The Observer, April 21, 2001
Myron Magnet is not a politician and he speaks with the robust confidence of a theorist who knows he will never have to implement the social theories he espouses. From his offices at the influential neo-conservative think-tank, the Manhattan Institute, it is hard not to be beguiled by his argument that the persistent underclass that exists in America and Britain is a product not of failed economic policies and incentives, but of cultural attitudes.
The argument at the heart of his book, The Dream and the Nightmare, that now sits squarely at the centre of President George Bush’s formative social policy and has furnished him with ‘the vision thing’ his father lacked, is that the values that gained credence in the Sixties wrought terrible consequences.
“The great question is how come we even have an underclass?” Magnet asks. “And how did it come into being at the moment the US economy started booming just as we had passed the 1964 Civil Rights act?” It’s a question to which Magnet, with his bushy sideburns and amiable manner of character from Charles Dickens, thinks he knows the answer.
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