Loser men

by on May 10, 2011 at 11:34 am in Economics, Education | Permalink

David Brooks (don’t forget his new book) writes:

…in 1954, about 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today that number is around 80 percent. One-fifth of all men in their prime working ages are not getting up and going to work. According to figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has a smaller share of prime age men in the work force than any other G-7 nation. The number of Americans on the permanent disability rolls, meanwhile, has steadily increased. Ten years ago, 5 million Americans collected a federal disability benefit. Now 8.2 million do. That costs taxpayers $115 billion a year, or about $1,500 per household.

…There are probably more idle men now than at any time since the Great Depression, and this time the problem is mostly structural, not cyclical. These men will find it hard to attract spouses. Many will pick up habits that have a corrosive cultural influence on those around them.

The rise in disability comes across a time horizon when jobs are becoming much safer and health care is improving.

I am struck by the difference between how some economists talk about “the job market,” and how they talk about the job market in academia, which of course is the job market they know the most about.

When it comes to the job market in academia, most economists have few hesitations about blaming many of the jobless for their fate and applying extreme meritocratic views.  “He spent seven years finishing.”  “Her specification was not robust.”  “He self-destructed in the interview.”  Or, believe it or not, “We don’t even look at people from that school.”

(And as Robin Hanson noted, there is little talk of redistributing grades, Ph.d.s, enforcing mandatory co-authorship for job market papers, or redistributing other measures of academic accomplishment.)

Nonetheless there is clearly a significant cyclical component to academic unemployment, based largely on state government budgets for higher education; as of a few years ago, seventy-eight percent of students were in the state sector.  If your department doesn’t have a slot, you probably can’t hire anybody, although a willingness to work for (much) less can lead to an adjunct job, even if many people won’t take one.

That cyclical component accounts for a lot of the short-run variation in hiring, but if you’re estimating the response to a demand shock, longer-term supply trends matter too and often they matter a great deal.  If Ph.d. programs were stricter about enforcing standards of quality and relevance, rather than stringing along students to maintain the flow of revenue to the graduate program, the short run negative demand shocks would lead to a much less severe queuing problem.  That’s simple microeconomics, and it should be macroeconomics too.

Furthermore short run negative demand shocks can reveal an unsustainable long-run trend in a new and sudden way, just as they do in financial crises.

When it comes to the jobless it is incorrect — and often hypocritical — to dismiss the common sense talk of traditional meritocratic factors, including structural problems on the supply side.

Addendum: Matt responds to Brooks, but his numbers don’t support his case.  As I’ve argued before, it’s a lot “harder” to get a shift from ten to twenty percent unemployment than it is to get a shift from one to two percent.  The cross-sectional distribution in unemployment, and its recent changes, are fully consistent with and indeed support the notion of major structural problems in the most vulnerable sectors, threshold-triggered by negative demand shocks.  Again, it’s two blades of the scissors, not one.

farmer May 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm

frustratingly, many of the “unemployed loser” men are working off-books and doing alright. the unemployed JDs, PhDs etc are almost certainly NOT working off-books as backyard mechanics etc. The education-machine gobbles up the middle class and spits them out.

Floccina May 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm

It is not a good idea to assume that those who are getting federal disability benefit are not working. I have known many people on federal disability and I would say that 3 out of 4 do work. The most absurd was a guy who was a welder at Electric Boat and was injured and so got on federal disability benefit but worked very hard every day cutting and splitting wood and selling to people for firewood.

Andrew' May 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm

There are people who escape the “BS sector” on the high end, and those that escape it on the low end. In a sense both of these people are winners, and both are losers.

dirk May 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm

“These men will find it hard to attract spouses.”

He’s confusing the effect with the cause. Men stop working when working isn’t working for them.

RZ0 May 10, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Brooks wrote that part of the dislocations was because government was growing, implying that government was unable to find qualified employees.
Here in NJ, we’re cutting government employment at the local, state and federal levels. And my tiny, tiny libertarian spark can’t figure out how government could possibly create jobs that it can’t fill.
Not David’s best effort.

Rich Berger May 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Besides those appearing to be unemployed by working off the books, how many of these non-workers have a working spouse to support them? I don’t think that was as much a factor in 1954.

Andrew' May 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I suspect the informal sector is ginormous, that’s where the manic dynamism is, and my mental model of David Brooks finds it easy to believe he would miss it. I also suspect some men ‘lack’ the “emotional and professional skills” because the formal sector has adjusted to the aesthetics of women in efforts to become more formal. It would be hard to quantify these speculations.

Andrew' May 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

“When it comes to the job market in academia…” I suspect they are usually wrong in both their unfamiliar generalizations and their idiosyncratic evaluations.

There is a certain logic to letting people voluntarily stop out. (Most) advisors are not really qualified to (fill in the blank). Of course this arrangements makes advisors even worse.

Academia is largely about labeling yourself, so not taking an adjunct position may be the best example of why someone wouldn’t take a pay cut.

Rich Berger May 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I just went to the BLS website to check Brooks’s numbers (which he got from Leonhardt) and I see much higher participation rates – more like 90-91% (up to 2005 – I realize that it has dropped since). See http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2006/10/art3full.pdf. What gives?

dave May 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Why would a healthy man with an average or below IQ want to work all that bad?

The state will largely provide the necessities. I get the feeling a combination of under the table work, transfer payments, and some decent expense control is enough for a healthy working age man to get bye. If your IQ is 100 or less and you don’t come from money its highly unlikely you are going to be able to acquire a lifestyle significantly better then the one above without extraordinary luck and hard work.

So let’s examine the things men really need to be happy:
1) The necessities (food, roof, etc). That is already covered by the state and light work.
2) A small entertainment budget combined with lots of self driven leisure (sports, simple hobbies, cheap happy hours).
3) Sex. Sex today though doesn’t require a whole lot of beta provider ability. Generally, you’re better off going to the gym a lot and hitting the bars.
4) Medical care (but we already stated they are generally healthy and young).

You don’t need to work to satisfy those. Men mostly for three reasons:
1) They aren’t born healthy and need medical insurance and emergency income (say, myself).
2) They believe that raising their material status will lead to more sex (but that’s a loose correlation at best for all but the richest).
3) They have expensive tastes (but this largely only applies to higher IQ men anyway).

So in the modern welfare state why should healthy young men work?

Benny Lava May 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Can you provide evidence that the government will provide benefits to health young men? Because this sounds like cheap trolling to me as most welfare benefits go to seniors and children.

Miley_Cyrax May 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm

And by children you mean single mothers with low impulse control, education, and intelligence. Subsidize something, and you get more of it.

chris May 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Subsidize a voluntary behavior, and you get more of it.

FTFY. Now please explain how the traits you list are voluntary behaviors… Even if some of them are the remote consequences of short-sighted behavior earlier in the same individual’s life, precisely because that behavior is short-sighted there’s no way an incentive structure that might or might not exist years or decades in the future is going to reach back in time and steer that person onto a less self-destructive course of action.

Worse, often those behaviors are the consequences of someone *else’s* poor choices (the effects of childhood malnutrition on intelligence are notorious, to take just one example) and those are even less responsive to incentives, remote or otherwise.

Real human beings aren’t infinitely far-sighted and rational. This has powerful consequences for the effectiveness of incentive structures that can’t be understood by models based on idealized assumptions.

Miley_Cyrax May 10, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Single motherhood is a voluntary behavior. Getting rawdogged while not on birth control and then carrying the resulting fetus to birth sounds pretty voluntary to me; and it doesn’t take infinite rationality or time horizons to not do this. But when they do, they pass on their low impulse control and intelligence genetically, which are linked to low educational levels, as well as passing on low educational attainment nurture-ly, for such a mother is relatively unlikely to push a child toward high educational attainment.

Benny Lava May 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Evidence?

Miley_Cyrax May 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm
Buzzkill May 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Speaking of losers, I see the roissy crowd rearing
it’s ugly and cretinous collective head.

Rahul May 11, 2011 at 1:34 am

While on that, if abortion is made accessible does promiscuity increase? Any studies on that?

The Anti-Gnostic May 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

‘Asthma,’ bulging discs, rotator cuff tears … those can go a long way in the hands of an attorney humping the case for a 25% contingency fee.

dave May 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Yes, I see plenty of people riding the unemployment carousel. Get a job as a bartender for a year, get fired for drinking and flipping your boss off one day, collect UE for like a year, get a job bartending at some other place. If your young and extroverted its very easy to make $20/hour at a service industry job thanks to tips. You’re largely doing a job that’s fun and lets you meet lots of people and get laid. Even if your not social anyone with a strong young back can work a labor job, or do some basic webpage work, or whatever for a decent rate of pay while collecting UE.

I’ve had lots of one off jobs that pay very well relative to the time they take, they just don’t come regularly. If your share a house with 3 dudes, eat together, and don’t have sudden expenses like medical costs you can easily survive on UE and get enough random work to provide an entertainment budget.

Chris May 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I need statistics for this to mean anything. Anecdotes are great for selling polices but probably aren’t good for setting policies.

The Anti-Gnostic May 10, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Why bother with statistics? Everybody knows that welfare is strictly a social safety net and everybody pays their own freight. Also, iPods are cheaper than ever so there’s plenty of reasons for men to work hard and pay taxes for bank bailouts. And when we need more money for the disability rolls, we’ll just invite in all those immigrants who can’t wait to pay taxes and never get old and sick.

Statistics schmisticks.

Benny Lava May 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm

In many states if you are fired with cause (say, drinking on the job), then you are not eligible for unemployment. Nice troll though.

dave May 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

How many employers do you see fight over UE?

My neighbor lost his job cause he smoked pot all the time, but the business wasn’t looking to pay for drug screens for everyone or deal with the hassle of fighting his UE.

foo May 11, 2011 at 2:23 am

In California you have to be fired for gross misconduct to be denied UE. You can be fired for cause and still collect UE.

JonF May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Dave,
It depends very much on the employer. Some will sign off on any unemployment application not involving a prosecutable offense. Others will fight tooth and nail even against innocent employees they have let go. There is no shortage of the latter at all. I had a cousin whose former employer openly bragged that no ex-employee had ever gotten away with collecting UI when let go from his firm. My cousin was let go (for publicly, on Facebook, complaining about the prayer meetings the boss forced on his employees) and he denied her UI and even won in appeal (she did, though, win a religious discrimination suit against him, costing him far more than signing off on her benefits would have.)

Careless May 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

3) They have expensive tastes (but this largely only applies to higher IQ men anyway).

erm… lol?

liberalarts May 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm

@Rich–you are looking at participation numbers. If participation rates are about 90% and of those, 9% are unemployed, then that is pretty close to Brooks’ 20% of those men not working.

Rich Berger May 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

That makes some sense, but that means that a big chunk of the drop is due to unemployment. Brooks’ 96% working in 1954 is comparing a peak to a trough now. Leonhardt’s article talks about the lowest proportion of workers in the 1950′s and 1960′s being about 91%. If you look at Leonhardt’s chart, the proportions were pretty stable from 1975 to about 2005, but have fallen off in the last few years. I don’t think this says much except that the recovery has been very poor.

Jonathan May 10, 2011 at 1:32 pm

On the issue of disability you definitely can’t ignore the age distribution of America today and ten years ago. Compare the number of people in their late fifties and early sixties in 2010 vs 2000. There has been a huge increase as the Baby Boomers move through those ages. I’d be very surprised if permanent disability claims aren’t strongly correlated with age, so we’d expect an increase in people on permanent disability. Is that enough to account for the increase? I don’t know, but I doubt it can be ignored.

Rahul May 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Isn’t there at least a small positive way to look at those trends in disability? Maybe more people are on disability because society can now afford to look after them. Is the criterion for judging disability an invariant across the G7 and more relevantly over the last 50 years? Also, why ignore the fact that the disability-figures are uncorrected for the US population growth and more importantly an ageing baby boomer demographics. That is got to explain a part of the jump from 5 million to 8.2 million disability households.

Hell, if you looked at 100 year data you’d probably see a huge increase in “disability rolls”. Point being that all the increase in the disability benefit households can’t be categorized as a “bad” thing. Maybe we did become more caring after all?

chris May 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

That, and also increases in ability to keep people with disabilities alive. Improved ability to help people survive heart attacks = more heart attack survivors in the population, etc.

Rahul May 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm

When it comes to the jobless it is incorrect — and often hypocritical — to dismiss the common sense talk of traditional meritocratic factors

OTOH if you harp too much that the unemployed are themselves to blame, one could invoke a “just world fallacy”?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_phenomenon

Dave May 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm
Aaron May 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Rortybomb rips this apart, I can’t wait for his followup tomorrow.

http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/david-brooks-on-high-structural-unemployment/

figleaf May 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm

“These men will find it hard to attract spouses. Many will pick up habits that have a corrosive cultural influence on those around them.”

Truer words may never have been spoken. For instance it’s astonishing how many of the people who spell “moron” with an “a” at Tea Party events, listened to Glenn Beck, who read Ayn Rand after age 16, who blame women or “minorities” for America’s woes, who natter on endlessly about birth certificates and sharia law appear to be unemployed or on disability.

figleaf

Rich Berger May 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Got any data to back your claims?

The Anti-Gnostic May 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

It’s so true. Some days I can’t even get in the door to see my SS caseworker because of all the libertarian white guys standing around.

dave May 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Tea part members are generally better educated and earn more then the general population, at least according to the NYTimes exhaustive scientific study.

Rahul May 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Being smarter than the general population isn’t difficult. The question is are they smarter than the competing parties?

chris May 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

He didn’t say they were smarter, only richer. Education has more to do with class in this country than intelligence.

noway May 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Not according the “Bell Curve”. IQ and college degrees were highly correlated. IIRC, unless you scored in the top 5%, you likely had no advanced degree beyond a BA. And if you were not in the top 20%, you likely did not have a BA.

Income and IQ also correlated strongly, and did a child’s IQ and the parent’s, so you are likely confusing effect (class) with cause (IQ) when suggesting that class, not IQ, determines education levels.

GregMan May 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Yeah, too bad those Tea Party nutjobs aren’t as smart as all you cool liberals, worshiping a guy who said he visited all 57 states and admitted he couldn’t speak Austrian.

GU May 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

dave is largely correct. Once the link between marriage and sex was severed (yes, there was pre-marital sex before the ’60s, but nothing like there is now) the incentives for men to work have changed. If you’re the type of man that can get women to sleep with you regardless of your financial status or social power, then why work much? Especially if you know you’re not going to have a rewarding job like being a professor. Your choices for work are (1) work in a feminized office doing mind-numbingly boring shit, or (2) back-breaking manual labor. The trades are, however, overlooked (plumbers, electricians, etc.) and I suspect a lot of men would be happy doing these things.

Don’t expect this trend to change unless women stop sleeping with “losers” shortly after meeting them.

Rahul May 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Well, there’s probably an equal, if not more, number of unemployed women. Besides women would hardly have a credible alternative, save chastity. The 80% of the male population that is gainfully employed, could hardly be expected to meet the entire copulation demand.

Right Wing-nut May 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Umm…. I would bet that 10% of the male population would happily meet the entire copulation demand.

This has always been a supply issue, not a demand issue.

anon May 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

What the hen demands the rooster supplies? OR
What the rooster demands the hen supplies?

chris May 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Umm…. I would bet that 10% of the male population would happily meet the entire copulation demand.

True, but most of the females wouldn’t be so happy about that situation (in our present culture, at least).

dirk May 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Females are much pickier than males when it comes to sex. This results in most females choosing the SAME small percentage of males. They aren’t happy to share but they are WILLING to share if the other option is choosing a less desirable male for sex. Watch The Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night for photographic evidence of this phenomenon. In contrast, you will NEVER see a mob of young men chasing after a few starlets.

dave May 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Any woman under 35 can get a provider anytime she wants. She might not be turned on by him, but if your looking for someone to pay the rent there is no shortage of men out there if your willing to stay in shape.

anon May 11, 2011 at 1:38 am

The “your” grammar in this comment is evocative of a provider under 35.

cheshirecat May 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm

And your nitpicking a spelling mistake is evocative of someone who doesn’t have a valid point to make.

JonF May 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Huh? The problem is that there is indeed a shortage of marriageable men in many demographics. Just as there are loser men there are loser women, and non-loser men are not interested in them. So these women have nothing but loser men to choose from, and since those men are not marriage candidates, the women will go for a role in the hay, and bear their children*, but they generally kick them to the curb when they are done with them.

* The desire to have children is NOT stupid, immoral, unnatural or irrational, although some of the comments on this blog item seem to posit that. I have no desire for children, indeed I find them irritating at best; but I am not so great a misanthrope that I would suspect other people of being sociopaths because they do have children, with or without benefit of clergy.

Nemi May 11, 2011 at 8:11 am

“Don’t expect this trend to change unless women stop sleeping with “losers” shortly after meeting them.”

Yes – if only women was more like men, who always insist on inspecting your CV before sleeping with you.

David May 10, 2011 at 2:44 pm

1. The population in prison and on parole has exploded since 1950. How is this not part of this conversation?

2. When Ph.D. Econ candidates don’t get academic jobs, they don’t become unemployed. They end up working for the government or investment banks. When that’s the worst possible outcome, re-distribution is wee bit different than talking about reasonable housing and healthcare.

MD May 11, 2011 at 7:39 am

“2. When Ph.D. Econ candidates don’t get academic jobs, they don’t become unemployed. They end up working for the government or investment banks. When that’s the worst possible outcome, re-distribution is wee bit different than talking about reasonable housing and healthcare.”

Certainly some may end up working in government or investment banks, but if you think that’s the worst they’re doing, then I don’t think you fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. The current glut of Ph.D.s (which doesn’t appear will be abating any time soon) more than exhausts all the first best opportunities for such folk. It’s not likely that the *truly brilliant* ones have much to worry about, but then, not all the Ph.D.s of any discipline are truly brilliant (no matter how much they may like to believe their little certificate proves such). Further, the excess of Ph.D.s leads to signal dilution, which makes the whole arrangement more costly, both for potential employers of these Ph.D.s in sorting them out and for the candidates themselves, who must now exert themselves that much more to distinguish themselves from the herd. All of which is not to imply that they necessarily deserve government support if they’ve failed to realize the (increasingly speculative!) gains from their investment in a Ph.D.

dirk May 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm

My immodest proposal to solve this problem is as follows:

1) Legalize prostitution and import Eastern European women who want to work as prostitutes.

Men aren’t interested in working if the work doesn’t pay (i.e., doesn’t get them laid). With women in the workforce able to be choosier about men and ride the cock carousal of the more studly men throughout their twenties, many more men than ever before aren’t getting much sex. If prostitution were an acceptable, desirable and affordable norm then men otherwise not having any fun would be more motivated to work for a paycheck if for no other reason than to afford a nice brothel in the evenings. Without that option they are giving up on work, often resorting to small time dope dealing and sitting at home on the sofa.

2) Don’t allow anyone over 65 to vote.

We shouldn’t allow 66-year-olds to vote for the same reason we don’t allow 6-year-olds to vote.

Chris May 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm

There needs to be a word for brilliant ideas that can never, ever, come to pass…

Oh wait…

jimi May 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Sorry. I missed this one. What is the word?

TGGP May 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm

The supply of sex increased since the 60s, and men work less. Your plan is to greatly increase the supply of sex. I don’t get it.

Rahul May 11, 2011 at 1:41 am

He’s talking about a better quality supply that would need men to pay, ergo work.

dirk May 11, 2011 at 3:41 am

You’re wrong. The supply of sex for most men has decreased since the 60′s. People are having as much sex now as they did in the 50′s and throughout eternity but a paradigm shift has taken place since the 60′s: women are not getting and/or staying married. In the 50′s a man could expect a wife and expect to have sex with her. Nowadays a man — even a successful one — cannot expect to have sex.

I’m going to reference my Beatles comment I make elsewhere on this post. A Hard Day’s Night is one of the best movies ever in capturing the difference between male and female attraction. Females are seriously attracted to a minority of men. Men are less picky.

I’m now going to plug the screenplay I’m posting in serial format on In Mala Fide called Taking Care of Business:

http://www.inmalafide.com/blog/2011/05/07/taking-care-of-business-excerpt-from-a-screenplay-about-game/

TGGP May 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

In Greg Clark’s “A Farewell to Alms” he noted that Malthusian England had no reliable form of birth control/abortion, a very late age of marriage (with significant percent of women not marrying at all) and yet negligible rates of illegitimacy. How did it happen? He concludes the answer must have been that they really were following Malthus’ often mocked recommendation to restrain themselves.

The pill decreased the cost of sex, and as you would expect the supply increased. Male and female nature did not come into being in the 60s, they just reacted to a changed situation.

Game-obsessed folks like Whiskey or Roissy don’t know what’s going on in the broader population, and rarely look at the statistics which would tell them they’re wrong.

JonF May 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Prostitution was widespread in pre 20th century England, as witness the Victorian campaigns to eliminate it, or at least reform the “soiled doves”. Men at least were not restraining themselves: they were visiting brothels. And yes, prostitutes have had the means for centuries to prevent conception and unwanted children. Perhaps not as effectively as modern technology allows, but certainly effective enough to allow the Oldest Professionals to flourish without being unduly encumbered with children. Greg Clark is engaging in a prude’s wishful thinking, ignoring reality. If you investigate the stats on prostitution they are eye-popping, both in the number of women involved, and the implication that has for the customer base needed to support them.

dirk May 12, 2011 at 1:37 am

I agree with JonF here. Men weren’t restraining themselves, they were fucking prostitutes. Which is the basis of my proposal: to return things to a historical norm.

The math here is simple. Pre sexual revolution most people only fucked their spouses. Nowadays young people aren’t getting married or staying married. Everyone is trying to fuck everyone they desire. Because females are pickier, they only fuck a subset of guys. Because guys are less picky, they fuck girls willy-nilly. The result is 80% of the single girls under 30 are fucking 20% of the single guys. Yeah, a lot of people get married also — not nearly as much as used to — and they don’t cheat as often as Whiskey or Roissy might claim, but that isn’t the point. The point is that single guys past the age of 18 don’t get laid as often now as they did before the sexual revolution because women are now allowed to be sluts and they don’t have to get married to have sex. The battlefield is mainly among singles and single dudes aren’t getting laid nearly as often as single girls. The single dudes who are getting laid often are getting laid very often, so to speak. And divorce — mainly initiated by women — increases the number of singles in this situation.

The supply of sex has decreased for the median 25 year old male.

dave May 11, 2011 at 10:35 am

So I was at the bar last night and there were two people sitting there trying to get hammered so they could stand each others company. Co-workers, IT for a big bank, somewhere in their 20s. The girl was decent, probably owing to her young age, and well dressed. The guy wasn’t out of shape or anything, but clearly had no sense of style. He was wearing a suit (to work in IT) that didn’t match, a point the girl chided him for since nobody in their department wears a suit and he’s not even a manager.

I had come in to have dinner and was sitting next to them. Eventually they started talking about online dating, which I got in on. The guy obviously was desperate for some pussy from this girl, probably one of the few he talks too (he’s as Asian male too, so he’s pretty much dead in the water). He was sure to agree with every damn thing the girl said, usually trying to one up her. He was also sure to point out how much money he spends on date’s (“should I pay for a girls parking if she drives up to the city to see me”). The girl wasn’t buying any of this suck up provider bullshit. She thought the whole parking thing was ridiculous. She complained about the “nerd brigade” messaging he when she put IT in her profile. She also complained about how a guy she’s seeing is always engaging in PDA, which she was worried about. When I told her it was a sign he was needy, she vigorously shook her head and agreed. My favorite conversation was about politics:

Me: This girl once messaged me to ask my political affiliation because she wouldn’t date anyone that disagreed with her. Is that not the most psycho thing you ever heard?

Girl: I don’t know, I’m very liberal, I don’t know if I could date someone that was totally different.

IT Guy (with positive giddiness): I know, I would never date someone that didn’t believe in gay marriage.

Me: Really? I’ve found most people are apolitical when you get right down to it. Strong beliefs require sacrifice, but your average person hasn’t had to sacrifice a damn for anything they believe in. Have you ever sacrificed anything for your strong beliefs? If you meet someone you really love, sacrificing them because they don’t agree with your abstract political opinions is a huge loss. In my experience people just don’t do that.

Girl (self consciously defensive): Well, I mean I guess I could date a conservative person if they were a doctor or lawyer and made half a million dollars a year or something. I would never date one of those hick tea party members though.

Me: So basically you would date Dick Cheney if he was young, hot, and had money. That’s some impressive gold digging right there, those strong beliefs just kind of melted away like I was saying. As for the tea party types, I haven’t seen a whole lot of them on your average dating website. I mostly see a bunch of 20 something SWPL big city east coast yuppies, so I don’t think that part of your belief structure is going to get challenged anytime soon. In fact if you work and live in the city in a professional environment I’m guessing you haven’t interacted with a single tea party person in over a year.

Girl (blushing, nervous, positively puddy in my hands): I mean, I guess your right. You just have to get to know the person I guess.
(IT guy is basically dejected and dumbfounded at this point)

After that I asked for the check, and then she asked for the check immediately. There was much harangue over who would pay.

Girl: I had three drinks and you only had the one, let me get it (subtext, you can’t hold your liquor, pussy).

IT Guy: No, let me get the whole thing (please let me, I have money, I can provide).

Girl: No, that’s stupid, just let me do this (god I don’t want this chump getting the wrong impression).

a little more bickering that I didn’t get all of because I was leaving.

They work nearby so there is a decent chance I may see this girl again at the same bar, and I might get to bang her. IT guy, by contrast, has no chance. He wants to be a provider so damn bad. He took a boring IT job for a mega corp to make money in the hopes that spending money on girls would get them to like him. He wears a suit to work everyday in the misguided hope it will somehow further this aim and make the few chicks he works with find him attractive. He’s even adopted a whole generic SWPL personality to get laid. And this average looking IT girl wouldn’t even give him the time of day. There are millions of this dude out there that would take a girl at the drop of a hat, but girls just don’t want them. They want guys who call them valueless gold diggers.

dragnet May 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Nailed it.

CaptBackslap May 13, 2011 at 11:55 am

Cool story, bro.

Rahul May 11, 2011 at 1:42 am

Would that make sex a Giffen good if men consumed more when they had to pay the East Europeans for it?

Nemi May 11, 2011 at 8:20 am

Why only female prostitutes? Don´t women need incentives?

Sure – a woman can usually get sex pretty easy – but, as been pointed out before, they are “picky” (and, increasingly, with regard to the same criteria as men would use to rank women).

Rahul May 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

When you think about it, is tenure the academic analog of social security, in a way? I’ve known professors that visit their office, listen to music, eat lunch, teach badly and then go home with a paycheck for years.

Miley_Cyrax May 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Yeah young men are such a bunch of losers nowadays. I’m disgusted by their lack of enthusiasm for working their asses off to support some girl who’s past her prime or who will soon be, who’s already been banged out by a number of other guys for “free”, and will likely push for divorce once she gets bored. Why be a loser and have sex with multiple young girls for little to no work when you can be a winner and bust your balls to be tied down to a depreciating asset?

mrwiizrd May 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

genius

Brian J May 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I assume both numbers include or do not include people in the military; take into account any jobs that may be performed off the books, especially by illegal immigrants; and take into account stay-at-home dads. Is this the case?

CBBB May 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm

HEY David Brooks doesn’t need to understand statistics or how statistical studies are done. As long as he dispenses his crappy anecdotal stories or BS heartland homespun wisdom you should accept whatever he says.

Rahul May 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

It’s always interesting to see how almost any issue can be linked to immigration, given enough ingenuity.

chris May 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

Or the Templars. They have something to do with everything. It’s a fundamental axiom.

CBBB May 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Man David Brooks is a moron, I’ve never heard him say anything intelligent.

mulp May 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm

The decline in labor income generation seems to coincide with the conservative hammering of the message that labor contributes nothing of value and that everything positive comes from those who don’t work to make money, but who use money to make money.

And to promote more using money to make money and discourage laboring to make money, taxes on labor have been increased while the taxes on not laboring to make money has been drastically cut.

The rewards for taking over a company, stripping it of assets and getting huge non-labor bonuses and payouts are huge because not only is this seen as innovative and called wealth creating, the tax cut gives it high preference with much lower tax rates than the tax rates of those laborers who are thrown out of jobs.

And paying huge golden parachutes and high retirement packages ensures these people will never be in the labor force again.

Some large number of people speculate in free market import commodities trading, but oddly the conservatives who promote free trade dictate that this highly profitable non-labor free trade import wealth creations is prohibited, and such innovates should retire at government expense in over crowded but still extremely expense retirement villa called prisons.

MD May 11, 2011 at 7:42 am

“The decline in labor income generation seems to coincide with the conservative hammering of the message that labor contributes nothing of value and that everything positive comes from those who don’t work to make money, but who use money to make money.”

Says someone who’s clearly unfamiliar with the sociological work of Max Weber.

Jason Malloy May 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm

“According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35 percent of those without a high school diploma are out of the labor force, compared with less than 10 percent of those with a college degree … This is a big problem … It will probably require a broad menu of policies attacking the problem all at once: expanding community colleges and online learning… blah blah etc.

Of course, online learning! The “national conversation” on these problems is a farce. We import those without educational degrees on a mass scale. Their children do not earn educational degrees, their children’s children do not earn educational degrees, and so on. These are the Americans we asked for, these are the Americans we continue to ask for, and these are the Americans of the future.

John Skookum May 11, 2011 at 1:21 am

Reynolds’ Law: “Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.”

Or to quote from the source: “The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.”

chris May 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class.

If correct, this would imply that we should instead be subsidizing the causes of the traits. Does Reynolds have a plan for that?

CBBB May 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm

How many of those people with college diplomas are working low skilled jobs for which they are way overqualified taking them away from high school drop outs?
I doubt anyone went to get a degree in Biochemistry wanting to stock shelves in a grocery store but these are the jobs available today.

Amy May 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm

12% of the adult male population today have felony records, making it substantially more difficult for them to find work. That number is many, many times higher now than it was in 1954. I’d like to know how many of that 20% of unemployed men have criminal records that prevent them from being hired at many of the jobs that would get them back into the workforce.

dirk May 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Good point. I know people (men, of course) who were busted for drug felonies in their youth who are totally fucked in the job market today. Again, the solution is to not let people over 65 vote.

Rich Berger May 11, 2011 at 8:41 am

I think that was about 13% of the black male population. The average for the total male population is much lower maybe 3-4%.

Tom Powers May 10, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Maybe high wage individuals have less sticky wages, since they have more to lose from being completely unemployed.

That fits with the Keynesian story, and also matches the fact that highly educated people are experiencing lower unemployment.

Butter May 11, 2011 at 12:58 am

Tyler – You never explained/modeled “threshold-triggered by negative demand shocks.” Sounds interesting if you could expand. Thanks.

Doug Winter May 11, 2011 at 2:32 am
Rahul May 11, 2011 at 4:50 am

That’s just to sort of response we need to counter the idiocy of the David Brooks article.

Silas Barta May 11, 2011 at 10:25 pm

How so? The author of the response seems like the idiot, flaunting his leech-hood.

anonygoat May 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

Economists could certainly learn some useful information about the real world from watching “Maury” and “Judge Judy” and “Cops”. People who have seen these stupid TV shows don’t have to ask stupid questions about why more people are on disability than in the past.

sexy corset May 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Can somebody connect the dots for me between tornadoes and global warming? I am sure there’s a pseudo scientificy reason that they are claiming this is because of climate change but I am not integritively complex enough to figure it out.

JasonM May 11, 2011 at 9:21 pm
Mulberry May 13, 2011 at 6:41 am

The education-machine gobbles up the middle class and spits them out.Their children do not earn educational degrees

cheap custom jerseys May 27, 2011 at 2:57 am

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