated with single parenthood forces us to expect that the consequences for the transmission of industriousness, marriage, honesty, and religiosity to the next generation will be profound.”

Translated to California’s current situation: the CalPERS pension fund may depend as much or more on the revival of civil society than on endless higher taxes. And your civita vecchia  — your civilian retirement — may depend on it too.

24 comments

Write a comment
  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 20 January, 2012, 11:39

    While Murray throws out a nice theory or two ….. I don’t buy it.

    Religion doesn’t make a man any less a slave – just a more obedient one. In fact, poor ones are preferrable since they are most easily controlled. Governments and religions have walked arm in arm since the beginning of civilization. Surely you’ve heard of the cross and the sword? Why do you think it took a whole generation for pedophilia in the Catholic Church to come to the attention of the masses? Simple. Government protection.

    Of course rich people have a lower divorce rate than the peasants. Money problems is the #1 stressor that causes most divorces among people with limited resources. When you have so much money that you don’t know what to do with it all….that stressor is all but eliminated. Do you think that rich people have more money because they have higher morals and attend church more than the peasants do? 😀 – Some of the biggest frauds, liars and cheats that I’ve met in my lifetime were wealthy people.

    You see, societies and civilizations usually fall apart because the fish begins to rot at the head and it spreads to the tail. Not the other way around. You’re in complete denial if you refuse to acknowledge all the corruption and criminal activities perpetrated by our so-called leaders on Wall Street, in government and in Mr. Murray’s beloved social institutions like the church. These are supposed to be society’s role models.

    So blaming it all on the little people’s failure to go to church and keep their marriages together to me is laughable.

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 20 January, 2012, 12:37

    Mr. B: I don’t think you’re getting Murray’s theory, which he backs up with copious research. You wrote, “Of course rich people have a lower divorce rate than the peasants.” That’s true today. But it was NOT true in 1960, as Murray’s research shows, when both rich and poor had about the same divorce rate of below 20 percent. Lusvardi points that out. The reason was that religion told everyone, including the poor, not to get divorced; not to sleep around, but to get married; to have kids only after marriage. Churches and other associations provided a web of connectedness that doesn’t exist today. And the government didn’t subsidize illegitimacy through welfare.

    “Money problems is the #1 stressor that causes most divorces among people with limited resources,” you wrote. They why did the divorce rate main so low during the Great Depression, when things were much worse than today?

    “Some of the biggest frauds, liars and cheats that I’ve met in my lifetime were wealthy people,” you wrote. Me too. But Murray is talking averages. And his point is not about rich people, whose statistics have remained the same. Rich people are the “control,” as it were, in this statistical study. His point is about POOR PEOPLE — that the government attack on them, and the decline in religion to influence their lives to keep them moral, has devastated them.

    “You see, societies and civilizations usually fall apart because the fish begins to rot at the head and it spreads to the tail,” you wrote. I think Murray actually agrees with you. The rich and the famous and the powerful, according to Murray, have enacted policies that don’t much affect their own social condition, but have demolished the rest of society, especially the poor. The poor can’t get out of violent inner-city areas, which are plagued by welfarism, to live in the placid suburbs. The poor are stuck under the thumb of the welfare worker, the crummy local government school, the corrupt local machine politician, and the destruction of morality in an amoral society.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  3. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 20 January, 2012, 14:26

    Wayne, you state “But it was NOT true in 1960, as Murray’s research shows, when both rich and poor had about the same divorce rate of below 20 percent” but you and Murray fail to mention that while Corporate CEO salaries were 28 times greater than that of a typical worker in 1970 – that in 2011 CEO exec salaries have risen to 343 times greater than that of the typical worker. Again, it is a FACT that money problems (mostly a lack thereof) places a marriage at significantly heightened risk for divorce. Ignoring the money factor in the marriage equation is dumb. Besides, percentage wise, many more athiests exist in the boardroom than on the factory floor. Religions generally teach people that there is virtue and reward in suffering. Religion was invented for the poor people. Don’t misunderstand me. I think some churches do an outstanding job at helping others. I applaud them. And I think it’s good that people believe in something greater than themselves. But I think the REAL problem originates at the head of the fish – not at it’s tail.

    “They why did the divorce rate main so low during the Great Depression, when things were much worse than today?”

    Because the disparity between the rich and the poor was not as great at that time.

    “And his point is not about rich people, whose statistics have remained the same”

    But that’s my point. Their statistics haven’t remained the same. They have grown much wealthier at the expense of the peasants.

    “His point is about POOR PEOPLE — that the government attack on them, and the decline in religion to influence their lives to keep them moral, has devastated them”

    Perhaps the poor people are simply mimicking the moral behavior of the rich. Perhaps they are observing the criminality and moral degeneration at the highest levels of our society (Capital Hill, Wall Street, social institutions) and are merely following their lead – like a son follows the lead of his father.

    Personally, I would much rather the average american confront the rich about the increasing disparity of income in the United States than to be hoodwinked by some chuch about the virtue of struggle and suffering. Those who claim that it is a healthy sign of capitalism for the rich to capture most of the wealth in society must consider Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua bastions of capitalism. Today the top 1% own about 43% of the nation’s wealth; the top 5% own about 60% of the nation’s wealth; and the bottom 80% own about 12% of the nation’s wealth. We agree that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, Wayne. Just for different reasons.

    Your last paragraph seems to indicate that Murray and I have some similar beliefs. Much of the poverty in America was engineered at the very top. It is not a natural byproduct of capitalism – or whatever capitalism still exists in America.

    And let’s face it. Waving in millions of indigent foreigners across our borders who are unwanted by their own nations – and allowing them to drive down American wages and steal jobs from our citizens while using our resources at taxpayer expense hasn’t exactly helped our cause to restore prosperity to the average American either.

    Reply this comment
  4. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 20 January, 2012, 14:35

    Mr. Beelzebub:

    Your comment is what Karl Marx said: all religion is an opiate of the people and there is nothing beyond materialism.
    Why didn’t the relatively low paid cruise ship staff just throw the “rich” overboard? That is apparently what the “Occupy Movement” embraces??

    Charles Murray’s prior book “Losing Ground” documents how the family, especially the Black family, was ruined when the Great Society programs came into being under Pres. Lyndon Johnson. What we are seeing today is the second generation consequence of those policies.

    All institutions are corrupt including religious ones. The question raised by Murray is do they produce “social virtues” — not necessarily piety or religiosity but industriousness, self-sufficiency, and a savings ethic so that they can invest in young families homes and businesses and have a return on their savings that sustains them in their retirement.

    Murray’s conclusions seem to be consonant with what we’re just beginning to learn from the new genetics about the epigenome (you can inherit a social trait).

    Reply this comment
  5. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 20 January, 2012, 14:40

    Mr. B: The first reponse to your comment, above, was by John Seiler, not Wayne Lusvardi. (Wayne responded to a later comment)

    I still don’t think you’re getting what Murray is saying.

    You also wrote, “Religion was invented for poor people.” I don’t want to get into a long religious discussion here, but “invented” is the wrong word, as religion has existed in every society, everywhere, since the beginning of mankind. The rich as well as the poor have been believers. Religion permeates society. It even did so in communist Russia and China, despite heavy-handed efforts to wipe out. Indeed, the cults of Lenin, Stalin and Mao were ersatz religions. And there’s only one ultimate question for a particular religion (not a generic “religion,” but *a* religion): Is it true?

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  6. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 20 January, 2012, 15:23

    “Your comment is what Karl Marx said: all religion is an opiate of the people and there is nothing beyond materialism”

    I never really paid much attention to Karl Marx. All I know is that a separate ‘god’ can’t exist for each religion established by man. There can be only one God. The religions were established to make money and to control people more than guide them toward eternal salvation. But I am not anti-church. I think some of them do a splendid job at helping people. It’s just a shame that with the help you get a dose of brainwashing.

    “Why didn’t the relatively low paid cruise ship staff just throw the “rich” overboard? That is apparently what the “Occupy Movement” embraces??”

    Probably cuz if they did each would go to prison for life. Today there will be tens of thousands of Occupy demonstrators thoughout the US protesting our supreme court allowing unlimited corporate donations (bribes) for our politicians. It would seem that good libertarians would applaud such a protest. Occupy protesters demonstrated outside Obama’s campaign HQ’s in Iown during the GOP primary. And 52 Occupy protestors were arrested for occupying the sidewalk in front of the SF Federal Reserve Building in Dec. Aren’t these some of the same causes that you believe in?

    “Charles Murray’s prior book “Losing Ground” documents how the family, especially the Black family, was ruined when the Great Society programs came into being under Pres. Lyndon Johnson. What we are seeing today is the second generation consequence of those policies”

    Oh, I totally agree. The government has exacerrbated the level of poverty in America. I don’t think anyone (black, white or green) should get a free handout from the government. But corporate America is no less culpable. Millions lost their jobs, homes and life savings on account of the corporate fraud perpetrated by Wall Street. Millions were impoverished. And that deserves public scorn.

    I only wish Mr. Murray would have examined my theory that the traits of unsavory behavior exhibited by the top elite tier of our society eventually filter down through the lower economic classes and are adopted by the little people thereby destroying the moral fabric of the masses.

    Reply this comment
  7. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 20 January, 2012, 15:50

    Yes, John Seiler. But percentage wise there are many more athiests in the upper income brackets than in the lower income brackets. Do you these phony politicians who carry their bibles around do it for show or because they really believe? Religion and government work together to control the poor. Religion sells hope. Who needs more ‘hope’? A rich man or a poor man?

    Reply this comment
  8. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 20 January, 2012, 18:41

    Mr. B. wrote: “I only wish Mr. Murray would have examined my theory that the traits of unsavory behavior exhibited by the top elite tier of our society eventually filter down through the lower economic classes and are adopted by the little people thereby destroying the moral fabric of the masses.”

    Actually, that may be part of it. The book comes out on Jan. 31. Lusvardi did a kind of preliminary report.

    Part of Murray’s thesis is that the “cognitive elites” have built special enclaves for themselves, in many cases surrounding universities. They mate with one another, thus effectively forming a new kind of hereditary elite. And they look on the rest of us as semi-indentured labor and cannon fodder.

    Murray first of all is an observer. That sure is what I see, for example, in the areas around Harvard and MIT, and around U.S. Irvine, and much of San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C. For example, the cognitive-bureaucratic white elites are driving poor blacks out of Washington, D.C., something that used to be called “gentrification.” Yet these cognitive-bureaucratic white elites are the ones that tell the rest of the country that we need affirmative action!

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  9. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 20 January, 2012, 21:02

    Beezelbub
    Study the history of Christianity. The reason that Europe is mostly secular today is that Christianity was never a religion of the poor people but the elites. Europe had great cathedrals and state supported priests and popes but the people never embraced Christianity. Sociologist and historian Rodney Stark is my source on this.
    Best regards.

    Reply this comment
  10. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 20 January, 2012, 22:01

    Actually what Murray found is that the kind of social virtues produced by religion are dying in the lower class but being maintained in the upper class. Listen to Murray’s audio at the link provided where he discusses this. Contrary to expectations, it is the working class that is losing their religion (i.e. becoming nonparticipants in religion). As such, Murray is concerned because illegitimacy rates have skyrocketed and marriage rates have plummeted. So atheism might be found in the upper class but not the social pathologies of the underclass. And irreligion is growing in the lower class and with it a host of social pathologies. Forget that lower classes had religious “hope.” What they once really had was social capital – a work ethic, a responsibility ethic, a marriage ethic, an upward mobility ethic.

    Reply this comment
  11. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 20 January, 2012, 22:18

    It’s funny that you should mention Europe’s secular society, Wayne. It is pretty common for half or more of the euro populations to be full-blown athiests. Yet in America a recent Gallup Poll 92% of those polled answered ‘Yes’ when asked “Do you believe in God?”.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/147887/Americans-Continue-Believe-God.aspx

    It’s interesting that documented studies show that european divorce rates, per every 1000 marriages, are about half of the United States.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_div_rat-people-divorce-rate

    That seems to contradict Mr. Murray’s theory that religion and belief in God hold marriages together. It sounds good until you dig deeper into the facts.

    And the murder rate in the western euro nations is miniscule compared the United States. In America about 5 people are murdered for every 100,000 population. In the western euro nations it’s generally 1 or less.

    So even though we appear to be a very religious and God fearing nation as compared to europe – our behavior and morals are dismal – which contradicts Mr. Murray’s theories.

    Does he address the euro-USA comparison in his book???

    Reply this comment
  12. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 21 January, 2012, 01:28

    Mr. B: You make many mistakes. It’s not true that “half or more of the euro populations [are] full-blown athiests.” Cite a source, please. In any case, Europe is dying from rock-bottom birth rates.

    True, European murder rates are lower. But they have much more homogenous societies, a known factor for keeping marriages together. Murray did not say that religion was the only factor. Rather that, in America, the disintigration of ties that bind, including religion, destroys families.

    The murder rates you cited are for all of America. But America is a gigantic country compared even to Germany, which has 27% of our population. Minnesota, New Hampshire and some other states have lower murder rates than most European countries, and than Europe as a whole. And America has much lower burglary rates than Europe because we have gun rights, and most of their countries don’t.

    In Huntington Beach, where I live, a city of about 200,000 people has less than one murder per year.

    Some places such as Washington, D.C. — the center of our tyrannical dictatorship that has wrecked tens of milliions of families — have high murder rates, of course.

    And the crime rate in Russia, which was militantly atheist for 74 years and remains largely atheist, is more than three times that of America. Russia’s population also is declining by 500,000 a year. Atheism has nearly destroyed the Russian people. Whether they recover, by returning to Christianity and having more kids, is yet to be seen.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  13. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 21 January, 2012, 01:40

    Wayne Lusvardi wrote: “Study the history of Christianity. The reason that Europe is mostly secular today is that Christianity was never a religion of the poor people but the elites.” I have to disagree with you on that one. I’ve read Rodney Stark. He wrote that the common people embraced Christianity and, for example, saved babies exposed to die by the pagan Romans. That’s how their numbers grew fast and they took over the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, the common people were the ones who actually constructed the cathedrals. And they frequently went on pilgrimages. Read Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  14. Ken
    Ken 21 January, 2012, 06:53

    What contrived junk. How did this stuff sneak into CalWatchDog’s otherwise astute reports? Please make this a one timething!

    Reply this comment
  15. Lansing B. White
    Lansing B. White 21 January, 2012, 12:47

    This lusvardi could very well be on to something. I was born in 1950, I have two older children myself. My daughter was born in 1972 and my son in 1980. I have definitely seen a large decline in the number of people having children around me over the years, and also a decline in the number of people in main stream churches. (I go to The Packinghouse in Redlands, CC Redlands).
    When I was young, there were boy scouts helping old ladies across streets and people were concerned about other things than constantly being concerned about being the next millionaire (well, until Joe Carbo)and banks gave away piggy banks, but I can still remember my father’s first credit card, the Diners Club Card. I was offered a ‘bank card’ to help cash checks in the late 1960’s and my grandfather encouraged me to ‘save’..
    But in the 60’s became great social upheavel, a try for a different set of values, I think it disconnected us from our value system and we have been ‘lost’ ever since. In 1972, my daughter was born, I bought my first house around 1975 for $27,000. Five years later, I wanted to move somewhere else and it was worth $54,000 (what was behind this?).. In the 1970’s, I believe the movement began to use a house as in investment to make money or as an ATM. Whereas, in the 1940’s and 50’s, my grandfather and father who were builder developers in Southern California, they built homes for returning GI’s from WWII and Korea. Back then a guy wanted a decent job, a family a mortgage and retirement, but now it seems as if the family is defunct from the equation (some of it due to birth control and abortion)and the only reason for a house is to gamble it for money as a quick term investment. Could it really be that we have our social priorities out of whack now?
    Is the change and or lack of social values of yesteryear having an effect on us now?
    Lansing B. White

    Reply this comment
  16. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 21 January, 2012, 16:25

    “Mr. B: You make many mistakes. It’s not true that “half or more of the euro populations [are] full-blown athiests.” Cite a source, please”

    Okay. Let me clarify. 50% of more of the people in the majority of nations of western europe do not believe in a traditional religion or god. And what’s interesting is that all of the PIIGS in europe (with the exception of Iceland) have populations that are noted to be very religious and staunch believers in the Christian God (ie. Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain). Each one of those nations are either insolvent or teetering on the edge of bankrupcy. The other w. european nations with over half of their populations not practicing a traditional religion or believing in a traditional god (Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Holland, etc…) are all in much better financial shape than their counterparts (PIIGS).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

    Again, I am not anti-church or anti-religion. I believe organized religion does some good things. I am simply arguing that Murray’s thesis of belonging to a church or believing in a god would help restore prosperity to the working class is flawed.

    I believe the growing ‘social divide’ between the elite and the working class is top-down generated by corporate and government policies that encourage offshoring jobs, bailing out crooked and failed TBTF corporations with working class tax dollars, having two books of law: one for the elite corporate crooks and another for the working class, unlimited corporate campaign contributions that effectively purchase politicians to gain favorable legislation that must be subsidized by the consumer and the working class, flawed enforcement of immigration laws that have driven down working class wages and stole millions of jobs and taxdollars from working class citizens, etc….

    Mr. Murray seems to imply that a significant portion of the working class wealth drain is of their own making or a bottom-up problem. I disagree. I believe that it is overwhelmingly a top-down problem and an intentional ploy on part of government elite and the richest Americans to transfer more of the working class wealth into their own greedy pockets. And all the churches in the world won’t remedy that problem.

    The crime rate in America is off the charts compared to the crime rate in western Europe, John. My point was that traditional religious participation and belief in God is MUCH higher in the USA than in most western european nations. Yet our crime rate is much higher here.

    And I am disappointed that Mr. Murray elected only to study the white population in California, considering that non-hispanic whites are actually in the minority (47%) according to our latest 2010 census. Blacks and hispanics traditionally have higher participation rates in traditional religions and social institutions than do white Americans. Yet blacks and hispanics have much higher rates of poverty and crime.

    The high crime rates in Russia are primarily due to a corrupted government and business environment, John. If secular societies were doomed to high crime rates – Sweden, Norway and Netherlands would be meccas for crime. They aren’t. They are among the safest societies in the world.

    Reply this comment
    • CalWatchdog
      CalWatchdog Author 21 January, 2012, 16:46

      Mr. B.: Just two things. You wrote, “50% of more of the people in the majority of nations of western europe do not believe in a traditional religion or god.” That’s today. Not 1960 or 1860.

      You wrote: “And I am disappointed that Mr. Murray elected only to study the white population in California, considering that non-hispanic whites are actually in the minority (47%) according to our latest 2010 census.”

      But as Lusvardi pointed out, Murray wanted to compare two fairly similar groups, whites in 1960 and whites in 2010. He did so for all of America, not just California. And he did so to exclude such factors as recent immigration or racial discrimination; that allowed him to concentrate on how the changes affected just one group. Moreover, in 1960, Hispanics weren’t yet a labeled group. Instead, they were Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, etc. The “Hispanic” designation began to be used by the U.S. Census Bureau and other demographers only in the early 1970s. I remember going to school with Mexican-American kids in the 1960s and early 1970s in Michigan, and they were not called “Hispanics.” In fact, they were considered somewhat like Italian-American or French-American kids — that is, as whites. And they blended into the American “melting pot.”

      — John Seiler

      Reply this comment
  17. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 21 January, 2012, 17:19

    “That’s today. Not 1960 or 1860”

    The comparison in religous beliefs or non-beliefs between W. Europe and America haven’t changed much since 1960. Murray’s study didn’t go back to 1860. Only 1960. I would just like an explanation from Mr. Murray why the divorce rates and crime rates are lower in those w. european nations that are much more secular than the United States.

    I understand your explanation about why Murray studied only white americans. But it just leaves a huge void to only study white americans in such a racially diverse nation. It skews the results. But maybe that’s what he intended.

    Reply this comment
  18. queeg
    queeg 22 January, 2012, 19:57

    Who cares about social/cultural. Rot except social conservatives who want to control your bedroom while esposing liberty for all!

    Grow up..liberty is fleeting when commies and social consevatives want to rip you any way they can…

    Reply this comment
  19. David H
    David H 22 January, 2012, 21:08

    Well I’m sorry I missed the discussion, looks like an interesting topic of which I am well interested. I can give my two bits, but the discourse is not well defined. So I’ll make a couple of points in observation.

    Yes, it’s true, tearing down the institution that God ordained (marriage) to be a blessing in providing for man’s social needs, and preserving the purity of society will always result in misery and crime. A stable society will lead to a stable economy one would think.

    A lot of “modern” Christian religionists are not “Christian” people at all, in reality. For to call oneself a Christian means that you are a follower of Christ. If you call yourself a Christian and your religion does not resemble the religion of Jesus Christ then you have taken the name in vain and have broken the 3rd commandment. That said, greater light rejected becomes greater darkness. No one will sink so low as someone who has had great light, opportunity and privileges, and who has turned from the light and is fallen. They may hold on to all the “forms” of religion, keep all the outward trappings and cerimonies, but become hypocrites. As Jesus said, “whitewashed tombs.” So Beelzebubs astute observation that “Christian” nations are in worse shape should tell us something. It’s not profession(what you call yourself) that determines destiny, but character.

    The Bible has predicted that in the last days men would have a form of godliness but denying the power (to overcome sin).

    Reply this comment
  20. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 25 January, 2012, 08:33

    “Why didn’t the relatively low paid cruise ship staff just throw the “rich” overboard? That is apparently what the “Occupy Movement” embraces??”

    What a crock. You can say stuff like this. Republican presidential candidates can say that poor black Americans would rather have food stamps than jobs. Companies can discriminate against the unemployed. And that’s just dandy.

    But when the Occupy Movement points to the growing disparity between the 1 percent and the rest of us, that’s “class warfare.” Bull.

    Remember, friend, it wasn’t Tiny Tim or Bob Cratchit who said that people should die “so we can decrease the surplus population,” it was good old 1 percenter Ebenezer Scrooge.

    Reply this comment
  21. Frank
    Frank 26 January, 2012, 16:54

    The issue isn’t about religion, it’s about how the increase in diversity and multiculturalism since 1960 has developed a divided California society which is not likely to get closer. Ethologist Frank Salter writes:

    Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism. For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government’s share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens. Case studies of the United States, Africa and South-East Asia find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure. Moscow beggars receive more gifts from fellow ethnics than from other ethnies [sic]. A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller portion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogenous cities.

    Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade long study how multiculturalism affects social trust. [ Putnam, Robert D., “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century — The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize,” Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2), June 2007.]

    He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust. People in diverse communities “don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” writes Putnam. In the presence of such ethnic diversity, Putnam maintains that

    “We hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who don’t look like us.”

    Reply this comment
  22. Penny Juarez
    Penny Juarez 7 April, 2012, 14:30

    I’m confused weren’t you all talking about the budget California has?? How did you end up talking about religion??? At any rate I believe government should focus more on helping those in financial distress, there a lot of stressed out families in California who need help with their finances. I found a good source for help and advice at Guide4FreeMoney they have other great resources for anyone there too, you may like and enjoy it as much as I did!!!

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply



Related Articles

Down with Bully Bureaucrats!

You gotta love a website that puts a Drudge Report-like flashing police strobe light on their homepage. Lieutenant Governor candidate/state

Sacramento seeks central taxi regulations

  The latest battle in California’s ongoing legislative and regulatory war over ridesharing services has shifted to new ground, as livery

Cap and trade “pretend” media auction today

Aug. 28, 2012 Katy Grimes: The California Air Resources Board is holding a webinar for credentialed media today “to familiarize them