We start with Eastern Michigan's Steven Krause, mocking a silly essay naming "professor" as the least stressful job. (There's related commentary here.) The job supposedly involves light public contact.
I’ve got news: students are “the public.” Now, most of my work with students– especially the good ones– is very pleasant and rewarding, no doubt about that. And working with college students is generally a lot easier than working with “the public” one encounters in secondary schools, social work settings, shopping malls, restaurants, etc.Yes, and the greatest stress is having to be tactful with individuals whose life-management skills are rudimentary, alien, or missing. And there's plenty of that to deal with at Eastern Michigan. The Michigan of the "Pure Michigan" tourist commercials might as well be on a different planet than the Rust Belt Michigan that incubates the students that generate the stress on professors, a stress that is likely rising as semester's end nears.
That said, every professor/lecturer/adjunct/graduate assistant I know can tell you several hair-curling stories about dealing with students/the public who were insulting, mean, weepy, drunk, scary, crazy, potential violent, lazy, rude, and/or all of the above. Honestly, working with the public/students is often the best and the worst part of the job, and it is definitely one of the sources of stress in my life.
Next, Laura of 11-D (or is it somewhere near the Palisades now?) recommends Slate's advice for white working-class women: raise the kids without the dad.
Although it defies logic, socioeconomic, cultural, and economic changes have brought white working-class women like Lily to the point where going it alone can be the wiser choice. And the final irony: The same changes that have made marriages more equitable and successful among elite couples have made it less likely that marriage will look attractive to Lily.And apparently, as the pool of well-behaved men shrinks, women compete for men in the Girls Gone Wild fashion, which cannot be much of an incentive for men to behave well.
When Lily looks around at the available men, they don’t offer what she is looking for. Lily, just like better-off men and women, believes that marriage means an unqualified commitment to the other spouse. When you marry someone, you support him in hard times. You stick with him when he disappoints you. You visit him if he ends up in jail. And you encourage him to become an important part of your children’s lives. It’s just that Lily doesn’t believe that Carl is worth that commitment. Nor does she believe that she will meet someone who will meet her standards anytime soon, and the statisticsback her up.
The women ready for marriage in this group have grown larger than the group of marriageable men who would be good partners. These men—the ones with better jobs and more stable lives—have become more reluctant, in turn, to settle for only one woman. Their marital prospects have improved, and they could marry a reliable partner. Yet, with a choice of committing to a woman who outearns them or keeping their independence, the men seem to prefer their freedom. Lily did go out for a while with a more promising high school classmate. But then she discovered text messages with another woman on his phone. The experience left her jaded. She has very few friends, married or unmarried, in strong relationships, and she did not see much point in waiting for a Prince Charming she did not expect to find. Indeed, while less than 20 percent of the most highly educated Americans believe that marriage has not worked out for most of the people they know, more than half of those who are least educated believe that marriage has not worked out.In no particular order: Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? Why bother making a commitment that under the current dispensation is no commitment at all? In the absence of any constraints on bad behavior, does it come as a surprise that you get more bad behavior?
One final factor pushing Lily away from marriage is, ironically, more progressive ideas about family, particularly in divorce courts. The biggest legal change is custody. If a couple marries, a court will insist on a custody order and it will expect that both spouses continue their relationship with the child.
If Carl and Lily had married, Carl would have automatically been named the father, and, if they divorced, the courts would insist on an order giving Carl a considerable portion of the child’s time. Carl, however, was not at the hospital with Lily and his paternity has never been established. Lily has let Carl see the child, but he hasn’t pressed for more involvement and Lily is happy to keep it that way. If Carl wants more contact, he would have to take a series of legal steps, including filing a court case, paying the several hundred dollars it would cost for paternity testing, obtaining a court order, and enforcing it if Lily doesn’t cooperate voluntarily. If Carl were that organized and determined, though, he didn’t show it during their relationship."Never been established." Might there be more to this story than the feminist narrative of Deadbeat Men?
For further enlightenment, read and understand the serious social science. Yes, I'm going to grab one paragraph for tonight's train of thought, but it's not the "to be sure" passage in an argument to the contrary.
The third cultural development that has played a role in eroding the standing of marriage is that moderately educated Americans are markedly less likely than are highly educated Americans to embrace the bourgeois values and virtues—for instance, delayed gratification, a focus on education, and temperance—that are the sine qua nons of personal and marital success in the contemporary United States. By contrast, highly educated Americans (and their children) adhere devoutly to a “success sequence” norm that puts education, work, marriage, and childbearing in sequence, one after another, in ways that maximize their odds of making good on the American Dream and obtaining a successful family life.All the more reason for the Perpetually Aggrieved in higher education to criminalize normality, dressing it up in "intersectionality" and other word-noise. The ambitious and responsible, though, can compare and contrast and draw their own conclusions.
We conclude with Garret Jones's observations about Thomas Piketty's latest book.
In the long run, the patient inherit the earth. As long as nations differ (on average) in patience, the patient capitalists start by investing in the less patient countries and the less patient countries gladly and willingly borrow the cheap cash. The patient countries help increase the capital stock of their less patient neighbors, and—as long as there aren't legal barriers to foreign ownership—in the long run the patient nations end up owning essentially all of the world's capital and the less patient nations ultimately end up sending not only their profits but even most of their mortgaged wages to the patient nations.Defer gratification. Live within your means. Develop the life-management skills of the upper-middle class. What's so difficult about that?
One lesson of this story is that it's good to be patient. So let's start training ourselves and our children to delay gratification, to forego that great sound system on the new car, to eat at home a little more often. Another lesson is one that Piketty hits head on: If the world moves toward this outcome, where some rich nations own vast amounts of other rich nations' wealth, we can all expect a political backlash.
There's much more about Piketty's political economy. Craig Newmark has a link-list. I've found a couple of comments about high-concept macroeconomics to work with in a subsequent post. Expect that as I require some venting opportunities once the senior papers and the bluebooks come in.
For tonight, though, it's simple. Respect the bourgeois virtues. Stop criminalizing normality.