Quotulatiousness

November 20, 2017

QotD: The surprise of motherhood to high-achieving women

Filed under: Health, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Motherhood surprises women these days. Not the fact of motherhood. Many women meticulously plan their pregnancies. Certainly, women of advanced education plan childbearing, occasionally to a fault.

The fact of motherhood does not shock, but the day-to-day of motherhood and the intensity of motherhood do. As a culture we condition women to believe that having a baby is just a biological function and they will go back to their previous lives, albeit with babes in tow, after a few weeks of recovery.

[Insert gentle, hysterical, or bitter laughter from experienced moms here.]

Trained to be doctors and lawyers and such, today’s young educated women did not typically care for babies when they were growing up. College bound, they had better things to do than babysit babies and their mothers had visions of them doing “more” and wouldn’t dream of expecting their child to care for other children. Even now, many of the mothers I know — I’m in the highly educated and metropolitan set — think that expecting older siblings to care for younger ones is some combination of dangerous and unfair. And watching a young girl play with babies is almost pitiable.

In this domestic discouragement, we lay the foundation for the common motherhood shock. Unaware of even what should be the known knowns of motherhood, newly expecting moms tend to read books about pregnancy and childbirth. It is presently happening to their bodies and book learning comes easily to the modern woman. It’s how we made all those good grades and have out-enrolled men in higher education, after all.

Leslie Loftis, “High-Achieving Women Find They’re Not Prepared for Motherhood”, PJ Media, 2016-03-31.

October 19, 2017

Sir Humphrey Appleby on Education and Health Care

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy, Education, Government, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

RadioFreeCanada1
Published on 5 May 2010

October 17, 2017

QotD: The problem with modern education – an alien conspiracy?

Filed under: Education, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

So, what is going on?

Lots of things. Look, I’m a science fiction writer. It’s easy for me to say “There is a conspiracy by aliens, to make sure we never get to the stars. They infiltrated our education establishment and are destroying competence from within.

Except it’s not just education, and I don’t believe in aliens or that ALL of this is done on purpose.

But Sarah, you’ll say, some of it is, like Bill Ayers redesigning education as a means to bring about a biddable proletariat.

Oh, sure, that might have been how the dumbass conceived it. It’s not why it’s applied though. And dumbass? Yep. Bill Ayers, like most progressives is a clever fool who thinks society spins on words and theories, and not on basic “can do”. This is one of the reasons communist societies QUICKLY become hell on Earth. Because you can’t get rid of everyone who is competent without the rest of society collapsing. The ceiling doesn’t stay up when you remove the walls. People who’ve been educated beyond their competence don’t see that though.

Still, most people who APPLY his poisonous ideas aren’t frankly competent enough to know what they’re doing. No. They’re doing it for other reasons.

    Stupidity – the most powerful force on Earth.

    There are any number of people who’ll do whatever without thinking because someone in authority tells them not only that they should, but that “it’s the new way of doing things. All the smart people follow it.” And frankly they’re not competent enough to evaluate the “new way of doing things” so they settle for APPEARING smart.

    Rapid change.

    Even in the village, the teacher often floundered. They’d added pre-history to the curriculum, and she’d never studied it. So… her idea of pre-history was the Flintstones. I came home talking about cars made of stone (I wish I’d had a camera to take picture of dad’s face.) Mom and dad corrected it. NO BIG.

    If my kids are maleducated in the same way say, about computers, I can’t fix it. What’s more, I’m not alone. H*ll I found out the model of the atom I learned was superseded and that the physics I learned was not at all like what the kids learned (they thought I was nuts.) AND when Robert came home and told me “We’re sequencing DNA in lab. When you sequenced DNA–”

    No, it’s not a complete excuse, no matter what they tell you, but it is PART of it. Not in teachers not being able to keep up, but in parents or even grandparents no longer being able to fill in those deficiencies.

    The same applies to just about any type of work, btw, because the methods are so different now that the old codger who walked to the shop and corrected the new hires? He no longer can teach them anything.

    A belief in “natural” things and “natural” learning and that if it’s not fun, it’s not right. This apparently is the flowering of the student revolts in the sixties. It is certainly what is destroying marriage as an institution.

    You see, every marriage goes through rough patches. I probably have one of the happiest marriages in the world, but yeah, there were days, evenings, and sometimes entire months when I’d have traded the whole thing for ten cents and a pack of chewing gum. It’s just I knew it had been good and would be again.

    The same applies to learning. I don’t care how “gifted” you are at math or languages or even writing, you are not gifted enough to intuit the whole thing at our present level. NO MATTER HOW GIFTED YOU ARE, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO RECONSTITUTE AN ENTIRE SCIENCE OR ART WITHOUT LEARNING. And learning means some tedium, some memorizing and the inevitable patch that is difficult, even though everything else came easily.

    When the entire establishment goes over for “should be fun” you’re going to fail.

    Fear.

    People who are mal-educated and conscious of it don’t hire people who know more than they do. Okay, so some do, but not many and those people are exceptional. This is why the whole “The president can be a dumbass if he hires good advisors” always fails, as we have proof daily. People don’t want their subordinates to upstage them. Any of you who EVER corrected a boss knows exactly what I’m talking about.

    So, let’s imagine that this started with the student revolts (it started a little earlier, with the busy parents who came back from WWII not passing things on.)

    Those people hit the market place and hired people my generation who were LESS prepared than they were. They were AFRAID of being exposed. Then my generation hired people less prepared and then…

Sarah Hoyt, “The War On Competence”, According to Hoyt, 2016-03-04.

September 4, 2017

The mental health crisis on campus

Filed under: Education, Health, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In Spiked, Naomi Firsht shares the concerns of Jonathan Haidt about the rise of mental health issues at US universities:

The heightened vulnerability of college students has had a chilling effect on discussion in the academic world, and Haidt sees this in his day-to-day experience on campus. “There is a rapidly spreading feeling that we are all walking on eggshells, both students and faculty. That we are now accountable, not for what we say, but for how anyone who hears it might take it. And if you have to speak, thinking about the worst reading that anyone could put on your words, that means you cannot be provocative, you cannot take risks, that means you will play it safe when you speak… This is what I’m seeing in my classes when topics related to race or gender come up – which we used to be able to talk about 10 years ago, but now it’s painful and there’s a lot of silence.”

This is disastrous for academic life, as Haidt points out: “A university cannot function if people will not put their ideas forth, will not contest ideas that they think are wrong, will not stand up for ideas that they think are right.”
He is keen to emphasise that this is not a right-left issue. “Several people on the left are noticing that college students are less effective politically as activists, as progressives, when they have this morality and this ethos with such heavy concept creep.”

Haidt believes there is a mental-health crisis on campus: “I have never seen such rapid increase in indicators of anxiety and depression as we have seen in the past few years”, he says. But his suggested approach is unlikely to find favour with student communities fond of Safe Spaces and therapeutic puppy-petting. “If you think about it as a mental-health crisis”, he explains, “then you might be tempted to say: we need more help, more counselling, more protection for those who are suffering from mental illness. But if you look at it that way you will miss the broader pattern, which is that for 20 to 30 years now, Americans have been systematically undermining the development of resilience or toughness of their children.” Referencing the work of Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-range Kids, he concludes: “We have made our children too safe to succeed.”

In his forthcoming book Misguided Minds: How Three Bad Ideas Are Leading Young People, Universities, and Democracies Toward Failure, Haidt claims that certain ideas are impairing students’ chances of success. Those ideas being: your feelings are always right; what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; and the world is divided into good people and bad people. “If we can teach those three ideas to college students”, he says, “we cannot guarantee they will fail, but we will minimise their odds at success”.

So how can we resolve the problem of vulnerability among young Americans? Haidt says part of the solution must begin in childhood and will require parents to give their children daily periods of “unsupervised time”. “We have to accept the fact that in that unsupervised time there will be name-calling, conflict and exclusion. And while it’s painful for parents to accept this, in the long-run it will give them children that are not suffering from such high rates of anxiety and depression.”

June 29, 2017

Homeschooling is looking like a better option all the time

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Education, Health, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Susan Goldberg explains what some states are now asking primary school teachers to do in the way of monthly mental health evaluations of the kids they teach:

On paper it reads like a not-so-vague attempt to socially engineer your child’s behavior. In reality, teacher-led mental health assessments coming to a growing number of public schools are a bureaucratic nightmare. One that will no doubt further clog our nation’s public education system with increased paperwork and administrative costs while putting your child’s future at serious risk.

Thanks to Dr. Aida Cerundolo’s piece in The Wall Street Journal, we are beginning to understand the real-life ramifications of these dangerous educational ideas. Want the Cliffs Notes version? Head over to the excellent summation by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, detailing the ramifications of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a federal bill focused on the buzz-phrase “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL), the latest craze in public education. Schools in states that have ESSA legislation on the books can use the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) to fulfill ESSA paperwork requirements.

    …every month the teacher must answer 72 questions about each of the perhaps dozens of students in her class. She must assess whether the student “carr[ies] himself with confidence,” whatever that means for a 5-year-old, and whether he can “cope well with insults and mean comments.”

    … Dr. Cerundolo’s alarm at the imposition of DESSA is shared by at least some New Hampshire teachers. One of them contacted Ann Marie Banfield, Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire, to express her objections to completing the DESSA forms on her students. The teacher was especially troubled that the school neither sought parental consent nor even notified parents that their children were being screened by amateurs for mental-health issues. As the mother of public-school students, she worried that other teachers were completing this assessment on her children.

You read that right: if you live in an ESSA state, your child’s mental health will be assessed by a non-medical professional in a non-medical context. The paperwork will not be protected by HIPAA laws, which means that the school district can share a teacher’s assessment of your child’s mental health with literally anyone. Parents are not asked for permission before the DESSA is administered, nor do they have any say over where the records go once they are obtained.

I imagine that primary school teachers will be just overjoyed to take on yet another task for which they may have no formal training or aptitude, in addition to the piddling little details of actually teaching. Were you ever warned about youthful misbehaviour going on to your “permanent record”? Now, it’s not just the big ticket items that will follow your kids from now on in their school careers.

May 31, 2017

“JFK before the speechwriters got to him is far more interesting”

Filed under: History, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Mark Steyn celebrates what would have been JFK’s 100th birthday by looking at the pre-Camelot JFK’s life:

Jack’s early life was certainly privileged but not idyllic. The family patriarch, Joe, is an easy target: an enthusiastic adulterer at home, and abroad, as US Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, an equally enthusiastic appeaser. His wife, Rose, reacted to his infidelities by retreating into her social life. The distance she put between her and her husband also left her nine children (four of whom she would outlive) beached on the other side of the divide. She regarded them, as one biographer put it, as “a management exercise”, and she believed in mostly hands-off management. Jack was a sickly child who spent months in hospital, but his mother was too far away to visit. Maternal affection was confined to a postcard from Paris, a ship-to-shore telegram from the Queen Mary. For the rest of his life, Kennedy disliked being touched or hugged even in the course of his many fleeting, transient sexual encounters.

Sex was fine. Anything more he found awkward and difficult. He showered up to five times a day. You can do your own analysis; everybody else does. “If he were my son,” declared a master at Choate, “I should take him to a gland specialist.” “He has never eaten enough vegetables,” decided Rose.

Duty is more easily borne when the the world’s eminences are your dinner companions. You meet the seigneurs, and you get to enjoy a little of their droit de, too. A former lover of Prince George, Duke of Kent introduced herself to young Jack as “a member of the British Royal Family by injection”. The line seemed fresh to him, as it might not have a quarter-century later were random showgirls and mob molls running around Vegas and Malibu introducing themselves as members of the Kennedy family by injection. He signed his letters from Harvard, “Stout-hearted Kennedy, despoiler of women.”

On the other hand, not many 24-year-olds get to shoot the breeze with Lord Halifax, British Ambassador in Washington, at the height of the Second World War about where the man he served as prime minister had gone wrong. “Halifax believed,” wrote young Kennedy after their conversation, “that Chamberlain was misled and defeated by his phrases, which he did not really believe in, such as ‘Peace in our time’.” By the time Kennedy got into the phrase-making business, he left it to the professionals to craft all that sing-songy seesawing jingles people seem to think meets the definition of powerful rhetoric: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Mankind must put an end to cheap applause lines, but let us never fear to invert them formulaically yet portentously.

The JFK before the speechwriters got to him is far more interesting. “We are at a great disadvantage,” Kennedy the gunboat skipper writes from the Pacific. “The Russians could see their country invaded, the Chinese the same. The British were bombed, but we are fighting on some islands belonging to the Lever Company, a British concern making soap… I suppose if we were stockholders we would perhaps be doing better, but to see that by dying at Munda you are helping to ensure peace in our time takes a larger imagination than most men possess.”

May 14, 2017

The earliest lesson in economics

Filed under: Economics, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Steve Kates posted this at Catallaxy Files, saying it was everything you need to know about public spending:

December 5, 2016

QotD: Wine merchants using alarmist tactics to sell wine

Filed under: Business, Health, Quotations, Wine — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I’m a mom of three young kids. That means I like to have a glass of wine with breakfast, lunch, and dinner now and then. And since my kids seem to grow out of their clothes and shoes seconds after I’ve purchased them, I like to get a good deal on a box bottle or two. Luckily for me, there is stiff competition in the wine industry, which means I can get wines from around the world at prices I can afford.

Yet with competition comes increased need to attract customers. And some companies are resorting to a new strategy: Alarmism.

Consider the recent suggestion by some wine companies that some corks are not just inferior, but dangerous. That might seem silly to some or just a lousy marketing stunt to others, but it’s a familiar and all-too-effective tactic used on moms who are constantly encouraged to police their homes for threats to their families.

Julie Gunlock, “Wine Alarmists Should Stick a Cork In It: Stop whining about the non-existent dangers of certain wine corks, and start drinking”, The Federalist, 2015-05-19.

September 22, 2016

Arizona’s law to effectively criminalize parenting survives state supreme court scrutiny

Filed under: Law, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

If anything could symbolize the Crazy Years, this (insane) Arizona law certainly qualifies:

The Legislature passed laws ostensibly designed to punish child molesters, but apparently forgot to make sexual intent a requisite element of molestation.

As Slate legal writer Mark Joseph Stern notes, the laws prohibit any person from “intentionally or knowingly” touching “any part of the genitals, anus or female breast” for anyone under 15. That’s it:

    Indeed, read literally, the statutes would seem to prohibit parents from changing their child’s diaper. And the measures forbid both “direct and indirect touching,” meaning parents cannot even bathe their child without becoming sexual abusers under the law.

In response to a legal challenge by a man convicted of molestation because of the Legislature’s idiocy, three of five judges ruled there was no ambiguity in the law. They declined to

    rewrite the statutes to require the state to prove sexual motivation, when the statutes clearly contain no such requirement.

There’s some interesting discussion between the majority and minority over whether the law is nonetheless unconstitutional, even if it’s not ambiguous. The minority, per Stern:

    No one thinks that the legislature really intended to criminalize every knowing or intentional act of touching a child in the prohibited areas. Reading the statutes as doing so creates a constitutional vagueness problem, as it would mean both that people do not have fair notice of what is actually prohibited and that the laws do not adequately constrain prosecutorial discretion.

This terrible bit of legislative farce is actually a symptom of a much wider problem:

Let’s not forget, however, that if the Legislature had taken its job seriously and crafted legislative language that passed the laugh test, Arizona parents wouldn’t be in this position.

Lawmakers have gotten a little too comfortable in trusting that they can pass any idiotic law – perhaps to sate their rabid, ignorant constituents – and judges will save them from the consequences.

Then they can rail against “judicial activism” and get re-elected. It’s a perfect scheme.

If more judges were to let lawmakers suffer the consequences of their foolishness, perhaps voters would sober up and stop demanding the most draconian, unjust, utterly pointless measures against sexual offenses, real or perceived.

September 21, 2016

QotD: The worries of the Baby Boomers versus the worries of the Greatest Generation

Filed under: Health, Humour, Quotations, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… I am conceding that by the standards of today, my parents’ behavior would be considered irresponsible. Actually, “irresponsible” is not a strong enough word. By the standards of today, my parents and their friends were crazy. A great many activities they considered to be perfectly OK — hitchhiking; or driving without seat belts; or letting a child go trick-or-treating without a watchful parent hovering within 8 feet, ready to pounce if the child is given a potentially lethal item such as an apple; or engaging in any form of recreation more strenuous than belching without wearing a helmet — are now considered to be insanely dangerous. By the standards of today, the main purpose of human life is to eliminate all risk so that human life will last as long as humanly possible, no matter how tedious it gets.

And the list of things we’re not supposed to do anymore gets longer all the time. I recently encountered an article headlined:

IS YOUR HANDSHAKE AS DANGEROUS AS SMOKING?

The answer, in case you are a complete idiot, is: Of course your handshake is as dangerous as smoking. The article explains that handshakes transmit germs, which cause diseases such as MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome,” a fatal disease that may have originated in camels. This is yet another argument, as if we needed one, against shaking hands with camels. But the article suggests that we should consider not shaking hands with anybody.

If you could travel back in time to one of my parents’ parties and interrupt the singing to announce to the guests that shaking hands could transmit germs and therefore they should stop doing it, they would laugh so hard they’d drop their cigarettes into their drinks. They were just not as into worrying as we are today.

And it wasn’t just cigarettes and alcohol they didn’t worry about. They also didn’t worry that there might be harmful chemicals in the water that they drank right from the tap. They didn’t worry that if they threw their trash into the wrong receptacle, they were killing baby polar bears and hastening the extinction of the human race. They didn’t worry about consuming trans fats, gluten, fructose, and all the other food components now considered so dangerous they could be used to rob a bank (“Give him the money! He’s got gluten!”).

Dave Barry, “The Greatest (Party) Generation”, Wall Street Journal, 2015-02-26.

June 25, 2016

QotD: It’s a bad time to become a parent

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The title of this Time piece, “Parenting is Now Officially Impossible,” made me sit up. It’s true. Anything we do as parents can and may be used against us. It’s like living in a totalitarian state—we are not free to raise our kids as we see fit because we are being watched and judged. We make choices based on fear of busybodies and the authorities they can summon by punching three digits into their phone.

This surveillance society has become so normalized that yesterday I was listening to a June 9 episode of Marc Maron’s WTFpodcast where Marc and guest Daniel Clowes are chatting about their slacker ’70s parents. (It’s about 50 minutes in, if you want to hear it.) As they marvel at the freedom they had as kids, and some bad experiences, they agree that this kind of parenting was totally wrong. Unironically they concur, “You don’t let your kid get on the bus at 11 [years old]. Never! I would turn MYSELF into the police.”

Isn’t that phrasing remarkable? The idea, “Disapprove of a parent? Call 911,” has become so unquestioned, so automatic, that citizens don’t even realize they have been seduced into the role of Stasi.

Lenore Skenazy, “Busybodies and Complicit Cops Make It Impossible to Parent: When mistakes become crimes”, Reason, 2016-06-15.

January 2, 2016

QotD: Where did all those helicopter parents come from?

Filed under: Economics, Education, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

One of the things you might notice about novels from the 1950s and 1960s is how many of the affluent people in them are engaged in trades like selling insurance, manufacturing some dull but necessary article, or running a car lot. These people are rarely the heroes of the novel (even then, writers found it much easier to imagine themselves as doctors or lawyers or, for that matter, as rough-hewn working-class types than as regional office-supplies distributors). But it is telling that those novelists took for granted that the writers and professionals would be intermingled with the makers and sellers, something that comes across as distinctly odd to the residents of the modern coastal corridors. Few of my friends even run a budget outside their own households, much less a profit and loss statement, and very few indeed have ever gone on a sales call.

The change in our novels reflects a change in our economy: the decline of manufacturing; the rise in the number and remuneration of professional jobs; the increase in the size of service firms; and the resulting shift toward salaried positions rather than partnerships or sole proprietorships. As a result of these changes, the upper middle class has found itself in a curious bind. In some ways, its economic fortunes are better than ever: They make more money, more reliably, than they used to. But because they are employees rather than business owners, they have a very limited ability to pass their good fortune onto their children.

A parent who had built a good insurance business in 1950 had a valuable asset that he could hand over to his sons. As long as they put a full day in at the office, they too would be able to take home a good living. That calculation applies across a broad range of manufacturing, retail and service businesses that used to form the economic bulwark of the prosperous middle class.

An MBA, however, is not heritable. Neither is a law degree, a medical degree, or any of the other educational credentials that form the barriers to entry into today’s upper middle class. Those have to be earned by the child, from strangers — and with inequality rising, the competition for those credentials just keeps getting fiercer.

Of course, parents have always worried about their kids making it; small family firms were often riven by worries about Uncle Rob’s ability to settle down to the business. But those were worries about adults, at an age when people really do settle down and become less wild. These days, we’re trying to force that kind of responsibility onto teenagers in their freshman year of high school. Of course, we don’t tell them that they need to earn a living; we tell them they need to get into a good college. But the professionalization of the American economy means that these are effectively the same thing for large swathes of the middle class.

Many teenagers — and I include myself at that age — do not quite have the emotional maturity and long-term planning skills for the high-stakes economic competition they find themselves engaged in. So their parents intervene, managing their lives so intensely that their child doesn’t have much opportunity to, well, act like a child instead of a miniature middle-aged accountant. Since the professional class can’t pass down its credentials, it passes down its ability to navigate the educational system that produces the credentials. The more inequality widens, the more obsessively they will manage their kids through school — and the more economic mobility will stagnate, since parents outside the professional class will have grave difficulty replicating this feat.

Megan McArdle, “What Really Scares Helicopter Parents”, Bloomberg View, 2015-11-30.

December 21, 2015

Monty on “the book fetish”

Filed under: Books, Education — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Marking his return from a long absence, Monty posts some thoughts on books and reading at Ace of Spades H.Q.:

What happens when homes have no books? (You’ll have to imagine me saying these words in a rather aghast tone, much as one might use when asking what happens in homes that don’t have flush toilets.)

Well, fear not. The question is misphrased. The problem is not houses without books, as it turns out — the problem is houses without engaged parents.

[…]

It bugs me when people substitute the word “book” for “reading”. I do a lot of reading — a LOT of reading — but I rarely crack an actual book these days unless I absolutely cannot find it for my Kindle. (As happened with Orlando Figes’ A People’s Tragedy, alas.) The problem besetting poor kids is not so much a lack of books as it is a lack of responsible adults in the house who invest the time and effort to engage them in reading — whether the written words are in book or on an LCD screen. What’s lacking here are not bound slabs of paper, but engaged parents.

And for adults? Reading of so-called “serious literature” has declined in recent decades because a lot of so-called “serious literature” is shit. The general cultural debasement started to exhibit first in the turgid academic book field, and since has metastasized out into every field of literary endeavor. Even the sci-fi and mystery ghettos have been infested with the rot of post-modernism and race/class/gender nonsense. And where that has not happened, we get the sub-adolescent rot of stuff like Twilight or its many imitators. This is the modern equivalent of the penny-dreadful, and serves as proof that just because it’s a book, that doesn’t mean the words inside of it are any guarantee of quality or even coherence.

It may be that most people these days eschew books for more engaging audio/visual entertainment, but that’s hardly surprising: that’s been the norm for most of our tenure on earth. Human beings are geared to prefer direct audio/visual stimulus over abstract symbolic input. The ability of common people to buy and consume printed books is a fairly recent one in human history — until the 18th century, most common folk couldn’t afford many books, and probably couldn’t read them either (literacy being nowhere near as universal as today). And in any case most of them wouldn’t have the time to while away reading — it was an age of manual labor and no electric light. You worked the daylight hours away, and when it got dark you went to bed.

I guess what I’m saying is: there are certainly worse things than being a lover of books, but be sure you’re loving the content of the book. (You can love the actual book as well, I guess, as an object of pure art or craft, but that’s a different thing.) And remember that the content of the book can be delivered in any number of ways. Don’t fetishize the delivery vehicle.

December 15, 2015

Perhaps the key element of the gender pay gap is … motherhood

Filed under: Business, Economics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In Forbes, Tim Worstall pinpoints exactly when many women stop earning as much (or more) than their male co-workers:

Currently, among women under 30 or so (it varies, the age, depending upon the average age of first childbirth and this is itself something that varies quite a bit in the US) women tend to outearn men. And as above those without children have, depending upon how you correct for other factors, a positive wage gap in favour of women of about the same size or no pay gap of any relevant size. But there is a pay gap between men and women who have married and who have children (the two effects are not being separated from each other). So, why?

The obvious answer being that this is what humans do. No, it’s no longer true that this is what humans must do, women taking the majority of the child care duties, men going out to work to support everyone. But it is still what the majority do do, it’s the general expectation about how life is going to be worked out. And this does have its effect:

    The division of labor in the family is less delineated than it once was and a majority of women with children now work in the market. Nonetheless, women on average still assume greater responsibility for child rearing than men, and that responsibility is associated with a lower extent and continuity of market work. In addition, the expectation and assumption of home responsibilities influence choice of occupation and preferences for working conditions that facilitate a dual career, combining work at home and work in the market. A significant literature has investigated the effect of work in the home on women’s lifetime patterns of labor force participation and the effect of labor force discontinuities on wages.15 Women with children devote relatively more of their energy to home responsibilities than women without children and as a result earn lower wages. On the other hand, married men earn higher wages than other men. Although that effect may be partly endogenous—women may shun low earners as husbands—it is a plausible consequence of the division of labor in the home, which leads men to take greater responsibility for providing the family’s money income and consequently to work longer, more continuously and possibly harder.

In a nutshell, the gender pay gap is really the effect upon the overall averages of two effects. Mothers earn less than non-mothers, fathers earn more than non-fathers. And yes, mothers and fathers are a majority and so the effect is large enough to sway that national average. And while the effect is not entirely symmetric it is reasonably so. We talk of the overall gender pay gap as being around 20% or so, and we see that fathers outearn non-fathers by 8%: that’s a significant portion of that gap right there.

Our conclusion thus has to be that the gender pay gap that we’re seeing isn’t a result of societal discrimination against women (nor of such discrimination in favor of fathers, something that no one at all is complaining it is) but instead a result of the choices that people make about how the kids are going to be cared for and who does it.

October 13, 2015

QotD: Reactionary views on marriage

Filed under: Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I have heard some reactionaries say that although there are not intellectual differences between men and women, there are emotional differences, and that women are (either for biological or cultural reasons) more “submissive” to men’s “dominant” – and a quick search of the BDSM community seems to both to validate the general rule and to showcase some very striking exceptions.

But my money would be on a simpler hypothesis. Every marriage involves conflict. The traditional concept of gender contains two roles that are divided in a time-tested way to minimize conflict as much as possible. In a perfect-spherical-cow sense, either the husband or the wife could step into either role, and it would still work just as well. But since men have been socialized for one role since childhood, and women socialized for the other role, it seems that in most cases the easiest solution is to stick them in the one they’ve been trained for.

We could also go with a third hypothesis: that women aren’t actually bizarre aliens from the planet Zygra’ax with completely inexplicable preferences. I mean, suppose you had the following two options:

1. A job working from home, where you are your own boss. The job description is “spending as much or as little time as you want with your own children and helping them grow and adjust to the adult world.” (but Sister Y also has a post on the childless alternative to this)

2. A job in the office, where you do have a boss, and she wants you to get her the Atkins report “by yesterday” or she is going to throw your sorry ass out on the street where it belongs, and there better not be any complaints about it this time.

Assume both jobs would give you exactly the same amount of social status and respect.

Now assume that suddenly a bunch of people come along saying that actually, only losers pick Job 1 and surely you’re not a loser, are you? And you have to watch all your former Job 1 buddies go out and take Job 2 and be praised for this and your husband asks why you aren’t going into Job 2 and contributing something to the family finances for once, and eventually you just give in and go to Job 2, but also you’ve got to do large portions of Job 1, and also the extra income mysteriously fails to give your family any more money and in fact you are worse off financially than before.

Is it so hard to imagine that a lot of women would be less happy under this new scenario?

Now of course (most) feminists very reasonably say that it’s Totally Okay If You Want To Stay Home And We’re Not Trying To Force Anyone. But let’s use the feminists’ own criteria on that one. Suppose Disney put out a series of movies in which they had lots of great female role models who only worked in the home and were subservient to their husbands all the time, and lauded them as real women who were courageous and awesome and sexy and not just poor oppressed stick-in-the-muds, and then at the end they flashed a brief message “But Of Course Working Outside The Home Is Totally Okay Also”. Do you think feminists would respond “Yeah, we have no problem with this, after all they did flash that message at the end”?

Scott Alexander, “Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell”, Slate Star Codex, 2013-03-03.

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