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September 26, 2012

Comments

Notice anything in those names?

A while back I read someone say somewhere on the internet that the "middle class" needs to stop worrying about climbing the ladder and start worrying about how to eat. Indeed.

RE: Girls. Adam got about 800 dollars in support every month from his grandmother, and Charlie I believe it's implied has a boring beta day job. They aren't really "carpenters", that's just a hobby.

"There is a subset of the SWPL community that is revolting against value transference, and they seek jobs that are more directly related to value creation and doing real work."


Is this sort of behavior really on the increase, or is this just anecdotal?

But the traditionalist SWPLs have always been with us. My (brilliant and credentialed) high school history teacher worked as a carpenter for years after he got his graduate degree. A lot of 60's hippies went "back to the land."

It is the conservatism of Tolkien that made him popular with hippies - his rockhard conservative sense of honor, integrity, morals and belief in a higher power goes hand-in-hand with an anti-industrial, pro-family, pro-community philosophy. The pro-white Nordic culture element of Tolkien's work is either ignored or, I suspect, a secret bonus that hippies didn't want to admit they enjoyed.


While it is a hard choice to make, sometimes it is necessary to farm your capitol (or production city) in order to turn it into a great person farm. This tactic is especially recommended if you found a religion and need to build the holy city, or if you are trying for a specific bulb (e.g. the liberalism slingshot) or you need to start a golden age ASAP.

And when they do move to the countryside, do they finally wise up and start voting Republican?

Hipsters may actually be the best people for today's Republican Party to target, if Hispanics are largely a lost cause. The goal would be to carefully change the party image, to recruit neo-traditionalists to join its traditionalists, against the part of special interests.

The DIY ethic is very much a libertarian ethic as much as it is progressive liberal one. Punks, permaculturalists, survivalists, Etsy buy/sellers and people who just make stuff with their hands tend to either be middle class and above libertarians or middle class and above progressive liberals.

But yeah, if you ain't got elite connections, you have to settle for being a DIY permaculturalists who makes stuff cuz all the crap is made in China, and it's time to create quality stuff now like the Amish. Luckily, being a sort of bohemian Thoreauan is considered hip among middle and upper middle classes.

Well farmers are all not equal either. Same piece of land can produce quite different yield depending on who is farming it. You can check many sources to find out difference. Greenspan wrote about it too. HBD pretty strong here.

Also being down with the proletariat is cool. It's like with the middle classes in England adopting a fake lower class cockney accent called 'mockney'. Or the millionaire venture capitalist living on a houseboat in Sausalito while dressed as a dishelved skipper lost at sea. Or the wealthiest and one of the most powerful man in the world (Mark Zuckerberg) walking around San Francisco with a hoodie and skinny jeans.

Many of today's college grads would never have gone to college in the '50s. They are by nature best suited for skilled labor, and are now finding that out. You wouldn't believe the dregs that are called "machinists" today. Employers had to hire somebody, but all the best candidates were working in offices, doing nothing. The pendulum may be swinging back.

"There is a subset of the SWPL community that is revolting against value transference, and they seek jobs that are more directly related to value creation and doing real work."

A lot of these people focus on gourmet handmade food as you've noted.

One reason I like these artisan hipsters is that in addition to make good and sometimes healthy food they also tend to make unique and aesthetically pleasing bars and restaurants.

I think this is the only honest way for an SWPL to live, and it does actually improve the world. However, it usually requires one to have parental support or a government safety net, since it is either not renumerative or subject to a lot of uncertainty.

As with all trends, there are lots more people that say they are doing it then actually doing it.

Maybe its a sign of my SWPL side that I was recentely looking into investing in a growing SWPL gourmet hotdog place in my city.

****thus people without connections to get into the quality career tracks are reverting to pre-industrial ways****

And very possibly have better, more enjoyable lives as a result, all things considered. Whenever I hear these stories I always wonder how much of a living they are really able to earn, since I'd do it in a heartbeat if I thought it would pay decently.

****There is a subset of the SWPL community that is revolting against value transference, and they seek jobs that are more directly related to value creation and doing real work.****

Is this really a SWPL trend, or are a lot of these people who, like me, attended college but have prole backgrounds and find "status"-seeking upper-middle-class-aspiring life to be soul-deadening?

***And when they do move to the countryside, do they finally wise up and start voting Republican?***

Now *that's* a really good question...

http://diehipster.wordpress.com/ complains about urban pioneers/farmers (hipster types) in Brooklyn all the time.

The writers of the New Dork Times are just pumping out another vanity piece about what their friends or their friends' children are doing. The USA isn't reverting to an agricultural society, this is just SWPL anecdotes, these people self-narrate their quirky lives and dream of the eventual book deal, tv series, movie.

Farming sucks (unless you're a high powered agricultural baron in the Central Valley or something), Hispanic immigrants start out there and dream of moving on to construction.

"And when they do move to the countryside, do they finally wise up and start voting Republican?" - Anon


The answer is no. Case in point Vermont or parts of Colorado.

I wouldn't say that farming is a "pre-industrial" activity. Modern farming is highly mechanized and remarkably high-tech. I just finished a PLC-based control system for a bio-fuels manufacturing facility on a diary farm.

The food processing industry is high-tech as well. I ran into several other SCADA and IT integration engineers in the pool area of the hotel in the small town I stayed in while doing commissioning and start-up. All of their work was for farming and food processing industry as well.

I've always thought it would be interesting to produce my own food. But I don't realistically see myself doing much more than planting a small backyard vegetable garden and (possibly) taking up hunting and fishing. Working out in the hot sun all day and performing manual labor doesn't sound appealing at all.

On a semi-related note, I'm surprised that farm is hiring US college grads rather than illegals for half the price.

"The first is something I wrote about a year ago. The U.S. is reverting to an agricultural economy “because all the jobs created by the industrial revolution are either moving to China and India, or are reserved for children of the rich,” thus people without connections to get into the quality career tracks are reverting to pre-industrial ways."

The only way for the US to "revert to an agricultural economy" would be for most of the rest of the economy to disappear. We produce more than half of the world's grain exports and agriculture is only about 2% of our economy.

Second, industrial jobs may be starting to trickle back to the US, thanks in part to cheap energy provided by the fracking boom. A smarter trade policy could accelerate that.

Third, there's nothing "pre-industrial" about using a tractor to farm. This is mechanized agriculture, and due to mechanization, it is extremely productive -- less than 1% of Americans work in agriculture.

The real SWPL trend isn't toward farming per se, but to "craft" production -- small organic farms, breweries, chocolate makers, etc. This sort of stuff: http://thehackensack.blogspot.com/2009/02/lessons-from-brooklyns-new-economy.html

You're right that these SWPLs are inherently conservative in some ways (for example, in their attitude toward debt that I mentioned in the post above). But the scope of these SWPL businesses seems inherently limited to a SWPL customer base. The average American isn't going to pay up for some craft hydroponic lettuce grown in Brooklyn when he can the mass produced stuff cheaper.

@ Matt

Great call on this being a vanity piece about what elite/semi elite kids are doing.

It sucks when you work on a real farm, but they don't work on a real farm. They work on a hipster farm. Half didn't include that part in his quote:

"...They had been in the fields here at Hearty Roots Community Farm in the Hudson Valley since 7 a.m."

It's a "Community Supported Agriculture" operation. Rich kids work there to gain hipster cred and wait for their inheritance. When normal white people are raising families by working as farm labor, we'll be an agricultural country again.

Working on a farm is harder than anyone with a middle-class background can do for any real length of time. Even just growing enough food to feed yourself for very long is beyond most. Trust me, my family did it for years and it was not at all easy. In fact, just growing enough for you and yours is a horrible idea as it takes up so much time there is barely any left over to earn cash to buy the things you can't grow or make.

I agree with Matt; this is a fluff piece.

As for having connections being required for good work, I don't agree with that statement. At least not to the extent that it's impossible to create your own. I went to a non-elite school, didn't start my own business, and I'm part of the lower end of the 1%.

Jim Rogers, who co-founded the legendary hedge fund Quantum with George Soros, told me he believes farming is “one of the most exciting professions” in the world—and that the recent boom is likely to continue for a long time. “Throughout history, we’ve had long periods when the financial sectors were in charge,” he said, “but we’ve also had long periods when the people who have produced real goods were in charge—the farmers, the miners … All of you people who got M.B.A.s made mistakes, because the City of London and Wall Street are not going to be great places to be in the next two or three decades. It’s going to be the people who produce real goods.”

Something (unintentionally) ironic about the hipster gourmet trend: a lot of it seems to involve combining expensive ingredients into high-end meals. For example, there's a food truck in Midtown Manhattan that makes fancy burgers and advertises where it gets its expensive meat and expensive buns from. But gourmet cooking evolved from using cooking skill to make cheap ingredients into something tasty. A lot of culinary hipsters seem to be low-skilled cooks relying on expensive ingredients.


@ Dave

"For example, there's a food truck in Midtown Manhattan that makes fancy burgers and advertises where it gets its expensive meat and expensive buns from. But gourmet cooking evolved from using cooking skill to make cheap ingredients into something tasty. A lot of culinary hipsters seem to be low-skilled cooks relying on expensive ingredients".

This is known as the power of self marketing.

The only people in NYC, and perhaps in America as a whole, who are low in the entreprenurial front are the NAMs. Every other group of people have demonstrated a sort of business acumen. I'm waiting for the liberals to whine on this one. Give it another decade if we last, and all these corporate retail establishments will be stuck with NAM employees because they lack a self sufficiency to start their own businesses. This will give us more of an incentive not to patronize them because they hire low IQ people who provide shoddy goods and services.

"All of you people who got M.B.A.s made mistakes, because the City of London and Wall Street are not going to be great places to be in the next two or three decades. It’s going to be the people who produce real goods.”

I agree with Rogers, but his words have little relevance to some guy who has a BA in Anthropology from Wesleyan and then decided to be a farmer for fun.

Farming is a good business...so long as you're not the FARMER. Get a BS in agricultural engineering from Texas A&M or UC-Davis, MBA from Purdue in agribusiness, and work at Archer Daniels Midland. Or work in SCADA/IT for resource management, as Abelard said above. Such people will be in demand in the future. Not bearded hipsters with steampunk tattoos who have read Michael Pollan.

Just Speculating,

"This is known as the power of self marketing."

Actually, it's the opposite. It's marketing the purveyors of your ingredients. Granted, fancy restaurants do a little of that too, but this food truck is relying almost completely on it.

"The only people in NYC, and perhaps in America as a whole, who are low in the entreprenurial front are the NAMs. Every other group of people have demonstrated a sort of business acumen. I'm waiting for the liberals to whine on this one. Give it another decade if we last, and all these corporate retail establishments will be stuck with NAM employees because they lack a self sufficiency to start their own businesses. This will give us more of an incentive not to patronize them because they hire low IQ people who provide shoddy goods and services."

Everyone's entrepreneurial when they have to be. In poor countries, there's no shortage of subsistence entrepreneurs -- rickshaw drivers, street peddlers, small farmers, etc. (Not that it does much for those economies: http://thehackensack.blogspot.com/2008/12/questioning-conventional-wisdom-about.html ).

And you do see a lot of NAMs in retail establishments in Manhattan -- there are plenty of African Americans working in Manhattan Starbucks stores, for example, which isn't the case here in NJ. But it's usually large companies with the more diverse retail employees. Indie coffee shops in NYC tend to hire white hipsters.

"“Throughout history, we’ve had long periods when the financial sectors were in charge,”

What is Rogers talking about? Before the 19th century please name one period anywhere in the world where the financial sector was in charge of anything. For most of recorded history land owners backed by armed force have run things.

Don't forget that most states have had agricultural colleges for decades. While by no means all of their graduates were actual farmers, certainly many of them were and are.

For the nth time, Matt is right. This is just another SWPL status game for an extremely small subset of the population. It's ludicrous to suggest that we are going back to an agricultural based society. That will only happen when there's a nuclear holocaust, a la "Threads".

Ever notice that hipsters/SWPLs love "localism" in their food, but not so much in their government?

@ Dave

"Actually, it's the opposite. It's marketing the purveyors of your ingredients. Granted, fancy restaurants do a little of that too, but this food truck is relying almost completely on it".

Ok, to a certain extent, but ultimately it isn't all that different from saying you made the burgers with grass fed beef. It's a form of self marketing, you're telling everyone that you're using a superior ingredient to make a great product.

"Everyone's entrepreneurial when they have to be. In poor countries, there's no shortage of subsistence entrepreneurs -- rickshaw drivers, street peddlers, small farmers, etc. (Not that it does much for those economie"

NAMs have very low entreprenurial rates. Much of it has do with their low IQ, low future time orientation and lesser ability to plan. Any retail outlet staffed with a NAM majority usually has bad service.

I was surprised to read Abelard's comment because I've been there and done that. He and Matt are right -- it's probably better to provide automation services to the agricultural industry than to actually farm. However, the average farmer makes 80K/yr and a lot of it's due to govt subsidies. Don't let farmers' poor-mouthing fool you. When it comes to wealth redistribution, they're every bit as bad as those on welfare.

Prediction:

The percentage of the population that farms will continue to shrink due to tech progress. Gardening may wax in popularity, but only when new tech makes plug and play food production into a fun craft.

http://www.gizmag.com/green-wheel-rotating-plants/22728/

DaveinHackensack nailed it.

"Everyone's entrepreneurial when they have to be. In poor countries, there's no shortage of subsistence entrepreneurs..."

And so hating on peeps who are fit for their native environment but unfit for a post-industrial white environment is like berating a fish for flopping around on your boat.

"Don't let farmers' poor-mouthing fool you. When it comes to wealth redistribution, they're every bit as bad as those on welfare."

Because of damaging targeted tax cuts (mortgage interest, etc.) it's hard to point to any American who isn't having some action subsidized by government. Sure, farm bills are stupid and meddlesome, but farmers aren't doing anything categorically different from any middle class voter.

"Because of damaging targeted tax cuts (mortgage interest, etc.) it's hard to point to any American who isn't having some action subsidized by government." -- Secret of NAM

That's true.

"Sure, farm bills are stupid and meddlesome, but farmers aren't doing anything categorically different from any middle class voter."

There's a difference between allowing people to keep more of their hard earned (mortgage interest deduction) and giving it to someone else (farm subsidies). Regardless, there aren't many industries as heavily subsidized and protected (tariffs) as agriculture. I'd be fine with farmers being tax exempt but not tax subsidized.

Secret of NAM,

Middle class taking the mortgage interest deduction are still net tax payers. Add up your net inflow/outflow from the government and see if your a parasite.

Lost among all this is that it's overall a good thing. These people are producing something. If they were trying to get SWPL office jobs it would just be one more shmuck running a useless make work paper shuffle someplace.

"Working on a farm is harder than anyone with a middle-class background can do for any real length of time. Even just growing enough food to feed yourself for very long is beyond most. Trust me, my family did it for years and it was not at all easy. In fact, just growing enough for you and yours is a horrible idea as it takes up so much time there is barely any left over to earn cash to buy the things you can't grow or make."

I'm sorry, but as a country kid I find your experience a bit hard to believe.

Potato, pod and bean plants have an insane yield, both from a quantity (kg) and quality (kJ) POV.

With a single 20-meters long row of potatoes, you can eat for 6 months. I was always amazed as a child to see how much my father could extract from a single potato seed w/ no industrial fertilizer at all, only a rich soil and watering on days without rain (20 minutes of your time max).

If you don't feel like eating beans and potato all day, two young, mature apple treas will lend you in one month enough apples to live on for two years if you freeze them or make preserves.

There *are* plants and trees in the botanical realm that are true marvels of output, and if you grow them, finding something to eat becomes very easy.

What is time-consuming in farming is taking care of animals and making bigger harvests that you can handle solo, not growing food for your personal consumption.

Many in my family were farmers, and each living member of my family takes care of a garden at some level, so I know what I'm talking about.

destructure and asdf,

The US has almost the highest corporate income tax rate, so it makes sense to lobby for individual tax breaks. The more a corporation lobbies, the less it pays. The businesses that aren't cozy with government pay a higher rate. Are the ones who pay a higher rate because they don't lobby subsidizing the ones who do lobby to keep more of their earnings?

It's a problem of the limitless government that HS adores (soda cup size mandates!); everyone is getting perpetually shafted and subsidized by bills enacted by people who may be long gone, so it's hard to tell who the users and the dupes are. The rational thing to do is lobby for zero taxes if you can (keeping your own money) even if it means fellow citizens have to pay more taxes to make up the difference. But how much worse is an outright subsidy than a tax credit when both have the same effect of transferring the costs to someone else?

[HS: I previously wrote that I didn't NOT support the soda ban:

http://www.halfsigma.com/2012/06/soft-drink-ban.html

so I would appreciate it if you would stop pretending that I'm some crazy leftist.]

HS,

From a post where you lauded smoking bans (the smoke-hating ACTUAL Cons in Seattle picketed for the rights of customers TO smoke at bars, etc.):

"In any event, and this is a topic I’ve written about before, HBD teaches us that a lot of people are indeed too stupid to make good choices on their own. Liberals are more right about the sugary drink ban than libertarians."

That was completely clear however you later waffled. In a post where you applauded using guns to keep people from smoking at businesses you wanted to frequent, you clearly said that the people who wanted to use guns to dictate cup size were more right than people like me. I can't even tell if you're being serious now.

And I like this double-negative:

"I didn't NOT support the soda ban:"

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