Dear Conservative Life Coach…

 

1983

Dear Conservative Life Coach,

I’m 23 and just graduated from college and I’ve met the most wonderful girl. Neither one of us believes in sex before marriage so ‘shacking up’ is out of the question. Should I ask her to marry me even though my career is still in its infancy?

Bob in Ohio

Dear Bob,

Absolutely! We know that the way to prosperity is to get married and have children.

CLC

1993

Dear Conservative Life Coach,

I’m 33 and just got a nice promotion at work. My wife and I have been renting but the kids are growing and we’re thinking about buying a home. Should we make the leap?

Bob in Ohio

Dear Bob,

Absolutely! Home ownership is a surefire way to prosperity! Plus home ownership makes for stronger neighborhoods and stronger communities in general. And with all the tax breaks and programs designed for first time buyers there’s never been a better time!

CLC

2005

Dear Conservative Life Coach,

My wife’s father has Alzheimers. We’ve been looking at extended care facilities but neither of us liked what we saw. Should we add a room on to the house or petition the government to expand care to the elderly?

Bob in Ohio

Dear Bob,

First of all, we conservatives know that government is never the solution to any problem. If I were you I’d take out a small loan, build your father-in-law a room and take care of him! Nobody is going to do that better than family. And to encourage and reward good people like you we’re working on providing tax breaks for caregivers.

CLC

2013

Dear Conservative Life Coach,

My oldest just graduated from high school and we’re looking at colleges. Are Federal Student Loans really the way to go?

Bob in Ohio

Dear Bob,

Absolutely! With the changing economy you know your child is going to to have to have at least a Bachelor’s degree to compete in the job market. Besides, we’re working to pass new changes to the Dependent Child Tax Credit that will reward good people like you!

CLC

2017

Dear Conservative Life Coach,

I’ve done everything you told me to do in the past. I’m 57 and farther and farther away from retirement with all the changes in Social Security. Now it seems my company is moving production overseas. All of the tech jobs here in the home office are being filled by H1B visa workers from India. I’m losing my job and my health insurance. I had to refinance the house after the ’08 crash plus I have those additional loans that I took out for the addition for my elderly father-in-law and college loans for both kids. And the real estate market here is pretty depressed. What do I do now?

Trump Voter in Ohio

Dear Ohio,

Why are you asking me? If you voted for Trump you’re obviously not a true conservative. Stop whining and looking to others to solve your problems! You should have thought about this a long time ago.

CLC

2019

Dear Conservative Life Coach,

Screw you.

Angry in Ohio

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  1. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Satire says so well that which liberal talking points an pseudo-statistics can’t refute.

    • #61
  2. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    a) It’s fallacious to argue both that every individual is different and cannot be captured by statistics and also that an individual’s economic situation is definitely the result of the aggregate effects of government policy.  Statistics are the only way to evaluate government policies in a country of over 330 million people.  If every individual is different then it follows that there’s no way to know for sure why the guy is unemployed, especially considering just how little information we have about him.   Maybe technology made his job obsolete. Maybe the company would have gone bankrupt if it wasn’t free to outsource jobs or to hire immigrant tech workers. Maybe he was just lousy at his job.   Maybe there are other jobs available to him but he refuses to do what’s required to get them.  Maybe it was just bad luck.  We have no way to know.  The best we can do is to try to calculate the statistical probability of a random 55-year old married man being unemployed in 2019 in the United States, and then compare it against the statistical probability of that same man being unemployed if only federal policies were different.

    b) Even if free trade is the reason for this hypothetical/fictional person losing his job, free trade had nothing to do with the 2008 housing crash, inflation in the college tuition market, inflation in health care, etc.   I fail to see how those pieces of advice have any bearing on the guy losing his job.   Should this fictional “life coach” have said, “there’s no guarantee you’ll have a job in 20 years so you should remain a childless bachelor who doesn’t care about his parents’ welfare”?

    • #62
  3. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Because that’s the point, isn’t it? That even conservative tinkering around with the economy has left the middle class behind. I mean, we know that leftists will screw things up. But conservative policy-makers (and their cheerleaders) refuse to accept their own role in the economic (and sociological) woes of middle class.

    Except that the middle class is shrinking because a) they stay married and make other good life decisions and end up in the upper class (e.g. my parents now living debt free in a $450K house and in the top 20% income bracket with nothing but associates degrees) or b) they get divorced (losing thousands to lawyers and tens of thousands to doubled living expenses)  or make other dumb life decisions. 

    What’s more conservative than not rewarding poor choices? 

    • #63
  4. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    Yes. I didn’t think it was for hating Emmanuel Goldstein Jonah Goldberg and Kevin Williamson and whomever else you assign to the “Conservative Commentariat.”

    These guys know what a fair and prosperous economy looks like. The Niskanen Center Republicans et. al. not so much. 

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    The free market that the “Conservative Commentariat” advocates doesn’t guarantee success for everyone who works hard. It just works better than any other system. Somebody will always get screwed through no fault of their own. Free trade and all the other things advocated by “those rich guys who look down on me” just try to minimize the number of people who get screwed. 

    We don’t have free markets. Not even close. The Fed has been overdoing it since 1996 at least. Then throw in all of the overregulation and theft government facilitates. A lot of responsible people are getting killed. 

    The Fed and the government has been doing every single thing wrong in the face of robots and globalize labor. Education, shelter, and healthcare are all extremely overpriced.

    Now throw in all of the unfunded liabilities. It’s a joke.

    • #64
  5. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

     

    James Of England (View Comment):
    So this is a slightly more subtle cheat; he’s taking wages for people in non-supervisory roles on the basis that they are “ordinary folks”. But the portion of Americans that represents has been coming down. By selecting from poorer Americans at the later stages of the chart than at the beginning, and then pretending that the chart represents America in general, he creates an image of decline.

    toggle (View Comment):

    The implication of that statistical assertion is intriguing : The portion of people in supervisory roles is increasing as the number of those they supervise declines ?

     

    Not necessarily.  It could be that fewer people are in roles that are purely supervisory or purely non-supervisory.

    e.g. I’m a glorified administrative assistant who does lots of different productive tasks without specializing in any one area, but I have interns so that also makes me a “supervisory” employee.  Heck, sometimes I delegate the management of the interns to an assistant, thereby making them a supervisory employee.  Thanks to technology I easily have enough time to do my own productive work and to supervise the work of others, whereas without technology each function I perform would need a dedicated employee (or sourced out to a contractor, or more likely contracted out to an entire agency).

    I wager that the proportion of people whose roles are either purely supervisory or purely productive is getting pretty small nowadays.

    • #65
  6. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    James Of England (View Comment):
    The U Haul thing sounds like a Williamson reference. It seems uncharitable to believe that Kevin is responsible for small town poverty, but even more so to suggest that his argument that the government should supply help to people who who need help to move was an attempt to avoid engaging with people in that situation. For those in the media, that is what engagement looks like. He also engages with them somewhat outside of the media; his family are small town people and he engages with that community personally.

    In my opinion he was mostly saying you need to move away from places that are poorly governed instead of waiting for something to happen.  

    • #66
  7. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    RufusRJones (View Comment):
    Now throw in all of the unfunded liabilities. It’s a joke.

    Underfunded liabilities … like  from taking care of elderly Alzheimer’s patients so their families can pay off their house and save for retirement? 

    • #67
  8. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    What’s more conservative than not rewarding poor choices?

    Indeed. Screw those people. They made bad choices. They’re “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” Those working class towns “deserve to die.” Their interests have no place in the “mainstream of American conservatism.”

    • #68
  9. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    What’s more conservative than not rewarding poor choices?

    Indeed. Screw those people. They made bad choices. They’re “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” Those working class towns “deserve to die.” Their interests have no place in the “mainstream of American conservatism.”

    Oh, so let’s act like Democrats instead and punish people for getting married! Let’s throw money at them for having kids out of wedlock and divorcing over and over! Let’s stand up for a $15/hr minimum wage and watch more entry level jobs get replaced by robots!

    Rewarding vice has worked out so well historically; why wouldn’t we want to do it?

    • #69
  10. toggle Inactive
    toggle
    @toggle

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    but I have interns so that also makes me a “supervisory” employee. Heck, sometimes I delegate the management of the interns to an assistant

    So, the non-supervisory population consists of interns. That may explain the trend in lower wages for people in non-supervisory roles.

    • #70
  11. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    Rewarding vice has worked out so well historically; why wouldn’t we want to do it?

    and the economy is too politically centrally planned. Then they try to fix it by doing more. They have no idea how to regulate the financial system.

    • #71
  12. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    What’s more conservative than not rewarding poor choices?

    Indeed. Screw those people. They made bad choices. They’re “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” Those working class towns “deserve to die.” Their interests have no place in the “mainstream of American conservatism.”

    There’s a difference between not rewarding poor choices and saying “screw you” to the people that make poor choices.  The former implies refusing to pay to keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed regardless of their choices.  The latter implies refusing to pay to keep them at a basic level of decent subsistence while at the same time helping them learn to make better choices.

    The conundrum is that defining what qualifies as “decent subsistence” is infinitely debatable.

    • #72
  13. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Look at iWalton’s comments on the other thread. That’s the problem.

    • #73
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    He also recently published a new book, The Myth of Capitalism, his survey of the profit margin phenomenon and its consequences for investors and citizens alike. In this episode, we discuss the social and economic consequences of increased consolidation and regulatory capture in corporate America and what it means for markets going forward.

    link

    After the bond market collapses, everyone will be begging for Mises.org to take over.

    • #74
  15. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    What’s more conservative than not rewarding poor choices?

    Indeed. Screw those people. They made bad choices. They’re “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” Those working class towns “deserve to die.” Their interests have no place in the “mainstream of American conservatism.”

    There’s a difference between not rewarding poor choices and saying “screw you” to the people that make poor choices. The former implies refusing to pay to keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed regardless of their choices. The latter implies refusing to pay to keep them at a basic level of decent subsistence while at the same time helping them learn to make better choices.

    The conundrum is that defining what qualifies as “decent subsistence” is infinitely debatable.

    Yes. It’s not enough to be better off than 98% of all human beings who are or who have ever lived; they’re in inhumane conditions without Facebook in their pocket.

    • #75
  16. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Listen to the interviews of David Stockman on Contra Krugman and the Tom Woods show around September 2016.

    That is why you have Trump and Bernie and AOC etc.

    • #76
  17. Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion
    @HankRhody

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):
    The “compassionate” responses to this hypothetical shows that many of us are simply incapable of doing that. Instead, the most passionate responses seem to range from “I got my own problems” to the dispassionate “statistically speaking…”

    It appeared you were looking for policy responses. And how else is government supposed to make policy for a nation of 300-plus million people except via “statistically speaking”?

    I think you’re skipping a step. I think Mr. Hill’s point is that we should show some bloody empathy full stop. It wasn’t bad advice, but Bob in Ohio got screwed regardless. Maybe it’s his fault, maybe it isn’t. Either way that’s not important right away. First things first we ought to acknowledge how badly this guy’s life sucks right now.

    Look, maybe the conservative policies we’ve been pushing all along were the best thing; maybe an analysis says we shouldn’t change a thing. That doesn’t change the fact that this guy is hurting right now, and if you’re talking with him then you should admit to that even if your best policy answer to his problems is “I still believe in what I said before and I think it will prevent the most people from getting trapped like you are in the future.”

    • #77
  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    A free-market economy is great, James. What makes you think we have one?

    It’s certainly true that we live in a mixed economy, as does (and has), everyone else. Just as it is perfectly reasonable to say that no one has achieved full communism, though, and just as this provides no insight into whether it is a good idea to transfer control of the means of production to the state, the lack of a platonic free market does not mean that we do not live in a relatively free market (the world’s 6th most free, perhaps https://www.fraserinstitute.org/economic-freedom/dataset?geozone=world&year=2016&page=dataset&filter=1&min-year=2&max-year=0&sort-field=-calculated_ranking&sort-reversed=1 ). Nor does it mean that we cannot have some sense of the impact of increasing or decreasing that freedom.

    Because that’s the point, isn’t it? That even conservative tinkering around with the economy has left the middle class behind. I mean, we know that leftists will screw things up. But conservative policy-makers (and their cheerleaders) refuse to accept their own role in the economic (and sociological) woes of middle class.

    Again, read this.

    Your link is to an article ostensibly about working class woes rather than middle. And it explicitly agrees with the conservative life coach, most of whose advice is to follow the success. Other than the China Shock (which it kind of misleads about; that started in about 2000, as it said, but finished in about 2007), there really isn’t a lot of condemnation of conservative economic tinkering. What there is suggests that conservative economics believes that labor markets are self correcting, but in fact there is significant frictional harm. 

    I don’t know if you think this is correct. If you do, I would appreciate it if you could link me to an example of a conservative economist who thinks that frictional costs do not exist. So far as I know, there is unanimity among conservative economists (defined circularly as free market economists) that frictional costs are real, and important; the labor market does self adjust, but not immediately.

     

    The basis on which they disagree with the socialists is that they believe the cures to friction and churn are worse than the disease. So, for instance, bankruptcy is awful; there is often nothing worse for a community than the local factory closing down. I have in laws who have gone decades without work because of the closure of shipyards. It just destroyed them, through no fault of their own. But bailing out everyone who fails is worse, even though it saves the marriages etc. of the community over fairly lengthy stretches of time. Efforts to freeze economies in aspic fail, lead to strife, and cut off the improvements in life seen by those in happier, more free, economies.

    • #78
  19. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    toggle (View Comment):

    James Of England (View Comment):
    So this is a slightly more subtle cheat; he’s taking wages for people in non-supervisory roles on the basis that they are “ordinary folks”. But the portion of Americans that represents has been coming down.

    The implication of that statistical assertion is intriguing : The portion of people in supervisory roles is increasing as the number of those they supervise declines ?

    And in a host of other roles. We have more people in tech, for instance, more health care workers, etc. etc. There are lots of FRED categories from which cherries could be picked, but if someone is picking any subset of the population and treating it as the whole, you can be confident that you are being scammed.

    • #79
  20. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    toggle (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    but I have interns so that also makes me a “supervisory” employee. Heck, sometimes I delegate the management of the interns to an assistant

    So, the non-supervisory population consists of interns. That may explain the trend in lower wages for people in non-supervisory roles.

    Yabbut, if it’s offset by a greater increase in the number of supervisory employees then the workforce (theoretically) comes out ahead overall.  The point is that many positions that were purely non-supervisory in the past now have a supervisory component because technology has reduced the amount of time they need to devote to their non-supervisory activities.

    e.g. When computers eliminated the typing pool they also eliminated the manager whose sole job was to supervise the typing pool.  In their place are multi-role employees who split their time between productive activities, administrative activities, and supervisory activities, in varying proportions depending on their level.

    Even the lowest rung assistant might sometimes be called upon to supervise a contractor from time to time.  As organizational charts are flattened the distinction between supervisory and non-supervisory gets really fuzzy.

    If I ask someone in another office to do something for me, and I have to stay on top of them to make sure it gets done, I’m not technically their supervisor in the org chart but I’m still performing a supervisory role.  Furthermore, what if I delegate that task to the intern?  Now even the intern could be considered supervisory!

    • #80
  21. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    When computers eliminated

    This is deflation. More output for less. Same thing with globalized trade. Purchasing power. But the Fed says we need 2% inflation. It’s insane. 

    • #81
  22. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Rewarding vice has worked out so well historically; why wouldn’t we want to do it?

    Nobody is talking about rewarding vice here.

    • #82
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Hank Rhody, Acting on Emotion (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):
    The “compassionate” responses to this hypothetical shows that many of us are simply incapable of doing that. Instead, the most passionate responses seem to range from “I got my own problems” to the dispassionate “statistically speaking…”

    It appeared you were looking for policy responses. And how else is government supposed to make policy for a nation of 300-plus million people except via “statistically speaking”?

    I think you’re skipping a step. I think Mr. Hill’s point is that we should show some bloody empathy full stop. It wasn’t bad advice, but Bob in Ohio got screwed regardless. Maybe it’s his fault, maybe it isn’t. Either way that’s not important right away. First things first we ought to acknowledge how badly this guy’s life sucks right now.

    If Bob were a real person, it would be important to reach out to him, sure. I’m not going to feel bad about failing to ask a fictional character if he wants a cup of tea before I move on to discuss the historical claims people make about folks in his demographic.

    Look, maybe the conservative policies we’ve been pushing all along were the best thing; maybe an analysis says we shouldn’t change a thing. That doesn’t change the fact that this guy is hurting right now, and if you’re talking with him then you should admit to that even if your best policy answer to his problems is “I still believe in what I said before and I think it will prevent the most people from getting trapped like you are in the future.”

    If I were talking to Bob, I’d be careful about preaching the gospel. Apparently he’s pretty angry with people who share my views and it would be better to listen to him for a while and find ways to help. But I’m talking to people who pay money to engage in conversation on a center right political site. It is wholly appropriate to discuss center right politics here without apologizing for doing so. If I write a post about some American who has lost their job to steel tariffs, I wouldn’t expect calling them “Mike” would lead to people wanting to check that everything was okay with Mike before launching into a defense of those tariffs, agreement that they were mistaken, examples of their own experiences, or what have you.

    • #83
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    When computers eliminated the typing pool they also eliminated the manager whose sole job was to supervise the typing pool.

    And they started paying higher-paid employees to do their own lower-paid and unskilled typing.

    • #84
  25. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    What’s more conservative than not rewarding poor choices?

    Indeed. Screw those people. They made bad choices. They’re “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” Those working class towns “deserve to die.” Their interests have no place in the “mainstream of American conservatism.”

    I feel like the first quote strays pretty far from the middle class relative success story in this discussion; Bob’s chief products (that we know of) have been educated kids, tech, and an acceptable or better life for his wife, a sweet girl.

    I don’t recognize the final quote and it doesn’t seem googleable. Did someone really say that the interests of people who make poor choices have no place in the mainstream of American conservatism?

    I’m fine with towns dying where the death of a town represents an improvement to the quality of life of the townspeople. Is it your position that the town has a valuable moral welfare independent of its population?

    • #85
  26. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Rewarding vice has worked out so well historically; why wouldn’t we want to do it?

    Nobody is talking about rewarding vice here.

    When we make life easier for divorcees, we are rewarding vice. When we have a whole lower tax bracket for single parents, we are rewarding vice. When we make life easier for the drug addicts and the indolent, we are rewarding vice. 

    In short, when we take money away from people who are doing something with their lives to prop up small rural towns full of single mothers, welfare queens, and druggies, those towns that Kevin Williamson and myself are from and that we think just need to be taken off life support and left to die, we are rewarding vice. 

    • #86
  27. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    James Of England (View Comment):
    Your link is to an article ostensibly about working class woes rather than middle.

    One dilemma in this debate is that the distinctions between “working class”, “middle class”, and “upper class” have become really fuzzy over time.  Do we categorize people according to the job they do, by their socio-economic background and/or education, or by how much they earn?

    Plumbers definitely used to be considered “working class”, but how would you categorize a plumber who earns more than $31,000 a year (the average individual income according to the US census)?

    Lawyers, doctors, and professors are generally considered “upper class”, but what about a public defender, or a General Practitioner in a community clinic or small rural town, or a community college professor, who might take home an income in the “middle” range?

    Does a person who subsists on welfare count as “working class” if they don’t actually do any work?

    How about someone from an upper-crust family who goes to college and then proceeds to utterly fail in life?  Which “class” does that person fit into?

    • #87
  28. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    EJHill (View Comment):

    When we were all at AEI last May Arthur Brooks made an impassioned speech about why it’s important for conservatives to learn how to tell stories in order to advance the cause.

    The “compassionate” responses to this hypothetical shows that many of us are simply incapable of doing that. Instead, the most passionate responses seem to range from “I got my own problems” to the dispassionate “statistically speaking…”

    How am I supposed to act compassionately towards a hypothetical/fictional person?

    • #88
  29. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    hen computers eliminated

    This is deflation. More output for less.

    That’s productivity.

     

    • #89
  30. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Their interests have no place in the “mainstream of American conservatism.”

    American conservatism isn’t a special interest group for whites. Or the working class. Or the middle class. Or the professional class. It’s not to advance the interests of farmers, laborers, or scholars. 

    American conservatism is about a set of principles about how to organize society, government, and economics through emphasis on personal responsibility and freedom.

    The person who just wants what he deserves may vote Republican, but he’s not a conservative.

    • #90
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