The Investment

Oh, not this again.

Sociologists are discovering that children may not make parents happier and that childless adults, contrary to popular stereotypes, may often be more contented than people with kids.
Parents “definitely experienced more depression,” says Robin Simon, a sociologist at Florida State University who has studied data on parenting.

“Part of our cultural beliefs is that we derive all this joy from kids,” says Simon. “It’s really hard for people who don’t feel this to admit it.” Social pressures to view only the positive aspects of child rearing only make the problem worse, she says. “They’re afraid to admit it because it runs so counter to our cultural beliefs that children make you happy.

I’ve called bullshit on this before. And the article notes why:

The fact of the matter is that it’s much easier to quantify pleasure on a moment-by-moment basis that it is to quantify something as intangible as “unconditional love”. Changing a diaper isn’t enjoyable, and teenagers can be such a pain in the ass, but having kids can also be a profound source of meaning for people. (I like the amateur marathoner metaphor: survey a marathoner in the midst of the race and they’ll complain about their legs and that rash and how the race seems like it’s taking forever. But when the running is over they are always incredibly proud of their accomplishment. Having kids, then, is like a marathon that lasts 18 years.) The larger point, though, is that just because we can’t measure something doesn’t mean it isn’t important, or that we should always privilege the quantifiable (pleasure) over the intangible (meaning). Real life is complex stuff.

Exactly. These sense of accomplishment and continuity I will feel as Abby grows up and lives her life is worth a little misery when she pukes all over the couch.

But there’s more. When you have children, you aren’t just trading happiness for some nebulous sense of worth, you’re investing in future happiness. You sacrifice some freedom and happiness today for greater happiness tomorrow. While the instantaneous measure of happiness for parents is lower, the integral of happiness over their lives is likely larger.

Think about this. Suicide rates peak for people in their 70’s and 80’s and the principle motive is loneliness. Having children doesn’t guarantee you won’t be alone when you’re old. But it vastly increases the chance that you won’t be sitting around in an empty house wishing you could go back in time and have kids.

That’s the investment of having children. It’s like saving money for retirement rather than splurging on a car or a flat panel TV that would make you happy today. I’m curious as to what a similar poll would show for people who spend all their money and people versus invest for retirement. I guarantee that people who don’t save for the future are happier. But in the long run, they will be less happy than those who save for their retirement.

Jesus Christ, have sociologists never heard of delayed gratification? Apparently not. This just goes to prove what I’ve always thought: sociology is for people who are too dumb to do economics.

You know, I think that the best thing about this is that the people conducting these studies, if they act on their results, won’t pass their defective genes on to the next generation. So at least my grand-children won’t have to waste time on their blogs tearing apart this nonsense.

Now I will grant that having children isn’t for everyone. And I don’t want to sound like I’m looking down my nose at childless people. Barring an asteroid strike, our race isn’t likely to extinct anytime soon. But then again, that some people get more pleasure out of breeding than others is yet another stake in the heart of this “study”. As I said at Right-Thinking, measuring happiness this way is like giving everyone the same size shoe.

No One Should Speculate But Us

Russell Roberts has an interesting letter from the airlines calling on Congress to ban oil speculation. Never mind that everyone who knows what they’re talking about — including liberal Paul Krugman — agrees that speculation isn’t driving up the price of oil. This is another prime example of how Big Business hates the free market; hates it. What the airlines want is for them to be able to speculate (through strategic buying) but not let anyone else do it.

More Vista News

Tee hee.

Although Microsoft officially stopped selling Windows XP as of June 30, retailers can keep selling it as long as they have copies.

Perhaps as a result of its potentially impending scarcity, XP is near the top of’s software list, with the full version of XP Home at No. 15 and the full version of XP Pro at No. 21.

The highest ranked Vista edition doesn’t crack the top 25, although it does come on nearly all new PCs these days so most people don’t need a boxed copy.

For those keeping score, Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard is No. 7 on the software list, while the highest ranking Vista version is the update version of Windows Vista Home Premium, at No. 41.

What a disaster.

Jesse 2

For the nausea-inducing Helms’ tributes, you can’t do better than Rush Limbaugh.

Jesse Helms died on the Fourth of July, the very day that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson passed away. And of course with the media, like here’s the AP: “Jesse Helms, Polarizer, Not a Compromiser.” Jesse Helms, a polarizer, not a compromiser. Was Ted Kennedy a polarizer? Ted Kennedy doesn’t compromise. Chuck Schumer doesn’t compromise. And of course in every story about Jesse Helms, “whether you agreed with him or not,” it says, whether you agreed with him or not, Jesse Helms was XYZ. So Jesse Helms died on July the 4th, the same day as John Adams, whether you agreed with him or not, the same day as Thomas Jefferson, whether you agreed with him or not. But Jesse Helms, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, these three Americans had something more in common than the date that they left us. And that is, they believed in things. They said what they believed, and then they stood for what they believed. None of this moving-to-the-center stuff. None of this nuance stuff. None of this “on the other hand,” or “but.”

This is absurd. The entire second episode of the John Adams series — which Rush was praising recently — is about the back-door dealing to ensure that the Declaration of Independence was passed unanimously, not rammed down the throats of unwilling states. The entire sixth episode is about Adams trying to stay out of party politics and avoid a war. I could just imagine the Limbaughs of 1800 saying that Adams was weak for avoiding war with France. In fact, they did say that.

Adams, Jefferson (and Madison, who also died on the 4th) were not hate-spewing, opposition-crushing bigots, like Helms was. They weren’t even close.


The lauding of the late Jesse Helms has been dreadful to listen to. Some perspective can be had at here and here. This man did a lot to sabotage the Reagan Revolution. People wonder why they only draw 10% support among blacks and why free market economics became confounded with bigotry.

Monday Morning Linkorama

  • I generally disagree with almost everything Glenn Greenwald says. But his point on telecom immunity is very well made and highly persuasive. Maybe if the left hadn’t devoted so much effort to defending the ability of lawyers to sue everyone in subpoena distance, we’d pay more attention.
  • I’m going to shit myself laughing if the Republicans nominate a closeted gay man for vice-President.
  • An inspiring must-read about a school valedictorian who is there because of vouchers. Just remember, it’s horrible to give opportunities to smart kids and drain money from the all-important “system”.
  • In another example of how liberals hurt those they want to help, Oregon’s limits on paycheck lending is sending people into the arms of unscrupulous lenders.
  • Mac Attack

    Well, money comes and money goes. The day I got two months worth of grant funding, my computer broke. It works, but with the Airport dead, the casing battered, the battery dead, the power cord bent, I just decided to invest my newfound fortune into a Macbook Pro. It came yesterday — I saved about $500 by getting the 2.4 Ghz model off Amazon rather than the 2.5 Ghz model from Apple.

    Of course, it was a while before I could enjoy the thing. Before even typing my first letter, I had to:

  • Set up an initial account on OS X 10.4.
  • Transfer over the wife’s stuff, which Mac make ridiculously easy with their migrate utility.
  • Log in as her and transfer my stuff, because it required over-writing my account. I usually, when getting a new computer, prefer to transfer stuff piecemeal. I’m mildly obssessed with computer clutter and hate to transfer over the organic mess of files. I prefer to pick applications, files, folders and leave everything else to be deleted. But Mac’s migration function — plus the intimidation factor of moving 33 GB worth of music and family photos — nixed my little neurotic quirk.
  • Of course, then I needed to download all the 10.4 updates, which required several reboots.
  • Then I upgraded the powerbook to 10.5.
  • Then it was time to download and install all the 10.5 upgrades.
  • Finally, I needed to reinstall iWork and some of my professional applications, which require licensing, etc.
  • All of this was interspersed with the wife poking her head in the door every half hour and starting the following conservation.

    Sue: So how do you like it?

    Me: I’ll let you know when I’m done updating it.

    Sue: Still?

    I eventually went out into the living room to watch John Adams with her while the Mac churned away.

    I finally finished everything after about six hours. And after one day, I’ll just say that it’s sweet. The installed iSight rocks. None of my applications stall or die. I haven’t seen the spinning beach ball of death yet. I’m even enjoying Spaces and Front Row. And it’s nice at work, since it’s a 17″ model and I no longer have to hunch over it.

    Tuesday Night Linkorama

    Why does it seem that stuff that interests me on the internet comes in waves? I’ll got three days with nothing to talking about. And there are 1600 articles I want to blog on. I wonder what the specific blog frequency is. Anyway…

  • I’m less sanguine than most about the poll indicating Americans favor economic progress over income redistribution. Most people oppose income redistribution when it’s propose that baldly. But I suspect many people’s idea of stimulating the economy and creating jobs involves taxing the rich and giving money to “families”.
  • Bill Kristol. Does he ever own up to being totally wrong and stupid?
  • A bill is wending its way through Congress that will supposedly stimulate tourism. But it’s really a big pork barrel. Somehow, I don’t think we need to spend a lot of money letting tourists know that America exists.
  • The suit against that dick Dick Grasso has been dropped. It’s nice of the courts to realize that you can’t sue someone for making too much money.
  • Are all those road signs killing us? Somehow, I think so.