Bubble Math

By Miles Leicher

One of our favorite segments here at Real Time is called "Dispatches From the Bubble," in which we show an example of someone (let's be honest – usually a Republican) who's hopelessly stuck in a "bubble" through which facts and reality may not penetrate. There's also a liberal bubble, filled with Democrats who say things like, "Obama's got this election in the bag" and "my co-workers love it when I brag about biking to work!"

In his book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Charles Murray (featured on last week's episode of Real Time) writes about a different kind of bubble, which contains an American upper class that has grown out of touch with the rest of the population. You can imagine what it would be like trying to find common ground among people with whom you clearly have none. There would probably be lots of talk of the trees being the "right height" and the grass being "the right color for this time of year…" you know, "kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing." But I digress.

In Coming Apart, Murray asks readers a series of questions to find out just how vulnerable they are to becoming out of touch with America's working class. Below are a few excerpts from the book:

"How Thick Is Your Bubble?"

  • Have you ever lived for at least a year in an American neighborhood in which the majority of your fifty nearest neighbors probably did not have college degrees?
  • Have you ever lived for at least a year in the United States at a family income that was close to the poverty line?
  • Have you ever walked on a factory floor?
  • Have you ever had a close friend who was an evangelical Christian?
  • Have you or your spouse ever bought a pickup truck?
  • During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?
  • Have you ever ridden on a long-distance bus or hitchhiked for a trip of fifty miles or more?
  • What does the word Branson mean to you?

Feeling left out? Crack open a domestic mass-market beer, take the full quiz and score yourself here! How'd you do?


Reprinted from the book Coming Apart by Charles Murray. Copyright © 2012 by Charles Murray.  Published by Crown Forum, a division of Random House, Inc