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    The Atlantic | David Brooks | 2/10/20 | 49 min
    8 reads10 comments
    9.6
    The Atlantic
    8 reads
    9.6
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    • jeff
      Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
      4 months ago

      Incredibly important read! This article does an amazing job of demonstrating the importance of family structure and also pointing out the pitfalls of both contemporary conservative and liberal positions on the subject. With increasing amounts of focus on the loneliness epidemic and diseases of despair this article delves deep into many of the causes but also ends on a high note with some emerging remedies.

      • bill
        Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
        4 months ago

        Upvote. Love this take.

    • bill
      Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
      4 months ago

      I have no idea how David Brooks gets away with saying some of the sh*t he says (example: “The black extended family survived even under slavery”) but I think it has something to do with how hungry we are for a singular explanation that brings all of societies ills under one umbrella - in this case, the failure of the family.

      It’s true that wealthy people have a tendency to pat themselves (and each other) on the back for raising strong nuclear families, when, in reality, they’re just paying to outsource the hard (emotional) work to hired help.

      It’s also true that universities are a farce. I have been saying this for years, but I really do believe that some big changes will happen in this generation. Higher education is an engine to protect wealth, privilege, and class-status. Period. That’s the singular purpose of these institutions. Almost everything else that happens at colleges and universities is bona fide fake news, but everyone loves the illusion.

      And because universities have a monopoly on scientific research and intellectualism in general (it’s extremely abnormal to study Shakespeare if you’re not in college) we all allow this farce to continue. The opportunity cost is huge. If we could turn all people into lifelong learners instead of squeezing it into the margins of a four year party for rich kids (And look! Now they have some poor friends too!) that would be great for society. Perhaps the most damning aspect of the whole thing is the grand illusion of diversity going on at these places. The obsession (borderline fetishization) with first generation students and non-white students actually screws everyone up. It’s a cover-up act and it works.

      I’m not saying I have the answer, but I’m concerned that too few people are actually discussing the problem. The way that conservatives fight affirmative action plays right into the hands of elite, liberal colonizers. That’s frightening. So too is the way that democratic candidates for president are promising free college education to all. Just take a fuckton of money and burn it. That would be faster and less brain-damaging for our 20 year olds.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        4 months ago

        I find it kind of disturbing that you seem to be implying that the author should not get away with saying something. What's wrong with the line you quoted or anything else from this article?

        Higher education is an engine to protect wealth, privilege, and class-status. Period.

        If you were talking about legacy admissions at Ivy League schools I'd be inclined to agree, but I think you're painting with way too broad a brush here. A college education has been the source of upward mobility for huge swaths of the population.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          4 months ago

          Great points. I guess it's a good thing when writers go all-in on some thought or idea, even if it means making some broad generalizations or opinion-based claims. Brooks has made a career out of that.

          I think you're painting with way too broad a brush here.

          No doubt. I totally agree, especially after re-thinking and re-reading a week later.

      • theesakker4 months ago

        How do you implement 'life-long learning'? Do you have any ideas? Isn't free access to college part of that and doesn't it equalize (at least a bit) access across socio-economic levels. It still doesn't equalize across privileged social networks for finding good jobs but it could be a good start. Maybe free college isn't the right answer but I think a 4-year degree should at least be affordable at a minimum.

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          4 months ago

          (at least a bit)

          That’s my fav part of your comment. Because yes. It does equalize access. But... just a bit... and at what cost?

          Ivy Leaguers “see” other Ivy Leaguers, and ignore the rest of society. So, for me, the important part isn’t the conversation about access, it’s about who has the power to grant access: A small, scary club.

          Sorry if I’m talking too much (again) but I love this conversation. 👍

        • bill
          Top reader of all timeScoutScribe
          4 months ago

          Great thoughts! I don’t know how to implement “life-long learning” but it has something to do with (1) the internet and (2) doing work that is actually enriching.

          The thing is that college isn’t “free” even when it is. It costs a ton to put the rest of your entire life on hold for 4 years when you’re just entering your “prime” years. It’s a great time to launch a career or start a family. I think that the entire idea that we need to take 18-22 year olds and put them through required certification programs would be completely laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re so baked into culture and society. It’s the word “required” that peeves me. If there were other options, that would be better.

          Since college is an unavoidable reality of modern life, I agree that it should be “affordable at a minimum,” but that’s exactly the problem. God knows if I’ll ever have kids, but I can imagine wanting them to go to good schools to “get ahead.” What the world really needs, though, are some different ways to get started in cool, enriching careers.

          My strong opinion is weakly held, btw, and is very anecdotal and personal. I grew up upper middle class and went to Stanford undergrad and it was way too much way too fast. It wasn’t a time to explore or be creative, despite the fact that that’s how it was billed. It’s career conditioning. The hardest part is getting in (especially if you’re not rich) and then you’re on a treadmill, whether you want to be or not.

    • theesakker4 months ago

      Interesting of analysis of how we got to where we are now. Lots of these concepts have occurred to me but I was never had the historic background to understand them.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekReading streakScribe
        4 months ago

        Agreed! I loved the historical context and feel like it really helped to put the current situation in perspective. Thanks for posting this! Perfect Sunday read.