Men Not At Work

Many readers forwarded this NYBetaTimes article about men dropping out of the workforce. The author listed several factors aggravating this War on Men trend.

Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list.

Thank you, mass immigration and Wall Street wunderkinds!

Many men, in particular, have decided that low-wage work will not improve their lives, in part because deep changes in American society have made it easier for them to live without working. These changes include the availability of federal disability benefits; the decline of marriage, which means fewer men provide for children; and the rise of the Internet, which has reduced the isolation of unemployment.

All of these are doubtless contributing factors, but as with most Hivemind reporting on the topic of men dropping out, there is a studious avoidance to analyzing the role that women, and their marital worthiness, play in men’s choices. I will explain below.

Men today may feel less pressure to find jobs because they are less likely than previous generations to be providing for others. Only 28 percent of men without jobs — compared with 58 percent of women — said a child under 18 lived with them.

A misleading stat. Divorced women get custody of children, and men pay child support. So some number of these no-employment men living alone are indeed providing for others, just not in the way they would prefer.

A study published in October by scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies estimated that 37 percent of the decline in male employment since 1979 could be explained by this retreat from marriage and fatherhood.

Women initiate 70+% of all divorces. Who’s retreating from marriage and fatherhood, again?

“When the legal, entry-level economy isn’t providing a wage that allows someone a convincing and realistic option to become an adult — to go out and get married and form a household — it demoralizes them and shunts them into illegal economies,” said Philippe Bourgois, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the lives of young men in urban areas.

Yes, mass immigration and automation are certainly demoralizing to unemployed men who weren’t born with the capacity for abstract thinking and symbol manipulation, but you know what else is demoralizing to men? Fat women, single moms, and sluts looking to settle down after a lifetime cocking up.

There is also evidence that working has become more expensive. A recent analysis by the Brookings Institution found that prices since 1990 had climbed most quickly for labor-intensive services like child care, health care and education, increasing what might be described as the cost of working: getting a degree, staying healthy, hiring someone to watch the children.

Cost of getting a degree = runaway credentialism.
Cost of staying healthy = following the government low-fat guidelines.
Cost of hiring a nanny = embracing the DIOK (dual income, one kid) lifestyle.

Meanwhile, the price of food, clothing, computers and other goods has climbed more slowly.

Corn and porn.

So many conservative social commentators, like Ross Douthat, fail to account for feedback loops in the sexual market, and how that trickles up and affects the economic market. They have a blind spot about women, preferring to lay blame for all society’s woeful indicators at the feet of men, so that they may continue polishing the pedestal of their faire maidens.

But men react to opposite sex cues just as much as women do. Think of men as having two engines of motivation, one internal, one external. The internal engine is self-starting and self-perpetuating, and it evolved to confer upon men a shot at raising their status so that they could attract more and better women.

The external engine is context-dependent. Visual cues fuel it, and it puts out more power the more enticing visual cues are fed into it. This engine, too, is a product of evolution, but it is more easily short-circuited by negative environmental inputs that were rare in the millennia when evolution was working to perfect both engines.

Men’s (white men’s, at any rate) external engine of motivation looks around, surveys a landscape teeming with land whales, single moms, and sluts, and decides that, hey, working their asses off in a crappy, low-wage job for a shot at wifing up George Lucas’ pelican gullet is the dictionary definition of a raw deal. Throw in the growing ranks of single moms, even the thin fuckable ones, and the women who have amassed considerable premarital histories on the cock carousel and are therefore less likely to stay faithful or to avoid the divorce altar, and men’s motivation to perform for these female losers dwindles to nothing.

Now add the finishing ingredient — porn — and you have most of what you need to know about why marriage rates are falling and men are dropping out of the economy, particularly among the lower classes. (The upper classes have more stable marriages because getting married later in life circumscribes the availability of tempting extramarital options, especially for older wives. Plus, upper class women are generally thinner and hotter.)

Dropped-out men may not be consciously happy about their non-employment and increasing alienation from society, but subconsciously they are making very rational cost-benefit decisions based upon real world incentives and disincentives. In 2014 America, cheap online porn is more rewarding than an expensive fat wife, and disability insurance more rewarding than working at a paint shop for $9 an hour. Change those two inputs — make both American women and American wages more attractive — and you will begin to see men dropping back into contention.

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