This article at Kevin Drum's titled "The Death of Middle Class Neighborhoods" really had me scratching my head.
At first I thought this was about an end to self-segregation of the middle class. After all, if middle class neighborhoods are gone, but middle class people are still living somewhere, then they must be living mixed up with other groups.
But then Drum says the problem is the increasing self-segregation of the middle class. Huh? How can they be self-segregating more but we end up with fewer all middle class neighborhoods?
But then the problem appears to be that the middle class want to hang out with the rich people. Um, OK, I don't find this wildly surprising, though the evidence he cites for this is awful, the typical low standard of science practiced by sociologists everywhere. But Drum himself admits he self-segregates with more educated people, so there you have your proof.
Finally, as usually is the case with the Left, the problem turns out to be not with the middle class at all but with rich people
We've been fretting for a long time about the rise of gated communities, the abandonment of public schools by prosperous city residents, and the booming market in McMansions. And more and more, this kind of segregation doesn't apply only to the truly rich. Increasingly, even the merely well off hardly have any social interaction outside their own class: they live in different neighborhoods, eat in different restaurants, send their kids to different schools and different sports leagues, and vacation in different places.
Really? Like you had a much better chance as a poor person to be hanging out with Andrew Carnegie at the pub than you do today chilling with Bill Gates at a Starbucks? When was this magic past time when the affluent liked to mix more with the unwashed? I hate to just use my personal observations, but Drum does, so here is mine: I feel like many of our meeting places today are less rather than more exclusive. I know a lot of very rich folks, and they simply don't cloister themselves in exclusive clubs and stores like they used to -- I am not at all surprised to see them in the Costco or at the public golf course.
I can be persuaded to accept schools as an exception to this, but this hardly does much to help Drum's argument as the government school system has been run (and run into the ground) by his fellow progressives for decades. It says a lot about private vs. public solutions that Costco has found a way to appeal equally to rich and poor but the public schools have not.
Update: From the NYT article on the underlying study, note the problem on these maps- the urban boundary in the study is static, so as the city expands, more of the metro area is outside the bounds of the study area. What group likely is the predominent occupant of new suburbs on the leading edge of urban boundaries? Dare I say middle class?
The central core of older American cities has always been where the richest and poorest live.You can see this on the Philadelphia maps. The pattern is not changing, just each area is getting larger. A full picture would show the middle class area expanding out as well, but the study cuts off the boundary at arbitrary country lines and never expands the boundary as the city's geographic size grows. The "trend" they are supposedly seeing are middle class continuing to move outwards from the city center, and their flawed study methodology loses visibility to them. This makes more sense than the study's finding, that somehow there is this weird lake Wobegon-type effect where no one is in the middle band of the percentile range.