I organized a video conference to discuss Coming Apart. Participants were Brink Lindsey, Bryan Caplan, Megan McArdle, Reihan Salam, and Ross Douthat. There was not much discussion of the findings in the book, because everybody seemed to accept them. However, the participants disagreed with Murray, and with one another, about how to treat the social problems Murray documents.

Is our approach to moral evaluation of one another “soft niceness” (Lindsey) or “incredibly authoritarian” (McArdle)? Is the ability to defer gratification something we are born with, something we can be trained for, or something that the welfare system could encourage or discourage? These are the sorts of Vicky and Thete issues that get batted around. It confirms my view that The Diamond Age is the best book to read about social class in a technologically advanced society.

(Warning: the volume when I speak is low, and it is much higher when others are speaking. If you raise the volume when I am speaking, your ears will be blown out when others start to speak. I admit I could put more time into post-production editing of these videos, but it’s not what I want to do with my life.)