Friday, November 23, 2012

Feminist lunacy

Feminism is one of the shibboleths of our time; criticism of it cannot be brokered.  Mere skepticism is often enough to reveal oneself to be afraid of women who do more than make sandwiches and have babies.  Yet it must be denounced as the grave threat to civilization that it is. 

At heart, feminism is at war with biology, for nature is a cruel mistress who imposes desires within us based on our sex, desires that cannot be eradicated even after years of indoctrination in the schools.  Concomitantly, the other great enemy of the feminist is the nuclear family, for the family provides a constant reminder of the complementarity of the sexes, thereby compelling our embittered sisters to recall that biology has not yet been overthrown.

Here we find a good example of the feminist--hat tips to GL Piggy and Heartise--bereft of logic or common sense, arrogantly adamant that reality must be as she wishes it to be:

The show [MTV's Teen Mom] does not attempt radical advocacy, but it does understand that the most fundamental patterns in American life can’t be covered up. Teen motherhood, single motherhood, unmarried cohabitation—these are not plagues or social ills that pose a threat to the otherwise normal structures of everyday life. They are our new social reality.

The argument, so far as one exists, is that because marriage is increasingly unpopular, it is no longer normal, so we must normalize these poor imitations of that vital social institution.  A cursory examination of the findings of the social scientists would reveal that single parenthood is disastrous for children.  See: anywhere.  But we already knew this.  The reason children of single mothers were mocked as bastards was to emphasize that having a child out of wedlock was an anti-social and harmful act.  Once the child had been born, mother and relations would do their best to raise the child, but no one would consider pretending that this was some newfangled ideal. 

In the future, it would appear that we will all be bastards.  Which is reasonable shorthand for the ways things worked in our pagan and barbarian past.  The writer may console herself with the pleasant thought that if she plays her cards well, she may find a spot in the harem of a powerful male.

There is nothing wrong with teenage or single motherhood. The things children need: economic livelihood, emotional support and an education, are not dependent on a nuclear family structure. Poverty is poverty whether it’s endured by two people or four. A couple cannot raise a child better than one can. Once we get rid of the idea that marriage is the privileged form of cohabitation and that women cannot raise children without the help of a man—ideas that the Left has been working to eradicate for decades—there is no reason that a teen should not be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice to have a family.

This is what Nietzsche called the transvaluation of values: the virtues become vices, and the vices become virtues.  There is so much idiocy here that it's hard to cut through, it helps to change out single motherhood for other anti-social behaviors, as, for instance: There is nothing wrong with sharing needles.  Thus does a feminist "argue".  Note that in cases where it is obvious, no lies are necessary: There is nothing wrong with assisting at a homeless shelter--where, I hesitate to add, unwed mothers form a sizable portion of the... home disabled, I think we're supposed to call them. 

We get to the heart of the matter in that last sentence: "there is no reason that a teen should not be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice to have a family."  Feminism advocates irresponsibility in that it insists that women have the right to do as they please--full stop.  Yet with rights, come duties.  My right to private property carries with it a duty to use that property virtuously.  Single mothers possess a duty to their bastard spawn; before becoming pregnant, they have a duty to refrain from sexual intercourse if they will be unable to provide for that child in a responsible way, which is to say, if they are unmarried. 

As an aside, these duties apply to men as well.  But women have always been the sexual gatekeepers since the consequences of poor choices fall disproportionally on them.  Such facts were readily understood before the Great War on Biology.

Single parenthood depends on a generous welfare State, which takes from the productive members of society, and redistributes these wages to single mothers.  Since feminists have no inclination to actually live autonomously, they have replaced the horrid husband with the State.  Instead of supporting a wife and children, a productive man must hand over a portion of his paycheck to women he does not know, to care for children he did not sire. 

Sometimes, one gets the impression that our present societal arrangement must be a Swiftian satire. 

The consequences of the subsidization of irresponsibility are twofold.  First, marriage will continue to be looked upon as a luxury good: the underclass will have children without bothering to marry; the upper classes will continue to tie the knot at expensive ceremonies; they may even have a child or two.  For more on this, see Charles Murray's excellent book: Coming Apart.  This bifurcation is very bad for the underclass, a point which should become clear once the EBT allowance is cut by a bankrupt Government.

Second, productivity will decline.  The economic progress that we take for granted depends on a small portion of men--and yes, they are mostly men.  Beneath these men of genius, are a large number of, again, mostly men, who, while not responsible for giant leaps of progress, help in their own small way.  They do their job diligently and honestly, partially because of their bourgeois virtues, but also because they either wish to attract a mate for whom they can provide, or, because they have a mate for whom they are providing.  If men become disinterested in this--as the asinine essayist thinks they should, and as some men are thinking, though for completely different reasons--productivity will necessarily decrease.  Men will work only to provide them with what they need. 

This should cause our feminist to tremble with fear, for we are much closer to our civilization's end than her blissful ruminations on the destruction of the family would suggest.  Then again, if she realized the relationship between the family--those little platoons of which Burke wrote--and civilization at large, she wouldn't be a feminist. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Election redux

It's been almost two weeks since the Most Important Election Ever(TM).  After years of campaigning and some $6 billion spent on the presidential race alone, nothing has changed.  President Obama gets another term; he and his Democratic Senate will have to contend with a Republican House.  Three cheers for gridlock!

Armchair quarterbacks like to look at the data set an election provides and extrapolate forward to come up with trends.  For instance, because the Republicans lost this presidential election, they are destined to wander for decades in the political wilderness.  This argument is based on the demographic reality: to wit, minority groups vote heavily for Democrats, and as these minority groups are growing as a share of the electorate, Republicans will never win another election again.

This argument assumes that Mitt Romney could have been an effective nominee, if only the electorate were different.  In a sense this is true, as one could hypothetically restrict the suffrage to ensure Republican victory.  But this lets Romney off the hook far too easily.  Given our electorate, the Republicans could have run a better nominee.  The demographic angle is important, but it's also worth discussing the larger problem facing the GOP.  The party no longer seems to know what it stands for.

I base this on the evidence that of the nominees for the Republican party, Romney was arguably the best standard bearer--and he was a very bad one.  I'll refrain from my usual insistence that Ron Paul ought to have been the nominee; plainly, the party faithful aren't interested in sound money and non-interventionism.  Paul articulates a coherent vision, but it's not one the party is interested in embracing at this moment in history.  There's a lesson here to be sure: it's possible that a GOP that wasn't wedded to the warfare state would do better in the polls, but the neo-con establishment isn't even willing to consider such heresy.

The reason Romney was such a mediocre nominee is that, like his party, he lacked principles.  He had taken both sides on virtually every important issue; his flip-flops made John Kerry seem like a paragon of consistency.  During the race for the Republican nomination, he ran to the right when confronted with his liberal stances on everything from abortion, to guns, to healthcare.  In the debates with the President, he ran back to the middle, in the process, revealing himself to be a duplicitous panderer.  Only an abysmal performance by the President in the first debate--and an amusing overreaction from the panicked leftist media--prevented the election from being a landslide.  In hindsight, it was never really much of a race.

As an aside, less discussed was the inconsistency of Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan.  Ostensibly a fiscal hawk, Ryan had voted for every spending increase during the Bush presidency.  The debt crisis would have eventually sapped the surplus, but Medicare Part D and an expensive war in Iraq accelerated the trend.  The Republican refusal to see the Bush years as the disaster they were still hurts the party.  Clinton's appearance at the Democratic convention reminded Americans of better times, thereby helping Obama.  Bush, meanwhile, was far away from his party's convention.  Like Jimmy Carter, the electorate sees Bush II as a hapless loser. 

Back to the story: Romney's defeat is somewhat surprising in that, by all accounts, Obama has been a lousy president.  His policies have managed to obscure the nature of our recession, but a meaningful recovery has failed to materialize.  But one does not switch horses midstream without a compelling reason.  Romney failed in this respect.  His vague bromides to leadership and job creation simply weren't persuasive.

This is partially because the GOP has but one answer to the issue of jobs.  For Republicans, it's always 1980, and there's nothing that can't be fixed with a good tax cut. I'm not enthusiastic about paying taxes, but it's simply not the case that cutting taxes always leads to job growth.  Cutting income tax, moreover, has limited appeal for those who do not pay income tax.  At present, our overwhelming debt is the largest obstacle to economic growth.  Neither party possesses a credible plan to reduce it, let alone pay it off.

The best Romney could offer by way of fiscal responsibility was the possibility of a balanced budget during the last year of his second term.  Colloquially, the Republicans were peeing on our legs, insisting that it was raining. If this is the best the GOP can do, I can't see the point of having a conservative party.  It may be that anything more radical would be unpalatable to the American people, but when faced with two profligate parties, the citizens were behaving rationally in voting for the man who promised them more things.  For if the debt matters, we are doomed--with either party.  But if the debt doesn't matter, why would we not allow the government to spend as much money as possible?

Until the Republicans can make a coherent case against debt, and offer a practical program to reduce it, they offer nothing to fiscal conservatives.  Naturally, the take away has not been to reexamine the ideological underpinnings of the movement, but to flout neo-con Marco Rubio as the Great Hispanic Hope to turn the party's electoral fortunes around.  Not for nothing is the Republican Party called the Stupid Party.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

On birthrates

A deeply troubling report was released by the CDC.  CNS News summarizes:

More than 40 percent of all babies born in the country last year, the report said, were born to unmarried women.

This is very bad news.  Although this rate didn't change substantially from the previous year, we'll need to see a significant drop before optimism is warranted.  Anecdotally, there are no doubt plenty of good single parents, but they face almost insurmountable obstacles in trying to raise children without help.  The evidence is clear: single parenthood is disastrous for children.

So naturally we're going to spend much of our time arguing over whether or not the 1-2% of the population that is homosexual should be allowed to get married.  It's almost as America is a ridiculous nation.

The report continues:

However, among women 35-39 years old, [the birthrate] increased from 45.9 per 100,000 to 47.2. Among women 40-44, it increased from 10.2 to 10.3. And among women from 45-54, it held steady at 0.7 per 100,000.

These gains aren't substantial.  I could run the numbers to prove it, but that would require me to remember something from statistics, a class which I attended infrequently.  But if there is a story here, it's that Americans continue to have children later in life.  There are some very obvious reasons why this is a bad idea: younger people have more energy and are more durable, etc., but there's also a demographic angle that merits investigation.

Birthrate is useful metric, but it conflates dissimilar goods through the crudeness of its model.  A child born to a teenager is not the same as a child born to a forty year-old.  We can make this clear if we take two extreme sample populations: A, in which the women have, on average, 2 children, at an average age of 20; and B, in which the women also have, on average, 2 children, but at an average age of 40.

For the sake of simplicity, we'll assume that the children arrive precisely at the average date--so there is no variation in our sample, and everyone is, evidently, having twins.  This assumption is absurd, but it helps the model, and it doesn't detract from the point I wish to convey.  We'll also assume that people die precisely at the age of 80, and for the same reasons.

If we start each population with 100 people, and if I did my math right, the populations look like this over a century's time:

Year A B
0 100 100
20 200 100
40 400 200
60 800 200
80 1500 200
100 2800 200

Even though the birthrates are the same, population A is growing, while population B will remain stable at 200.  Now, the average progressive would look at this model and be amazed at the responsibility of population B--and be horrified at the rabbit-like behavior of population A. If it prevents them from having children, so much the better.

But the salient point is that not all births are created equal.  This is as heretical as it is logically sound.  A society thrives when its citizens are married before they have children, but it also thrives when these married people have children at a younger age.  Or, anyway, the population increases, which means that there are more younger works to pay into the bankrupt Social Security fund, and to pay taxes to fund Medicare and so forth.  And to maybe even help the economy grow.

It's important to pay attention to the birthrate, but the crude statistic can be misleading as well.  Just as GDP reflects the economic state of the country in question, so the birthrate gives some idea as to the nation's long term sustainability.  But only some idea.

Dawson on education

One of the testaments of a good book is the ability to endure, to be read with relish, not merely by the author's contemporaries, but by those not yet born.  Christopher Dawson's The Crisis of Western Education is such a book.  Since there is only one substantial Amazon review, I may put together my own later, but for now I'd just like to offer a few very illuminating quotes from the book.

The great problem of the present age is whether the new structure of American society can continue to develop in this way, like a sociological skyscraper... For it is an abnormally expensive economy which uses up both human and natural resources more rapidly than anything hitherto known.  Yet even in the past we see how the relatively simple urban development of the Mediterranean world proved too expensive for the peasant economy of those lands to maintain it indefinitely.  p. 73

Dawson's perfectly sound observation would be political heresy today.  Jimmy Carter's infamous malaise speech expressed the same concerns, but the Americans drubbed him out of office for the immodest Reagan, who promised more growth, neglecting to mention that it would come courtesy of the national credit card. 

The Democrats have learned from Carter's mistake: they, too, now promise indefinite prosperity.  American still refuse to consider that there may be limits to economic growth--ironically enough, during a time in which the economy has not grown for roughly a decade, if not longer.  Yet Dawson's point remains a sound one.

[Universal education] is moreover a continually expanding force, for when once the State has accepted full responsibility for the education of the whole youth of the nation, it is obliged to extend its control further and further into new fields: to the physical welfare of its pupils--to their feeding and medical care--to their amusements and the use of their spare time--and finally to their moral welfare and their pschyological guidance. pp. 85-6

The seed of the welfare state, indeed, the totalitarian state, was planted with a step so seemingly benign.  Yet once the State had taken on the role of educating the citizenry, a role formerly handled, however unevenly, by the religious element of society, it was only a matter of time before it had arrogated to itself other functions of that society.  Hence the churches today, and above all the Church, are seen as, at best, inconsequential wastes of resources, and, at worst, almost, but not quite, treasonous. 

More to follow...