NVSQVAM. To write the essay I had to rethink my protagonist, Lester Reichartsen, whose youth and dreams came to a screeching halt when his girlfriend slyly quit taking her birth control pills.
Reviewers’ response to Lester’s depressive and unenthusiastic
assumption of the role of family man surprised me. Many a columnist—both
liberal and conservative, those who loved the book and those who hated
it—declared him a disgusting human being.
Pushing aside the fact that the phrase “disgusting human being” may
be redundant, I was forced to confront the contrast between reader
responses and my own underlying assumption: that Lester is no more
horrible than anyone else.
I’ll give you the tl;dr version of my soul-searching: I came to
reflect that most of the choices that we, as civilizations, settle on
together and begin to call “good” are really only the least horrible thing
we could have done—at best, anyway; often we choose the worst—and that
we should avoid gloating over adopting them accordingly. To forget that
we have chosen the lesser of two evils is to give the devil’s tether too
Let me explain.
Lester resents his wife and child, which is clearly not a great thing
to do, for anyone involved. This is true. But the underlying trouble is
the result of a compromise the West has made with that Nazi bitch,
biology: we’ve come to the conclusion that decisions about childbirth
should ultimately fall to the female.
Pregnancy and abortion are both, after all, about the most intrusive
things short of death and plastic surgery that can happen to a human
body (even rape only lasts so long, if you have any luck). There is
something so viscerally awful about creation that the only civilized
solution to the puzzle seems to be to let the adult whose viscera are
involved decide. And then let’s quit thinking about our innards, shall
And we slap the dust off our hands. Justice achieved! Like
most decisions, once we’ve made it, we like to think of it as good and
right, unequivocally and through and through . . . and thus we begin to
It’s too easy to forget that childbirth and rearing are, although more invasive to a female life and body, are still invasive to a male one.
If the child is aborted, the father’s DNA is still being tossed in a
dumpster, though the forceps never had to pass between his legs. If the
child is born against his will, then either sentiment—as in Lester’s
case—or the law—in the case of child support—will cause intrusion upon
his resources, his life, his years.
Most readers of NVSQUAM side with Lester’s wife Evelyn,
apparently forgetting (as it’s so often forgotten in real life) how she
abused, even gloated over, the fact that the least bad solution to the
problem put nearly all the cards in her hand. To my mind, in the past
few decades, we’ve put far more cards than are necessary or just in the
mother’s hands. We have forgotten, in other words, that the least bad
solution is not actually good. And planting a flag of “good” upon the lesser evil, conceptually convenient though it may be, opens the door to abuse.
Parenthood has now been rigged: instead of consciously deferring to
the extra burden biology has placed upon women, we reflexively kick men
in the teeth out of habit. We’ve forgotten why we’re doing it; this is
simply justice as we’ve come to accept it.
We make such moral shifts quite often; it’s not just parenthood that we’ve rigged in favor of a forgotten compromise.
Sometimes we rig both sides of the same compromise.
Take capitalism and socialism. They seem to be the binary system
we’ve worked out for modern economies, the yang and the yin as it were.
We can’t seem to get a third choice properly conceived, much less put it
So we make our choice. Some people, despite the rivers of red blood
shed by Stalin and Mao, have decided that socialism is the way to go.
Others, like Churchill, have decided that a free market—despite the way
sheer chance, one’s geographical, genetic, and economic starting lines,
limits most people’s options like an e-collar—is the lesser of two
demons. Most people on both sides choose based on their relative dismay
in the face of the opposing system’s glaring flaws; worship of their own
candidate’s virtues is at first an afterthought, then an obsession.
As they confirm and then cackle over the cleverness of their choice
with their teammates, they forget that both options are flawed, and
finally learn to gloat over the pure virtue of their favorite
bitch-goddess, demanding that society indulge her every extreme.
The political class contains members of both teams who find it
professionally advantageous to foam at the mouth—and, unfortunately,
they’re all getting their way at once. Contentious issues become clubs
for them to swing at each other, but mysteriously they always miss and
hit everyone else instead.
Take immigration, the eternal elephant in the room. Beginning with Paris, it’s an elephant that’s begun stampeding around
the room; still, polite people don’t discuss it. You want to talk to me
about intersectionality? Here’s another “lesser of two evils” problem
for you: which do we care more about, the suffering of third world
peoples or the fate of the poor who are already among us? I tend toward
the impecunious myself (which is by and large the result of my own choices,
but as people usually must do, I was choosing the lesser of two evils).
So I don’t have as much trouble with this one as my friends the
progressives. Pain, as Daffy Duck used to say, hurts me. (And bullets
even hurt champagne socialists.)
Libertarians complain that the Left is using immigration to rig
democracy. As anarcho-capitalists like Stefan Molyneux are wont to
repeat to no avail, the Democrats don’t want to bring half of Mexico
here out of the goodness of their hearts—they like having them here because they vote Democrat. (Apparently an impressive percentage of illegal immigrants successfully manage to vote
in elections; gee, I wonder why the Republicans are so mysteriously
avid to check IDs at the polls? They might make themselves sound less
crazy if they came out and said it.) Instead of winning the argument,
they stack the deck so that what’s left of democracy can be used to aid
Excellent argument. But on the other hand, immigration is also being used to rig what’s left of capitalism.
This seems to be a bipartisan project, if not a Republican one:
“Cuckservatives” might not so much be wusses as hypocrites who are
acting in their own self-interest. Do you think for a minute that
third-world immigration into the West, should it happen not to further the interests of those who’ve already got theirs, would not be stoppered?
Why has the purchasing power of low- and middle-income workers sagged
over the past few decades? The Left blame greedy rich kids—those other rich
kids, mind you, not us; keep your eye on the Bush!—while the GOP blames
laziness, and both sides blame high school teachers. Never mind the
fact that the labor market is never allowed to stabilize.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that capitalism is not as bad as
socialism, then—unless you are, say, a dick with rich parents whose
ideology exists to justify his trust fund—you likely believe that the
best-case scenario under capitalism is for the market to closely
resemble a meritocracy.
For capitalism to approach a meritocracy, it needs to be a fairly
closed system, in which the price of wages can find a livable
equilibrium, and labor is scarce enough that workers have some sort of
bargaining leverage. Otherwise, the idea of anyone ever working his way
up becomes a parody. The old libertarian talking points about the
“liberty” to trade one’s labor for wages only makes sense if both
parties have eaten breakfast; a desperate worker cannot make deals that
will be advantageous. I find it difficult to take the idea of “freely
agreed-upon” labor arrangements seriously in a market that leaves even
skilled, educated, conscientious workers continually living from hand to
If kids can’t even get a starter job to prove their employability,
their entire working lives will be compromised—not to mention the
attitude problem they’ll develop. Capitalism is not an ideal system, it
is practical, and has yet to prove to be quite as violently conformist
as the other major name on the ballot.
And it is only practical when artificially created labor surpluses
are not constantly tilting the field in existing employers’ advantage.
Now that abuse of H1-B visas has given foreign tech workers a leg up
over their U.S. counterparts, even the most practical-looking
diplomas—the life choices that looked the most sensible five or ten
years ago—are an unsure bet.
It is no longer defensible for Leftists to look down their noses at
native workers who are losing their jobs to immigration; it’s not
because they’re bad workers and yahoos, it’s because of supply and
demand—not to mention the fact that since a ridiculous proportion of
immigrant households with working members are being given welfare,
they can afford to bid lower than native labor. The rent will still get
paid if Dad is making under minimum wage, and Jesus H. Christ—we have
reduced gainful employment to pin money.
And if this sounds like egghead theory to you, look at the fucking numbers. Progressives will point you to a White House propaganda page
telling you that immigrants create jobs with their demand for consumer
goods—but household math tells you that at the wages they’re taking,
most of their income is going to landlords and childcare providers.
Fewer employees working at higher wages would have more disposable
income to spread around the economy. In other words, immigrants take
restaurant jobs and cook at home, as most restaurant workers must do.
Restaurant work used to be the first rung on that dreamy old American
ladder, but now the first rung is dangling somewhere up in “I can afford
an unpaid internship” land.
Now that I think about it, it’s mostly the eft who seem to be
stumping to rig capitalism against the up-and-comers. Right-wing
assholes like Donald Trump are arguing for immigration sanity, even if
he might make slightly less money off his kitchens next year. (I guess
the presidency is more prestigious than an extra few billion.) Actually,
so is Bernie Sanders, much to his credit, but he’s being eaten alive
for it by the parlor pinks.
It’s the mainstream (they think they’re rebels, but let’s call a
spade a fucking spade) Leftists who keep calling us yahoos for
complaining about immigrant competition in the labor market. Now, isn’t
that strange? The Left has left the care and feeding of the white
working class entirely to capitalist assholes. It’s almost like they’re
racist or something.
Possibly this is because the wealthy Leftist only likes capitalism
when it’s firmly rigged in his favor (I’m using a male pronoun to annoy
heshit). Charity is always more delicious when someone else feels the
loss. Look at the way the American Left hounded the French for their
racism. Now French attempts to assuage their ancestral guilt have
literally blown up in their face. And we keep hounding Europe to take in
more immigrants. Surely they can’t make it across the ocean?