Morning Report – Preparing for life after Fan and Fred 3/12/14

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1860.0 -5.2 -0.28%
Eurostoxx Index 3052.9 -39.6 -1.28%
Oil (WTI) 98.3 -1.7 -1.73%
LIBOR 0.234 0.001 0.34%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.66 -0.073 -0.09%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.74% -0.03%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 105.6 0.1
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 104 0.1
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 200.7 -0.2
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.35
Markets are weaker this morning on no real news, except for general concerns about overseas economic growth. Bonds and MBS are up
Mortgage Applications fell 2.1% last week as purchases fell .5% and refis fell 3.1%. Mortgage rates rose five bps last week, according to the MBA. Refi activity dropped to 56.7% of all mortgages.
The Senate Banking Committee released the broad outlines of a plan that revamp the nation’s housing finance system and they plan on releasing more details in the coming days. The biggest change is that the government moves into a re-insurance role with private capital bearing the first 10% severity risk. It also eliminates the affordable housing mandates out of Fannie and Fred, but requires a fund paid for with industry fees that would go toward ensuring affordable housing. The government’s continued presence would maintain the 30 year fixed rate mortgage, which Americans consider their birthright.
The government’s big problem is that Fannie and Fred had historically undercharged for their insurance product. In order to attract (or “crowd in”) private capital, they have to price as if they have no government backing or subsidy. Ex FHFA Chairman Ed DeMarco raised g-fees, which Mel Watt has put on hold. If they charge too little for insurance, you won’t see private capital enter the market, and if they charge too much, the industry and affordable housing advocates begin to complain. The government really has to walk a fine line with this.
The stocks of Fannie and Fred got clobbered yesterday, and are down big pre-market. That said, Fannie Mae still sports a  $23 billion market cap, which IMO is a hefty price for what is simply a litigation lottery ticket at this point.
Bill Gross has been scaling out of MBS. The PIMCO Total Return Fund cut its holdings of MBS from 36% to 29%. Bill has also been shortening duration, taking the fund’s effective duration from 5.1 years to 4.7 years. This means Bill is piling into shorter-dated, lower return bonds, which is a bet you would make if you think interest rates are going up faster / quicker than the market consensus. Bill has been making bullish statements in the press on bonds, so this is yet one more instance of Bill talking his book. Don’t pay attention to what Bill says, watch what he does.
The Fed is close to ditching its 6.5% unemployment threshold for considering a rate rise and will substitute less granular language in its FOMC statement next week. This is interesting because Yellen had come out very much in favor of more communication out of the Fed, not less. The problem of course is that the unemployment rate has been falling, but the jobs market is still weaker than the headline numbers suggest. They want to de-emphasize the 6.5% numerical target and embrace a more holistic view of the labor market that includes the labor force participation rate, underemployment rate, etc – factors that can’t be captured if you simply focus on the unemployment rate.

162 Responses

  1. Short Fed: 7% unemployment is the New Normal.

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  2. Yello got Frist!

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  3. Well, I do think “full employment” will now have a 5% handle on it. I don’t think the Fed lets unemployment get below 5% any more.

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  4. “7% unemployment is the New Normal.”

    I believe I argued that a while back. I think though it’s an oversimplification.

    The real point is that with short term unemployment back to pre-recession levels, the long term unemployed are being written off.

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  5. ” I don’t think the Fed lets unemployment get below 5% any more.”

    I’m not sure if “let” is the right word. I’d say that they don’t target a rate below 5% any more.

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  6. What they are trying to do is prevent the bond market from rolling over once the unemployment rate hits 6.5%.

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  7. @jnc – what I mean is that the Fed will start raising short term rates if unemployment gets to 5%. Sub 5% unemployment may not cause consumer price inflation, but it has shown to be correlated with asset price inflation (bubbles).

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  8. Paging jnc to the 3/11 Morning Report. . .

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    • Making fast food ‘managers’ overtime exempt was always an end run around wage laws. The keep the hourly workers just under full time to avoid paying benefits and then work the ‘supervisors’ so much that there net hourly pay is just over the minimum wage.

      Since health care is a fixed cost, this makes accounting sense to amortize it over as many hours as possible. Which is why employer provided health care is a disincentive for equitable working hours.

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    • jnc:

      Not just for government contractors.

      Once again, congress unconstitutionally assigns its power to the executive.

      The fact that these executive edicts are not easily overturned in the courts is yet more evidence that the government is unmoored from any constitutional constraints.

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  9. the government is unmoored from any constitutional constraints.

    The Department of Labor refining the definition of who is an hourly and who is a salaried employee is hardly a task as hyperbolically undemocratic as you contend. Do we really want Congress micro-managing these regulations?

    Sorry, that was a rhetorical question.

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    • yello:

      Do we really want Congress micro-managing these regulations?

      What’s the difference between issuing regulations and making law? (Rhetorical question.)

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  10. Why would anybody want the Federal government doing it?

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  11. Why would anybody want the Federal government doing it?

    If your premise is that regulating labor rates is not a legitimate function of government, quibbling over how it does it is wasting everybody’s time.

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  12. What are those?

    And when we start defining terms is when the discussion always nosedives.

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    • yello:

      And when we start defining terms is when the discussion always nosedives.

      Hilarious. You have it exactly ass-backwards.

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  13. Is the executive branch issuing regulations on matters for which they were not given authority to do so? Does Congress not have the power to delegate the execution of the laws it passes?

    The word “execute” is right in the name of the branch.

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    • yello:

      Is the executive branch issuing regulations on matters for which they were not given authority to do so? Does Congress not have the power to delegate the execution of the laws it passes?

      No, congress does not have the power to delegate the execution of laws it passes. The execution of laws rests with the executive branch because the constitution, not congress, grants it that power. The relevant question is whether Congress has the power to delegate the power to make new law to the executive. Clearly it does not. But it effectively does so when it passes vague and ill-/un-defined statutes and tells the executive to write “rules” or “regulations” stipulating what the law actually means, essentially telling the executive “The law means whatever you want it to mean”.

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  14. “yellojkt, on March 12, 2014 at 9:41 am said:

    Making fast food ‘managers’ overtime exempt was always an end run around wage laws. The keep the hourly workers just under full time to avoid paying benefits and then work the ‘supervisors’ so much that there net hourly pay is just over the minimum wage.

    Since health care is a fixed cost, this makes accounting sense to amortize it over as many hours as possible. Which is why employer provided health care is a disincentive for equitable working hours.”

    Actually, I think this will be an incentive to dump more employees into the exchanges.

    If you have a set personnel budget and the government is forcing you to increase the salary portion of an individual employee’s compensation, a way to offset that is to reduce the insurance portion of the same employee’s compensation and thus keep the overall cost impact as neutral as possible.

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    • a way to offset that is to reduce the insurance portion of the same employee’s compensation and thus keep the overall cost impact as neutral as possible.

      Hence why there is a ‘penalty’ for employers who don’t offer insurance based on total hours worked, not just full-time employees. It is very difficult to craft the carrots and sticks in ways that don’t create unintended consequences.

      The result of these changes could very well be fewer ‘managerial’ positions and more people hired part time at lower wages to perform the non-managerial duties these people had been doing.

      But as I keep saying, those burgers aren’t going to flip themselves.

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  15. It’s funny to read this critique of Romney’s campaign promised in light of Obama’s subsequent actions.

    http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2012/09/20/dismantling-the-affordable-care-act-what-could-a-president-romney-and-hill-republicans-do/

    Yello, is this worth discussing?

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  16. Dowd is in good form today:

    “Barack Obama, the former Constitutional law teacher who became president vowing to clean up the excesses and Constitutional corrosion of W. and Cheney, will now have to clean up the excesses and Constitutional corrosion in his own administration. And he’d better get out from between two ferns and get in between the warring Congressional Democrats and administration officials — all opening criminal investigations of each other — because it looks as if the C.I.A. is continuing to run amok to cover up what happened in the years W. and Vice encouraged it to run amok.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/opinion/dowd-the-spies-who-didnt-love-her.html?ref=opinion

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  17. “yellojkt, on March 12, 2014 at 10:43 am said:

    a way to offset that is to reduce the insurance portion of the same employee’s compensation and thus keep the overall cost impact as neutral as possible.

    Hence why there is a ‘penalty’ for employers who don’t offer insurance based on total hours worked, not just full-time employees.”

    I expect that the cost savings from dumping insurance will exceed the costs of the penalty. But we’ll find out soon enough. A bunch of these policies will all come to ahead next year, assuming that the punting finally stops.

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  18. “But as I keep saying, those burgers aren’t going to flip themselves.”

    Yes they will flip themselves at the right price point.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-01-12/meet-smart-restaurant-minimum-wage-crushing-burger-flipping-robot

    http://gizmodo.com/5962656/this-robo-griller-can-flip-360-burgers-an-hour

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  19. It is very difficult to craft the carrots and sticks in ways that don’t create unintended consequences.

    It is impossible. Better to not give them carrots or sticks. cause they’ll just use their sticks to take more carrots.

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  20. Some random retorts, refutations, and ruminations.

    Obamacare turned him into a job creator.

    Hahahahahahahaha! You are too much, yello. Keep shoveling, that pony has to be there somewhere.

    Yes they will flip themselves at the right price point.

    Not self-flipping but flipped by a machine. See my avatar? You’ll be sorrow you didn’t pay those career flippers a living wage.

    The mandate is dead.

    We had Obama, Roberts, and the Four Stooges run the Constitution through the shredder for nothing. Obama considers it all worthwhile, since he still looks cool doing his comedy act on TV.

    He’s made a joke out of the whole country. He really has.

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  21. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until your burger is cooked to the USDA required minimum temperature.

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  22. Lol Obama, out-of-touch elitist.

    http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/gaffe-obama-visits-gap-amazed-credit-card-machine

    NBC will be all over this.

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  23. If the government permits you to have a burger.

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  24. I expect that the cost savings from dumping insurance will exceed the costs of the penalty.

    It’s almost set up that way. The penalties are very low. It’s as if somebody wanted to force people onto the exchanges.

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    • Yello:

      I forgot to answer this:

      Is the executive branch issuing regulations on matters for which they were not given authority to do so?

      Yes, I think so. That is exactly the problem.

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  25. oil rig workers claims to have seen MH 370 come down

    https://twitter.com/BobWoodruff/status/443713159732289536

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  26. NBC will be all over this.

    I still get flustered by having to sign the pad. And don’t ask me the price of a gallon of milk. I don’t know and I don’t care. If I need milk, I buy it.

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  27. NBC will be all over this.

    Well it isn’t like he misspelled “respect” like that bonehead Dan Quayle did..

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  28. Dan Quayle got a bum rap. He was reading off of a flash card given to him by a teacher’s aide. He still should have known better but…

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  29. “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful, how true that is.”

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  30. Aletheia just called Libertarians the ultimate authoritarians.

    A communist calling libertarians authoritarian. I think I have seen it all…

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  31. “If I need milk, I buy it.”

    I bought milk futures. kind of. We locked in the price when we bought into our farm share for the year

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    • I would never get my money’s worth out of a CSA. I don’t cook at home often enough to use up all the food even the smallest share includes. When my son left home we quit buying milk. I now only buy it when needed for a recipe like mashed potato(e)s or macaroni and cheese. I keep two juice boxes of milk in the pantry for emergencies.

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  32. eating out is just so expensive. unless you’re expensing it. but really, it’s not all that fun.

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    • Jonah Goldberg echos my sentiments from the other day, re Obama’s appearance on Two Ferns:

      Second, it says something sad about the audience Obama is reaching out to. After all, if millions actually do sign up as a result (which I highly doubt), it would mean that there are millions of young people out there who couldn’t be persuaded by billions of words in newspapers, magazines, State of the Union addresses, and news broadcasts, but they are persuaded by a hipster webcast comedy show. That doesn’t really speak well of them — or the country generally.

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  33. “keep two juice boxes of milk in the pantry for emergencies.”

    you’re on your way to being a prepper. i’ve got 30 days of water.

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  34. Ok, that last one is probably a hoax. Funny though.

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    • McWing:

      Funny though.

      I particularly liked the reference to the grandfather who was deprived of his horse-drawn carriage business. Nice touch.

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  35. scott said “grandfather” which reminded me of this, which has a hilarious ad.

    https://www.dollarshaveclub.com/

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  36. A communist calling libertarians authoritarian. I think I have seen it all…

    Meh, the Three PL Stooges (Alethiea is only a replacement stooge, you can figure out the Three) claim that all libertarians are closet slavers.

    And those are PL’s leading intellectual lights. Hahaha.

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  37. Jonah Goldberg is battling Ross Douthat for the title of World’s Youngest Fuddy Duddy. Kathryn Jean Lopez has Youngest Uptight Spinster all sewn up.

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  38. I particularly liked the reference to the grandfather who was deprived of his horse-drawn carriage business.

    Huh? Did I miss a link?

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    • yello:

      Jonah Goldberg is battling Ross Douthat for the title of World’s Youngest Fuddy Duddy.

      I guess that puts me pretty close to the top too, since he’s only 3 years younger than me. Although quite what is so fuddy-duddyish about pointing out the apparent cluelessness of Galifinakos’ audience escapes me.

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  39. yeah. i think i missed it too

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  40. That has to be a parody.

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  41. “Another key test in this race is whether flawed Republican candidates can cost the party seats in otherwise-winnable races. Democrats are hoping to make challenging Senate races a referendum between likable incumbents and undefined challengers in red-state races in Louisiana, North Carolina, and even Arkansas with freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. Jolly’s background was about as unfavorable as it gets—a Washington influence-peddler.”

    hey now!

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/why-a-republican-wave-in-2014-is-looking-more-likely-now-20140311

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  42. Kathleen Parker doesn’t get it either.

    Deadpan is key to the shtick. And monotone. Between two ferns, everyone is Bill Murray. Or, depending on one’s generation, Sgt. Joe Friday. Guests on “Ferns” are expected to check facial expressions at the door and banish emotion. Emoting is not funny; not emoting is.

    She missed it entirely. The key to the schtick is that Galifianakis is both transgressive and incompetent. The guests are supposed to react strongly. Either outraged or bemused or perplexed. The episodes become funnier the more of them you watch.

    And humor never survives vivisection.

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  43. Like

  44. I sometimes get the impression that Aletheia is really a SF writer trying out new utopian worlds story lines on us gullible bloggers.

    And I do find it amusing that someone who says that she’s a guy is using Athena as her new avatar. 🙂

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    • ‘Goose, I haven’t frequented PL even once a week in a long time. I saw Athena™ when she first debated JNC and she apparently was among a wave of unpleasant folks who I cannot imagine keep shrink amused. You, JNC, and YJ apparently still participate. While I think Sargent is worth reading if you take him with a big GRAIN of salt [he thinks everyday events are either catastrophes or harbingers of destiny; his views on gun control are unusually exaggerated, even for an urban east coaster; he tells Rs how to avoid their doom while failing to notice they are not doomed, and so forth], when I look at comments other than the few I named it is quickly tiresome. Athena™ seems to be recruiting for the Revolution, a la SDS 1966.

      I think she is Bernardine Dohrn.

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  45. hey now!

    But with your top and monocle you are so relatable.

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  46. Washington is now just a big game of Calvinball.

    “Now”??????

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  47. “you are so relatable”

    to the right people, anyway.

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  48. More rightwing freak-outs over the Between Two Ferns sketch.

    http://crooksandliars.com/2014/03/look-these-insane-right-wing-freakouts

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    • yello (from the link):

      …the prospect of providing everyone with an opportunity to receive affordable health care and reigning in the insurance industry…

      …and Tammy Bruce is a “walking, talking stereotype”?

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  49. I sometimes get the impression that Aletheia is really a SF writer trying out new utopian worlds story lines on us gullible bloggers.

    I grok that. A bad, stilted, cliched, self-published one. A monotonous, droning ideologue preaching through fiction — Heinlein, but poorly written, left-wing, and boring.

    And I do find it amusing that someone who says that she’s a guy is using Athena as her new avatar.

    That’s just downright wicked and contrary, and awesome.

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    • Heinlein, but poorly written

      I can’t quite decide if that is redundant or contradictory. All Heinlein, especially the later stuff is poorly written.

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  50. Nonsense, yello. Heinlein wrote really good stuff, really bad stuff, and everywhere in between. I just ignored the bad stuff and chalk it up to his also being about 1/3 left-wing. SIASL: left-wing and literary trash.

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  51. Almost forgot: McWing!

    Immigration post is up!

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  52. Funny, I attributed Heinlein’s bad stuff to the part of him that had right-wing leanings. 🙂

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  53. I have never paid much attention to Salon but have been noticing from recent links just what a ghetto of infantile stupidity it is. I was scanning through the articles to see how true my perception was (very!) and came across this.

    http://www.salon.com/2014/03/11/how_to_actually_marry_smart/

    Speechless. Live a pointless slut life to the hilt in your 20s; it will be lousy, but you will find a hubby just as you turn 30. What a life plan.

    I can’t quite figure out whether it is parody, but I don’t think so. God help the people who follow the wisdom of Salon. The horse race between Salon, Media Matters, and Rolling Stone for peak idiocy is heated.

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    • The Salon article could be parody except that the advice to learn how to live alone is sound. It is quickly undermined by all that follows, so completely and so utterly, that the article makes no sense.
      First, work hard, be successful in your career, learn to live alone and take care of yourself, then don’t take care of yourself, date idiots, have sex without fun, but finally learn by osmosis that a decent trustworthy man is really a good catch. Why waste the five years between work hard and learn to live alone by then being a pit of self-loathing loneliness? Doesn’t that mean that she never learned to be alone? Why not use the hard work and good career choice and learned independence to be discerning of hard work, good choices, and independence in men, so that she can pick from among good apples [and at least have fun at sex along the way, while having sex with many fewer men during the dating period then the writer suggests is optimal]?

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  54. “The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve.” – Peter Graham

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    • “The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve.” – Peter Graham

      Graduating from Heinlein to Verne, Stevenson, Kipling, and a higher level of fantasy for boys occurs at 12, I think. Also, Sherlock Holmes comes to visit.

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      • Does anybody read Stevenson and Kipling anymore? Those were staples of Classics Illustrated and leatherbound dusty collections you got from your grandparents back when I was a kid.

        I got the complete Sherlock Holmes on my Kindle recently for nearly nothing since most of it is in the public domain. I need to give it a try.

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        • I have been reading Just So stories to my twin granddaughters since they were three – how did the elephant get its trunk, etc. They get Treasure Island no later than 11!

          Read SH chronologically. Start with “Study in Scarlet”. Learn to hate the LDS church now, rather than at 12. I think SH is fascinating at any age.

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  55. One of my favorite childhood memories is discovering that I could “sneak” over to the adult section in the library and read adult and YA scifi. I could even check it out! Scifi was frowned upon anyway, and the added transgressive element of raiding the adult section made it even more satisfying. I felt I was really sticking it to the man.

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  56. I can’t quite figure out whether it is parody, but I don’t think so

    Yes, it was. It was in response to this piece of priceless advice.

    A sample:

    Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry. But chances are that you haven’t been investing nearly as much energy in planning for your personal happiness as you are planning for your next promotion at work. What are you waiting for? You’re not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you’d be interested in marrying most definitely is.

    Think about it: If you spend the first 10 years out of college focused entirely on building your career, when you finally get around to looking for a husband you’ll be in your 30s, competing with women in their 20s. That’s not a competition in which you’re likely to fare well. If you want to have children, your biological clock will be ticking loud enough to ward off any potential suitors. Don’t let it get to that point.

    You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think. This is especially the case if you are a woman with exceptionally good academic credentials, aiming for corporate stardom.

    I’ve been wondering if she’s LDS, because that’s sure one of the things that they push (women are useless without a man).

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  57. BTW, I view Salon as the online, leftwing nutjob version of the Enquirer. If you read it with that in mind. . .

    Just don’t be harshing on white belly dancers!

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    • Thanx for explaining Salon. I thought it must be a serious publication b/c QB read it, even though he said it was stupid.

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  58. Yes, it was. It was in response to this piece of priceless advice.

    I know it was a response to Princeton Mom, but I don’t see any indication that it was satire. I think Princeton Mom’s original piece was pretty wise. If the response was an attempt to make Princeton Mom sound equally loony, it is a failure.

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  59. Kipling yes, Stevenson and Verne (sorry, I couldn’t ever really get into him, Mark) not so much.

    Hey–I own a complete set of Sherlock Holmes! Of course, you’ve seen my library so that might not surprise you.

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  60. Heinlein has one arguably great book, Stranger In A Strange Land and a couple of decent ones (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers). All his later ones get increasingly creepy and his earlier ones rely on the undiscriminating joy of the young reader for their inflated reputation.

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  61. Princeton Mom does sound equally loony. It’s recycled 50s and 60s “go to college so you can meet a man and get married” with the underlying message that if you don’t you’re (1) a failure, (2) doomed, and (3) worthless.

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    • Rosanne recalls that she and her sister Grace were supposed to go to college but her brother Frank was supposed to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Frank is an engineer. My mother-in-law apologized to Rosanne many years later for having only wanted her and Grace to go to college to meet a man like “your brother”. Rosanne, a CPA, and Grace, who works for the Federal Reserve in NYC, never resented their mother for her post WW2 mindset, but were amazed that late in life she came to see that women should go to college for their own benefit.

      Princeton Mom sounds like my previously unreconstructed m-i-l.

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  62. I don’t see any indication that it was satire.

    If you have to mark it satire, it isn’t. I found it hilariously tongue-in-cheek but as I mentioned earlier, humor doesn’t survive vivisection.

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  63. And you don’t even have to just listen to little ol’ leftie me about how loony Princeton Mom sounds. Even Forbes chimes in:

    Patton’s arguments are based on outdated facts. As she acknowledges, her book is advice — not a study. “There are very few statistics in this book, and my research has been limited to talking with people I know, like and trust,” she writes. But that advice sends young women the wrong message: That they should relegate their hard work, in the classroom and the workplace, to the back seat and instead focus on catching a man in college, lest they risk becoming “a spinster with cats.” In fact, 91% of college educated women (and men) do marry, suggesting that the vast majority of those wishing to wed find a partner.

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  64. women are useless without a man

    Princeton Mom said nothing like that as far as I know. She is, however, responding to the Steinem Declaration: a woman needs a man like …. Princeton Mom is basically saying, if you are going to want to be married a few years from now, it’s a good idea to act like it now. If a woman is a fish that doesn’t need a bicycle, she need not pay attention.

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  65. That’s just one staff writer at Forbes. It’s not that complicated. The feminist movement came along and said marriage is oppression, and women don’t need men. That turns out to be pretty bad advice for a lot of women. Princeton Mom is just one of the people shoving the pendulum back the other way. Some shoving back against the dystopian aspects of campus and academic culture is needed just about now.

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  66. I for one think marriage is an outdated notion that skews in favor of women. I am happily married and that I have a reasonably balanced relationship but that is not what I witness in the aggregate. If I were to advise a young man I’d tell him to avoid it as it will provide no net value.

    The times have changed and we must change with them

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    • George, would you advise that for the man who wants to have children and who wants to be a father to them?

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  67. Especially in those circumstances. What is the child deprived if the father is engaged?

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    • Do you mean the family unit would live together, just not with benefit of clergy, so to speak, Scandinavian style?

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  68. Princeton Mom said nothing like that as far as I know.

    Really? The advice that women spend 75% of their effort on finding a husband and 25% on their studies/career?

    I can just see you giving your son that advice. . . sure I can.

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  69. The longer I live the more I realize that people have different needs they want met by a partner. And that goes for men and women. My kids are all in their 30′ to early 40’s and most of their friends are married and seem pretty happy. Most of the girls work and many of them are career women who are also having children right now. Some of them married young and some waited until they finished their educations. I don’t think any of them had any trouble finding a mate.

    When we marry I think it makes sense to set up parameters of expectations, some of which may change over time, but at least it can settle a few potential issues. I gave up my career for the kids and then again for my husband, when we bought the business. I wouldn’t like for him to think I got the better bargain out of the marriage, and thankfully he doesn’t, we’re partners.

    I always intended on having a career but sometimes life throws something in your path, such as a binding love, that takes precedence over the rest. What are we supposed to do?

    QB, I’m wondering what you really think about all of this because I’m confused. Just the other day you were enamored of the girl your son is dating who apparently has a PhD in her future. How do you think that’s going to work out with your outdated notions?

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    • LMS, I think as you do – I believe everyone ought to prepare to live as if they were going to be single. Then they can live under any circumstance life brings or they willingly choose. Waiting for Prince Charming or for a sugar mommy is simply an outrageous idea west of Iran.

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      • Mark:

        Waiting for Prince Charming or for a sugar mommy is simply an outrageous idea west of Iran.

        Do you really think that this is what either QB or Princeton Mom is suggesting?

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        • I think Princeton Mom is suggesting ACTIVE PURSUIT OF PRINCE CHARMING beginning in college with the 75% effort.

          Like

        • Mark:

          I think Princeton Mom is suggesting ACTIVE PURSUIT OF PRINCE CHARMING beginning in college with the 75% effort.

          Except for the dismissive “Prince Charming” characterization, I agree. She seems to be saying that for most women, the choice of a mate will be more important to future happiness than pursuit of a career (note that this doesn’t mean a career is unimportant), and therefore it is advisable that a woman spend at least as much time pursuing a mate as pursuing a career. And, this being the case, for high achieving, highly intellectual women, her options will never be as great as they are in college.

          I don’t think the advice is necessarily the best, but nor do I think it is entirely off the wall. There is some merit to it, I suspect, especially (as QB suggests) as a counter to the feminist tendency to dismiss the significance of having a man around.

          Like

        • yello:

          Congrats. GTech just beat my Eagles in OT. Battle of two horrible teams.

          Like

    • lms:

      Just the other day you were enamored of the girl your son is dating who apparently has a PhD in her future. How do you think that’s going to work out with your outdated notions?

      I don’t understand the presumed conflict. I don’t read either QB or Princeton Mom as suggesting a women should not pursue a career. I understand them to be saying simply that for a woman who sees marriage in her future, college is a very good time, and perhaps the best time, to start looking for the right mate. That doesn’t sound loony to me at all. It seems to me like many of you think that a woman can’t pursue both a man and a career at the same time. I think that is the “outdated” notion.

      Like

  70. Mark, I’d advise against it. Too much emotional and financial entanglement.

    Like

    • I think if dad lives apart and further than down the street he either has to get custody or joint custody or be damned welcome at mom’s house, George. I do know a couple that made this work for the entire 18 years of their son’s minority but that is rare.

      Like

  71. Why would a conscientious woman keep a child away from an involved dad?

    Like

    • conscientious being one of the key words in parenting – still, a job in another city beckons or the new man in her life is jealous, or she just isn’t nearly as conscientious as he thought…
      Stuff happens.

      Like

  72. Mark, I get that stuff happens. What you’re suggesting is legroom binding. How’s that different than a marriage? If you’re advising the male to engage in this “marriage” than how is it you view marriage as equal for both? Doesn’t sound equally advantageous.

    Like

    • McWing:

      Doesn’t sound equally advantageous.

      I think we talked about this once before. Marriage has always been, and intended to be, a way of restricting men for the sake of women’s and children’s security.

      Like

    • George, having and raising children is, or should be, a big deal, and binding on the parents. But I was not arguing for or against marriage, I was merely suggesting the practical constraints on raising children as an unpaired couple. Raising kids is “leg binding.”

      Like

  73. Scott, qb was the one who mentioned shoving the pendulum back the other way. I’m sure there are plenty of college romances that bloom into a marriage still, it was always thus, even with the feminist movement. My point to him was that actually pursuing a PhD doesn’t always leave much time for setting up a household for the rest of your life with a man. Pursing advanced degrees and joining the corporate world require a lot of attention and It just seemed odd that qb thinks swinging the pendulum back would be advantageous to his son’s girlfriend. But he’s not here to answer my question right now so I shouldn’t really just speculate.

    And this, from Princeton Mom, pretty much tells the story. There’s just so much wrong in that that I can’t even imagine who she’s been interviewing.

    Think about it: If you spend the first 10 years out of college focused entirely on building your career, when you finally get around to looking for a husband you’ll be in your 30s, competing with women in their 20s. That’s not a competition in which you’re likely to fare well. If you want to have children, your biological clock will be ticking loud enough to ward off any potential suitors. Don’t let it get to that point.

    You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think. This is especially the case if you are a woman with exceptionally good academic credentials, aiming for corporate stardom.

    Like

  74. I agree but others don’t I guess.

    Like

  75. the feminist tendency to dismiss the significance of having a man around.

    Has anybody here (other than McWing) suggested this?

    Like

  76. What kind of a marriage is it if the woman doesn’t need the man for financial security? Are the men who marry girls they know they’re going to support for the rest of their lives just suckers or what?

    Like

    • lms:

      What kind of a marriage is it if the woman doesn’t need the man for financial security?

      I don’t understand the question. What do you mean what kind of marriage?

      Are the men who marry girls they know they’re going to support for the rest of their lives just suckers or what?

      Why would you think that?

      Like

  77. Not if that is their expectation.

    Like

  78. Choice of mate is more important than choice of career, or rather holds a priority, for both men and women. It’s the most important decision people make, period. Is there even an argument to the contrary? You can change your career. Today, you almost certainly will.

    QB, I’m wondering what you really think about all of this because I’m confused. Just the other day you were enamored of the girl your son is dating who apparently has a PhD in her future. How do you think that’s going to work out with your outdated notions?

    The outdated notion that marriage is more important than materialistic concerns? That outdated notion? The outdated notion that by the time you get around to it at 35 you might actually be pushing the fertility envelope? (With which I also have some experience.)

    I don’t see what perplexes you. I was happy that my son suprised us with this relationship for several reasons. First, he was not doing well before, and this has done wonders. She seems blissfully content, too. It’s not what I envisioned for getting him back on track, but, whatever happens in the end, I can’t argue with the results. Second, I’ve said for a long time that our younger generation has lost sense of time and doesn’t value finding a mate until many of them lose valuable time. I don’t think it should be anyone’s obsession or even focus. But I think it is wise to make it a focus, for lack of a better word. My advice has always been, have your eyes open. When you find her, there’s no reason you have to let her go or move on because you are young.

    As for what will happen to my son, I don’t know. As I said, it looks pretty serious and pretty healthy. If they stay together and both go through grad school, fine with me. I’ll be thrilled. Why shouldn’t they do it together? What is the big problem with that? They have to wait another six or eight years? Should they split up until they are 35? What kind of sense does that make?

    Like

  79. I understand them to be saying simply that for a woman who sees marriage in her future, college is a very good time, and perhaps the best time, to start looking for the right mate.

    This. Surely a better plan than screwing your way through four years with everything that wwalks. Same for men, actually. Plus, in today’s environment, you have a decent chance of being accused of rape. There’s a rash of lawsuits by college men falsely accused. Really great fruit the Salon philosophy of life is bearing.

    Like

  80. I don’t think it should be anyone’s obsession or even focus. But I think it is wise to make it a focus, for lack of a better word. My advice has always been, have your eyes open. When you find her, there’s no reason you have to let her go or move on because you are young.

    I don’t understand this.

    Princeton Mom is saying that a woman in college (or even shortly afterwards) should spend 75% of her time and effort in landing a husband and only 25% of it on studies or her career. How do you not consider that an obsession? And do you want your son to marry a woman who has done that to land him, or your daughter to do that to land the kind of man who would think that that was a valuable use of her time and money/effort?

    Like

    • It is this: 75% of her time and effort.

      You must be able to see that it takes very little effort to meet potential mates in college and a great deal of effort to make your grades, unless you are in an Ivy that routinely hands out As. I generally spent 1-2 hours studying outside class for every undergraduate class hour, not counting labs. I also worked from 10-20 hours a week most semesters. My freshman year I was a walk on basketball player but I never dressed for a freshman game, I was cannon fodder. So my studying and work and school time totalled over 50 hours a week, sometimes 60 hours. I would not be surprised if some of you spent more time and some less. I did not date my first semester, but I would estimate I spent 8 hours a week in the company of young women beginning my sophomore year. My guess is that spending even 25% of one’s time and energy in pursuit would have been too much, at a rigorous college, or in a difficult major. YMMV.

      Patton Rx

      But the advice to spend 75% of your time in pursuit is obscene.

      Addendum: Actually, it is arithmetically unlikely, unless QB’s First Law is violated.

      Suppose you are in an “easy” major taking a minimum course load with no labs. That accounts for about 12 hours of class time. Then suppose you only have to study six hours a week, and you have no job. Then by this woman’s advice you spend 54 hours a week on the make. This could be accomplished by dating and sleeping over in just five nights a week [!] – thus putting you in Salon territory, and violating QB’s First Law of common decency.

      You can excuse the Princeton Mom as hyperbolic and exaggerated, but I don’t.

      Like

      • I’d like to see the 75% quotation in context. Mark assumes it was talking about time spent in college, while the Forbes writer seems to think it was aimed at women in the workforce. They both assume it is talking about a percentage of a full 24 hour day. If that last assumption is correct, I’d agree that it is absurd advice regardless of whether she was talking about college or post-college life. So absurd, in fact, that I assume there is probably some missing context qualifying the percentage.

        Like

        • They both assume it is talking about a percentage of a full 24 hour day. If that last assumption is correct,

          Regardless of whether it’s the full day, or the working day, or just free time, it’s an absurd ratio. She is saying you should spend triple the effort finding a man as you do preparing for a career. Even when I was in school we knew girls that were at GT only for an MRS degree. They were never very subtle about it and tended to get ignored quickly.

          And while I met my wife in high school, I disagree with the notion that most people can find their soulmate by their very ear;y 20s. Many men in particular aren’t particularly suited for settling down at that time in their life.

          The one opinion I concur with is that college is a target rich environment. That is why there is so much hooking up going on. Because they can.

          Like

        • yello:

          I disagree with the notion that most people can find their soulmate by their very ear;y 20s.

          I agree with you. Although Princeton Mom is probably right that college presents the highest target rich environment one will ever come across, and so one shouldn’t ignore the opportunity, it doesn’t mean that any of the targets are the ones you want, and in most cases probably won’t be. And people still change considerably after college. To take one extreme example, I met my wife in college through a guy who was dating a woman friend of mine, and as a couple we later became close friends when he started dating one of my wife’s roommates. He now lives and runs a bakery in Charleston with his, er, “husband”. They got “married” in Maine a couple years ago.

          Like

  81. Really? The advice that women spend 75% of their effort on finding a husband and 25% on their studies/career?

    Her letter didn’t say that. She’s quoted as having said on TV:

    “I’m saying double down, spend 75% of your time planning your personal happiness, putting in place the things you need to ensure you reach your personal goals.”

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/princeton-mom-provocative-honest-person-article-1.1718273#ixzz2voGemlQV

    Not exactly the same as your version.

    I think it’s silly to put percentages on “personal” and “career” investment. But the advice of the outraged feminist left apparently remains to go 100% career. And they won’t abide anyone’s questioning them. Any young woman who wants to live Sex and the City until she’s in her 30s is welcome to; more power to her. It is telling of something, though, that advocates of that plan go ape when anyone voices a different view. They don’t just disagree, they go ape, publishing countless personally insulting and denigrating retorts and columns. I think there are a lot of defensive people out there.

    Like

  82. I don’t understand this.

    Sure you do. It was perfectly clear. You just want me to defend your characterization of Princeton Mom.

    Like

  83. Her letter didn’t say that.

    Forbes article (quoting the book, which I don’t have access to):

    “[U]ntil you find a spouse, I would advise you invest your effort and energy at least 75% in searching for a partner and 25% in professional development.”

    And while trying to find that excerpt from the book I found this little gem of hers:

    Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

    Marry Smart
    It’s Harder for Us Smart Women

    [. . . ]

    Most men’s egos are fragile. If you can imagine the stress that is associated with your being smarter than he is, just think about what will happen when you outearn him, which, unless you purposefully hold yourself back, you probably will.

    If you want to continue to defend her Neanderthalic attitudes you can be my guest. I say she’s loony.

    Like

  84. Princeton Mom sounds very high maintenance and I can only speculate on why her first marriage floundered.

    Like

  85. So absurd, in fact, that I assume there is probably some missing context qualifying the percentage.

    This. Side note: I apparently need Scott as my interpreter or editor, to explicate my thought processes. My interactions with Scott have actually helped me realize something about my thought process that has in turn helped me understand my work style and feel more comfortable with it. Isn’t that something.

    I have not watched the Today video, and it’s entirely possible that Princeton Mom’s statement is goofy in context as well, but I think Mark and Michi are reading it more literally and narrowly than is reasonable. If she had said, “Now girls, 75% of your waking time in college should be spent hunting for a husband,” I would agree that would be ridiculous. But like Scott I suspect that isn’t what she is saying, and it could probably be clarified through questioning. Her broader point seems to me quite valid: if your plan is to wait until you are 30+ to find a spouse, there are some benefits and opportunities you are ignoring, and issues you might face. And, like it or not, those issues can be relatively more challenging for women. It is hard for me to believe that no one else knows anyone like that. As I said, I have some personal experience with it.

    I will go farther than that and say that at the root of the fiercest objections to Princeton Mom is the belief that men and women are interchangeable, or, even if they aren’t, everyone has to pretend they are. That simply isn’t the case.

    The other day I read a column by a young woman that someone posted from a Christian magazine. In it she talked about not finding her mate in college and deciding “not to wait” until she does to live life and be content. I thought it was brilliant. But I see no contradiction.

    Like

    • if your plan is to wait until you are 30+ to find a spouse, there are some benefits and opportunities you are ignoring, and issues you might face.

      Strawman Alert. Who is saying that? It’s about finding balance.

      Like

  86. Glad I’m not at SXSW. High speed car chases and large crowds don’t mix.

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/03/13/tragedy-at-south-by-southwest

    Like

  87. Most men’s egos are fragile. If you can imagine the stress that is associated with your being smarter than he is, just think about what will happen when you outearn him, which, unless you purposefully hold yourself back, you probably will.

    Actually, that’s quite true on average. A truism in fact. It probably isn’t a point worth dwelling on much.

    Like

    • qb:

      Actually, that’s quite true on average.

      I don’t know if there have been any studies on this, but anecdotally it seems right to me, too. At the very least, again, it doesn’t seem like a completely goofy thing to believe.

      It’s interesting to me when people seem to assume that the nature of men or women is what they think it ought to be. And to the extent that it appears not to be the case, it must be because of some changeable, outside influence. In my experience, the vast majority of men out-earn their spouses, and I’d bet my experience reflects a wider reality. I guess it could be the case that by nature men are totally indifferent to whether or not they out-earn their mate, and it has developed simply as an accident of history and culture. But my guess would be that it is at least in part because deep down men actually prefer it that way.

      My interactions with Scott have actually helped me realize something about my thought process that has in turn helped me understand my work style and feel more comfortable with it. Isn’t that something.

      My work here is done. Would that I could have a similar effect on people who don’t already tend to agree with me!

      Like

      • My interactions with Scott have actually helped me realize something about my thought process that has in turn helped me understand my work style and feel more comfortable with it. Isn’t that something.

        “Always two there are — a master and an apprentice.” – Yoda

        I’d watch your back, Scott.

        Like

        • yello:

          I’d watch your back, Scott.

          I’ve been called many things, but “master” is not one of them. Masturbater, maybe…

          Like

  88. college presents the highest target rich environment one will ever come across, and so one shouldn’t ignore the opportunity, it doesn’t mean that any of the targets are the ones you want, and in most cases probably won’t be.

    The women at Georgia Tech, where they are outnumbered 3 to 1 have a saying, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

    There is a video about how tough it is for guys there.

    Like

  89. FYI, the Today sound bite about 75% referred to post-college.

    Strawman Alert. Who is saying that? It’s about finding balance.

    Lots of people are. I have to run. Overwhelming work repsonsibilities.

    Like

  90. Actually, that’s quite true on average.

    Evidently I haven’t met any of them. Or, at least, none of the men that I’ve been interested in enough (whether as friends or more) to engage with have had particularly fragile egos.

    the Today sound bite about 75% referred to post-college

    While I was already including post-college in my remarks, think about that. She wants women–at the beginning of their careers–to focus 75% of their effort not on their job but on landing a husband. Brilliant!

    Like

    • Mich:

      From the NYT:

      But the evidence suggests that while men tend to applaud their spouses when they help to bring home the bacon, husbands aren’t always as enthusiastic when women start bringing home the filet mignon. And it’s especially troubling that these old-fashioned social norms about gender identity appear to be adversely affecting family formation and stability.

      This is the finding of an interesting new paper by Marianne Bertrand, Emir Kamenica and Jessica Pan, three economists who are colleagues of mine at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. They found that traditional views of gender identity, particularly the view that the right and proper role of the husband is to make more money than the wife, are affecting choices of whom to marry, how much to work, and even whether to stay married.

      Suppose that both men and women are happier — all else being equal — the more money their spouse makes. In such a world, couples wouldn’t care whether the man or woman earns more, so the population of couples would have what we call a “normal distribution,” and would be captured in a bell-shaped curve. But that’s not what we see in the real-world data.

      Instead, there is a sharp drop in the number of male-female couples at exactly the point where the woman starts to earn more than half of household income.

      And more…

      What happens when a man marries a woman who has the education and skills to earn more than him? The couple can avoid violating the “man earns more” social norm if the woman works part time or leaves the labor force altogether. The authors found evidence of both choices. But what if the woman stays in the labor force and does earn more than her spouse? How does this affect the marriage? The findings here are striking. In such couples, surveys show, both wife and husband generally report being less happy about the marriage.

      The authors call this a “social norm”, and I suppose the source of the phenomenon, nature or nurture, can be debated. But the existence of the phenomenon seems obvious, both anecdotally and, apparently, empirically.

      Like

  91. Scott:

    I’d posit that they were studying the same people that Princeton Mom interviewed for her book.

    Like

    • Mich:

      I’d posit that they were studying the same people that Princeton Mom interviewed for her book.

      Highly unlikely. Why is it so hard to believe that your experiences might be atypical? Or even, perhaps, unreliable? I wonder how likely it is that a man in this day and age who’s ego would be bruised at earning less than his mate would admit it and open himself up to charges of being a sexist.

      Like

  92. Dang!

    Forgot to engage sarcasm font. Again.

    Like

  93. Scott:

    I haven’t read it (and, honestly, won’t have time today) so I don’t have an opinion on it. But this:

    They found that traditional views of gender identity, particularly the view that the right and proper role of the husband is to make more money than the wife, are affecting choices of whom to marry, how much to work, and even whether to stay married.

    suggests to me that there is, at the least, a subset of men who would prefer to marry the type of women who follow Princeton Mom’s advice.

    I still maintain that advice (to women) to focus 75% of your effort on finding a spouse is loony.

    Like

    • I remember assuming that I had to be the primary breadwinner. I told women I was dating in law school that I would not be ready for marriage untli I had my law license, finished my military obligation, and had been working as a civilian for at least a year.

      Had it all worked out in my head. I cannot recall being intimidated by the notion that a woman might be a bigger earner –
      but the assumption that I would be prepared to be the primary was total.

      I have known men who were uncomfortable around their successful wives’ business acquaintances who ran in a more free spending set than the husband could afford on his own. I did not see them at home and the discomfort may have been more than social.

      Much worse, I have a dear friend who is a real estate appraiser. During the bust, 2008-2011, his accountant wife earned more money than he did, even counting the $55K of net rental income he earns from investment property, and SHE became downright surly and dismissive toward him. She had shown no signs of this attitude previously. Now, at 64, she is spending like a sailor, also a new thing, and still maintaining the surliness even though he is very busy again. She was a happy team player and then a switch went off when she saw her husband’s income as suddenly variable. At the depth of the bust she suggested he go to work at McDonald’s.

      I know that counselors often talk about marital money problems other than “not enough”, so I am guessing money takes on a life of its own for a lot of folks, and in ways that I certainly do not understand. I would take these studies to heart, but wonder what they actually measure.

      I know my cousin the MD-PhD who is married to the tax lawyer who for the last twenty years has out earned him, has been very unbothered by the fact that the one who regularly topped $350K per year was mommy. All three of their daughters had Ivy educations – 2 lawyers and a computer scientist, and all three of them are good bets to out-earn their spouses, too, if/when they marry. So whatever was a social norm, I suspect the times they are a changin’.

      Like

  94. I think the underlying point/concern from the Princeton mom is — you are at Princeton, the odds are in your favor of finding a suitable guy now, more than they will ever be. So if you want to focus on career, that’s fine, but don’t be shocked 10 years later when the odds aren’t as good. and the goods are odd.

    Like

  95. “husbands aren’t always as enthusiastic when women start bringing home the filet mignon”

    they are fools. My wife makes more and is being fast-tracked/groomed for c-suite … for a variety of reasons. one, she’s good, and two, she’s a she and it’s good for optics. she knows it, i know it, and the check clears, so who gives a shit why.

    I didn’t exactly downshift, but i’m not trying to make partner either.

    Like

    • I’d like to think I’m as open minded as NoVA but it may never be tested.

      I have always been the primary breadwinner and since my wife is a teacher I don’t see that ever changing. She went into teaching in her 30s because its a career fairly compatible with child-rearing.

      I was unemployed for six weeks once and it does hit the male psyche pretty hard to not be contributing.

      Like

    • nova:

      they are fools.

      Feelings and emotions are not always rational. The question isn’t how men should feel about it. It is how they generally do feel about it. Brad Paisley seems relevant here.

      Like

  96. I wish we had a like button, NoVA.

    Like

  97. Too true Scott.

    Maybe it’s because we’ve always considered it “our” paychecks. We opened a joint checking soon after the engagement.

    Like

  98. Looks like it continued being an interesting discussion yesterday and today……sorry I missed it again. Our daughter’s boyfriend, even though he’s a geophysicist, doesn’t make nearly as much money as our daughter is making. She worries that it might cause problems down the road but so far he seems cool with it. They opened a joint account and each put the same amount in every month for household expenses, food and trips, but have their own accounts for other expenses. She’s not a big spender and hasn’t even replaced her 2003 car yet. She’s focusing on paying her student loans off first. She got a full ride plus living expenses to CSM but has some loans outstanding from her second BS here in CA.

    I think times are changing as well but some attitudes take awhile to update…..LOL

    I know there are women who believe men are superfluous but I’m not one and neither are my daughters or their friends. I just believe that women should expend the effort it takes to be independent and have a satisfying career and income opportunity just in case life doesn’t work out the way they imagine with a husband. If it takes 10 or 15 years to get there after high school so be it. I’m sure it makes it harder to find a mate as we get older but it’s not something I’ve noticed personally. Most of guys around my daughters and their friends seem to jump at the chance to become involved with them even at the ripe old age of 32 and 34! It must be the genes or something. 😉

    I raised three girls, all of them boy crazy to varying degrees, but we always kept them busy and focused on education primarily. Relationships were a side issue and only took precedence when time allowed, which wasn’t that often. My niece always managed to squeeze it in but even when she died at 30 still hadn’t settled down any earlier than the other two who are just now settling down. Also, just as a side note, our youngest’s boyfriend is 5 years her junior so that’s another issue……………LOL

    Like

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