The political middle vs. the true middle, married class edition

Just a quick note for something I hope to visualize eventually.  The political middle refers to where the media articles about families and money/income/tax matters tend to put generic examples of married parents.  It’s not the median (101k/yr), or the average (130k/yr) or even the middle 50% of married parents (as of 2018, 60k-165k for the 25th through 75th percentiles).

It’s typically a low number of 50-60k/yr.  Sometimes it’s higher, but generally a number along those lines is presented as the dead midpoint even if numbers like the above, closer to true middle numbers are thrown into a profile of 4-6 “middle class families”.

The name is silly, but the concept is spot-on

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/384914.php

“The 21st Century method of left wing tyranny now being implemented by American leftists cannot be described as communism or socialism any longer. Instead we have an emerging “authorigopoly” – authoritarianism exercised by an oligopoly/cartel of monopoly businesses, loyal to the agenda of the unelected permanent left wing government bureaucracy, and supported by virtually every non-governmental institution in the country. While it’s not technically accurate to label publically-traded for-profit businesses as “socialist”, there is no doubt that our monster tech companies are actively leftist, and not just in philosophy, they are active enforcers of left-wing ideology. What is so terrifying about the authorigopoly is that it has the power to silence speech and opinions in a manner the left has always dreamed of, without having to openly nullify the 1st Amendment and that pesky Bill of Rights. In effect, by aligning with monster tech, the left has outsourced its tyranny to a cartel of monopoly businesses who have the power to veto any individual’s participation in modern society.

One prominent fissure among “Trump conservatives” and “#NeverTrump conservatives” is that virtually all of the legacy conservative media supports the right of monster tech companies to use their monopoly powers to suppress speech and to punish dissenters via de-platforming. To those of us conservatives who used to read National Review and the Wall Street Journal, we are shocked to now read that those publications are actively hostile to liberty so long as the left-wing ruling class can outsource our subjugation to private entities. Monster tech is a cartel of monopolies, and they control the 21st century digital utilities. It would have been unthinkable in the 20th century for private telephone monopolies to listen to phone calls and suspend service to those engaged in wrongthink, but the American left – and legacy conservative media – have now actively embraced cancel culture. They support the tech monopolies’ right to ban access to modern digital utilities for any individual who dares to voice the wrong opinion.

So, can’t I just go start my own tech business if I don’t like being censored and de-platformed by existing companies? No, I can’t. When a Twitter competitor started to gain some traction, both Google and Apple banished it from their software and mobile devices, allegedly because it attracted some people with unsavory opinions. But remember, free speech isn’t necessary to protect popular or non-controversial opinions. And let’s be honest, Google and Apple were ultimately just protecting their cartel partner (Twitter) from competition. Further, any other digital company that does get traction and becomes successful (Instagram, You Tube, etc) will be acquired by one of the monster tech cartel members, and the authorigopoly’s speech code will be forced upon the acquired entity.”

There’s more, read it all at the link. It is communism or socialism, though, it’s just that as Dr. House says, “Everybody lies”, and making up a story about how this particular old thing isn’t exactly what it is helps keep the current oligarchs in power and makes the coming changes likely to be less smooth than one might prefer.

Is dual enrollment “watered down”? Maybe…not.

It turns out that most of the time that students taking college classes in high school come in to regular college and fail, it’s because they were allowed to take classes they didn’t meet grade or score requirements for.  Letting a D student take classes that are supposed to be restricted to B students and up doesn’t answer the question of whether the class itself is “watered down” at all.  It merely shows that a lot of people are willing to commit fraud either for cash reasons (more enrollments and thus more funding) or ideological reasons, thinking they’re “reducing inequality” by ignoring the logical rules.

Additionally, dual enrollment has matured enough that it’s much more typical for states to just teach the exact same course on both high school and college campuses, or online.  The evidence is poor that dual enrollment courses are particularly watered down compared to any other college coursework.  The evidence is far stronger that dual enrollment is used fraudulently to push low-performing students into college coursework they can’t complete in order to boost statistics about different groups having college prep or early college exposure.

How many Zuckerbergs does it take to pay for Medicare for All?

One = 80 billion dollars.

The New York Times recently presented five estimates for Medicare for All.  They average out to 3.3 trillion dollars per year to fund Medicare for All.

So, how many s would it take?

The answer is 41 full Zucks and one quarter-Zuck.

That’s how many s you need every single year.

We don’t got ’em.

 

Nearly 1/3 of US high school students do dual enrollment.

The title says it all.  The most current estimates hover around 30% nationwide.  Dual enrollment refers to any instance of high school students taking coursework that is college-credit equivalent.  This is usually AP classes or arrangements with local colleges to offer college coursework to high school students (either at the local high schools or via online access or via special access to local colleges).

The average amount of credit completed varies by state from a semester to around a year of college.  This means, of course, that a substantial fraction of high schoolers are normalizing taking up to a year’s worth of college classes while being under age 18.  Kind of puts a lot of claims about what a college degree measures into different perspective.  In some parts of the country, most students are taking a year of college coursework in high school.

The steady rise in dual enrollment is related to my previous post about the increase in youthful PhDs.  There is a growing pool of students who are responding to credential pressure by simply starting much earlier in the process.  The interesting question is how far we are from the tipping point of something like  1/5 or even 1/3 of college students getting BAs before 20.  It’s hard to say.

By 2025 a majority of all doctorates are projected to go to people under 30.

This is part of a larger ongoing battle between the desire of some college educated types to extend education further and further into the 20s and 30s and the desire of different college educated people to speedrun the system in order to enter the workforce and start making enough to have a family relatively quickly.  It’s more of a culture clash than a clash of the sexes (though there are some sex-linked aspects).

But it’s also in a strange way a return to pre-1970s standards, where time to PhD completion was a few years rather than a decade.  That increase in time happened during the 90s and has been sliding downwards back towards those older historical norms of around half a decade, driven mostly by the increase in STEM PhDs, which were frequently majority under-30 even back during the 90s and early 2000s.

In any case we’ve gone from perhaps 1 in 200 PhDs being awarded  to someone under 25 to about 1 in 100 (source: NSF) in the course of the last decade (closer to 1 in 50 with STEM).  And the shift is away from PhDs being awarded in the middle 30s and also away from midcareer late 40s PhDs (dominated by education majors).  And yes, without education majors getting those midcareer PhDs we would very likely already be seeing a bigger percentage of PhDs awarded to the youth because STEM PhDs are getting younger more swiftly than the other PhD categories and are taking up a hefty share of the total.

And among under 25s being awarded a PhD, everyone is pretty much the same.  There’s no conventional race gap among the different large-enough for reporting racial groups getting PhDs under age 25.

Anyhow, the long and short is that PhDs are taking less and less time to get, it’s not clear if we’ll keep seeing increases in the overall number (there’s been a lot of flattening out) and there’s definitely another subculture forming of extremely young but highly credentialed types, similar to what we got during the 1990s and 1970s.  History sometimes skips like a scratched CD.

The low-investment/high-return myth of education

While it’s extremely easy to immediately trip over examples all over the right, there is not a shortage of this myth being propagated by people who have kids and also lefty tendencies.  It’s the myth that if you just live in an 80%+ white, already-high scoring suburb or exurb, then you don’t have to do anything and you will immediately be provided with a pleasant environment for your kids to attend school in from K-12. The high levels of volunteering and the extensive fundraising habits of such districts are airily dismissed as women being too control-freakish when they “really don’t need to bother, it’s not a ‘diverse’ district!”  I have heard this from both self-proclaimed liberals/progressives and righties alike.

But fundamentally, there is no plug and play school world anymore because there’s no culture of acceptable educational “losses”– that is, a belief that it’s ok for some people’s kids to not finish high school or college because they can earn money instead of a more uncertain payoff from additional education.

However, that’s not what people who are getting ready to have kids continue to hear.  They hear that this world totally exists given the double elements of 1970 level white numbers (because certain immigrant groups “don’t relax much and are really SO SERIOUS about academics, gotta let the kids play man”) and 2019 level extremely high test scores.  When they find that it’s not true and their kids are under a very high level of academic pressure and parents are under similar pressure as well to “contribute”, by then they’ve already had a kid or two or three or even four and they just settle in to having “school stuff” be a second job for one of the parents (usually mom).

 

Why very low income and very high income SAHMs often treat frugality as a very part-time job

With the very low income, they have to because there’s no room for error and low enough on the income tree, it’s a real financial loss plus massive stressor to have two workers maxing out at 43k or so.

For the very high income (in W2 income terms anyhow), it’s related.  If your husband makes 400k, you get the same benefit spending 10 hours a week or even month finding an extra 25k in the budget as you would working a 50k/yr job because you only end up with a little more and you have to work 40 hours a week to get it.  You have to crack six figures yourself before the extra money is harder to find via frugality than just working a job for it.

This isn’t to say that frugality is pointless unless you only make under 40k or over 400k, but that at the extreme ends of wage income (as reflected in both extremes having the highest rates of SAHMs), it’s mostly going to be easier to conserve cash rather than earn marginally more cash.

The math is different closer to the median married income, which is partly why the median is rising.  The reason is that people who are willing to marry when both incomes are likely to be about even set up their finances differently and as a result losing one income doesn’t create the space to segue into conserving the remaining one.

Of course, another reason the median married income is rising is that if you weren’t taught household management and homemaking skills, which is a very large number of marriageable women these days, it is terrifying to figure out how to get along on a low income and marrying a higher earning man sounds like it will be safer/easier.