This fragility is hardly sustainable or robust or even terribly conservative.
Conservatives, especially the ones drawn to homeschooling, homesteading and other self-sufficient/independent type movements (check that irony!) really have a blind spot a mile wide on this one. IT employment is in fact subversive and crimethinky, but the fact that it disproportionately has conservative, traditionally living people employed in it doesn’t make it conservative or traditional at all. The fact that IT employment can and does allow many a white Christian conservative male to make 60k+ a year and support a private homeschooling and homesteading household is a temporary phenomenon and the really rich types who run the industry are working hard to ensure that this phenomenon doesn’t persist much longer.
Probably in another short post I will explain in more detail why IT employment is subversive and threatening, but for now, let’s just take that as a given because the IT titans sure are. Thus, conservatives relying on an endless supply of decent, well-paying IT jobs (particularly without a college degree required) to support a homeschooling SAHM and 4-6 kids are putting their eggs in a fragile basket. It’s no Galt moment to move out to the sticks but be chained to telecommuting for large corporations who have every incentive to destroy that option for you and your family. It’s also completely antithetical to the loudly proclaimed localism and community focus of these sorts of sufficiency-driven conservatives.
Now, I am not saying nobody should be employed in IT. What I am saying is that it is not practical or conservative to promote IT employment as basically the One True Path to self-sufficiency. A cushy IT telecommuting work at home gig is nearly always lurking behind so much conservative spiel about self-sufficiency and crunchy conservative localism, etc. etc. I’ve seen the pattern over and over and over, that sticking it to the librulz is done by the guy getting some IT gig that lets him work from home a lot and the woman stays home raising and teaching kids and growing all the food. I’ve already covered a little bit how silly and unfeasible the latter part is, but putting so much hope and reliance on a single industry that *doesn’t like your beliefs or you and is working to push you out entirely* is even more economically insane. This is not how to build a sustainable alternative economic structure.
But, don’t quit that cushy IT gig just yet. Just stop promoting it as a sign of how off the grid and “independent” you are.
Conservatives, who make up a sizable proportion of nerds and mechanically inclined types even on the internet, have a golden opportunity to be practical by subverting the ongoing push to regulate the usefulness out of ordinary technology like showers, toilets, lawn equipment and farming equipment like chainsaws and tractors, to name a few prominent examples. Light bulbs, washing machines and detergent are other examples. Detergent’s useful ingredient was removed due to a mixture of confusion about the chemical nature of the ingredient and outright violation of the laws of physics to serve a political agenda. Conservatives have the opportunity to reverse engineer these things explicitly and then confront the mostly liberal “sustainability” advocates with the reality that their regulatory changes are ecologically unsound and carbon-promoting, while the reverse engineering is safer, cleaner and supports small, local, community-based businesses and families.
Then they have to actually deal with the implications of their talk about ecological practices being practiced, lived and promoted by conservatives and decide whether to dissemble or move aside. Because liberalism is emotion-driven, facts and data, true data are powerful when steadfastly applied. This is why liberals repeat canards about data even though they don’t know anything about the data and in many cases are referencing opinions declared to be data. But videos of a chainsaw starting are much harder to make false accusations about, especially when a local regulator is standing right there watching.
The fixation on college degrees is endemic among conservatives, for all that they claim to not be like those wacky liberals on the matter. This is especially true among homeschoolers, who are just as wedded to the SWPL-liberal notion of college as crucial to financial success as any Tiger Mama. But promoting apprenticeships and certifications is a way to sidestep the entire college cargo cult and provide economic opportunity for even not-bright men to save up and build a life and support a family.
At present in America, about the only groups promoting apprenticeships or certifications successfully are a few old-line heavy trades unions (who remain white-ethnic to a degree that is astonishing in modern America) and a few highly abstract professions like actuaries and accountants. The key is to have either or both of apprenticeships and certifications be directly relevant to the industry work in question. IT failed to do this, so those certifications lost value over time and are now not as reliable or useful to acquire.
Conservatives, then, need to look at developing useful apprenticeships and certifications on a formalized scale for other industries and then hiring based on those. Will there be disparate impact and legal issues? Honestly, probably not. Disparate impact is determined by what kinds of jobs the mandarin class wants to keep open for their own mostly white adult children.
This is one way to sidestep the college treadmill but still employ the men (and widows, for that matter) so they can support families and offers a robust approach that can last for generations to come.
The attachment to post World War 2 America (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the white West) is crippling a lot of conservatives and people who identify with decent family life, real communities and the like who don’t call themselves conservatives/traditionalists/reactionaries. The 1950s was a time of rising prosperity, but it was also a time when the cracks in the underlying individualism of American culture were beginning to have consequences. When extremely popular memoirs contain nuclear families cheerfully spending their Sundays anywhere other than church, it is clear the rot was already present in the Ozzie/Harriet fantasy all too many conservatives idolize.
That fantasy was fantastical then. Some silly person illustrates this ridiculous idolatry by presenting a ‘market image’ of marriage that is exactly what men saw in the 1950s on their TV screens (for the ever-increasing numbers of households that had and got them). And yet the Boomer Generation that saw such images of marriage as little kids divorced at levels not seen before or since. By clinging to a dream that was hollow by the 1950s, conservatives expose themselves as just another kind of liberal, caught up in fantasy and afraid to acknowledge a very different reality. It is possible to do better and advocate for traditional lifestyles and communities without getting hung up on the Pax Americana that only ever existed on TV shows and advertisements that clearly didn’t work in the long run.
Hyperlocal and other local journalism must be considered a paid hobby, not a wealth vehicle or a guarantee of a secure job with benefits. It’s a gap that needs to be filled, but the current problem is that people believe it can be a full time job with benefits, but there’s just not that much money. Some partnerships or just plain asking for cash from local businesses and it would be possible to put together a quality pool of writers and editors with small beats at the town or neighborhood level who could provide decent news writeups of local goings-on in their communities. It would be a paid hobby, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with paid hobbies and bringing back the compensated amateur is another tool in restoring normal life.