Home Alone with the kids: A Coronarant

One of the hardest parts of dealing with the global phenomenon known as Wuhan virus, corona-chan, and more scientific names like Sars-COV-2, is the unbearable smugness of antisocial right-wing homeschooling types on twitter. Due to mass quarantines, twitter is putting the pitiable scraps of social into social media, with thousands more people using it daily now. Anyway the upshot is that you have a handful of right-wing types who are smugging it up about all the parents whose kids are now home all day and who have to teach those same kids for several hours a pop when they previously didn’t have to. Much of the snottiness revolves around saying that those nasty, terrible (public school implied) parents just don’t lovelovelove their kids because it turns out to be really challenging to both teach and have them at home all day with nowhere to go and those parents beef some about the situation. But the smug crew just snidely grins and says “I don’t get it, it’s just such a joy to always be near my precious children, teaching and REARING THEM MYSELF ALONE AND NOT LETTING OTHER PEOPLE RAISE MUH KIDZ. It’s just nonstop joy over here. Only a coldhearted person wouldn’t want to spend all day every single day with their own children!”

The question of whether they’re lying or not is irrelevant, what matters is that they are being cruel and of the nastier sort of whited sepulchres. They’re sneering, not sympathizing. It’s not a good look, much less a good witness. And yet calling it out just gets you yelled at and told you must also hatehatehate your precious children. Whatever. The reality is that my kids, being relatively emotionally and socially healthy, need and desire to be around other kids and adults. We’ve also raised our children to respect and honor adult authority that is valid and properly ordered because we can’t and shouldn’t be the only adult authority they acknowledge. Because we’re sane, our kids had social outlets and *gasp* left the house frequently and *doublegasp* even went to school part-time.

It’s never been normal to be locked in a cabin with your kids and a tiny patch of yard and not even see or talk to other people except on a screen of magic aether. It’s a super bad ultra dumb idea for homeschooling, Christian and Christian homeschooling types to present it as not just fine, but superior and properly ordered. It is in fact deranged to present quarantine-schoolin’ as a-ok and better for your kids.

This isn’t to handwave public schools’ numerous problems at all. It’s just to say that it’s idiotic to crow about how unable you are to function around other people and how super keen it is that you’ve raised kids who can’t manage it either. It’s like parents who brag that nobody can babysit their kids, not even people they know well and who they have strong personal trust with. It reflects on you, and not necessarily for the better.

It’s rocky. They miss their friends, they miss their enrichment classes, they miss seeing other adults who love God like Mamma and Daddy do. This isn’t basically great and easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. They miss libraries (wait, I thought libraries were approved of by the Karens of Homeschooling?), they miss playgrounds without caution tape (wait, I remember something about how Good Homeschool Moms always take their kids to parks a bunch? Guess I was dreaming it!), they miss many small things we have to keep explaining aren’t allowed or available due to “the virus”. All of this is ACTUALLY FOR REAL HARD. It absolutely isn’t like this if you’re “really” “full-time” homeschooling. If it is so barren and cloistered for you and your kids, well, you can search yourself and ask why you think such sparseness of exposure to life and other people is acceptable or reasonable in home education of children.

Or you know, continue snotting it up on twitter and other social media until the lockdowns end. As for me and mine, I’m done venting about and feel much less crabby about the gaslighting now.

Tubal Ligation is cheaper than babysitters and is the American way.

Apparently it was much more common during the post-WWI (yes, first one) era than I thought, being established as a mainstream medical procedure during the Depression about a dozen years later.  Estimates are not ideal to come by and I hope to update with a chart sometime next year, but easily 1/4 and up to 1/3 of native-born white women engaged in sterilization during the “good old days where mom had 9 kids and LOVED IT”.

There was also a very high rate of condom use, including among regular Mass-attending Catholics.  There doesn’t appear to have been much overlap, so there was a very high rate of using the most reliable contraception among all but the poorest white groups.  Black women also had a fairly high rate of sterilization, but it was much less likely to be done with their explicit permission and there was younger age of first pregnancy and extremely low condom use leaving them in a situation of much higher net fertility expression.

For effectively an entire century, American women have all too frequently preferred or been subjected to technical barriers to more children rather than having lots of other women around while they had many or some system of enforcing male continence to reduce family size.  However, up until the Baby Boomer women were adults, there were still quite a lot of other women and girls around due to generational and social lag, so American women frequently had relatively smaller families than their ancestresses of the 19th and 18th centuries but a lot of informal woman-to-woman support for those smaller families until approximately the birth of Generation X in the mid-60s.  So in a way, the very women who are now absent for so many American Gen X and Millennial aged mothers had their lower-family-size cake and got to eat it too.

Importing Hispanic and Asian women in (and increasingly African ones too), who prefer lots of other women around, sometimes even paid, doesn’t appear to have altered a lot of white and black historical-American women’s beliefs that solo mom care is highest and best and that daycare or someone not-grandma (and frequently even grandma) is “letting other people raise your child”.

Thing is, even in DIY frontier culture, sometimes not-mom helped out and the fallout of emphasizing solo, mother-only childcare has been leaving millions of American mothers with center-based daycare as the only alternative instead of flexible and resilient childcare approaches and options that might provide greater antifragility in the midst of global pandemics.


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”.

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.


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.