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Culture War Roundup for the week of March 11, 2024

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What Happened to Society's Life Script

In the fifties, the American dream was, for the vast majority of people, pretty obvious. You find a job with the main employer of the town, whether that was a coal mine or a factory or a railyard or whatever the case may be. You marry, if not literally the girl next door, then something close; maybe a high school sweetheart. If you were a woman you were then expected to stay home and be a housewife, and except for a few very highly-female coded jobs, that's just what you did. If you were a man you might have been required to serve in the army beforehand, but few people went to college; only if you were wealthy and/or very, very smart. It mostly wasn't your decision either way, about any of it. 'Should I go into the military, or skilled labor, or go to college?' wasn't a question very many people had to ask; usually what you did next after finishing high school was readily apparent, often literally by having only a single option or a very small set thereof. If you did have the opportunity to go to college- most people didn't- both the university and your parents had much more say in what you did there. And I think we should note- the vast majority of people here could find respect as a worker bee. This is important because the vast majority of people have to be worker bees to have a functioning society.

Today, that is not the case. Everyone who wants to can go to university, or near enough. Many people stay in university long past the point at which it does any good, in point of fact. The military is 100% volunteer, and few people live with access to a single major employer. Young people can't find spouses, and these days don't seem to be able to blunder into relationships either. Every individual can, with certain reasonable limits, do what he wishes, and nobody with institutional power seems keen to say no, that's stupid, do this instead.

And it seems that we have lost something, there. Occasionally conservative pundits will start talking about the success sequence- finish high school, work full time, get married, and then have children. There's some other obvious things that go along with it, like 'don't do drugs'. But the gist of the success sequence is, well, a (somewhat vague)life script. And realistically the success sequence is the sort of thing our culture should be putting more effort into promoting; it isn't the default message despite every idea therein being a good one.

I think the youth agree with me, here. Jordan Peterson's popularity, notoriously, came from offering boomer dad advice. Recently there's been discussion of positive male role models to replace Andrew Tate; Andrew Tate's pitch isn't much different from tons of other redpill influencers. What's different is he's selling 'you, too, can be like me, just do x, y, z'. Obviously he's a lying grifter, but his fanbase are mostly teens. What replacement for his (dumb)life script are these positive male role models offering? The pro-social version of Andrew Tate isn't the male feminist activist. It's Mike Rowe.

Unfortunately, "work hard, at a quite possibly unpleasant job" isn't a great sales pitch. But I want to circle back to the point I made ending my discussion of the fifties- most people have to be worker bees. In a functioning society there are few girlbosses because there simply are not very many bosses- the average person will always make the median income, live a not particularly impressive lifestyle, and live in flyover. To put it more pithily, average people will always be average. And being average isn't, well, a flashy and appealing thing. In the past, lack of options meant people became average worker bees. Today, people have the option not to do that; they may not be Indian chiefs and fighter pilots and surgeons and other high status jobs instead, but they're being something, and usually that something is below average, gig workers and basement dwellers. It has to be said, therefore- most people can't figure it out on their own. For every unrecognized genius there's a dozen schizos. Boring middle-aged advice serves a useful purpose; to throw out the social pressure to follow it was a mistake. The question becomes, then, 'how do we bring it back?'

My suggestion is to bring back high school — heck, bring back middle school. With a decent curriculum and the right method of teaching, kids could be leaving middle school with entry level admin assistant skills, and high school with business-building skills.

There’s a style of teaching which people deride as “rote,” and study after study shows it gets better grades immediately with better long-term retention. I, being a product of Albuquerque Public Schools, have of course forgotten the name.

I'm here from the Quality Contributions thread to say that the style of teaching you're thinking of is called "Direct Instruction". It's such a generic name for the specific method that it's near-impossible to remember, but NIFDI sounds like "nifty" and might do a better job sticking in your brain. It also doesn't help that Google deprioritizes references to it in search results since "authoritative" sources on teaching are generally the same ones who hate Direct Instruction.

What business building skills would school be teaching? I guess I'd teach stuff about compound interest finance lest they get their financial advice from tiktok. Do you mean teaching a trade?

The key thing is to separate the smart and stupid kids IMO, early on and consistently. The smart kids can do advanced stuff, they can do historiography and debates or higher calculus. You'd have regular exams to test how people are doing and resort the classes. I hear a lot about how Americans get their souls crushed in school, going at the rate of the slowest student. School unironically can be fun if you sort people to their abilities.

But but we'll be doing things like Brave New World! We don't want Brave New World ranked humanity! (Never mind the 1984 memory holes around every media corner...)

Streaming isn't Brave New World, at least if you do it correctly and don't just dump the less academic kids in the basket of "fit only for a job in the box factory" (especially today when the box factory has probably closed down and the parent company has moved overseas).

As it stands, it sounds from the worst horror stories online that many schools are just holding pens, and there's not even a pretence of trying to teach anything. Even a basic classroom where the dumbest of the dumb learned simple things like "how to behave like a human and not a shit-flinging chimpanzee" would be better than that, but even the dumbest of the dumb may be capable of something.

I would suggest that there IS still a basic life script... but there are now way more failure modes that can suck someone in and divert them from the script, often inescapably so, so life is harsher to those who aren't able, for various reasons, to detect and avoid these pitfalls before moloch snags them in his maw.

The number of ways to drastically and unknowingly screw your life trajectory up has grown. There are superstimuli everywhere, controlled by faceless entities/egregores that are exceedingly efficient at parting you from your money and depleting your wellbeing.

Go to college on loans and get a degree that has poor employment/salary prospects, spend a few years spinning wheels trying to make the career in that field before throwing in the towel and accepting some blase corporate job, leaving yourself in your mid-late twenties with a pile of debt and no meaningful experience, which you have to climb out of before your life really 'begins.'

Get addicted to one of the nastier drugs and even if you don't end up overdosing on Fent or becoming a zombified husk, you're still torpedoing your ability to acquire and hold down a decent job, stay out of jail, and achieve financial stability.

Acquire some modest life savings which you burn up in the crypto markets, or betting on stocks, or a more standard gambling addiction, given how gambling is increasingly ubiquitous, leaving you with nothing to show for it. Also the brazen and sophisticated scams that are constantly seeking out marks these days.

And, honestly, if you marry and knock up/are knocked up by the wrong partner, this can leave you pretty irretrievably damaged if they choose to go full nuclear when the relationship falls apart.

Also way easier to become a grossly obese blob. And/or a NEET.

U.S. society is rich enough that you can continue to putter along after suffering one of the above setbacks (except the overdose death), but you'll pretty much be relegated to financial destitution unless you stumble into one of the much rarer positive black swan events that gets you set for life.

And many people chasing those positive black swans get pwned by the above because accepting risk has all kinds of foreseeable AND unforeseeable effects.

No, I don't think past societies had better guardrails, and certainly, obviously had their share of risks, too. But I reckon that outside of traumatic physical injury/disfigurement (and even then!) it was much easier for the average young adult to recover from mistakes, move on, and get a 'fresh start' even if they dicked around most of their twenties. There were fewer 'instant fail' conditions that would render you unable to continue as a functional member of society..

There were fewer 'instant fail' conditions that would render you unable to continue as a functional member of society.

Probably only true for men. If you were a woman, getting pregnant out of wedlock pre-Roe (and pre-modern contraception) was an instant fail, as was marrying a shit-tier guy (drunks, criminals, drifters etc.) There were also a lot of ways a young woman could breach propriety which were in effect instant fails because they made it unlikely that a non shit-tier guy would want to marry her.

It is also worth remembering that the point at which a 100-IQ hard-working guy can come back from a serious injury (even one under sympathetic circumstances like battlefield injuries or workplace accidents) that leaves him unable to do heavy manual work was post-WW2 in most places.

Unfortunately, "work hard, at a quite possibly unpleasant job" isn't a great sales pitch. But I want to circle back to the point I made ending my discussion of the fifties- most people have to be worker bees.

That's easy to say when the assumption is that other people are the ones who are going to be the worker bees. Most of those industrial jobs that people bemoan the demise of suck. If you want one, US Steel is hiring in Pittsburgh right now because, even offering totally unskilled workers $25/hour plus bonuses, they're lucky if anyone stays a year. I've been in steel mills as part of site inspections for litigation and seen the work that goes on, so I know a bit more about this than the average bear who romanticizes the past. It's incredibly hot, and the dust is unreal. It's shift work, meaning you can forget about being consistently free on weekends (a friend who worked for Allegheny Ludlum got one weekend off a month), and the work itself is basically shoveling all of the dust that seems to come off everything in the place. And God help you if you're a laborer in the coke batteries and have to climb on top of the stand pipes and clean them out. You can eventually work your way up to one of the "fun jobs", like crane operator, where you're in the same environment, but you get to move slabs from one part of the building to another. Except during slowdowns, which happened regularly even in the steel industry's heyday, when you'd either get bumped back to the labor gang or laid off entirely for a few weeks. Or months.

Until very recently, the money for this kind of work wasn't good. People in my dad's generation who worked these kinds of jobs their whole lives were lucky if they made 40k/year by the time they retired in the early 2010s. I grew up in a blue collar family and it was made clear to me that I'd better study or I'd end up working in one of these places. My brothers and some of my friends did work in some of these places during summers in college and said that if they'd been slacking off nothing motivated them more than the prospect of having to work there full time. My one brother did work with my dad full time for a while after graduation and regularly cites that as the worst time of his life. I guy I had to cross-examine a few months ago put it best; he worked as a boilermaker after dropping out of college. I asked him what his major was, and he said "Business. Who knows, if I would have stayed with it maybe I'd be on the other side of the table sitting next to you."

I don't buy the idea that there was a life script. At least in my own family, my impression is people used to move around and change careers a lot more. They got married earlier, but not necessarily right out of high school.

My maternal grandparents got married in the 50s. My grandmother had a few different jobs and lived in a few different places before getting married in her mid 20s. My grandfather joined the Navy after university. After the war, he tried a few different businesses which didn't work out. He married the secretary of someone he did business with and ultimately had to move from his small town to a big city in order to work as a surveyor.

My paternal grandfather became a reporter after graduating from law school and then moved with his brother from their small city to a bigger city. The brother had first worked as a farmhand on the other side of the country and then later went to graduate school. My grandfather moved to another city where he met his wife while covering an event she was attending, and then they moved to another city, bought a newspaper which he and his wife ran for a while, then started running a new insurance company and then moved yet again back to the big city.

The only family member I have that worked in anything like a factory was my great grandfather who was trained as a bookkeeper but worked in a meat packing factory during the depression. But this was a horrible job that was wrecking his body, so he became a farmer.

When I hear about their life stories, I see people trying out several different careers paths, trying out several different places to live, trying to figure out who to marry, and for many women, deciding whether to sacrifice their careers by getting married.

In my family too the life script is questionable. My dad's mother's family fled Ukraine ahead of the Nazi invasion and my grandmother ended up marrying a much older man because there were no more young men in the ussr. Her dad was murdered by the communists. Her husband died of tuberculosis and she raised her two kids on her own. She was a respected civil engineer and my dad married very young and was able to uproot and get the family into the West into a much more prosperous life. Sometimes it pays to take drastic action rather than keep plugging away where you are.

The life script is still present and unless you are the type of human being that requires society to nudge you into doing stuff (i.e. minimal self initiative, little internal locus of control) it is easier to follow than ever with greater rewards than ever.

The one exception to this might be the part about finding a good partner, but that's only completely broken because society doesn't nudge people into being prosocial so partners who in a different world may have been good turn out to be disposable cutlery tier instead and hence you have a harder deal finding a good person as there are fewer of them around. But even then there are things like regularly going to religious congregations and having parents who maintained strong community networks that help you out here (and if your parents didn't that's their fault, you can hardly blame society for your parents failing at a key social role they should play for their children).

If you have it in you to reject the modern day Satan's insidious messaging you can still make something decent and respectable out of yourself and leave a positive legacy on the world after living a satisfied and fulfilling life. The fact that most people don't have it in them to do this doesn't says stuff about them, not about you or the script.

For Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen.

- Matthew 2:14

I don’t think Jesus should be quoted in a post* reminiscent of the prayer of the Pharisee

”God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I [do good things]”

type of person who decides society to judge you

This is every single person on earth, we are all influenced by our social ecosystems. A social ecosystem can influence families toward good or for bad. Few boomers grew up believing that they should maintain a strong community network for the express purpose of finding their child a spouse.

I don’t think Jesus should be quoted in a post* reminiscent of the prayer of the Pharisee

Christianity has always been my least favourite of the three Abrahamic religions. I thank myself (and God) that I am a follower of Muhammad the Conqueror instead of Christ the Redeemer.

”God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

I try to say some variant of this prayer every day. It's an expression of gratitude towards God for pairing my ka with the ba I have (If you'll excuse the Ancient Egyptian terms). I don't think this is a bad thing but rather, in a world with a severe paucity of gratitude for what it has, something that marks me out from people. I recommend other people to be regularly thankful of their station in life too and recognise that it isn't (after a point) our own deeds that got us here but rather the blessing of God smiling down upon us (long may it continue). Of course this doesn't mean we shouldn't recognise that we are all sinners and also repent for that.

I could have been born a few hospitals over and right now would be tilling fields by hand to earn a meagre amount just enough feed myself twice a day but by grace of God I was born me, and I will always be thankful for that.

EDIT: Although you can argue just how possible it is for me (the person I am today) to have been born as an IQ 80 minimally literate farmer. Just like how a human consciousness can never be born in a C. Elegans and experience such a life (because such creatures don't have the neural architecture to support something as complex as a human conscious), I wonder just how possible it would be for the consciousness I have today to have developed in an IQ 80 person (of course the differences between me and the farmer are far far smaller than the differences between humans and nematode worms but I wonder where the cutoff is). But regardless, I should still be extremely grateful, if not for that then for the fact that I got to experience reality at all because just the right sperm combined with just the right egg.

I thank myself (and God) that I am a follower of Muhammad the Conqueror instead of Christ the Redeemer.

I feel a sudden urge for poetry coming on!

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri’s knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,—
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, “Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces — four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not ‘Kismet’; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey in the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.”
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still — hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

Christianity has always been my least favourite of the three Abrahamic religions. I thank myself (and God) that I am a follower of Muhammad the Conqueror instead of Christ the Redeemer.

Either the God of Abraham is real, in which case your aesthetic preferences among the various cults claiming to be His true Faith are irrelevant compared to your considered impression of thier relative accuracy, or He is not, in which case you should not be thanking Him for anything, or yourself for getting involved in one of said false religions.

Gratitude is obviously good, but the gratitude should not be in comparison to the perceived immorality of your neighbors. Even if someone “deserves” some poor circumstance, it is still a bad idea to situate yourself as superior to your neighbor whose inner life you don’t know. The reason the Pharisee is unjust whereas the Publican is made just, is that the Pharisee is only grateful in relation to those he feels are inferior, and he judges a random neighbor as inferior even when that very man is crying out to his same God! And then, the next omitted part of the Pharisee’s prayer, is that he congratulates himself on his superiority because he pays tithes and fasts twice a week, which are really of secondary importance in the moral life. Those external, ritual-based details are criticized by Jesus on many occasions, because they should not be one’s focus in comparison to love for God and neighbor. (Sometimes online I see Muslim content about how farting disrupts their ritual purity and requires washing with prayer, or I see Jewish content about purifying one’s oven for dairy after it was used for meat, or even Christian content about the theologically correct minutiae of the Trinity, and I can’t help but see this all as identical to Pharisseeism, a completely false spiritual focus).

An alternative righteous Pharisee’s prayer would be to thank God for His delivery from evil and health and any sort of progress without bringing down others; to thank God and then to ask God to deliver the Publican; then perhaps to ask forgiveness for having the wrong moral focus, to recognize one’s mistakes (which every person on earth makes), and to seek what more can be done to please God.

This is the inevitable consequence of an individualistic society continually preyed upon in consumer capitalism. We are not organized hierarchically by wise leaders from our own in-group who have the common good in mind.

  • Music and visual media companies sell narcissistic fantasies to the youth, that they will have their “break” if they continue trying regardless of evidence, that life consists in consumerism and sex.

  • Scrolling social media companies show you incessant content about social competition, to get you glued to the app, but has the consequence of devaluing a modest and reasonable lifestyle.

  • Companies use the illusions of feminism and freedom in order to get women to be buy their products, yet this also makes women delusional about their social obligations and their time-sensitive life choices.

  • Companies want female employees because it helps them lower wages, even though this may be worse for the whole of society because of fertility and hypergamy-related reasons.

  • Universities promote themselves as necessary to the young, and high schools promote universities as necessary, because this helps both of their exclusive interests — universities get more applicants, high schools look better in statistics.

You “bring it back” by forming or joining an in-group social ecosystem that is organized hierarchically according to wisdom, and disperses wisdom from top to bottom. There is no permissible way to change mainstream society at this point because the interests of lobbying groups are fundamentally at odds with the common good. These lobbying groups have more “voting power” than you, because money allows them to manipulate the voting preferences of the population.

Not only does every guy want to go to college because it is shilled to them, but our femino-promiscuous culture makes it an important factor for finding a wife, because they promote female college students and hire so many women in well-paid roles. (This is obviously controlled for looks, the very attractive are outliers for both genders so your story of a hot garbage man doesn’t matter.)

A good comparison point is, as always, the Amish. The women are not raised to believe they expect the best and are better than men, the men are not raised to take advantage of women, they work whatever job and get married early and are generally happy. The sexual ecosystem is tightly controlled to maximize the number of marriages, versus an anarchic system that doesn’t.

I just don’t buy that there aren’t any well-paid blue collar jobs anymore. In wealthy parts of the US cops make like $150k, more than enough for a decent living outside of Manhattan and Silicon Valley. In addition, far more people go to college now, so the ‘equivalent’ of a 50s blue collar job is probably a mid-tier white collar job today (like teacher, municipal civil service, HR worker etc), which again usually pay a pretty comfortable salary.

The problem for the white underclass increasingly seems to be being in the wrong location for economic growth (coastal and in major cities) and issues with drug addiction and other social dysfunction.

I'll broadly echo this. My impression is that, at least post-COVID, blue-collar labor has as much bargaining power as it's ever had in the US, or very nearly so.

Not only can just 0.2% of the population be police officers at any given time, but far fewer can be officers in “wealthy parts of the US”. That might bring the number of eligible employers to be 0.015% of the population. This is too insignificant to consider in an argument

Cops are not the only blue collar workers who make good money. Electricians, plumbers, welders, surveyors, electrical infrastructure maintainers, oil and gas workers…these guys make bread and the list goes on and on.

are there enough middle class jobs available? No, we have too many retail and fast food jobs because we are a service economy and no longer build things in this country. But construction, energy, and manufacturing is still well-paying for those who can get it.

Part of the problem seems to be that everyone wants to be an influencer these days. People watch others make hundreds of thousands of dollars on social media and think “why the hell would I want to work in an oil field when I can just shoot movies with my friends?” It’s this ability to compare ourselves to the most successful Americans that fucks us up. And not only are we able to compare ourselves, it’s piped directly into our brain without us even asking for it.

There are plenty of decent paying but not super prestigious jobs that don’t require a degree from a prestigious school. My thesis is about why society doesn’t push people towards them anymore.

One thing that you're missing is that the old life-script involved people doing a lot of things themselves that today we assume have to be done by others. That phrase "If you were a woman you were then expected to stay home and be a housewife" covered a lot of tasks that took a lot more time than they would today: making and repairing clothes from scratch; managing household expenses in an era where everyone was objectively a lot poorer; cooking when the vast majority of all meals were home affairs, including making such basic staples as bread from scratch; cleaning without the use of labor-saving devices like washing machines, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners; and other types of home production.

Similarly, the male role involved doing things like building one's own house, as well as general mechanical and skilled labor competency. And for the things you didn't do yourself, you were expected to have sufficient ties to the local community that others could come and assist you (mutual aid societies, fraternal organizations, etc.). Having these sorts of skills and making/repairing almost all of your consumable goods drastically lowers the cost of living (at the expense of requiring a lot of effort).

Of course, mechanization got rid of most of these tasks from ordinary daily life. It's a truism that domestic appliances, drive thrus, and the supermarket, by trivializing the important household tasks that women had historically provided, did a lot to bring about second-wave feminist unrest. As for the rest of us, we also have been substituting capital goods and machinery for skilled labor as fast as we can. This simultaneously makes it more expensive to "grow up" and make your own life, and makes the average individual less skilled and thus less capable of handling the various problems they're likely to encounter in the world.

I feel like any life script involves people going into a dominant industry. It would have to be known for years that this industry is up and coming or well established enough that it can accommodate everyone at good salary for their entire lives. I know that I personally want to instill the value into my kids that they when they come of age, they should have a good look at the world, consider what are the major dominant fields, and get a degree that will help them get a job in a dominant field. Doing this drastically reduces the luck required to be and stay gainfully employed. I know too many people with English degrees who have far too much trouble finding work, or finding work that pays more then $50k/year. Also, any industry where the labor market it demand-driven is going to make employees more comfortable, whether we are talking about salaries, benefits, or even just the leeway to not have to be "on" all the time.

For the boomer generation, I'm tempted to say that this dominant field was education. For whatever reason, I know a lot of teachers from that generation. And I certainly know that they were paid much better then teachers are now, including amazing benefits and pension. However as we all know, education generally no longer offers benefits like that and no longer offers even middling salary.

For our generation, perhaps the dominant industry is software. Of course it's possible that now software is under threat of no longer being able to hold this title. There are fewer jobs, lots of layoffs, lower salaries, and everyone feels under threat. Perhaps this is what happens when the boom is over and an industry is no longer dominant. In which case, I only hope that there will be a new dominant industry that springs up so my kids (or even I) can feel like there's a new, safe way to have our lives be supported.

For boomers, all white collar industries were huge growth industries; whether it was accounting, consulting, finance, it didn’t really matter.

Not just white collar, though; this was the era of the unionised blue-collar job where you got great pay, great benefits, and could look forward to a good pension.

True, there were good times. But they ended in 2008.

Imagine you're a boomer. You work a GM plant making very good pay ($70/hr total comp). Then 2008 happens and you're laid off. You're 58 years old. Too young to retire, too old to retrain.

One the other hand, white-collar Boomers had it truly good. Hell, my Boomer parents earn more now than they did when they were working with all their pensions, investments, etc...

I've visited factories and they don't seem like places I'd want to work. They do the same tasks over and over. It seems like hell.

Can confirm. For a while I worked in a factory making dish detergent. 12-hour shifts, on your feet the whole time, doing repetitive tasks, never seeing the sun.

On the other hand, I got really trim working there; and I had a lot of time to think, which I did like. But yeah, life would stretch out awfully long if you had to spend it there.

My personal pet theory why that script isn't working is that all corporations on the stock market are run on "maximizing shareholder value". Oh times are rough well shareholder value maximizing requires layoffs, good bye for the lifetime employments where get a gold watch after 25 years of loyalty. If lifetime employments with the possibility of buying are reasonably priced house and owning the stuff is being ruined by "maximizing shareholder value". You have no job security in e.g. customer service working your way up is gone, because you have been replaced by a low wage worker who reads of a script and the moment corporations can trust the AI chatbots that entry level job is gone. Banks are interested in loaning you money as much money as possible towards your house so you can never pay it off. If you never can pay off your mortgage you are for all intents and purposes renting a property from the bank who doesn't do any maintenance on it. The reason is "maximizing shareholder value"... That HP inkjet you bought.... well you didn't buy it, HP made an investment in you so you could have a subscription, any issue with payment well you ain't printing shit. And the first thing you contact is usually some kind of customer service bot. Yeah that car you have, if it is newer model with heated seats well those could be a subscription service. Guess why companies do this?

The entry point into the life script is dependent on that you can get a stable job so you can buy a home and have stuff and we are not getting that, and that is feeding into nihilism of some cohort of people that becomes NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) because they can't enter into "maximizing shareholder value" for some corporation, which can't wait to fuck them over the moment the rogering provides value.

But it is just personal thought...

Banks are interested in loaning you money as much money as possible towards your house so you can never pay it off. If you never can pay off your mortgage you are for all intents and purposes renting a property from the bank who doesn't do any maintenance on it.

No, if you can't pay your mortgage, the bank takes the house and kicks you out. In fact, if your DTI is too big, they will not loan you the money. Perhaps you think the cutoff is too big, but ultimately it's the customer who is deciding to take out the loan.

Plenty of homeowners have paid off their houses.

Well that is the general theory of how it is supposed to work. They haven't corrected all of the mess that led up to the subprime crisis back in 2008-2009.. Sure people pay off their loans, but there are a bunch of people that use the raising equity prices to fund that they can on other liabilities.

No, if you can't pay your mortgage, the bank takes the house and kicks you out. Yeah and if you can't pay your landlord rent they kick you out. That is the point, with rising property prices people that attempt buy a house if it is too expensive you essentially rent from the bank if they ever get laid off and can't find a new job fast enough to keep up with the payments. Plenty of families ended up in that situation 15 years ago. This is tragic family history for some people.

Sure you can say that it is the customers responsibility and it is absolutely that. And they are plenty of people see that they don't have the economic means of buying property because they are being responsible. A couple of decades ago plenty of jobs it was possible to buy a house and pay it of outright, but now it is fewer and fewer people that get opportunity.

But make no mistake, if someone in the bank thinks that they can make a profit of a loan too you... they will do that, even if it is just the person approving it is just getting a bonus.

Sure people pay off their loans, but there are a bunch of people that use the raising equity prices to fund that they can on other liabilities.

I cannot parse this sentence.

if someone in the bank thinks that they can make a profit of a loan too you... they will do that, even if it is just the person approving it is just getting a bonus.

Obviously, the bank is not a charity. People enter into agreements for mutual benefit.

Sure people pay off their loans, but there are a bunch of people that use the raising equity prices to fund that they can on other liabilities.

I cannot parse this sentence.

People take out more loans when the price of the property goes up, they leverage that as an asset to have as collateral on other loans.

Obviously, the bank is not a charity. People enter into agreements for mutual benefit.

Again looking on the mechanics of the subprime crisis back in 2008, the loans given were not to the benefit of the lender. The calculus for the banks where that the value of the property would be higher when the lender defaulted, thus being the only ones benefiting on collecting the interests and get the money back with the sale of the asset.

People take out more loans when the price of the property goes up, they leverage that as an asset to have as collateral on other loans.

They'd take out loans even if the price of the property didn't go up. This is a fully general argument against homeownership.

Again looking on the mechanics of the subprime crisis back in 2008, the loans given were not to the benefit of the lender.

Why would the borrower take a loan that didn't benefit them?

Why would the borrower take a loan that didn't benefit them?

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” - George Carlin

They'd take out loans even if the price of the property didn't go up.

I'm not sure that would be the case if they would be targeted with marketing for taking on more loans.

This is a fully general argument against homeownership.

No it is not general argument of homeownership, it is an argument against predatory practices on giving out loans without the safeguards of looking at DTI etc... i.e. the first claim you made on how it is supposed to work.

It's good that you know better what's good for someone than they themselves! If only they had you to run their lives.

No it is not general argument of homeownership, it is an argument against predatory practices on giving out loans without the safeguards of looking at DTI etc... i.e. the first claim you made on how it is supposed to work.

And indeed you cannot get a mortgage if your DTI is too big.

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My personal pet theory why that script isn't working is that all corporations on the stock market are run on "maximizing shareholder value".

This was discussed downthread somewhat but "maximizing shareholder value" is a lie. Very few companies do it, even though they are supposed to.

Most businesses favor employees over shareholders. The obvious case is the investment banks where the employees are millionaires while shareholders fight over scraps.

But bloated big tech is another example. Google, for example, has massively overhired, creating hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs that don't need to exist.

Businesses that treat employees poorly are generally structurally unprofitable – forced to compete on cost. They don't want to, but they have to in order to survive.

Businesses with a moat such as Google or Twitter (pre-Elon) rarely fire bad employees. The biggest example, of course, is the government, which faces zero competition and offers essentially lifetime employment regardless of job performance.

Just because you find companies where it doesn't seem to hold up in one aspect it doesn't mean the whole statement falls. Large companies like Google do other stuff that is against the interest of their customers and especially against their users. For example "ad topics" is to use their browser monopoly to be the only game in town for targeted ads on the "open web", after disabling third party cookies they jack up the prices. Also they are trying their best in tricking chrome users on enabling it.

But keep in mind For every "bloated big tech" company that pamper their employees, you find big tech companies who doesn't do that. Oracle, Cisco, IBM, AWS ...

The obvious case is the investment banks where the employees are millionaires while shareholders fight over scraps.

As for investment banks paying their employees much, who do you think has the most ownership of those companies? Is the compensation given to employees as equity(i.e. shares) in the company?

Businesses that treat employees poorly are generally structurally unprofitable – forced to compete on cost. They don't want to, but they have to in order to survive.

Talked as someone who hasn't been in contact with private equity firms I see.

The question becomes, then, 'how do we bring it back?'

We can't. I was thinking recently of how the employment opportunities in my town have narrowed over the years - there's pretty much only one "main employer" left, and if head office back home in America decides it's no longer worth having a plant in my area, it'll be shut down or sold off and then probably shut down.

I agree about worker bees: we need them. But we seem to be in the middle of turning all our worker bees into drones, and expanding a few into queens. Where did the jobs in the coal mines or box factories or steel plants go? Right now, they're trying to shut down the coal mines under the aegis of climate change, but the writing was on the wall decades back - Maggie Thatcher didn't decide to break the power of the unions by going after the miners first despite it being a vital industry, it was inefficient, expensive and out-dated. Coal and steel were no longer kings, the old Industrial Revolution was on its last legs and being replaced, though few could see it, by the Information Economy where now the money came from financial services industries based in London: stock markets (the encouragement of the Sids to invest in newly privatised industries), investment banking, and the rise of new technology (leading to the dotcom bubble).

As for the box factories and steel plants? See the Rust Belt - manufacturing industries are moved overseas to cheaper countries with low-cost labour. And once those sources dry up, automation and AI will take over. Even white collar jobs are now not immune, as we see the prognostications about how AI will be able to do the jobs of X, Y or Z.

So the life script now is increasingly "success is for the very, very smart" in a more and more narrow definition of "very, very smart". You have to go to college because there's no hope of any kind of reasonable job without the piece of paper for a degree, and the kind of rewarding job is more and more "can you participate in the new Knowledge Economy - that is, are you able to work on the AI that is going to replace 90% of all other jobs?"

If you're a queen bee with the particular STEM skills that are currently in demand, you can have that life script sequence of success. If you're a worker bee, increasingly you're being turned into a drone. Hence all the pinning of hopes on both Fairy Godmother AI to produce post-scarcity Utopia, and UBI where it won't matter if you're a drone, everyone is a drone, and at least you won't starve.

(The alternative there may well be "live in the pod, eat the bugs, own nothing" instead of "UBI so you can be creative and artistic, meanwhile AI will run the world and create the magical cornucopia out of which endless prosperity flows").

My great uncle Carl fought in Korea, came back (leaving his brother my grandfather behind in a PoW camp, but that's neither here nor there), and started working as a bricklayer for his first years back. For the first decade he was back until he married my Aunt Irma, working as a union bricklayer, he never showed up on Mondays. My grandfather came back from the camp, married my grandmother almost immediately, and had my mother (maybe a little less than) nine months later, and got a job at a factory. My mother attended Parochial school, and walking to school with my grandmother would see Uncle Carl stumbling home drunk in the morning from the Hungarian Club, and ask my grandmother what was wrong with Uncle Carl, my grandmother would tell her that Uncle Carl and his friends were up late drinking "juice" and playing polka.

One day, he used to love to tell this story, his foreman called him in to talk to him. Laid out the time cards, no show Monday, no show Monday, no show Monday...Carl if you weren't such a good worker you'd be out on your ass. YOU NEED TO SHOW UP ON MONDAY EVERY NOW AND THEN, JUST TO SEE WHAT IT'S LIKE! IT'S JUST LIKE TUESDAY!

Then, after some years of drinking so much over the weekend that he never made it to work on Monday, he married Irma. After that he straightened out, and lived a successful (if ultimately, for unrelated reasons, tragic) life, always jovial at family functions, a normal enough Republican. Maybe today we'd say he had PTSD from the war stories he used to tell about Korea, or had substance abuse issues from the alcohol, or any number of other diagnosable issues. But the thing I'm questioning is whether the life script today has room for "spent a decade fucking around at work while drinking too much on the weekends" before getting back on track. I don't know that it has that same flexibility. I think it would be tougher to pull off today. I think today the proper life path is more on rails, and if derailed is tougher to get back on, with deep ditches to either side. People need more flexibility, they are complicated.

I think this is a very valuable truth to highlight. Boomer's (and analyses of their life paths) tend to forget how easy it was to fuck around and NOT find out. I had an uncle who ended up in his 50s and 60s doing a very pleated khaki finance job who spent his 20s and 30s doing his best Jack Kerouac - bumming around the Western US, taking odd jobs to get from town to town, drinking, and drugging. He never had a rock bottom or come-to-Jesus moment, he literally just decided at about 35 "eh, better get on the straight and narrow" and more or less walked into a management job (insert something here about white male privilege if you like, but I think it's still a red herring). The point is a hop-on-hop-off respectable life was possible.

Now, you have kids who start out at 22 with $100k in worthless degree debt. You can't work at the grain elevator and scrape together a few hundred bucks to get closer to California when the service on your debt alone is $1,500 a month. The PMC has made hiring and firing such a bureaucratic nightmare that the interview-to-fully-onboarded process is benchmarked at 4 - 5 months. I think this is so that PMC HR types can then brag about themselves reducing it to three months when thirty years ago that timeline was probably three days.

All of this is to say that I don't think "The Path" is much different than it was. To @FarNearEverywhere's point, it's definitely more narrow because of PMC rent seeking and vampiric "I don't do the work but I help enable the work" grifting. More than that, however, we've setup these weird fundamental barriers to overcome that used to not exist. That's the real tragedy. It's important to remember that GDP and GDP per capita is still higher than its ever been (in a decade over decade sense, annual fluctuations notwithstanding) but the overall fluidity and flexibility of the system is greatly atrophied. There's a reason Andreesen-Horowitz (this is a mega VC firm that is the epitome of PMC not-actually-working-but-actuall-fucking-rich careerists) has a whole thrust for "American Dynamism." We've become the mass monster powerlifter who can still move a ton of weight, but takes 15 minutes to get out of the shower.

There does seem to have been this golden moment for middle-class kids in the 60s/70s where they could indeed tune in, turn on, and drop out, wander the country from town to town getting work because there were plenty of manual labour jobs available and the cost of living wasn't too high, and they could indulge in the free love, drugs, and no responsibility scene. If they managed not to screw themselves up beyond repair, then when they wanted to finally settle down, their education level meant they could get a white collar job and work their way up and have the permanent, pensionable, retire with a gold watch life.

Like the Roger Miller song King of the Road, where two hours of menial work will mean enough to rent a room:

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let, 50 cents
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes

Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road

Enough work that you could get something, even a relatively decent job, just by turning up and being halfway presentable. Cost of living low enough that your earnings would cover the basics. The smaller cities and towns not yet hollowed out by the decline of manufacturing industry. A college degree still not a commonplace so it was worth something when you finished your wanderjahr to get you back on the ladder. And of course the combination of the infinite possibilities of youth with the wide-open spaces of the USA where you can travel as far as you like and still expect to find something new at the end of it.

That is why people still want to immigrate to the USA, because of that golden aura of possibility.

This was real but it wasn't some magic thing that just happened to happen, a thousand harsh winters in Northern Europe created the conditions for it. The floor was so high because you could always fall back on family, or if you'd truly burned your ass with them, the church

One thing to consider about that song is that the great growth of the welfare and regulatory state has pretty made that marginally-legitimate hobo lifestyle impossible. Regulations will make providing that room profitably illegal at the equivalent of 50 cents a night today, and other regulations and taxes made employing someone for the equivalent of 50 cents for two hours work also illegal.

Man, every single part of that sounds crazy today. Imagine running a flophouse where you rent out rooms to random drifters for 50 cents a night? Or the other side, being a drifter who just wanders around knowing he can pick up manual labor anywhere, and just a few hours of work to get paid instantly in cash? Or a business owner who's like "man I've got so much work to do, and no one to do it... that's ok, i'll just pay the next drifter who comes by to sweep the floors."

I know it must have been a super hard life, with no luxuries or safety net, but I do envy that level of freedom.

From "Book Review: On The Road" by Scott Alexander:

Even more interesting than their ease of transportation to me was their ease at getting jobs. This is so obvious to them it is left unspoken. Whenever their money runs out, be they in Truckee or Texas or Toledo, they just hop over to the nearest farm or factory or whatever, say “Job, please!” and are earning back their depleted savings in no time. This is really the crux of their way of life. They don’t feel bound to any one place, because traveling isn’t really a risk. Be it for a week or six months, there’s always going to be work waiting for them when they need it. It doesn’t matter that Dean has no college degree, or a criminal history a mile long, or is only going to be in town a couple of weeks. This just seems to be a background assumption. It is most obvious when it is violated; the times it takes an entire week to find a job, and they are complaining bitterly. Or the time the only jobs available are backbreaking farm labor, and so Jack moves on (of course abandoning the girl he is with at the time) to greener pastures that he knows are waiting.

Ha, I guess that does sorta line up! Still a bit different to work for a few weeks rather than a few hours, though. But yeah, definitely a different era for job hunting... and they were able to make enough money from those few weeks of basic work to pay for another cross-country trip!

i'll just pay the next drifter who comes by to sweep the floors

This probably exposes you to more risk (of the drifter stealing stuff or smashing things up) than the potential benefits. I can't see why you'd want to do this at any point of this historical development of the USA outsid maybe the civil war period where things really were that tight that such risks had to be taken.

At the very least get your low value add labour from an agency that does some vetting.

Now that you say that, I'm rethinking the meaning. It might have just been charity. Like, in the great depression there were a whole lot of broke guys, down on their luck, wandering around. I could see a hotel owner taking pity on them and saying "look, I won't give you money, but if you do a little honest work to help me out and prove you're a decent guy, I'll let you sleep here for free."

The wildest thing in all of literature to me is the perfectly normal trope up to about WWI of "Paying a street kid to do a random task for me."

The rate at which this went out of fashion differs wildly between countries. As recently as 10 years ago, my dad had some renovations done at the grandmother's flat in downtown St Petersburg which left him with a bunch of rotten window frames in the [upper floor] place. His solution was a quick trip downstairs to get "the alcoholics" at the bar across the street to carry them down ("alcoholics", in Russia, are a socioethnic group much like "drifters" or "gypsies"). My understanding is that three dudes did it for the equivalent of something like $10 each.

Perhaps relatedly, in the late 2000s, Germany (where I was living then) had a very prolific online marketplace for carpooling - if you were going from city A to city B, you would just put up an ad saying when and how many people you'd take for how much, and people could contact you via the website. It was vastly cheaper and more convenient than the train system (and the cheap intercity bus network was not as developed as it is now; I figure this contributed to the website's demise), and the cross-section through German society I encountered on those is a story for another time, but one thing that is memorable is that once I casually mentioned that I was taking such a ride to some very typical Middle American internet friends I had made on the phpBBs, whose response was one of concern bordering on panic ("you'll be robbed and left for dead in a ditch somewhere and nobody will know"). It took a lot of convincing them that everyone does those things over in Europe and bad things generally don't happen (and I might have mildly offended them by repeating the standard Euro talking point that it's not like the carpool people will have guns). I still think that societal trust in the US would be in a better place if they didn't have mass media with non-stop dastardly-crimes-in-your-area programming.

As recently as 10 years ago, my dad had some renovations done at the grandmother's flat in downtown St Petersburg which left him with a bunch of rotten window frames in the [upper floor] place. His solution was a quick trip downstairs to get "the alcoholics" at the bar across the street to carry them down

In the US you can pick up a few Hispanic guys at the home depot parking lot for something like this.

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I love that song, but I think when he says 8x12 room he means a section of a freight boxcar, which the train's engineer will let him sleep in if he does some sweeping up.

No, it's an 8x12 four-bit room, thus the same one "for let, 50 cents".

I kinda always assumed those were also metaphors for boxcars, but I appear to be wrong

What Nybbler says. A very basic room in a flophouse, but he can still earn enough in two hours of menial labour to afford a room and bed for the night. You're probably not going to do that nowadays.

Unless you're in San Francisco, and some confident startup thinks it can charge you for a night in a bunkbed (I wonder if they're still in existence, this story was from 2019).

There's a lot more to it than this, as there usually is, but here is a pretty serviceable summary of an industrial-revolution-one-two-punch

  1. You didn't have a little family business out of your family home making rope, you were one part of the ropemaking company. Rather than owning a small pile and building on it you had a salary and a mortgage.

  2. Modern appliances, particularly the washing machine, inadvertently erased what little was left for your wife to help out with while you were working

When Betty Crocker first came out with instant cake mix, you didn't even have to add an egg (obvious, now that you know). Women were despondent that they'd been reduced into "just adding water."

So that's apparently where the line was drawn and the scraps over which we've been fighting

what little was left for your wife to help out with while you were working

Thank you for reducing the contribution of women in the home to "what little your wife does while you do Real Work".

Now that we have vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and microwaves, what need for men to marry at all? They can just do those five minute tasks in between coming home from their Real Jobs and settling down to have fun with online porn, online gaming, and ordering drugs and booze online.

Even our own lot thinks this is sexist language and want to replace it:

Article 41.2.1° “In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.”

Article 41.2.2° “The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

What contribution, indeed? The "little that was left for a wife to help out with" isn't anything important or meaningful, it's just idle women sitting on their hands while you toil and sweat as the breadwinner!

I think we're actually agreeing with each other that once upon a time women were integral partners to the family business from wake up to bedtime and then one day kind of found themselves looking around going "so...what do I do now?"

Husband is at work

Kids are at school

You are at home

For 8 hours

Everyday

With nothing to do but throw the clothes in the washer and start the Betty Crocker mix

That I didn't go on ad nauseum about how this was not a good thing and how women can do stuff too wasn't meant to take away from the broader point which stated more plainly is "one of the causes of modern ennui can be directly traced to the erasure of domestic labor thanks to appliances"

Go hug your grandma and ask her what life was like as a human washer and dryer - she will likely bitch to the moon with a big smile on her face

I know what my mother's life was like, I saw her handwashing clothes in a tub when I was a child. That's why I reacted so hard to the "all women in the 60s/70s did was sit around because now technology took all the hard labour away".

And if you're not hand washing laundry and baking and scrubbing floors eight hours a day, you're still doing routine housework, raising the kids, supporting your husband, doing the household budget. Maybe some upper middle-class women had nothing better to do than go to lunch and take pills, but that wasn't all women.

Couldn't agree more.

What is off handedly dismissed as "domestic female labor" is really "the construction and maintenance of basic pro-social behavior patterns that enable society to function."

Outsourcing those duties to the state has been a disaster. This is as obvious a fact as one can summon. The state does not care about you and never has. The level of involvement and personal sacrifice necessary for humans to raise their young is bananas. No other mammal comes close. It requires an emotional bond that is nearly transcendent. Some of us would call this a "holy" connection and duty.

But others would say "just add water" to make the family.

There's definitely something to this. It's just hard to pin down what exactly went wrong. It feels to me like one of those "seeing like a state" things, where the traditional local system gets regulated into something that almost works, but it's a disaster.

Take the cake example. We never really needed cake. If it's really such a burden to bake a cake, you could simply... not bake it, and be fine (or even healthier, if you're eating too many sweets).

What we do need though, is social ties with our community. And one way to do that is to have a party, where you invite all the neighbors over to have cake with you, because a cake was this big special treat and you have to eat it when it's fresh. Maybe you also borrow a cup of sugar or something from them to help make it. And then maybe they reciprocate by inviting you over for cake next week, or something. This might look completely frivolus, like it's just housewives wasting time gossiping and eating sweets (and uh, sometimes it is just that...) but it also means you've got people to help with something more serious. Or just, you know, real people to socialize with on an equal basis, instead of passively consuming content from famous people. Apparently this kind of banqueting the yields has been a common part of human society since forever. And now, by making everyone more self-sufficient, we've lost that kind of social capital. Nobody is going to come over for a cake party if they can buy themselves a betty crocker cake for cheap and make it while they watch TV, or door-dash themselves a fancy bakery cake.

?? I think we're agreeing too! I'm one of those 'call it holy' connection and duty people.

Inadvertently dismantling the mother's irreplaceable role and creating this cargo cult where we all gesticulate wildly at how important it is to be a good mother has, as you said, been a disaster

Yeah I'm not trying to argue with you. Just talking to myself really, trying to flesh out different angles on what exactly happened there.

I guess the two different angles I see are "it was bad for women, because they lost their sense of purpose and now they're just bored, which is a very real psychological problem" vs "it was bad for everyone, because they were doing a lot of less-visible work in between those household chores, and we've only automated the most obvious stuff while the more subtle social work is no longer getting done by anyone."

The origin of the word 'trivia' seems obvious once you know it, there was a place in Rome where three big main roads met (tri via's) and the women would meet up to do their washing, get the news, and gossip. The foundation of the whole Western world

Now that we have vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and microwaves, what need for men to marry at all? They can just do those five minute tasks in between coming home from their Real Jobs and settling down to have fun with online porn, online gaming, and ordering drugs and booze online.

This, but unironically. Especially since men's standards on those tasks tends to be considerably lower than women's.

This is part of the problem about the relations between the sexes, and why both men and women are dissatisfied. Women are finding out they can't have it all, and men are caught between what women's expectations are, and what they think they should be, and everyone is caught between what they are and the ideal. See the foofah about female models in video games; it's not something that is really important, but at the same time it's irksome when the complaint is "They made the women ugly" and no, they just made the women look more realistic. I suppose if we all calmed down and accepted that this is fantasy, and guys want fantasy big-titted sluts they can use as masturbation material (or not even that, just what they expect as a porn model for online female) and that this is not how real women look, but I suppose that's too much to ask for. Maybe customisation options where if you are that rara avis, a female gamer who wants to play Suicide Squad you can tone down Harley's looks, or if you're a guy who wants her to have mega-gigantic jiggly boobsock, you can both get what you want. And we all agree to live and let live.

See the foofah about female models in video games; it's not something that is really important, but at the same time it's irksome when the complaint is "They made the women ugly" and no, they just made the women look more realistic.

Except they aren't doing this to the men too.

This all seems off the mark to me,

As a rule

Man's a fool

When it's hot

Wants it cool

When it's cool

Wants it hot

Always wanting

What is not

I dated a girl once who was prettier than a porn fantasy, nothing physical could be improved about her in any way. And one time I almost crashed the car on purpose because I was so fed up with her stupid neurotic shit (if anyone's curious that particular time was because we apparently had to get an oil change right then before dinner with her parents (or as she wasn't able to articulate but I was able to infer her dad would have thought less of her for not taking proper care of the car)).

The problem isn't that the fantasy is unrealistic, the problem is that fantasy is typically pretty unsatisfying.

"They made the women ugly" and no, they just made the women look more realistic.

If realism was what game devs pursued in their depictions of women, EA Sports FC (formerly FIFA) wouldn't give women stats comparable to men's. Note that these stats aren't just for show, a mixed team is possible in game and playing such a team is a perfectly valid strategy.

Like I said, it's all fantasy. I don't want to play a football game with a mixed team, but presumably somebody does, and enough somebodies to make it worth producing this edition.

But I don't see "they made the women ugly" when I look at the images being complained about and the woman looks normal to me.

It's a bit unfortunate that we likely aren't going to see the natural gender-flipped example, with media consumed (primarily) by women being pressured by a political interest group to make the men depicted in it more average. This would have to look like every k-drama started changing its male characters to balding dad bods and genuinely (rather than a cutesy female-fantasy version of) awkward spindly nerds with bad skin.

It seems evident to me that people aren't generally consuming fiction to see "normal", outside of some narrow domains of high art where the normality is made worth seeing by the abnormal level of insight by the author. To mandate that fiction depicts normality is political interference, with historical precedent all looking like things like socialist realism (not that its depiction of people was actually that representative in reality).

Women are finding out they can't have it all, and men are caught between what women's expectations are, and what they think they should be, and everyone is caught between what they are and the ideal.

Specifically, the societal script is that women can have it all, that men should give it to them and that expecting anything in return (most especially including household work or sex) is anathema, justifying a tongue-lashing or worse. And you are playing right into that.

See the foofah about female models in video games; it's not something that is really important, but at the same time it's irksome when the complaint is "They made the women ugly" and no, they just made the women look more realistic.

No, they didn't. They deliberately made them less attractive. That they made them "more realistic" is gaslighting from the social justice side.

Well, let's dig in to this. "Less attractive" by what metric? Why should they be attractive in the first place? Are the men ranked on being attractive? I mean yeah, Chris Evans Captain America whoo-hoo baby, but the general run of video game male first person characters?

It's a stupid fight and I don't want to get in to it. If guys want doll characters in high heels, fishnets and plunging cleavage bashing people's brains in with baseball bats, well... you do you. But it's not any realistic level of 'attractiveness'.

Here's the less attractive version of Harley Quinn, right? Oh my gosh, the new version doesn't have her arse swinging like a pendulum, this is an affront!

It's a silly thing to get worked up over. Guys want the exaggerated boobs'n'butt, sure, let them have it. But it's not "less attractive versus more attractive", it's porn attractive.

Can you name many conventionally unattractive male game protagonists from major franchises?

I went down a mental list, and all I could come up with was Mario, who barely has human proportions anyway. The other one was Link in the classic Zelda games, but that was fixed by Ocarina of Time (one of the developers’ wives famously asked for them to ditch the bulbous nose and the rest is history.

You have a wide variety of looks for male protagonists, but they usually fall into the pretty boy camp (Link, Cloud, 9S in Nier Automata) or they’re more classically masculine (Simon Belmont, Snake, Chris Redfield), or they’re somewhere in between, bishounen who project some masculine energy (see Alucard and basically all of Iga-era Castlevania, or brother Nier in Replicant). This is the way it always was and I haven’t seen much deviation.

Women have frequently fallen into the supermodel camp. You have Lara Croft, Bayonetta, Samus, 2B and the old Harley Quinn as classic examples. I prefer petite and/or cute, personally, so women like Lara Croft and 2B don’t do much for me, but, say, Zelda from Skyward Sword does and a lot of female characters from RPGs fall into that camp (a recent example would be Xenoblade 3, with Mio, and there’s a steady selection of Fire Emblem and Atelier characters over the decades that work fine for me). So my tastes have always been a bit underrepresented. Suffice to say masculine or chunky characters aren’t that popular with guys, and there’s room for guys with my taste but they’ll rarely be the only protagonist in a game outside select RPGs, which is fine. Heck, even Saber from Fate, who would realistically be muscular, doesn’t look like it.

I don’t play many AAA games, so I’m mostly unaffected by the trends I’ve seen. But the trend seems to be that every attractive female character is made less attractive by conventional standards, and every new female character is either ordinary or unattractive, which has never been the case with guys and seems to continue not to be the case. By what rubric in film, television, or popular art could you make the case that Aloy from the second Horizon game, or that protagonist from the latest Fable trailer, or the Forspoken protagonist, or that super-masculine woman from The Last of Us 2 is attractive to men in the general population? Maybe there’s some art from certain periods with large women, but that’s always seemed to be a result of the artist’s proclivities, not overall trends. I don’t recall seeing masculine women being all that popular with men in any period in history. Why have new characters who look like Samus seemingly become so rare? And why have things seemingly tilted away from those female signifiers of beauty, as in the case of Harley Quinn?

How many modern male characters have seen the equivalent treatment? I don’t even recall many recent male protagonists, but does, say, the guy from the latest Assassin’s Creed adhere less to conventional male standards? What about the guy on the art of Baulder’s Gate 3, who at least looks like he fits into the bishounen trope? What about the new Prince of Persia protagonist, who, haircut aside, just looks very fit, the Simon Belmont type?

Regardless, it looks like the principles of female character design have changed, where the principles of male character design have changed more incrementally if at all. I think that’s what people are latching on to.

Can you name many conventionally unattractive male game protagonists from major franchises?

Screw that, I'd just be happy if anyone could name a merely average-looking male game protagonist from a major franchise.

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And why have things seemingly tilted away from those female signifiers of beauty, as in the case of Harley Quinn?

I don't think Harley is beautiful, but then "vacuum sealed into her costume" isn't appealing to me. I think the character is unappealing in general because of the whole back story, and then Margot Robbie in the movie version of Suicide Squad just sealed the deal about "this is ugliness" for me. But I'm old enough that I think tattoos and dyed hair are signifiers of trashy, not hawtness.

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"Less attractive" by what metric?

By most metrics both the audience and the people doing it would recognize.

Why should they be attractive in the first place?

Are we doing merited impossibility now?

If guys want doll characters in high heels, fishnets and plunging cleavage bashing people's brains in with baseball bats, well... you do you.

That's Harley Quinn's character in a nutshell; psychotic pixie nightmare girl.

psychotic pixie nightmare girl.

Which is not reality, and if you want the blow-up doll version of that in a video game, okay go for it. But it's not beautiful, it's not what real women look like, and from the outside for women, it's a tedious trope.

Like I said, male and female sexuality is different. I'm not unsympathetic to guys going "my fantasy wank material is not appealing in this new version" about their traditional games, Lord knows I've whined about changes to my favourite materials in media. But games companies have to expand the market to make money, which means trying to sell to women as well.

Personally, I don't think games like Suicide Squad are appealing to women, but there may well be some women out there who like those kind of shoot-em-ups. So the game studios want to reel them in by giving them characters to identify with, like Harley, and that makes turning Harley from the blow-up doll to something more appealing to women a necessity. Again, I wouldn't take Suicide Squad for free because the concept insults me: oh yeah, go ahead and piss on Flash's corpse, that's so mature. But I'm carrying over my preferences from comics where I like the Justice League and don't like the idea of "so let's kill the League", even more "let's kill the League in demeaning ways because old-fashioned notions of honour and dignity are to be ridiculed".

I'm way more on board with the criticisms of having Lex Luthor be the voice of SJW by admiring the Amazons for being free of toxic masculinity. Those kinds of changes are truly worth fighting over, not cosmetic changes to Harley's butt so it's less jiggly.

Also, what the hell did they do to Amanda Waller? She's supposed to be a hefty lass, not this pop-eyed skinny bint.

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Now that we have vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and microwaves, what need for men to marry at all? They can just do those five minute tasks in between coming home from their Real Jobs and settling down to have fun with online porn, online gaming, and ordering drugs and booze online.

This, but unironically. Especially since men's standards on those tasks tends to be considerably lower than women's.

I often think of the economic ramifications when I see memes about single men's apartments. You can see the outlines of the pod, but the pod seems to be arriving quicker than AI will fill in the role of the mediocre men with their tedious infrastructure-maintaining jobs. If a third of young Gen Z men will never marry, and another third will end up divorcees with their wages garnished, and they're happy with a $499 gaming console and a $249 TV, what happens to the economy?

I guess the answer is the state will have to find some way to expropriate a larger portion of these men's wages to ensure they can only afford the pod if they provide a lot more surplus value than they used to, ensuring that incel pod guy must still seek technical certifications and work 40 hours at his lame construction job. Will they be able to squeeze blood from that rock is a salient unanswered question.

There was a good motte post awhile back about the ancient Mesopotamian origin myth of women luring wild men playing in the mountains down into the cities to farm. But in the 21st century, the wild men are slovenly gamers and the women are preaching harpies.

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There was a good motte post awhile back about the ancient Mesopotamian origin myth of women luring wild men playing in the mountains down into the cities to farm.

Link by any chance? I would like to know more.

Not familiar with the original post, but this is one of the earlier scenes of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Essentially, King Gilgamesh is ruling over Uruk as a tyrant, subjecting his people to cruel forced labor and exercising droit du seigneur whenever a couple is married. So the gods create a wild man named Enkidu to stop him.

Enkidu initially lives his life among the animals in the wilderness, almost more beast than man, cooperating with animals on the hunt, etc. But the gods decide that Enkidu needs to go forth into Uruk to stop King Gilgamesh and join civilization. Thus, they send a priestess/temple prostitute to Enkidu, and they lie together for seven days and seven nights. But on the eighth day, when Enkidu goes to rejoin his animal companions, they all shun him and flee from him, now that he’s been changed by the civilizing influence of sex. He thus has no choice but to go down into the city, where it is inevitable that he’ll fight with King Gilgamesh (and afterwards, become his closest friend).

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a very interesting poem, because in addition to all the timeless meditations on the mortality of man and whatnot, you also get an extremely rare and valuable look at how those who lived in history’s first civilized state understood and related to the development of the state—which, it must be emphasized, is a wholly novel, awesome, terrifying technology. Cities had existed for millennia before Homer’s Greeks, for centuries before even the Vedic Aryans. But the milleu in which the Epic of Gilgamesh was written witnessed the development of the very first cities; the world of Enkidu was all that was known prior. It’s thus no surprise that the poem both begins and ends with a meditation on the glory of the walls of the cities of Uruk, so many meters high, baked of clay….

I honor your generosity in sharing this.

I do not have it, sorry. Pretty sure it was the old site.

I guess the answer is the state will have to find some way to expropriate a larger portion of these men's wages to ensure they can only afford the pod if they provide a lot more surplus value than they used to

The state will not do that. It will run budget deficits for a while, and eventually import third worlders to work backbreaking labor for pennies. Really, how much effort has Italy gone to to push bambocini into the workforce? Argentina? Other countries with ridiculous youth unemployment rates?

work 40 hours at his lame construction job

Why is a construction job lame? If you want more housing built, you damn well need construction workers.

I don't think the job itself is lame, but it does lead to a pretty undesirable lifestyle. Waking up before dawn, working outside in the freezing cold and boiling heat, giving you sunburns and chapped skin. Sweating and stinking, getting course hands and back problems. Lots of heavy lifting, but not in the way that makes you look attractive like a lean cut model, more just bulky fat. Lots of hanging out with other lower-class men drinking and swearing too much. Almost no women in the field at all. Then you have to go to bed super early so you can be up on time the next day. All of that is going to make it really hard to meet women.

Why is a construction job lame? If you want more housing built, you damn well need construction workers.

Chicks don't dig it. The story goes that regardless of income, women aren't interested blue collar men. I don't know how true that is.

Do you want to be the one telling all your friends you just met the nicest guy and he's a plumber? It's true

If I were at all inclined to marry, then a plumber would be a respectable occupation for any spouse. I'm not middle class, I'm lower middle class at best from rural working class roots. My paternal grandfather was a navvy in England during three quarters of the year, coming back home to Ireland for the winter months. My maternal grandfather was a farm labourer.

The people I know, the family members I have, a good trade like plumber or electrician are decent jobs and nobody is looking down their nose at "you can only get a plumber as a match?"

Were I middle-middle to upper-middle class where all my antecedents had been white collar workers, maybe that would be different. But it's not the case that I instinctively recoil in horror at the notion of "oh no, I have to tell my friends my fiancé is a - gasp!- manual labourer????" 😁

Snobbery is not the contempt of the upper class for the lower. In fact, snobbery is the insecurity of the middle class striver who thinks he might be found out.

Prior to the modern age, there was a fundamental disconnect between the classes. A nobleman was better than a commoner. He wasn't necessarily smarter, or better looking, or more talented. He was better as a condition of his birth and nothing could change that.

Now we live in a meritocracy and things are much more brutal. Nowadays, the rich are actually much smarter and better looking and more talented than the poor. They studied hard, got into an Ivy, and then got the big job at the bulge bracket bank. Do you suck? It's not because you were born poor, it's because you actually suck. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

What's worse, we are constantly bombarded with images of the successful. We watch Sex and the City, and see women gallivanting around the city, boasting fake prestigious jobs, gigantic apartments, and dating tall, handsome successful men who are far out of their league. And these women weren't born rich (except Charlotte). They just moved to New York with a dream. So what's wrong with you?

Comparison is the thief of joy.

We live in a society where we are constantly being bombarded with images of the fabulous life. The life that we could obtain if we only worked a little harder. It's almost in reach.

Prior to the modern age, there was a fundamental disconnect between the classes. A nobleman was better than a commoner. He wasn't necessarily smarter, or better looking, or more talented. He was better as a condition of his birth and nothing could change that.

Now we live in a meritocracy and things are much more brutal. Nowadays, the rich are actually much smarter and better looking and more talented than the poor. They studied hard, got into an Ivy, and then got the big job at the bulge bracket bank. Do you suck? It's not because you were born poor, it's because you actually suck. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

This was the general position Osnabrückish jurist Justus Möser argued — or, perhaps better to say predicted — in his "No Promotion According to Merit," circa 1770. It's a point also made by a number of subsequent thinkers, as outlined by Jeremy Beer here. (Though he omits one of the most notable of all, Michael Young, who popularized the word "meritocracy.")

I agree, meritocracy is obviously the cause of a lot of widespread unhappiness, because regret lurks wherever something is possible to achieve but not achieved.

People are happy when they exist in a narrow, comfortable possibility space. No great risks, no great opportunities, no great regrets.

Nowadays, the rich are actually much smarter and better looking and more talented than the poor.

This immediately makes me go "oh yeah, that supermodel hunk like Jeff Bezos? Mark Zuckerberg? Bill Gates? Not to mention this specimen that will make you faint from his handsomeness, richest man in the world Bernard Arnault. Lock up your wives, gentlemen, before they run after him like the gopis running after Krishna!"

EDIT: No disrespect to Bernard, he's not bad-looking for his age. But if you want me to accept that indeed the rich are much better looking than the poor? Well, depends on which rich guy and which poor guy. Sure, on a general population level, guy who has access since birth to healthcare, nutrition, shelter and general upbringing will look better than a toothless meth addict living in a trailer park, but that's not to say that there is an inherent superiority in A as contrasted with B - flip them around, and which is the thief and which the justice?

I'm busted. I believe that there is slight positive correlation between wealth and looks.

But as you point out, many of the richest people are not lookers.

IQ correlates with both wealth and attractiveness. IIRC on average each 'point' on the 1-10 attractiveness scale is worth something like 3 IQ points. But I have not been able to find that study ever again.

Makes sense. Sadly, people who suffer malnutrition, abuse, or fetal alcohol syndrome will be both uglier and stupider.

Later in the life, I imagine the correlation between intelligence and beauty becomes much stronger. People who are smarter tend have fewer problems with obesity, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, all of which make one much uglier.

Sadly, people who suffer malnutrition, abuse, or fetal alcohol syndrome will be both uglier and stupider.

Yes, but a lot of this is genetic. Good traits correlate with good traits and bad traits correlate with bad traits, and this is partly due to assortative mating. Check this out:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/05/04/myers-race-car-versus-the-general-fitness-factor/

I admit, I can't resist picking on poor Jeff. Guy looks like a boiled frog since his mid-life crisis, and he dropped his ex-wife for the next door neighbour who - to me - doesn't look that much better save for the plastic surgery she's clearly had done. I know, that's catty. But those bazooms are not real and that's some trout pout. She'll need work done on her forearms, that's where her age is showing. I don't know if there's plastic surgery for arms, I'm sure some enterprising Hollywood doc is working on it.

Now we live in a meritocracy and things are much more brutal. Nowadays, the rich are actually much smarter and better looking and more talented than the poor. They studied hard, got into an Ivy, and then got the big job at the bulge bracket bank. Do you suck? It's not because you were born poor, it's because you actually suck. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

Than the poor, sure. I don't see much if any distinction between the UMC and the rich in talent, work ethic or looks. If anything, the UMC are slightly "better" because there is constant selection going on while for the rich there are much higher guard rails.

I don't think the rich necessarily lack merit, it's just that they aren't more meritorious. I still think allowing winners to exist even if they aren't wholly meritous is a good idea in order to stimulate competition, entrepreneurship and risk taking; it's large transfers of intergenerational wealth and the almost complete lack of risk involved in maintaining wealth nowadays that's a bit iffy to me.

I don't see much if any distinction between the UMC and the rich in talent, work ethic or looks. If anything, the UMC are slightly "better" because there is constant selection going on while for the rich there are much higher guard rails.

Most of the richest Americans are noveau riche. They started in the UMC or below and became rich. Not through birth, but either "talent, work ethic or looks", or luck, or both.

Put the average UMC on top of a billion dollar inheritance, and most would be able to maintain it. But actually transitioning from UMC to ultra wealth always takes a combination of above average intelligence, hard work, and luck.

Should we care about the role of luck? I don't really: objectively, most members of the UMC have a lifestyle that would seem fantastical to the ultra wealthy of even a couple decades ago, and most of our attention should be on the underclass whose lives are in ruin (big screen TVs and cell phones aside).

What's interesting is that the UMC feels so deeply insecure about their position, which makes action for those truly in need much harder. They are terrified any misstep would send them tumbling into the underclass. A medical event, a recession, a unpopular posting on social media. So they self police relentlessly and do everything possible to distance themselves from that possibility, even at the cost of making escape from the underclass much harder.

A nobleman was better than a commoner. He wasn't necessarily smarter, or better looking, or more talented.

He wasn't necessarily smarter, better looking, or more talented. But let's not let that distract from the fact that he was, is and will remain all of the above. If you have better education, nutrition, exposure, etc - especially if you compound that over time - you are better.

If you have better education, nutrition, exposure, etc - especially if you compound that over time - you are better.

There might have been a weird period from like, 1700-1900, where that wasn't necessarily true. The nobles were eating a lot more sugar, alcohol, and tobacco than the average peasant, and getting an education of mostly latin, greek, and bible study. Not really the sort of thing that would give them a massive boost in life.

an education of mostly latin, greek, and bible study. Not really the sort of thing that would give them a massive boost in life.

What different worlds we live in!

We'll have to agree to disagree on that one - alcohol, tobacco, latin, greek, and bible study are to me what makes a man

I guess when 90% of the currently read classic works were written by nobles in that time period, it's to be expected that their image of a man is what holds.

My ancestors did not bother to invite writing beyond some furtive rock-scratches before the Romans invaded them and wrote them into history, my conclusion from that is that the Romans were doing something right my ancestors were not

Now we live in a meritocracy and things are much more brutal. Nowadays, the rich are actually much smarter and better looking and more talented than the poor. They studied hard, got into an Ivy, and then got the big job at the bulge bracket bank. Do you suck? It's not because you were born poor, it's because you actually suck. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

This is highly contentious. You've got a lot of work ahead of you still to think it's that easy to adduce the claim that we live in a meritocracy. Birthright status may not be a formal doctrine of our political thinking anymore, but informal relationships, connections and patronage networks still by 'far' play the largest role out of any single variable in success. And thinking Ivy League schools and large bank accounts are a sufficient proxy for merit leaves a lot unaccounted for. Even books like the Bell Curve couldn't adequately control for and factor out the importance of 'luck' as far as their analysis goes. And luck matters far more than talent.

Any ideologies that depend on any version of Just World Theory are false and should be abandoned.

Any ideologies that depend on any version of Just World Theory are false and should be abandoned.

Nobody believies in "Just World Theory", it is a stawman. I believe stawman "Magic Dirt Theory" is more accurate for your thinking than "Just World Theory" for your opponents.

? Sounds interesting if you'd care to share more about what you mean

There is a large industry devoted to proving that the rich are undeserving, but it doesn't seem to be true. Let's go over the richest Americans.

  1. Jeff Bezos: Born to teenage parents. His dad was a "unicyclist" according to Wikipedia.

  2. Elon Musk: Born to a dysfunctional family. Dad was absent. Mom raised family on a small income.

  3. Mark Zuckerburg: Upper middle class. Probably 95-99 percentile but not spectacularly rich.

  4. Larry Ellison: Born to an unwed mother. Raised by a middle class family in Chicago.

  5. Warren Buffett. Minor gentry. Father was a U.S. congressman

  6. Bill Gates: Father was a wealthy layer. 99-99.9 percentile.

  7. Steve Ballmer. Upper middle class.

  8. Larry Page. Upper middle class.

Obviously, these people are much more privileged than average, but nothing unremarkable. Only Buffett and maybe Gates could be considered true aristocracy. The most remarkable aspect is that 50% are Jewish. IQ is the true aristocracy in the 21st century.

If you read the biographies of any of these men it's clear that they possessed an exceptional intellect from an early age. Honestly, I doubt any of these 8 have an IQ below 145.

I think we can cherry pick the data and have it any way we want in picking our specific cases to compare that make our points. I'm not saying talent is irrelevant to success. What I'm saying here is that society-wide, resource distribution is the most important variable to what's being addressed here.

You can try and change the distribution of talents all you want. But that still doesn't override the effects of resource distribution. Whenever any misfortune befalls you, it's increasingly difficult to get back up; whereas if you have better luck as far as initial conditions go, you'll more quickly accumulate enough resources to be able to weather the effects of later misfortunes down the road. This fundamentally is why it's almost impossible to escape poverty no matter how talented you are or how hard you work, and consequently there's a lot that can be said about lazy and useless rich people.

And this phenomenon is pretty well attested to, especially amongst experienced investors. If you simply go and fund one business with a ton of money in hopes of leveraging profit from it, you're highly prone to losing your shirt, and that's because the average rate of business failure simply becomes your probability of losing everything. But if you fund ten businesses with a tenth of that same money each, you'll get ahead, even when several of those businesses fail; since then the average rate of business success simply becomes your return on investment. You have to invest in failure to increase your probability of success.

The same thing rings true when you have ideologues who hold up the failure of the solar panel manufacturers like Solyndra as a reason the government shouldn’t “pick winners and losers” with things like loan programs, and yet they ignore the fact that in this is what 'all' investors do, the net effect of the government’s investments can only be positive if several plays are bet. You expect to lose some, because that’s the only way you win some. People hold up Solyndra as proof of their ideology, by ignoring all the companies funded by the same program that didn’t fail. The government is making a profit on that program.

To your point about IQ, there's actually a respectable body of literature that shows that there is no causal relationship between IQ and wealth; and although there 'is' a correlation between IQ and annual income, the correlation is pretty small and flat. The truth is rich people aren't actually that much smarter than poor people. Once you control for factors like 'being raised in a wealthy household', there's no statistically significant correlation between IQ and wealth. The simple fact is, luck actually produces most of peoples fortunes.

I broadly agree with this, but want to add a sort of different framing option.

Instead of just looking at general "luck", I like to look at it as shots on goal or number of at bats. Those middle class strivers operate with the background knowledge that if their big risk doesn't pay off, they can bounce back to "just" a boring middle manager job and, maybe, try again.

I contrast this to an ex-girlfriend's cousin who, upon saving up $500 for his own power washer, agonized over actually pulling the trigger to start his pressure washing business because he wasn't sure if the garage he was working out would re-hire him if he quit.

Risking everything you have (right now) on one bet knowing you can rebuilt that "Everything" in a few years is one version of "luck." Risking everything you have right now and also everything you would have had over several years is another. "Opportunity cost" means something really different based on class.

I think we can cherry pick the data

Cherry picking would be going over a list of rich people, selecting the ones which fit the thesis, and presenting them as representative. Picking the top and showing 6 of 8 fit the thesis isn't cherry picking.

To your point about IQ, there's actually a respectable body of literature that shows that there is no causal relationship between IQ and wealth

It's not respectable. It's playing a silly game of showing IQ doesn't correlate with wealth when you "correct" for a bunch of other things that also correlate with IQ and wealth, including income.