Tuesday, June 09, 2015

"The weaker sex"?

That's my question mark.

A friend sent the following. My brief and off-the-cuff response to him follows.

Social change
The weaker sex
May 30th 2015 The Economist
Blue-collar men in rich countries are in trouble. They must learn to adapt
AT FIRST glance the patriarchy appears to be thriving. More than 90% of presidents and prime ministers are male, as are nearly all big corporate bosses. Men dominate finance, technology, films, sports, music and even stand-up comedy. In much of the world they still enjoy social and legal privileges simply because they have a Y chromosome. So it might seem odd to worry about the plight of men.
Yet there is plenty of cause for concern. Men cluster at the bottom as well as the top. They are far more likely than women to be jailed, estranged from their children, or to kill themselves. They earn fewer university degrees than women. Boys in the developed world are 50% more likely to flunk basic maths, reading and science entirely.
One group in particular is suffering. Poorly educated men in rich countries have had difficulty coping with the enormous changes in the labour market and the home over the past half-century. As technology and trade have devalued brawn, less-educated men have struggled to find a role in the workplace. Women, on the other hand, are surging into expanding sectors such as health care and education, helped by their superior skills. As education has become more important, boys have also fallen behind girls in school (except at the very top). Men who lose jobs in manufacturing often never work again. And men without work find it hard to attract a permanent mate. The result, for low-skilled men, is a poisonous combination of no job, no family and no prospects.
From nuclear families to fissile ones
Those on the political left tend to focus on economics. Shrinking job opportunities for men, they say, are entrenching poverty and destroying families. In America pay for men with only a high-school certificate fell by 21% in real terms between 1979 and 2013; for women with similar qualifications it rose by 3%. Around a fifth of working-age American men with only a high-school diploma have no job.
Those on the right worry about the collapse of the family. The vast majority of women would prefer to have a partner who does his bit both financially and domestically. But they would rather do without one than team up with a layabout, which may be all that is on offer: American men without jobs spend only half as much time on housework and caring for others as do women in the same situation, and much more time watching television.
Hence the unravelling of working-class families. The two-parent family, still the norm among the elite, is vanishing among the poor. In rich countries the proportion of births outside marriage has trebled since 1980, to 33%. In some areas where traditional manufacturing has collapsed, it has reached 70% or more. Children raised in broken homes learn less at school, are more likely to drop out and earn less later on than children from intact ones. They are also not very good at forming stable families of their own.
These two sides often talk past each other. But their explanations are not contradictory: both economics and social change are to blame, and the two causes reinforce each other. Moreover, these problems are likely to get worse. Technology will disrupt more industries, creating benefits for society but rendering workers who fail to update their skills redundant. The OECD, a think-tank, predicts that the absolute number of single-parent households will continue to rise in nearly all rich countries. Boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to have trouble forming lasting relationships, creating a cycle of male dysfunction.
Tinker, tailor, soldier, hairdresser
What can be done? Part of the solution lies in a change in cultural attitudes. Over the past generation, middle-class men have learned that they need to help with child care, and have changed their behaviour. Working-class men need to catch up. Women have learned that they can be surgeons and physicists without losing their femininity. Men need to understand that traditional manual jobs are not coming back, and that they can be nurses or hairdressers without losing their masculinity.
Policymakers also need to lend a hand, because foolish laws are making the problem worse. America reduces the supply of marriageable men by locking up millions of young males for non-violent offences and then making it hard for them to find work when they get out (in Georgia, for example, felons are barred from feeding pigs, fighting fires or working in funeral homes). A number of rich countries discourage poor people from marrying or cohabiting by cutting their benefits if they do.
Even more important than scrapping foolish policies is retooling the educational system, which was designed in an age when most men worked with their muscles. Politicians need to recognise that boys’ underachievement is a serious problem, and set about fixing it. Some sensible policies that are good for everybody are particularly good for boys. Early-childhood education provides boys with more structure and a better chance of developing verbal and social skills. Countries with successful vocational systems such as Germany have done a better job than Anglo-Saxon countries of motivating non-academic boys and guiding them into jobs, but policymakers need to reinvent vocational education for an age when trainees are more likely to get jobs in hospitals than factories.
More generally, schools need to become more boy-friendly. They should recognise that boys like to rush around more than girls do: it’s better to give them lots of organised sports and energy-eating games than to dose them with Ritalin or tell them off for fidgeting. They need to provide more male role models: employing more male teachers in primary schools will both supply boys with a male to whom they can relate and demonstrate that men can be teachers as well as firefighters.
The growing equality of the sexes is one of the biggest achievements of the post-war era: people have greater opportunities than ever before to achieve their ambitions regardless of their gender. But some men have failed to cope with this new world. It is time to give them a hand.


Very gloomy but contains quite a bit of truth. I hate the idea (though most accept it) that the "politicians must do something" (though to be fair the writer does talk about scrapping foolish laws). 

When they do stuff, they create unpredictable bad outcomes. If they hadn't started to pay for single parent families, the 'poor' men would have had to adapt to the changing environment re technology. If they hadn't criminalised drugs, poor men wouldn't have found a ready occupation and income. And if they didn't over-professionalise manual jobs, more men could participate. If they didn't buy into the feminist hysteria (the public service is feminist and PC) about the danger men pose to children, they could have attracted far more into teaching jobs.

There will be lots of manual work required in the future. As society becomes more affluent people want upkeep and beautification of their homes and gardens - done by someone else when they don't have the time or inclination (especially with ageing populations). Plumbing, electrical work, building and all the associated trades are still good avenues for males. My son has two friends going down that route, neither academically capable but highly practical. And degrees are OK if you know what you want and the will to get there. Otherwise they can be a wasted purchase from the state.(Surprisingly for me, I am beginning to wonder about user pays universities because the quality of the student, the teaching and the qualification seems to have suffered).

By and large I still think the free market sorts problems better than the state, including social problems like the one this article identifies.


Jamie said...

Don't forget scumbag politicians and their love of mass immigration. Bloody immigrants taking Kiwi blokes jobs...TAXI anyone

Anonymous said...

Surprisingly for me, I am beginning to wonder about user pays universities because the quality of the student, the teaching and the qualification seems to have suffered).

In short: more means worse

Anonymous said...

There will be lots of manual work required in the future

Not really; certainly not just manual work. Mechanisation and digitalisation will only continue to increase.
The old two-man moving crew (one guy who can just about drive, count, and sign his own name, and one
guy with really big muscles) will be replaced by a self-driving truck, and an electric pallet lifter and
most people will move their own stuff. Plumbing, electrics, cars etc are already increasingly digital
and (for a while) will need increasingly skilled workers until they are replaced by expert systems.

So that pretty much leaves cleaning up sh*t in resthomes (until euthanasia and super reforms pass)
and domestic service for the few (old fashioned) people who want uniformed flunkies waiting on them
rather than relying on machines.

This is why we don't have a political party for the "working classes" any more: we only have National (for property owner)
and Labour (now for bludgers).

david said...

One of the reasons for the state we are in is the imposition of a minimum wage. It has priced muscle out of the market. Benefits for unmarried mothers are pricing husbands out of the market.

Anonymous said...

It has priced muscle out of the market.

That's called technology. That's why we're not sending these messages by carried pigeon.

Jamie said...

Bang on David. Why would a wimminz want to put up with a mans sh*t when they can get their sugar daddy government to pay for and house them?