I am reading Christopher Hayesâ€™ Twilight of the Elitesâ€”well worth the $26 I paid for it. Hayesâ€™ book strikes several chords with me. One simple point concerns the pernicious consequences of elitesâ€™ great and growing social distance from ordinary people in American society. When less than two-percent of fighting-age adults serve in the volunteer military, most policymakers are personally insulated from the consequences of the ill-fated venture in Iraq. This matters, too, for our policies regarding the continually grinding low-level engagement in Afghanistan.
Something similar might be said regarding the millions of Americans affected by the foreclosure crisis. Members of our nationâ€™s various elites are genuinely saddened by the accompanying human costs. Yeah, white papers are written. Hearings are held. Yet our societyâ€™s lack of urgency is abetted by the great social and economic distance between the families losing their lifesavings and the key public and private actors who will decide their fates. Too many of our national leaders behave rather as Iâ€™ve done, passing several empty houses on my street. I feel terrible for the affected families. I still scurry home, hit the web, and take solace in the ballooning value of my 401(k) supported by my tenured professorship. Pretty soon, Iâ€™m pondering other things. Continue reading “American Elites: Distant from some problems, but not others”