One in ten households has government-paid internet service.

A program was started “because COVID” to pay for people to have high-speed internet. Initially the cost was almost entirely covered for a basic internet package, but with the new year the program underwent revisions and now pays around half the needed amount. However, the reduced subsidy hasn’t slowed the signup rates, in fact they increase each week.

I don’t think the usual right-wing response that this keeps people dependent is useful. It doesn’t, but a nontrivial chunk of people like the idea of not-paying, however small the amount of subsidized not-paying. So there’s always an incentive to create these “jobs for the girls” programs even if it’s just a 5 or 10 dollar credit after a few years.

I also, honestly, don’t think the idea that tentacles of government will reach into one’s life more intensely because of grabbing these goodies is all that realistic. It’s true-enough, in that sure, government workers can hurt you at any time, but they were already able and perfectly willing to do so with far fewer tendrils of invasive opportunity.

One of the greater tricks the devilish right wing punditocracy has pulled is convincing ordinary citizens that they should consider their government at every level an alien intrusion into “real life”, rather than people from their communities who seek to protect and maintain the interests of those communities based on principles of social and civic harmony.  Progressives are thus able to claim you have to be on their team if you want that, because righties have no rebuttal except “get the gummint outa your life!” (while being subsidized a dozen different, very expensive ways by said government).

A lot of people over the years have told me I’m not very right wing or conservative when I frame government services in these terms, but that number has definitely shrunk and continues to shrink (including people changing their minds) since Our (First) Year of COVID (tyranny).   Which is nice, because maybe then we can have it sooner rather than later.

Build quality is worth higher taxes

We haven’t relocated to somewhere less icy-blue quite yet, but we have gotten to the point of having to choose between paying state income taxes and, er, not. Having had a really rough time of it during covidiocy, living in a house with pleasing aesthetics, that is reasonably well-made and well-formed with rightly ordered proportions has been a major psychological and even spiritual help. So for us, we can’t live in a badly built home at this season of our lives.

Anyway the upshot is that we looked at what’s for sale in states with low or no state income tax near family vs. states near family with state income taxes. The build quality differences are massive. It’s disappointing, but there is no free lunch. Our options are solidly built, often aesthetically pleasing houses and income tax or houses that have some mix of poor quality construction/cthulhu aesthetics/bad proportions.

It’s not that there are no low quality houses in states with income tax, it’s just that of what we have to pick from, it’s that it is far far far easier to find high quality building construction in those states. Honestly, the build quality problem holds for where we live now, with no state income tax. It was not easy to find the house we have now and it has a lot of subpar aspects for a family despite being very well made and lovely to look on. The previous places we lived had some dire construction issues.

I have no idea why this is the case. Florida is something of an exception, in that you can find well built homes near not-too-well-built homes but it is sadly not a feasible option.

Conservatives aren’t losers, they just live like the frontier never closed. Part 1/?

A common claim about conservatives is that they are losers, they don’t want to “win”, etc, etc. All of this is misunderstanding the core situation. I am as guilty as anyone on this front, not being a child of the frontier myself.

Conservatives, or really the descendants by blood of frontier settlers who never civilized, are trapped in a frontier mindset that leaves them endlessly vulnerable to incursions on their ability to live, work and form families. They cannot protect each other because pathological individualism is inherent to the frontier personality. They can only come together under the influence of a strong personality for specific tasks for extremely limited periods of time. They are under-civilized, yet dependent on hyper-civilization to have the tools and resources that allowed their ancestors to farm hundreds of acres almost entirely solo.

As far as culture war stuff and economic warfare by liberals, it’s all of a piece. Cake shops are frivolous and unnecessary, since you can bake your own cake, so you ought to no matter what. Same for flower shops, why pay someone to pick flowers and put them in a vase? They’re everywhere, after all. So there is sympathy for someone having a hard time from mean city folks, but really, they’re also city folks, so, well, you know.

Same for people getting fired from retail work and high-wage work (or any non-political job) by hyper-progressive liberals. They’re not working their own land, they’re working for a wage, it’s really their own fault for not having a homestead to live off. They should have just done that. None of this is remotely conscious or deliberately cruel and small minded. It worked really well for millions upon millions of Americans for many, many decades to think this way and live accordingly. The rapid urbanization of the 20th century was a curveball they didn’t really adjust to well.

 

The replacement rate is not usually 2.1

This means societies have had “below replacement fertility” at various points in the past while having a TFR above 2.0. That said, the current fad of pretending you can have a sub-2.0 replacement rate is definitely cope-posting.

I am grateful for modern mortality improvements with childbirth, but the overwhelming majority of those modern improvements in America and much of Europe were before 1973. A substantial chunk were before WW2, remarkably. That is to say, washing hands and antibiotics give such massive improvement that they carry the bulk of the reduction in infant and maternal mortality on their backs.

Which is, frankly, great news as we educate our current populace out of the ability to maintain the much smaller declines in mortality. We can still keep a lot of babies alive, including tons of premature infants, who can be kept alive before 26 weeks with love and good nursing, though not really before 24 weeks. The future will be hard, but we got much of our quality of life improvement with processes rather than machines and we got it mostly in the first half of the 20th century.

Recency bias or presentism is common among people both right and left discussing fertility woes.  They take a very modern, recent ability to even hope that “replacement rate” is merely 2 children per couple lifetime and retroactively map that to periods of history where it most definitely was not.  (Even today there are still parts of the world with replacement rates above 2.1).

Liberals see marriage as optional. Conservatives see it as easy.

In terms of social harmony, telling people marriage is easy when it is not is less harmonious than telling them it’s optional. But it’s the least harmonious to tell them it’s optional while removing access to marriage.

It is harmony-seeking to make marriage more accessible to those 18-25 and to those who are in the lower 50% of individual incomes.

Are there 5 million trades jobs paying 75k+/yr with <5 years experience?

This is the first question that should be asked by anyone who is seriously interested in more alternatives to college as a path to family-supporting wages. Because the answer tells you how much work there is to be done. The second question depends on it, as well. If there are, the second question is different than if there are not.

I don’t know the answer, but I want to know.  I would be delighted if someone provided that information.

Colorblind, Rivethead, Anorexic

The title is three things about me that are not exactly obvious or expected.

I am mildly blue-green colorblind, and cannot distinguish turquoises or navies well.  

Rivethead is a music thing, punk-electric-goth.  My kids are rivetheads, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  

I am a self-recovered anorexic.  Among my regrets is not getting closer to the self-recovered anorexics I ran into over the years.  A defining feature of anorexics who get past the issue without doing the therapist dance  is drinking their calories and getting chubby but not massively fat in middle age.  It can be (non-diet) sodas, it can be juices/smoothies, it can be wine, it can be beer, but it’s always liquids with calories that don’t have to be added, rather than tea or coffee with sugar/honey or mixed drinks.   I considered the risk when I took up fasting a while back, but the reasons I ended up in the 80s weight-wise 20something years ago are long behind me, as is the metabolism of youth, so I went ahead.  I was not able to continue with as often as I wanted, but I have, even through covid craziness of being stuck at home a lot, kept the fasting-based weight loss.  A small win amidst the madness. 

Horses are the cars of the 18th, 19th and 20th century

The urban-dwelling people busy smugging out about gas prices rising right now are too “college-educated” in their working class social climbing provincial ignorance to understand or grasp historical context. America has always been the land where working-class people could own specific and particular accoutrements of the upper middle and even upper classes in Europe. The horse is a case in point. Cheap land and long distances meant the kind of lower classer person in Europe who would never be able to dream of a horse could afford not just a horse (maybe even two!), but even the resources to have a gig-cart for it. Thus people barely above cottager level by European standards could own something even many middle-middle class people had no expectation of owning and had to call in favors to borrow.

America gravitated to car culture because they were already there with substantially higher horse ownership and usage compared to their relations back in the old countries. The media presentation of horse ownership as never really being else but upper class was in some ways an op designed to make a lot of Americans ignore their own family and regional backgrounds of horse ownership and usage. To throw a crumb of an example to racemongers, I grew up with middle and lower-middle income black people knowing how to ride a horse and own one being completely normal. Horses were owned by quite poor people in my youth, and for almost literally the entire 20th century in America, horses were accessible to a very wide range of incomes, as was access to riding and stable facilities.

But just like cars, it does not mean people at lower incomes had the fanciest and nicest ones, or kept them in shimmering perfect condition. See also giant land parcel ownership in the hundreds or thousands of acres, another upper-class marker granted to Americans at much lower income levels for hundreds of years. Anyway, the crowing and sick glee about people suffering from increased energy prices comes not just from the usual sources o’ smuggery and grossness, but also from the profound and yet strangely prideful historical ignorance that is the omnipresent marker of altogether too many American urbanites.

The hourglassing of male income

True middle-income guys who might have married in the past are being squeezed out in favor of slackers and high achievers.  It’s an amplified version of “Yale or jail”, except it’s “xbox and living off your woman’s 35k/yr job or make 75k plus”.

Married men with SAHMs are making most of the taxable income, contrary to the narrative pushed about the “breadwinner mom”.  Direct from the very Pew data used for that narrative, the married man+SAHM household clears about 78k per year as the median, while the married “breadwinner mom” (plus husband with a job, carefully not worded that way though) clears about 80k per year as the median.  But because the “breadwinner mom” married households consist of two lower incomes and also get very favorable tax treatment for childcare expenses, they pay lower net taxes despite having a slightly higher gross income.  The American federal income tax system is structured to favor double-income married households earning about 75k who put the kids in daycare as far as tax breaks for broad swathes of the married population go.  It is not nearly so well set up to favor single-income married households as is commonly claimed because those households overperform economically and thus phase out of the tax benefits available to those married with children.

Needless to say, all this isn’t mentioned in any of the news articles riffing on said Pew data to declare the awesomesauce of breadwinning mothers.  But the current economic situation in America is that there’s a hourglass effect on male income, and female workforce participation increases aren’t sufficient to replace the lost male earnings, because as we can see from the jury-rigged comparison of earnings above, women just aren’t earning as much as men even if they earn the highest or the sole income for the household.  The result is a smaller and smaller number of married men who overperform and whose W2 wages provide the bulk of what tax base remains for the massive welfare edifice that the federal, state and local governments have built up in the last half century.

This hourglass effect is also mostly left out of the discourse on income inequality, along with its far-ranging effects on the long-term health of the current welfare state.  It’s also a pattern conservatives need to keep in mind when lamenting the decline of marriage and discussing ways to revive marriage as a social institution.