Working-class agony: Who is to blame? - AEI



Event Summary

On Thursday at AEI, AEI Visiting Fellow Timothy P. Carney was joined by Megan McArdle of The Washington Post and F. A. Hayek Emeritus Chair in Cultural Studies Charles Murray to discuss Mr. Carney’s upcoming book, “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse” (HarperCollins, 2019). Mr. Carney wrote the book as a response to the collapse of institutions, both religious and secular, in the United States.

After an introduction by AEI’s Ryan Streeter, Mr. Carney dove into the details of “Alienated America,” highlighting its main theme of eroding civil society in the US leading up to the election of President Donald Trump. In response, the panel discussed the reasoning behind the strife of the working class and why America’s communities are continuing to fall apart. Dr. Murray cited his book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010” (Crown Forum, 2012) and highlighted the importance of integrating virtue back into American society and education, especially on the left. Ms. McArdle offered comparisons to past decades of civic erosion in the US and provided insight on possible solutions. The event ended with several questions from audience members, specifically surrounding the question of social trust and ethnicity.

— Zoe Appler

Event Description

Why do so many people believe the American dream is dead? Growing inequality, rising rates of deadly addiction, and heightening political strife are the disturbing realities threatening American lives today, especially the working class. The root of the problem comes from a lack of community. The dissolution of our most cherished institutions — nuclear families, places of worship, and civic organizations — has not only divided Americans but also eroded our sense of worth, belief in opportunity, and connections.

In his upcoming book, “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse” (HarperCollins, 2019), Timothy P. Carney provides a framework that will lead us back out of a lonely, modern wilderness. Join AEI for a discussion of the book and the problems facing the working class.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


11:45 AM
Registration and lunch

12:00 PM
Welcome and introduction:
Ryan Streeter, AEI

12:10 PM
Panel discussion

Charles Murray, AEI
Megan McArdle, The Washington Post

Timothy P. Carney, AEI

1:15 PM

1:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Zoe Appler, [email protected], 202.862.5917.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Timothy P. Carney is a visiting fellow at AEI, where he works on economic competition, cronyism, civil society, localism, and religion in America. He is concurrently the commentary editor at the Washington Examiner. Mr. Carney’s forthcoming book, “Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse” (HarperCollins), will be published on February 19, 2019. His previous books include “Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses” (Regnery Publishing, 2009) and “The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money” (John Wiley & Sons, 2006), which was awarded the 2008 Culture of Enterprise award by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In addition to his Washington Examiner columns, Mr. Carney’s work has been published in a variety of magazines, websites, and newspapers, including The Atlantic, New York Post, The New York Times, Reason Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. His television appearances include CNBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the “PBS NewsHour.” Mr. Carney has a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis.

Megan McArdle is a Washington Post columnist and the author of “The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success” (Penguin Books, 2015). She has almost 20 years of experience writing about the intersection of economics, business, and public policy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Economist, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Newsweek, Time, and many other publications. Ms. McArdle was an Egan Visiting Professor of Journalism at Duke University, a Bernard Schwarz Fellow at the New America Foundation, and a fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. She holds a B.A. in English literature and creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Charles Murray is the F. A. Hayek Emeritus Chair in Cultural Studies at AEI. A political scientist, author, and libertarian, he first came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of “Losing Ground” (Basic Books, 1984), which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His New York Times bestseller “The Bell Curve” (Free Press, 1994), coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Dr. Murray’s other books include “What It Means to Be a Libertarian” (Broadway Books, 1997), “Human Accomplishment” (Harper, 2003), “In Our Hands” (AEI Press, 2006), “Real Education” (Crown Forum, 2008), and the New York Times bestseller “Coming Apart” (Crown Forum, 2012). His most recent book, “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission” (Crown Forum, 2015) urges Americans to stem governmental overreach and use America’s unique civil society to put government back in its place. Dr. Murray has a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in history from Harvard University.

Ryan Streeter is the director of domestic policy studies at AEI, where he oversees research in education, American citizenship, politics, public opinion, and social and cultural studies. Before joining AEI, he was executive director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Streeter has had a distinguished career in government service, which includes being deputy chief of staff for policy for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, special assistant for domestic policy to President George W. Bush at the White House, and policy adviser to Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. Outside of government, he has served as a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute and as a research fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is the author of “Transforming Charity: Toward a Results-Oriented Social Sector” (Hudson Institute, 2001); the editor of “Religion and the Public Square in the 21st Century” (Hudson Institute, 2001); the coauthor of “The Soul of Civil Society: Voluntary Associations and the Public Value of Moral Habits” (Lexington Books, 2002); and a contributor to the Stephen Goldsmith book “Putting Faith in Neighborhoods: Making Cities Work Through Grassroots Citizenship” (Hudson Institute, 2002). In addition to his many television and radio appearances, which include BBC News, CNBC, and Fox News, Dr. Streeter’s articles have been widely published in outlets including National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and The Washington Post. He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Emory University, an M.A. from Northern Illinois University, and a B.A. from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

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