So I was talking to our IT guy today and we were talking about stuff. "Stuff" as in "stuff in the house" and how much he'd like to get rid of it. Of course he can't because the Mrs. won't let him get rid of the stuff, even though this stuff has never been used in the past 10 years. This sent our conversation on a trajectory in terms of how nice it would be to get rid of most of our stuff in order to live another lifestyle. The IT Guy said he would love nothing more than to jettison all of his stuff, grab a backpack, his laptop, sell his house and live in Mexico. I spoke of my desire to pretty much do the same. I'm kicking around a way to camp in the National Grasslands during the warmer 6 months of the year, commute to work, save on rent, and then get a 6 month lease during the winter months. Again, I'd have to get rid of all my stuff.
But opine as we might about how nice it would be to get rid of all our stuff and lead a Spartan existence, there are consequences men and women don't think about to such minimalism. Consequences so huge, underestimated, unseen and (dare I say) on our front-door step I believe they need highlighting.
First, understand the only reason stuff exists - women.
Women want stuff. Men hate stuff. This is no better highlighted by comparing a bachelor pad to a bachelorette pad. A (true) bachelor pad is sparse. It's functional. Nothing matches. Nothing goes with anything else. All items were a potpourri of hand me downs, Goodwill purchases and charitable donations. The couch is for sitting on, not looking at. The table is for eating on, not looking at. The bed is for sleeping on, not looking at. And if you're a really good bachelor you will eat, sleep and sit on your couch, making the bed and table obsolete. Sure there may be the occasional nice thing (primarily your TV or LCD projection and computer), but for the most part a true bachelor spends no more than $2,000 on non-electronic stuff.
Women on the other hand have to "nest" (a term a psychologist friend of mine was trying to explain). This means no consideration is given to functionality or price, only aesthetics which ultimately supplant functionality and price.
Is the couch for sitting on?
Good god, no! It goes with the drapes.
Are the drapes to keep the sun out?
Good god no! They go with the hutch.
Is the hutch for storing things?
Good god no! They go well with the dining room table.
Is the dining room table for eating on?
Good god no! It goes well with the couch.
Women will also buy crap and trinkets simply because they want "crap and trinkets." Said trinkets and crap have no other function but to ornament the place with cute little things she likes to look at and stimulate the part in her brain that is only stimulated by spending money.
Could that money have gone to pay down the mortgage?
Could that money have gone to pay for gas?
Could that money have been donated to a small third world country, thereby lifting it and all of its people out of poverty forever?
But it's more important to have the "crystal unicorn set" sitting on top of the TV because it goes well with the armour (sp?) and she got it for "50% off!" Malaria infected third world children be damned, she has the whole collection!
Admittedly, I'm being a bit sarcastic, but not by much. In all truth and reality the VAST majority of the "stuff" that is found in the average American home (and I'm saying 90%) is ONLY there because the woman wants it AND it really serves no functional purpose. Because of this, that means by default 90% of the consumer spending in this economy is driven by women. Spending that would not exist if it were purely up to men.
And now you see some consequences on the horizon, don't you?
If it were up to men, consumption spending would tank. We wouldn't be wasting our precious time (in the form of money) on doilies or Beanie Babies or "nice, matching furniture" or general crap that isn't needed. There would be an entertainment system, some dishes, some used furniture and that's about it. But don't think it would stop there. Our Spartan spending habits would have ramifications WELL beyond that of trinkets and doilies in the house. Notably, the house itself.
Not only would demand for non-durable consumer items tank, the housing market itself would tank. Men need nowhere near the size of a house as women do. This in part because we don't have as much stuff that needs storage, we (frankly) don't want children AND we view the house as merely a place to sleep and retire to from work. ie-our lives are outside the home, while women's spending habits (no matter what they keep contending) proves the majority of their lives are still inside the home. The suburbs I doubt would even exist if it were up to men. We'd have the city center, apartment buildings and condos, and then for our rural brothers small towns with wood cabins in the forest. Vast swathes of 10,000 sqft McMansions used to impress the Suburban Princess Suzie McQue's of the world would not exist.
Regardless of which markets would be affected by male minimalism, the point is that consumer spending would be a mere fraction of what it is today. And since consumer spending accounts for 2/3rd of our economy, you could expect (at least in the short term) a drastically contracting economy should men all of the sudden follow the religion of Minimalism.
Now if you think that prospect is bad, we haven't even gotten to the other side of the economic coin. Because for as important as consumption is, production is even more so. The reason why is it doesn't matter if you want to "consume" a Ferrari or "consume" some sushi. If nobody produces the Ferrari or the sushi, you ain't getting anything anyway (just ask anybody in the former Soviet bloc about empty grocery store shelves despite the socialist guarantees of their governments). And so when it comes to the economic consequences of men en-mass pursuing "minimalism" we must also consider production.
However, understand when I say "we must also consider production" I do not mean men will say,
"Finally, she stopped nagging me about buying all her trinkets and crap! Now I can finally get to work."
and start to focus their energies and efforts into producing more and increasing standards of living for the family.
Quite the opposite actually.
They will look at the lower financial demands of their family and will RE-EVALUATE whether or not it's worth all the production for the compensation they receive. They will RE-EVALUATE whether it's worth slaving away 60 hours a week, 20 hours of which is uncompensated overtime, and another 10 hours that are stuck in traffic. They will RE-EVALUATE whether it's worth 30 years of tolerating insufferable insanity of corrupt bosses, incompetent co-workers and lazy underlings. They will RE-EVALUATE through the prism of minimalism whether the percent of their finite lives they are forfeiting is worth the monetary compensation they receive OR if it's just better to forfeit labor for leisure and suffer/enjoy a lower standard of living. And it is here the true threat of "minimalism" lays for the rest of society.
Understand, in general, men still produce the majority of the stuff. This is not up for debate now, but I guarantee you that if you look at labor statistics you will find the majority of men produce the majority of stuff in this economy that "matters." What do I mean by "that matters?" ie- stuff that has value. Stuff people want.
For example the disproportionately women-dominated field of "day care" does not produce anything people really want. Other women are taking care of other women's children while those women go work (primarily) another government job that is (guess what) taking care of other women's children (though typically in the juvie criminal system by this time) so they can make the money to afford day care for their children AND the increased taxes to pay for other women who work in social work programs. Or take for example, the non-profit sector. By the fact non-profits have to go and beg and plead to get their funding OR have the government force people to pay for it via taxation is proof that nobody really wants it and therefore it is not "stuff that matters." The non-profit industry is again predominantly staffed by females. But whatever the industry, the point is there is a strong correlation between faux economic production or "make work/rent seeking" economic production that really only exists for political reasons and the percent of those industries staffed by females.
Now, are there women who are engineers and doctors who make the stuff we want like electronics and surgery and gasoline?
Certainly, of course.
Is that the majority of women?
The majority of stuff that people want is still produced, created and innovated by men, period (though again, up for a debate at a later time).
So, logically then, since it is men who are producing the majority of the stuff we want, we should make them happy, right? Compensate them, reward them. Cheer them on and encourage them. Support them be it emotionally as a wife or in terms of policy when it comes to law. And certainly not stand in their way of creating, producing and innovating, right?
I mean, they are producing all the stuff. They are the engine of economic growth, RIGHT?
Heh heh. Where do I begin?
I guess I could start with the "family" in that this is, or at least, WAS a primary motivator in a young man's desire to work hard, succeed and produce. Originally the man would do all the production and the wife would take care of the house and little kinder. He'd come home to a loving wife, obedient children and was rewarded with a family. Of course things have changed.
Now the division of labor between worker and home-care-take was too logical, too efficient and obviously oppressive. Now nobody stays home to take care of the kids, the kids grow up maladjusted, causing more psychological strife for the man at home. A home that he presumably would retreat to, to decompress, relax and be reinvigorated for the next day of work. Now he has a wife that is equally stressed out, the home is in disarray, the kids are misbehaving, they really won't leave until they're 26, and did I mention most men didn't want kids to begin with? If anything, the chaos that has been left in the wake of outsourcing parenting to the government has turned a man's castle into just another office where he works a second job.
Now you would think this would disincentive him to work hard, but ironically, it makes him work harder. He gets to not only pay for the children and subsidize his part-time-working "social worker" wife, he gets to pay more in taxes to support an ever growing parasitic class collecting a government check. He is the Atlas in Atlas Shrugged, but he cannot shrug. He is chained to his family. Employers love him because he's their bitch. He cannot afford to be independent minded, he cannot talk back, he cannot speak his mind. He is their little slave at least until his youngest graduates from high school, and given the dependency of young "adults" today, until that kid graduates from college. He is the slave of America.
So far it doesn't sound like a family is a great disincentive for a man to produce. It almost sounds like it FORCES him to produce MORE. And it does. But what people don't see is his childless, unmarried male friends taking note. What people don't see is his sons watching their dad suffer. What they don't see is that for every enslaved Beta-Atlas there are 3-4 men who are deciding not to have families. And deciding NOT to have a family is arguably the single biggest thing a man can do to minimize his responsibilities AND CONSEQUENTLY cut his life long production needs by at least 67%. That does not bode well for the economy.
Closely related to family is the only natural course or outcome of getting married - divorce!
When you know half your assets are going to go bye bye and there's a 50/50 chance you're going to get divorced, then what do you think happens to a man's desire to work hard and produce? Again, it sucks to be the Beta-Atlas sucker stuck in a marriage whose wife is on the precipice of divorcing him. But for every one of those poor unfortunate souls, there's a score of younger men who haven't taken the plunge, remember their old man getting divorced and are taking very studious notes. They are opting instead to just stay single. And as every guy will tell you, without a wife or a girlfriend, you can get by EASILY on 40% less social expenditures than if you had one. Guess what, that translates into less production.
So good for them. Single, no wife, no kids. You're in the clear, right? I mean, society is going to support you now, right? Young, go getting corporate man, or young budding entrepreneur? Backbone of our society. Right?
Oh, you foolish male you.
See, you are male. Therefore you must pay because you are privileged. So now you get to suffer affirmative action and constantly be hounded about the pay gap. Less qualified women are passed over you, standards are lowered for them, and let's not forget the devastating effect an attention-seeking-drama-queen can have by launching a frivolous sexual harassment complaint!
The effect on male production? Well most men, when they're young, have a desire to belong to something better and bigger. To belong to a team. To find a good institution, pledge their loyalty, give it their best, achieve great things and take pride in their accomplishments. But when the rules are point blank unfair and the institution is corrupted by petty office politics AND their careers can be extinguished instantly by chaotic whims of a petty drama queen, not so much. Their loyalty fades, their allegiance dwindles and I'm no HR expert, but I believe high employee turnover is bad for a company's bottom line. So instead of being the loyal corporate man for 35 years, you're lucky if you're on one gig for more than three. Again, the result? The production of the average man today is only going to be a fraction of what his unharassed, undiscriminated against 1940's counterpart was.
It can't get worse? Right? I mean, we don't discourage men from production beyond that, right?
Well let's look at progressive taxation, no small part in which was brought to you by disproportionately socialist-and-democrat-voting women who want more of your money to take care of their...er...I mean "the" chilllllllldreeeeeennnnn. Again, I'm no economist (oh, wait, I am), but it seems to me the more I work the higher percentage of my money you're going to take away from me is going to provide a disincentive to work. The enslaved married Beta Atlas can't shrug, but I and millions of other unmarried, childless men can. Again, congratulations, production reduced.
Well, at least what I worked for I get to keep, right? I mean it's not like the government would CONFISCATE my assets or anything? They'll tax my income, but not my wealth, right?
In 2008 the democrats were kicking around a way to nationalize (read -confiscate) people's 401ks and 403b's. It has already happened in Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina. Now, MOST men I admit are unaware of this. However, more and more men are becoming more and more educated about economics. And as they read more and more about economics and study this here country's fine federal finances they can put two and two together and see that there is an increasing chance the government WILL inevitably start taxing our wealth and confiscating our assets. Now, I know you girls are too busy reading People magazine or watching Kate Perry's drama with Russel Brand, voting democrat because you care for the children, and studying for your masters in communications, but for us men who DO look up the federal budget occasionally, we're starting to see it's more and more likely whatever we produce today will be confiscated in the future. And not just that, but the MORE we produce today then progressively more of it will be confiscated in the future. End result? Less production.
But let's say we men wanted to be charitable. We still wanted to work knowing full well our effective tax rate would be 60% at state, federal and local AND there would be a 75% at least 50% of our wealth would be confiscated in the future. Because by god, it's for the chillllllldrreeeeeeennnnn.
Just one problem.
We can't work even if we wanted to.
I'm not talking about the overburdensome employment laws foisted on employers many thanks to disproportionately-female-voted-in socialists and democrats.
I'm not talking about the incredibly inept and corrupt HR industry which I do not believe to be dominated by males, that has completely impaired the labor market.
No, those are hurdles we get to suffer anyways.
I'm talking about the regulations that (once again) disproportionately-voted-in-by-females socialists and democrats have enacted making male-dominated industries either impossible to work in or have just driven them overseas. You know like energy, oil, construction, fields and industries where we produce all the stuff you need, but like to regulate and punish for the sake of the chilllllldreeeeeennnn or "mother Earth."
I don't know if it's your grand economic scheme to get everybody to work as barristas at Star Bucks or we all work as school teachers or something, but I do know all those regulations make it quite difficult for us men to produce. So congratulations, even LESS economic production.
And finally the cumulative effect of this veritable war waged on men - it's toll on our loyalty. I'm not talking loyalty to an employer. I'm talking loyalty to the country. I used to want to join the military and even to this day kick it around. But then I ask "who would I be protecting?" You see, all of the above really grinds mens' gears. We don't take kindly to being accused of automatic sexism, we don't like being enslaved to a government that does nothing more than take our money to bribe parasites into voting for more government, we don't like paying the taxes so you can play "pre-school teacher" and claim your 9 months a year job makes you an "independent adult," we don't take kindly to divorce (even though most of us haven't been), we don't take kindly to you ruining the industries we are predominantly employed in, we don't take kindly to the childish mind-games girls played on us during our teens and twenties, we don't take kindly to watching naive, spoiled, brats destroy the world's formerly greatest country and thusly steal our birthright and we get down right pissed when you start complaining that we're not "manning up" and choose to "sit on our asses all day playing X Box." Because when it comes to us men "investing" in this country be it buying property, starting a business, marrying, starting a family, whatever...
why should we?
Seriously, I want somebody to answer that question.
Why the hell would we work more than we have to than to support our meager little selves? Why would we invest in anything that can be taken from us (either assets by government confiscation or family via divorce). And why would we try to EXCEL when the majority of our production will merely be taken from us and given to not just ungrateful parasites but people who hate us and demand more? There's no incentive or upshot to it. Congratulations, you've effectively stalled you engine of economic growth and production.
But wait, there's one final aspect you haven't thought of, and it's particularly precious.
Men are infinitely better at being minimalists than women.
I don't believe this was always the case. Say the pioneer or the Great Depression days. Men and women had to watch every penny, and there was no such thing as "nesting" or getting "matching curtains." But after roughly 90 years of uninterrupted economic growth (not to mention HEAVILY subsidized consumer spending financed by our Chinese, Arab and Gen Y Generation Forced Mortgaged Future Volunteers), the women alive today have never really had to suffer, scrape or scrimp by. They EXPECT a luxurious house or apartment they can't afford. They EXPECT clothes they don't need. They EXPECT every little aspect of their material goods lives to be perfect. They CANNOT (or very few can) scale down to a small studio apartment from a house, sell all their stuff, and downsize their car. They cannot get rid of the daily Starbucks. They cannot fathom utter poverty and what they'd have to do to survive it.
Men on the other hand (of the non-OWS, pansy commie type) can. Part of the reason I'm kicking around the camping 6 months a year is to see if I can do it. And though I don't know for sure, part of the reason my IT Guy wants to go to Mexico with just a backpack is to see if he could also do it. Men forecast and run "worst case scenarios" in their heads in anticipation it might just happen and we're prepared for it. Poverty is ALWAYS licking our feet, driving us to stay one step ahead of it. However, whereas in the past poverty would be beaten by working hard and making more money, when that route is merely punished or impossible, the only alternative is minimalism.
This situation where making more money is impossible hits every almost every guy during college, forcing them to become experts in minimalism. They can't get a job, but have the tuition-cost demands of college. They MUST resort to minimalism. I graduated with no debt only making $16,000/ year in college. Factor out tuition costs and factor in inflation, that's still around $16,000 today. But that's if I had a lot of stuff. If I got rid of my stuff and did the tent thing or the roommate, I could probably get by on $11,000/yr, roughly the standard of living of South Africa or Colombia. I'd like to see a modern day western woman do the same.
Sadly, most can't. But this is where it gets particularly precious.
With economic growth stagnating and the population growing, our standards of living are decreasing. Additionally, nobody is loaning us money anymore so we can maintain our "I'm a Barbie Girl, In a Barbie World" lifestyle. The can cannot be kicked down the road any more because it's been kicked off the cliff. Sure, we can move money around and rely on Europe's economy being "slightly more sucky than ours" to delay the economic realities from hitting our domestic shores, but ultimately there is no more money left to maintain unsustainable lifestyles. This puts the ball back in the court of men. Men who have the know-how, the ability, the creation and the innovation to produce the economic production necessary to solve all these problems. Men who can make this country dominant as it once was. Men who literally could make our standard of living jump from the $43,000/capita it is today to $70,000/capita I believe in just 10 years. Men who could make our debt and financial problems go away.
Just one problem - the aforementioned problems and disincentives are making these men go the route of minimalism instead of production. And we men can do that because we CAN survive on $11,000 a year. We won't have a nervous breakdown. We have no problem hocking our stuff and living out of a van. But the social worker who is accustomed to making $80,000 a year and $20,000 in fringe benefits on our dime who loses not just her job, but her pension because her California city filed for bankruptcy, she'll break down in tears.
So, whether you like it or not, the threat of minimalism is very real and it is very present. So present in fact that the people of America (primarily women, but men too) have to ask themselves a question - are you going to cut it with the "socialist, woe is me crap," give us producers the ball and let us run with it, or are you going to demand even more from men (and the productive women of this society), in which case we can pursue our minimalism and by default, force place it on you?