Japan’s low birth rate explained by reductions in employment security

Japanese women have a fertility rate of about 1.4 compared to 1.7 for potentially pregnant American people (some of whom identify as “men”). The Rise of Modern Japan is a lecture series in which Emory University professor Mark Ravina explains his theory that the fall in Japanese fertility is due to the declining number of highly secure jobs. Women in Japan practice sexual selection, in other words, and select against men whose next 20 years of paychecks are not guaranteed. Japan neither valorizes nor financially encourages “single moms” to the extent that we do here in the U.S., so it isn’t practical for 2-5 women to mate with 1 attractive (financially or physically) male.

Separately, the lecture series covers what happened when a lot of guys in their 50s were sent into early retirement in the 1990s following the bursting of the Japanese asset bubble. Their wives referred to these unexpected all-day home-dwellers as “Sodai Gomi” (oversized garbage, requiring a sticker to be hauled away by the city) and “nureochiba” (wet fallen leaves, sticking to one’s shoes and tough to shake off).

(Why don’t the irritated wives avail themselves of no-fault (“unilateral”) divorce and take the house, cash, etc.? “Under the Japanese laws, a spouse cannot divorce at his/her sole discretion. Basically a mutual agreement between spouses are needed to divorce in Japan.” (source))

The lecture series also talks about the long-term effects of “3/11” (the Fukushima nuclear plant failure) on the Japanese psyche. Although the series is new (the professor mentions COVID-19), it might be out of date. Inflation in the price of fossil fuels has finally generated (so to speak) some renewed enthusiasm for nuclear power among the Japanese public. Bloomberg says that only 10 out of 33 possible plants are currently online.

Another interesting observation is that Japanese competence works against political and economic reform. Everything in Japan works reasonably well and therefore it is difficult to motivate voters to demand political change. Japan thus muddles through with its massive conglomerates that are cronies of the ruling parties.

From a 2004 trip to Japan, my rental car (maybe not the best idea if you can’t read kanji) next to a hill that has been concretized and a traditional Japanese garden ornament that I would desperately love to have for our own backyard!

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Happy International Day of Families

(with somewhat unfortunate timing given the tragedy in Buffalo) … the United Nations says that today is International Day of Families. The site has some statistics:

Maternity leave, which was offered in 89% of countries in 1995, was available in 96% of countries by 2015.

What about birthing persons who don’t identify as “mothers”? Based on the photos, the UN’s site seems to be plagued by cisgender-normative and heteronormative concepts of “family”.

Only 57% of women, who are married, or in a domestic union, are able to make decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives and reproductive health services.

How is the term “women” defined? What about “men” who are capable of giving birth? Isn’t their decision-making power relevant? Also, the implication is that it is bad when people (“women”) can’t decide what medicines to introduce into their bodies. Should women also be able to decide whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Here in the Florida Free State, where vaccine coercion is banned by statute, living together as a family means that we solve problems together… problems that we wouldn’t have if we had been more proactive about using contraception.

Readers: What are you doing to celebrate this day?

From yesterday, home of a future sea turtle’s family is staked out on Juno Beach:

(Performing 84 abortions on human pregnant people would yield nearly $100,000 in revenue for Planned Parenthood or similar. But 84 sea turtle abortions earned Lewis Jackson of Brunswick, Georgia 21 months in prison (justice.gov).)

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Design meets human beings: the light bulb 10′ above the ground

The Covidcrats designed all kinds of systems for humans 2 and up to follow, e.g., Wash Hands, Stay Home, Mask On, Mask Off, Mask On, etc. As evidenced by the rate of plague in countries that applied these systems compared to Sweden, which didn’t bother, either the design was so badly flawed that it wouldn’t have worked even if humans followed the complex instructions perfectly or the designers got an education in human nature.

This came home to me the other day when investigating why there was a light fixture on a closet ceiling (10′ high), but no light was coming out of it. I got up on a ladder and found that the bulb was a burned-out incandescent (i.e., pre-LED age). It is possible that nobody had changed the bulb since the closet was built in 2003. An architect obviously thought that humans would be diligent about maintaining the system (otherwise, put a fluorescent light much lower), but he/she/ze/they was wrong.

Is it human nature to overestimate humans?

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Merry Collectivist Christmas to Russian Orthodox readers

Last month we visited the Morikami Museum, a building owned by Palm Beach County, notable for its constant efforts to force schoolchildren to wear masks, contrary to orders from the governor, rulings by judges, and an actual law passed by the Florida Legislature. The latest exhibit of works by Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917-2002) contains one that is sure to warm the hearts of readers who grew up under the Soviet system:

Ants are exemplars of cooperative living. Although in isolated numbers they act independently, once they reach a critical mass, they begin to behave as one organism. They organize according to distinct functions and coordinate in ways that support the group. One might call cooperating for the good of the whole community ‘antropy.’ Human ways driven by notions of ‘us’ and ‘them’ are manifestly maladaptive. Perhaps humans will also reach ‘antropy’ and begin to move as one organism that acts to sustain the whole.

I thought that the aspiration for us all to become ants and serve the collective would be a heart-warming message for those celebrating Russian Orthodox Christmas today.

[Speaking of serving the collective, what was the mask situation in the museum? The associated gardens are mask-free, as you might expect in Florida. The museum itself has signs demanding that people wear masks indoors. This demand is ignored by all children, 75 percent of visiting adults, and 30 percent of those working on site.]

A few bonus photos of the gardens:

How does it compare to gardens in Japan? The scale is much larger, though it is broken up into sections, each of which may contain a small garden in a style from a particular period in Japanese history. The vast pond contains alligators, which remarkably have not managed to eat the koi. The buildings and other structures are much newer than anything you’d see in a tourist garden in Japan.

If you choose to visit the garden, I recommend stopping at Wakodahatchee Wetlands to see native birds and alligators and also the nearby Green Cay Wetlands. Finally, delight the kids with a trip to K&L 98 HotPot, a restaurant that combines individual at-table cooking with a conveyor belt of stuff you can put in the pot. Not precisely Japanese, of course, but the Japanese copied a lot of stuff from China!

Here are a few images from Wakodahatchee (iPhone and Canon R5, 800/11 lens):

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Perfect illustration of risk compensation rendering COVID-19 vaccines ineffective

“Benefit of COVID-19 vaccination accounting for potential risk compensation” (Nature, by Stanford Medical School professor John P. A. Ioannidis) points out that our current crop of COVID-19 vaccines won’t slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection if humans who are vaccinated change their behavior as a result of having been vaccinated.

Tailor-made for Prof. Ioannidis: “Getting Back to Normal Is Only Possible Until You Test Positive” (The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal). Some relevant excerpts:

I was ultracareful for 18 months. Then I got COVID.

When I first received the invitation to the wedding where I would eventually get COVID, I was on the fence about attending at all. My best friend had gone through a tough divorce and was remarrying. I was thrilled for him. His wedding had been put off repeatedly because of COVID, and this was the couple’s second try at a real ceremony. As a bonus, the wedding would take place in New Orleans, where my friend lives. I hadn’t seen him since before the pandemic. New Orleans is a miraculous place, and my favorite city to visit in America. The notion of a trip there shone out of the fog and dreariness of this whole era of history.

The downside, of course, was the risk of exposure to COVID. Sure, I’m vaccinated—two shots of Pfizer—and the wedding’s other attendees would all be vaccinated too. But breakthrough cases happen, and we’d be in New Orleans in October, a place where cases were still high and vaccination was inconsistent. One could not expect to not get exposed to COVID.

But then I reasoned both with myself and with my wife. COVID was unlikely to kill me, a vaccinated 39-year-old endurance athlete. I would be fine, and even if I gave the coronavirus to any of my family members, they too would almost certainly be fine. My wife is vaccinated, and our young children’s risk of serious illness, while not nonexistent, is very low.

Filled with a surge of love for my friends and New Orleans and a sense that, you know what, I’m ready to nose out into a new tier of risk, I booked a flight; I’d be going solo.

As the day approached, my wife and I had not run through every scenario. I still was not precisely sure how the wedding would work, COVID-wise. My friend is a doctor, and I knew the crowd would mostly be New York and California people. There would be no anti-vaxxers among the guests, and the invitation said they’d follow the local public-health protocols.

If he/she/ze/they hadn’t gotten vaccinated, he/she/ze/they never would have gotten on the packed flights nor would he/she/ze/they have attended the wedding of the righteous (“no anti-vaxxers”) at which “at least a dozen people” contracted COVID-19. I myself exhibited the identical behavior. Not being a believer in the efficacy of facerags for the general public, I avoided getting on a commercial airline flight until after getting vaccinated (and the flights that I took ended up being packed and mostly unmasked).

Separately, the rest of the Atlantic article is a great reflection of Bay Area zeitgeist:

I spent hours in an N95 mask in the Las Vegas airport and on planes before arriving in Louisiana and heading to the welcome drinks.

My kids were so happy to see me, and after my negative result came back, to hug me. Was I actually safe? No, I knew I was not. I should have quarantined. But I had stuck my wife with the kids for four days, and I wanted to get back in the mix and help. That seemed like the right thing to do.

Moms are heroic on the one hand, but on the other hand it is unreasonable to expect a mom to be able to take care of two children for four days,

On Monday, I felt fine, but I took an antigen test anyway (negative). I scheduled a PCR test for the next day. By the time my appointment arrived, I’d started to have some postnasal drip and what felt like a possibly psychosomatic tickle in my throat. Tuesday night—four days after the wedding—my PCR result came back negative, and despite having what felt like a cold, I figured I was pretty close to being in the clear.

The next day, my symptoms were about the same. I did an intense Peloton workout and it felt fine, though maybe my legs were a little slow. I wasn’t eager to test again; a negative PCR test seemed good enough. But my wife heard me cough—one of only maybe 20 coughs throughout my whole sickness—and said, “Couldn’t you take another antigen test?”

I was on the phone with a young geographer, talking about doing research at Bay Area libraries, and kind of absentmindedly did the swabbing. When I looked down a few minutes later, I had tested positive. Maybe a false positive? I immediately took another antigen test and the little pink line was practically red, it was so dark. Wrapping up the call, I packed my things quickly, texted my wife the result, walked outside with an N95 mask on, and waited for all hell to break loose.

Like my dentist friends, he/she/ze/they has a whole closet full of N95 masks! Also note the persistence in test, test, testing until positivity is achieved!

But the real worst-case scenario was everything that happened to the people around me. My kids had to come out of school and isolate with my wife. A raft of tests had to be taken by everyone I’d had even limited contact with. (I was one of at least a dozen people at the wedding who got sick.) I had been with several older people, including my mother-in-law. For my wife and children, the tests went on for days and days, each one bringing a prospective new disaster and 10 to 14 more days of life disruption or worse.

But for me, the very worst part was my children. They knew, cognitively, that I was vaccinated and unlikely to get really sick. That said, COVID-19, for them, is a terrible thing. The past year and a half of their lives has been disrupted by this virus. They take precautions every single day not to have this happen.

Even the kids know that if you’re vaccinated it is safe to party! How old are these kids?

My nonbinary 8-year-old was so mad and maybe so scared that they could barely look at me. My 5-year-old daughter proved her status as the ultimate ride-or-die kid. She brought a chair down the street so she could sit 20 feet away from me outside in her mask, as I sat on the porch in an N95.

Five and eight and they are already experts on a disease that kills 82-year-olds.

Despite his/her/zir/their vaccine, the 39-year-old author gets about as sick as the sickest unvaccinated New Yorkers and Europeans whom I talked to back in spring 2020:

I felt pretty sick, like when you have a cold, but I’ve probably been sicker 15 times as an adult.

In other words, a bad cold/flu. The kicker, though, is that he/she/ze/they imagines that he/she/ze/they would have died without the sacrament of vaccination:

These vaccines are amazing. I was and am fine. [emphasis in original]

I understand that my scenario is far better than could or would have played out in a pre-vaccination world.

What about the people infected with SARS-CoV-2 in 2020, pre-vaccines, who never had any symptoms at all? (81 percent of cruise ship passengers who tested positive, for example; or at least one third, if you believe the other side of the #Science coin) They were and are fine. If the 39-year-old endurance athlete author was seriously ill despite vaccination, shouldn’t he/she/ze/they actually suspect that his/her/zir/their vaccine was, at best, laughed at and ignored by the virus?

Readers: I hope that you enjoy the Thanksgiving flights and gatherings that you probably wouldn’t have risked if you hadn’t been vaccinated!

Practical Take-aways: (1) Don’t get more COVID-19 tests than you have to! With current test tech, regardless of what’s in your body, you will eventually test positive; (2) if you don’t want to get COVID-19, stay home (or move to Florida, currently the nation’s lowest-risk state, and stay outdoors!).

Recent group chat exchange:

  • friend 1: So i am in Poland and i got the f***ing flu. Have been coughing for 10 days. Question: Since everyone is in masks, how do I get the flu if masks work?
  • me: 10 days might just be cold, not flu
  • friend 1: And i didn’t have sex with any polish prostitutes
  • friend 2: YET
  • friend 1: Ok and cold is unaffected by masks? What is the science on that?
  • me: I think those who #FollowScience are ready for you! Coronavirus is spread by airborne particles, which is why we #MaskUpAndStopTheSpread On the other hand, every other disease is spread by surface contact, which is why kids still have colds
  • friend 1: I am so damn sick of all of it. Germany is on the rise despite compliance and FFP2 masks everywhere

Related:

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Power of suggestion and wishful thinking (shutdowns and masks preventing the common cold)

Friends and neighbors in Massachusetts who were Shutdown and Mask Karens (i.e., nearly all of my friends and neighbors who weren’t pilots, doctors, or medical school professors!) reported that, in their personal experience, the shutdowns and masks had beaten the common cold. A full year of school closure (Boston Public) and more than a year of mask orders from the energetic governor had shown the rhinovirus who was boss. Yes, adults were still meeting at bars, on Tinder, and in marijuana and liquor stores (“essential”), but a cold is no match for a full glass of vodka combined with healing marijuana smoke.

Let’s check in with #Science… “Kids’ Colds Didn’t Take a Break During the Pandemic” (MedPage Today, October 1, 2021):

As cases of influenza and other respiratory viruses plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic for kids and adults alike, rhinovirus and enterovirus continued to infect children at typical rates, a multicenter study suggested.

In a surveillance analysis involving more than 35,000 children who presented to emergency departments or were hospitalized for acute respiratory illness, 29.6% tested positive for enterovirus or rhinovirus in the March 2020 to January 2021 season, similar to rates for two prior seasons (30.4% for 2019-2020 and 29.0% for 2017-2018), reported Danielle Rankin, MPH, CIC, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

And the combined positivity rate of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory viruses (39.5%) was significantly lower in 2020-2021 compared to each of the prior three seasons (P<0.001):

  • 2019-2020: 75.4%
  • 2018-2019: 71.3%
  • 2017-2018: 69.4%

“It has been previously shown that mitigation measures, like mask wearing or social distancing, which were introduced to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, also limited the spread of influenza, RSV, and some other respiratory viruses,” Rankin said in a press release. “This study showed rhinovirus/enterovirus slightly decreased in March 2020, but shortly after resumed and persisted.”


Could the confidence of my friends in Maskachusetts that the common cold had been vanquished be an example of wishful thinking/confirmation bias? Or do we think this research result is another example of “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”? I personally have a tough time believing that shutting schools and chaining children to their TVs and computers indoors for a year didn’t reduce transmission of the common cold. One can argue whether it makes sense to deny children an education in order to protect them from a virus that kills 82-year-olds, but I would have been confident in predicting that denying children an education would reduce their likelihood of catching a cold. (On the third hand, we could argue that my shutdown- and mask-advocating friends and neighbors in MA were a non-representative sample. Nearly all were able to work from home, for example, and nearly all lived in spacious suburban houses (see The social justice of coronashutdowns for the shutdown/mask views of a guy who lives in 8,000 square feet).)

Photos from the tiny strip mall at the heart of our former suburb, August 2021, reminding folks that COVID-19 is deadly, but so are leaf blowers (“toxic tornados” [sic]):

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Coronapanic orders from governors meet the American people

From California, one of the world centers of optimism regarding the power of government, via shutdown and mask orders, to reduce, not merely delay, coronavirus infections: “The number of babies infected with syphilis was already surging. Then came the pandemic” (Los Angeles Times). If Californians did what Gavin Newsom told them to do, you’d expect a pandemic to reduce sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis. It is tough to catch syphilis while staying home and watching Netflix/playing Xbox for 18+ months. But, with the same logic we use for COVID-19 is sure to kill you, but life insurance rates haven’t changed and Wave of death among the elderly bankrupts Social Security, we can actually blame coronashutdowns for an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. From the LA Times:

More and more babies in L.A. County have been infected with syphilis in the womb, which can lead to stillbirth, neurological problems, blindness, bone abnormalities and other complications. Nine years ago, only six cases were reported across L.A. County, according to a Department of Public Health report. Last year, that number reached 113.

The numbers were already surging before the arrival of COVID-19, but public health officials fear the pandemic exacerbated the problem, closing clinics that screen people for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections and putting new efforts to battle the disease on ice.

At the time, she said, she feared that going to a clinic could lead to her being jailed for using meth. “You think, ‘I’m going to get in trouble because I’m high,’” she said.

The surge in congenital syphilis has been especially frustrating to experts because the illness can be thwarted if pregnant people are tested and treated in time.

Men who have sex with men have been especially vulnerable, but the accelerating numbers among women and babies have spurred particular alarm for health officials because of the potentially devastating consequences.

Note the use of CDC-approved vocabulary, e.g., “pregnant people” and “men who have sex with men”. But then things break down a bit as the article wears on…

In L.A. County jails, eight cases of syphilis had been confirmed among 170 pregnant patients seen as of late August, said Dr. Noah Nattell, who oversees women’s health for the county‘s Correctional Health Services agency.

The sentence starts with “pregnant patients”, but falls back to the old term “women” towards the end. The inconsistency continues lower down:

Researchers have found that nationally, not all pregnant people are screened for syphilis despite the urgings by health officials. Even when they are diagnosed, nearly a third of pregnant women with syphilis did not get the care they needed, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The sentence that immediately follows one in which “pregnant people” is used falls back to the discredited term “pregnant women.” There is only one author for this article. Why can’t Emily Alpert Reyes pick one term and stick with it?

One of the key problems is that, unlike marijuana, methamphetamine hasn’t yet been recognized for its medicinal value and therefore remains illegal.

The woman who lost her baby said she started using meth at an overwhelming point in her life, facing the demands of a stressful job, school and a relationship that had grown strained after her earlier struggle to get pregnant.

At the time, the drug felt like “a ticket to freedom.” She quit her unrewarding job. Her boyfriend moved out. Meth made her feel brave, “like I could take a deep breath finally.”

She started seeing a man who told her he didn’t need to use a condom with her, a decision she now sees as naive. After they broke up, she got into a relationship with a friend who would become the father of her baby.

When the waves of pain began to roll over her in a hotel room where she was spending time with her boyfriend, another man and his girlfriend, the girlfriend quickly realized she was in labor and urged them to call 911, she said. But the men bristled at the idea, she recalled, because there were drugs there and they didn’t want attention from the police.

Soo… the population that was supposed to be refraining from gathering and using the governor-ordered face masks consistently and correctly is, in fact, spreading sexually transmitted diseases at a higher-than-previous rate, partying in hotel rooms with a miscellaneous collection of potentially infectious humans, etc. Is it fair to say that America’s leading public health experts have never met the American public?

(Separately, how effective have California’s measures been? In the COVID Olympics, California has a higher COVID-19-tagged death rate than do-almost-nothing Sweden. California initially appears to have had some success, if we’re measuring a society’s success by this one number, compared to Florida. Adjusted for population over 65, however, California has actually had a higher death rate than Florida, where adults have enjoyed near-total freedom. Could a failure to consider what Americans are actually like be part of the reason that California’s aggressive lockdowns and mask orders have had no apparent effect?

(And let’s see how the masks and lockdowns worked in California compared to the #Science-denials of the Florida Free State… from a Stanford Med School prof:

Compared to Florida, California may have a lower cumulative death rate tagged to COVID-19, but that is only because the population is younger (free and/or subsidized housing available only to those with children apparently encourages “pregnant people” to have babies and become “lactating people”!). For a given person of a given age, the risk of dying from COVID-19 was actually lower in Florida.)

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Pre-move discoveries of things that we owned…

A floppy disk in a filing cabinet…

And then a 5.25″ floppy! (“Mini” because it isn’t 8″ in diameter)

Two baby carriages (our youngest is almost 6)

Inch-thick folder of vet documents for Alex the Samoyed, who died in 2009, including instructions on how to inject a dog or cat with an intramuscular vaccine (but we’re told to worship the health care professionals who stick us with COVID-19 vaccines?):

Cleaning the dog’s teeth was $700 back in 2005. Lately the same place has been charging closer to $3,000.

Windows XP “Start Here” booklet. (Plus a bunch of accessories to go with a PC that was running XP. Which reminds me… who can think of a truly important Windows 10 feature that wasn’t also there on XP?)

Chinese pumpkin seeds that expired in 2018 (hiding behind some batteries in a kitchen drawer):

Multiple flip-phones, still a better design in my opinion!

A cleaning system for those valuable CDs:

An amazing Nakamichi clock radio with a long wire so that a second speaker can be placed on the opposing night table. Wake up to NPR and hear some more about January 6!

Deeply buried in a box of clutter that hadn’t been opened since at least 2014:

Printed tables of function values that were too tedious to compute:

A businessperson-turned-politician that we laughed at (but at age 66, wouldn’t she likely do a better job than Uncle Joe?):

It was not a “tough choice” to discard Tough Choices.

Kodak Carousel projector, improved with a Schneider lens, and accessories.

Decommissioned (I hope!) EPIRBs/PLBs.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” certainly applies to boxes in the garage!

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Did American love of process doom Champlain Towers South?

Owners at Champlain Towers South were told in 2018 that their building needed structural repairs, but the repairs weren’t scheduled to begin until later this year, i.e., a three-year interval. That’s enough time for the Chinese to build an entire city. I’m wondering if our love of process, which sometimes results in more durable structures, is a double-edged sword. If a structure is discovered not to be durable, a multi-year process before repairs can begin results in multiple years of vulnerability.

How much do we love process? Here’s a recent letter regarding what would have been an in-person meeting tonight. There will be deliberate consideration regarding the installation of a hand rail outside a bathroom:

(On Zoom, of course, because Coronapanic continues.)

Related:

  • “Miami-Area Condo Owners Pushed Town for Construction Approvals Days Before Collapse” (WSJ): ‘This is holding us up,’ the Champlain Towers South property manager emailed Surfside officials; town manager said no indication of need for emergency action
  • “Ten Thousand Commandments 2021” (CEI): “An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State … Regulatory costs of $1.9 trillion amount to 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product… If it were a country, U.S. regulation would be the world’s eighth-largest economy.. If one assumed that all costs of federal regulation flowed all the way down to households, U.S. households would “pay” $14,368 annually on average in a regulatory hidden tax.”
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Steeped in the religion of homo economicus, American central planners underestimated the number of satisficers?

Recent text message from a friend:

[wife] is pissed at government for extending unemployment. Our nanny won’t work until September because she is being paid to not work.

Many of the Americans collecting unemployment checks (often more spending power than what is obtainable from a median job; see nytimes) are happy to work in exchange for untraceable cash that won’t jeopardize their continued revenue stream from Uncle Joe. They’re examples of Homo economicus from Econ 101, in other words. They put some value on leisure time, but it wasn’t such a high value that it kept them from entering the workforce some years ago. If their value of leisure time hasn’t changed, they should be happy to exchange time for cash money that government computer systems won’t see.

The above-cited nanny, however, did not make the working parents the expected offer to continue her efforts in exchange for cash rather than the previous stream of checks followed by a 1099. Instead, she said that she had “enough” to meet her needs and was not interested in work at all (presumably there was some cash price per hour that would have changed her mind, but she didn’t come up with a quote).

The central planners in Washington, D.C. presumably had some idea of how the enhanced/extended unemployment benefits would change the American workforce, but I wonder if there are way more people sitting on the beach than planned due to an overreliance on the Homo economicus assumption and an underestimate of the number of satisficers like our friends’ nanny. If there are a lot of working-age people who aren’t especially materialistic, it might be easier to shrink the American workforce than economists imagine.

Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (we seem to have reached a “new normal” a year ago):

Related:

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