When economists prefer tossing economic theory to being woke

I seriously do not understand how so many economists (white male etc.) think that “cultural differences” explain things that are easier explained by “different constraints.”

As if we’re not all rational actors, only the white guys are.  Everyone else is doing worse because they are worse.  They’re either low quality or have bad culture.  If everyone acted like a white guy, then everybody would be doing as well as white guys.  As if.

It’s like, do you not listen to your own theory? How is it that when someone who isn’t a rich white guy is involved, all of a sudden you become a poor quality sociologist (who doesn’t really understand sociology)?

Are posts that are “raw” and dramatic more honest than posts that are happy or emotionally even?: A deliberately controversial post

Not necessarily.

Just like the accusations that (some? all?) people are making up their happy perfect lives, there’s also no doubt bloggers who are either dramatizing or possibly even making up their own drama so that they have something to write about.  Some people who seem as if their lives are trainwrecks seem that way not because they necessarily have horrible things happening to them, but because, like the (possibly fictional) “perfect” bloggers, they want attention.  They love being thanked for their “honest” and “raw” posts.

So they talk about fighting with their horrible lazy awful partners.  They talk about their horrible children.  They talk about their problems with money that they have created by taking on too much debt.  Some (that you will occasionally read news stories about) go so far as to make up diseases and put up crowd-funding.

It is true that there are people stuck in horrible relationships, or whose children have real psychological problems.  There are people who, through no fault of their own have money problems.  There are people who have life-threatening and chronic diseases.  And some folks with real problems do blog about them.

However, the Venn diagram of having a real problem and blogging about drama is not an “honest” and “raw” single circle.  There’s overlap, but it is far from complete.

Drama posts can be just as fictional as “perfect” posts.  And just as likely, some “perfect” bloggers are not lying about things going well for them.  Honest writing and happy writing may be completely uncorrelated.

Your turn, Grumpeteers.

Dear “broke” person on the internet,

[Ed note:  This somewhat mean-spirited post is from an embarrassing number of years back and has been hanging out in drafts waiting for it to no longer be connectable to any specific person and for us to be out of money Monday posts.  Did the person in question ever turn things around?  We have no idea!]

You make a lot of money.  I know this because you keep telling people how much you and your spouse make.  I was shocked the first time I saw it because you are always complaining about your debt (and how the world has been out to get you).  Until very recently, your family made more money than either of ours and lives in a lower cost living area.

But you also have spent a lot of money and you keep spending money.  For example, you bought a house that you should not have bought when you had major debt that you should have attacked first.  You got upset when your readers told you not to buy the house, and you bought it anyway.  Same thing with replacing your car with a fancy new model because cars get old after 6 years.

You need to pay down that debt so you stop wasting money on the interest so that you can actually life the lifestyle for your income-level.  You can’t live that 100K+/year income life until you get rid of that debt.  You have to live on less than that.  I’m not saying to give up the private school, but you don’t have to live in as nice a house or as nice a neighborhood or drive as nice cars or replace them so frequently. I imagine there are a lot of other luxuries that you think are necessities and entitlements.  They’re not.

You are probably not going to be able to stop spending so much without help, but I doubt you’re actually going to seek help.  I doubt that because your readers have suggested plenty of places to get help, from books to Dave Ramsey classes to certified financial planners, and you’ve done nothing.  You’re probably just going to keep complaining about your debt, bragging about your high income, and complaining about how the world is out to get you.

There’s probably something psychological going on.  And I should feel sorry for you, but seriously, you make @$@#$@ing lot of money.  A lot of people would pay down their @#$#ing debt and not feel so entitled to the house they couldn’t afford and whatever else it is that you’re wasting your high income on.  Then they’d have paid down their debt by now and would be able to live the life you’re living while saving for retirement!  But you’re going to have to make sacrifices at some point, and the longer you keep this high interest debt the more it’s going to keep dragging down your finances.

Which is why, of course, we’ve stopped reading you.

A mother’s day rant

1.  If you’re a full-time daycare, don’t have “Muffins with Mom”.

2.  If you decide to have “Muffins with Mom” anyway, don’t put a sign-up sheet in the lobby where everyone can see which moms obviously don’t love their children enough to leave work to spent 30 min eating store-bought muffins with them at daycare.

3.  Also, the next day don’t ask the moms who weren’t there why they weren’t there and then tell them that they were the only mom who wasn’t there and little DC was so upset.  (Especially if the reason according to DC that ze was upset was because ze had to have grapes instead of muffins like all the other kids because ze’s allergic to wheat.  Or maybe especially if that’s not the reason.)

I wonder how many moms are going to show up in Dad’s place for Donuts with Dad, which I assume they’re also having.  Of course, little DC2 won’t have dad there either because he’s traveling for work that week.

I’m actually only slightly irritated, and mainly at the patriarchy.  And to be honest, I would have checked the no box even if I hadn’t had a P&T meeting scheduled a month and a half in advance at exactly that time.  I am willing to sacrifice DC a little bit so that other mothers can also feel free to check the “no” box if they need to or want to.  (And at the time I checked “No” there were two other “No”s, one with a written “I’m out of town” excuse.)  I suppose that makes me a terrible mother, but I don’t want hir to feel like this is a big deal, and based on conversations with hir the evening of the event, ze was indeed upset by the lack of muffin and not at all by the lack of mommy.  (And yes, a “better” set of parents would have brought gluten-free muffins, but DC2 has gf cookies provided specifically for these kinds of events, and I didn’t really realize that it was Thursday until I got to daycare and saw the ladies setting up for the party, because the end of the semester is busy.)

I have the solace that deep down I believe that these little upsets truly are character building and learning to weather having to eat grapes when the other kids have muffins so as to avoid getting a rash is just one of those things that makes a person stronger.  Obviously we shouldn’t try to create character building incidents because that’s sadistic, but it’s not such a big deal when they happen.  Especially when grapes are actually better than grocery store muffins.

or with music

Don’t punch down

Racists punch down.  Misogynists punch down.  Bullies punch down.

If you’re in the majority, if you’re protected by privilege, even if you’re not as protected as a tall, wealthy, Christian, white male would be… don’t punch down to the people worse off than  you.

Don’t blame an entire group for the failings of a few members if that group is lower than you on life’s difficulty setting.  It’s not their job to police everybody who shares the discriminated against characteristic.  (Whereas you might be able to make an argument that there is nobody else to police the wealthy tall white male “Christians” but wealthy tall white male “Christians” themselves.)

If you’re going to punch a group, then punch up.

If you find the action of a single person or small group of people to be despicable, then call out that action.  Call out those people.  Don’t blame the entire group.  Don’t do things that are racist just because a black guy killed a cop or because a small group of terrorists killed a group of comic strip writers.  Extend the same courtesy to less privileged groups that you do to the most privileged groups, because without doing that, the patriarchy will never be defeated.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , . 5 Comments »

Another note on privilege

Have you ever noticed that nobody ever says “those racists got what’s coming to them” or “if they didn’t want to get killed they shouldn’t have been racist.”

But they do say, “if they didn’t want to get killed/raped/etc.” they shouldn’t have provoked/been someplace where they could be noticed by/etc. a person in power?

You don’t get blamed if you get hurt when you’re punching down.  Nobody expects people to shoot back.  When they do, you can’t be blamed for not expecting it.  But punching up?  You should have known better.  Don’t carry a gun if you’re not white.  Do everything the police office says, no matter how illegally he is treating you.  Don’t speak out against rapists or internet harassers.  If you do, you deserve to become a target (except that you never deserve that).

If you are in a group with less privilege it is always automatically your fault (by popular opinion, though not in truth, never in truth).  You are not innocent specifically because you are not a Christian (or atheist– only the super-privileged are allowed to admit to atheism) white male.  It’s like your original sin– not being born with privilege.

Because you’re not privileged, then you should *know* that the world is a dangerous and scary place and you have to stay in your home, wearing a burqa, surrounded by robot body-guards.  If you’re privileged then you don’t have to do that because the world simply *isn’t* a dangerous and scary place for you.  You have to actively seek a career like drug-trafficking before people start going, “hey, you should have done something to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.”  It’s simply unthinkable that it could ever be a Christian white guy’s fault.

Wouldn’t it be nice if nobody ever thought to victim blame?  If everybody were extended the same grace that white guys in power are given?  That we could focus on the people causing the crimes rather than the people victimized by them?

But that’s patriarchy for you.  Culture is against you, therefore you’re in double-jeopardy.  You’re damned from the start.  And doubly so if you try to fight it, if you try to do what those white Christian (and atheist) guys take for granted every moment of every day.

On preschools and biting: Part 1– the story

DC2 is a biter again.

To catch new readers up, DC2’s wonderful daycare went out of business because of financial difficulties stemming from a theft.  Ze learned to bite at a second temporary daycare at DC1’s school that had too high of student/teacher ratios.

Then we moved to another daycare that was great.  DC2 stopped biting.  Ze started saying “STAHP!”  There was re-direction, conflict management.  It was great.

Then DC2 aged into the next room.  The room where the two main teachers had been fired a few months previously because one of them claimed the other one disciplined a child with hitting, but waited to make the complaint longer than required by law (which would be immediately).  The replacement teachers… aren’t as good.

DC2 started crying at drop-off.

And eventually, ze started biting again.  And being bitten, though not quite as much as ze bites.

Every incident report was the same.  Other kid tried to take the toy DC2 was playing with, so DC2 bit hir.

They tried pacifiers.  They tried tylenol.  The assistant director, who is a huge bully, called me back to the front desk one day before picking up DC2 to sign the latest incident report and loudly quizzed me about the problem in front of a bunch of other parents.  She actually did that twice.  The third time I yelled at her… but more on that in a few paragraphs.

Eventually we decided it wasn’t teething that was the problem.  We noticed that ze had stopped saying “Stop” at home and had stopped putting hir arm out to indicate to stay away to DC1.

We also noticed my colleague’s kid was no longer attending the daycare, and asked why.  Turns out their kid was kicked out for biting.  At the new place, my colleague said, hir kid bit once and then hasn’t since.

When DC2 got an incident for biting another kid because ze wanted the other kid’s toy… that’s when we put two and two together.  All of the previous incidents involved someone trying to take what DC2 was playing with.  Why weren’t they addressing this extremely common children’s problem.  Why didn’t they have property rights or sharing or trading or some system of management so kids knew what the rules were about playing with toys?  What happened between the first room and the second room?  Why didn’t they address the root of the problem?  Why were they just focusing on bandaid solutions after the incident and then yelling at me (note, always at me, never at DH, despite the fact that DH does 80% of the pick-ups and something like 98% of drop-offs, because the assistant director is a sexist bully) about it?

DH started observing carefully in the morning and afternoon and would report to me that the main teacher in the mornings didn’t notice kids unless they were crying.  The other teacher was a little bit better, but neither of them were any good with incidents.  They moved from disciplining one kid to another, always disciplining the kid first and ignoring the kid who was crying.

So I mentioned to the daycare director (while signing another bite report) that my husband had been observing the room and he’d noticed that the teachers didn’t seem to be as experienced as the ones in the 18 mo room.  I mentioned that DC2 didn’t bite in the 18 mo room.  I asked what their culture was with regards to property rights– did they do sharing or let the kid who was playing with the toy keep playing… she said they did taking turns so the teacher would let the kid who had it keep playing and then come back later and give it to the other kid if she remembered.  I requested that she observe the teachers and see what she thought.  She asked which teachers, and of course I didn’t know (since DH does the majority of drop-off and pick-up), so she went on and on about how two of the teachers were extremely experienced and on and on and I said, well, maybe it’s the college kids, and she got relieved and thought I’d been talking about the morning teachers.  Of course, it turns out that the college kids are the afternoon teachers who are doing fine and the “experienced” morning teachers who are terrible.

The last straw for me came when the assistant director accosted me again while I was signing an incident report and started going on and on about how at least this time, for the first time, DC2 had shown some compassion for the kid ze bit.  As if DC2 was some kind of sociopath.  UGH.  (Note:  this was NOT the first time DC2 said sorry and hugged or kissed the kid after, no matter what the assistant director thinks– in fact, ze has been doing that a lot because ze thinks that makes it ok to bite!).  So I repeated to her the things that I had told the director, only far more directly and far less diplomatically.  Readers, I may have spoken with her quite strongly. (As with many bullies, she backed down once I politely and firmly showed some spine.)

When I repeated many of the things DH had said specifically about the morning teachers, she got upset and went on and on about how one of them has 8 years experience in special ed.  As if special ed and 2 year old management have anything to do with each other.  Which I told her.  She also told me that the school’s version of conflict resolution is not taking turns, but sharing, which is something completely different!  She and the director don’t even agree on what the school’s policy is.  In any case, the teachers in that room aren’t doing EITHER.  I repeated that all I wanted was for them to observe and train.  She said since I was getting my information from my husband, would it be possible for me to observe?  I said I trusted my husband and have to work.  She ended as I was walking out the door saying that she *does* regularly observe the classes.  I rolled my eyes and bit my tongue, remembering how much the teachers in the 18 month room think she’s clueless (not that they said that in so many words, but they apologized profusely and left things unsaid because she “doesn’t really understand that accidents happen when you switch to underwear for the first time at school, bless her soul” when she was a bitch about DC2’s first day of potty training and sent us an email as if we hadn’t worked things out with the teachers ).

On the plus side, she hasn’t harassed me since, which is nice.

In fact, when DH went out of town this past week, for the first time the assistant director didn’t come up with some ridiculous excuse to keep DC2 out of school. (I don’t know if I complained here about how last time DH was out of town, she essentially accused me of faking a doctor’s note that DC2’s eczema wasn’t contagious and then called the doctor’s office and wouldn’t let DC2 in school even when they told her over the phone that it was ok so I had to spend a huge amount of money on last second childcare so I could teach and had to cancel a class and not get any work done for three days.  Even though my kid wasn’t sick!  It was awful.),  So I was able to view the classroom in the morning myself, briefly in a heart-breaking way on Tues and Wed before taking DC1 to school, and at length on that Monday because DC1 had an in-service day.

It was like lord of the flies.  Seriously.  Kids grabbing things from each other, screaming, hitting, pushing, the teacher trying to do a dozen things and giving up.  Punishing kids but not, again, getting at the root of the problem.  Each new kid crying woefully once getting there.  No wonder DC2 didn’t want to be dropped off.  It wasn’t a safe environment.  Now, DC2 loves the afternoon teachers and loves the second half of the day.  But it is easy to see why ze complains about the mornings.  Even DC1 commented on what a horrible job the teachers were doing once we hit the parking lot.

I talked to the third person who is occasionally in charge at the front desk– the director’s grown daughter.  She was sympathetic, but then said she didn’t know what their policy was on sharing/trading/kids grabbing toys.  She didn’t think they had one.  And she didn’t think that kids could learn conflict resolution at that age because they weren’t verbal enough.  I mentally face-palmed and told her she was wrong– after all, they communicated just fine in the 18 month room(!)

In the mean time, they haven’t done anything about the morning teachers.  They haven’t observed (unless the incompetent and unobservant assistant director has, but she’s an idiot with no childcare knowledge or background).  The director gave DH a print-out of the WebMD webpage about biting, which A. is woefully incomplete and B. they aren’t following anyway(!).  Drop-off continues to be painful and we wish I didn’t have morning classes and DH didn’t have a morning conference call he has to make.  Ze’s always playing happily in the afternoon though and claims to love daycare and her teachers… in the afternoon.  It’s not bad enough to pull hir out without a back-up plan yet.

DC2 doesn’t bite because ze’s a biter.  Ze bites because it’s the only way ze can protect hirself and the only way ze can get what ze wants in a badly run situation.  Biting is a symptom.  Biting is not the problem.

So we’re visiting other day cares (it took a while to get appointment times to work out).  Hopefully we’ll have a new one very soon.  If we do, we will probably pay two daycares in November while ze transitions, but it will be well worth it.  We’d been planning on doing a meeting with the director armed with knowledge, and the suggestion that they have their 18 mo teachers observe and train their 2 year teachers, but at this point it doesn’t seem worth it.  Especially since they’re not receptive to being told how to run their business, and it isn’t our job to tell them what to do.  Even though what they’re doing isn’t what they say they’re doing and what they’re doing isn’t working.  They must have just gotten lucky with that 18 month room.

Part 2 [which will post weeks from now] will detail some suggestions for what preschools should do to prevent biters from happening, emphasizing environmental factors, based on extensive reading and experiences with well run daycares and less well run ones.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , , . 24 Comments »
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