Miserable Liberals Accuse Happy Conservatives Of Wanting To Ruin Happiness
For whatever reason, a few of the liberal blogs have gotten all worked up about a fairly innocuous quote from Kay Hymowitz.
“Before [today], the fact is that primarily, a 20-year-old woman would have been a wife and a mother,” author Kay Hymowitz told the crowd of about 100 for the Manhattan Institute in New York City. Men would have been mowing lawns and changing the oil in their family sedans instead of playing video games and watching television. In previous decades, adults in their 20s and 30s were too busy with real life for such empty entertainment, Hymowitz says. “They didn’t live with roommates in Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Dupont Circle in D.C.
Is it controversial to note that people in their twenties are a lot less grown up and responsible than they used to be? Yes, it’s nice that so many Americans can waste their twenties clubbing and playing Madden — and I mean that. The fact that so many young Americans even have the option to do that shows we have an extremely prosperous society.
Of course, there’s also a price to be paid for that prosperity: Percentage wise, we have a lot of “adults” in this country who think like children because they’ve never been forced to grow up and deal with the real world the way Americans did in past generations.
Pointing this out apparently infuriates liberals, who in their ignorance, tend to confuse hedonism with happiness.
Matt Yglesias wrote a post on this called, “Conservative Opposition To Human Happiness.”
Hymowitz’s argument, essentially, is that not only has feminism opened up new doors of opportunity to women, but it’s helped contribute to the growth of a society in which young men are less crushed down with family and household obligations and are spending more time enjoying themselves. Except she means this as a bad thing! In both cases the conservative conceit seems to be that a decline in human suffering is a bad thing because it leads to a corresponding decline in admirable anti-suffering effort. John Holbo memorably dubbed this Donner Party Conservatism.
Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon wrote a post on this called, The War on Joy.
I think it’s important to remember that no matter how much huffing and puffing and rationalization goes on, a great deal of conservative ideology can be summed up as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy”. Or even just the fear that someone might just be having fun, at least without clearing it with the authorities first that they’re the right race and income level to feel pleasure.
…I often find myself wondering, and today more than most days, how things can get this bad. It seems to me that if wingnuts put a tenth of much effort as they do into resenting others into improving their own home and sex lives, they’d be too busy being happy and blissful to give a f*ck what anyone else is doing. It’s just basic logic, and I wonder why not just do the math and go for it.
This is intriguing on more than one level because studies consistently show that married people are happier than single people, religious people are happier than non-religious people, and conservatives are happier than liberals.
Put another way, the married, responsible 20 year olds are probably happier than the kids their age who drink themselves into a stupor every night and play Killzone until they fall asleep. And the religious people that lefties detest so much because they’re always coming up with ways to “ruin people’s good time?” They tend to be happier than the atheists who don’t have all those restrictive Commandments to worry about.
Additionally, Marcotte’s tired jabs about conservatives hating sex aren’t surprising coming from someone whose philosophy could be fairly summed up as screw everything that moves, follow that with an abortion, and accuse anyone who raises an eyebrow about it of “slut shaming.” However, it’s worth noting that if you had 100 random people who ideologically agree with Amanda Marcotte in one room and 100 random people who agree with Kay Hymowitz in another, the chances of the Marcotte room being happier than the Hymowitz room would statistically be pretty close to zero. So maybe, just maybe, it might make more sense to listen to people like Hymowitz than Matt Yglesias or Amanda Marcotte if you want “joy” or “happiness” in your life.
Hat tip to Memeorandum for the story.