The challenges of living in the Bay Area

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  • Most of the land available for residential development in California is zoned for single-family homes [1] -- lack of higher-density housing raises prices for everyone
  • Much of California is straining under its own success: We have too many people and too few places for them to live, offered at too-high prices, in too many areas touched-by-climate-change-related menaces, like wildfires, all too far from where people work [1]
  • It is normal in America to be "enduring some type of chronic illness, over-stressed and rushed, unrewarding job, little or no savings, greatly in debt, fat mortgage, two vehicles in the driveway with a 5 or 7-year loan on each, lots of gadgets and toys to keep you occupied, huge TV, little free time for yourself due to your career and a demanding spouse, weekends filled with church and/or senseless entertainment, and a bathroom cabinet heavily stacked with pharmaceutical" [2]
  • You were raised and molded in a distorted environment. Who you are today is a manifestation of the social arrangements you were accidentally and randomly born into [2]
  • the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane [2]
  • I was talking to a nice couple the other day who had a combined six-figure salary. They told me that they were unable to come up with a measly $1000 in cash to put down on a house they were trying to buy. This is the typical American today — rich and poor at the same time [2]
  • We’re all bogged down and life doesn't make sense to us because we’re living so far from our nature as humans [2]
  • in Finland, we are automatically covered, no matter what, by taxpayer-funded universal health care that equals the United States’ in quality (despite the misleading claims you hear to the contrary), all without piles of confusing paperwork or haggling over huge bills [3]
  • fabulous, highly professional and ethnically diverse public day-care center that amazes us with its enrichment activities and professionalism. The price? About $300 a month [3]
  • world’s best K-12 education systems at no cost to us, regardless of the neighborhood we live in. College would also be tuition free. If we have another child, we will automatically get paid parental leave, funded largely through taxes, for nearly a year, which can be shared between parents. Annual paid vacations here of four, five or even six weeks are also the norm [3]
  • when we mislabel what goes on in Nordic nations as socialism, we blind ourselves to what the Nordic region really is: a laboratory where capitalists invest in long-term stability and human flourishing while maintaining healthy profits [3]
  • Capitalists in the United States have taken a different path. They’ve slashed taxes, weakened government, crushed unions and privatized essential services in the pursuit of excess profits. All of this leaves workers painfully vulnerable to capitalism’s dynamic disruptions. Even well-positioned Americans now struggle under debilitating pressures, and a majority inhabit a treacherous Wild West where poverty, homelessness, medical bankruptcy, addiction and incarceration can be just a bit of bad luck away. Americans are told that this is freedom and that it is the most heroic way to live [3]
  • As we push our 2-year-old daughter in her stroller through the dismal, icy streets to her wonderful, affordable day-care center or to our friendly, professional and completely free pediatric health center, before heading to work in an innovative economy where a vast majority of people have a decent quality of life, the winter doesn’t matter one bit. It can actually make you happy [3]
  • We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor [4]
  • stable society can be built around nuclear families—so long as women are relegated to the household [4]
  • the sheltered family of the 1950s was supplanted by the stressed family of every decade since [4]
  • There are more American homes with pets than with kids [4]
  • Mom, Dad, and the kids are on their own, with a barrier around their island home [4]
  • Affluent people have the resources to effectively buy extended family, in order to shore themselves up. Think of all the child-rearing labor affluent parents now buy that used to be done by extended kin: babysitting, professional child care, tutoring, coaching, therapy, expensive after-school programs. (For that matter, think of how the affluent can hire therapists and life coaches for themselves, as replacement for kin or close friends.) These expensive tools and services not only support children’s development and help prepare them to compete in the meritocracy; by reducing stress and time commitments for parents, they preserve the amity of marriage [4]
  • People who don’t have prosperous careers have trouble building stable families, because of financial challenges and other stressors. The children in those families become more isolated and more traumatized [4]
  • American children are more likely to live in a single-parent household than children from any other country [4]
  • the period when the nuclear family flourished was not normal. It was a freakish historical moment [4]
  • many mothers who decide to raise their young children without extended family nearby find that they have chosen a lifestyle that is brutally hard and isolating. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that women still spend significantly more time on housework and child care than men do, according to recent data. Thus, the reality we see around us: stressed, tired mothers trying to balance work and parenting, and having to reschedule work when family life gets messy [4]
  • highly educated progressives may talk a tolerant game on family structure when speaking about society at large, but they have extremely strict expectations for their own families [4]
  • For many people, the era of the nuclear family has been a catastrophe. All forms of inequality are cruel, but family inequality may be the cruelest [4]
  • immigrated to America what most struck them when they arrived. Their answer is always a variation on a theme—the loneliness. It’s the empty suburban street in the middle of the day, maybe with a lone mother pushing a baby carriage on the sidewalk but nobody else around [4]
  • a chance to allow more adults and children to live and grow under the loving gaze of a dozen pairs of eyes, and be caught, when they fall, by a dozen pairs of arms [4]
  • one in five adults is unable to pay the current month’s bills in full [5]
  • Health-care costs are exorbitant, too: Americans pay roughly twice as much for insurance and medical services as do citizens of other wealthy countries, but they don’t have better outcomes [5]
  • families now commonly spend $15,000 to $26,000 a year to have someone watch their kid [5]

References:
1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/opinion/california-single-family-housing.html
2. https://medium.com/@erikrittenberry/the-american-life-is-killing-you-9e7e68135f4a
3. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/07/opinion/sunday/finland-socialism-capitalism.html
4. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/the-nuclear-family-was-a-mistake/605536/
5. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/great-affordability-crisis-breaking-america/606046/

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  • 14 days ago by vince