Thursday, February 18, 2010

Civlizational meltdown?

Don Peck has a heart-wrenching article in the latest Atlantic ("How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America") describing the profound social and psychological effects long-term unemployment is likely to have in the United States. I am reading this alongside a story by Charlotte Allen in the Weekly Standard on the changing dynamics of dating ("The New Dating Game"). The two articles address different issues, and appear in publications with diverging ideological agendas. Yet, they point to a similar set of impending problems. They address the growing marginalization of masses of less educated men in the United States - a process driven by both economic and cultural factors which could lead to the erosion of marriage as a socializing institution and even to the collapse of civilized society. Hopefully, such worries are overstated, but this is the kind of connection I would like my students to make between issues and trends that may seem quite unrelated.