An excellent essay! I have only two things to add. First, while public employees unions are generally bad, unions for poorly paid service workers are sorely needed. While they might not be able to bargain for big increases in pay, they are needed to force corporations like fast food companies to give employees more regular hours. This is crucial. Many low income people need two jobs to get by, yet many big box retailers and fast food restaurants will only hire people who have complete availability for a job that offers only part time hours. Obviously, it is impossible to have complete availability for two part time jobs. People who want to work two jobs should be able to. You might say we need a real “right to work” law.
Second, young people should look to universities in the inland states west of the mississippi for their education. In state college and Law School tuition at the University of the Nebraska, for example, is WAY lower than at say, a lower tiered private school in New York or Chicago. While jobs in these areas tend to pay less than those in more fashionable areas, this is offset by a much lower cost of living. Warren Buffett got extremely rich by buying “value stocks,” i.e., stocks that had long term potential but were unloved by the majority of investors. Students can use this idea to their advantage in the area of higher education. The private universities in swanky locales once offered a good return on investment. As demand surged, prices skyrocketed. They are now not a good buy. It’s time to look elsewhere
Mead just posted (http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/11/11/winter-for-higher-ed/) an article on the troubles many second and third tier liberal arts colleges are having attracting students. I would think that there would be a strong market for a partnership between these schools and community colleges.
It would go something like this: a student would pick up an AB at a community college, then come to a liberal arts college to complete their BA in an intensive two years. It would allow for a cheaper path to a BA and would, hopefully, still be of use to the student. I would hope some of these struggling schools would look to start programs that work outside the normal 4-year residency programs.
What a great idea!
Also, this could be a great option for students interested in STEM fields who aren’t quite ready for the big leagues. I heard or read somewhere that something like fifty percent of the students who start off as STEM majors drop out. A prem stem program might be able to help here by enabling students to bone up on their math skills before leveling up to tougher courses.
Actually, as a physics major, I would think STEM would be hard to do this way. Without a solid foundation in the first year or two of study, it’s awfully hard to grasp advanced study. Community Colleges aren’t known for their rigorous science curricula (not that they couldn’t come up to speed).
Far better would be to give students the ability to write well, be able to argue a position in writing, do basic math, and know something about the world.
***The industrial revolution was supposed to generate and in fact did generate unprecedented affluence***
The young, the consumption of whom is debated here, overwhelmingly believe this to be untrue. They credit some combination of Marx and government command and control for all good things. Affluence itself is suspected of existing only because the strong victimize the weak.
*** we need to think about how this can once again become the best country on earth for young people to start a family and raise their kid***
By turning their current thinking on its head.
We should not ignore the role the decline in sexual mores has played in this sad tale. Young people have been sold a bill of goods in this regard. It turns out that there is no such thing as consequence-free sex. Men have far less incentive to get married than they used to, since they have ample access to sex without marriage. Combined with laws that make them losers in divorce and custody battles, the incentive to marry is greatly reduced.
Women who want to marry might use sex to attract a man, but have little leverage in convincing one to tie the knot. Both men and women are happier and healthier married, but since dating and courtship have been victims of hook-up culture, don’t know how to get to the alter.
I have no idea how this poisonous dynamic can be changed, but it is a huge part of the decline in stable families that the article describes.
This poisonous dynamic will change as it’s always changed — when the kids who were victims of it grow up and take a stand against it. That’s how the Victorian Age arose out of Regency, whose mores were similar to our own era’s.
It will help when certain influential Boomers die off (or recant!), and the toxic sludge of their anything-goes culture gets scraped off so we can start again. In the meantime, our task is as it’s always been — do the right thing, teach our kids to do the right thing, take a stand against anyone who wants to take the right to do that away from us.
The increasing numbers of single-parent families is a huge issue. What’s worse is that it seems to be taboo to say that this is a bad thing, because it would insult single mothers and same-sex couples to say that children need fathers.
The Chicago Tribune has been running a series it calls A New Plan of Chicago and soliciting reader input, and I’ve been playing around with ideas on my blog (e.g., http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2013/11/single-parenting-its-about-women.html), but I keep ending up at a dead end because of these politics.
Pretty much every nail hit right on the head by Via Meadia in this one. I myself would like to see more expatiation on the cultural, or, rather, the zeitgeist, and less on the economic indicators. Economic indicators are easy to describe, easy to locate on the Internst or in books, and setting them out gives the appearance of structure and movement to a piece. I appreciate that VM does more than merely state the economic facts, that it tries (and almost always succeeds to a greater or lesser degree in my estimation) to expound upon their meaning, using them as a latticework upon which the vines of VM’s deeper insights can grow. However, when VM observes that “[t]he shift to an information economy means on the one hand that the
stable jobs and corporate structures of the blue social model are
melting away. . . .,” it could usefully have digressed into the reflection that as the private institutions supporting the blue model fail, the State just puts itself in their place, with disastrous consequences. The young of this nation are being schooled by every audible voice that independence is unprogressive and hence and undesirable, that it causes more social harm than social good. Yes, I approve of the by-now-cliched phrase “culture of dependence” because it is irrefutably true. Independence in thought and action requires a sense of purpose, and where is that purpose today? For most people purpose lay in (lies in?) the solving of some problem or other, but the Progressive Blue State is increasingly the only allowed, legitimate solver of problems.
Paying college tuition for one kid is a daunting task. I think a lot of parents look at it and say that one kid is enough.
By the time you are ready to have kids, parents in the economic mid-range are realizing just how much those student loans have cost them and have a better understanding of what the benefits and difficulties of a college degree really are. Better to have only one kid and be able to pay for more of their tuition, than to saddle two or more with an large, eternal debt burden.
Why aren’t trade schools pushed anymore?
Haven’t you heard? Every kid should go to college! Every high school must be college prep! All our children are above average and can become advanced mathematicians if they only reach for the stars!
WRM, you conflate socio-economically various strands in essay framing U.S. cultural tensions (“The blue model isn’t just problematic because it isn’t working well anymore. It is problematic because it is a flawed and imperfect social idea…. People who live in the most affluent societies humaity ever knew are finding it increasingly difficult to start families and raise children.” etc.).
Additionally, essay brings to mind Jeffery Sachs’ Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity (the distracted society) and taking the long view. But, your implied aspiration perhaps discounts how hard the long view is when cultural apparatus works overtime to focus American public on short term temptations/interests/wants. Furthermore, no model (Blue, Red, Fordist, etc.) is to blame for everything subsequent – any viable socio-cultural-economic system whatever needs constant modification at many point day to day, year to year, decade to decade. Such being the case, any system is humanely troublesome (Blue, Red, Fordist). However, I concur that public policies and economic trends going forard appear inimical to the young (Millennials).
The question is what do we as a country actually do about it (for all Millennials and their wide diversity)? If stasis will not do for both family and Millennial well being, then what (the young have been biding their time and trying to stay afloat in the face of societal challenges)? Life After Blue: America Needs to Stop Eating Its Young searches for way by which our young can receive both development and place in a much more challenging country socio-economically (to emerge from a youthful state of dependency to an independent phase of maturity).
Yet at the end of the day, it is not Blue Model decay that seeds our complex social dynamics We Americans (of all stripes) have been both complicit (wittingly or unwittingly) and shortsighted regarding long term National sustainability. To a large extent as politics is the realm productive of public policy and reflects cultural priorities, the troubles of the country (young) trace back inevitably to politics. “It would be difficult for any set of men, however qualified to run so complexly ponderous a country as the United States really well.As it is, the United States is very, very poorly run, year after year, by the quacks, overreachers and patrons, as the accumulation and multiplication of social problems attest.” So as we look to regain the American Dream an examination of purpose will not harm.
You get what you pay for. If you pay single women with dependent children, to be single women with dependent children, you will have more single women with dependent children every year. Children raised by single mothers are more likely to be criminals 10 times more. Since Johnson’s great society programs were begun in the 60’s, the family has been broken, our prisons have been filled, and loose morals have become the norm.
To rejuvenate the family and society we must stop paying for those behaviors that are anathema to the family and society.
Problem is that these immoral behaviors are fun and people who preach about them come across as old squares.
Perhaps the young have figured it out: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9074091/ab-fab-britain/
Why is there no “print” button on articles? There used to be one. What happened?
The blurb for my new book, A Part-time Job in the Country
In this voluntary utopia, Luke Lea explores a world of small country towns in which people work part-time outside their homes and in their free time build their own houses, cultivate gardens, cook and care for their children and grandchildren, and pursue other leisure-time activities. Houses are grouped around neighborhood greens and people get around town in modified golf-carts. So thoroughly are work and leisure integrated into the fabric of their everyday lives they no longer feel any need to retire – and they can die at home in their beds if they like, cared for by loved ones.
For those who would like to move to this world he provides a map with some directions for how to get there from here.
Mangan has some useful comments to this article at
What about the change in the Gini coefficient? It measures income inequality. Income inequality has become greater in the last forty years, going from .35 to.45. Ron Unz would say this is because of the downward pressure on wages due to immigration. A greater supply(more workers) reduces the demand(wages) for Labor and the extra money goes to Capital. Hence the Gini change. Wealth has gone from the Wage earning American middle class to our Elite. This trend will only get worse and therefore life will be even tougher for the vast majority of working Americans.
Here is Ron Unz discussing his views which will affect our children.
While Professor Mead brushes on the topic of government policy, he vastly understates its significance. Workers entering the workforce pay over 15% of their wages in welfare payments to the old and wealthy. The young are not only far less likely to have regular employment, but are at a staggering disadvantage in wealth disparity to the old. These direct welfare payments, in conjunction with new ones, such as Obamacare, greatly hinder wealth creation for the young. This causes not only delays in normative adult practices, homeownership, marriage, etc., but also greatly slows the accumulation of wealth, leading to less investment and risk taking by the young, a key ingredient to a dynamic capitalist economy. We could go further into the discouraging effects that social security has on individual savings and therefore private investment, but the sum of case is clear, government policy, as Prof. Mead eloquently puts it, eats the young.
Ms. Obama would do well to concentrate on marriage and intact families, instead of her Don Quixote like fixation on making kids eat arugala.
I did not vote for Obama, but I hoped he would call for blacks to focus on school, education, and family, and to try to attain what he has attained. He has done none of this. So the one thing he could have been successful at, and helped a lot of people by doing, he has failed to do. But then again, his focus is not on helping. It is on destroying.
By the way, Mr. Mead, you have a wonderful writing presence and an uncanny ability to get down to brass tacks. My cousin introduced me to you, and I have been a fan ever since… Long may you write! If I was younger and lived in DC, I would be knocking at your door for an internship.