Dear conservatives, men should desire to be the sole breadwinner

Even non-conservative Penelope Trunk says so, and explains why in simple, obvious terms.

While I disagree with her about mothers providing sole childcare at young ages, she is correct that it’s Just Better for one person to focus on income and the other to focus on home and children.  We live in a society molded around working outside the home, and if both husband and wife are doing that, it’s way harder to have kids and raise them in a way that conservatives claim to want.

“There are two jobs for adults in a family. Kids or money. Grow up and take one of those jobs. Because while yes, it is a lot of pressure to be an adult and earn the money, it’s a lot harder to be a kid who doesn’t have a parent around when they need one.”

The comments are also enlightening (when they aren’t horrifying).  Women with rare and expensively compensated STEM skills, along with women who are CEOs or CTOs of companies pop up to argue that working outside the home part-time without losing career opportunity is easily doable, after all, they do!  Other women also pop up to talk about the shame of a husband berating a pregnant wife about her desire to stay home with her baby when he could be taking college classes and continuing to live off her instead, doesn’t she understand how UNFAIR she is being?

A lot of young men are being encouraged to use cheat codes even in marriage rather than accept tradeoffs and responsibility.  Women can’t do it all, and men can’t either.



Conservatives act like 1970s black Americans about male provision

Let me count the ways…

  1. Emphasis on self-employment because the (liberal) Man is prejudiced against their kind, without providing any meaningful reserve or protection against the volatility of this choice.
  2. De-emphasis correspondingly on male provision as an important part of being a husband, including discouraging men who want to do that as cavemen or delusional.
  3. Both overt and covert encouragement of women to produce the primary income in a marriage, either by openly promoting an egalitarian view that women can and do earn as much as men as sole or primary providers, or by defining the SAHM life as incomplete or lazy/leisured if there’s no income-generating going on.
  4. Related, but its own thing, pushing a “working homemaker” ideal where even if you do work full time or close to it, you are still expected to home-make at effectively a full time level too.
  5. Defending the extremely rare stay at home father as a paragon of manliness and as perfectly common and therefore something women should be expected to take seriously as a possible path in their marriages.
  6. Declaring any woman who talks about the importance of financial provision within marriage by the husband as a gold digger or money obsessed or not bringing a supportive and Godly spirit to marriage, etc.
  7. Raising daughters and loving sons.  This means encouraging girls to pursue practical options with education and prepare to earn a living while telling young men to follow their bliss and/or pursue self-employment and encourage this by not expecting them to work.

With immediately post-Civil Rights Act black Americans, some of this was not surprising and they did still have to face actual race prejudice making male employment riskier and more fragile even within marriage.  They also were looking at affirmative action preferences quickly shifting towards favoring black women over black men due to killing two birds with one stone (another reason straight quotas would have been less poisonous).

Conservatives, though, are doing a lot of this for ideological and unstated class reasons.  Many and probably most conservatives are not middle class but rely on declaring themselves such as a major part of their subculture’s cohesiveness.  But these are not middle class behaviors.

The IT industry is subversively conservative

This is why wages are pushed down, if all those married nerds with 4 kids were making twice or three times the money, it would be game changing in American society.  It’s not solely why wages are pushed down, but don’t think it’s not part of the game.  IT remains family supporting and male and continues to have a disproportionate share of conservative (personality-wise) men in it.  This is true even with IT guys totally bought-in to the whole “social justice” racket.  The conservative personality tendency still trickles out.  There’s also a ton of modelling traditional gender roles in their personal lives, even if they are married to a fellow techie/nerd.

Incidentally, this is why guilds would actually not be a bad idea in the long term, but that can be left to someone else.

Why men have to work to support families

If you don’t make them do it, they sure won’t on their own.  They will mostly play.  I’m not talking about all men, obviously, but men really need the provision thing hammered into them in a way that isn’t the case with women.

Usually when the topic of male provision comes up, someone always wants to bring up edge cases like a crippled or injured man.  But functioning patriarchal societies handle those edge cases as the individual cases they are.  They recognize that there’s a distinction between drinking away your pay and being unable to work because a horse kicked you and rendered you paraplegic.  Other people, often women, want to bring up the case of women making more money or having inherited money.  Again, the man still has to have something obviously productive to do because men need that push more.

Just as women need the comforts of home and hearth more and will end up trying to turn the office into a home if their natural homemaking impulses are deranged, men will easily be content with a lean-to and a few handfuls of nuts and berries if they have no chance for a family or membership in a properly ordered male collective.  Pro-family is usually going to be pro-male provision.  Even in societies where getting food is easier, the men still provide things like the primary family buildings or fortifications.  So it’s not really an exclusively modern or capitalist notion, again, as some try to claim.  Men build the grass huts even if women are growing much of the food.

Given this requirement, promoting marriage without pursuing goals for male employment at all income levels is a hollow gesture.

Conservatives could start their own lower-cost construction companies

Conservatives, instead of complaining about Latin American immigrants taking all the jerbs, could be developing a possible alternative approach to the current Latin American immigrant domination of construction (mostly Mexican, but increasingly other countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador).  One way to go would be to take all those young homeschool guys who need to figure out some way to earn a living and have them do it up collective style.  Many of those young men come from families of 5 or more and are used to the rack and stack approach in a household.

Since a lot of the complaints among the commenters to that blog are about undercutting and working cheaper, one could utilize one of the few existing pools left of American whites who are used to living more densely and achieve many of the same cost efficiencies.  In fact, one could potentially get it classified as a ministry and have third parties eat the workers’ comp expenses and still get the benefits of the lower hourly wages.

Or one could keep complaining on dissident right blogs while sitting at a cheap desk made in China using a computer also made in China from parts mined in politically unstable countries in a house built by those horrible, horrible Mexicans and El Salvadorans.

I’m not saying this suggestion is flawless, it’s a suggestion after all, but it’s got more practical meat to it than the endless whining and zero action that is pretty much the sine qua non of the dissident right.  The regular right’s sine qua is ineffective and almost exclusively political action.  Doing for self wasn’t just a slogan, it was a way to think about clan and ethny and effective collective action in an individualistic, atomized society that was already too far in that direction decades ago.

Not quite what I was thinking would be my 100th post, but that’s ok!


Poverty slumming and the devout Christian male’s failure to provide for a wife

Related to my little example breakdown from yesterday, this post is derived from comments I made on a “letter to the editor” post here in which a reader wrote in lamenting a false binary of his own making between poverty-wage ministry callings and making decent enough money to provide for a family.

It was a false binary because not all Christian men are called to poverty-wage ministry.  And further, it’s not the only holy or pious way to honor and serve God.  Some are called to be accountants.  It’s ok, someone has to earn enough to pay for the relative few who are spiritually and psychologically prepared for poverty-wage ministry.

As far as the lament in the post and some of the comments that Christian women are money-hungry and demand high earnings from a potential Christian husband, it costs a lot of money to (badly) compensate for the lack of relationships that even very poor people used to take for granted. It also takes a fair amount of money to compensate for the multi-decade assault on the domestic sphere.  The domestic isn’t valued any more, even among much of the conservative world, and compensating for that with expensive conveniences and machinery isn’t cheap or free.

The sense of entitlement in the idea that it’s ok to pursue an expensive but low-paying “mission” so long as you’re a man is not a bit better than a woman believing there is no other income bracket she deserves in marriage than the very highest one. That money has to come from people who do boring but higher-paying work and frankly there are already enough Christian men sidestepping their responsibilities by slumming it out of a confused belief that it’s a good thing to not be a hydrological engineer/accountant/etc and instead rack up 80k in debt for a divinity degree while subjecting a wife and children to an itinerant missions lifestyle.

There has been an explosion in religious degree accreditations and men shelling out tens of thousands in student loans to acquire same and “callings” to live in the ghetto or hop on the missions merry go round with a wife and family to support. Sometimes there are multiple systemic failures. You can have more than one group of people making bad decisions regarding racking up college debt and misunderstanding the nature of vocations and callings. Or you can just blame women and their cruddy liberal arts degrees and ignore the men messing up for different reasons that still lead to the same debt-drowned, economically fragile place.

The OP who wrote in to that blogger is confused and entitled in the very way that leads to the expensive poverty slumming above. There’s a strain of idolizing poverty slumming among many devout Christians and it does involve men leaving their 50-150k jobs to go be poor for Jesus. A nondenominational example is all the guys quitting their decent-paying jobs to plant churches (while also getting an expensive religious degree). Since the men doing this are devout, it’s a bigger problem for the Church than when a culturally Christian woman majors in liberal arts.

Without real patriarchy, it’s expensive to be functional as a single-income family and that plays into the thinking of a lot of Christian women. It’s not all consumption obsession.  They may not be able to articulate it, but women can see the exhausted SAHMs with lower household incomes and they subconsciously are likely to think that maybe a six-figure income can buy ways to get enough sleep when it’s 4am and this year’s baby is up for the sixth time that night.  Or maybe they think they would plump for a maid when the kids were little and constantly making messes.  Whatever their hazy, not-conscious thoughts, it’s not necessarily greed and laziness motivating their desires that a future husband earn a solid income in providing for their needs as SAHMs raising a passel of younguns and also keeping a house on top.

What women do now when they SAHM is cheaper than encouraging Christian SAHM hopefuls to marry well and youngish, but it’s not actually functional.

The hourglassing of male income

True middle-income guys who might have married in the past are being squeezed out in favor of slackers and high achievers.  It’s an amplified version of “Yale or jail”, except it’s “xbox and living off your woman’s 35k/yr job or make 75k plus”.

Married men with SAHMs are making most of the taxable income, contrary to the narrative pushed about the “breadwinner mom”.  Direct from the very Pew data used for that narrative, the married man+SAHM household clears about 78k per year as the median, while the married “breadwinner mom” (plus husband with a job, carefully not worded that way though) clears about 80k per year as the median.  But because the “breadwinner mom” married households consist of two lower incomes and also get very favorable tax treatment for childcare expenses, they pay lower net taxes despite having a slightly higher gross income.  The American federal income tax system is structured to favor double-income married households earning about 75k who put the kids in daycare as far as tax breaks for broad swathes of the married population go.  It is not nearly so well set up to favor single-income married households as is commonly claimed because those households overperform economically and thus phase out of the tax benefits available to those married with children.

Needless to say, all this isn’t mentioned in any of the news articles riffing on said Pew data to declare the awesomesauce of breadwinning mothers.  But the current economic situation in America is that there’s a hourglass effect on male income, and female workforce participation increases aren’t sufficient to replace the lost male earnings, because as we can see from the jury-rigged comparison of earnings above, women just aren’t earning as much as men even if they earn the highest or the sole income for the household.  The result is a smaller and smaller number of married men who overperform and whose W2 wages provide the bulk of what tax base remains for the massive welfare edifice that the federal, state and local governments have built up in the last half century.

This hourglass effect is also mostly left out of the discourse on income inequality, along with its far-ranging effects on the long-term health of the current welfare state.  It’s also a pattern conservatives need to keep in mind when lamenting the decline of marriage and discussing ways to revive marriage as a social institution.