The Subsidizer’s Dilemma, or Squeezing the Sexual Marketplace From Both Ends

One of the major hammering points of conservative/libertarian thought over the years has been the psychologically necrotizing effects of subsidization on human productivity and innovation. While the mass effects of these policies are most impactful with regard to tariffs, tax policy and politically-interested grants, the psychological consequences and risks of subsidy are most starkly visible with regard to aid at the personal level, known colloquially as welfare.

The informal ward of the state has no personal incentive to better their situation, driven as they are into the pernicious cycle of dependency, and has no political incentive to change the system, because the status quo directly benefits them.

I’m not saying anybody is living large on welfare – they’re not, didn’t anybody see “Precious?” – but income subsidization removes one major bother from one’s life: day-to-day accountability to a boss and an organization. Stability is a huge incentive, one that can easily override the drive to better one’s station. It’s an ironic paradox that people will put up with a lot to get something that’s free, and it’s not always a conscious process; like wax dripping onto a rock, the molding of our psyches by incentives in fact taps into our very deepest hindbrain quarters, shaped as they are into efficiency by millions of years of mammalian evolution.

If they have a strong ambition or a need for autonomy, they might be driven to move up from statist dependency, but that’s a large mental hurdle to clear, and it gets higher the longer one is dependent. There’s also the matter of learned helplessness – as time goes by they find it progressively more difficult to get out of their quandary even if they want to or it becomes possible to do so. For an example, consider people in mediocre relationships; even though their situation is unrewarding, many stick with it because the change itself is too much bother.

Now, with that knowledge in hand, consider another angle of poverty. The so-called “working poor” consists of people whose labor is so fungible (i.e. unskilled and rote) that they have almost no microeconomic leverage against their employers or industries. Thus not only are their wages low, their negotiation power is at a minimum. Unionization is essentially a way of binding together all the workers’ interests into one contiguous block against the management, to prevent laborers from competing against each other and instead threatening management with a wholesale loss of labor output (i.e. a strike).

Don’t get me wrong on romanticizing the blue-collar worker – some of the trades are making big bank (I’m told plumbing and garbage collection are six-figure occupations) and there’s growing awareness of a crop of “white-collar poor” young adults, buried under massive student loan debt for a degree that got them in on the basement floor of a faceless, capricious organization.

In any case, those at the bottom of the employed ladder don’t lack the incentive to change – they are already putting in the dirty work yet not being particularly rewarded for it. What they really lack is the ability to influence either their station in life or the system at large; they are so far down the list in terms of productivity and wasta no one wants to listen to them.

So we have two exactly opposite scenarios, both of which contribute to an imperfect setup.

“The Innovator’s Dilemma,” a term coined by business scholar Clayton Christensen, is the phenomenon that a market leader with the customer share and capitalization to introduce a disruptive technology to a market is fundamentally disincentivized from doing so, due to the fact that they are successful doing it the old way, until it’s too late – when they get scooped by an upstart who has made the leading-brand product obsolete. So the innovator is either trying to change the modus operandi of people who have no proximal incentive to change, or he stakes out on his own in a disadvantaged position where he lacks capital and credibility and thus his idea may never be realized.

Thus the Subsidizer’s Dilemma, if I may adapt a phrase, is how to empower people to change their situation without further disincentivizing an already-empowered cohort who has no motivation to contribute as is.

THE SUBSIDIZER’S DILEMMA APPLIED TO THE ALPHA-OMEGA SPECTRUM

I recently happened to reframe this issue onto the sexual marketplace from a comment at a Manosphere blog – I can’t hope to recall the blog or the comment, apologies to whoever it was.

The small crop of alpha males have no incentive to change the marketplace or turn away from the benefits they receive – they can acquire with ease the sexual comforts of women while paying relatively little cost in commitment or relationship investment, and if and when they want to have a relationship they have many prospects to choose from which in and of itself forces suitresses to consciously increase their relationship fitness. There’s no reason for them to work for or support a marketplace reform that cramps their options or requires further investment on their part – the haphazard and disordered sexual marketplace is fine by them.

Meanwhile, the lower-beta crowd and below live through their sexual primes wholly uncomforted by the female sex – at the time when their sexual and psychological needs are at their most intense. They have no personal power (because they can’t get women) and they certainly have no political power (any agitation would immediately be dismissed as the whinings of an unattractive man that society should find his qualities more attractive).

Much hand-wringing (by both men and women) has occurred of late based on fears that the alpha-omega divide is growing more stark, with men differentiating early into implacable raconteurs and sexual basket cases. The fact that adult male virginity is more common than that of adult females seems to disturbingly support this hypothesis, however it’s all a matter of opinion as to whether this is due to increasingly-dysfunctional female sexual selection or an increasingly emasculated crop of men.

Now the Subsidizer’s Dilemma comes into effect. One method of addressing the imbalance is a re-valorization of beta-oriented males. This has produced predictable muffled snickers from the alpha male cohort, who again have no incentive to cooperate with a reform that takes away their catbird-seat power.

Another method along these lines is a tightening of courtship and commitment practices to reduce partner-swapping – to soften the overall volatility in the market by attaching costs to promiscuity and by ensuring men get some dividend returns on their commitment investment. However, this has produced opposition from women, who can’t bear the idea of being “trapped” in a relationship – when pressed on the topic they don’t seem to be very enthusiastic about the idea of commitment after all. Recall the ubiquitous Notebook-esque plot of “woman/man engaged/committed to to the wrong person.

On the other hand, one could give betas the ability to be more alpha and thus assume a position of market power. Theoretically, alphas also aren’t going to support this as it undercuts their market advantage, although in reality alphas probably don’t really care since part of being alpha is being irrationally confident that you can best other suitors, and another part of being alpha is understanding there are lots of prospects to mine – either way, extra competition is just a marginal bother.

This is the art of game, a key mission of this blog and many others, as attractive behaviors and lifestyles can be learned, practiced and improved. This has also produced gnashing of teeth from lots of women, threatened by the bogeyman of “fake” attraction and apoplectically anxious that a new class of alphas will rise who leave their comfort- and commitment-oriented traits behind in pursuit of sexual success. (This raises the question of why, if those traits are so desired by women, they are consistently punished in the sexual marketplace to the point those men seek semi-professional advice in the form of game.) In this instance, women are the management, uninterested in having their laborers unionize or raise their skill level to the point they can strengthen their negotiating position.

And many beta-type men will be unwilling to learn and implement decent game anyway, due to either lack of fundamental talent and efficacy or a hamster-driven rejection of the art as “fake” or “just for losers” (look in the mirror?)

CONCLUSION

Any talk of a macro response to the sexual imbalance (which itself might be a pipe dream anyway) needs to take the Subsidizer’s Dilemma into account. We can’t simply aim to take sexual power from one group and grant it to another without accounting for the non-cooperation of the former, and the inefficacy and learned helplessness of the latter.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Subsidizer’s Dilemma, or Squeezing the Sexual Marketplace From Both Ends

  1. wait, so you are saying essentially, “game” is threatening to women because it gives men more “bargaining power”?

    I’ve actually seen the same/similar argument used that feminists are against porn and prostitution not because they are “inherently degrading” so much that they weaken wives and girlfriends control over men. (And yes there are some feminists who claim to be for porn or legalized prostitution.)

    So why are MGTOW’s so hated?

  2. deti

    “This has also produced gnashing of teeth from lots of women, threatened by the bogeyman of “fake” attraction and apoplectically anxious that a new class of alphas will rise who leave their comfort- and commitment-oriented traits behind in pursuit of sexual success. (This raises the question of why, if those traits are so desired by women, they are consistently punished in the sexual marketplace to the point those men seek semi-professional advice in the form of game.)”

    This is the crux of the matter. I’m really becoming convinced that withholding commitment will be an ever stronger incentive for women as time marches on. The question is, incentive to do what? I don’t think it can be predicted whether it will incent women en masse to either (1) embrace once again the 60-years-ago world of assortative mating and marriage 1.0; or (2) continue in the same direction of alpha-chasing and delaying marriage ever later.

  3. Great post Badger. The Innovator’s delimma can be witnessed on both sides, with companies like Kodak being unwilling to adopt the new technology which starts by threatening their existing margins, and ends by destroying their business model. I’ve often thought that there should be a market in the US for grocery stores which allow you to order online and drive up and have your order placed right in your trunk. No need for expensive floor space, just an effcient warehouse and a website. But existing grocery stores have every reason not to adopt something so disruptive, so it won’t happen unless someone does it from scratch.

    I think any real change will be driven by two disruptions which we already see strong signs of. Game helps attractive men understand that they are currently flooding the serial moogamy market with “commitment” and investment. As more and more attractive men push the searching cots on to women and push for early sex as a sort fo “earnest money” and don’t feel constrained by illusions of commitment, the serial monogamy game won’t be as fun and rewarding for women. The other area is a prospective marriage strike, or at east something which has the same impact (large percentages of women who take marriage as a birthright find it to be an unobtainable goal). Add to this the slowly spreading understanding that serial monogamy is simply female promiscuity (sluthood) by another name and the equilibrium is going to change.

    Unfortunately for women, by the time this haappens it will most likely have the primary impact of locking large numbers of un(re)marriageable women into a treadmill of hookups until their SMP power evaporates altogether. For the remainder of women it would seem to stbalize marriage as the competing options and the lure of EPL fade.

    What is key here is neither of these changes require men to act against their immediate or long term interests nor does it require the majority of men to change. It only takes the most attractive (game aware) men acting more in their own self interest for this change to occur.

  4. Dalrock,

    Thanks for stopping by, I figured you’d like this one.

    “Game helps attractive men understand that they are currently flooding the serial moogamy market with “commitment” and investment.”

    Great insight, game not only teaches men to be more attractive, it teaches them to choose their customers wisely – in the same way that a high-status restaurant or clothing label touts not only its quality but its exclusivity. Being selective is itself kind of attractive so there’s some interplay between the two phenomena.

    “What is key here is neither of these changes require men to act against their immediate or long term interests nor does it require the majority of men to change.”

    Another brilliant point: neither of these changes appear as disruptive to the men executing them. They are simply acting out the best, most expedient options given the market conditions.

    Take film again as an example – once everybody had computers, digital cameras weren’t really all that disruptive on the user side. You took the photos like normal, then downloaded them to your PC. You could print photos with a home printer or just enjoy them onscreen. No longer fiddling with film canisters was an unalloyed win, as most amateur photographers weren’t developing in their basements.

    However, digital cameras were incredibly disruptive to the product chain of cameras: film manufacturers and development labs. Someone paid the price for customer convenience. Nobody feels sorry for them, as they made bad business decisions couched in the sentiment that their market advantage (somebody had to make film) would never disappear.

    Essentially, the (sparse) rise of game and the accelerating pace of our overstimulated, disconnected popular culture are making 20something serial monogamy more or less obsolete, by shifting the product space to something that is wholly more convenient for male interests at that age. The thing is, game and commitment avoidance doesn’t have to go mainstream to have a huge effect, it just has to work on the margins. Remember what I wrote in Spinster Math: you only need ~10% of men who would marry to sit out matrimony, and you double the number of unmarried women (possibly tripling the number of involuntarily unmarried women).

    http://badgerhut.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/spinster-math/

  5. “the serial monogamy game won’t be as fun and rewarding for women.”

    Forgot to note this. Yes, recently at HUS a subthread sprung up that to educated young adults, a “relationship” is really just “playing house” – a label that confers upon the young woman some social status (I have a BOYFRIEND!!)) and vague moral clearances to get sexual. Young horny men don’t get hopped up on morals and only care about the “girlfriend” label inasmuch as it gives a reliable sexual pipeline and predictable social comfort. With marriage overtly off the table among lots of young people (plenty of young women are saying “I’m not looking to get married at this stage in my life), these so-called relationships are really extended hookups with tacit guarantees of next-morning breakfast dates. To be fair, I also see a lot of YA relationships that are the mutual entanglements of lives we expect out of the concept of the LTR.

    Now as to serial monogamy being fun and rewarding – the SM game has always depended a bit on the man playing his part in the “commitment” script. As you’ve noted, a so-called LTR doesn’t really have a term or a commitment. It relies on cultural pressure and natural inertia to keep itself going. However if men shy away from the commitment label entirely, or begin treating these “commitments” as the temporary, walkawayable arrangements they actually are (and as women treat them), women aren’t going to be able to rely on that I-make-the-decision power they used to have in the short-term marketplace.

    It won’t be pretty. Check out how much crap I got from haters over a breakup I initiated:

    http://badgerhut.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/moving-on-and-when-to-do-it/

  6. jlw

    A small point, but for completeness sake, I’ll make it: In order to complete the application of this to the full spectrum of the alpha-omega range (and not just alpha-beta), I believe that it should be recognized that omegas and betas inhabit different worlds. Largely, betas have and can use tools to improve their situation w/r/t their attractiveness to women whereas omegas do not have and/or cannot/will not use these tools. Therefore, I advance the point that, in the instance of irrecoverable omegas, that palliative consideration of their situation be recognized.

    Like what? Embracing porn, video and board gaming, extended work and hobby hours, etc. The replacement of sexual experiences with other through masturbation. Technology allows these things, but social acceptance of these outlets lags.

  7. Höllenhund

    “And many beta-type men will be unwilling to learn and implement decent game anyway, due to either lack of fundamental talent and efficacy or a hamster-driven rejection of the art as “fake” or “just for losers” (look in the mirror?”

    I’ll have to disagree. The main reason is that they simply cannot be arsed to do so. I believe it’s really that simple. The necessary incentives are lacking. It’s too much work but has few rewards, because currently many women are so low-value in terms of overall attractiveness that they aren’t even desired for casual sex, let alone a relationship. I mean, PMAFT had posts about personal hygiene slowly disappearing among young women. Just how nasty and unappealing is that?

    It has become fashionable in the Manosphere to say that the reason why the great majority of betas don’t learn and implement Game is that they’re just a bunch of dumb, lazy slackers with a sense of entitlement. But I simply see no evidence of that. Motivating average betas to strive and work hard for something has always been a very easy job – after all, betas are normally hardworking, docile and they form the bedrock of all advanced societies. They always respond to incentives easily. Surely they would work hard to learn and implement Game if average women were, you know, worthy of being gamed in the first place – pretty, pleasant, committed etc. RIght?

  8. greenlander

    I’ve often thought that there should be a market in the US for grocery stores which allow you to order online and drive up and have your order placed right in your trunk. No need for expensive floor space, just an effcient warehouse and a website. But existing grocery stores have every reason not to adopt something so disruptive, so it won’t happen unless someone does it from scratch.

    Now that’s an IDEA! I would pay anything not to have to have face-to-face contact with the stupid proles I have to deal with at the supermarket.

  9. Hollenhund,

    Great to see you here. I agree and I disagree – Roissy made the point recently that the reward (i.e. the quality of woman) for the average beta has been in decline, and that this decline has motivated (or demotivated I guess) the male slide into dessicated betatude.

    In reality, it’s probably a lot of chicken and egg. As female quality declines, men are less motivated to pull themselves up towards the alpha side of the ladder, so fewer men are attractive, so women stop marketing themselves to men in the middle of the curve and become casual sex products for the top of the male market, which further demotivates relationship-oriented men.

    “It has become fashionable in the Manosphere to say that the reason why the great majority of betas don’t learn and implement Game is that they’re just a bunch of dumb, lazy slackers with a sense of entitlement.”

    I haven’t said this exactly, but I do see a LOT of men as hopelessly resistant – not because of laziness or entitlement, but because they’re so plugged into the femcentric perspective they can’t fathom the idea of a new way of thinking that actually improves their chances at the sex and/or relationship they want. They are fundamentally beta in that they are resistant to disruptive life changes. That kind of risk-taking and self-efficacy is just not in their nature.

  10. greenlander’s back too! I am still laughing over that Dalrock dustup you had last year with Kathy.

  11. I work in emergency medicine, and about half my shifts are in heavily subsidized areas. It’s not uncommon to see three generations of a family that have never produced anything or traded talent for money. Their “skill” lies in navigating/exploiting/enduring bureaucracy. Based on that experience, I have this hypothesis to offer:

    Getting something for nothing risks damaging the mind. Get too much for too long, and you’ll become as an alien.

    Reciprocity is a concept deeply rooted in our culture. Normal people pay for goods and services – exchange of value. Even a heartfelt “Thank You” for an act of charity is an exchange of sorts – you’ve expressed gratitude to someone, intending to make them feel good. You’ve traded goods/services for feelings – exchange of value.

    One can’t participate in that exchange when you’re on the dole. Dunbar’s Number renders the actual mechanics of survival incomprehensible, invisible, and ultimately unimportant.

    The second and third generation subsidizeurs are the toughest to deal with, usually. Their context, their reality, is not ours. We are so steeped in reciprocity we barely register it’s effects. The subsidizeurs have never fully experienced it, and were certainly never taught it. Sure, people sell them stuff and take their money, but they didn’t offer anything of value to get that money in the first place.

    Some of them seem to believe that they’re offering something by being in an area for a period of time – “Whatchu mean I can’t X. I been here six hours already!” Reciprocity by proximity?

    I often wonder about that when I interact with some of my patients. Some of them have no living relatives who’ve ever held a job. Generations of people just wait around until specific resources appear has replaced reciprocity.

    Meanwhile, they are surrounded by people who look like them, speak the same language, and do many of the same things, yet consume goods and services that are unavailable to the subsidizeur (overseas travel, property ownership, etc.). There is no line to wait in to receive those things, but waiting in line is how you get everything…head asplode!

    I used to think that subsidizeurs were laughing at me, knowingly taking advantage. Now, I wonder if we just have different, irreconcilable cultural assumptions.

    They still piss me off, though.

    Bah. Somebody with a better command of the language probably could say all that in three paragraphs.

  12. greenlander

    greenlander’s back too!

    Hey Badger, you’re running a great blog here. I read almost all your posts even though I don’t comment much. Real life is keeping me super busy. I’ve considered starting my own blog recently but I don’t know where I can find the time without dropping something else off my plate.

  13. P Ray

    The other thing about the subsidizer’s dilemma is that
    – it’s socially acceptable for women to go through a string of men for material comforts without reciprocation
    – it’s not socially acceptable for men to go through a string of women for physical comforts.

    (This ignores the fact that men are wasting their time with a woman who does not reciprocate, and that women also derive pleasure from getting physical).

    Which is where women like to use this elegant argument:
    “A real man would never stop me from expressing myself.”

    Ignoring the fact that women are terrified of losing the men they really want, and hence would never dare/need to “express themselves” in the way they advise their disrespected current lovers.

  14. Höllenhund

    If I’m not mistaken, Badger, the correct phrase is ‘feedback loop’. In other words, the male and female behaviors people like to complain about are self-reinforcing. Which probably happens to be the reason why the current situation is rather durable.

    ‘Chicken and egg’ means something different or so I’ve heard (English isn’t my first language). There’s no ‘chicken and egg problem’ here because it’s rather obvious how the current mess started: average women demanded economic independence en masse because they noticed that they can succeed. That’s where misandry originates: marriage 2.0 (to do away with women’s need to stay married and make the family home female-friendly), rape shield laws (to make the sexual marketplace female-friendly), sexual harassment laws and affirmative action (to make the workplace female-friendly). Some people have this idea that feminism is the work of a small, conspiring cabal of evildoers. BS. Feminism is driven by average women wanting to have their cake and eating it too. Simple as that.

    With respect to betas, well, I don’t want to sound snarky or anything, but…duh. Of course they avoid risk. That’s why they are betas. It’s exactly what defines them. And that’s why they are the builders of civilization and social order. What are you going to do about it? Tell them they have to purge themselves of their essence?

  15. Höllenhund

    Exactly, P Ray. It’s just one manifestation of societal gynocentrism, which one starts to notice everywhere after merely reading about it. If a man screws up anything while interacting with women, it’s his fault only, when it happens the other way around, it’s…men’s fault only. He shouldn’t have gotten involved with bar sluts of low self-esteem, he should have screened women better, he should have stayed in his league, he’s dishonest about his true intentions etc. It never stops and never will.

    The only thing mitigating this madness is that it’s largely confined to polite society, but even in other spheres you’re not supposed to question it openly. Women quietly agree, though, that those of them who want relationships only with ‘edgy’, ‘exciting’ etc. alpha cads and get pumped and dumped all the time as a result are losers, and men know that those of them who take out women on expensive dates and fail to have sex with them are losers as well. Then again, as I’ve said, you’re not supposed to openly admit this in polite society.

  16. P Ray

    Which is why women like to keep their relationships secret:
    – can’t be seen as a slut and
    – can’t be seen as a “loser who can’t keep a man” in the eyes of the “loser who can’t get laid”.
    which neatly proves the point: a woman who is only good for “getting laid” …
    should not be surprised that no man sticks around after. :)

  17. Pingback: Two years, two million hits, and a Ph.D in Red Pill Pharmacy | Dalrock

  18. Oh how do i love the Agenda, good ol’Canadian public TV, often times introducing a panel of women to discredit and disprove themselves until their hamsters are naked and seen by everyone

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