December 2, 2014

Marriage and divorce trends: More broken homes, more marriages as status-striving tag teams

One of those "debunking" type articles at the NYT discusses the decline in divorce rates among marriages that began in the 1990s or 2000s, compared to those that began in the '70s and '80s. Back in the '80s, there was widespread anxiety about how common divorce had become, but since then it's actually become less common.

So, nothing to worry about then? Not exactly.

It may surprise readers of the NYT, or nerdy consumers of pop-quant articles in general, but marriage is supposed to produce children, who are to be raised by the parents. The integrity of the spousal relationship is not really that important -- sure, falling divorce rates among childless spouses makes society and its institutions look a little less flaky, but childless couples are not being put to much of a test (have kids and find out why). When a group is not being tested, we cannot infer much about what they're like. Who's more athletic and who's less athletic -- you need to run them through an obstacle course to find out.

To reiterate an earlier post as a reminder, children growing up without both parents in the home has become an increasingly common phenomenon, starting with those born circa 1960, whose parents would have divorced sometime in the '70s. This has continued at least through those born circa 1990, although unfortunately we won't have the data in on later cohorts for awhile.

The timing of the trend, starting around the mid-'70s and continuing steadily upward after that, links it to the status-striving and inequality cycle. Parents who put their individual happiness above the integrity of their own family -- including the welfare of those helpless little things known as children -- is a clear sign of the Me Generation's break from norms of social accommodation and toward socially laissez-faire norms.

The NYT author devotes a whole clause (not even a full sentence) to the broken homes phenomenon at the very end of the article, even though that's what worries most folks about divorce -- its effects on children. The commenters were more likely to bring the topic up, not to point out how absent it had been from the article, but simply because normal people associate marriage with children, and don't need to be prompted to bring up family dynamics in the context of marriage and divorce.

What is keeping today's marriages together, then? The article reviews several factors, all of which stem from the status-striving behavior of the spouses -- late marriage (gotta establish your career first), birth control (kids get in the way of your career), and modern dual-earner households (two incomes are better than one).

The article also mentions that the falling divorce rates are mostly concentrated among married couples higher up on the class pyramid, while lower status couples are just about as likely to divorce as they were at the peak divorce rate circa 1980. That follows from the status-striving explanation -- upwardly mobile strivers are the ones who marry late, rely on birth control, have fewer / no children, and form dual-breadwinner households.

Perhaps the most direct explanation of why upwardly mobile strivers stick out their bumpy marriages comes from a crass transplant to DC (where else?), in the comments. She's the wife:

Sometimes the downs are so severe and so prolonged that I want to pack my bags and run away. I don't - partly due to my own maturity, partly due to an intensely stubborn unwillingness to fail - but also because we can't afford to live apart without sacrificing everything we've worked for. Together, we do OK but apart, neither one of us makes enough money to live the way we do. I often wonder what would happen if we hit the lottery jackpot during one of the down periods.

A sympathetic follow-up to that comment:

In cities like New York and San Francisco, where a two-bedroom apartment can easily cost $4,000/month and a beer is often $6, even a couple making $200,000/year would face a dramatic change in their living standards if they spit up.

Now it all comes out: marriage for the striver class is primarily a cynical business arrangement calculated to maximize the individual's standard of living. For those components that are private goods, the striver doesn't need marriage -- he can squander his own dough on an expensive personal gadget, and she can rack up her own debt on expensive shoes and handbags.

But then there are the collective goods and services where economies of scale can be exploited. The people you're trying to impress don't really mind if your house or apartment is occupied solely by you, or you plus your spouse (plus any kids you may have). So why not cohabit and then marry someone who can double the amount going to rent or the mortgage? If you're swimming in old money, you don't need to lower yourself to marriage to accomplish this, but if you're a striver, you're going to have to pool resources with a housemate (as a bonus, a housemate who you occasionally have sex with).

At the high end, doubling the budget will have diminishing marginal returns for how impressive the purchase is -- a Manhattan penthouse that costs $20 million vs. $10 million. Strivers can't aim that high, though. They're thinking more like going from a $250K house to a $500K house, or making the jump from a $500K house to a million-dollar house. Those gains are dramatic, and you get more than you pay for. Double your budget, but enjoy ten times the status boost.

There is also a quantum leap effect, where pooling resources allows you to clear a threshold of visibility and respectability. A single striver can't clear the threshold for owning a half-million-dollar house, but two strivers pooling resources could. A single striver can't afford the upscale refrigerator or the Viking range stove or the fully equipped home theater system, but two teaming up together could.

True, the individual could afford a quarter-million-dollar house, an older model refrigerator and stove, a 30-inch TV without audiophile surround sound or rows of club chairs, but c'mon, who's going to be impressed by that stuff? That individual is not merely less visible or respectable in the status contest, they are invisible and pitiful. Pooling resources allows two invisible and pitiful individuals to form a household that clears the threshold of visibility and respectability (plus that occasional roll in the hay).

What other "club goods" fall under this pattern? Those are goods and services that are excludable (the household excludes those outside of the household from enjoying them), but are not rivalrous among those using them within the household (one spouse's use doesn't really subtract from the other spouse's use).

For goods, there's the residential building itself and its real estate location, landscaping and architecture outside the house (fence, porch, patio, deck, yard, trees, bushes, flowers, etc.), the large kitchen appliances, dining room furniture, living room furniture, the TV, bathroom furnishings (sink, vanity, toilet, shower / bathtub), bedroom furnishings (bed, dresser, walk-in closet -- husband doesn't own enough clothes to rival his wife's use of that space), and on and on.

For services, there's the bills for housekeeping and cleaning (wife works too much), the bills for yard maintenance and home repairs (husband works too much), child care if they have kids (wife works), goods and services they provide to their kids, utilities, and media access (cable, internet, maybe a phone line).

Other infrequent luxury goods and services include the wedding, hosting parties, travel and vacations. Pooling resources allows a quantum leap here as well. The wedding is way more awesome than your friends' weddings. A couple can successfully host a party through division of labor vs. an individual being overwhelmed and unable to pull it off. And a couple can share a cab ride to the airport, perhaps get a couple's discount on the plane tickets, share a room, share cab rides at the vacation site, and so on and so forth.

Married people also get tax benefits, but those are on the back of the minds of most strivers. They're mostly thinking about all the awesome new stuff they can own and experience, not a somewhat lower amount to enter on their tax return once a year.

Marriages are as fragile as ever among the lower majority of society, while it has become more stable among the elites mostly because they're desperate to climb the status pyramid, realize that it's easier / possible at all to do this by pooling resources, and fear the loss of material and immaterial standard of living if they were to divorce and give up their tag team / power couple benefits.

Meanwhile, parents are only more and more likely to break up a family, and let their offspring fend for themselves in the aftermath.

Analysts, especially if they're pseudo-cons or quasi-libertarians, have fooled themselves into fixating on marital stability per se, isolating it apart from the larger gestalt of which it is a piece, and ignoring the purpose of marriage, which is creating a family. When they zoom in on the divorce rate by itself, they see only reasons to be sanguine about recent trends and near-term prospects. But anyone who sees the bigger picture has plenty to be worried about.


  1. I live in a treehouse and am happy in it. Enough is as good as a feast.

  2. I could not find an email or a way to contact you, Agnostic, so I'll I'll post here. There is a story out of London of the new "silent disco," where socially awkward Millennials wear headphones and dance alone. It looks so sad. Thought you'd enjoy it, another file for your cocconing archives. Great blog.

  3. Honestly, literally, those pictures don't look too different from a typical Millennial house party, where everyone is off in their own little world.

    "We can have three separate gigs, so no one in the building will have the same experience because they're always changing to different music."

    Wow, some shared experience! Imagine going to church and tuning into three separate sermons, each of which constantly switches tone and argument, on your own private set of headphones. Or having hundreds of choices of alcoholic beverage and wafer during Communion, the way that nightclubs don't just serve a handful of popular brands and a bowl of peanuts, but endless options tailored to the individual.

    I wonder if Millennials have any history with regularly sharing sensory experiences with others. Going to the movies is about the only thing. They didn't play with each other as children, didn't join in the same physical activity or hobby as adolescents, or eat and drink the same thing at a nightclub.

    In fact, their preferred hip dance music is a dubstep remix of a song that everyone in the crowd is familiar with, but that has been dissected and re-assembled, sped up and slowed down, to the point where they can't anticipate what's coming next -- destroying the song's familiarity, and crippling the body from moving in time with the music. With each individual corporeally detached from the song, it is impossible for all of the crowd to be moving to the same beat.

  4. The theme of this article is not clear. Is this about the rising number of births that are occurring to single or cohabiting people? Is so, then what is with the obsession over married people not having kids? Perhaps the suggestion is that people who don't want kids should not get married and that marriage should be reserved for people who want kids.

  5. I'll try a TL;DR.

    Mainstream anxiety about divorce began in the '70s and '80s, as the divorce rate skyrocketed. Since 1980, divorce rate has steadily fallen, yet folks still worry about divorce.

    Glib quants look at the falling rate and say, "Hey, what are you guys still worrying about divorce for? It's not 1980 anymore -- divorce rates are way down."

    This glib response ignores several key trends that give us reason to still be worried about the state of marriage and divorce:

    1. Children affected by divorce. Growing up without both parents in the home (whether married or only cohabiting) has only become more and more common, despite divorce rates going down.

    2. Falling divorce rates are concentrated in a minority of the population, namely the upper-middle class. At the bottom (the middle being mostly eroded), they are about as bad as they always were. This point is acknowledged by the glib quants, but hurried over near the end of their articles, and its significance is dismissed with a wave of the hand.

    3. To the extent that marriages are more durable nowadays -- especially among childless upper-middle class strivers -- it is not because the spouses love each other more strongly, are more selfless, more respectful toward tradition, concerned with the stability of institutions, or any other change that would give us reason to feel good.

    Rather, the marital "bond" has strengthened -- where it actually *has* strengthened -- because it's become a status-striving business arrangement, whereby two strivers teaming up together can achieve a far greater boost in status, than either could by themselves, or by merely adding the husband's pile of income and stuff to the wife's pile. They can exploit economies of scale for collective goods and services like the ones I discussed.

    So, the glib quants have jumped the gun in taking such a sanguine view toward marriage and divorce trends, by ignoring the three factors above.

  6. "I wonder if Millennials have any history with regularly sharing sensory experiences with others. Going to the movies is about the only thing. They didn't play with each other as children"

    I wonder which particular sub group of Millennials was the first to get hit hard by this stuff.

    I'm an April '85er and I vividly remember quite a few social/often physical activities before high school, among other things:

    Early Years:
    - having nerf and action figure wars with friends
    - playing lots of arcade games, not just at full blown arcades but also at gas stations, bowling alleys, and wherever else they were. Post 1990ers probably don't realize how active/social video gaming was in the 80's/early 90's. Night of the Comet ('86), The Last Starfighter ('83), Terminator 2 ('91), Robocop 2 ('90), Bloodsport ('87) all have people playing colorful, fast paced, unpretentious arcade games in public.
    - hearing about and being the victim of vandalism and deliquents

    Later Years:
    - petty vandalism (that I mostly stayed out of but certainly saw first hand)
    - desperate but somehow casual, sometimes naive attempts to get booze or get high (if that wasn't happening we could always legally grab some Jolt or Mountain Dew)
    - listening to music with others, enjoying the better stuff and picking apart the lousier stuff.

    All Years:
    - adventuring in the woods
    - biking around a pretty good sized area
    - watching tons of movies (armloads of VHS tapes, sometimes from mom & Pop stores) with people who weren't my parents
    - A near 'open door' (e.g. trusting and permissive) attitude to me, my brother, and our friends coming and going from each others' houses.
    - Freedom to move about with minimum interference or hand holding

    This more expansive upbringing wasn't always easy, though. I know of plenty of kids who got into a lot more trouble than I did. I guess maybe parents thought that there kids needed to literally or figuratively skin their knees up a bit to learn a lesson.

    There also was that time that I was about 7 and coming back from my friends' house one evening and thought I heard somebody sneaking up on me. This being the earlier 90's, we all heard quite a bit about the predators afoot at the time (the streets were more dangerous back then don't let modern paranoia fool you). I didn't hesitate to just tear off as fast as possible so I could get back home in one piece. I got to the front screen door, opened it, and bashed the hell out of the front door so my parents would let me in.

  7. Wasn't marriage a status striving arrangement for much of the history of civilization? The lack of reproduction may be new but I don't think it's necessarily tied to status striving or lack thereof. There's not a much of a difference in fecundity these days between the upper and lower classes.

    Related to it being a test, though, I think of my friend who is a reasonably smart dude (his brother has two Harvard degrees - sure, regression, but still...) but nonetheless managed to knock up a semi-crazy chick and is now forced to cooperate with her to raise the child. He's actually trying to make it work and has even moved in with her but she is demonstrably not a sweet, sacrificing person, so he is sort of having to bite the bullet and say, "Yeah, this girl is flirty but she's never going to be reliable; nonetheless, I've got to make the best of the situation." Not a situation I ever want to end up in but it's still a good antidote to the soul mate-ism that permeates today's culture.

  8. Marriage was an economic arrangement, but not necessarily a status-striving one. The wife did the cooking, cleaning, and child-minding so that these things would not have to be paid for via hiring it out. The husband did the yardwork, simple home repairs, and brought home the bacon.

    And both of them passed on knowledge and skills to their children so that they wouldn't need camps, coaches, workshops, and spending dozens of hours on the internet having to learn how to sew, cook, chop wood, build a fence, etc.

    These things are part of maintenance rather than ever upward mobility.

    Shrinking family sizes are a big part since having to provide for your kids takes away from your own status-striving. Not just from your wallet but your mindset too. Your attention and motivation is pointing in a different direction. Which doesn't stop strivers from trying to exploit their kids as objects of signalling status in competitive times, but it still puts a check on striving compared to not having any kids to worry about (or nieces, nephews, old parents, and so on).

  9. "A near 'open door' (e.g. trusting and permissive) attitude to me, my brother, and our friends coming and going from each others' houses."

    Was your brother older? I've always wondered how generationally pure or mixed a person is, depending on the generational membership of their older siblings and cousins. (As well as older kids they're around who aren't related to them, but young kids only have access to that social source in outgoing times.)

    It seems like parenting styles harden into place around the time of the baby's birth. Even as the helicopter parenting trend was taking off in the '90s among new parents, who had small children, the parents of kids in my cohort still allowed us to more or less do as we pleased, within reason.

    Staying out late with a group of friends to watch a band play, taking road trips outside the state, crashing at only an acquaintance's house (who lived on the other side of the state...). We also were spared the helicopter parenting when we went off for college. Honestly/literally none of us were subjected to what became ubiquitous when the Millennials went off to college.

    Our parents locked onto a particular kind of parenting circa 1980 and haven't changed since. Parents of kids born circa 1990 have been of the same over-protective, sheltering mindset ever since.

    If you were born in '85, cocooning was not yet a trend, and so neither was helicopter parenting. But by the late '80s and early '90s, it definitely was.

    I'm not sure how long the window lasts for forming a parenting style. If it's less than three or four years after the child's birth, then your parents might have been resistant to the sudden change toward cocooning the children that began around '88-'89.

    If the window lasts well until the kid is about to hit puberty, then your parents would have been of two minds. (And do parents of two minds give greater weight toward the earlier or more recent trends? Probably the latter, that's where things are going.)

  10. When I say the influence that older siblings can have on younger ones, I'm not only talking about that direct influence, but tying it into the "parenting formation window" idea.

    Most kids are born within a few years of each other, so you probably wouldn't notice if the parent updated their parenting style with each successive child (keeping a single style that gets revised, or tailoring separate styles to each child).

    What about parents who have kids born far apart, across generational lines? My best friend in elementary school had a younger brother born in '89 -- he was a little Millennial, and we didn't even know it! I don't recall strongly one way or the other, were his parents treating him the way they'd treated my friend when he was little, or were they starting to shift toward helicopter parenting with the Millennial child.

    After I moved away, his mother had another child in the mid or late '90s. Talk about spacing apart births. She had a late X-er, an early Millennial, and a late Millennial. I'd love to hear her tell the story of how her parenting style changed, if at all, while rearing children over such a broad range of social climates.

  11. "I wonder if Millennials have any history with regularly sharing sensory experiences with others…"

    Ha. Yea you wonder if they even played Doctor or House as kids.

    Likely no. They've only watched Dr. House on TV. Excuse me, on Netflix.

  12. "A near 'open door' (e.g. trusting and permissive) attitude to me, my brother, and our friends coming and going from each others' houses."

    Was your brother older?

    Older by a year and a half. We also spent some time around neighbor kids who were 2-5 years older. So i think most of us had parents who were more hands off which explains the youth anarchy that prevailed in many neighborhoods in the 80's and even into the 90's.

    Even as parenting styles changed in the 90's, that cohort of kids born in the first half of the 80's had too much imprinting from the jovial, unpretentious 80's (or too much experience with Gen X-ers/near Gen X-ers) to be fully entombed in dorky Millennialism.

    With regard to the pathetic tastes of devout Millennials, I hear you slightly older folk. I've always had tepid feelings at best toward nearly all post 1992 music with what little I can tolerate dating from '92 to maybe '98 at the latest. I still like Green Days hits from the mid 90's. Sure, the 90's were bound to be a big disappointment compared to the 80's but I think the 90's did benefit from the last vestiges of exciting 80's creativity. Post 2000 we've been stuck in a neurotic shell for so long that most people have lost touch with their creative senses.

    That modern 'dance' music is an aural tire iron to the head.

  13. Divorce was more negatively portrayed in the 80s and early 90s. As an early gradeschooler, I remember an emphasis on helping kids cope with divorce. Divorce was negatively shown in movies as well, in the "Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio's character is dragged to a new school where he gets beat up.

  14. I vaguely remember in grade school at some point they gave us a special class lecture or multiple ones on how to deal with divorce. Not sure if they do that anymore. I also remember that when Kurt Cobain committed suicide, the news media placed a lot of blame on his parents getting divorced, or at least talked about it as an issue.

    Sometimes divorce really is the best option, but it does seem like it was shown a lot more negatively back when the crime rate was high.

  15. da wasps da wasps12/4/14, 6:06 PM

    Hey Agnostic since they're blocking comments in support of you at UR i'll just comment here. thank you for pointing out why the arts have gone to shit, it really sucks be lorded over by people who hold your culture in contempt, especially when their culture never produced anything besides legalistic hair splitting and exploitive business practices. With the visual arts it's really shines through how much contempt jews have for gentile culture and traditions, how willing they are to destroy it and what high regard they have for themselves, even when it is completely and totally undeserved. do you have any thoughts on the tantrum thrown in response and do you see going away any time soon? well anyways THEY SHIT ON US: TIKKUN OLAM (and we should consider our selves blessed) WE CRITISIZE THEM: ANTISEMITISM (and though shall be destroyed by our overlords for our sins)

  16. Blocking comments? Apparently not ones that are substance-free ad hominem. Or "pointing and sputtering," as Steve Sailer calls it. Shameful and gay.

    My observation must have really gotten under someone's skin because it was so on-topic. The post referred to, and my comments, are here:

    The OP asks why there's such a disconnect between today's art elites and popular tastes, compared to earlier times and places. And not just disconnect, but seething contempt. That points to an in-group vs. out-group antagonism, not mere class snobbery or whatever. And sure enough, scratch beneath the contemptuous elite art, and it's a thinly veiled front group for the forward-looking Jewish elite vs. backward goy peasants.

    That's what's so different about today's cultural elite compared to the sponsors of Medieval cathedrals, Ancient Egyptian pyramids, and the like. Those societies were ruled over by members of their own ethnic group, who shared their basic conception of what good art is. Today's largely Jewish cultural elite has no roots in the Anglo-Celtic foundation of this country, or even its later Germanic layer. (Most Ashkenazi Jews in North America are from Eastern Europe, not a German-speaking country.)

    Shame on the person who so easily solves the riddle put forward by the author!

    Also big no-no for providing a citation about the "artist" having taken part in an exhibit crassly and proudly called "Jew York" that celebrated Jewish artists in their native habitat, New York (paraphrasing the press copy).

    I forgot to mention that it's not just the artists but the gallery owners who were Jewish -- the contemptuous works being on loan from the Rachel Uffner Gallery.

    The "pay no attention to the Jews behind the curtain" crowd would prefer that people naming the Jew just do it randomly, where it's off-topic, irrelevant, or just plain wrong. But when you call out the most ethnocentric, wealthy, and powerful ethnic group, truth and relevance are damning rather than redeeming aspects of the argument.

  17. A word to the wise: don't apologize when the Two Minutes Hate comes down. It only encourages them. Double-down and shame them back.

    I picked this up intuitively when I was active in the Israel/Palestine and "America out of the Middle East" movements in college. When someone on my side would waffle, hem and haw, qualify how some of their best friends are Jews (or whatever they said), the Zionists smelled blood and went for the jugular.

    I wanted to tell them not to act like such wimps -- really, what are they going to do? Reach for a gun? LOL, Jews are anti-firearms. Look at Bernie Goetz -- shot five times point-blank and didn't even kill one.

    Jewish sympathizers, angry Zionists, Arab onlookers -- all respect someone who cuts through the bullshit and doesn't back down. It gives the angry ones the feeling that, for once in real life and not in fantasy, they're going toe-to-toe with a bona fide anti-Semite (AKA anyone who names the Jew). Bulldozing over some dickless liberal waffler -- where's the endorphin rush in that?

  18. da wasps da wasps12/5/14, 6:06 AM

    ya I was shocked at the intensity of that. and at UR. I hope it was all boomers. my comment was more making fun of them. asking what was up with tone deaf English majors and bobby Dylan. handels messiah to trite and treacle white Christmas played over and over danky jews. but anyway thanks for the great comment that lead to the even greater tantrums.

  19. da wasps da wasps12/5/14, 6:22 AM

    If you have some one who's arguing against with you in good faith theirs something called KOL NIDRE that's good for some cognitive dissonance: "All vows we are likely to make, all oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths. and they wonder why they're so loved.

  20. "Sometimes divorce really is the best option, but it does seem like it was shown a lot more negatively back when the crime rate was high."

    Well, in the 80's/even the early 90's, people were still pro-social and engaged enough to have a visceral/intuitive sense of what kind of behavior was selfish and irresponsible. There also was concern for the potential victims of hedonistic behavior.

    As the 90's went people got more and more disconnected from each other so we've lost touch of what really makes things right and wrong. Being basically autistic we don't feel the pain of the victims so it's allowed people to get really glib, insouciant, and even crassly snarky about hedonistic behavior and it's consequences.

    Another factor in the lack of concern about serious issues like divorce, suicide, sexual perversion etc. is that these things have become the 'new normal' as post 1991 society has been increasingly infected by poor mental health, extreme narcissism, and rootlessness.

    It seems like the only remaining behavior that consistently disgusts people in the modern West is male pedophila.

  21. "and at UR. I hope it was all boomers."

    It looks like there *is* such a thing as too uncouth of a reflection. I wasn't even intending to troll anyone, figuring that some would chime in pro and some against, and have it out like the comments used to be at 2blowhards (UR's earlier incarnation).

    Instead it was a lame torrent of "Wow just wow. Seriously, in 2014 really? Not cool, bro, not cool."

    I sparked another unintentional slapfight a year or so ago, also at UR, when someone posted a link to an evolutionary psychology "study" into the evolutionary adaptedness of men going down on women. I'd been looking into the sex lives of Primitive Man at the time, and discovered how free of perversions they were -- no masturbation (not even heard of, and nearly impossible to explain to primitives), no oral sex for men or women, let alone anal sex, no homosexuality, and so on and so forth. Not even open-mouth kissing.

    I also pointed out how easy it is to spread contagious diseases through deviant sex, including men getting oral and throat cancer caused by HPV, which came from the woman's genitals. Real studies show that a major predictor in a man's risk for oral/throat cancer is how many women he's gone down on. Shocker!

    I left a response linking to that review post of mine, and brushing away the ev psych study as another case of "nerds speculating about sex" and trying to use Darwinian arguments to rationalize contemporary deviance.

    The kneejerk rejections that time were not of the "Wow just wow" type that you'd expect from SJWs. It was more like, "How dare you suggest that deviance is polluting?! Everyone knows that degeneracy is not only cool and awesome, but fitness-enhancing!"

    The common offense in both of those cases was calling out degeneracy and deviance. UR and 2blowhards have too many writers and commenters to paint with a broad brush, but there is a substantial camp within the group whose main goal is to shock the squares (like it's still 1967). So if someone argues against the promotion of deviance, and elite peddlers of deviance, because they corrode social in-group cohesion, you're a Nazi.

    There's a strange counter-tendency at that site to lament how decadent and soul-draining modern architecture, design, and urban planning have become, and how fulfilling it would be to restore more traditional craftsmanship, design, and organic "planning." I couldn't agree more.

    How do they reconcile that with their promotion of shock-the-squares social deviance?

    A real Nazi would say something like what I did about degenerate Jewish influence in the elite arts, but then argue in favor of modernist architecture, corporate tyranny over the economy, and futuristic urban planning.

    Loathing the out-sized influence that a contemptuous materialist ethnic group has over our elite institutions, plus a desire to return to simpler living -- that's more in line with being Amish. "Wow just wow, looking up to the Amish? In 2014, really? We told you he was a square after all!"

    For rationalizers of deviance, and apologists for elite peddlers of degeneracy, the return to traditional design must not have much of a basis in seeking social cohesion, stability, harmony, and so on. It's more of an individual-focused lifestyle choice. "Tonight in my regionally authentic, traditionally restored Craftsman bungalow, my gay-married friends will join me for a meal of tacos that those wannabes in NYC can only dream of, to compare which porno sites get us off more than which others."

    For that subset of the UR world, they're trying to have their Arts and Crafts cake and eat it with Fin-de-siecle decadence too. Back on planet Earth, the Arts and Crafts movement went hand-in-hand with the Progressive and Temperance movements, not Gilded Age decadence.

  22. "and at UR. I hope it was all boomers."

    We've discussed before the Me Generation's refusal to go quietly into the night. Thus, the necessity of the 30's-50's Me Gen. cohort fully becoming either babbling dementia cases or corpses so as to enable society to move on from their selfish, vacuous preoccupations.

    Until these self righteous charlatans finally burn out, we're gonna have to ride out as best we can the pronounced trend to marginalize straight, American born white Gen X-ers/very early Millennials. The Me Generation does this in order to keep others from wresting control of the cultural discourse away from the Me Gen. and their shock troops: foreigners, gay perverts, careerist liberal women, and useful idiot clueless late period Millennials.

    The Me Gen. all too gleefully pours gas on the fire, firmly in the throne, out of touch with reality (it ain't 1969 anymore) and delusionally confident in their wisdom and abilities.

    A couple years ago I heard a Boomer loudmouth express shock that low skilled/youth oriented jobs paid so little. He said he wouldn't blame kids for being criminals now with the way that honest but low status work goes unrewarded.

    But, you Boomer know it all, when and why did society stop giving people a fair shake?

    Gen X men (to a lesser extent the women) aren't quite as willing to cast aside experience and knowledge gained in the pre mid 90's in order to play well with the modern Me Gen dominated culture.

  23. Just how long will the Me Generation be able to sustain their reign?

    Will their ever be any kind of unity, resources, and conviction that enables Gen X-ers to be rid of them once and for all?

    I personally think that the 'natural' turnover that should've occurred in the 90's/2000's was fatally disrupted by:

    - The Me Gen. swamping America with foreigners who deplete the resources of young founding stock Americans

    - Encouraging shameless status seeking which depressed the birth rates of wannabe elite young white Americans

    - Modern science, technology, and heroic (also dangerously naive) generosity/effort on the part of Gen X-ers/Millennials to support the Me Gen. AKA the generation that instead of respecting their elders told them ungratefully and with little justification to fuck off.

    I shouldn't have to remind anyone of how, aside from a brief period of the 70's when a fair amount of Greatest Gen figures called it like they saw it, every generation has gotten battered like crazy in mainstream culture while the Silent (sociopath) / (bloviating) Boomer gens. have shown no willingness to play fair as they pick on other generations.

    Time to turn the tables, isn't it?

  24. If they were Jews themselves, it wouldn't matter what generation they're from. They'd all go apoplectic.

    In my experience, Silents and Boomers are more likely to be Ashkenazophiles. Jews have always been exotic to them, since they probably grew up with almost none around. With (white) Gen X-ers and Millennials growing up closer to the power centers (striver parents having left their roots for such places), Jews are more mundane, and their outsized wealth and influence are more apparent. They might like them, might not, but won't get worked up if someone rags on them.

    Silents and Boomers get a boner dreaming that they've got the chance to prevent another Holocaust and kick some Nazi butt since they never got the chance to the first time (that was the Greatest Gen).

  25. "Silents and Boomers are more likely to be Ashkenazophiles. Jews have always been exotic to them, since they probably grew up with almost none around."

    The majority of Silents, as well as Boomers to an even greater degree, grew up in new fangled, cozy, big bad gubmint sponsored white suburban neighborhoods. For reasons that we may never fully understand the modest, comfortable, and pleasant America created by the Greatest Gen./Lost Gen. was violently and senselessly trashed by the Me Generation who had largely no appreciation for what had been done before them and largely FOR them.

    Ohhh, it's so suffocating living a modest, Christian life around 'bland' people in a 'bland' neighborhood.

    Maybe it's the 'curse of affluence'; basically lucking into too much too fast makes you self righteous and cocky and no matter what you do or what's going on you'll always be convinced that you've got the answers.

    Think about, if you grew up totally in an amiable society with no nonsense parents, little crime, little corruption, strong wages, and minimal cheating maybe you just don't have a strong sense of the sacrifices and morals it took to build that society.

    After all, Those who grow up in that kind of period won't know the horrors that elder generations were able eradicate and what sorts of things create those horrors. So as you age you will make the mistakes that you're elders warned you not to make; you get greedy and impetuous, wanting to continue to have so much comfort and fortune with no grasp of the morality that underlines a healthy society.

    Of course, people were cool enough in the 80's (and liberalism got so stupid in the 70's) that even the Me Generation briefly hit the pause button in the MTV/Reagan decade so that the encroaching liberal decadence that they held so dear was held at bay briefly before America went full tilt into the loony bin of the 90's and beyond.

  26. "Silents and Boomers get a boner dreaming that they've got the chance to prevent another Holocaust and kick some Nazi butt since they never got the chance to the first time (that was the Greatest Gen)."

    The last and least necessary Indiana Jones movie didn't have Nazis because Spielberg had so exhausted Nazis in his previous movies. I think Stevie claimed that Schindler's list made it impossible to put Nazis in a lighter movie but I have a hunch that George Lucas told Stevie to give it a rest.

    We get it, you're Jewish and you probably dream about Nazis on a daily basis.

    Kudos to John Milius, I know, a Jew, but even among Jews there's got to be a few gems, right? He had the audacity to make Red Dawn in the height of the Reagan America. A movie about Americans protecting America from alien leftist one worlders.

    America's cultural betters screamed that this was some kind of xenophobic wet dream that middle American gun nuts would enjoy. Funny how what would've been considered heroic and sensible in the 20's-50's was considered so offensive by the Jews and liberal Me Gen. gentiles who steered America off the cliff in the 70's and thereafter.

    Milius was evidently a big surfer in his younger days and he cast actors for Conan based on their bodies and athletic grace as much as anything else. I wonder if more active, in touch with their surroundings types are more likely to be conservative? Being disconnected from the outside world is probably more likely to get you to buy into kooky leftism and become infatutated with the weird and foreign.

    Athletes do tend to be fairly conservative and people who actually spend time outdoors and in nature tend to be more conservative than ivory tower academics, Jews, swply nerdy urban vegan wannabe Jews

    By the way, the liberal Boomer who comment about crappy modern pay also once mocked the 1st Rambo movie. I guess the diminished empathy and moral vigilance of the Me Generation means that they have a hard time buying into a storyline about a bullied victim taking a stand, esp. when we're not in the earnest & selfless 80's anymore.

  27. Hate to be a serial poster, but the biggest fans of likable athletic action hero kicks the faggy bad guy's ass movies of the 80's tended to be Gen X-ers/early Millennials.

    The Me Generation wailed that the youth audiences of the 80's were being fed paranoid right wing fantasies. Pretty clueless way to look at since late 60's-early 80's people responded well to those movies because they tapped into said people's viscerally well developed morality.

    Death Wish was a good movie and is often blamed as the instigator for the tough but honorable guy wreaks revenge action genre. Yet Death Wish isn't as morally sound as, say, Bloodsport, since the rapists who set off the protagonist never even appear in the rest of the movie. To really hit the right note, you've gotta have the hero defeat the villians who've most dishonored the hero.

    Stallone got away with making the villian of Rambo ('08) a mincing pedophile. There aren't many people in Hollywood both conservative and powerful enough to do that sort of thing nowadays.

    On a similar note, Magnum force (AKA Dirty Harry 2) was written by John Milius who implied that some of the main villains were gay.

    Hidden Homo alert! The Enforcer (Dirty Harry 3) had a primary villain who was a real life homo (he died of aids in the 80's). Go figure that a Frisco set series would have some anti gay touches.

  28. When I did my first year mandatory humanities course in college, most of my teachers were Jews.

    We were assigned to watch a brave Iranian samizdat movie by a brave Iranian woman. I don't think anyone had watched that movie before assigning it. They must have just read the blurb on the back and thought it hit all the right notes.

    The movie was a joke. It was just still footage of some house in the country. There'd be a chicken running across the yard every now and then. Then a woman (the filmmaker I think) walked through the yard. At one point the woman takes a walk, and it starts to rain, and she takes her top off (though she has her back to the audience when she does that). That was it. That was the movie. No dialogue.

    The main professor for the course had a gift for giving a lecture without saying anything at all. He had a strong imposing personality. He was really fat and ugly but had this forcefield he could generate.

    A lot of the lectures were like that: people would speak but would not say anything.

    We had lots of lectures on modern art too.

  29. There's a certain type of couple where they both do the exact same type of work. They'll be doctor-doctor, lawyer-lawyer, engineer-engineer.

    I was watching the Olympics, and I remember hearing about the background of a Russian figure-skater, that his parents are both engineers in Boston. Then there was this Russian snowboarder. His parents were both mathematicians in Switzerland.

    This kind of thing is really common among Indians and I think Chinese people as well.

    Among Indians, people deliberately seek out this kind of marriage, even if they did not meet at work.

  30. Do you guys really believe American society is declining? Its actually improving by some metrics. Well-recognized metrics of social decay include crime (particularly violent crime), drug addiction, and teen pregnancy. All of these metrics have improved significantly over the past 20 years.

    Additionally, Razib Khan posted a series of articles on his blog about 7 years ago detailing how previous generations were actually more depraved.

    Sure, we have our problems today. They are all economic. More specifically, they are due exclusively to over-reaching government regulation in all areas of human endeavor (talk to anyone who is developing anti-aging therapies, they will give you an earful of how FDA regulation stifles the field). I don't consider "social decay" to be one of the problems we are facing.

  31. crime (particularly violent crime), drug addiction, and teen pregnancy.

    Don't know what you're experiences/thoughts were regarding the 80's/early 90's (assuming you're old enough to remember the period), but I recall that greater levels of outgoingness also applied to delinquency/crime.

    Basically, people (including dirt bags) had more friends and were more active so they spent more time in the outside world for reasons other than just going from point A to point B. One of those reasons was crime; not necessarily rape or murder but also minor stuff like vandalism, stealing stuff from peoples' yards and cars, and general disorder and hell raising.

    Kids these days when in public typically are disconnected from the people and even the non-smartphone objects around them. Doing something besides staring a phone? Ummm, awkward!

    People were less autistic, more convivial, more rambunctious, and more trusting back in the 80's and even into the 90's. Part of the price society paid for that was greater levels of disorder and violence. But we shouldn't forget that people were less neurotic, more physically fit, more upbeat, more sincere, better dressed, and in general less of a drag to be around than they are now.

    Also greater outgoingness meant that victims placed themselves in vulnerable situations more often. I mentioned above that I may have been stalked by a predator circa '92 because I was very young, out late at night, and not guarded by a more mature person.

    The lower levels of pregancy makes sense; Millennials rarely have sex on account of their self consciousness and social disinihibition (thus necessitating booze for them to even consider sex). Also, Millennial narcissism leads to oral rather than trad. sex. We shouldn't forget either that post 1970 culture has increasingly made it okay for careerist woman to do everything to avoid having children/a full family for as long as possible.

  32. "Sure, we have our problems today. They are all economic. More specifically, they are due exclusively to over-reaching government regulation"

    I'm sure Agnostic is gonna give you an earful for not being aware of how rampant status seeking, narcissism, and greed have torn the social and cultural fabric of the modern West in two.

    People these days are fatter, shorter, have fewer friends, deal with intense levels of social/financial distress (1 job loss, ailment , or family crisis away from certain financial and thus social/physical/mental doom). If these things don't seem believable, just look them up on this blog.

    In additition, the rising post 1965 diversity scourge has left many white Westerners with the feeling that they are strangers in their own lands, which corrodes trust and any sense of a organic, venerable community.

    Many whites are demoralized, though they may not consciously understand why given the way that the nihilistic modern culture demands that whites have no racial consciousness. Why bother celebrating something that no longer exists or even bother attempting to defend what's left of white Euro nations?

  33. That was me who wrote those posts for about changes in youth behavior. And I wouldn't call the '60s - '80s more depraved but more free-wheeling, wild, and dangerous. There was more truly depraved behavior back then too, but it was still a far fringe occurrence, such as serial murder.

    That's all part of the cocooning-and-crime cycle. We're in the falling-crime phase of that cycle, but that isn't without its costs to community, meaning, and belonging.

    Cocooning reduces our risk of violent harm or property crime, and that's it. It's liberal moral hysteria to value those gains over all other losses related to not interacting with each other -- not even wanting to do so -- especially given how rare on an absolute scale those risks used to be (it's not as though we got mugged every time we went out of the house, or kidnapped, raped, and decapitated every time we hung out at the mall unattended).

    Then there's the status-striving-and-inequality cycle, which is separate from that. We are definitely not in a "things are superficially getting better phase" there. Laissez-faire, maximizing self-interest, etc., lead to anti-social corrosion because we're part of an interlocking society, and our desires rarely coincide -- other goals being zero-sum, like climbing a status pyramid (whether based on wealth, fame, knowledge, coolness, or whatever else).

    We ignore all externalities that our vice, greed, and vainglory have on the whole rest of society, right down to our neighbors, family, and friends.

    Government is never the fundamental problem because it is a tool being wielded by whoever is wealthy, powerful, and influential. If there are awful trends in how government is heading, it's because of a change in the behavior of the elite and/or the grassroots. Throwing off the constraints on their greed, abandoning a sense of stewardship, shrieking to give us more more more.

    The attempt to blame current problems on over-reaching gubmint regulation is embarrassing. The climate of the past 30-odd years has been one of DE-regulation, in case you haven't taken your nose out of those dusty old 1970s embattled libertarian magazines.

  34. "The attempt to blame current problems on over-reaching gubmint regulation is embarrassing."

    Certainly the one thing that some libertarians get right is the police stateization of America which intensified in the 80's. I can buy into that.

    What I don't buy into, what distracts from genuine goverment overreach and abuse is the non stop whining about how the 'free market' (whatever the hell that's supposed to be) isn't free enough.

    How in god's name would massive multinational corporations be as powerful, rich, and omnipresent as they are if the government was as meddlesome in corporate affairs as libertarians make it out to be?

    Jamie Dimon (B. 1956), the parasite who heads J.P. Morgan Chase simply called the attorney general to ward off criminal charges. Is that good enough for the get the damn gov's hands offa me crowd?

    "The climate of the past 30-odd years has been one of DE-regulation"

    Right, as the current inequality cycle intensified in the 80's there was this outbreak of "it's so stifling, unfair, un-American to boss those companies around. Let's just wind 'em up, let 'em go, and may the best company win."

    I don't think that the Greatest Gen. appreciated just how much greed, treachery, and discord the Me Generation yuppies would sow in the 80's and beyond. Had the elder generations known they would've fought a lot harder to keep mid century checks and balances in place.

    But nope, it's been ever growing scheming, exploitation, and monopolizing since the Me Generation began dominating our institutions in the 80's. And while the Greatest Gen was modest and gracious enough to give the reins to the Silents/Boomers in the 70's/80's, the Silents/Boomers have failed miserably to return the favor.

    The greed is good generation has not surprisingly refused to let Gen X-ers anywhere near America's driver seat.

  35. Agnostic, have you ever though about the ongoing trend for musty Silent/Boomer artists to continue touring well past their sell-by date (68 is the new 38!) while charging outrageous ticket prices?

    Of course, I shake my head at why anyone would pay in the triple digits to see Bob Dylan or Roger Daltrey creaking and croaking decades after cultural relevance.

  36. I stand by my point that over-reaching government regulation is the root of ALL problems today. Take medicine, for example. There is a stagnation in medical innovation because of FDA regulation. In particular, the FDA refuses to consider aging itself to be treatable medical condition. Hence, they will not approve therapies to treat aging no matter their efficacy. Given that aging process is the number one medical problem that people face, I consider this a real issue. The same is true for promising stem-cell regeneration therapies. People are already travelling internationally to undergo these because they cannot get them here in the U.S. Likewise, I expect to travel to Asia for the first true anti-aging therapies sometime in the next decade.

    Take nuclear power, for example. New technologies such as IMSR and other Thorium-based nuclear power can lead to cheaper and more abundant energy in this country, as well as being "low-carbon", Again, the problem here is the huge regulatory hurtle in getting these technologies certified by the NRC for commercial application, especially considering that the NRC is currently staffed by anti-nuclear zealots.

    The amount of federal regulation is astounding and has increased even more in the past 6 years. It is such that its conceivable that one can no longer go about their day to day without being in violation of one rule or another (

    Peter Thiel has talked about how technological progress outside of semiconductors and computers has stalled primarily because of excessive regulation. Many things that could be done are simply illegal.

    Some of the problem is government regulation. Much more of the problem is simply bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is inherently dysfunctional and it seems to be an entrenched part of human nature. It seems to be the nature of all large-scale human institutions to devolve into bureaucracy.

    The reason why insist that any and all problems a society may have is due to excessive regulation and bureaucracy is because in the absence of such, small self-interested groups are capable of accomplishing whatever goals theyset for themselves on their own. The bottom line is that this is the only thing that matters. Everything else is irrelevant.

    3-D printing, robotics, and computer design make it possible for smaller organizations to make things that only governments and large corporations could do in the past. For example, the Eclipse VLJ was designed on a lap-top computer. They were manufactured by a factory with a few hundred employees. Same for biotech. DIY biotechnology and bio-medicine will transform medicine (and cure aging allowing for unlimited healthly life spans) if government bureaucracy gets out of the way. Same for space colonization and for about any other productive activity one can think of.

    One more thing: There is no such thing as greed. There is only theft. Enrichment not based on productive accomplishment is a form of theft. You are confusing greed with theft.

  37. Steve Johnson12/7/14, 9:20 PM

    "How in god's name would massive multinational corporations be as powerful, rich, and omnipresent as they are if the government was as meddlesome in corporate affairs as libertarians make it out to be?"

    Your premise is wrong.

    Government is partnered with and protects large financial institutions.

    Financial institutions funnel money to ends that government likes (million dollar mortgages for strawberry pickers, carbon trading to launder money to connected businesses (if that ever takes off), etc.). In exchange they get protected from any and all losses.

    All other corporations are dependent on finance to expand or operate so they have to tow the line as well (better have intrusive HR and diversity officers or else). They're zombie corporations in a zombie economy dependent on money from the central planners in one way or another.

    Parasites like Jamie Dimon and John Corzine and Robert Rubin slide from executive banking positions to elected office to appointed offices because there's no real difference. It's pure corporatism. The regulation is aimed at strangling any real competition. Right now the biggest source of non-prog controlled wealth is oil and so of course the next major regulation expansion is going to be aimed at choking off that part of the economy.

    Meanwhile more and more productive industries move to China where they make shoddy, shitty, derivative products but it's legal to do that.

  38. "People are already travelling internationally to undergo these because they cannot get them here in the U.S. Likewise, I expect to travel to Asia for the first true anti-aging therapies sometime in the next decade."

    They'll have a funny way of aging right into an early grave -- Asian medicine? You think the FDA gets in the way, just wait until you're in the land of the free-to-pollute! "Hey Doc, how come these anti-aging pills taste like broken glass?" "Hey Doc, how come this anti-aging milk tastes like melamine?"

    Good luck getting your money back from antagonistic foreigners. "Hey, selling an adulterated product is fraud! That violates libertarian ethical principles!" "Go avay, liber-tar-tar-tar. What that mean? Buyer beware, is not this what you to be saying?"

    "It seems to be the nature of all large-scale human institutions to devolve into bureaucracy."

    There's the real problem, not gubmint regulation. Sane people will choose the poison of a gubmint bureaucracy rather than a corporate one, BTW. Gubmint just wants to keep on going, grow a little at most, while mega-corporations want to get as big as possible right now, cut corners (I mean costs) as much as possible, and not answer even in principle to all the people whose lives they're affecting.

    Biotech -- how did that ever get off the ground, except for gubmint bureaucracies providing all of the funding in the "we don't know what the fuck we're doing" stage? Space colonization -- pioneered by that well known private firm called NASA. Semi-conductors -- pioneered by work in transistors under the famously small-scale Bell Labs, the research arm of the totally not monopolistic AT&T.

    You have no clue how research works. Funding comes from the gubmint (NSF, DoD, or other alphabet soup agency), or if you're lucky to have another monopolistic Bell Labs around, that'll do too.

    If the project goes nowhere, it's only public tax dollars that have been wasted, and the public will not know about it, so they won't complain.

    If it succeeds, the PI and his investors raise private funds because it has already been proven to be worth it. Not "spray and pray" investment strategies.

    Note: I'm not suggesting that the Next Big Thing be funded through your libertarian fantasy scheme. For the Next Big Thing, success is too uncertain for private funds to provide all the initial trial-and-error work. I mean, cooking up the next addictive app for retards -- you can do that in your garage, but not inventing the transistor.

    I don't like the way things are done now, but they're at least in the right ballpark of using public funds to allow the research to proceed. It's in the benefits stage that we ought to be disgusted -- someone who has been insulated from failure by a steady stream of taxpayer-funded grants now gets to take his success all the way to the bank. And the public gets to enjoy paying out the ass for their discovery, which the public paid for.

  39. Kurt9-

    Good luck with your "anti-aging therapy," Boomer. Death is coming for YOU, just as it comes for the rest of us, and there is no stopping it. Traditionally, people have focused on their children, their faith, and leaving a legacy for their heirs when they have felt death approaching. Oh, wait -- we're talking about Boomers here! Never mind...

  40. Agnostic -

    Respectfully disagree with you on the research thing. Silicon Valley and the personal computer revolution are good examples of tremendous innovation and an entire industry getting started with little or no government intervention. Apple, Microsoft and Dell didn't start out as defense contractors or in the research division of AT&T, they started out as small businesses. And government subsidies have never really been part of their business model, it's not like you get a tax credits when you purchase an iPhone 6.

    Sure, universities and the DARPAnet laid part of the groundwork for the internet, but that would have happened anyway. And the private sector made it a thousand times bigger and more useable. Government money networked the computers of a a few university engineering departments together. The private sector brought the Internet into every business and home. And the PC industry was huge in the 1980's and early 1990's, long before the Internet. Besides, the physical infrastructure of the "Internet" is really "the phone company" and the "cable company," it was already there and the computer companies just started using it to transmit data as well as voice calls.

    In 50 years I'm sure the liberals will try to rewrite history and claim that the personal computer revolution was the product of some kind of partnership between government and private industry, or was "managed" by some Presidential commission or government bureaucracy, but that just isn't true. It was the private sector all the way.

    This isn't just true of personal computers - it's also true of things like cell phones - cell carriers are selling phones in places like Africa now because they have figured out a way to make money doing it, not because the UN High Commissioner for Communications is rolling out cell networks pursuant to a central plan cooked up by NGO's in New York and Bern.

    Also, a lot of past "successes" of government were really the work of the private sector. For example, the New York City Subway was built and operated by private companies - most of the subway lines were laid out just before the real estate developers started putting up buildings in the outer boroughs. A lot of other advances, like sanitary foods, were also brought to us by companies like Heinz, which used clear bottles instead of opaque ones so that people could see the ingredients and know that they were buying a safe product that was still fresh.

  41. Agnostic-

    Please understand, I am not defending the libertarian position here. I don't believe that the world would be a paradise if only government would just "get out of the way." For example, I agree with your assessment of the contemporary relationship between government and the private sector. But in general, I think the private sector is more efficient (and less corrupt) that government, and I think that the progressive argument that all technological innovation comes from big government is simply wrong. We have seen the personal computer industry revolutionize society in our lifetimes and virtually none of that has been due to government.

  42. "Your premise is wrong.

    Government is partnered with and protects large financial institutions."

    Steve. J., I don't disagree with a single thing you said.

    What I was getting at was that ultimately it is the poor behavior of individuals at all levels that lead to bad outcomes rather than government alone being responsible for tainting things.

    Going off of Agnostics's point about the necessity of government support in at least some respects, I'm remind of how notoriously difficult it is to make a huge profit margin on much of transportation.

    There's a reason airlines, roads, and railroads are heavily subsidized. If the private sector singlehandedly built and ran a highway they would need to charge huge tolls just to break even, let alone make a good profit.

    While it's true that our taxes pay for roads, keep in mind that without tax subsidies a person would have to either constantly pay often high cost single use tolls. Or they would have to pay weekly/monthly/yearly bills in order to have access.

    " I don't see a valid sticker on your vehicle sir, that'll be a 25$ toll because you fell behind on your 50$ per year bill."

    There would also be the annoying inconvenience of setting up and dealing with the infrastructure of monitoring access to a huge network of private use roads. If not lots of toll booths then some kind of electronic monitoring and fining of unauthorized vehicles. Remember the good ole days of Video store late fees? You'd end up getting a "how the hell did do that" bill of late fees. Imagine getting a 2000$ bill for unauthorized use of several roads. Of course it would be fairly easy to illegally dodge tolls and fines ala cable thieves with pirate boxes.

    Nowadays people even bitch about 'unfair' red light running fines (why don't you go the speed limit then you dumbass). Imagine the wailing about illegal use of private road fines which surely would equal and probably surpass public fines.

    A private monopoly would be more simple albeit more expensive than a road network of an alphabet soup of companies in which costs would be lower but there also would be a lot confusion about which area is owned by which company. Also, more bills/tolls.

    Airlines are an even bigger folly. It ain't cheap to put a massive vehicle in the air for long periods of time. An entirely unsubsidized airline would have to charge massive prices to pay for vehicles, maintenance, fuel, and let's not forget the huge insurance costs.

    Less profitable/safe routes would vanish quickly.

  43. The libertarians like to claim that everything would be better as a privately owned enterprise. The delusion with that claim is that a healthy profit margin is not possible with literally everything. It's a lot easier to make money building and selling cars than building and maintaining a nationwide network of roads, tunnels, and bridges.

    Also, it's fallacious to point out modern government follies as the reason the gov. can't be trusted with literally anything. Both Agnostic and me frequently have pointed out that in the modest, unpretentious, and selfless 20's-60's period the government was a helluva lot more capable. Come to think of it, everything and everyone was more capable back then.

    On the other hand, in the Silent/Boomer instigated greed is good period of the 80's and beyond, all things have gone to hell and a hand basket.

  44. Whoops, I meant to say speeding tickets and red light running fines that can be avoided by obeying sensible laws.

    The whole road rage thing was intensified by the Boomers in the 70's. I suspect that they are the group doing the most bitching about road measures designed to protect the common good at the expense of individual convenience.

  45. Joe Schmoe, personal computers may not have come from defense contractors, but they were a fairly advanced stage of computer. They did not spring fully formed like Athena from Steve Jobs' head.

    "ENIAC was initially designed to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory. . . ENIAC's design and construction was financed by the United States Army, Ordnance Corps, Research and Development Command"

    The digital computer age began around WWII, with heavy government funding and guidance regarding the invention's purpose. The same goes for airliners, BTW -- when you fly Southwest, you're in a civilianized transport carrier.

    That's what I mean -- in the earliest "What are we doing?" phase, there's going to be heavy insulation from financial failure by gubmint / monopoly subsidies. Only when it's fairly polished will entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates be able to make any real money off of its further tailoring toward mass consumers.

  46. Ralph Baer, the "father of video games," just died. Where did he invent the home video game console? He led a team at Sanders Associates, a defense contractor formed by former Raytheon workers.

  47. "Good luck with your "anti-aging therapy," Boomer. Death is coming for YOU, just as it comes for the rest of us, and there is no stopping it. Traditionally, people have focused on their children, their faith, and leaving a legacy for their heirs when they have felt death approaching. Oh, wait -- we're talking about Boomers here! Never mind."

    I think this is really coming, and will transform society.

  48. OT

    I know I'm not the only one thinking it...
    The Chris Hughes/The New Republic cries out for Agnostic's treatment. Dana Milbank actually just called him a man-child and impatient. Brutal article.

    Someone, can't remember who, noted that reaction among conservatives broke down along generational lines. Gen X finds it sad, while Millenials ask, "who cares".
    As far as lefties go, they were the best, especially Judith Shulevitz. TNR also spawned Hanna Rosin who wrote *the* article on section-8 and crime as well as a thoughtful essay on human bonds with a focus on the murders of three white working class Boomer men.

  49. Agnostic - I don't know about that. Yes, some research is funded, at least in part, by the government. But IMO most technological innovation is driven by private-sector demand. IMO in many cases, if the government hadn't funded the basic research, that technology still would have been developed by the private sector.

    The government has its fingers in so many pies that it is easy for them to take credit for most technical innovation -- at some point government funding touches almost every technological advance. But that doesn't mean government is responsible for the technological advance.

    Sure, there are some forms of technology that we simply wouldn't have without government funding. For example, stealth technology -- I can't see that happening without the Defense Department funding it, I can't think of too many non-military applications for airplanes that are invisible to radar.

    But lots of things that the government takes credit for would have happened anyway. For example, it is true computers were miniaturized for use in the space program; they had to be small enough to fit in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules. But smaller computers were inevitable once the transistor was invented. As soon as that technology became available companies like DEC immediately went to work making smaller, cheaper computers so they could sell more of them.

    Similarly, it is true that early computers were developed for military applications like like decryption and artillery firing solutions. But there was also a huge pent-up private second for computers; every bank, insurance company, and distributor which needed to keep track of inventory adopted them immediately after they became available.

    And again, just think of how the private sector -- and ONLY the private sector -- put a computer into every home. iPhones, laptops, and tablets are not subsidized by the government. They are not regulated by the government. They do not receive preferential tax treatment. The government was is not the primary purchaser of those products, and was never intended to be. IBM invented the PC, and Apple invented the iPad, because those companies thought there would be a market for their products in the private sector. Period, full stop. Government had NOTHING to do with getting these miraculous technological innovations into the hands of billions of ordinary people around the planet. Liberals assume that "of course" the government must be responsible for the widespread adaptation of such a fundamentally transformative technology. But it is in no way responsible!

  50. More fundamentally, I think this is an issue of one's attitude toward government. Like Agnostic, I'm no aspie libertarian. Government is necessary and does a lot of good. But philosophically, is less government or more government better? IMO these days the answer is "less government."

    For example, ObamaCare is, in part, a governmental response to a real problem - not everyone can afford health insurance, and some people with pre-existing conditions really are uninsurable. But I think ObamaCare is a horrific mess. My insurance premiums almost doubled after it was implemented.

    Still, I wish Apple ran the healthcare system. I cannot think of how the government could possibly do a better job than the private sector. And if Obamacare is reformed, I hope the reform is in the direction of privatization rather than socialization. For example, which of the two systems would you prefer: 1. Full-on socialized medicine like in Canada or the VA system here; or 2. Government gives everyone a catastrophic policy and covers all medical expenses in excess of $30,000 incurred in a single year. Everything else is handled through private insurance. I know which system I'd choose in a heartbeat. I also know which system is likely to produce more technological innovation, reduced waiting times, and better outcomes.

  51. Joe Schmo, this sort of dwelling on private Vs. public warfare misses the point of how individual sociopaths rampage out of control in a decadent climate lacking strong willed accountability. These dirt bags are the primary force responsible for the lack of creativity, fairness, good faith, and transparency in modern institutions.

    If Apple fall on it's ass is that the government's fault or is it the fault of the new fag C.E.O.? Gotta get with the modern agenda, don't want another bland straight white guy up there.

    Naturally, the Boomer dominated post 1980 culture has constantly rewarded the most glib, shameless, greedy, and loquacious types. Why do you think snarky two faced Jews have become so ubiquitous and celebrated over the last 30-40 years?

    Gen X-ers developed empathetic bonds with others to such a degree in the later 70's-90's that they just don't have the stomach to even attempt to compete with, much less defeat, the Boomers in the modern shark infested courts, corporate board rooms and government back rooms.

    Which is a big reason Gen X-ers have been left out in the cold, particularly the straight white gentile Gen X males. Which explains why Boomers (and a few overripe Silents) continue to exert such a powerful influence on today's institutions. Their toxic mix of loudmouth arrogance and me 1st selfishness, which become recalcitrant problems due to naive Boomer navel gazing, are the main reasons the culture has been so corroded since the 80's.

    The 80's were the decade that the Greatest Gen began the process of kindly handing off the baton to the Silent/Boomer gens. By the mid 90's the hand-off was finished. Is it a conincidence that America has been so profoundly dysfunctional since the 90's?

  52. With regard to dysfunction, one can take an autistic approach of focusing on objects rather than people and find things to be proud of.

    But what about people? We are very much dysfunctional in the sense of being far more:
    Neurotic - diagnosed and self professed mental illness is sky high, so are psych meds.

    Indulgent - I hear club/bar/casino/fantasy football ads everytime I turn on the radio

    Out of shape - people have terrible diets and are physically pathetic (either really fat or really weak)

    Poorly dressed - outside of the office, people dress in trashy jeans, hoodies, sweat pants, shorts, and flip flops. It's embarrassingly common to see people dress with no dignity in most of America besides a handful of elite areas.

    Aloof/disagreeable/vulgar - people these days relentlessly complain, swear, assume bad faith, and cynically mistrust and ridicule things constantly.

    Who even needs real Jews when we can do disgusting imitation of them ourselves?

    All of these negative traits were significantly less common in the 1920's-1980's.

  53. Feryl-

    I agree with you that the lack of morals is the fundamental problem. The Boomers have corrupted both the public sector and the private sector, so it doesn't really matter whether the institutions of our society are primarily private or primarily public.

    WRT Jews, I work in a heavily Jewish industry and I honestly believe that the younger Jews, who tend to be far more religious than the older ones, will help heal society. The younger Modern Orthodox Jews are very, very different from people like Howard Stern (the shock jock) and Steven Hirsch (CEO of Vivid Video). .

    The younger Jews are not perfect, they still tend to be highly ethnocentric and nepotistic, but the younger generation has a far greater sense of social responsibility than their elders who (like all Boomers) did not care if they trashed society's moral, financial, and political institutions if they could make a buck doing it. I expect many of the excesses of Jewish Boomers to fade away as they die off and Jewish Gen X-ers and Millennials take the reigns. In this way, I think that the Jews will play a role in getting our society back on track.

  54. A few hours after I posted the above, Steve Sailer has a commenter send him that Milbank article and he was off to the races!

    Steve was the first to mention, however obliquely, Hughes open homosexuality in relation to troubles (end?) at The New Republic, but I still think Agnostic can offer a lot of unvarnished truth.

  55. The Boomer Jews really are a piece of work. Take the clannish, neurotic tendencies of Jews and cross pollinate it with the Boomer's bull in a China shop flippant entitlement. Not good.

    It's fitting to bring up the smutty elements of the 'entertainment' industry. As America weakened and coarsened in all respects by the 90's we lionized brash clowns and charlatans who's egos and mouths far exceeded their talent and integrity.

    "a far greater sense of social responsibility than their elders who (like all Boomers) did not care if they trashed society's moral, financial, and political institutions if they could make a buck doing it."
    The most tiring problem with Boomers, which I hinted at with my comment on their navel gazing, is that they are narcissistic and naive enough to actually think they've bettered society. From day one they've shat where everyone eats without acknowledging the fact.

    Mid century America, the period that the Boomers had the good fortune to be born into, had many pleasures that Silents and Boomers would rob future generations of.

    Like unpretentious, cozy new houses in neighborhoods with modest, god fearing regular stock Americans.

    Like not made in Asia clothes crisply laundered by an upbeat mother.

    Like nutritious food grown, raised, and prepared with care by a society that wasn't deranged enough to think that books were the most important part of child development.

    Like fathers who, after an honest day's work at the peaceable office, factory, or farm would see to it that his son would develop useful skills lest he turn into a pervert, a criminal, or a bum.

    Like mothers who would teach their daughters to develop domestic skills and a pleasant manner that would make them suitable marriage material for a good man to whom they would be attached for the rest of their life.

    Nope, the Boomers would rather go on and on about how they 'changed' America so much beginning in the late 60's and beyond. What needed changing, exactly?

    You've also gotta love their lingering embarrassment over how they briefly questioned the liberal program in the 80's. Gee, it was just a little phase, no big deal we made up for it in the 90's anyway.

  56. Feryl-

    LOL that is so true. That is what killed me, absolutely killed me, about the housing bubble. In 2005/2006, all of the mid-50's Boomers were selling their beautiful old 4bd/2ba, 2,400 square foot single family homes and "trading up" to 4,000+ square foot McMansions. In the process they took on huge mortgages (at 50!) and tripled housing prices for the rest of us. The waste of this just killed me. It still kills me.

    Their old houses were already very nice! 4 bedrooms and 2400 square feet is a terrific house! Most of the large, comfortable family houses that weren't "good enough" for the Boomers were absolutely beautiful.

    The Boomers didn't need more space. The kids were grown. Heck, they really should have downsized from the 2,400 square foot two story to a 1,300 square foot one story because a smaller house is easier to care for and move around in. And why in the wold would a Boomer take on a $700,000 30-year mortgage at age 55? It made no sense. But the Boomers are driven to consume. Plus they saw rising housing prices and were able to delude themselves into thinking that self-indulgent spending was really a form of "investment."

  57. "why in the wold would a Boomer take on a $700,000 30-year mortgage at age 55?"

    In 1990, 40 was the new 30. In 2000, 50 was the new 35. In 2010, 60 is the new 40.
    There's this denial of the natural aging process, the cycle of life.

    "In 2005/2006, all of the mid-50's Boomers were selling their beautiful old 4bd/2ba, 2,400 square foot single family homes"

    These sound like later 1980's/1990's houses. I don't even think you need houses that big; look at the smaller houses of the 40's-70's which were deemed suitable for the highly motivated, decent folk of the time.

    I chalk up growing house sizes to several things. Part of it is the crass vulgarity of "look at how big my house is!" (even if the house was built by Mexicans with shoddy materials and designed with non existent aesthetics).

    Part of it is people turning their backs on the public realm; bigger house sizes typically come at the expense of yard size. Bigger yards would be in demand if people actually spent time outside.

    It's not just size per se either. It's also form. A lot of the reason McMansions are so alienating isn't just poor aesthetics; it's also the way that they induce vertigo via terrible proportions which are the result of callous developers, the clueless public served by said developers, and the desire to shove as much house as possible into a smaller lot.

    Low profile mid century homes tended to feature a series of well connected rooms (if not that many rooms) and hallway(s) with quite a few larger windows/doors with windows that made it easy to keep one's bearings and also provided a view to the outside world. The smaller house size and ease of seeing thru windows gave you a sense of being connected to the community you were in.

    In my dad's later 60's detached garage house in the Minneapolis suburbs, you could upon entering the kitchen front door or the living room side door immediately get to the upper floor, the basement, the bathroom, or the two bedrooms in addition to whichever room you entered the house through.

    In contrast, a lot of smushed McMansions feel like some kind of Tim Burton nightmare immediately upon entry. You feel like the house is in danger of collapsing in on itself and on you. It's not unheard of to be greeted by a blank wall with choose your destiny stairs. This "I'm trapped" feeling is not helped if the developer skimped on the windows.

    Due to the smaller size it was also very easy to just hightail outta the house if you had to. I think being in a smaller house induces people to get out more often.

    Mabye when people are more modest and well adjusted they don't need a vast amount of house space to themselves. Even when 4 people live in a modern over sized house there will be vast spaces of that house that remain lifeless much of the time.

    If you're skeptical about mid century neighborhoods, go drive (better yet walk) thru a 40's-60's neighborhood of detached garage single family homes near the street and keep your eyes peeled for a cat in the living room window. They really do feel like connected, welcoming neighborhoods unlike the vast majority of post 1980 (esp. post 1995) neighborhoods.

  58. More on modern house design.

    I wrote the following for a previous post @

    Another thing that's turned neighborhoods less social is snout house style designs(which appeared around the mid 90's) where the the front of the house has a garage which juts out far beyond the rest of the house. That design almost demands that people drive into the garage, exit the car and enter the house without being seen. On top of that they also are tough to see into since they have just a few small windows., these "neighborhoods" look pathetic.

    Compare these FU modern designs to detached garage mid century homes in which taking a short walk out in the open was mandatory (god forbid lazy fat ass people have to take a few extra steps in the sweaty heat or shivery cold. Even inhabitants who didn't spend much time outside could at least be seen a bit more easily because of the garage design and also because of more high vis windows, so they didn't seem so aloof.


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