January 9, 2013

JAMES TARANTO ON Hypocrisy, Elizabeth Warren, and the Middle Class:

Warren’s example illustrates as well as ours the point about the trouble with defining “middle class” in terms of annual income. But the combination of her two examples illustrates something about her, too.

What did Warren do before her recent foray into politics? She was a professor at Harvard. What policy does she suggest to “strengthen America’s middle class”? Pouring more federal money into subsidizing the already heavily subsidized industry where she spent her career. What is her archetypal example of a middle-class American? Someone who both works in and is a customer of that industry.

There’s a deeper irony here. America’s education industry, by accelerating the upward mobility of the most intelligent young people, has served as a relentless engine of social stratification. Associative mating among the “cognitive elite” (Charles Murray’s term in “The Bell Curve”) is what gave us “Belmont” (as Murray calls the increasingly insular educated class in “Coming Apart”).

The stratification of American society by cognitive ability no doubt has its benefits in terms of economic growth and efficiency. But if one were looking for someone who personifies a Belmont elitist, one could scarcely do better than to point to Elizabeth Warren. Her egalitarian pose is one of the great hypocrisies of our age.

Plus, the Current TV staff points out Al Gore’s oil hypocrisy.