Monday, May 13, 2013

Begging the question

Warren Buffett makes an assumption that does not appear to be borne out by the facts:
In the flood of words written recently about women and work, one related and hugely significant point seems to me to have been neglected. It has to do with America's future, about which -- here's a familiar opinion from me -- I'm an unqualified optimist. Now entertain another opinion of mine: Women are a major reason we will do so well.

Start with the fact that our country's progress since 1776 has been mind-blowing, like nothing the world has ever seen. Our secret sauce has been a political and economic system that unleashes human potential to an extraordinary degree. As a result Americans today enjoy an abundance of goods and services that no one could have dreamed of just a few centuries ago.

But that's not the half of it -- or, rather, it's just about the half of it. America has forged this success while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country's talent. For most of our history, women -- whatever their abilities -- have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.
This raises the question: is it actually a problem?   Buffett acknowledges that America forged this incredible success without utilizing the talent of women.  In recent years, America has been utilizing more and more female talent, and yet strangely, has seen the rest of the world, much of which is still not utilizing female talent to the same degree, catch up to it, and in some cases, even surpass it.

Now, logic would suggest that there is at least a possibility that this past success stemmed from not using that talent, that female "talent", in fact, has a negative effect on human potential.  However, that isn't a debate that anyone is permitted to have, because the Female Imperative insists that more female involvement means more better in all aspects of human endeavor.

Perhaps those who hold this position will be more open to the possibility after the next economic crash, or after equalitarian societies crash and/or die out.  I tend to doubt it, though, as the sort of women who subscribe to the Female Imperative were capable of learning from history, they wouldn't be equalitarians or feminists in the first place.

42 comments:

Crowhill said...

This quote -- often attributed to Voltaire -- seems apt. “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

Josh said...

Buffett's lost his fastball in the last decade.

earl said...

"For most of our history, women -- whatever their abilities -- have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem."

Abilities such as motherhood and raising kids. Yeah they've corrected that "problem."

Brian said...

Buffett is a card-carrying statist. Made his fortune on the back of government protection. Nothing new to see him parroting the liberal agenda. Saddest thing is people worship his investment strategies, and yet very few can actually pull them off because they don't have the access to power he does. Fraud through and through.

Retrenched said...

@earl

C'mon man, pushing papers in an office is much more important than perpetuating the human race...

earl said...

Buffet is just another population control elitist. They all are.

Giraffe said...

So for the last 200 years plus, women just sat on their asses?

Retrenched said...

A lot of the biggest pushers of women's economic empowerment were robber baron capitalists who believed that a massive influx of women into the workforce would drastically lower wages. And they were right.

If you want to make a feminist's head explode, tell her that feminism was an ideology pushed by rich white men to flood the market with cheap labor to save themselves money on labor costs. Then show her charts showing how real wages have steadily declined since 1973, the year that women gradually started replacing men in the labor force.

Jack Amok said...

"For most of our history, women -- whatever their abilities -- have been relegated to the sidelines...

What's Buffet's wife's name again? What are her notable, non-sideline, accomplishments?

So for the last 200 years plus, women just sat on their asses?

No. 100 years ago, they were marching in the streets protesting not being allowed to vote. Then we let them vote and they stopped marching and got fat. Not enough exercise, I guess.

. said...

So for the last 200 years plus, women just sat on their asses?

Nah they have to lie down to fulfill their most important function.

Axe Head said...

Buffet speaks like a ruling-elite fatcat who knows how to smash the white middle class labor market.

1) Double the labor pool domestically
2) Flood the market with cheap immigrant labor

GAHCindy said...

I think Buffet is looking at it wrong. So are you, to a lesser extent. It's not that female "talent" wasn't being used for the first half of our nation's history, but that it was being used quite effectively, right where it belonged: in the home. It's harder to measure at-home feminine influence on society because ours is the realm of the private, but it's not like ladies were sitting around twiddling their thumbs all day before they started punching the timeclock.

When female talents were removed from their proper sphere of influence and use, they did, as you like to point out, ruin everything. I'm in complete agreement on that point. But your phrasing suggests that you're missing part of the bigger picture. Buffet talks as though only those talents used in the workforce are actually *being* used, and you (who really ought to know better) talk as though feminine talents don't exist at all.

Michael Maier said...

GAHCindy: You new here?

If not, you've paid no attention.

Marky Mark said...

With women working that means less bills for us to pay... plus they stay single forever so no shortage of them to date.

Anonymous said...

Socialism, including the feminist denomination, is both a religion and a belief system. And they see everything through that.

To Christians, it only matters if you are saved. To Muslims, there is only Islam. Tell a doctor you aren't feeling well, and he'll suggest a checkup. Tell a shrink, he'll suggest counseling. Tell a preacher, he'll say open a bible.

Tell a socialist, he'll suggest a state solution.

To socialists, women at home dependent on husbands are in a libertarian system, and they need saved. Home on welfare? Fine, that's a state solution. Working while kids are being cared for by a state school? Fine that's in the state.

Which is why a woman's efforts in the home do not go recognized, unless they benefit the state.

eidolon hope said...

Perhaps one could argue that there is a "sweet spot" where increased autonomy/freedom/imperative for women leads to an increased productivity and progress from men who are competing for those women. Surpass the zenith of the graph, however, and men may inherently see a declining return on their effort to qualify themselves to women through accomplishment, superimposed on the fact that fewer men have opportunities to do so since women are filling historically male positions.

Steve said...

"Buffet talks as though only those talents used in the workforce are actually *being* used, and you (who really ought to know better) talk as though feminine talents don't exist at all."

I'd agree with that. Women are extraordinarily talented at what they do best, but their schoolmarmish attitudes fuck up morale and team cohesion on projects like those you find in the average male's job environment.

GAHCindy said...

No, Michael, I'm not new here. Not very, anyway. I am attention deficient, though, I guess. What was wrong with what I said?

Michael said...

@GAHCindy: "What was wrong with what I said?"

Nothing. You were exactly correct when you pointed out "...but that it was being used quite effectively, right where it belonged: in the home."

It's the obviously correct answer and I'm surprised Vox didn't say it.

Acksiom said...

>"For most of our history, women -- whatever their abilities -- have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem."

For most of our history, so were most men, too. And for pretty much every male member of the aristocracy, there was a female member who didn't have to pay the same "combat tax".

I do wonder if Mister Buffet is including the direction, and. . .shall we say, *discipline*?. . .of household slaves in those 'sidelines' to which he claims women were 'relegated'?

It should always be kept in mind when people talk about women's historical victimization that women have also owned, exploited, abused and killed slaves throughout history.

Hoots said...

"begun to correct" ....

In 1990 the U.S. female/male labor participation ratio was 75% (3 women working for every 4 men). Today it is ~85%. Where does Buffet think all these idle female hands are going to come from? We're already close to maximum female employment on a percentage basis. And what is the expected lag between increased female labor participation and increased economic awesomeness? Unless the lag is more than 20 years, and I can't imagine it being more than a year or two, then the benefits, if any, of more women working are in our past, not our future.

New Jack said...

This is a great post, much better than that bad post yesterday. You are a real American hero (living abroad).

Rex Little said...

America has been utilizing more and more female talent, and yet strangely, has seen the rest of the world, much of which is still not utilizing female talent to the same degree, catch up to it, and in some cases, even surpass it.

This raises a question. There are parts of the world which are catching up with and/or surpassing us, and parts which are not. There are parts of the world which "utilize female talent" less than we do, and parts which do not.

Are these the same parts? In other words, is there a correlation (positive or negative) between female workforce participation and the rate of economic progress?

This is not a rhetorical question. I don't know what the answer would be if you studied the data.

Jacob Ian Stalk said...

Ignore Warren Buffett. His great gift to humanity is a refined method of exploiting others for profit. Listen to him only if you're a billionaire looking for stock tips.

tz said...

Buffet is a rabid pro-abort (even by NARAL standards - he funds scholarships for medical students).

If the women use (up!) their talent for today, and themselves, there will be no next generation or one ... well that is what blogs like this are about.

This is a bit like vibrancy / immigration being a strength. It is until the culture dies.

But for Buffet to maintain his feminist illusions, he can't bother to think about the children, or lack thereof.

tz said...

Women have the ability to do ordinary tasks, and to have children, men do not have the latter ability.

The next generation depends on women, not men.

Just remember feminists theme is "We hate being mothers, and despise the children that burden us and not men!".

They produce something of infinite value, but literally will destroy that to fatten their 401k.

GAHCindy said...

"Nothing. You were exactly correct when you pointed out "...but that it was being used quite effectively, right where it belonged: in the home."

It's the obviously correct answer and I'm surprised Vox didn't say it."

Me, too. He's usually more precise than that. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Where I think Mr Buffett is wrong is that 50 years ago the women with real passion and ability weren't stuck at home, they did what they wanted and succeeded.
The result of people like that was that mostly the best and brightest of the women worked, whilst every man (dull and bright) worked. Now we have the bright as well as the dull women working, which isn't really pushing our economy any more.
With government departments being run as little more than administrative offices that get women to push paper around until they go off on maternity leave, then allowing them up to 7 years to come back part time or full time, all while forcing taxpayers to fund the sort of departmental s**tstorm that has managers working overtime in trying to meet deadlines with temp staff.
Overall economic efficiency is way down, but with the ratio of government to private sector employees getting bigger every day it's only going to get worse.

VD said...

It's the obviously correct answer and I'm surprised Vox didn't say it.

No, it's not the correct answer. That's not what Buffet was talking about; he considers that "the sidelines". Moreover, even if it was correct, since when do I spell out the obvious?

I will be sure to spell out that bearing children and raising them is a female attribute right after I complete my forthcoming 750-page treatise on the wetness of water.

sunshinemary said...

For most of our history, women -- whatever their abilities -- have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.

Wow. Did everyone catch that? All of human history up until now, in which women bore and cared for children and did not try to ape men, was a problem in need of correction.

Q.: What's the difference between Warren Buffet and God?
A.: God doesn't think he's Warren Buffet.

Doom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bah said...

Women have the ability to do ordinary tasks, and to have children, men do not have the latter ability.

The next generation depends on women, not men.


Total bullshit. Men sire the children and are crucial to raising them properly. Women by themselves will raise a generation of psychologically broken, criminally inclined failures in life.

Gunn said...

Leftists like Buffet are keen to socialise the idea of 'talent', i.e. imply that western material progress has been due to the sum of its peoples acting together to create greater prosperity.

In reality, material progress has been achieved by (relatively few) entrepreneurs driven by the profit motive, which is underpinned by the idea of private property.

This misunderstanding of what has driven progress is the underlying error Buffet has made, and explains why his statement is wrong.

As to why women coming into the 'talent' pool has stunted US growth, the answer is simple; in order to allow women to 'compete', the state has had to abrogate individual property rights and replace them with affirmative action laws. This has acted to reduce the incentives to become an entrepreneur and there are relatively fewer now than there used to be at earlier times in US history.

Orion said...

I've had as much regard for things he says in any area beyond fund administration as I do for most musicians talking about things other than music. Like Josh says, for the last decade he has been at best adequate even at that.

VryeDenker said...

There are few things nicer than when your wife brings you a cup of coffee or a beer (depending on the time of week) while you're changing the oil in her car. I take this as a model for what our respective roles are supposed to be. Or this: I build the house; she makes it nice to live in.

akfox said...

We did utilize their talent, which happened to be in keeping house.

Daniel said...

...complete my forthcoming 750-page treatise on the wetness of water.

Wait a minute: I thought you already met your challenge that was inspired by Dance with Dragons.

LP 999/Eliza said...

The ramblings of old free trade old cat and nothing more. If he recalls the womens lib movement and the outcome of the labor part. rate, then surely he'd another outcome.

Men created and built America not women. Women reared children and minded the house. Only in the last 60 to 80 years did the work place change for the worse.

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Ceer said...

[quote] America has forged this success while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country's talent. For most of our history, women -- whatever their abilities -- have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.[/quote]

Warren Buffet is full of bull on this. His contention rests on women being exploited inappropriately or otherwise not used to their potential. This is the view of someone who can't see farther back than the 1950's epidemic of bored housewives.

I contend that women:
1) actually had plenty of work
2) had work that was useful to society
3) pretty much had the same choices as the majority of men.

Let's look at 3 typical family setups:
1) the family farm in the country
2) the family store in the city
3) the factory worker's family

Farms, typically, are located outside of large population centers. Prior to the application of mechanization, roughly 80-90% of every country farmed. Most farm families were not well to do, living in conditions we would call poverty today. Typically, men of a community would help each other build buildings. Women would have their own group projects on textiles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communal_work Often these projects were supplemented by a family's own private endeavors, which included production of nicknacks such as candles, soaps, rope, and just about everything else not made by a skilled tradesman. If you were well to do, you could afford items made by an instrument maker, tailor, and blacksmith. If you were of average income, likely it was just the blacksmith, and you could afford second hand clothes. Think about all the items you use throughout the day. Then imagine having to make at least half of them...by hand...yourself...while your husband is out tilling the field. Don't worry, Mr. Buffet says you're not really doing work.

City dwellers, typically had some sort of craft. Prior to factory production, this typically required skilled labor. It wasn't uncommon for a family to live and work in the same building. Go upstairs and rest at the end of the day, Go downstairs and set up shop/production in the morning. In this context, it was often the women, not the men who'd work outside the home. It was common practice for a family to hire out a wife or daughter for laundry, food prep, textile, or soft crafting work while the men. Imagine a skilled craftsman, busy with his work while being visited by a customer. Who tends the storefront? The journeyman is back in the back, helping. Don't worry your pretty little head Mrs. Smith. Warren Buffet says all that you're doing isn't work.

I think that our culture suffers from a sort of historical myopia. Because our lives are relatively free of worrying about our basic needs, we have so much free time, and only have to worry about ourselves...we forget that it wasn't always that way. It COULDN'T have been.

So much of what our leaders tell us today is designed to atomize society. Not just pulling families apart from one another, but pulling the families themselves apart. Until we realize that families are what made America great, we're going to loose our momentum that we once enjoyed.

Ceer said...

I just realized I fogot my third example. That's what I get for staying up past my bedtime.

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