Friday, January 28, 2011

We Allow OURSELVES to be Deceived... Nobody does it for Us.

The story from Broke-Ass Grouch that I linked to recently has been rolling around my mind ever since I first read it.  Broke-Ass ("BA") is intelligent, witty, insightful, and brutally honest... with a glaring exception:  BA assigns blame to the wrong people.

To my mind, and stay with me a moment while I piss off a number of special interest groups, BA was the victim of the university/industrial complex and the Feminist Marriage/Divorce Industrial complex. Herewith, BA in her own words:
Now, to be fair, Broke-Ass Grouch is neither Mexican nor was she poor until three years ago. Like many of you good-doers, Broke-Ass was raised by middle-class intellectuals to be a middle-class intellectual, and graduated from a snooty liberal arts college. Also, like many of you, she spent her career working at high-status, low-paying, terminally insecure work. 
To be fair, BA's first critical error - spending the present day value of $200k on a Liberal Arts college undergrad degree In English Literature - was made as a teenager.  Having been a teenager myself I can sympathize endlessly. The family resources that went into an English Degree from Bennigton College could not have been more ill spent. Let's give BA a Mulligan for that critical error... and let us learn a lesson.  If you are not rich, say liquid-after-tax net worth of $5mm+... don't let the University/Industrial complex extort a fortune for an education that could be had for a library card... $200k for an engineering degree from MIT might well be worth it; $100k for an engineering degree from Georgia Tech is most definitely worth it... knowing your Faust and Thoreau, et al? Not so much.  Still, BA can turn a phrase. Somehow, I think she would have been better off with a mortgage free house and a State University degree than the Lit Degree from Bennington.  Just saying.

More from BA:

Broke-Ass Grouch, like many in America, found herself abruptly cashless. Like many of the heretofore liberal elite, she had been trained exclusively in a non-essential trade (writing for a living), and thus had no marketable value in the general economy. Having lived a life of unexamined comfort and self-satisfaction, Broke-Ass now found herself with never more than $37.68 in the bank, and three little children to support (though she did count herself extravagantly lucky that her two older children's father sent them to private school, and that her 12-year-old used minivan hadn't collapsed in vapors -- yet). She began to see the primacy of McDonald's Dollar Meal and rifling through the bargain bins at Walmart, searching for tube socks and jeans made by 7-year-olds in Bangladesh for a dime a day.
Hmmm. Presumably BA had a husband or partner that was at some point supporting her and her children... but somehow her husband extracted himself from supporting her while still supporting his/her children.  BA does not comment much on this. I wonder why? I can only speculate, but my sense is that BA had a good thing and did not do everything within her power to protect and nurture it.  Maybe BA resented the Patriarchy aspects of marriage that exist when the man is the primary provider.  Maybe BA was not the loving partner she could have been. Who knows? Maybe BA prefers lonely poverty to a middle class existence as somebody's "wife"?  Look, for all I know the older children's father is a No-Goodnic... that just happens to send his children to private school.  And maybe he left BA for some young Tart in spite of BA's tremendous efforts to welcome him home from work everyday with the warmth of a family dinner as well as the incredible warmth BA generated in the marriage bed.

Maybe a lot of things... but I smell Feminist ideology on her writings, background, and college experience... while correlation does not imply causation, that ideology DOES NOT CORRELATE with a happy family life and long term marriage, if I may make use of understatement.
Plus, she still wanted her children to know the virtues of the liberal arts phenomenology -- the unalloyed pleasures of reading, thinking, investigating, experimenting -- even though said phenomenology had dumped her by the side of the road in middle age and left her for dead.
BA seems to recognize where she is... I merely submit that BA blames the wrong forces that put her there.  For mother's of young children, the disintegration of a marriage is usually an unmitigated disaster (to say nothing of its effects on the children).  Why no emphasis on imploring mothers to protect themselves and their family other than by divorce court? Our society has defined the proper role of a husband... it is there for all to see in our literature and media reports... when was the last time you saw the Media present a mother's roll in the family?  It is always one of "choice". Stay at home mom, working mom.... whatever (and BULLSH*T). None of us has much of a choice about most things, and the propaganda that we do has led many to a life of therapy and Prozak.

Happiness is self-inflicted. Unfortunately, all too often, so is misery. So much of the misery of people who never miss a warm meal and always sleep in warm, clean bed comes from the culture wars and propaganda efforts of the special interest groups.  We ALLOW these groups to deceive us - or WE DO NOT.  We make that choice. The University/Industrial complex is only too willing to leave you as an indentured servant for the rest of your life... the Marriage/Divorce Industrial complex is only too willing to suck up vast amounts of resources that would otherwise be available to the FAMILY. It is up to us as individuals.

So what's this got to do with energy? Nothing.  This is a lesson in family financial planning... and a brutal one, at that. I daresay something along these lines should be part of a Liberal Arts education.


bureaucrat said...

As a near-engineer from a liberal arts university, I've mentioned in the past how I think you are unrating the college experience, which, though expensive, can be very rewarding in other areas. It was for me. :)

However, I have to take some issue with the idea that an engineering degree from anywhere is worth much. 90% of the work done in this country and world was learned on the job, by average, middle-class workers. There are only so many Ipods that need an electrical engineer to draw and calculate its circuitry. The US and world can only financially support so many MDs, JDs and PhDs.

What we need is a new appeciation for "average/middle class." America will not function well with a small number of multimillionaires and everyone else making minimum wage, as Shedlock's blog advocates.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


You miss the point. You don't have a wife and children to support... absent that experience, this will be hard for you to grasp.

I don't underrate the college experience - what I do do is perform a cost/benefit analysis. Said analysis concludes that $200k for a degree qualifying one to be a writer is not economic... I am sure there are non-econommic benefits, though as BA points out, those benefits will not pay the rent nor put food on the table.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

And its true that the world DOES NOT need a bizzillion MD's and PhD's... this is where the propaganda from the University industrial complex comes into play.

The harsh truth is this: The top 10% of the population in IQ will accomplish the vast, vast majority of mankind's work in math, science, medicine, law, literature... Yet the U/I complex will happily tell a family of an 18 year old double digit IQ that a degree and 4 years will help their child be a "success".

Life is NOT fair, and I assert that most of the unhappiness in life is caused by trying to make it so - however you may define that.

Dextred1 said...


Quit speaking the truth like this, they, whoever they are might not like it. :)

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

~ Jesus

tweell said...

Exactly. Life isn't fair. As far as liberal arts degrees go, there are all kinds of stories about folks with degrees in woman's studies, writing, even law doing jobs that have no relation to their course of study and at low pay. I haven't noticed any about the poor engineer having to flip burgers. Perhaps because the engineers are busy designing and making (with a decent salary)?
I think that you have nailed Broke-Ass Grouch as well. I'd bet that is partially why she's grouchy, she had a decent thing and decided that she could do better. Alas, instead of Eat, Pray, Love, it was garden, work, scrounge.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


I have a little girl... I hope desperately for her a happy and healthy family and home life... and I will analyze anything and everything, verbotten or not to help her in any and every way that I can.

PioneerPreppy said...

Certainly your cost analysis as far as liberal arts is pretty much correct. Too many specialty degrees have been invented and then pushed into filling the slots the traditional degrees used to. Mandatory funding for everyone and their illegal alien cousin has cheapened those type of degrees down to high school level anyway. Government agencies granting on the job equivalency for education has also removed the demand for liberal arts degrees inside that leech system as well.

I would also say you are spot on by noticing the feminist slant to the story and the trap sprung on BA and thousands like her.

We are going to see many more stories like BA's in the coming years.

Anonymous said...

The UIC has spent a lot of energy trying to push everyone into the same mold. They want indentured servants to work for the big corporations. They hold up climbing the corporate ladder as the ultimate path to success and happiness. Especially for women.

Then, the kids are wild and Mom and Dad are exhausted, physically unfit, and fat. Why? Because it takes two to pay the mortgage and buy all the other crap society says that we just gotta have. No time for exercise. No time to cook. Who's to blame? As you said, we choose which lies to believe. Welcome to the Prozac Nation.

Personally, I can't do management, and I'm barely employable as an individual contributor at a smaller, very understanding company. Now that the kids are grown, my wife has taken a shot at the full-time big corp thing. She'll be checking out of that pretty soon. She's just not feeling the love either. We have built a world that no one can stand to live in.


Coal Guy

Dextred1 said...

In many ways she is just an example or shadow of cognitive dissonance in our society. On one hand the intense socialization in this case "liberal" mindset created a narrative that no real world setting could fulfill. When she had the chance to have a family it failed because of her pre-existing world view. It would have always failed. The mind goes crazy if there are two irreconcilable views and thus you get rid of one or the other. Her ego/self-worth are tied up in her liberal mindset. Maybe her husband was a strong male figure (if he was liberal or conservative matters not). Her view of herself is wrapped around her establishment liberal mentality, if you don’t think so why does she mention it so many times in a small write up. When the truth of reality hits (maybe he does not want to get bossed around by some uptight wife who thinks she knows everything) she’s tries to do what all humans do which is rationalize her life and mindset. I find it interesting because now it is not looked down upon to divorce, but actually leaving your spouse and raising your kids alone is some type of badge of honor to many. This is not true in every case, but all abstractions are not true to every specific case.

Anonymous said...

Oil up, gold up, dollar up, equities down. Is this the unrest in the Arab world?


Coal Guy

Stephen B. said...

Adding to what Coal Guy said, one thing that modern folk are entertained with is all the electronic crap. Now I realize that we here are meeting on an electronic forum ourselves, but we're having a decent conversation amongst adults. But that is only a small part of what most TVs, video games, Ipods, and computers are used for. Most of the electronic activity is mindless stuff used to drug and satiate the masses.

With it, our brains are rotting faster than last week's garbage at the bottom of the compost pile.

Last week, at the residential school, I intercepted some kids playing a video game. I thought it was a rather ordinary vg, something called Tony Hawke's Underground. In it, our bored and inactive kids pilot the hero, protagonist skateboarder around the landscape, the latter, of course, is way cool and studly. Okay, so imagine my surprise when I walk over to see what's up (an older coworker is watching them and is extremely unsettled) only to find the on-screen protagonist not skateboarding, but screwing a goat. Yes, in a T, "teen" rated video game, during a break in the action, a white goat pops up that the character engages in bestiality with. I'll just mention in passing the other scene where one gets to skateboard down an alley where a car is parked, windows steamy, car rocking, while over the sound track we hear a guy and a girl going at it.

Our society has been headed down hill in this regard for some time. Then too, I'm sure we all here like our fun, but COME ON!

The kids FREAKED (we almost had an assault and restraint) when I took the vg dvd. I was told, "Everybody else lets us play this" and "it's rated T for teen and that's us", etc., etc. I went on to tell them I don't care if some industry rating board staffed with a bunch of 20-somethings has decided it's okay for the game to casually include bestiality, I wasn't standing for it. But really, with the advent of nearly every TV show such as South Park, on in the afternoon for pre-teens to see, vulgar, in-your-face behavior seemingly everywhere, perhaps the kids, from their point of view, were telling the truth.

I am no Puritan myself, but we as a society have sunk SO far in the past few decades in terms of decency and interpersonal sexual and ordinary relations, were all supposed to be entertained in our few hours off in our apartments, homes, wherever, between working in the cubicle, or collecting our government handout, or running to Sprawl Mart, by this MINDLESS, corrosive, "stuff."

Orlov et al are SO right. There is no saving this society and country.

One just best get out of the way and preserve what one can for one's self and close family.

bureaucrat said...

Looks like a "investing flight moment" to me. :) Lots of wealthy people in the Arab world are looking at Eqypt and its torture government now being held accountable and possibly ended, and seeing that they may have to flee themselves.

And what guaranteed assets do people flee to when they have to run for their lives? Gold & commodities. Stocks and bonds are too complicated at first. :) I would think any flight to Treasuries will happen later. The rich rarely lose money in these things.

bureaucrat said...

Data for you, Jeffers,

For those actually still interested in oil ...

From the USEIA Top 15 countries monthly report ...

Our five biggest oil import sources, listed in order with the thousand-barrels-per-day numbers for YTD 2009, YTD 2010 and November 2011 ..

Canana, 1928, 1963, 1975
Mexico, 1095, 1132, 1229
Saudi, 991, 1081, 1119
Venezuela, 968, 920, 884
Nigeria, 753, 982, 806

With the exception of the weirdoes in Venezuela sending some of their oil to China, our biggest five oil import sources continue to send tanker after tanker after tanker (or pipeline) of increased oil quantities to this country.

Peak oil? Yes ... but ...

bureaucrat said...

By the way, for those of you watching the wonderful Egyptian rioting against their corrupt, torturing government, if this gets Hosni thrown out, it will further the case that the Iranians, who had an equal chance at tossing out their oppressive government half a year ago, can't do one damn thing right. :) Iran threatening the world? With nukes? PLEASE!

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Men and Women are SUPPOSED to need each other... for a host of reasons. Men behave better in society when attached to a woman... why? Who knows and who cares? It is what it is. Women are better off financially, for the most part, when part of a committed family relationship... Children are better off raised in a home with their biological parents... They don't have to be legally married (which has only turned out to be an extortion strategy)... they just have to BE THERE.

Our biggest societal problem is parenting... solve that, and most things fall into place. And Good Luck!

Greg T. Jeffers said...


It is truly a said observation: A trap HAS been sprung on BA, and it will be sprung upon countless others - especially those absent the ability for abstract thought and an ability to think for themselves...

The CIA uses the term "blow back". Others call it the "boomerang effect". Drop a bomb on some people and a generation later their relatives fly planes into your sky scrappers kind of thing...

I guess it applies here as well.