One in ten households has a net worth of a million dollars or more.

That’s without counting home equity.  Throw that in, you get to one household in 8 with net worth of a million dollars or more.

From here.

Very few of these ~15.5 million households (including home equity) or ~13 million (without home equity) are non-family or solo-parent family households.  They are something around 20% of all married households (with and without minor children at home).

Food for thought.

Native black Americans have become like Native Americans.

A back of the old envelope shows that once you’ve accounted for first generation foreign-born mothers and mothers who had children with non-black fathers and label them black, from the maternal side at least, married non-Hispanic black birth is about 50-55% native-born.  This means that the 80%+ unwed numbers I’ve seen thrown around in some black parts of the interwebs have some anchor in reality.  That is in fact pretty close to the native-black unmarried birth percentage.   Non-Hispanic black immigrants have a 30% out of wedlock birth rate, which necessarily means the non-immigrant out of wedlock birth rate must be higher than 70%.  Hispanic black birth is 65% or so unmarried, and so doesn’t shift the native rate that much.

Without the substantial and parallel increases in outmarriage and immigration keeping births relatively stable year to year, the native-born black TFR is somewhere down in the dumps like the Native American one, about 1.4 or 1.5.

This explains a lot.

The (lack of wealth) post: In 2021, nobody got nothin’.

This is a revision and update of a wealth post I made a few years ago, with fresher wealth data.  The wealth data is from 2017, though, so it doesn’t include any possible effects of 2020’s covid thing.

Long story short, even most millionaires haven’t got much.  For households with a net worth above 500k, the mean is about 1.5 million and the median is around 1 million dollars, both including home equity.  This means that the air gets pretty thin once you hit about a million in total assets.  And home equity is on average 30% of total assets for all groups including them, so even millionaires are vulnerable to losing that status with a few bad housing market years.

Black people continue to be younger and disproportionately live in smaller, unmarried households with less than one full time worker.  The racial wealth gap is partly a gap of not living in a married+kids household with 1.5-2 full time workers.  The other part is not being 65 and long-married.  Demographic lag means old married white couples have asset appreciation, and that there are still enough of them to keep the white wealth median in the six-figure range.  Old married black women have a tiny asset gap, but there are just not very many of them as a group. Young and even middle-aged marrieds of any race have perhaps 150-200k in assets, including home equity.  If you have more than 200k in assets, especially without home equity, you are flying pretty high.

As for overall net worth, despite the gaps, 1/4 of black households continue to have six-figure or greater net worth.  Six in ten among all white, non-Hispanic households have a six-figure or greater net worth.  This roughly tracks in both cases with the marriage percentage.

There are surveys of net worth that get into more detail, but surveying people on savings and assets just reveals that over the last 30 years there’s been a lot of volatility, with the basic numbers not budging much for the young and middle-aged once you account for real estate or stock bubbles inflating and popping.  Sticking money in the bank is the most sturdy savings and it piles up the absolute slowest.  The “we’ll all put a dollar in and pull four out in 30 years” has turned out to not lead to everyone getting to pull four dollars out.  Weird!

Covid Movie Night: Fatal Attraction

During the worst of lockdown, I watched a few old 80s movies I’d never got around to seeing before. Here’s a review of one of them, Fatal Attraction (1987).

So I finally watched Fatal Attraction and it’s a fascinating time capsule of the 1980s. The guy is obviously domesticated and unmanned, mostly unwittingly it appears by his wife. But he’s from the pre-soy world, so he decides to have a one (two) night stand with a fiery blonde in Glenn Close, who isn’t pretty, or even quite handsome, but smolders and evokes compulsive interest. This is a bad way to present a man’s attempt to grasp for masculine expression, but it’s also an old sad trick men do. It’s quite the thing to see his wife peeling away the layers of her loveliness for the night, but of course her inviting glances are merely to remind him to take the dog out. It’s all set-up for the fire-girl, but it resonates when you’ve been living in the Lion’s Den and seen what happens when it’s like that and the man isn’t aware he’s lost masculinity. Douglas’ character has one child in 9 years of marriage who’s 5-6 years old (dad seems unclear on the year).

Interestingly his wife literally punches him to get him to buy a single family home. This movie is very much a story of the real costs of a man trying to live a married life where almost no masculine “stuff” is possible because it’s a hyper-urban, hyper-social world of desk jobs and papers and meetings. His daughter even has an androgynous short haircut. But the flipflipflip side of all this is that he does have attraction for his wife and wants more fire from her. It’s also another movie you can’t make in the current year because it’s an artifact of 1987 technology and lifestyle. He also has only one close friend. Notable: in 1987 the wife has a cleaning lady 2x a week and unlimited babysitters for a single child.

One of the reasons I like to watch 1980s movies is because they capture much of the transition process that led us to “soy dads” and bossy moms. There’s talk of painting parties, but it just means inviting the wife’s parents over to help. Moving to a single family home is to be down the road from the wife’s parents, something quite alien to the white professional married classes these days.

In a lot of ways Fatal Attraction is a cautionary tale about attempts to be masculine, by defining masculine in a toxic way. “Just drink the soy to deal with the cravings” and well, it looks like that’s where we ended up as a society. Part of this trend is presaged by him playing the tape labeled “play me” when he could easily have tossed it out the window and generated a very different film. He even brings it home to listen to it more intently.

Another interesting point is that this is based on a British short film from the very late 1970s, which adds a glimmer and gloss of context that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

The exercise bike scene when the wife threatens and hangs up on Glenn Close is a nice touch. As is the snarky subtext that curly hair looks all the same whether blonde or dark when Glenn Close runs off with daughter Ellen as the mother also has curly hair but is a brunette.

The end boss fight between Close and Douglas is funny-fascinating not just because it’s an echo of their first encounter, but because Douglas’ haunted face looks masculine and Glenn Close’s looks much more softly feminine. The movie really doesn’t give us a chance to see domesticated dad develop healthy and sane masculinity, and this is deliberate. And of course it’s the wife’s gun which settles the matter rather than the toxic masculinity attempt via drowning.

Exploring the implications of the Baby Scoop Era

Yes, your parents were lying to you about everything, your life was a big fake production, and this happened with the extensive support of dozens of people you knew in your local town.  The conspiracy was real and focused entirely on keeping you from knowing who you really were.

It is very popular these days to pick on Boomers and younger Silents as the vanguard of all that is wrong in America today, but the Baby Scoop Era not only happened, it formed a substantial subtext in the lives of many Boomers and their parents.  It’s not even possible to know how exactly many babies were scooped precisely, because destroying or falsifying birth records was part of the process.

And their parents were the Greatest Generation mostly.  “Great” white mothers having babies or conceiving out of wedlock at rates that supposedly didn’t exist before The Great Society, at rates that supposedly were only ever the bane of the black community.  Due to the length of time, some of the oldest Boomers were themselves relinquishing mothers on top of things, so there are layers upon layers here.

This is just a little piece of the context for “the Narrative” and the idea that lying is fine if it’s for a bigger social justice good.  This was not driven exclusively nor primarily by leftists, even if there is a heavy technocratic element involved in much of the Baby Scoop reasoning pushing mothers to relinquish infants.

There really are historical periods, some extremely recent and within living memory, where socially conservative people played fast and loose with the truth, abused and coerced people and were not very honorable people.  And the results weren’t so great either.  This is also part of the subtext behind wanting women to have more economic power and be able to be “strong independent single mothers”.  That didn’t come out of nowhere.

This has interesting implications as well for those who skew heavily towards nature over nurture.

 

When having children in wedlock is antisocial, antisocial people are married parents.

It’s counterintuitive, it sounds a little mad, but it’s true.  Children born in the last 25 years or so have been and are raised to a large degree by people who don’t care for and/or understand social norms, because otherwise they wouldn’t have violated them by having kids.  These people are mostly married parents, but some are unmarried parents (except that a big chunk of them eventually marry, which is why we haven’t really budged from the single-parent percentages we rose to as a society in the wake of the Pill).

It’s antisocial to have kids after you get married.  It’s antisocial to have more than one kid.  Yes, that includes twins.  It’s not completely antisocial to be a single mother, but it’s kind of antisocial to be a single father.

Now this is the part where married parents point out that since they live in a bubble consisting almost entirely of other married parents that they aren’t antisocial and that since having kids is biologically natural, how are they antisocial doing the natural biological thing?

Welcome to modern, technology-driven life.  Or as some wags put it, Clown World.  The unnatural is more socially accepted than the natural-biological.  That’s where we really are.  Pretending otherwise is deepening the divide and worsening the difficulty of transitioning back to an environment where having children, plural after marriage is socially harmonious and accepted.

But wait, it gets worse.  “The unnatural is more socially accepted” doesn’t mean people actually approve of or like the unnatural.  It just means they know that they’d better say it’s tolerable if they want to have any social contact with other people beyond the immediate family at all.  Including the work-for-a-paycheck kind.  Anti-natal society isn’t very socially harmonious or cohesive.  And this leads to viewing natural-biological socialization (marrying and then having kids together) as a problem because you can’t escape the inherent minimal level of socialization and cohesion a nuclear family provides by default.  Taking individualism up to the level of the nuclear family is destructive to said families in the longer term, but each individual family can still get something otherwise denied them in an anti-natal society– social contact that is not dependent on the external society that hates their irreducible cohesion.

And because marriage is a wealth extraction and maintenance program, nuclear families can circle each other’s orbits and carve out a rocky, inferior, but still present kind of socialization mostly separate from regular society.

Because we live in Clown World, a 28 year old urban journalist has higher social status and social approval than a same-aged married couple with twins who make 4x that journalist’s income.  How do we know?  The extraordinary explosion in 21+ only environments, including social events like weddings and birthday parties and company picnics.  That’s not something you do if the group “married parents” is one you want the social approval of.

But, of course, that married couple, being antisocial, is perfectly happy to be cut off from much of their urban city environment and may well have a third child a few years later.  Part of the lack of support for raising kids is that antisocial people, by definition, are prone to really like the miserable environment we have and prefer not having to deal with icky socially normal levels of interaction.

This year’s posting plans: harsh but fair, and more frequent

The plan is simple: to post things I took down or never finished because of how many oxen they gored or how people would interpret them in personal ways when they’re about broader patterns and groups of people, and to also post less polarizing things that describe our current milieu’s difficulties for family formation and how to strategically tackle ameliorating those difficulties.

It’s all too clear that people on the right remain mostly unaware of practical details of the world around them that would help them figure out effective ways to organize politically, socially, even spiritually.

I only found out these details due to a pathological level of curiosity and investigative tendency, and the leisure of a high-income, not rich yet (HENRY) husband allowing me time to find some things out and money to buy some old books with the hidden history in them.  I’m not alone or unique, many other people have a few pieces of the total picture too as some of the shifts become increasingly inescapable for families.  But the hope is that by finally just putting it all down in essay form others can take it from there and work together to help each other and those around them.

So the goal is 100 posts this year for this blog, or about twice a week.

There are other things I’ll be doing this year that aren’t this, but since they aren’t blog posting, I won’t mention any of them until December, when I’ll know how much progress I made on those other things.

Here’s to a new year of possibilities and progress.

What is the median married couple with kids?

A STEM professional dad married to a part-time employed mother with an education-related job.  They have two elementary aged kids.

They’re 30-39 and have been married less than ten years.  They have 1.5 college degrees between them (one finished to a bachelor’s or higher, the other did some college/associate’s/certificate).

Their household income is just over 100k/yr, and Dad makes about 70-75k while mom pulls in the rest. They live in a single family home, have at least one 401k, own two cars and are not currently saving for college.

Private retreat is impossible without scale

The frontier, the leading edge of private retreat, was not possible without a massive international and global infrastructure and use of cutting-edge technology and instant communication.

A common modern variation, telecommuting while “farming” ten acres in a rural community, is also obviously impossible without technological scale.  Scale refers to the idea that human societies grow in complexity and, er, scale with advancements in technology and the resulting productivity gains creating a reinforcing cycle of more and more scaling and consolidation and globalization.

As to more typical forms of conservative private retreat, they are also scale-dependent.  Homeschooling was originated by people using cutting-edge communication technology and benefiting from the postwar explosion in mechanical advancement producing farm equipment that could be used to work otherwise marginal parcels of land in either size or quality.  Even though ultimately most didn’t do much agrarian stuff and still don’t, the online and DIY ethos was carried forward and is still a substantial part of homeschooling as lifestyle.

There’s also the dependence of conservatives on industries that can’t exist without an overscaled society.  Like IT, or government administration.  Many small-government conservatives are employed in government jobs at government departments that didn’t even exist thirty years or even twenty and see no contradiction between their dependence on a larger and larger government and their belief that government should be smaller.  IT in its tech-company form is obviously full of deviance and general anti-family social aspects, yet it is if anything promoted the absolute most by conservatives as a family-supporting career path.

Conservatives tend to rely for frugality tips on mass production of cheap goods and also see nothing wrong with this dependence on cheap global labor in textiles and food. A common example where Costcos are located is telling mothers to take the kids to Costco to fill up on samples before dinner as a “frugality hack”.

There is much truth to the idea that progressives want everyone to progress towards a state of total and perfectly individual consumption, but the flipside of that is that conservatives want the same thing, except one level up, at the level of the nuclear family rather than the single individual.

But the problem with relying on more and more scaling up is that extreme complexity collapses, and brutally so.  There is no graceful failure mode in a world of just in time grocery shelf stocking.  Yet without an outlet for private retreat, there isn’t anything like the American conservative at all.

Private retreat is the default right wing political activism.

That people doing it don’t feel that way doesn’t matter, the practical effects are nearly the same as if they did (and plenty do feel there’s a political aspect.)

The problem with this being the way right wing people respond to mass social changes that are detrimental is that it’s expensive on a collective level and a personal level.  The costs are so high that right wing people engaging in this type of activism are almost entirely cut off from any other kind of activism.

In contrast, the left wing just sprinkles political dust on their lifestyle and keeps on moving.  The left doesn’t promote marriage as the optimal vehicle for private retreat.  It doesn’t promote private retreat at all.  The right overwhelmingly does.  It’s not that the right does no explicit activism, it’s that the default setting is to hide away privately and replicate lost social goods within the nuclear family regardless of whether it’s desirable, feasible or possible within the limitations of a nuclear family.

This breaks women.  Women are yelled at for not being able to replicate the social goods of an entire city, town or village, and also yelled at for desiring those goods and also yelled at for not taking on additional community-wide functions as more and more of society breaks down into atomization and isolated individuality.

It also breaks men, but in a more subtle way in which they are told there’s no serious obstacles to their masculine expression or nature except their own will, which is an immensely damaging falsehood.  This is as true of the mainstream right wing media as it is of numerous far right blogs.

I’d expand on this more, like perhaps delving into the trades myth that many in the right cling to but make sure to never put their kids into, or how the conservative stack for women doesn’t (that is, the pieces don’t work with each other and reinforce each other; homeschooling comes at the expense of a clean house, as a very typical example).  But our private retreat means I don’t have another woman or young girl around to keep my youngest from melting down about getting a small spot of soup on one sleeve. So I have to go deal with that.