Upgrading the Life of Linda

We’ve all heard the mantra “Build Back Better” so beloved by our political leaders, including President Joe Biden, but what does it mean? At last we have an answer on the White House website, as encapsulated in “The Life of Linda”. Here I will go beyond the ridicule conservatives are offering, and offer suggestions for how we could easily give Linda a far finer life than anything “Build Back Better” contemplates.

Let’s go slide by slide, shall we? Here’s the first slide, showing Linda as a working mother-to-be. First of all, notice the curious juxtaposition of “heartland” factory work with her ethnicity, apparently supposed to be a Mexican or something similar.

Obviously whoever thought up this propaganda wanted to score diversity points while clinging to some imaginary concept of “middle America”. Now, I’m sure there are a few Latinas working in factories in or near Peoria, but nowadays such a situation would be much more common in the big sprawling metropolitan areas of Texas, or even North Carolina or Georgia. It gets even weirder when one remembers that all three of these states have large populations and are more electorally competitive than Illinois. If they had to pick a Midwestern area even metro Detroit, a big city sited in the big swing state of Michigan, would have made more sense. But no matter…

To my eyes she looks so miserable; the poor little girl has to slave away at a factory for $40,000 a year, which nowadays for a girl and a baby provides a lifestyle on the brink of poverty. I know this is supposed to be representative of the average working girl, and indeed it is, but it’s just so sad; apparently things are still hardscrabble in the brave new world of “Build Back Better”, but maybe Linda can hope for better for her son Leo, right? The future is looking brighter? They can move up? Ah, we’ll see about that.

Many conservatives have pointed out that at no point in this series is there even any mention of the baby’s father, let alone a husband for Linda, just like in the infamous “Life of Julia” series the Obama administration put out in 2012 (when our current President, Joe Biden, was Vice President…). But I think they’re missing the point. Notice that whether Leo has a father involved in his life or not is kept ambiguous, and there’s a good reason for this: about two out of five American children are born out of wedlock and/or don’t have a father involved in their upbringing.

A program that assumed its subjects have fathers and husbands doesn’t connect to the two-fifths of mothers and families who don’t have anything like that in their own lives. On the other hand, by keeping it ambiguous it has more universal appeal; single mothers can see themselves reflected in Linda, and not-so-single mothers can fill in the blanks with their imagination, since at no point in the series does it say Linda doesn’t have a husband.

I also notice that she works at a local manufacturing plant. Whatever happened to this infrastructure Biden is spending all these trillions on? For a multi-trillion-dollar program we should have a web of highways across the whole country that are wide enough to eliminate traffic congestion and good enough to let people drive over 200 mph on them. We should also have high-speed express trains that go at least that fast.

Radical deregulation of the car industry could slash car prices by three-quarters if basic economy cars costing $3000 in India is any indication; that brings the likes of the Hellcat within the affordable range for Linda. Alternatively the government could simply give her such a car free of charge; offset it with spending cuts elsewhere and the federal government could easily afford it! The fact the welfare state doesn’t provide free cars right now is weird when one thinks about it, considering how vital having a car is to participating in society, especially in a place like America.

Chicago is 130 miles away from Peoria as the crow flies; build direct routes and at 200 mph Linda could get there in 39 minutes. Maybe she could find a job that pays much better or has a lot more opportunity than anything in Peoria. Suddenly Indianapolis, St. Louis, and even Des Moines become viable commutes as well.

If we’re going to “Build Back Better” let’s start building this future! Already things are looking a lot better for Linda under my plan, but let’s check in with the next slide of the Linda that exists in Biden’s universe.

Now that Leo’s been born and is cradled in the arms of his mother…when she’s not busy slaving away in that crummy factory (more on that later) anyway…Linda is getting payments from the federal government to cover her essential costs like groceries, rent, and medicine. $300 a month should cover all that for a girl and her baby, right? Right?

Good god, when was the last time any of these people tried to raise a baby on $40,000 a year? 2001? Because that’s about the last time that amount of money would have made a big difference, and even that’s pushing it.

Oh well, at least the supply chain crisis has apparently ended, so we can look forward to that anyway. That’s our future under “Build Back Better”: the same old garbage a mother and baby had to deal with in 2019, only with the government pretending it’s doing more to help you.

More importantly, since Linda is a “working mother” who exactly is raising Leo during the presumably eight or more hours every day she’s away from home and unavailable to answer his cries and cradle him in her arms?

Oh, turns out it’s a bunch of strangers in some prison-like institution paid for by the federal government. Doesn’t this look like such a wholesome environment for a boy to be raised in every workday? I mean, it’s not like he needs his mother or his family with him, or any fresh air, natural light, outdoor play or exercise, exposure to nature, or even any bright vivid colors or natural materials in his living environment. Nah! Nobody needs nature or their family anymore, now that our well-credentialed bureaucrats have discovered the wonders of “high-quality child care”.

Seriously, it shows these people’s lack of imagination that even their vision of a “better future” consists of the same institutions as we have today, just with the evil rich people paying more to subsidize them. The people who work for Biden don’t even have enough imagination to envisage the children being cared for by their bureaucrats out in nature in fresh air and sunlight (which, incidentally, is far more hygenic than being inside with a bunch of other sick kids…).

Peoria has a moderate continental climate; it’s not like the kids will freeze to death or get sunstroke if they go outside or anything. There are woods in and around the city more than big enough for kids to roam in and discover new things in nature. Much of these woods line the banks of the Illinois River; the kids can sit and play on a hilltop and watch the boats pass by. If you wanted to get more creative you could site the daycare center itself on a boat, like a barge, and take the children up and down the river around the Peoria area, a slightly different route each day.

More importantly, hardly ever does anyone, even “conservatives”, ask the question: why should we pay for bureaucrats to take care of these kids when we could just pay for their own mothers to take care of them? Seriously. For all the protestations about how their daycare programs are going to be so “high-quality”, why even bother with them when care by one’s own mother and family is the highest quality care a child can have?

The motivation seems to be to effectively force mothers into the conventional workplace by making daycare centers the only viable financial option so as to achieve “equality”, but all these daycare programs do is reify patriarchy by echoing its devaluation of the role of the wife and mother in the household and in society, accepting the premise (even more vigorously than the old order did!) that the feminine sex role is inferior to the masculine sex role.

Our society’s concept of equality is to make women into men, not to grant women equality and rights as women. Only through the latter can radical and genuinely subversive change toward the liberation of women be achieved.

If we’re to aspire to “Build Back Better”, why can’t we aspire to a world where women who become mothers need not work outside the home, where the only job women have to worry their pretty little heads about is pleasuring their husbands and making babies? Being a wife and mother is a full-time job, and it’s long past time for the welfare state’s largess toward children and families to treat it accordingly.

How about this: let’s pay a one-time lump sum to mothers of $100,000 per birth, invested in a trust fund to help pay for the child’s expenses. That might sound like a crazily large amount of money, but it really isn’t; given that in 2019 there were 3.74 million births in the United States, the cost of giving $100,000 per birth would amount to $374 billion per year. Over the course of ten years that’s $3.74 trillion, roughly the same as the actually-existing “Build Back Better” plan!

With a $100,000 nest egg, I propose we allow Linda to borrow a certain percentage of its balance, perhaps 4% per year, as the safe withdrawal rate suggests is appropriate. In the first year she can draw $4000 from her line of credit, amounting to $333 per month, the amount adjusting with the value of the portfolio. Which over the decades will grow. A lot. Especially since under my plan trade and immigration have been freed and the vise of regulation no longer constricts American business.

Since $300 a month isn’t enough for a wife and mother to live on additional payments in the earlier years might be called for. Costs might be minimized, though, by letting new families homestead federal lands in the bush; homes can be 3D-printed for $10,000, a steal compared to living expenses in conventional cities. For that matter housing policy needs to be changed to deregulate construction and drastically up supply and crater home prices and rents; the infrastructure program opening up vast swaths of rural land to commuters will also help immensely with this. See; under my program we really are Building Back Better!

Back in the nightmare timeline of the actually-existing Build Back Better plan, we see Leo in 3 years, now progressing to the next level of institutionalization: “pre-kindergarten”. Which apparently consists of a quite Anglo-looking women usurping the maternal role in the lives of children of color, holding out a book for them to read; the Establishment are still spreading the gospel to the non-white savages after all these years. How charming.

Once again I’ll point out the wanting imagination of these people; once again it looks like exactly the same institutions we have today. They don’t even have enough imagination to give Linda the opportunity to enroll Leo in a forest kindergarten, or a language-immersion preschool. Want your kid to learn to speak Russian, Arabic, or Mandarin Chinese as he frolics through the woods? Too bad.

Meanwhile, under my plan Leo can play at the feet of his mother in fresh air and sunlight, as she gets a real income for contributing to her country by bearing a child and maintaining a household. Every so often she lies down under a tree with her son cradled on her lap, whips out her tablet computer, and sees how much her son’s trust fund has grown. It may well have already doubled since he was born.

But no such luck in Biden’s world. In Biden’s world Leo has to slave away at schools for nothing and Linda has to slave away at her factory job for $40,000 a year for the next fifteen years. By now Leo’s a man, and she sees him fulfill every mother’s dream for her child: going to…community college. Right…

I mean, what is this? One would hope he’d at least be able to go to a state university or some such. Not that everyone even wants to go there, mind you, but the slide makes it seem like community college is the only option his family can afford. Universities under “Build Back Better” are apparently only for elites; if you’re from a lower station you have to content yourself with the lowest tier of post-secondary education.

Where are the scholarships Leo can get that will give him tuition-free access to any state university of his choosing if he shows some real potential to excel in college? Like a high exam score or something? For that matter, what kind of opportunities did Leo get to pursue any special or exceptional talents he might have evinced in the fifteen years he spend in lower education?

In the Soviet Union if you had talent you had the chance to pursue it to the fullest at a specialized school free of charge, with your parents provided a job in that location so the whole family could relocate. That’s where all those top Olympic athletes, chess players, and ballerinas came from. Who will be the American sportsmen, scientists, and performing artists of tomorrow? How will America realize the potential of the legions of geniuses who are today blocked from succeeding by financial barriers?

Given that Biden said just yesterday that “Build Back Better” is critical to competing with the likes of China one would think giving specialized opportunities and training to the best people on the basis of merit regardless of class background would be a big piece of the program, yet in the brave new world of “Build Back Better” none of that exists.

Taking my “go full Soviet” hat off for a minute, it’s perhaps understandable that a whole system of specialized faculties aren’t being set up; after all, they are expensive. But mass acceleration doesn’t have that problem; allowing and encouraging people to skip as many grades as they can would actually save the government money. The K-12 curriculum is bloated out to at least double the length it needs to take. K-2 is really just daycare, and high school is superfluous; not just super-geniuses but also rather ordinary students actually do better in college if they enroll straight after eighth grade.

So seven out of the thirteen years could be eliminated easily, cutting costs in half. Hmm…maybe that could be used to fund the Soviet-style special schools system? Anyway, brighter students could progress even faster. Large numbers perform above grade level right now; given a more compressed curriculum that would likely still be the case, so instead of being college-ready at age 14 after 6 years of schooling they could be ready at 13 after 5 years or 12 after 4 years of instruction.

At age 12-14 most people could then go on to college and spend 4 years there, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in hand and heading out into the workforce at 16-18. But there’s no particular reason why college is needed to do most jobs. A basic education like people in my plan get at age 12-14 followed by induction as an apprentice to learn on the job would be more than sufficient.

So if Leo is a bright young thing and is interested in the field he could graduate at age 12 and start an apprenticeship as e.g. an investment banker. This is in fact what’s done in Switzerland right now…without any government money paying for it, albeit with apprentices starting out in the mid to late teens instead of pre-teens to early teens like in my plan.

That starts out Leo in the productive workforce earning decent money about a decade earlier than he could hope for now. Incidentally all these extra working years at a population level will go a long way toward making Social Security solvent; why add on extra working years in old age when most youths are able and willing to work if they’re given the chance?

Meanwhile, in Biden’s world Leo is now a few years older, having completed his community college training to become…a wind turbine technician. The same kind of work paying roughly the same kind of wage as his mother earned. You didn’t seriously expect your child to be able to move up in class under “Build Back Better” did you? Nope, we have to lower our expectations.

I assume Leo is about 20 years old here. In my world Leo now has a good-sized nest egg, anywhere between $127,000 and $938,000, most likely around $363,000, if his family invested his trust fund in an unleveraged broad US stock market index. Leo doesn’t have enough investments to provide the $40,000 a year living standard he’s accustomed to, but he’ll be there by middle age; for the nonce it serves as a good financial tailwind and safety net for him.

By the age of 20 Leo has already been working for quite a few years, and might have started a business doing something he loves. Or he might have been putting in honest days’ work at a more middling job, perhaps as an independent contractor who can choose his own hours and manner of working, to pay for his essential expenses, leaving his trust fund money available to fund his passions and hobbies, including meeting charming feminine company along the way.

Each little darling Leo brings home stokes Linda’s dream of becoming a grandmother, and by this point she may well already have a daughter-in-law and a grandchild. Leo is established in his career and path in life, after all, so why not become a husband and father if the right girl comes along? If she hasn’t, that’s no big deal; he’s only 20 and there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

If Linda invested his trust fund more aggressively, into a 3:1 leveraged US stock market index fund, by the age of 20 Leo has between $263,000 and $15 million, most likely around $2 million. Leo and by extension Linda have advanced their station in life, joining the leisure class. They don’t work for money anymore; their money works for them. No more jobs are needed, though with Leo being a restless young man and Linda being an empty nester they may fashion themselves new productive roles in life nevertheless.

Meanwhile, back in the nightmare timeline of Biden’s actually-existing “Build Back Better” plan, another few decades have passed, and Linda is starting to become more frail, presumably still slaving away for $40,000 a year in that Peorian factory, but taking solace in her son’s oh-so-lucrative job as a wind turbine technician.

They have no savings, no investments, no nothing, not even the opportunity to start a business, presumably because the vise of regulation has crippled the opportunities available to everyone who isn’t a well-connected corporate crony of the regime, but the swarthy proletarians like Linda and Leo can rest easy knowing the federal government has been so generous as to provide them with affordable hearing care when they get old and decrepit.

Well, that’s about the size of it. Do I pretend to have all the answers for Linda? Certainly not, but in just a couple days I made a bolder and braver attempt to upgrade the life of Linda than the combined brainpower of the Biden administration could manage, one that doesn’t even cost much different from the real “Build Back Better” plan!

My advice to the Biden administration: think bigger and at least try to use your imaginations! We don’t have to confine our dreams to intensification of the status quo of a regulated life under the supervision of a stultifying bureaucracy; we can chart a new and different course toward a better future.

The moral of this story? As a great orator once said, in politics as in life paint not with pale pastels, but with bold colors.

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