About ten years ago I read the book “The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets BetterWhile People Feel Worse” by Greg Easterbrook. The book details all of the ways that living standards have improved in recent times. Most of these are related to scientific, technological, and general economic gains. Perhaps the apex of these improvements has been health care, and the increases in longevity. The implication that one can take from this state of affairs is that people should exalt in this progress, yet they apparently feel that life is getting worse. Large numbers of people believe that they do not have things as well as their parents, and that their children will have things worse. Why might this be? The book suggests that that social changes leading to a greater “disconnectedness” with respect to family and people in general is a culprit. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a reason; but is there more?
But is there more? Perhaps so. The short answer is that improvements previously mentioned appear to be significantly dissipated by a number of players nipping at the heels of the system. Feminists are a significant cohort of these players. They have tirelessly worked for rule changes (both laws and norms) that are costly,
1. Legitimizing, subsidizing, and in general encouraging baby mamas
2. No fault divorce (especially frivorce)
3. Punitive divorce settlements
4. Creation of a cadre of sluts to present to men as marriage candidates
5. Encouraging men not to develop themselves by ignoring most men during their 20’s
6. The decline of the importance on motherhood and more importantly their skills
7. General subsidies from taxpayers to support their family-unfriendly lifestyle.
8. Plenty more, you fill them in.
All of these rule changes either had direct financial costs associated with them (e.g. baby mamas, general subsidies), societal costs (e.g. poor mothers), motivational costs (e.g. frivorce, waiting) or some combination thereof. Societies in the past never would survived the onslaught of such changes. They would have been conquered, raped and pillaged. But in these times, the increased economic capability can cover for these problems.
People can see the obvious improvements in many aspects of life. Yet they see decline in others. Often they do not want to acknowledge those declines (they are empowering after all), but deep down they do know that they are there. And the more wise consider if the economic gains can in the long run compensate for continually snowballing losses created by these rule changes.