*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Bonfire of the Vanity Fair

There was a time a man could support a middle-class lifestyle on his own income: detached house, car in working order, summer vacations, Sunday roast, sundries and a college education for his children.  This in most of the 'Free World' of the Cold War years.  It was not a set-up equal for women, much less minorities, but it was the spoils of being on this side of a curtain and our 'leaders' buying off the men they'd trained and sent to kill in the last 'World War'.
As men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water... minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
The gains for women and minorities are ephemeral: it takes two jobs to buy what one once did.  One may claim that the price of real estate, which has swallowed what gains a woman's second-income to a 'conventional family' has gained, always rises, except it doesn't, or that the market has corrected the excess supply of labour by buying it more cheaply, which is true enough.  In any case, we are poorer for it, but most of all, stressed and angry with each other, rather than with those who never seem put out by any economic changes.

A sure sign of the stress is the divorce rate, populism in politics (also a cause), and the evidence that people have just become assholes.  I see it in Japan.  I see it in Toronto.  I read about it elsewhere.  Honest people talk about it with me.  Is it such a gain that people hide their racism to minorities and are assholes to everyone?  Certainly not for everyone else, and there's evidence the lot of minorities is not economically better.

The problem isn't this or that government policy, or one or another educational policies being an attack on my teaching profession, but that we are exhausted from longer hours and busy-work, neither spouse able to run the home full time, and credential inflation both for us to keep gainful employment and for our children to get any at all: the poor kids trying to get into teaching now have twice the paper-credentials I have, and a fraction the chance of getting work I had when I got in fifteen years ago.

Until the revolution, or the 'New Deal' to buy us off from starting one, you have to opt out of 'aspirational' thinking.  Lose one or both cars, downsize your accommodations, avoid a mortgage until the market crashes, ask yourself if the little more the second income makes after daycare and taxes is worth the trouble, because the fucking Jones you'd keep up with are running with the lemmings.


  1. I don't necessarily think that downsizing your life is a bad thing. In the post war era, people went a bit nuts and it's not done society or the environment any good.

    The gains for women may not be good within a 'conventional' family (by conventional I'm assuming that you mean the nuclear family unit which really only emerged in the post war era anyway), but outside of that, the gains have been huge. As an unmarried woman, I can have a vast array of options that were once denied me. Even for married women, the non-financial gains are huge. No need to end your career just because you married. No need to be financially dependant on an abusive spouse.

    Politically, the world (the Western world at least) is getting fucked. Australia currently has a PM who can't be described as anything less than a grade A cunt and that seems to be the case in most other Western countries as far as I can tell. Probably not as bad - we are a global disgrace atm. Who votes these dickheads into power? Middle aged rich men with such a sense of elitism trying to turn the clock back to time when women and minorities had no rights.

    1. It probably isn't clear enough in my post that I am aware of, and agree with, your assessment of women's gains (and even if I didn't have a daughter I would care), and yet...

      There are two things. As you know, in Japan many women prefer to be idle housewives, and society encourages it. I do not respect those who choose it for their own interests over their family's, but if one has so little ambition it is a comfortable life; the many as dim in my own country do not have the choice, and take their resentment to work. The other thing is that is this the deal we had to make? Give women equal rights to men so that the ability of our wages to meet the cost of living could be torpedoed together? Yes it when there is a class-war most of are losing.

  2. "Is it such a gain that people hide their racism to minorities and are assholes to everyone?"

    Maybe more and more people are making the leap from hating specific people right to hating everyone, and skipping over accepting the people we used to hate and embracing the differences. With information abundantly available and reaching so many of us in real time (constant exposure to EVERYONE'S bullshit), it's no wonder there's so much misanthropy nowadays...

  3. We're still doing quite well. Nobody was promised to afford a villa in a nice neighborhood.
    At least we don't have to live in a precarious society on the fast track into fascism like Japan. Also - aren't you a whiny cunt?

    1. I rather like cunt. Can't see using it as a pejorative. You, however, are an asshole: even if some like it, nothing but shit comes from it.

  4. When the boy came to live with us we had a nice long talk regarding: "ask yourself if the little more the second income makes after daycare and taxes is worth the trouble, because the fucking Jones you'd keep up with are running with the lemmings."
    We upgraded to a 2 bedroom apartment but nothing more and that upgrade was not overly costly compared to our old place (we needed the room for the boy). We have sacrificed less outings only because we have the boy and screw paying a babysitter to fuck her boyfriend on the couch while the boy is up to no good. We manage on my income and the mister manages the household. In the long run it is better for everyone that it stay that way at least until the boy is out in the cold, hard world when he becomes an adult. Then back to our old scheduled programing of being selfish adults. Until then, the Jonses can fuck off and we still have our sanity, marriage and still enough cash to enjoy ourselves from time to time.
    I once got advice from a lady who had been twice divorced: Never argue with your spouse about money it will be the start of the end for your marriage if you do.
    For the record due to that comment, finances in relationships have always been separate. No joint bank accounts (or credit cards if I actually had any) is my rule.

    1. Whatever rule is agreed upon is the right rule. On the other hand... we share everything, but we've also pooled DNA. It feels churlish not to share money when we've done that. I know a couple who do it your way, but have very different incomes, and so have very different discretionary spending. That's a recipe for disaster.