Society is Failing Men (or how men are failing at society)

Tyler Cowen’s article What the hell is going on? went massively viral, getting over 500 comments on his website and thousands of shares, not just touching a nerve but severing it altogether, with many people agreeing that, yes, there is is a male ‘crisis’ in America today that the media is ignoring.

The overall theme of the article – that the rise of ‘alt right’ is symptomatic of the marginalization of men in our ‘new economy’ – echoes similar articles here such as In Search of Fulfillment and In Search of Reset, which describe how post-2008 society, whether it’s wealth or social status, rewards individualism more so than family and other ‘collectivist’ ideals, and how people (especially men) are perhaps tired of an immovable, suffocating status quo that seems to be working, if by design, against their interests. The ‘alt right’ is answering, lending an ear to the shared frustrations of millions of men all over the world, because no one else will.

Tyler writes:

Quite simply, there are many people who don’t like it when the world becomes nicer. They do less well with nice. And they respond by in turn behaving less nicely, if only in their voting behavior and perhaps their internet harassment as well.

Hmm…it’s not that they don’t like it; it’s that it’s harder for men to thrive in it. In accordance to Ravi Batra’s Social Cycle, discussed here and here, for past few decades (and especially since 2008) we’re manifestly in the age of intellectuals and aquisitors, with warriors and laborers pushed to the periphery. These ‘brutes’ – men who are unable to adapt – are the ‘neanderthals’ of our ‘new economy’, becoming extinct in mind and soul. Due to biology and other factors, males are better suited to disorder than conformity, which could explain why boys struggle with school more so than girls. Today’s economy seems to reward people who can sit obediently for hours a day, not those who want to get their hands dirty. [1] Although males and females have roughly the same average IQ, males have greater variance, making the one-size-flits-all style of public schools potentially more problematic for boys.

Also, everything has gotten ‘harder‘, whether it’s good-paying jobs being outsourced, eliminated, automated, or replaced by low-paying service sector jobs, as well as surging rent, high healthcare and insurance costs, and piles of student loan debt. IQ plays a role, and one problem is that many men (and women) may simply not be smart enough to succeed (if success is measured by attaining ‘middle class’ income) in our new economy. From Not Smart Enough to Succeed: IQ Inequality = Income Inequality:

Generations ago, in some ways, standards were higher for men (having to start a family, get a good job, get married, serve in war, etc), but also lower in other ways, particularly intellectually. The college and high school completion rates were much lower, and students had much less homework and testing. If you were relatively unskilled, you could still get a good-paying job out of high school. You have to understand, basic abilities like writing cogent sentences were coveted skills back then, whereas today you have an endless supply of freelancers who can write passable prose for little money. And this is because of mass education, which has made these medium-IQ skills more common. This means that an IQ of 140, for example, while very high, is like having an IQ of 120 a generation ago. Likewise, an IQ of 100 today, which is average, is like having an IQ of 80 a generation ago. That’s why so many authors, rejected, are forced to go to Amazon due to the over-supply of literacy in America. It’s not that education is boosting IQ scores; instead, it allowing more people to live to their full cognitive potential, which has the side effect of devaluing average IQ. This means that average IQ people, in order to be competitive and make a decent living, will have to learn skills more suited for IQ >115 people, and this will prove difficult. Genius IQ is still valuable since it’s so rare, but the middle (85-115) is hurt the most due to saturation of skills that one paid well and were uncommon but no longer so.

If college attainment is a proxy for IQ, those without degrees are (a lower IQ) more more likely to be unemployed:

Women are better able to adapt to joblessness, not only because of very generous government benefits but because men will ‘take them in’, whereas men in similar predicaments are more likely to be homeless. From The Telegraph: Homelessness is a gendered issue, and it mostly impacts men:

327 of the homeless people surveyed used crack/cocaine in the past month, 76 per cent of them were male;

355 of the homeless people surveyed used heroine in the past month, 77 per cent of them were male;

358 of the homeless people surveyed used methadone in the past month, 75 per cent of them were male;

2,659 of the homeless people surveyed had mental health problems, 71 per cent of them were male.

Tyler ends by pondering is there is any hope for ‘brutes’:

But America may be too big and diverse for that really to stick. Another option would be to bring back some of the older, more masculine world in a relatively harmless manner, the proverbial sop to Cerberus. But how to do that? That world went away for some good reasons.

Deferring to the ‘social cycle’, I imagine it would take a major crisis (something even worse than 911) or global war to put the ‘warriors’ in charge, making society more ‘masculine’. Otherwise, I don’t see anything changing.

[1] This is especially evident when you consider recent trends in the labor market, with ‘blue collar’ sectors struggling (or more more sensitive to eternal macro conditions) more so than ‘high-IQ’ ones. In 2006-2008, many ‘blue collar’ landscapers, contractor, and construction workers found themselves unemployed as the housing market burst, and despite a strong stock market, rising home prices, and stable economy, many of those jobs have yet to return.