I cried. Not at the scenes I think most people might. I cried because there was a scene where it was so obvious that the older brother was being treated as the "Man of the House".
I'm over 40, and grew up as the older-by-5 years sibling with a single mom. I had no idea I had all of this repressed trauma from being old enough to understand I was being given all of this responsibility, but no way to actually achieve it, or even a way to know if I was doing well enough. So I could never DO well enough, despite always wanting to.
Despite this, I grew up considered a pretty laid back, Zen guy. Until I got married. Now I'm a constant ball of stress. I'm unhealthy, and my sleep is so messed up that "good" nights are those that are less bad. Doctors tell me I should exercise more. All of this despite being financially successful and very happily married. I constantly feel like disaster looms around every corner. I'm aware of how lucky I am and how I screw this up (or just have it screwed up for me) at any moment, and I feel like I can't every fully relax because _I have to be responsible_.
Another poster here generalized beyond this article to say that we as a nation (and perhaps world) are at a high level of anxiety, and we reflect it in everything and kids pick up on that. I think they're very, very right. I find myself reflecting way too often that I'm glad I don't have kids - they won't have to live with the mess society is generating that I can't fix. Because no matter what I'm doing, I can never do enough to fix it. And I'm very, very tired.
It took a long time to just let myself be successful without worrying that it would all fall out from under me. Let yourself be happy: you're financially stable and in a good marriage which is better than A LOT of people can say. Bad shit will always happen, but at least you're in a position to deal with it! Be prepared (savings, insurance, keeping your marriage happy) and roll with it rather than being terrified of it.
I think this is pretty key and doesn't get enough attention.
In child psych they talk about "resilience", the ability to get back on your feet when something knocks you down. It's hugely helpful for kids.
But it's also critical for adults, and especially successful adults who frankly don't have a lot of experience being knocked down and getting back up again. I suspect that most anxious successful adults underestimate their own ability to bounce back from failure -- many of us think that we got super lucky and at any time something could destroy it all, not thinking about how would take advantage of other opportunities already available in the face of failure in one domain.
I suspect another piece of this is the lack of spare resources (money, time) to handle external shocks. We're so busy that when one thing goes wrong and needs extra attention/money/time, we know it comes at the expense of something else -- and we feel that expense strongly.
Curious for others' thoughts on these.
"Getting back up" after life knocks you down is a huge factor in their success. There are very few successful adults protected from life's blows given the competitive, cut throat world we live in. They all know something about getting thrown into deep holes and climbing back out.
However, I will say that a majority of successful adults, learn how to be resilient at the expense of the people around them.
Not because they are evil, but because no one has shown them better ways of how to handle situations they haven't faced before.
People don't realize how bad this used to be in the past. Nowadays we have much more access to info, better understanding of the right ways to "cope", better understanding of what to avoid, and the right people/environments that will pull one out of life's deep holes. It's nowhere near perfect but it's much better (if you have the resources as you pointed out).
In the past people were mostly just winging it. It's why you see a whole lot successful people who are also ruthless. And regret it towards the end of their lives as they tally the costs and see examples of better routes they could have traveled.
On the one hand, I have more information at my fingertips than someone with access to the entire NYC library system would have had in the 1970s.
On the other hand, the outlier-emphasis of social and news media makes me aware of and able to worry about things someone in the 1970s wouldn't have thought to.
I feel like there was probably an optimal internet (for utility and overall positive impact) from ~1970-1998.
In hindsight, we should have more strongly segregated the information internet from the commercial internet, then let each evolve in isolation.
Childhood trauma and PTSD are little better than a death sentence. Of course, not every child who gets knocked down has trauma. But there's a lot of evidence that people with "rough childhoods" just grow up to have "rough adulthoods".
The counter-counterpoint is that this is very much a goldilocks things. Too little stress and you don't build resilience, too much stress is just plain abuse.
I recently had a revelation that neither of my parents were "good" parents. But also realized who my first two "good" parents were. My dad's mental illness turned into psychological abuse and he eventually committed suicide. Luckily, my mom married one of my "good" parents and we currently have a great relationship.
I have two older sisters, one turned out fine. She was born resilient, and didn't really seek a foster. The other sister is a different story, and I had wondered if she had found a "good" parent as a child.
This is a point that certainly needs to be raised more often. Thanks for making me aware of it.
Exercising the situations that we think might be a threat to us in a controlled way might be the best solution.
I think it helps, a framework for you to realize what matters and what doesnt, with a focus on how it helps a beneficial consequence
Like, are you over studying because you might die if you dont know how to do something? Or is it just a less optimal habit
I spend a lot of time with people that are dying (for work, not for fun). I can tell you that nihilism is cold comfort for them.
When it comes to being afraid of the consequences, stoicism and negative visualisation helps a lot. What’s the worst that can happen? Oh I’ve been in that spot before, that’s not so bad.
It never goes away, you just get on top of it as something that you inextricably are, like having a scar or poor eyesight. its called emotional repression.
But not everyone does, nor can everyone learn it, people are unique and often incompatible with what works with other people in a way that cannot be changed.
You can't reasonably expect everyone to use the method that has worked for you, because your method is unique to you and in many cases is completely impossible to use for others, especially those with hard wired responses to trauma.
Parts of that sound a lot like what I see in developers feeling like they aren't capable and will be fired at any time for being an "imposter" despite being totally awesome, knock it out of the park engineers.
Either way, talking about these types of things helps and if it's causing you as much stress as it sounds like see if you can find someone to talk to about it(mentor, counselor, etc).
Imposter syndrome is definitely a reality, and something that has really burned me in the past (the situation I described is about a decade old now) but I think I'm managing that well enough now. Or at least, in line with fears that the economy can tank badly, that I can get crippled in a car accident, stroke, etc.
> talking about these types of things helps
Absolutely - I've been looking. So far one counselor and I agreed it wasn't working (she "fired" me (graciously) at the appt that I was going to do the same) and another -I- declared wasn't working (I was too (over)analytical for someone who wanted to bulldoze over that), but finding therapists with openings that took my insurance was not going well. New job in the last few months means new insurance, so I'm trying again now that the holidays are over.
I regularly check in with my manager about my performance and he's very forthcoming on it, yet I still don't believe I won't be found out and canned at any second and end up sick and homeless.
More concretely though I would not look to anyone directly in your management chain for a variety of reasons. The best ways I've seen to address it is with a senior engineer or someone that you respect who's willing to take you on in a mentorship role. This should be something where you set aside time to talk through these types of issues(plus all the other wonderful inter-team stuff that comes up in development) over a 3-6mo period.
If you can't find that I will say this: I've found that it comes from a place of caring and giving a shit about wanting to carry your weight or be a part of something. I don't think it's possible to have a desire to improve yourself and not experience it on a regular basis.
The best way I've found to approach it is to recognize when it's happening, call it out directly and tell yourself that your brain is being an asshole in this specific instance. Something I've also seen work well for other people is to do a short list of the things that you work on each day. Review it at the end of the day and take an objective look at what you've accomplished, you'll often find that it's more than you 'felt' like you did.
Hope that gives you some direction. If you're finding you local resources lacking drop me a line at val at vvanders.com and see what I can do to help.
There are therapists who are well versed in imposter syndrome and help patients understand it and get better. There are also podcasts if you want to take a self help approach first. I mean it's free. I would look for licensed therapists who apply a CBT oriented approach.
For imposter syndrome you have to assess at the evidence you are not capable or otherwise a fraud. Is there anyone else at your work that you feel is an imposter? No probably not. Are you as capable as the average employee at your work? Yes! You have performance reviews as evidence that you are good! What would you advise a friend who came to you expressing that they felt the same way? Would you say they are most definitely an imposter? What is an imposter anyway? How would an imposter be hired in the first place? Recognize that these automatic thoughts are triggering your amygdala and activating the nervous systems fight or flight response.
Also, there's quotes from Richard Branson along the line that if you meet 70% of the job requirements you are qualified to take the job and you should just learn the rest of it on the job.
And remember that even in the worse case, if you are fired, fired! There are still companies and jobs/roles where you are or can be a superstar. You see this all the time in business.
It was put best to me: Don't tell the dog it's not a chicken, we need the eggs.
The lack of sleep combined with working hard full time is the cause.
If you can take a few months off of work (doing 20 hrs work a week works too), get to the gym and sort your diet out (cut down on fat and try to remove red meat and sugars) you'll feel much better.
It's working for me :)
Now maybe the answer that problem is not just exercise but mentally stimulating/challenging exercise that will rewire your brain(dancing, martial arts, music, yoga). But it's possible that the rewiring process will have to be stronger than that the original wiring that causes anxiety. So it might be a huge time and emotional investment, but if your serious it might be possible, especially since the stressors no longer exist in your environment.
People on HN talk a lot about going into different states of mind and that seems to be very effective and switching your conscious process to a completely different one.
People used to think for their kids and grand-kids financial future. That seems so out of the window now.
About 1/3 of the book is how kids these days are being taught values that are pretty much the exact opposite of what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches and how that leads to more anxiety.
Instead of learning: "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" and to not assume someone's intentions, they are being taught to be on the lookout for microaggressions and to report them.
Instead of being taught to critically question the feelings they have, they are taught that if they feel something, it must be true.
Let's say someone comes up to you and says "Where are you really from?"
The motivations for asking this question can be ambiguous.
One way to interpret it is as a subtle racist insult that implies you are an "other". At this point you can be mad at how society is so racist.
An important part of CBT is that you can't read minds. The other way to interpret it is that the speaker is genuinely interested in me and wants to learn more. At this point I can have positive emotions and go about my day.
From a mental health point of view you are less likely to have anxiety if you choose option 2.
There's a few great lines in hooks' book about how we adopt our patriarchal ontologies unquestioningly, never stopping to think what about "being a man" we would have chosen for ourselves.
I will read "The Coddling" because I can't be in every American classroom, and it's possible I am simply unaware of some training as atrocious as "be on the lookout for microaggressions and report them," but I suspect it's a deliberate misinterpretation of the feminist understanding that the common American ideological worldview is an deference and adherence to rape, exploitation, domination, and violence. Standing against these things early on, when they're recapitulated as "mere" schoolyard bullying, is a heroic act, and not the result of "coddling," but of a stable, enriching family life--something you can read about in Deborah MacNamara's "Rest. Play. Grow."
Unfortunately, the American home life often recapitulates endemic American patriarchal violence. As hooks puts it, "the love of a father is an uncommon gem, to be hunted, burnished, and hoarded. The value goes up because of its scarcity." No surprise, then, that that children teach one another to relate in the terms of domination and submission.
"Sages in many societies have converged on the insight that feelings are always compelling, but not always reliable. Often they distort reality, deprive us of insight, and needlessly damage our relationships. Happiness, maturity, and even enlightenment require rejecting the Untruth of Emotional Reasoning and learning instead to question our feelings. The feelings themselves are real, and sometimes they alert us to truths that our conscious mind has not noticed, but sometimes they lead us astray."
"Beck’s great discovery was that it is possible to break the disempowering feedback cycle between negative beliefs and negative emotions. If you can get people to examine these beliefs and consider counterevidence, it gives them at least some moments of relief from negative emotions, and if you release them from negative emotions, they become more open to questioning their negative beliefs."
The author's of the book don't desire "children's alienation from their feelings.".
Let's take for example a student failing a chemistry test which may lead to anxiety. The student might think, "My life is ruined. I'll never get into college now."
The author's would suggest looking for counter evidence. Is it true everyone who has failed a chemistry test doesn't get into college? No that's ridiculous. Even if you aren't able to get into an Ivy League school, does that mean your life is ruined? No, plenty of people I know have great lives without an Ivy League education.
The book presents mainstream views on cognitive behavioral therapy. Do you think CBT leads to emotionally crippling men?
Edit: also, CBT doesn't work for everyone. I found it infuriating.
This is where I'm at so far. I don't want to condemn it, even as a match for myself, with a sample size of 1, but I know a lot of people for whom it was successful, but my one therapist that worked with me on it thus far only caused more strife and anguish.
I would recommend the same, for myself and many of my friends and family who went through similar things and have similar symptoms. Unfortunately such therapy is market priced in my major US city at $400.00 an hour, and health insurance plans even in the top tier of coverage quality produce surprise bills constantly. There is a significant material barrier to every dimension of health in this country and we absolutely cannot make progress on outcomes until we destroy that barrier.
I felt that he just wants a reset in life which he can't do himself due to society, family pressure and hopes some external event will do it for him.
It sounds like you traded being unhappy single, to being unhappy married. The circumstances have changed, the essence remains the same.
If you feel like this marriage not working out would screw up your life - you're right, it will. Being afraid that a failed marriage would screw up your life - is actually screwing up your life, this very second.
That's the missing bit - living in fear, even if it's mild, is quite miserable once you start to run out of things to look forward to that'll 'make you happy' once you get them. You got the marriage, look how short lived that honeymoon is - now you're right back to where you where you started from :)
Well, yes. Lots of other things happened too - this has been at least a decade of gradual creeping anxiety. But being married has definitely tweaked my "I'm responsible" baggage.
> Being afraid that a failed marriage would screw up your life
Been there, done that - this is my second marriage. While I in no way want to undersell how bad getting divorced is - even when it's an amicable divorce like mine was - I'm in complete agreement that an unhappy marriage isn't worth it.
In this case though, I'm not afraid of losing the marriage - I'm just afraid of failing at my responsibilities, and I'm not even sure if they're marriage related responsibilities, or just adulting. We've been together 12 years now, and she's awesome, including not putting responsibility or demands on me. We could live in a box behind a restaurant and I'm confident she'd love me and not be blaming me.
Things have gotten worse for me as I've aged, but I can't say for certain the cause. Saving for retirement, health care, paying the mortgage, these are all things I associate with my marriage (and thus I mentioned it), but that may have been misleading. This could be being an adult, this could be my own success (I'm making almost 10x what I did 20 years ago, unadjusted) giving me more to lose, this could be my lack of friends as I outage many of my coworkers and the others focus on their families, this could be deteriorating health making me feel more vulnerable (I'm also 60 pounds heavier than 20 years ago), this could be the looming dementia on my father's side, this could be...
...a really unhealthy list of things to focus on. :) . Regardless, I appreciate the intent of your post, I can see how I made it seem like my marriage was responsible, but I don't see the line of causality. If it's that I AM in a happy marriage, but I'm afraid of losing the ability to enjoy that part of my life, but then the cause isn't an unhappy marriage.
I'm someone who lives in perpetual worry and it was something that I inherited from my parents. While I'm naturally lazy, a procrastinator, and completely unambitious; the sheer worry during my younger years forced me to try harder.
As a head of household one thing I've come to accept is that it's a role that comes with perpetual worry. It can't be helped.
The only way to mitigate it somewhat is to live well-beneath one's means.
And the only ones who don't worry about disaster looming around a corner are like Aesop's grasshopper.
This, so many times this. I tell people I'm lazy and they say "You have two jobs, GM a weekly RPG and a monthly LARP, how can you be lazy?" They don't look at how little I WANT to do, they don't see how perpetually behind I am because given 3 hours to catch up I'll waste 2.5 of them, they don't see how a lifetime of this has taught me to wing it really well, to hide and cover up how behind I am. They'll talk about taking hikes or wanting to travel, but I want to sit and read or play games. Their dream superpower is flying, while I dream of teleportation and telekinesis - anything that means I'll have to struggle with the act of "doing" less.
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Sure, being aware of everything good in your life too (classic mindfulness). But more importantly, asking two simple questions:
"What actions can I take about this worry? And on what timescale?"
For a large number of my worries, if I was honest, there was either nothing I could do, nothing more I could do, or nothing more I could do at this time.
And if the answer was nothing, then I decided to stop thinking about it. I was surprised how many worries fell into this category. Or how exercising this ability influenced how I deal with new worries. (Now, it seems much easier, and harder to just let fears run away with me)
For the optimizer, the way I backdoored into this was realizing "Worrying, in many situations, makes me less effective."
Sorry if this is unwelcome, but I recognize this feeling very well. I'm a lifelong CBT patient, in CBT we call this "catastrophizing", recognizing when you are falling into that thought pattern is the best way to break out of it.
It says a lot about society that a male child was implicitly given responsibility instead of his grown mother. And based on your age, I'd guess this was in the 70s or 80s, not the 50s.
No fault divorce was first legalized here in California in the late 70s, and in most states by the mid-80s. This increased the number of divorces, and I don't know the numbers, but I imagine there was an initial "boom" of pent-up unhappy marriages that took advantage at first before the numbers leveled out.
There's a reason the sitcoms of the era tended to involve single-parent homes (often with friends/family filling in) - this was an attack on the cultural idea of "norm". Putting children in the role of "man of the family" when there wasn't a father was a big thing, at least in the culture I grew up in. And since everyone now has grown up with that, it isn't going away quickly.
No idea of the quality of this db, but a search for "you're the man of the family" in movies turned up over a dozen matches for that exact phrase: http://www.quodb.com/search/you're%20the%20man%20of%20the%20..., with most being between 1980-2010 - and it looks like those were generally delivered to children (a few to female children).
The Mom may have been head of the household, but the eldest son was (and is) treated as if that Y chromosome imbues him with mystical powers and responsibility, even if very young.
My take: I certainly didn't have authority over my mom, but I definitely felt like I had a lot of responsibility. Households are typically run by (at least) two people, and for good reason. I stepped up where I could--helping manage the dog, helping make food, staying out of trouble when she couldn't watch me, in general trying to keep stress off of my mom--not because I felt like I was in a position of authority, but because there wasn't another adult to help shoulder the load, so some of the load fell to me.
There's no need to invoke gender-wars arguments in this discussion; it's a simple matter of people in families doing what they can to manage difficult situations.
I think the issue is cascading. If families had greater resources for support, their stressors wouldn't trickle down to their children. I think this problem exist in "full" families but is much more exacerbated in single parent settings.
Even when mother is the head of household, elder son gets more things around to, um, worry about.
I don't like sexism.
It has name in child psychology, through I can't recall the name now. But in general, altrough it makes older kid more responsible, it does harm him overall.
Note: it is different isue then chores and some help around the house. Kid won't be harmed by helping and working then, it is responsibility beyond kids age and having to grow.l too soon.
In this view, the greatest social crime committed in that series (aside from the government atrocities) is Chief Hopper's self-isolation. As a good man, with earnest intentions, his desertion of the town's emotional needs (regardless of his performance as a law enforcer) is a betrayal of their material needs.
(Of course, she actually wasn't crazy because her fantastical visions were real, this is a TV show, etc.)
Admittedly, we don't know what the son's role was like before Will went missing...
The higher you reach, the better the view and the fresher the coconuts. But more importantly, the farther you are from the sea. The next cyclone that rolls by chance sometimes washes anyone living too close to shore out to sea.
For generations, Americans took for granted that the hill was getting bigger, the slope was gentle, and each batch of kids could take a couple of easy steps forward and comfortably land somewhere safer and more prosperous than Mom and Dad.
But the last forty years or so of increasing economic disparity mean the peak of the hill gets higher and the slope up to it steeper every year. Harder and harder to climb, and easier to slip down, or get knocked down by a rival.
Meanwhile, outsourcing, offshoring and automation mean there is less and less shore near the bottom where you can start from. The sea is rising and if you can't at least reach the elevation marked "skilled worker", you better hope you're a good swimmer. (On top of this, the seas literally are rising, which will disproportionately harm the poor, just like Hurricane Katrina took out the lowest-elevation neighborhoods the worst.)
It is clear that many of the rich in power in this country don't give a damn about this. As far as they're concerned, the more people that get washed out to sea, the more coconuts there are left for them. They're so high up now, they can barely see the rest down there scrabbling to stay dry.
My hope is that a new wave of elected officials will change the direction we're heading. But right now, the future looks grim, and our childrens' anxiety is entirely rational.
The fact that many feel this way is an interesting perspective in and of itself. But perhaps more interesting is the fact that this is directly at odds with most objective metrics.
1. Life expectancy - getting lower for the first time in generations
2. Suicide rate - at an all-time high
3. Opioid crisis - need I say more
4. Labor participation 63% - the lowest since 1978
5. Stagnant (falling for some) real wages since the Internet bubble crisis (2001)
I could go on for much longer....
2,3. The improving economy should help. We are at historically low levels of unemployment for many subgroups, including hispanics and blacks. Factory employment has recovered to levels not seen in decades.
4. Labor participation should continue to drop as the baby boomers retire. It will rise again as they die. The normal unemployment numbers, which don't include the retired, are showing a situation that is wonderful for American workers. The numbers would look even better if not for the fact that large numbers of "discouraged workers" are reentering the workforce; these people had not been counted because they had given up looking for work.
5. Wages are starting to rise. Of course, businesses are demanding immigration to "fix" the "problem" of rising wages.
It's really not. Even the expected lifespan of Americans is declining. The only objective metrics that look good are GDP - and growth in this area is increasingly distributed upwards while the middle class doesn't really see a benefit. A reduction in poverty is good (assuming it's real and not a statistical sleight of hand), but the kids this article is talking about are the middle class - which is in decline.
The link I provided gave several objective metrics that indicate positive trends. More people have access to goods and services that used to be more exclusive. People without access to basic infrastructure (e.g. plumbing, electricity)s are drastically fewer.
Upper, middle, and lower class are artificial labels. They don't correspond to quality of life. A decline or increase in one does not indicate a change in hardship. The question I seek to answer is, "has life gotten better or worse for the average person?" or "how has life changed for the Americans in the X to Y income percentile?". Overall the trends are positive.
Even life expectancy has a overall upwards trend. It has gone from about 70 to close to 80 over the past 40 years, which was the time frame that the previous commenter referred to.
>These measures better reflect changes in household welfare. Bruce Sacerdote, an economist at Dartmouth College notes the poorest quarter of households in America had 0.75 vehicles per household in 1970 compared to 1.4 per household in 2015. In 1960, more than one third of households in the bottom quarter of the income distribution lacked indoor plumbing; by 2015 virtually all households had indoor water and sewer systems. Microwave ovens have spread from luxury to ubiquity alongside mobile phones—microwaves are now owned by 97% of households.
Sure, it's great that we aren't dealing with Cholera outbreaks anymore, but that's not what people are talking about here and it might come across as a bit insulting and disingenuous to point to the fact that indoor plumbing is now available to people living in poverty as a counterpoint to skyrocketing wealth inequality.
That is the time frame specified by the original commenter.
> Sure, it's great that we aren't dealing with Cholera outbreaks anymore, but that's not what people are talking about here
Then what are people taking about here? People in this thread (and society at large) are saying life is getting harder over the past several decades, but conspicuously absent are measurements that demonstrate that this is the case.
People can afford better things, are provided with better services. Post taxes, less people are in poverty. Post taxes, and adjusted for purchasing power, less than a fifth as many people are in poverty. This directly contradicts the original poster's claim that it is easier than ever to slip into poverty. The shore, to reuse his metaphor, is not shrinking. And yet, many seem to harbor the idea that it is. That's the mysterious aspect.
But maybe I'm taking things out of context, sorry.
It is instructive to read Marx to answer this question. How much time do working people need to work every day to earn enough to reproduce themselves? College education is now expected for many jobs (working people reproducing themselves means the next generation having access to similar jobs). How big of a fraction of median income does a median college degree cost? What about healthcare, rent/home prices? Food and clothing prices have declined a lot, but the other prices have risen to a much greater proportion of median income. How many people are now working two or more "part-time" jobs for a total of more than 40 hours a week?
> How much time do working people need to work every day to earn enough to reproduce themselves?
The Economist article linked above says that adjusted for inflation and taxes, less than one fifth as many people struggle to do so as compared to 40 years ago. Sure, it's valid to say that the percentage of people that experience that struggle (~3-4%) is still a figure that is unacceptably high. But it has been a drastic reduction from what it was four decades earlier (over 15%).
> College education is now expected for many jobs (working people reproducing themselves means the next generation having access to similar jobs).
A strange observation to make, seeing as the non-college educated reproduce at a greater rate than those who do.
> What about healthcare, rent/home prices?
I mention that those are exceptions to the overall trend, but also explain that those are due to well known reasons: a large ageing generation, and an unwillingness to build housing in many growing metro areas. They are not cause by inequality, though good arguments can be made that they exacerbate it.
> Food and clothing prices have declined a lot, but the other prices have risen to a much greater proportion of median income.
Sure, some things like housing have gotten more expensive. But plenty of others have gotten cheaper. In aggregate, costs are going down. That's what the Economist article I linked above explains.
> How many people are now working two or more "part-time" jobs for a total of more than 40 hours a week?
People are spending less time on work on average.
You've misinterpreted his use of the word "reproduce". It's not about birth rates.
It could be argued that people are working less because of increases in automation and more schooling and a switch from shift jobs to non-shift jobs. Reportedly someone on salary would say they work 40 hours or would be assumed - we know the reality is different than that.
Maybe in some places, but this definitely isn't true overall. In fact, I'd say in a lot of places, especially rural ones, it's a lot worse now. People are still having children, but there's not the jobs in those areas. Or, if they are, they're generally constantly temp jobs that don't offer much, or any, security. There's not the options for the kids that the parents had 20 years ago.
My mom just retired teaching after thirty years, having had several students of former students. She openly admits that she was worried for them because there's not the opportunities around that there once were.
Sure, you might counter, they can move...but that's not really feasible for everyone. It takes money to move, and it takes a good reason for someone to up and leave their family and support system as well as likely all the friends they've ever known, including many they've known since age 5, if not before. Moving isn't easy emotionally or materially, especially in areas where families are still somewhat close and community is still decently close. Sadly, too many people forget this point (though I'd say it likely holds true even in urban areas, to be honest)
But the eye opener is this, and something that is often left out. This is the change in the size of each economic group between 1979 and 2014 as a percent of the total population:
- Rich: 0.1% -> 1.8%
- Upper Middle Class: 12.9% -> 29.4%
- Middle Class: 38.8% -> 32%
- Lower Middle Class: 23.9% -> 17.1%
- Poor or Near-Poor: 24.3% -> 19.8%
Statistics like this are certainly subject to biased interpretation and 'massaging'. If one is curious about the source, wiki has a section on the political stance of the Urban Institute . Though the paper itself is very transparent in their methodology and extremely readable. I found it all eye opening to the point that it actually changed my worldview.
Now the most interesting thing here is that the paper I'm referencing and this Pew article are using the same methodology, and thus Pew is also basing their report off the same data. It's just interesting to see the contrast between how things are presented, and how people would respond to the raw data itself. Just to point out one more little oddity. Pew seems to focus specifically on 1999 to 2014, yet their own chart  indicates everybody saw declines in income from 1999 to 2014. Nonetheless their discussion seems to imply this is a uniquely middle class phenomena. E.g. the heading of the first section being: "The American middle class loses ground nationally". Yet it would be much more accurate to state that "Americans of all classes lose ground nationally."
 - https://www.urban.org/research/publication/growing-size-and-...
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_Institute#Political_stan...
 - http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/05/11/americas-shrinking...
How people make friends.
How many friends people have.
How much people feel they're a part of their community.
How much people touch each other in general.
How much people feel about their neighbors.
How people dispense care to those closest to them.
How large families are (extended/adopted family, etc)
How close people feel to their families.
All, I think, are rapidly changing.
You can see it in another comment in this thread. One person says, basically, my childhood was horrible. The discussion is entirely about what this person, in their self-contained world, can do to alleviate their stresses and pains. Eat more veggies! I'm not knocking those sorts of comments at all--you can't exactly turn back time and change the structure of society to give that commenter a community who cares about him.
I'm not sure about all this. It just comes from my observation. I think, though, that the feeling of life is changing and has changed in a big way. And it flys completely under the radar, because it's so hard to discuss, reason through, and quantify.
With so many things tied to employment (health insurance especially), no wonder that people are worried about their futures.
I think things like "access to electricity" cause much less anxiety than the threat of instability. A lot of people are just a few missed paychecks away from literally losing their home (whether that is a house or an apartment).
Employment stability like that did not exist in the 19th century (in the US because of lack of industrialization - most people were engaged in agriculture; in industrial Britain factory workers would literally starve to death because of regular layoffs). It did not seem to exist in the US in 1900-1920 (at least that's the impression I got from reading _The Jungle_) or in the 1930s (Great Depression), and kind of disappeared with Reaganomics and the start of offshoring in the 1980s. So job stability seems like a brief state of things that lasted from the end of WWII to the end of the 1970s.
Cost of living is rising, and so are health care costs. Inflation ensures that a dollar is worth less every year.
While inflation inevitably marches on, wages have neither kept up with productivity for over 40 years, nor cost of living, nor inflation.
People are working multiple jobs, but their employers purposely schedule them such that they don't accrue enough hours to be considered full-time employees who are legally entitled to buy health insurance through their employer.
As an aside, while engineer pay is relatively high, it has not kept up with rising cost of living expenses over the last decade, either.
The Economist article to which I linked gave multiple metrics that contradict this claim.
> And finding an affordable place to live is impossible in some areas, extremely hard almost everywhere that's desirable to live.
True, and I mentioned that there are exceptions to the overall positive tend and specifically noted housing costs. But the solution to this problem is well known: increased the supply of housing.
> And of course, poverty is relative so seeing the rich get healthcare while you and your own family get sick and die has a huge effect on people that probably isn't captured by any metric I know of.
But that's the thing: the data indicates that the poor aren't becoming worse off. Yet we have the perceptions that it is.
I think understanding why this contradictory perceptions exists lies at the heart of a lot of social chsllenges today. Like why people in the US become so strongly against immigration and free trade despite the strong evidence that these things have a positive effect on the country.
I'd posit that life hasn't been getting more difficult, but that it feels like it has become more difficult, largely because it's harder to advance your current socioeconomic status than it used to be (ie, "the hill is getting steeper"). This is also what makes the analogy particularly strong.
When you're used to accelerating growth, no growth or even constant growth feels like a downgrade.
If "socioeconomic status" is defined as income or asset percentile, then that is inherently a zero sum goal. For someone to go from the middle third of Americans by income into the top third means that someone in the top third has to go into the middle third (or bottom third).
For consumer goods, absolutely.
For other things, it's gotten much worse. Healthcare and education obviously being one of the biggest concerns.
When I graduated high school in 1997, the local community college's tuition was $17 a credit hour ($26 in today's dollars).
That small community college in the middle of nowhere is now $128 a credit hour for in-district students.
That's almost a 5x increase. For the same local community college amongst corn fields two hours from anything.
There's so many examples of this (rent, for instance) that I almost wonder what the point of pointing out the low cost of consumer goods would be.
The price of a life well lived has little to do with the price of smartphones.
I'm pointing out that is a naive analysis.
What sources do you need to back up the "claim" that home ownership and health care are qualitatively more important in many ways than consumer goods? You can get all the "stuff" you want, but if you can't get a home or pay for health emergencies it will be hard not to live in some level of fear, always scrambling for slightly more security and feeling precarious. The area of my town that I live in for example, is full of homeless people, many of whom have computers or cell phones (many more don't). It is disturbingly frequent that I see one of them start to have escalating health issue, and eventually just "disappears". Disconcerting. I have no way to know if it was always this way, or if it getting worse...but certainly disconcerting.
TL;DR - Some of the people who seem to be pushing back on your "scientific rigor" may be just wanting to not forget about the actual hardships people are going through. They probably still understand that it's good to have sources for things etc.
You can live comfortable and securely without owning a home. I do, and have been for the last half decade. Plenty of people in European countries with high standards of living rent for their whole lives. It's common among more densely populated countries, and as the US population is becoming more urban this is shift towards less home ownership is one that is likely going to happen in the US.
By comparison, you can't survive without food, water, heating (in many parts of the US), and other basic necessities. Plus, there are plenty of consumer goods that people would prioritize over home ownership:
If I told someone they could own a home but you had go without:
* A car
* Internet access
* Running Water
* A computer
* A cell phone
For many, even just not owning a car would make it impossible to live effectively. I'm willing to bet that most people would not take that offer even if they were deprived of just two things on that list. So it follows that these things have higher priority than home ownership in our hierarchy of needs.
> The area of my town that I live in for example, is full of homeless people, many of whom have computers or cell phones (many more don't). It is disturbingly frequent that I see one of them start to have escalating health issue, and eventually just "disappears". Disconcerting. I have no way to know if it was always this way, or if it getting worse...but certainly disconcerting.
The data does indicate that it is, on average, less bad than it was before. Even if it is not the case in your individual town, one counterexample is not sufficient to disprove a country-wide trend.
> Some of the people who seem to be pushing back on your "scientific rigor" may be just wanting to not forget about the actual hardships people are going through.
I don't deny that people are going through hardship. Whether or not someone thinks their life is difficult is their own opinion, and I respect others' opinions. But to claim that life is on average harder than it was before is no longer a statement of opinion, but a statement of fact. And it is not a statement backed up by the evidence that we have.
This is not just needless nit-picking. If the erroneous belief that the country is on a downward course takes hold, then people often become more willing to make drastic, irresponsible shifts in direction. I consider the Trump Presidency one such product of this erroneous belief in American decline. Think about this slogan, "Make America Great Again". In order for such a statement to be appealing, it effectively requires that the listener assume that America is worse in the present than it was in the past.
Here's a simple source for reference, but there are plenty more if you stick to those metrics:
Now what we're arguing here isn't facts. Both of us are making true statements: You're saying the aggregate cost-of-living is not that much higher. I'm saying the necessities of health care, housing and education are hugely off track.
What we're disagreeing about is the philosophical interpretation of those facts. I'm saying it hardly matters if mobile phones are cheaper every year, if health care is more expensive. An aggregate doesn't take into account the relative weights of importance.
Not to mention the fact that wages and income are stagnant. That's a whole other issue that multiplies the concern.
Cheaper internet access can't possibly offset the fact that rent has added 130% above inflation (US average $610 in 1960, $1405 today, both in today's dollars).
You have to establish a hierarchy of needs if you want your analysis to have any utility whatsoever.
It helps people that use cars, for one, which is a massive portion of Americans. And it's not just cars that are cheaper. Transportation is far cheaper. A coast to coast plane ticket is more than 20 times cheaper than it was in the 1980s. Again, you keep referencing specific costs, like healthcare, that have risen but then make the unsubstantiated conclusion that that overall costs have risen. People are spending more on some things like healthcare, but the studies conducted found that proportional to income meeting needs is cheaper.
> Cheaper internet access can't possibly offset the fact that rent has added 130% above inflation (US average $610 in 1960, $1405 today, both in today's dollars).
Again, it's not just cheap internet. On average, goods and services are getting cheaper across the board. You keep giving specific exceptions to the overall trend, as though it disproves it. That's as ineffective as claiming that global warming is false, because a few regions experienced cooling. One, two, or even three specific exceptions to an overall trend does not disprove that trend.
> You have to establish a hierarchy of needs if you want your analysis to have any utility whatsoever
That is exactly what the article I linked to did: they identified a set of necessities and calculated to cost of those necessities relative to post tax income over time.
By contrast, so far you have repeatedly cited increased costs of exactly three types goods and services.
The former is a much more comprehensive analysis than the latter.
Wages are flat while Cost of Living and/or inflation is skyrocketing (Real world inflation, not the CPI index).
This, generally, is the strongest evidence that the bottom end of the wealth distribution is getting worse.
> By most metrics (ignoring housing and healthcare)
Wait, you can't just ignore housing and healthcare, that's like the biggest chunk of every American's budget.
The four things America has regressed on the most (in quality and/or cost), is housing, healthcare, education/child-care, and transportation. Those four things combined are roughly 75-99% of a typical American families spending.
Yeah, you can still buy a cheap hamburgers and cheap gas and cheap flat screen TVs. That's useful. But that's not useful enough to counteract all the losses elsewhere.
> both of which are primarily causes by an undersupply of housing and a growing cohort of old people, rather then inequality
That's a popular misconception. Housing problems are primarily caused by private equity and deregulation -- undersupply is a tiny portion of the problem in a few key metros (especially SF), but is not the widespread cause of it. In Michigan, for example, we have a rampant urban housing crisis too -- and zero percent of that is caused by any undersupply of housing.
Similarly, Healthcare costs rising is largely because of private equity and price fixing / fraud between health insurers and hospitals. "People growing old" is only a tiny portion of that problem, as evidenced by the many other nations who also have large aging populations putting strains on their healthcare systems, but not having the same astronomically high healthcare costs.
> Objective metrics like infant mortality, access to infrastructure like electricity and plumbing, educational attainment, all indicate positive trends
Suicide is rising sharply. Opiate abuse is rising, and so are the deaths from it. Access to infrastructure is falling (see Flint Water Crisis, or deferred infrastructure maintenance in NYC, or the routine underinvestment in roads and schools). The US personal savings rate is declining rapidly -- people who have "good incomes" (by your metrics) don't have any money left over to save, and so are on-paper good but actually financially insecure.
I think seeing the problem is a "perception-only" issue is Ivory Tower thinking. People don't just "feel" that things have gotten worse, things have objectively gotten worse, and pretending otherwise will only make the situation harder to fix.
Wait, what? What is the crisis and what is the cause?
I wouldn't be surprised if the average American's material conditions have been steady or even creeping upwards over the last 50 years, but I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that the personal cost of maintaining these conditions has been growing significantly.
Down about 100 hours per year from 1970. I like the idea of quantifying stress but that is probably too subjective to quantitatively measure. I don't necessarily dispute the notion that stress has increased over the past few decades - just that whatever pressure people are feeling is due to declining quality of life or economic opportunity.
The Increase in Leisure Inequality
This paper examines the changing allocation of time within the United States that has occurred between 1965 and 2003-2005. We find that the time individuals have allocated to leisure has increased in the U.S. for both men and women during this period, with almost the entire gain occurring prior to 1985. We also find that post 1985 there has been a substantial increase in leisure inequality, particularly for men. Over the last 20 years, less educated men increased the time they allocated to leisure while more educated men recorded a decrease in leisure time. While the relative decline in the employment rate of less educated men is important, trends in employment status explain less than half of the increase in the leisure gap.
If 90% of the people are at the same socioeconomic level as you, even if living in poverty, you don’t feel particularly left out.
If that balance shifts to the 20% we have now, then suddenly it starts to be a bit disturbing.
Of course it's a massive issue, but it always amuses me when people look back to how "great" it used to be. For a white male, the 50's seemed pretty great. If I was anything else I'm pretty sure I would choose 2019.
The progress we've made in civil rights — there are women alive today who were born before women could vote! — is great and the current administration shows that we still have a long way to go.
But note that while we have made progress on civil rights in many ways, the increasing economic disparity hurts underrepresented groups too. "It's worse for white people but better for black people" is an over-simplification. Black people are suffering under these economic problems too.
> increasing economic disparity hurts underrepresented groups too
Close, but increasing economic disparity hurts underrepresented groups _most_. And, as it's been said, what we have made is only generously defined as progress--and most vehemently by those who seek to halt what little progress we've made as "sufficient".
> If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out that's not progress.
This Malcolm X quote does a great job highlighting how the cessation of a particular oppression is hardly progress. Since slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and Red-Lining, there has been little in the way of reparations to make African American communities whole--not to mention the millions of Mesoamericans(1) similarly exploited in the history of American Imperialism(2), and still to this day(3)!
So, thanks again for that completely brilliantly painted analogy. I hope you find these texts offer some compelling augmentations to your understanding.
1) Eduardo Galeano's "The Open Veins of Latin America"
2) Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz' "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States"
3) CrimethInc's "No Wall They Can Build"
> Close, but increasing economic disparity hurts underrepresented groups _most_.
Yes, so, you should celebrating that you and are in agreement that increasing economic disparity is bad.
> And, as it's been said, what we have made is only generously defined as progress
It is progress in any and all possible definitions. Going from "black people are legally considered property" to "a black person is the President of the United States of America" in less than 200 years sounds like a hell of a lot of progress to me.
> and most vehemently by those who seek to halt what little progress we've made as "sufficient".
Nowhere does anyone claim it is "sufficient". You are painting anyone who's not as idealistically pure as you as an enemy. That's not an effective strategy for gaining support or furthering your cause. It's a mixture of defeatism, elitism, alienation, and sanctimony.
This is something people on the right actually do really well. They are always celebrating their success and building each other up. Reading political news, I often feel like no one can tear down a Democrat quite like another Democrat. Where is the teamwork? Why don't we let our opponents attack us instead of doing their job for them?
Here's the full quote:
If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there.
Call me crazy, but I'm not aware of any strategy for healing a wound that doesn't involve removing the knife first.
When did I advocate for simultaneous slavery and reparations?
I know there's still a lot of change that needs to happen but I wish people would pick their head up and realize this once in a while.
So on the one hand those barriers are getting torn down slowly, which is progress in one dimension, but the economic reality is worsening for everyone. For example, people of color mighty be competing with other individuals on more level ground when it comes to getting jobs, but the supply of those jobs, the quality of life they support, and the security they afford seem to be decreasing, and the all important question isn't what it's like now, but what it'll be like on 20 or 30 years.
As a side note, worsening economic conditions can result in a flare up in racial tensions which might undo the progress that has been made.
As the internet offers greater surveillance, phone taps become less relevant.
As offshoring jobs to nations w/o union protections, where beatings and murders of organizers is less punished, working conditions in the US can improve without cutting too deeply into the bottom line... just until they close the factory.
As manual labor is increasingly done outside our borders, or by precarious undocumented immigrants, as laborer reproduction is increasingly done by their wives, more white women will be allowed into management, executive, and leadership positions. Did you notice, all the heads of the Military Industrial Complex firms are now all women? (1) What allowed this to happen?
I think we look back at prior generations with rose colored glasses if we somehow think our current existence is dramatically worse than theirs.
The primary difference is that school shootings actually happen.
If you are doubtful take a look at this video the UK government put out in the seventies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXx5Y2Fr2bk
I went the opposite way with my own kid (do as well as you can in a bunch of subjects, think about which ones you like) to try to prepare him better and spare him a lot of the execution optimization anxiety. As a result: high school was much better for him...but he now has these "what the hell will be my career" and "am I taking the right classes" anxieties in college :-(.
At least he didn't jump in front of a train like a disturbing number of other Palo Alto high schoolers did.
Most wake up in their mid 20s and realize that they have a pile of student loan debt and housing in desirable areas is beyond reach. It's the fundamental disconnect between what society (parents, media, culture) led them to expect and the reality they are confronted with that causes confusion, despair, and anger.
Reactions are varied. Some give up, some dig in. The American dream is still alive and well it's just accessed differently than it used to be and we don't talk about that enough with young people. Personally I'm surprised the youngest generations aren't even greedier, more ruthless, and more focused on economic value than they seem to be, based on the structure and incentives of the world into which they were born.
44 at least got SOME kind of healthcare, but not enough, shoved through before things gridlocked.
45 ... I understand and sympathize with why many followed this siren's call, but it's all emotional rhetoric and very little of real substance. I hope they are replaced soon and move on to making "The East Wing", a reality inspired drama made for TV.
I agree it's a corrosive and widespread belief.
I think that's the jist. If schools aren't putting people on a career trajectory all of a sudden they are in university, which costs an arm and a leg, and, as is so often repeated, you're there to get a job, have a focus, and GO. You can't really do that at the drop of a hat if you've never done it before.
It remains present and as a central motivation, actually, in some (maybe most?) forms of the “career clusters” / “academies” approach, where the career field theme isn't so much about a narrow vocational training focus as providing a unifying interdisciplinary theme across the various classes for small learning communities within larger schools. The educational theory is that the shared interdisciplinary focus (and cross-class activities involving that focus) helps create improved student engagement and that students and faculty being in small learning communities improves identification of and responsiveness to student learning issues that otherwise might skip through the cracks in in a large institution.
Presenting this as better preparing students for high-skill, high-wage jobs is perfectly consistent with, though it obviously doesn't immediately evoke, that model—as students who are more engaged and whose educational needs are identified and addressed more effectively are better prepared for such jobs.
The wealth is being syphoned away from the economy at large into the coffers of huge corporations/individuals who just warehouse the wealth.
There is very much a sense of resources being scarce and it's due to those resources and wealth being taken out of the economy.
If it wasn't important, they wouldn't include it in applications.
One reason housing is getting more expensive is that more of the population is moving towards cities and out of rural areas. That migration has a positive correlation with housing costs. In addition the typical things used to reduce pricing, automation and offshoring, have had little impact in the construction industry due to the complexity and local nature of the work. I had seen a study previously which showed this for the US but can't find it, in it's place here is a similar study done in China (https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff...)
Finally, education in the broad sense is now cheaper than ever if you include public libraries and online courses, but I suspect you meant University degrees. University costs have soared, more people than ever need a degree to do even entry level work, and student loan debt is not dischargeable through bankruptcy. New York Federal Reserve did a study that showed an increase in credit was followed by an increase in university prices (https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff...)
But in 2005 things went crazy. Now that private student loans could no longer be dismissed it meant private lenders could throw out loans like beads at Mardi Gras. It was basically 0 risk from their perspective since you're not only getting a much higher than average earning demographic, but you get them where you have a claim on them for the rest of their life if they don't pay you off. And if they do pay you off, well you win there too!
Now because students could get practically unlimited funds universities could start to charge arbitrary amounts, and so they did. The one and only reason university costs have started to decelerate is because in 2011 we reached 'peak university'. US college enrollment started dropping even when people could "afford" it, because the perceived value became worth less than the perceived cost. Here's some data  from the BLS on costs. Unfortunately it starts at 2006, but it at least shows the deceleration that's started to happen once we reached 'peak university'.
The moral of this is, as usual, good intentions often go astray particularly when messing with economic systems. The reason private loans became guaranteed was ostensibly to ensure that students of all backgrounds and economic situations could afford a college education in large part to help them find a great job and give a better life to their children. It sounds great on paper. In reality, it's created a system where college costs have become completely unreasonable and simultaneously, ironically, devalued college degrees to the point that there's a pretty decent chance the guy serving your coffee not only has one, but is buried in debt over it.
 - https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/college-tuition-and-fees-i...
I can assure you that the cost of goods has gone up along with inflation.
Young people can't afford a house even with historically low interest rates.
Household debt is way up there.
I think almost all of our economic anxieties revolve around the hyperinflation of education and health care costs.
Education is the one that I think can be fixed. We need to separate accreditation from the actual education. Just that would increase competitiveness and lower costs.
Cooking for one is a bitch, and it sucks.
Batch cooking is the solution to that, see: https://www.reddit.com/r/MealPrepSunday/
Is it? The middle class has been growing in size over the past few decades.
I think the general weakness in retail (not entirely attributable to e-commerce, as e-tailing is still around 10-15% of overall retail) is likely explainable by low velocity of money in the low to middle classes. The wage stagnation over the past few decades while overall corporate revenue and profits continue to grow certainly suggest some kind of low velocity or siphoning effect. There's a certain survivorship bias in that comparison since corporations that stagnate to much eventually are put out of business, while developed nation citizens can stagnate until they pass away, so it isn't a perfect comparison to hypothesize about. But again, we simply aren't measuring for any of this nuance at this time.
If we did start measuring for it somehow, then someone would have to figure out how to measure the unit of money moving between income bands and from household to/from "big corporations" (say, any of the publicly-traded companies in the CRSP US Total Market Index and privately-held companies with the same amount of revenue as the lowest revenue element in the CRSP). Damned if I know how that would be captured, though.
Money is a zero sum game and the super rich are hoarding it, which widens the social gap.
Airbnb, Uber, Fiverr, TaskRabbit etc are big companies built on the premise of 'you are your own boss'. I've yet to meet an Uber driver who does it because of his entrepreneurial bent. He drives Uber because his day job isn't enough to make ends meet.
We keep getting fed the narrative that racism is out of control, but I believe it's not worse, it's just as bad as it's always been.
This doesn't make the situation better, but it does clamp down on the hysteria that (a) things are getting worse or (b) the rate of worsening(?) is increasing....
Racism or animosity toward whatever group is not constant. And also, we should not use worst periods as benchmark for "it is ok if it is not as bad".
If you're relatively young and in a metro area, you probably don't see it. Step out into the suburbs or more rural areas, and growth means that there's a new Dollar Tree and it's hiring.
The problem isn't with the ACA, it's with employers who are willing to save a buck by disadvantaging their employees.
The reason the poverty rate had a three year drop was because it was at at 10 year high around 15% starting around 2010, and only recently started dropping significantly.
The "50 year low" is very misleading. If you actually look at the graph, the poverty in 1970 was 12.6%, and in 2017 12.3%. That's not a "50 year low", that's 50 years of essentially no progress on the poverty rate, especially when ten years ago it was higher.
If you look at the people falling below 50% of the poverty line (deep poverty), that's had it's ups and downs too, but has had an overall slow increase of rate over the same time frame.
Syrian drought -> refugees -> anti-immigrant sentiment -> populist leaders -> ++boomLikelihood
I grew up in the cold war but I was never as viscerally afraid as I was this past year.
I suppose we're still invading nations, but now it's for little apparent benefit, and certainly not connected to climate change.
What has the US done at the national level, especially recently, that's even easily within reach against climate change? People know - they feel it.
Nationally? Not sure. I don't pay much attention to national news or politics. But every day? I see wind farms and solar farms going in all over the place. I see more and more people buying EVs. I see all the major automakers devoting significant R&D to EVs (thanks Tesla, even though your cars are too expensive for me, I do appreciate the kickstart). I see local utilities decommissioning coal power plants or converting them to natural gas. I see people seriously talking about nuclear power again. People are acting, and whether it really makes a difference or not it feels like it does. That was not the case in the Cold War times, when you felt it was all out of your control as an individual, and everything that was or might have been happening was top secret and invisible.
If it happens. The whole point of the nuclear arms race was for nuclear-capable countries to deter one another from attacking.
No such luck with climate change. We can try to slow it down, but the damage has been done.
For climate change we just have to keep on doing what we already do - and in fact we are still accelerating.
Droughts and famine are no joke, it feels every more likely we might be the last generation to experience prosperity.
I think the only sensible conclusion at this point is hedonism. Enjoy it while it lasts.
From this (and I agree with what is quoted below, as I'm in that group of folks who studied one thing and am now performing a different job):
Not only will workers have many jobs, the tasks and duties of the jobs they’ll perform will be markedly different from what they studied. The experts that attended the IFTF workshop in March 2017 estimated that around 85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. This makes the famous prediction that 65% of grade school kids from 1999 will end up in jobs that haven’t yet been created seem conservative in comparison.
Also from WEForum:
The rest of your hypothesis holds true for that though.
I can't "prove this" and I wouldn't even try, but for me personally, the fact that the sun could explode or whatever, and the asinine things people do and go along with, are in completely different ballparks. I can easily make peace with my mortality, I can not make peace with what people do. That's why I think people can become very sick because of what people do, even though everything ends eventually, anyway, regardless of what anyone does. Nuking ourselves, and the suns in the universe giving out, those might have the same end result for us, but it still feels different to think about each scenario. One is a bit sad, but still peaceful, the other is just horrible and insane and leaves a gaping wound.
We all lauded the accomplishments of Asian countries in measures of math, science, and English. We sought to replicate their success.
And we have started. One thing about the US student was that we used to be behind in math and science, but our creativity was our strength.
And we're educating that out of the system, in the pursuit of standardized objectives (standardized objectives that encourage the development of things like remind to constantly keep kids on track, career clusters for focus, and the pressure to decide a career in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade).
I made the measurement the goal.
Now I'm trying to undo that damage and put it in her mind that at any point you can change direction, study, knowledge, but you need a few tools to do so: self-criticism, discipline, critical thinking. Initial progress has been good and our relationship is running quite a bit smoother, but Jesus I could have left my kid seriously messed up.
I think that a huge amount of this derives, in the US, from the continued degradation of the social safety net in this country. We have put an expensive gateway in front of success with very expensive college, and even with that there is no guarantee of a job that pays well enough for you to live comfortably. That in addition to the traditional standard of the "Atomic Family".
I have no proof of that, but it certainly seemed to have been a major factor in our house, but I have to recognize that individual human brilliance can occur at any point in life, and that the tools to act on it are more important than many of the things that she is learning at school.
The essay about Abraham Lincoln isn't really designed to teach you about the 16th president of the US--it teaches sentence structure, argumentation, clarity, research, etc. The grades are for the school to use to prepare next year's funding package; the assignment is for you to learn skills that may help put food on your table someday.
Shifting the focus from grades to skills tends to give them a greater incentive to excel.
What degradation? Spending on the social safety net has only ever increased, not decreased.
The fact that so many people don't "feel" more secure from these very expensive investments may point to other structural problems.
(Not saying that’s necessarily the case, just that it could be)
So if the US is “less horrendous”, then canada’s must be even worse?
Additionally, the "Asian method" is not actually Asian, as is the case of most practices we attribute to China. These practices (rote mass education, communism, state birth control) are all originated by Westerners, who were unable to sell their ideas to the western countries, and so went east. In other words, we outsourced all our bad ideas to perform massive social experiments with other civilizations. Pretty reprehensible, if you ask me.
I never said Asians in general or Asia as a whole weren't creative. That was not even remotely stated, implied, or even in my thoughts when writing that comment.
What I said was that the strength of the American system, for decades, was that it seemed to foster and encourage creativity - and that is being destroyed by the pursuit of standardized objectives.
I didn't say a thing about the other systems' creativity or the students' ability to be creative.
I made a comparison of the levels of stress experienced in the two.
Korean students have ENORMOUS pressure placed on them was my experience. And in the US we pulled THAT experience from their system. We seemed to have taken all of the bad with none of the good.
I think maybe it's a chicken and egg problem with the standardized tests, and we are 'measuring' out our stomach for risk as a society.
I hope nobody actually believes one group of people is inherently more creative than any other. But it is true that east and south asian schooling systems are typically value memorization over creativity. You can see how that can happen too: huge, high stake exam systems are easier to implement in that fashion, in which case the educational system will adapt to match. In that regard I share the gp poster's concern that this approach appears to be increasingly dominant in the US (as it has been in earlier eras in the US btw).
My mother is a product of such a system and she very much watched her kids' grades like a hawk, valuing just the numerical result. But she was able to enrol her kids in a more "creative" program than she had had access to herself.
Variation within a group almost always overwhelms variance between groups - but many people saying something like "Asians are less creative" are trying to make sweeping statements about how white people are better.
It is possible to lie only using truths, if you arrange them in a deliberately misleading way.
In a culture where memorization and concrete thinking is used to compare $n people within that culture, creativity is inherently more risky, thus less utilized. Poverty in many Asian countries is worse than poverty in the US. With more to lose (and gain), it creates peace of mind to walk the smooth stone road to comfort.
The US on the other hand has had a lot of money to play with for quite awhile. Most poor people have enough food (and a variety of it at that), a modern home, and basic health care. It is very doable to be comfortable on a $12/hr job in many places in the US. ($1,650 per month after tax) (of course, many people choose to live above their means due to societal pressure). The point is, we can/could be more risky (read: more creative) with less to lose, so it's utilized more.
Yes, but the "culture where memorization.." is the culture of school. Says nothing about the culture of the larger society.
Here's a different way to look at it:
In a society where there is a lot of poverty, quite a bit of creativity is required to just get by. You can see this in poverty-stricken societies everywhere from rural China, India, Nigera, and poverty-stricken parts of the USA. Everything from crazy inventions/repairs to innovation in ways of living, getting some cash, stretching bills, toys and games, helping each other... Tontines and savings clubs have been re-invented all over the planet, yes, even in Brooklyn.
Whereas in parts of the US, on the other hand, many people have a lot of money to play with for quite a while and are perfectly happy to have others do their cooking, singing, storytelling, and manufacturing. To discard something malfunctioning and simply buy another.
The point is, people all over the world can afford to be less risk-taking (read: less creative) when they have more less to lose and can afford to throw assets at the problems.
The creativity I was talking about is different than what you're talking about. That creativity is used in survival, yes. But the path to success is controlled by gatekeepers. There is little cross over between the creativity used to survive on the lower tiers of Maslow's HoN and the path to the middle class, where there's expectations in place and paths to follow, where diverging from them creates risk.
Yes, I can admit to the very low possibility that such a difference could exist, but indeed I would call it "wildly implausible." Here are some example reasons why:
Nobody can even define creativity in any formal way, so any impartial analysis seems impossible. It's a "know it if I see it" issue.
Certainly people from all "racial" backgrounds exhibit plenty of creativity ("know it if I see it"). Indeed, if you want to extend this to cultural practices, plenty of folks from (somewhat) "rote" school backgrounds have been quite creative, won various international awards, etc.
Alleged biomarkers of cognitive issues are notoriously uninformative. For example Han people tend to have more white matter in their brain and some people in China consider that a sign of superior intellect. But it's more likely a side effect of the writing system as it is perhaps part of the visual pattern recognition process. But such beliefs are little different from 19th/20th century European/American phrenology which also produced whatever results the "scientist" wanted.
Most sex and race differences get drowned out by cultural factors and fashions which themselves change over time.
You are spouting racist pseudo-science. What evidence do you have that a particular group of people are genetically smarter than another group of people?
The idea that one race/group of people is inherently smarter than another group of people has been debunked time and time and time again. Any "evidence" you find that "proves" one race is superior to another in terms of intelligence is probably
2]at worse, can be explained by differences in educational systems, history, and other socio-economic factors.
I think the user gumby gave a more detailed explanation than me, I'm just here to say that you should stop propagating openly racist pseudo-science on HN.
That doesn’t mean I hate any particular groups, or that I’m incapable of treating people as individuals.
It's not like this issue hasn't been extensively studied either. It has been extremely difficult to find meaningful behavioural deltas that can be ascribed to genetics -- the other factors typically swamp them, so even if there were a signal always seems to be well below the noise floor.
Of course, it's possible that such evidence exists and we just lack the science and process to find it. But from what we know today, and even more so the more we learn about genomics and personal genomics, it is even less likely than would have been believed 50 years ago. I've probably got another 50 years in my lifespan and I seriously doubt the situation will change in that period.
I would link to the studies I’ve read that support the opposite conclusion, but at this point I feel that I’d run the risk of being shadow-banned for linking to something that has been labeled—accurately or not—as “racist pseudoscience”.
All i ask for is proof that the intense asian education system stifles creativity. I argued it does not by pointing out the success of certain asian coubtries against all odds via innovative business and industry.
> But it is true that east and south asian schooling systems are typically value memorization over creativity
Perhaps, but the burden of proof is on you to show that 'valuing creativity' leads to more creativity. It is certainly possible that emphasizing sheer technical prowess leads to higher creativity. That this possibility is not even considered says more about the writer than asian pedagogy.
I think my message you're replying to might not have been clear, and I'm sorry if so.
I agree your post had nothing to do with inherent differences between people (and I don't believe such differences exist either) and I was myself trying to contradict the lazy trope (and poor grasp of logic) that says "that system is more rote-oriented than ours, thereby ours must be more creative."
Western schools were also pretty rote oriented until the early 20th century when Europeans like Steiner and Montessori tried to develop alternatives. Those alternatives had some influence on schools in Europe, Australia, and America (but there's plenty of rote learning still in US schools). Those movements have had less influence in Asia until perhaps the 21st century.
NOTE: I myself didn't attend school in Asia, so my exposure is indirect (through parents, grandparents, relatives and friends).
A 14 year old girl struggles between doing the socially expected thing and study to do well on her exams and get into a good university someday, or do what she really wants, which is to write. She is inspired by other creative people, outside the Japanese mainstream, and eventually receives her parents' blessing to take a different path.