I note this video:

And this fact-rich reply by Cathy Reisenwitz. Excerpt:

It’s not that marriage makes people richer. Instead, wealth makes people get married. In fact, marriage actually cuts a woman’s earnings. In her book All the Single Ladies, Rebecca Traister cites sociologist Michelle Budig, who found that the average man sees a 6% wage increase after having kids. The average woman sees her wages decrease 4% for each child she has. Traister found that unmarried, childless women in cities between 22-30 earn 8% more than their male counterparts. Nationwide, the wage gap is almost nonexistent for childless, unmarried women, who earn $.96 to that average man’s dollar. Married mothers make $.76 for every dollar a man makes in the same job. Women who marry in their thirties earn an average of $18,000 more per year than women who marry in their twenties. Early marriage is associated with bigger paycheck for men.

The facts speak for themselves. But that video stuck with me.

It apostrophizes “family, vocation, community, and faith” as “tradition.” (2:41) Untraditional as I am, I would say that I have at least the first three of those. This though is contested: By conservative lights, I perhaps have at best one of them – the weird, sad, just-this-side-of-despairing vocation of being a guy who writes stuff on the Internet. If you’re being properly conservative, I have neither family, nor community, nor faith in any authentic sense at all. I may have facsimiles of each, but that’s more like an admission of guilt, isn’t it?

So am I unhappy? That’s an interesting question, but not one I find seemly to dwell on in public. (Are the people who do dwell on it in public the target audience? Are they appealed to more easily, owing to what they’ve already declared?) I have to wonder whether the video is really meant as a conservative-punk guide to being happy – or is it more like a reassuring pat on the back to the people who were already living the lifestyle it describes, and who were wondering whether this was as good as it gets? If so, Cathy’s sure being a bummer to a whole lot of people right now.

It seems clear, at least, that the prescriptions in the video would be unlikely to help me. Here is this perky, disarmingly confident young woman telling me how much happier I would be if only I had a woman to boss around. Benevolently of course. I try to imagine myself as a conventional heterosexual patriarch, and I have to laugh.

Meanwhile I look at her and I think: the Maoists were never such social engineers as this. What freakish self-assurance. What hubris, like the sent-down youth teaching farmers how to farm, except a lot of them didn’t do it voluntarily.