27 January, 2006

Things I learned from the rich

I began work at a high-paying corporate job. There, I get to meet the kind of people who are attracted to high-paying corporate jobs. Today, one of them taught me several facts about the world. It was remarkable to learn so much from one young man.
  • It's harder for a rich person to lose a bit of comfort than for a poor person to remain totally uncomfortable. "What you don't know you don't miss."
  • Converting to a single-payer health insurance plan in the United States would be a logistical nightmare -- a bigger one, apparently, than creating Medical Savings Accounts, which we happen to have as a pre-tax perk at this job. (Not to mention that it would be a bigger ordeal than building the biggest, fastest highway system in the world -- but don't get me started on the Futurist miracle of the Interstates.)
  • Increased abortion of females in China and India will make the countries more warlike, as societies led by males are more warlike.
And from another, older man: the economy is doing great.


i wish i were there to hear it. wait, why wish.

1) God grant me the dexterity to shoplift the things I cannot charge; courage to bargain for the things that don't fit in my pocket; and wisdom to know the wholesale price.

2.a) a true american independent entrepreneurial hero: worried about the paperwork.

2.b) converting europe to the euro was genuine logistical madness, and they seemed to be able to do it. maybe it would only be a nightmare for people whose talent for logistics is limited to explosives.

2.c) think of the economic opportunities that lie ahead for cleaning up the environment. the interstate system created that. even near the end it keeps giving and giving.

2.d) wasn't it hitler who talked about fast roads as the key to being first among nations? just to hear: "well, i hate to say it, but hitler had some good ideas," i would give a toe.

3) there are societies led by females? currently? 

Posted by david

Odd, since the closest that China and India came to being led by female were not exactly peaceful  times

Posted by Saheli

i think the third point has some legitimacy (at least if you add some qualifiers and whatnot). it's not which individual leads the state, but the overall demographics of the society (gender, age, etc.) that matter. Among other things, obviously. 

economic situations, access to education, level of industrialization and resource availability. the united states for instance has one of the highest female-leaning sex ratios. are we the exception that proves the rule? is there a rule about militarism without us in the middle of it?

[read, read, read]

it seems like scholarship about sex ratios looks at female infanticide and abortion as a sign  of a violently inequitable society, not at "excess males" as a precondition for war. perhaps that's just the feminists. 

Posted by david

Well, like I said, there are obviously other things at play too (like the cold war, geopolitical hegemony, etc.). imo, almost nothing has a direct cause and effect relationship in the social world--it's usually multiple causes and circular and intersectional effects, etc. All I'm saying is that, all else being equal, a correlation between male:female ratio and militarism is worth looking into.

For example, take a look at this census 2000 press release  and think about voting patterns and political values in the United States. Interesting, no? 

Posted by someone else

Regarding the third "fact," I've read that hypothesis before in a review  of this book, and it has nothing to do with more males in the leadership ranks. The theory is that when there aren't enough women to occupy the surplus young males, their undirected energy will become dangerous. Hence, the govenment will seek to divert this energy by enlisting them in war. Also, these young men will be motivated to fight to attain more wealth so that they can compete for wives (or possibly follow that old rape, pillage, and plunder technique of the days of yore). Though I do not agree with the anology, they cite the mideast as an example where this has taken place -- there are scores upon scores of young men there without hope of economic security, which translates to no wives, hence these young men become terrorists. 

Posted by echan

i'm looking for something conclusive in that census stuff and i'm not seeing it, but, i have thoughts.

first that immigration tends to be males and immigration has increased greatly in the last 2+ decades.

second that i'm frustrated that i can't find data relating immigration and out migration among states sliced along gender lines. i found this pdf , which may be interesting.

also that in our country, outside of immigrants, the biggest change in sex ratio isn't among "bare branches" but among the retired, now that men aren't croaking as quickly as they used to.

i'm not prepared to believe that american millenarianism is being led by involuntary wankers.

regarding "idle phalli are the devil's playground" - the middle eastern countries are feudal - authoritarian - and muchly with our support. if the boys there feel stifled and pissed - which i've heard is also the opinion of many of the girls - and the government is encouraging blaming outside enemies instead of giving up wealth and power - that doesn't exactly support the sex ratio explanation, it seems like the more traditional trouble of justifying political usurpation and corruption.

i'm not against this idea. i can see how it would be trouble for the two biggies, especially if their economies as currently organized begin stalling - which they could, if/when rising fuel costs price their products out of american and european shops - i think - it's just that i see this as a problem with the overall unreliability of the financial speculation system - of existing governments failing to plan properly, failing to diversify beyond foreign investment. if too many boys is a fuse lit on that system, and too many boys is a result of parents feeling economically insecure in an authoritarian system...

urk, dizzy... 

Posted by david

daivd, i agree with you about that census data not being all that useful (at least at the level of analysis presented in the full pfd . the map by county is still interesting though--and pretty :)

however, i still maintain that if we were talking about the social organization and behavior any other species of mammal, we wouldn't be so quick to toss out the hypothesis that sex ratio matters (or other demographic issues). it doesn't mean it's true or that the person cited above who posed the idea isn't crackers--just that occasionally lunatics with a chip on their shoulder will have plausible ideas--even when they're using them to back up silly politics.

not that i would, um, know from personal experience or anything :) 

Posted by someone else

looking at the county map is what made me start looking for out migration by gender info. if you compare that county map with the map of where population was changing from interior migration, it starts looking like some girls went from the inside areas "out" to the big cities or the coast and boys went inward, or perhaps the bulk of the older people who were living longer were away from the cities, another not unreasonable conclusion - turning those areas "red" in your suggested cross-reading without it indicating sexual frustration.

i don't think i'm trying hard to refute the boys+boys=war formula in any particular configuration. i can see its how and why. what burns me is using biological determinism to let a generation of investor-centric private and public administration off the hook for very uneven distribution of benefits. before looking in any particular person's pants we can say pretty well that the education and economic outlook for people in the affected areas could and should  be much better than it is based on "per capita" economic activity. i'm not really mad at the interviewee, i'm mad at yet another source of stress on ordinary people in those areas, caused by prior stress. downer and downer it goes. 

Posted by david

i guess it came from the NYT - a rough stat of 1:3 high schooldropout rate in the USA. 1:2 rate for poor brown folk. it didn't say how many of those then finish college. this  ratio brings to mind brown leaves in brown dirt, under a tree of living money, doing "service" work their college grad "services" specialist fellow americans see only in its absence. no clear path through the ungracious green to sunlight so lay yourself down, get paid in piss for your nutrient value, and from that supine position watch the bare branches where you could have been push up beyond your sight. 

Posted by david

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