Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Some Fiction Writing - The Great War: Chapter 8-1

 Friends, it has been a longer time than I like to contemplate, but this trilogy remains one of the major priorities of my artistic life.  So when my wife and I managed to take a two day getaway for my birthday over last weekend, which served as a sort of mini writers' retreat, I gratefully took the time to finish this chapter.  I hope you enjoy it.  It will certainly not be so long before I post another.

In Chapter 8 we return to Jozef, and we meet a cavalry regiment of the Polish Legion.  They're a historically fascinating group, whose founder, Joseph Pilsudski became the father of independent Poland.  But I'll let the chapter introduce them to you properly.

Klimontów, Galicia.  June 28nd, 1915.  It was a distance of less than thirty kilometers from Sandomierz where Jozef’s regiment was stationed -- his former regiment as the orders in his uniform pocket made clear -- to Klimontów where the 1st Cavalry Regiment of the Polish Legion was recovering from a recent engagement.  There was no military train available, and Jozef was humiliatingly unable to make the journey on horseback because his mount belonged to the Uhlan regiment.  So with his orders in hand and his cavalry spurs jingled on his boots, he was required to stand in line behind two old women carrying chickens in wicker baskets, show his orders to the ticket-master at the Sandomierz train station, and receive a second class ticket (the local train offered no first class) on the slow train to his destination.

The one second class carriage was comfortingly empty; his two companions were a middle aged businessman in a bowler hat, who spent the entire time reading a newspaper printed indecipherably in Slovene, and an elderly Jewish woman dressed all in black who snored softly despite the hardness of the leather-upholstered seats.  

Even with the frequent stops of a local train, within two hours the train pulled into Klimontów and Jozef stepped out onto the railway platform.  The town was small, consisting of little more than a single square with shop fronts and houses surrounding a fountain.  A little beyond, loomed bronze domes of St. Jozefa.  

The men of the 1st Cavalry Regiment of the Legion might not outnumber the town’s residents, but they were certainly prominent.  As soon as he stepped into the street Jozef saw men in field grey uniforms like his own, but with the distinctive, square-topped czapka helmet of the Polish Uhlans.  Some sat at cafe tables or lounged outside shops, others walked singly or in groups.  All had the casual aire of men on leave.  There was no immediately obvious center of activity, no headquarters building marked out by the runners and orderlies hurrying in and out of it.  

Nor did anyone immediately approach Jozef as someone out of place, even though his Austrian Uhlan’s helmet, set him apart as clearly from another regiment.  After hesitating and looking about for several moments, Jozef approached a group of three men seated outside a cafe.  The jumble of beer and wine glasses told that they had been at the table for some time.  One had taken off his uniform tunic and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt against the heat of the day, as he sat talking with his companions and rapidly dealing out hands of some solitaire card game on the table before him.  

“Where can I find the regimental headquarters?” Jozef asked, counting on the leutnant stars on his collar tabs to make clear his right to ask a peremptory question of these men whose plain collars marked them as rank and file troopers.

By rights, they should have come immediately to attention before even answering his question.  They did not do this.  One of the men inclined his head to the card player, as if to defer the question to him.  The other fixed Jozef with a commanding  eye and asked, “Which is it?  Is Kandinsky a genius or an enemy of the beautiful?”

“Who?” asked Jozef.

“Oh, God!” cried the other trooper. 

“I didn’t address the question of theology,” replied the first, turning on his companion.  “Nor do I admit that it has any bearing on artistic expression.”

“The artistic sense is an expression of culture,” replied the second.  “And culture is the expression of the people, and the organizing principle of the people is politics.  Yet over politics stands the ultimate purpose of the people, and that is theology.  So to the extent that art is cultural, it is political, and the end of the political is God.”

“You are drunk in the presence of an officer, and that is political,” replied the first trooper.  “Sir,” he added, addressing himself to Jozef, “If you’re seeking headquarters the leutnant can help you.”  He indicated the man in his shirt sleeves.  

The card player ignored Jozef for a moment more as he rapidly laid down cards to complete the formation he had been creating.  Then he slapped down a two of acorns with a triumphant “Aha!” and scooped up the entire deck of cards into a pile which he tapped neatly into place.

“Yes?” the card player asked.  “Can I help you?”

“You are an officer, sir?” Jozef asked, with a formality that hinted skepticism.  

The card player shrugged into his tunic and began buttoning it up, making his leutnant’s stars visible in the process.

“Leutnant Zelewski,” he replied, rising to his feet.  “And whom do I have the pleasure to meet, sir?”

“Leutnant von Revay, 7th Imperial Royal Uhlans.  I have orders to report to Oberst Gorski.”

“Well, I’d better escort you to headquarters then.  Come on.”  

He started down the cobbled street and Jozef fell into step next to him.  The leutnant’s walk was casual, without the rigid posture most career officers had taken on through long training, and to sit drinking, his tunic off, with common troopers at a cafe would be unimaginable in a normal regiment, no matter how hot the day.  

“What do you make of the tone of our regiment?” Leutnant Zelewski asked.

Jozef hesitated.  The question alone suggested rather too much insight into the silent judgment he had rendered upon the regiment.

“One thing you’ll find,” Zelewski continued, “is that the backgrounds of our troopers are a little more wide ranging than the standard cut.  Dudek, for instance, is a professor of political philosophy, while Bak, as perhaps you could tell, writes artistic criticism.”

“And you?” asked Jozef, wondering if all the Polish Legionnaires came from such academic backgrounds.

“Bank robber,” replied Zelewski.  He let the phrase drop with conscious showmanship, and after pausing for reaction added, “And essayist.  Political agitator.”

Continue reading...

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Harm Reduction is not a Caliber

Nicholas Kristof takes a swing at offering less politically divisive suggestions to reduce gun deaths in the US in a feature-length opinion piece at the New York Times.  (Link is a "gift link" so you should be able to read it even without a subscription.) I do not think that he succeeds in avoiding the tired old political mistakes on this issue, but I'd like to assume he is in good faith and make some suggestions.

Kristof's theme is "harm mitigation". He has some thoughts about making it harder to buy guns (licenses, etc.) which I think are a bad idea but will not address here, but I do think there's a point worth keeping in mind from this section: As he notes some people are more likely to misuse guns than others. 72 million Americans own guns. In 2020 there were 45,222 gun deaths (of which more than half were suicides). This means that if each death was caused by a different person (no multiple killing incidents) 0.06% of gun owners were involved in a gun death in 2020.  Out of every ten thousand gun owners, less than six contributed to gun deaths in 2020. So we're dealing with a small percentage of problems among a very large number of law abiding people.

However, he then tried to do some harm mitigation on types of guns. It is a common trope of "reasonable" gun control proposals to argue that some guns are much more dangerous than others, and we only need to ban the dangerous ones. He says:

One advantage of the harm reduction model is that done right, it avoids stigmatizing people as gun nuts and makes firearms less a part of a culture war.

I’m writing this essay on the Oregon farm where I grew up. As I write this, my 12-gauge shotgun is a few feet away, and my .22 rifle is in the next room. (Both are safely stored.)

These are the kinds of firearms that Americans traditionally kept at home, for hunting, plinking or target practice, and the risks are manageable. Rifles are known to have been used in 364 homicides in 2019, and shotguns in 200 homicides. Both were less common homicide weapons than knives and other cutting objects (1,476 homicides) or even hands and feet (600 homicides).

In contrast to a traditional hunting weapon, here’s an AR-15-style rifle. The military versions of these weapons were designed for troops so that they can efficiently kill many people in a short time, and they can be equipped with large magazines that are rapidly swapped out. They fire a bullet each time the trigger is depressed.

 It’s sometimes said that the civilian versions, like the AR-15, are fundamentally different because they don’t have a selector for automatic fire. But troops rarely use automatic fire on military versions of these weapons because they then become inaccurate and burn through ammunition too quickly.

In one respect, the civilian version can be more lethal. American troops are not normally allowed to fire at the enemy with hollow-point bullets, which cause horrific injuries, because these might violate the laws of war. But any civilian can walk into a gun store and buy hollow-point bullets for an AR-15; several mass shootings have involved hollow-point rounds.

Now here’s what in some sense is the most lethal weapon of all: a 9-millimeter handgun. It and other semiautomatic pistols have the advantage of being easily concealable and so are more convenient for criminals than assault rifles are. In addition, there has been a big push toward carrying handguns, concealed or openly — and that, of course, means that increasingly a handgun is readily available when someone is frightened or furious.


Given the difference in impact between long guns and handguns, it may also make sense as a harm reduction measure to advise homeowners to trade in their Glocks for shotguns. As vice president in 2013, Joe Biden encouraged homeowners to rely for self-defense on a shotgun rather than an assault weapon, and he said he had advised his wife to respond to an intruder in an old-fashioned way: “Put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.” He was denounced on left and right, but he had a point: We would be far better off if nervous families sought protection from a shotgun rather than from an assault rifle or 9-millimeter handgun.

He also illustrates this point with a graphic showing how often different calibers of gun are recovered from crime scenes:

Okay, let's note a couple problems with this "harm reduction" approach:

1) He references Biden's infamous "fire two blasts outside the house" advice as a "common sense" approach instead of having people own handguns or "assault rifles". Yet when you look at his graphic on how often guns of different types are recovered from crime scenes, the .22 rifle and 12 gauge shotgun which Kristof says he owns himself (and cites as normal types of guns to own) are both recovered from crime scenes much more often than .223 caliber rifles -- the normal caliber for rifles of the infamous AR-15 type. If harm reduction means avoiding types of gun which are often used in crime, then why does he advocate people get shotguns, the single most frequently used type of long gun in crime?  

2) Kristoff also takes a swipe at the 9mm handgun, describing it as "most lethal weapon of all". Is it, though? This assumes that the problem is that some types of gun are inherently more lethal than others. But there's nothing terrifying about the 9mm handgun as compared to other types. Indeed, the .40cal (second most frequently found on crime scenes) fires a larger bullet with a larger load of powder, thus delivering more foot-pounds of force: 275ft/lbs for 9mm, 441 ft/lbs for .40 S&W

Source: Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading

Why are 9mm handguns found so often on crime scenes? They're simply the most common handguns. They are used by most police departments and by the US military. And they are the single most commonly sold caliber of handgun. 

The reason .40cal handguns rank so high also probably has to do with availability: a number of police forces (and even the FBI) used to use the more powerful .40S&W round. They later switched to the 9mm, which is lighter (and thus easier to carry) and which has lower recoil (and thus more accurate follow-up shots.)  The result is that used gun dealers often have a fair number of "police surplus" handguns in .40 S&W available cheap. That affordable availability is probably why .40cal is the second most common caliber of handgun found on crime scenes.

So whether one is contemplating gun regulations or what sort of gun to own, looking at the statistics of the type of guns used in crime is not a useful move. Nor does doing so accurately even lead to eschewing AR-15s for 12-gauge shotguns or .22 rifles. The frequency with which different types of guns show up in crime scenes is not a function of how inherently dangerous the caliber is, but rather of how available and useful guns of that type are to the less than 0.1% of gun owners who want to commit crimes. 

Owning a 9mm handgun is not going to make you more likely to commit a crime. Being a criminal is going to make you more likely to commit a crime. If you're going to buy a gun, buy the type of gun which is useful to you.  If the use that you seek is perforating paper targets and being prepared to protect your home if necessary, a 9mm handgun or a .223 AR-15 rifle may well be the right choice. These are, after all, the guns with which our law enformcement officers are most often armed, and their task is pretty similar to that of a citizen seeking to protect his or her home. If we truly seek crime mitigation, we should seek to prevent criminals from getting hold of guns, not avoid owning the same calibers of guns which criminals and suicidal people happen to get their hands on.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

When A Marriage is not a Marriage

 Fr. James Martin was out doing Fr. James Martin things again yesterday, responding to a Catholic League piece which described civil same sex marriage as a "legal fiction" with the statement "Pete Buttigieg is married."

As a good friend noted, the ensuing tempest is predictable and boring. Having scandalized many orthodox Catholics, if pressed theologically Fr. Martin will announce, "Oh, I only meant civilly married.  I of course agree with the Church's teaching on marriage." And so the dance of Fr. Martin pretending he doesn't disagree with Catholic teaching will continue. It's not just that some notable people in power seem to approve of Fr. Martin's antics, it's also that he has a strong Jesuit sense of how to make it clear to everyone what he really thinks while also maintaining the plausible deniability of never definitively saying something in clear contradiction of Church teaching.

However, in a society in which the Church's understanding of marriage is increasingly alien, it's perhaps worth taking a moment to consider the various senses in which Fr. Martin's statement could be taken, and the senses in which it is true or false from a Catholic point of view.

1) In civil law, Buttigieg is married to another man, Chasten, and they are entitled to the legal benefits that are associated with civil marriage. A Catholic dealing with this kind of situation in the legal realm would reasonably treat the civil marriage as existing.

2) Socially, in the mainstream culture, same sex marriage is seen as a thing that exists, and so it would be normal in social discourse to refer to someone's same sex spouse as a "husband" or "wife". I think it's reasonable for a Catholic to accede to this social convention even while disagreeing theologically. In a sense it's not different from referring to an oft-divorced man's fifth wife as "your wife" even while recognizing that marriage cannot in fact be validly dissolved and replaced in the manner which our civil law allows. The difference, of course, is that that relationship at least "looks like" a natural marriage in the sense that the Church would recognize it, while a same sex marriage does not. I think this is a distinction worth recognizing, but I don't necessarily think it would be a problem for a Catholic to refer to a same sex spouse as a "husband" or "wife" in social discourse.

3) A same sex marriage cannot exist as a 'natural marriage'. Natural marriage is the Church's term for a marriage between a man and woman who are not baptized, but nonetheless enter into a relationship which has the qualities which the Church would recognize as belonging to marriage: they intend to be faithful to each other, they intend to welcome any children they might have, they are not already married to someone else, they are one man and one woman, etc. Natural marriage is not a legal or social convention, it is a real, existing marriage which the Church must recognize but is simply not sacramental because it does not take place between baptized people.

4) If two people who are validly able to marry (not married already, opposite sexes, intend to be faithful, intend to welcome children, etc) and who are baptized Christians get married, those people are recognized by the Church as having entered into a valid sacramental marriage. Pete Buttigieg is an Episcopalian and thus one assumes someone who has been baptized. If he had married someone with whom the Church sees it as possible to enter into marriage (a woman) he would have been recognized as entering into a sacramental marriage. 

There is an additional complication in terms of contracting a sacramental marriage if one of the parties is a baptized Catholic, but they do not marry in a valid Catholic ceremony. Church canon law requires that Catholics marry before the Church, and if someone baptized Catholic does not follow this rule, the Church does not see them as validly married. So if two Episcopalians get married in a civil ceremony, the Catholic Church would see them as sacramentally married, but if two Catholics did, the Church would not see them as sacramentally married. This stands to get a bit confusing, and it doesn't come into play here since the whole question in this case is whether a two men could be considered married in the first place.

So in looking at Fr. Martin's statement: It is not in and of itself wrong for Fr. Martin to refer to Pete Buttigieg's husband, if he was doing so in sense 1) or sense 2). If, for instance, Fr. Martin was at a social occasion and met Chasten Buttigieg, he might say, "Ah, hello, I was a fan of your husband's presidential run," without denying the Church's teaching on marriage.

However, it seems pretty clear that in posting, as a priest of the Catholic Church, and in argument with an article which sought to make the distinction between civil marriage and actual marriage as recognized by the Church, the unmodified phrase "Pete Buttigieg is married", Fr Martin is sowing confusion about Catholic teaching (and making clear how he wants it to change). But, of course, it can't change. And that Fr. Martin doesn't seem to recognize that is one of the basic senses in which he does not think with the Church.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Inflation at the Grocery Store

 I contributed to a Twitter thread the other day on the subject of grocery price inflation, and several hours later received a direct message from a reporter working on a story about the same topic, who asked if I would be willing to answer a few questions about our grocery spending. 

I'm always game to talk prices, since pricing is what I do professionally, and I discovered that our credit card company has much improved in their automatic categorization of purchases, so to check my subjective impressions I downloaded two years worth of our spending data and looked at how our weekly grocery spending has changed since inflation increased about a year ago.

The overall results surprised me. I was correct in thinking that we average a but under $400/wk in groceries, but it turns out this has been pretty consistent for the last two years. Over the last five years our average weekly grocery spending has increased only $14 from $345 to $359.  That's just a 4% increase, significantly less than inflation.

I'd included spending on eating out and gas on the theory that we might be balancing greater grocery spending by cutting other weekly spending, but those dont' seem to have changed much either.

So despite costs going up across the board, we seem to have been pretty successful in not actually paying more for groceries ourselves.

One explanation for this is that I now do more price shopping between stores. Back in early 2021 I was doing almost 70% of our shopping at Kroger.  By the end of 2022 that had fallen to less than 50%, and the share of our spending at Aldi (which generally has lower prices) had shifted from about 15% to over 30%.

We'd also made some fairly conscious choices as prices increased:

  • We ended our canned seltzer habit, something of which we'd been buying three 12-packs a week prior to the cost of gas (and other inflation, but transportation costs are always a major part of the cost of cheap liquids)
  • We mostly stopped eating beef, shifting first to chicken and then increasingly to pork. Pork loins are the meat you can still get consistently for close to $2/lb
  • We reduced egg consumption as eggs quadrupled in price over the last few months
However, we also made a number of other minor trade offs, some of which I'd probably have to think quite a bit about, in order to keep our food spending at what seemed like a reasonable level. Even knowing that consumer behavior data usually knows that people are very good at making trade-offs without even realizing it, I'm impressed with how consistent our spending data is over the long term.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Josh's Song

As my brother John kept vigil by baby Josh's side the other night, having never yet held his son, he composed this song on one of the therapy guitars provided by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. John has been writing songs since he was a teenager getting in his ten thousand hours of practice on the guitar. He texted the tune and lyrics late last night to the family group chat, and this morning the kids and I turned it into a video with plenty of photos of Josh and family.

Please pray for John and Gail this week, as the doctors will be reducing Josh's sedation this week, and running tests to determine whether he has any brain activity.

Little One (Josh's song)
written and performed by John Egan

Your tender body quivers
At the slightest little touch
Your mom’s a million miles away
She misses you so much

I’ve only dreamed of holding you

I was frightened by the swelling
I was startled by your weight
The tubes and lines were everywhere
The hour was getting late

And I’ve only dreamed of holding you

Can you breathe with me
Can you feel the rushing wind
Dip your feet into sea
If you climb up to the stars
We can stare down at the sun
Little one

Your mother only held you
The moment you were born
We took a family picture
Your skin was nice and warm

The last time she was holding you

There’s an angel right beside you
Blowing sweet air in your lungs
And a quiet hovers over you
With prayers from everyone

Will I finally get to holding you

I was in a place of comfort
With no worries and no fears
But you know I’d give that all away
Just to have you here

In my arms just holding you

Can you breathe with me
Can you feel the rushing wind
Dip your feet into sea
If you climb up to the stars
We can stare down at the sun
Little one

And you breathe with me
I would let you go to heaven
You will rest in endless peace
And you’ll play among the stars
Wrap your arms around the sun
Little one

I saw your eyelids flicker
You were sleeping in your bed
Your infant toes were moving ‘round
A voice inside me said

That someday I’d be holding you
And I know someday I’ll be holding you

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Prayers for Joshua

Dear friends, let me beg your prayers for my newborn nephew Joshua George. He was born five weeks early, on Dec. 31, and due to complications from interventions after birth, he's suffered traumatic brain bleeding. My sister-in-law Gail writes:

“Update: Last night, we met with Joshua’s medical team. We did not get the news we were hoping for. Joshua’s CT scan revealed the bleeding in his brain was quite significant. An MRI shows that the pressure from the bleeding has caused his brain to shift. The damage is very severe. Right now his brain can't communicate with the rest of his body, and it's unlikely that will ever change.

There's a lot they don't know right now; they’re going to watch him the next few days to see what support he'll need. There's nothing they can do for the brain from a medical standpoint, but they will continue to support his heart and lungs with the possibility of him coming off the ventilator. He is currently relying on the ventilator to do most of the work but does continue to take some independent breaths. His heart and lungs have remained stable since coming off of ECMO. We chose to let the children visit with him last night instead of holding him. The big kids are at Ronald McDonald House with grandma and John and I will finally be able to hold our sweet Joshua in our arms this morning.”

Please pray for Joshua, and my brother John and his wife Gail, and their three older children Ben, Sam, and Hannah.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Single Income Family Demographics

 I wrote last week about the household economy and how being a single income family (where I hold down an outside job to pay the bills and MrsDarwin works full time on raising and educating the children) is something we have made a priority within our family.

Several readers on social media expressed curiosity on how common single income families are and what their place within the distribution of household incomes is, so I turned to the US Census to find out.  I found some answers in Census Table FG2 for 2021, which covers "Opposite-Sex Married Couple Family Groups, by Family Income, and Labor Force Status of Both Spouses"

The census found the US has 63 million families consisting of opposite sex married couples, of which 24 million have children under 18 living at home with them.  The 24 million families with at least one child under 18 living at home with them seemed like the relevant group for the question at hand, so I looked deeper at that data.  

Among that 24 million, 61% had both husband and wife employed, 27% had only the husband employed, 4% had only the wife employed, and 8% fell into the "other" bucket.  "Other" consisted of 1.9 million families of which 552k were families in which neither husband nor wife was in the labor force, and the other 1.4 million were families in which one or both spouses were temporarily unemployed but still in the labor force.  Since those families were in a temporary situation which might or might not persist, it seemed unfair to class them in the other three stable employment categories.

The Census also provides data about how much family income these different families have.  However, more than half the families fall in the top group: $100k/yr and above  

This makes it hard to break the households into useful groupings, but I did my best.  The overall result is: far from being a luxury lifestyle, single income families make up the majority of the lowest income group and half of the second lowest, while single income families are the least represented among families making over $100k/yr.

For single income families with only the mother working and only the father working, the distribution across income bands was pretty similar, though the families where the wife was the single income were slightly more likely to belong to the lower income bands.

Two income families were about twice as likely to be making over $100k.

It's not possible to tell from this data how these families chose their income structure, but it certainly appears to be the case that single earning marriages are not an approach followed only by the affluent.

Friday, January 06, 2023

The Household Economy

It has been a busy fall, as my two-month absence from these pages might suggest. 

Directing my first stage play in many years was a wonderful experience, but it also left me behind in several other tracks of activity. And somehow the various tracks of life have been coming to resemble a rail yard around here.

Owning a 130 year old home means committing to a constant stream of home projects, large and small, as MrsDarwin recently mentioned.  I can report that the silverware drawer whose demise she described now has a handsome replacement:

And the leveling of the floor for the Great Bathroom Remodel is near completion.  (In a testament to the ability of old houses to settle, I'm having to level a floor which has height differences of up to 1.5 inches in the joists.)

Over at ThePillar, my latest data journalism project has involved applying quantitative text analysis techniques to the documents of the Synod on Synodality. I've been working through a series of pieces using correspondence analysis to examine the documents and the apparent connections (or lack thereof) between them.  What made this tricky was that I had never actually done correspondence analysis before this, I'd only read about it. ThePillar deserves a good deal of credit for being willing to give me the time to figure out new techniques which no one is currently applying to Catholic journalism.  (There are more installments coming shortly.)  I also did a quick piece on the increasingly advanced ages of popes at election and death through history.

And, of course, I needed to deal with the end of year press work. Since I deal with pricing, I end up fairly closely involved with the process of building the company budget, and that's a time consuming thing which comes at the end of the year.

The need to keep up with these various things, and the fact that work always has to trump the others in a crunch, has had me thinking lately about the part that work plays in our family's life. 

I have several friends who are deeply interested in the idea of work being more accommodating towards family life. Their proposals often focus around the kind of policies which make it easier for a family with two working parents to integrate the demands and parenting and working: longer post partem leave for both parents, taking sick days to care for sick children, more flexibility for working at home and working flexible hours so that parents can balance watching kids and doing work, etc.

I do not deny that these approaches help families in which all parents work. And as a manager, I am certainly always conscious of giving parents flexibility to deal with family things.

And yet, we have always pursued a different approach with our family.  Rather than seeking to both have jobs which are more compatible with raising children while working, we've made it a priority to have only one working parent.

In a sense, either way, this means taking some distance from the world in which so much of our value is seen as coming from working.  But the one approach involves both parents working, but doing so in a "work to live, not live to work" kind of fashion which makes more room for child rearing.  And the other involves having one parent step outside the working world entirely.  

Arguably, this means that we are even less trapped within the so called rat-race than those who are trying to pursue more flexible work schedules. But our tactics are the opposite.  Back when I started this blog, I was still working hourly, and at that time I always made sure to try to get overtime whenever I could.  Mour hours meant more dollars, and more dollars paid the bills while MrsDarwin stayed home.

I've been salaried for a long time now, but I have over the years pursued higher level work which at times requires travel or long hours because that has allowed me to take roles which pay more and thus grant our family what at this point is upper middle class affluence, even while unlike most of my coworkers we bring home one check not two (and have three times the number of kids.)

I don't have any issue with those who pursue the other strategy. But unfortunately from a policy point of view they can be somewhat opposed.  

In both cases, we want to spend less of our total family's time working on things outside the working economy.  When we cook and clean and teach the kids and reglaze the windows and re-tile the bathroom, we're doing things that we would otherwise have to pay someone a lot of money to do.  And when we write and put on theater, we're doing things which people do pay for to some degree, but which don't provide enough money to support people full time for the kind of work that we're doing.

However, our ability to have some spouse entirely outside the market economy is premised on my ability to make enough money to suppose the whole family off one paycheck.  If my job was broken into two jobs so that each person could get six months of parent leave after each child, and more vacation every year, and more flexible and shorter hours, the result would be that I wouldn't make as much money, and while perhaps now we could get by simply by living more modestly, at an early stage in our marriage that would probably have meant both of us having to work.  (And once you both work, the transition back to one income is notoriously hard.)

So I wish those who want more flexible jobs for family reasons well, but their desires are not my desires, and I hope they don't end up setting policy over me.