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Wonderful, Peter! I wish I could say more, as I have more to say, but I am computer-less for days now and will be for days to come. The text tap-tap gets old fast. But I have been bumping into just what you are writing about, lately, to my frustration and this is a helpful way to think about it.
“2. That means more and more people who do blue-collar work find it difficult to have the wherewithal to get beyond personal survivalism and think in terms of providing responsibly for a family.”
But 100+ years ago things were economically much harder and yet everyone raised families. Because that was just what you did. Now it’s not.
“3. Not only that, America in general is evolving away from an authoritarian and deeply obligatory view of family responsibility toward an ethic of self-actualization.”
Yeah. Here in upstate NY (real upstate, not Westchester county), you see so many obituaries that basically say “Bob Jones, 47, passed away…he loved to ride his motorcycle and go snowmobiling…he is survived by his son David Jones and daughter Emily Jones, and sister Sara Miller…” In other words, they list hobbies and kids but no wife(s). Marriage for the lower-middle class remaining around here has been nearly obliterated.
“That turns marriage and especially children into therapeutic lifestyle options for those who can afford them.”
I think this (common) phrasing completely misses the boat. Phrasing marriage/kids as somehow being luxuries for “those who can afford them” turns the situation upside down. Economically, marriage makes far more sense than not. People are choosing not to get married. They’re not being priced out of marriage.
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