The frontier was more subsidized than the inner cities of America

I’m gonna go ahead and assert this one, and post potential proofs at some later date, maybe even next week (not likely though). In any case, I think this is a set of numbers worth crunching, even if it takes me years to get around to it and I turn out to be wrong (I’m not lol).

The Rousseau-born idea of the frontier and the idea of living a scaled-down, rustic life beating the earth for its energy is one that requires vast amounts of cash from city folk to allow a much smaller group of people to “live off the land”.

There is a belief among the more technocratic and “human biodiversity (but only on test scores, and only sometimes)” type dissident right wing folk that endless rivers of cash have been poured onto black America (specifically and most widely claimed among these sorts, inner city black America) and that this was bad and didn’t make them uplifted or whatever anyway.

Given that nearly all of the money went to and continues to go to white Americans, I find their chain of logic more than a little confused and incoherent. But the debate about amount is one that might be settle-able in some manner.

The numbers needed, to start with, are the ones around President Johnson’s War on Poverty, plus the ones around the multiple land-grant acts of Congress over the 18th and 19th centuries. Then you have to bring in spending related to the frontier areas (and start with the midwest and work your way out west to California and the Pacific Northwest and Alaska). That can get involved, but the detangling is ever so worth it, if it can be done (ideally by someone with a lot more free time than I have).

The only point I’m fuzzy on is just how big the gap is. It might be small, or it might be comically large. By all means, I am eager for someone, anyone to crunch the numbers all up and issue a report.

If homeschool were an op, what would it look like?

  • It would frame homeschooling as the only way to protect your children from evil liberal influences.
  • It would frame economic fragility as a moral good and a sign of superior parenting.
  • It would, when families crashed into the income strains of dad not actually earning enough to support a family on one income, suggest that the solution was high-risk, low-reward occupations like MLM or online selling.
  • It would redirect grassroots organizing energy towards the most unstable and ineffective group structure possible— the co-op.
  • It would redirect lawfare and regulatory organizing energy, and political energy towards inventing a right to homeschool and then legally codifying that right. This drains the pool of legal talent that could pursue legal remedies within the conventional educational system. It also makes it much easier to ignore the wishes of parents within the conventional educational system. After all, they can just use their “legal right to homeschool” if they don’t like what’s being taught.
  • It would be avidly decentralist and fight any attempt to develop a baseline of skills or credentialing that might present a viable alternative to the conventional public education system.
  • If homeschool were an op, it would look exactly like homeschooling has looked for the last 35 years.
  • Homeschool is an op. And it’s the most effective op in half a century.

A few notes from The Third Child (from Phase 2 of the Princeton Longitudinal Fertility Study)

The Third Child is the second stage and second book of the study I mentioned here,and it reveals some interesting things about the parents of the Boomers.

The biggest is the strong pressure to pop out 2-4 children by age 30. This was a recurring theme, that women should complete their families (yep, including the Catholics) by age 30 and not have more kids after that. What’s interesting about this is that what we have now is the opposite, women are under strong pressure to pop out 2-4 kids *after* age 30. The difference, aside from the obvious, was that the Boomer’s moms could rely on a lot more other women around and were younger when their kids were teenagers.

The other interesting thing is the insane sex selection mania. Part of the baby boom was driven by wanting children of both sexes, and popping em out like pez until you got your boy or girl. One might note that Boomers were the first generation to have access to ultrasound that was useful for sex identification during their prime childbearing years.

Boomers were responding to a lot of less than perfect behavior from their parents and grandparents, which doesn’t make them saints, but it gives some perspective on where some of their self-centered tendencies might have come from other than a vacuum.

Urban dads in the 1950s did a surprising amount of childcare. (from Phase 1 of the Princeton Longitudinal Fertility Study)

It looks as though the dad pitching in with the kids and housework is not quite as recent as people, particularly on the right, often claim.  While GI fathers show decent evidence of being hands-off, it appears things had changed for the fathers who came along a decade or so later.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, there were a lot of excited demographers studying the lower age of marriage and relatively higher fertility, and thrilled at the idea that a new pattern of family growth even in urban areas via natural increase might be the new normal.

One of those studies was done in two parts in 1957 and 1961 and it involved over 1100 white collar and blue collar couples in the eight largest major metropolitan areas at the time. It involved white couples who’d had their second child in 1956.  They further narrowed the group with technical requirements beyond the scope of this post, but the upshot was that they got some interesting data that Catholics, Jews and Protestants alike all wanted 2-4 children (90% across the board) and less than 10% wanted 5+.

Another interesting detail of this study is the post title.  Many of the mothers were still housewives, but fully 2/3 of them could count on their husbands to take care of the children as a norm.  Fully 1/3 of these urban women mostly living in apartments could also count on someone who wasn’t their husband (and by definition for the study NOT one of their own children, since they were tiny babies) to help them around the house as a norm.

If one includes “sometimes”, 85% of the 1100+ wives could expect some recurring level of help with the kids from their husbands.  And excluding “sometimes”, it was 60% of those wives.  So by 1957, the husband was already viewed as a major source of help by urban wives.

They did a follow-up study covering whether a third (or higher) child had been born, and I haven’t gotten far into that one yet.  But I found the detail about help that the wife felt she could count on reliably very relevant to 60(!) years later.

Source: Family Growth in Metropolitan America, 1961, Princeton University Press.

The Little House on the Prairie and its autonomous mamas.

This is kind of an overview of the Little House On the Prairie books, hereafter LHOTP, as is common when discussing them online.  I recently read the original eight book series and it was truly astonishing how much autonomy and independence Laura’s mother and Almanzo’s mother had.

There is a fascinating phenomenon in which this cultural bedrock of Americana is being transmitted solely through (mostly Frontier-American) women and Frontier-American men are basically ignorant of a major piece of where their women’s beliefs about home and family are coming from.

So Ma and Mother are these women who have a huge span of responsibility and authority, along with far above average native talent and skills in the homemaking arts of their eras, but this has not become codified as any sort of serious norm for housewives/SAHMs.  Caroline Ingalls was a truly astonishing cook, with a high level of natural understanding of chemistry and plants to be able to cook on an unreliable stove with inconsistent heat and a nearly random selection of ingredients sprung on her at any point in time.  She was also a truly above average hand sewer.  Mrs. Wilder was a weaver and a food processor extraordinaire, whose skill with cloth and butter making accounted for much of that family’s cash income and nearly all their clothing and linens.

And Mrs. Wilder’s workspace is arranged and designed to suit her, so she can be the most highly productive she can be for her family.  Almanzo’s child’s eyes view of her weaving room is very insightful, you see a little boy who expects a grown woman to have her own separate space that Father doesn’t have any input into, beyond making it to her specifications.  You see a little of this in how Almanzo sets up the house for Laura when they marry.  He assumes it’s important for her to have things set up so she can be as effective/efficient as possible.

This was actually an interesting subtheme in a lot of early 20th century writing, because men were still building a lot of the houses directly and the whole notion that you needed to make the wife-offices, so to speak, tailored to your own wife’s skills was one that crops up in a lot of the women’s writing of those early decades.  Like, you were supposed to get a spec list out of her and then make it happen.

It’s interesting that the Frontier-American subcultures who are most into LHOTP as a world and worldview tend to not allow the wives and daughters and sisters the sort of free hand that was clearly not at all outside the norms of the era (late 19th century).  There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is the desire to believe there is no skill in domestic arts precisely because of the increasing arrival of mechanization and automation.

A lot of other things about LHOTP struck me as I was reading, but this one, that the two main mamas were badasterisk but also very lightly headed by (some) modern standards despite not at all being psychically of one accord with their husband’s desires and wishes was one of the bigger ones.


Why widows came to be treated poorly, or, single mommas have always been around.

The modern hyperfocus by some Christian-identifying conservatives on how *widows* should be treated better because they’re not at all like those wicked, awful, hypergamous single mommas is basically the result of broken tradition-passing and a complete inability to understand that the “grass widow” has been with humanity for a very long time.  Women sometimes claimed to be widows when they were not but as the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus shows, there were plenty who didn’t even use that fig leaf.  The text does not definitively indicate she was widowed five times.

The Bible repeatedly refers to the fatherless, and also widows, but it would not have had the precision understanding it has when it’s used to justify giving nothing but rude words and a closed church door to single mothers and divorced mothers.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims are specifically told not to sexually regulate and speculate on just how the “widow” came to have “fatherless” children.

The fruits of patriarchal regulation are specifically commanded to be shared with the naughty.

I think the strain of disgust and revulsion these types have for single mothers and divorced mothers having any kind of support for their children comes from the individualism that conservatives are so prone to. Since they don’t understand or want to be part of real patriarchal social structures, they can only think about support in the narrow, literal terms of marrying such a woman or paying child support to her.  There is so much more than that in caring for others in your neighborhood and church though, and none of it involves “man up and marry those scandalous dames” at all, not even a lil’ bit.

It’s worth noting none of these guys are beating the bushes to go provide support to those saintly, superior literal widows and orphans, of which there are still plenty around and about.  No, it’s all talk and justification for not doing anything for women you can’t have sex with or don’t want to have sex with.  And as for the women lining up to concur that only the right kind of individual woman is entitled to help with her children, that was a driver of fun stuff like socialism, other women not wanting to deal with the wrong kind of woman.

Single motherhood does have a sort of status in wider society in that single (and to a lesser extent divorced) mothers are more willing to bully or beg people (nearly always other women, which makes the panic over some stray man having to do anything for them even more sadly funny) into helping them with child care so they can work.  And people will give them verbal encouragement.  This is real, I won’t downplay its existence.

But it’s hardly some carefree, easy path.  And contrary to popular belief, a lot of explicit law and social norms work to sharply limit the number of children such women do have.

And related to this, raising children has historically not been so totally expected to be the work of individual parents to individual children at all.  It was much more collective.  Jane Austen’s mother bore seven children, and every last one of them was shipped off to be raised by *gasp* another man and his wife! when they were infants and then brought back to their parents when they were around toddling age.  That particular kind of foster care is but one of the many traditions among Western societies in which raising other people’s children was just part of the social fabric.  Apprenticeships for both boys and girls at ages seven or eight were also one such tradition.  And many of those kids, particularly the boys were quite utterly raised by a man who wasn’t their dad.

Weirdly, all this is mysteriously ignored by people who freak out about a child having strongly masculine, healthy and Godly men in their lives if mom was improvident about how the kid got into the world.  Christ’s love isn’t zero-sum.  You can love the grass widow and the not-grass widow and their children.  This very issue is, incidentally why we have so many of those awful government programs and nonprofits for supporting single mothers’ children.  It was the increasing unwillingness to share with the naughty and take on the burdens.  Some frontier woman turning up at her city sister’s doorstep with five kids might well be a widow, but it was just as likely she “married the wrong man” (as Betty MacDonald put it in a sequel to The Egg and I) and just left and wanted to come home to family.  And fewer and fewer families wanted to deal.

Never-married motherhood is terrible for kids, and the harshness of taking away the children of those women to be raised in other families was an attempt to compensate for that.

Notes on Letters from a Woman Homesteader

Letters from a Woman Homesteader is yet another bit of old writing that doesn’t quite match up to the myths around frontier and pioneer folks.

It’s some letters a homesteading woman from over 100 years ago wrote to a former employer she’d maintained cordial relations with.  She’d worked for the employer as a laundress.  What is fascinating about the letters is that yet again, she didn’t do all the work alone, but routinely had other women helping her, or she traveled to help them.  It is clearly normalized in these letters for the women to go around to each other and spend days or weeks assisting with, well, homesteading for each other, along with the demands of hospitality.  When parties and social events are undertaken, it’s just assumed that everyone (including men) will pitch in to help the individual household tasked with hosting duties.  There is, despite the fact that they all live ten and twenty and thirty miles away from each other, not actually that much rugged individualism.

Also, this woman’s body broke down having lots of babies (six, more or less, according to other information about her life elsewhere on the internet) and working hard.  The letters Mrs. Stewart writes detail multiple instances of being unwell and struggling physically due to pregnancies (and infant deaths/miscarriages) and the work of homesteading. Her marriage was a mail-order marriage, but it lasted and as noted above produced quite a few surviving little bundles of joy out of it.

Mrs. Stewart promotes homesteading aggressively, feeling strongly that however hard that labor is, it still beats being a laundress in an urban metro area in the early 20th century.  She really felt that women should get out there and grab a piece of land for themselves, with or without a husband.  That sort of feminine self-determination is American to the core, being in regular currency prior to the 19th amendment.  American women waving a flag of securing financial independence through earning income rather than marriage is older and as traditionally American as apple pie.

It’s a short read, plus she’s a capable and engaging writer.  There’s a reason her employer sent the letters to be published in a magazine.

It’s the “dumb” fraction, not the “smart” fraction that controls fertility

“Dumb” women find it harder and harder to have kids as society gets more complex, but “smart” women do not necessarily figure it out fast enough to replace the kids both of them would have had in a society with less complexity. It is the “dumb fraction”, not the “smart fraction” that is the lever by which fertility shifts in a complex society. This is because in a complex society more and more women are labelled “smart” and further, the smart ones have more children who can reproduce, so you get fewer and fewer people you can label “dumb” as complexity increases.

ETA 7/17/21: This is another way of saying that smart and dumb in any sufficiently complex society are markers moderately uncoupled from actual native intelligence. For example, it is extremely unlikely to be the case that 70% of your population is particularly high-intelligence just because you have that percentage with completed college degrees. Humans can adapt to SCALE and its complications, but an irreducible fraction cannot. Further, the costs of being SCALE-adapted are that it conflicts with fertility inherently. A perfectly SCALE-adapted individual is sterile and usually single, with friendships defined by consumer identities like political party or pop culture or workplace, because that is the most atomized level– the pure, unattached individual reliant on SCALE’s products to establish a few transactional, minimal relationships that vaguely resemble friendship and dating.

But relatively few can be so perfectly adapted, and in the interim, some imperfectly adapted SCALE-friendly individuals will see personal fertility boosts while overall society-wide fertility suffers. Atomized complexity collapses over time, it’s too antithetical to the human nature at the extreme end. But humans are complex social beings, so they are drawn to the idea of it recurrently because it seems like you’re getting social benefits without having to pony up social responsibilities (for a while, anyway).

Big Tech blocking and banning is corporal punishment for the virtual citizen.

I could and might come up with a fancier way to put it, but ultimately, it’s got traits identical to corporal punishment. It is immediate, there is no recourse or rollback possible. “Why did I get punished?”

“Because I say so!” “Because you deserve it!”

If it causes bleeding or injury, you’re told to hide that or clean it up yourself, and that, again, you should have known better than to force them to be so tough.

I’m describing a specific kind of corporal punishment environment, a working-class/lower-class kind, where frequently you don’t know why you are in fact being punished because it’s not about you doing something wrong. It’s about them taking something out on you.

Same stuff, just occurring in cyberspace, with whips or fists or birch switches of aether. Due to demographic changes I mentioned in a previous post, many of the people in charge of setting these policies come from backgrounds like that. It is their model of the world. In a cruel irony, they tend to be extremely anti-spanking, but pro-as much abusive action of this type as possible, even to the point of taking jobs directing and developing exotic new forms of instantly hurting people.

Conveniently for them, many of their fellow college-educated working class cohorts delight in aggressively literal dismissal of any noticing of how college education hasn’t made working class mores and norms go away, but has distorted them into meaner, pettier versions. At least the working class parent bitter about being fired from their job was gonna stop when the birch switch broke or their fists got tired. These working class folks will never stop hitting. Because they have turned it into a job. Because you deserve it and because they say so. And since it’s their job to corporally punish you, they will never, ever, ever get tired and a virtual switch will never break.

Will you?

Repost: The right loses politically and socially because it has its best organizers stick to homeschool co-ops.

Long ago, before the 1970s, the right wing in America thought it was a good idea for some of their wives to have household help so they could run around doing the very complicated organizing described by David Hines about lefty organizing strategies and processes (his usual example involves talking to 600 people to get 7 that will stick around paying dues and sending off letters for years to come).

Then, for “reasons”, a lot of the smart, driven women who had hobbies such as “taking down entire amendments to the Constitution single handedly” and “starting the conservation movement from scratch”, and “inventing American libertarianism”, and “La Leche League” ended up being sucked into homeschool and homesteading/prepping maws and the political organization skills were mostly left with pro-life stuff, and even there one can see a big loss.

I spent time during COVID writing all this up as twitter threads. Originally this linked to twitter, but then I remembered how ephemeral twitter can be and updated with the actual tweets in full, with some minor edits for clarity.

Here’s the one about why women who do well organizing righty stuff like homeschool co-ops end up going to the left:

you want more kids born, pay attention to what mothers tell you, a thread

“Mother friendly is child friendly” is why ex-fundie women do so well switching over to organizing for the left. Sounds contradictory, but it’s not. In very tight-knit fundie circles, what women do revolves around having kids, raising them and doing so with occasional social activities.

Because everything is mediated around their roles as mothers, it’s all “mom-friendly”, not “kid-friendly”. But if you don’t want to be a mother (and the circle isn’t tight-knit enough, which has become faaarrrr more frequent the last 15 years), then organizing socially is really about you being free labor for mothers and also judging your spinsterhood. Unsurprisingly, if you’re a go-getting girl who doesn’t want to have kids at 20 or at all, you leave.

And you bring the gift of your energy and organizing talents to the left. And that’s a big part of why righties aren’t as good at organizing. I’m tagging @hradzka (eta: David Hines, a commentator about the differences between left and right organizing strategies) because I think a lot of his insights are useful, but I also think he isn’t aware that the left brain-drains the right and *the right doesn’t even know it’s happening*.

What happens if righties figure it out en masse?

Lastly, “mother friendly is child-friendly” means that when you arrange social gatherings around the needs of mommy, she not only brings her kids, she has more besides. And children become accepted as a part of a grown-up world.

Here’s the one about the fallout of preaching homeschool as the sole solution to cultural issues, lightly edited:

Is the right wing attachment to homeschool uber alles about keeping right wing women from having any public participation? It kinda looks like it. How you’re supposed to fix the hysterical and rampant presence of left wing women in the public sphere by making it even harder and more impossible for right wing women to be seen or speak in public is rather mysterious. Because homeschooling doesn’t “scale up”.

It’s not supposed to be a mass movement…unless you really are serious about living up to liberal Handmaid’s Tale fantasies and Making Coverture Great Again. Keeping women pregnant and homeschooling for 25 years hasn’t led to the promised “pipeline” of “nationalist, conservative” anything.

It has produced a bunch of SJWs (ultra-progressive liberals) and feminists though. Hiding hasn’t protected kids. Many SJWs are homeschool graduates working very hard to strip homeschool legal protections from parents right now. But more to the point, homeschool en masse penalizes men even more harshly.

They’re trapped having to be slaves to globalism to support families on their wages while mom homeschools. And if it fails, if his wages fail to support the family, we all know about the MLM plague to produce income, which is not exactly less globalism and socially alienating behavior.

Conservatives have made a cargo cult out of homeschool and what the blippity-bleep is it getting us to respond to all these signs of left-wing educational dominance with “derrrr, homeschool HARDER AND MOAR GUYZ COME ON”? Homeschool should be legal and rare. There, I said it! Conservatives who are serious about creating a more socially harmonious, nationalist society should figure out how to make apprenticeships work (they scale up) and support noncollege paths instead of homeschooling. They have to figure out how to protect children AS A COMMUNITY. You CANNOT restore community by hiding from it at the intimate level of raising children to live and function outside the nuclear family.

And this one about why women were crabby in the 1950s and vulnerable to Friedan’s logic traps:

They demonized the 1950s because there was a massive postwar increase in college educated women dominating childbearing and *they* were massively unhappy with the very working-class housewifery available during that time. Housewife work was heavily oriented towards cleaning and scrubbing and not much direct child care.

But there was a new and large pool of collegegoing young wives who were educated to expect to do “more” and were dissatisfied. Ultimately they gave us the helicopter parenting we “enjoy” nowadays, but the right even back then was very silly about the legit beef that you had all these bright women who were told any hobby or interest outside of housework was bad.

Yes, they did the PTA and volunteering, but they were lambasted for moving into doing that stuff even back then. There were real conflicts in what women’s role as wives/mothers should be that commies exploited for their own ends. We as a society never did try to hash out the impact of labor-shifting devices on household work, and we could do worse than trying to hash it out now. Something to think about. I hate commies as much as any sensible person, but they had fertile soil to plant their poisoned seeds.

Anyway, I’ve been hammering on this topic for a while now, because COVID has blatantly exposed the con that mass homeschooling would somehow lead to liberals throwing their hands up and conceding the culture to the quiet, gently reared homeschool kids and their pleasant, shy, conflict-avoidant mothers.

We have politicians on the right homeschooling, and if one can’t see how “I want this government job, but I reject the idea that government is good and can provide for children in my community” is not exactly optimal for gaining political power, then one cannot be helped to the trough, one is quite lost.