To the ABD fathers in Zion

March 20, 2007 | 215 comments
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Over the last several years, I’ve gotten to know a good number of Mormon men whose life goal is to land an academic job in order to provide for their family. A critical period in making that goal a reality involves moving from ABD status (all but dissertation) to a completed doctorate and a first job. Like I’ve mentioned before, it can involve a high degree of stress, even in good circumstances. The careers section of the Chronicle of Higher Education–which should be weekly required reading for every grad student–often discusses the difficulties of the two-body problem, when husband and wife are both seeking academic jobs. But what about the challenges of the four-, five-, or seven-body problem? What can being on the academic job market mean for your family?

Your parents. It probably means telling your parents and your wife’s parents that you are never, ever moving back to Utah. There aren’t enough academic jobs in the Wasatch corridor. I’ve known a few people who have managed it, but, like landing a job at BYU, it’s not a good idea to make plans around it. If living far from family is a serious problem for you or your wife, keep that plan B a little closer to the top drawer.

Your kids
. For a lot of people, grad school is a good time to have kids, in both the biological and the practical sense. The pay might not be great, but the schedule is flexible, and it often entails 5-7 years of residential stability, more than the parents have ever experienced in their married lives (and maybe more than they will have again for some time to come). About the time you finish your dissertation and start looking for an academic job, though, the oldest kid hits kindergarten and things start to get complicated. While you’re on the job market, it’s a good idea to count to, like, ten million before yelling at your kids, even if they need it. There will probably be many moments when you aren’t a good judge if they need it or not.

Your money. The wisest advice ever given to grad students is: stay out of debt. With the help of friends, relatives, garage sales, WIC, and Medicaid, small children do not have to be expensive to acquire or to provide for. Your Visa card might get you through tight moments, but it only replaces one type of stress with another. (WIC and Medicaid, on the other hand, contribute directly to your bottom line by covering expenses that you would otherwise end up covering out of your own pocket. If you qualify, sign up. Ignore the people who will tell you that accepting government aid is immoral. You have a family to support. Everything else is secondary.) Stay out of debt!

Your spouse
. Your wife has as much or more at stake in your job search as you do. She needs to know how things are going, and she needs to be part of making decisions. Finishing a dissertation is a difficult job with long hours. If your wife is dealing with the kids at home, she’s doing a difficult job that never ends. Be grateful for what she’s doing, and pull your weight around the house. If everything goes according to plan and you do land a job, those long hours might continue for some time. The first year in a new job seems to be difficult for everyone I know in any field, as they teach all-new courses at a new institution.

Your dissertation. Not actually a family member, but your family can be a big asset in finishing it. The LDS grad students I knew seemed to move through their programs at a good pace and stick with them to the end. I suspect a combination of a little extra life experience at the beginning of the program, and the need to support a family, helps inspire a lot of Mormon grad students to stay on task.

You haul?
A tenure-track job is a long-term goal. Until you get there, you may need to take your funding a year at a time, and in different places. There’s a chance you’ll be moving a lot. For interstate moves, the absolute best way to go is U-Pack. (You load your furniture into an ABF commercial freight trailer, and an experienced semi driver picks up the trailer and drops it off in front of your new home several days later for you to unload.) You will not get a discount by mentioning my name, but you will thank me when you’re not lost in the desert with a broken-down moving truck while your wife has to drive the car and handle all the kids by herself.

Your turn. How has launching a career in a competitive employment sector affected your family? What have you done to deal with uncertainty, frustration, or frequent moves?

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215 Responses to To the ABD fathers in Zion

  1. john f. on March 20, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Great post and sound advice. It makes me glad I relunctantly decided against going from my master’s to a Ph.D. six years ago and went to law school instead.

  2. Naismith on March 20, 2007 at 7:27 am

    I don’t know anyone who lands an academic job in order to provide for their family. There are many other far less stressful and more lucrative ways to provide for a family. So let’s be honest about it. You are landing an academic job because you have to do something, and this is what you like doing.

    Regarding parents, my husband’s parents moved out to be near us. It started as a part-year thing, and now they live 3 blocks away. Grandchildren are quite a lure.

    Exactly how does one “pull their weight” at home and finish a dissertation? An alternative approach would be to show much, much gratititude to the spouse that one is not doing enough at home, and to spend one’s time working dilligently and not getting distracted by conversations with grad students, sidetracked reading of neat articles that don’t help the dissertation along, etc. In our experience, there is a difference between being grateful and showing gratitude.

    You left out growing a beard. Every male grad student we know has grown a beard when they were looking for an academic job, because it makes them look more academic and less Mormony.

  3. john f. on March 20, 2007 at 7:55 am

    Yeah, you can’t or shouldn’t avoid putting on the mandatory uniform.

  4. Nate Oman on March 20, 2007 at 8:29 am

    When I first showed up at my job, people kept mistaking me for a student, including (depressingly enough) the dean of faculty! I keep the beard to try to look older!

  5. JR on March 20, 2007 at 9:29 am

    I\’ve increasingly seen young LDS couples accept government assistance (WIC, medicaid) to support their lifestyles. I don\’t feel this is fair to the rest of the country. Most people wait to have kids until they can afford to raise them on their own. I believe more women in the church should choose to develop their careers before having children at the public\’s expense. Why not wait until after graduate school to have children?

  6. Chad too on March 20, 2007 at 9:50 am

    And there it is. Look at it this way, Jonathan, you at least made it to 4 comments before the inevitable onslaught!

    Back to studying… T-minus 2 days to comps.

  7. njensen on March 20, 2007 at 9:56 am

    JR –
    I know that for my wife and I, when we got married, I was 22 and she was 27. She wanted children right then.

    So men, don’t marry older women more predisposed to want children right off the bat J/K

  8. blue gal on March 20, 2007 at 10:20 am

    I’d much rather see someone accept WIC or medicaid as a temporary thing (getting through school) than those women who keep having kids just to stay on the program (believe me it happens). In the long run the students will pay back far more in taxes than what little they used to get through school.

  9. Geoff B on March 20, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Oh brother. Jonathan, please count me as one person who feels comments like #5 are way, way out of line. When you have kids, how many you have, etc, is a decision for you and your wife (and, hopefully the Lord) and nobody else, especially anonymous posters on a blog. Sheesh.

  10. Ivan Wolfe on March 20, 2007 at 10:22 am

    I think the “your parents” section could be amended to “you’re never, ever moving back to your home state” (rather than just Utah). I’m from Alaska, and the jobs there in my field are few and only appear maybe once a decade. So, while there’s some chance of it, I have a better chance getting a job in Utah than Alaska. Not that that helps, what with my family being in Alaska and all. My wife is from Arizona, but we’ve already decided we don’t really want to live there. My wife does want to live in Alaska, mostly because she loves to fish and go clam digging.

    Back to writing my dissertation. I can tell you, one thing that has helped me start writing it is that my kids are starting to enter school, and it suddenly hit me I was still in school as my kids were starting it. Something clicked in my brain, so now I’m writing several pages a day (of course, most of those pages get tossed in the revision, as I tend to spill prose all over the page and then sort it all out later).

    As for waiting to have kids or not – JR, it’s a personal decision, and I am sick of people who have judged me and my wife for having children while still in school (there have been quite a few nasty “breeder” and “rabbit” comments from the childless couples in the ward). In our case, my wife decided having children before she turned 30 was best for her. You make your choices, and we’ll make ours. but as Jon said – family comes first. We make no apologies for using WIC, Medicaid and Food Stamps. Most of the other couples in our ward who have children use them as well.

  11. Costanza on March 20, 2007 at 10:30 am

    I actually had the opposite problem from Ivan. My wife has a good job and it worked out best for us for me to stay home with the kids while I was working on my dissertation. We got plenty of snide comments about paying closer attention to the Proclamation on the Family, following the prophets, etc. What irked me was that these people had chosen to take government aid, which was fine with me, yet they decided that their decision was somehow more righteous than mine and decided to share that with me. Lesson: it’s nobody’s damn business if you are on WIC or you have a “non-traditional” work/child care system. What works best for the individual family is what matters.

  12. Ivan Wolfe on March 20, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Lesson: it’s nobody’s damn business if you are on WIC or you have a “non-traditional” work/child care system. What works best for the individual family is what matters.

    Amen and hallelujah!

  13. Otto on March 20, 2007 at 10:46 am

    I don’t have any problem with anyone using WIC while in grad school, as I think it represents an investment in a well-educated society. Also, I think the academic community desperately needs the voice of people with families, otherwise academic enterprises can become too insular and untethered from society and from social responsibility. I also think it will be valuable for my older children to look back on our days of grad school poverty and be thankful for the kindnesses of others that helped us get through and for the blessings they’ve enjoyed since then. So I think it’s great to see dissertation writers with kids, even if it means those kids live on WIC cheese and bread. I think such an arrangement serves academia and society and families well, despite the challenges.

    What DOES bug me, however, is the many, many Mormons I’ve known who lived on WIC and Medicaid all though grad school, then, once they’re in the workplace and no longer in need of assistance, assume their seemingly assigned roles as far-right social conservatives and pontificate to no end about the evils of the welfare state and the slothfulness of those who rely on governmnet assistance. There have been at least a couple of these in every ward I’ve lived in.

  14. Russell Arben Fox on March 20, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Not surprisingly, the issue of grad students and working arrangements and childrearing and the Proclamation on the Family have come up on the Bloggernacle befor; see here and here. My take on the whole thing? The primary reason we get mixed up about what husbands and wives should or shouldn’t be doing to justify their choices during the non-economically productive years of graduate education all comes down to class.

  15. Jonathan Green on March 20, 2007 at 11:16 am

    Constanza, I should have added a section on the importance of being able to tell other people to go take a flying leap. Thank you for the reminder.

    Ivan, you’re right, it’s the home state most people will not move back to, or anywhere in the general vicinity. I’m glad the writing is going well, and don’t be afraid to dump pages. I tossed the first chapter I wrote and a couple more by the time I was done, sometimes even by my own choice.

    Ivan, Geoff, et al., yes, what I’m trying to say is that these are very personal decisions. It’s worth noting that some people won’t like the decisions you make, whatever you do, so you have to ignore everyone else and go with what brings the most happiness to your family.

    JR, 41.3% of all births in the US were paid for by Medicaid in 2002. Everyone’s doing it.

    Nate, the beard is a good idea. Unfortunately, Rose has vetoed it for me. Looks like I’ll stick to the coat and tie on the first day of class for now.

    Naismith, perhaps I should have phrased it as “pull your weight at home when you are at home, and don’t spend time away from home on frivolous things.”

  16. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Otto,

    it sounds to me like you are disagreeing with J. Green. Do you think that a person can’t morally accept help from Medicaid while opposing those programs? Or can’t oppose welfare programs generally?

  17. mlu on March 20, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Though I’m pretty distrustful of the welfare state, I like to see young people handle the temporary poverty of grad school with Medicaid and the like. It’s a good use of resources for all of us, given the current arrangements, including the bizarrely high cost of schooling.

    My feelings intensified during a year when I was not able to assist my own children with their college expenses nearly as much as I wanted to, while I was sending the feds a huge portion of my income in taxes.

    The system could be better, but using the system we have to get all the education you can seems fine with me–an overburdened taxpayer.

  18. Eugene V. Debs on March 20, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Jonathan–

    Forgive the academic striver who is further along in the quest for academic glory if he grows nostalgic (if you think it’s hard to tell your parents your tenure-track job is 1,000 miles away from Utah, try telling them that your second job is 2,000 miles away from Utah) for simpler times. My daughter kept me sane in grad school. A few examples:

    I was walking across Big Research U campus with my 4-month-old in a sling across my back and both arms full of books to read for my comprehensives. One of my professors (a semi-name-brand feminist within her special field) sees me and starts laughing uncontrollably. I hope I made her day.

    I was working on my diss and was interrupted by the bad behavior of my 18-month-old daughter. I started to discipline her and she looks up at me and yells “Daddy! Go disser your tation!”

    On the day I defended my diss, as I was walking around in a highly agitated state, my almost-three-year-old daughter hugged me and said “Daddy, you talk good. You’ll be fine.”

    When I decided to take the job in the small college town over the job in the big city, I told my almost-four-year-old daughter that we were not going to move to the place where they had apartment houses with swimming pools and playgrounds but to the place where there was nature for little girls to play in. She asked me if that was mommy’s idea. I demurred and she replied “stupid mommy!”

    Ok, back to climbing the academic ladder….

  19. Otto on March 20, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Adam,

    I think it is a little hypocritical to vocally oppose programs one relies on (or has unapologetically relied on in the past) for subsistence. If one says one is opposed to programs such as WIC on principle, it seems incongruous and disingenuous to turn around and use that program. Reminds me of the contractor that got busted for hiring illegal immigrants to build the fence to keep out illegal immigrants…

  20. cyril on March 20, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    “Your money. The wisest advice ever given to grad students is: stay out of debt. With the help of friends, relatives, garage sales, WIC, and Medicaid, small children do not have to be expensive to acquire or to provide for. Your Visa card might get you through tight moments, but it only replaces one type of stress with another. (WIC and Medicaid, on the other hand, contribute directly to your bottom line by covering expenses that you would otherwise end up covering out of your own pocket. If you qualify, sign up. Ignore the people who will tell you that accepting government aid is immoral. You have a family to support. Everything else is secondary.) Stay out of debt!”

    Wow! The unvarnished hypocrisy of this paragraph is breathtaking. Absolutely. Breathtaking. No wonder so many people hate us. We are double-talkers and double-walkers.

  21. Sam B on March 20, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Cyril,
    Huh?

  22. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Fair enough, Otto. On the whole, I think I disagree. Don’t think your illegals example is to the point.

  23. BBELL on March 20, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    regarding medicaid WIC etc for young LDS Spouses.

    Its imperative that young LDS couples with children provide both healthcare and food to their families “No matter what”.

    If you have to turn to the Gov for a couple of years while in college you will eventually be a taxpayer when school is over so its a good investment for the government to support young LDS families for a couple of years. In return they get lots of children (future taxpayers) and educated parents.

    I for one wish that BYU provided a better benefit package for the spouses and children of students. Like a Private WIC program. A $100 a semester increase would result in say 6MM in cash that could be used to provide a lot of bread and cheese. Our doctrine and cultural practices lead to lots of young students with families at a time in their life when they are less able to provide. I think BYU needs to step up to the plate in this manner.

    In the two wards that I have lived in post college I have witnessed informal charity systems that involve unsolicited and anonymous cash gifts to needy student families.

  24. Kaimi Wenger on March 20, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    I agree, Nate, without the beard you would surely look like a law student. So it’s a good thing that you keep it. With it, you look like a law student who has a beard. . .

  25. Nate Oman on March 20, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Kaimi: It doesn’t help that I have several students who are on second careers and are quite a bit older than I am, to say nothing of the LLM students who have been practicing law in Korea for a decade or so already.

  26. Stephen M (Ethesis) on March 20, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    “and this is what you like doing” — honestly, most academic job searches have always looked to me as a flight from responsibility, rather than an embrace of it.

  27. Stephen M (Ethesis) on March 20, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    It’s worth noting that some people won’t like the decisions you make, whatever you do, so you have to ignore everyone else and go with what brings the most happiness to your family.

    An important lesson to learn.

  28. gst on March 20, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    It’s worth noting that some people won’t like the decisions you make, whatever you do, so you have to ignore everyone else and go with what brings the most happiness to your family.

    Or, in the words of noted personal development expert Aleksey Vayner, “When people tell you that you won’t be able to achieve something, cross them out of your life, because they are directly interfering with your success.”

  29. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Sometimes people are right when they tell you won’t be able to achieve something.
    Lots of times it would be foolish to ignore everyone’s advice and do what you think will make your family happy.

  30. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I’m mildly opposed to taking WIC while in grad school, as I think of poverty in terms of lifetime income and earning potential in which case few grad students seem like the target group. I think the same benefits can be provided through loans, for which, actually, there is a decent reason to have government involvement owing to the problems inherent in loaning money without a good source of collateral.

    Of course, loans must be paid back, but if you are only willing to get an education on someone else’s dime, well that is pretty good evidence you are in the wrong spot. Even the Church’s aid program, the PEF, is purportedly a loan program (although, like the PEF of a century ago, default can be a real beast)

    So I think the irony Cyril referred to is in talking about the importance of staying out of debt… by using what some consider other people’s welfare money. And then the others argue that they’ll “pay it back” in taxes over the lifetime, which is certainly an argument and may be a reasonable one, but I’m not sure.

    Such are the difficulties of living in a welfare/police state :)

  31. gst on March 20, 2007 at 2:39 pm
  32. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Frank,

    I think the problem is in the drawing of the lines. When I was in school, I was aghast at people on WIC, etc. Of course, we didn’t think twice about loans, grants, subsidized housing, etc. So now that I look back on it, I wonder why the subsidized housing (heavily subsidized, I might add) was OK but WIC wouldn’t have been. . .

  33. Seth R. on March 20, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    By the way, it’s best to avoid student debt as much as you can as well. That may mean taking a local state college instead of one of those tier 1 schools you had your sights set on. It may also mean working at least during the summers and possibly during the fall and spring semesters as well.

    Keep in mind that student debt is generally not discargeable in bankruptcy either. There are exceptions for “hardship” cases. But those are almost impossible to get. It’s even worse than the criteria for qualifying for Social Security payments. Bankruptcy attorneys jokingly refer to the hardship exception to student loans as “the iron lung exception.” Because you basically have to be in an iron lung for the rest of your life to qualify. Not only that, but student loan collection agencies have some pretty nasty remedies at their disposal, not available to other creditors. For example, they may be able to garnish your income tax return, or social security checks.

    Nasty stuff, student debt.

    Professional students beware.

  34. BBELL on March 20, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Frank,

    Think about this for a second.

    A LDS grad or undergrad is married and starts having children with the aid of the FEDS. Now think of the age of the married LDS student couple who are having kids. 20’s, Often early 20’s. These types of LDS families that get married young and have children young will statistically have 1 or more child then the typical couple. The children born will enter the workforce earlier also then the typical married couples children. They are also in 2 parent families which is another benefit to society as a whole.

    So the government while supporting them for a couple of years gets more tax payers earlier than average. Everybody wins. The student couple gets thru school and get to practice their religion. In turn the student couple pays more in taxes then the average couple due to the education and provides many more future tax payers then average who even enter the workforce earlier then average in the generational cycle.

    For the record I was not on WIC in college.

  35. gst on March 20, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    In turn the student couple pays more in taxes then the average couple due to the education

    Is this true? It seems to me that many graduate students would earn more learning a trade like plumbing, but instead choose a high-status, low-income field like scholarship.

    For the record I was not on WIC in college.

    You say that almost as if there were some sort of stigma attached to accepting welfare!

  36. Kaimi Wenger on March 20, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Frank and other WIC doubters,

    But if we as church members believe that the family is important (Proclamation, etc), and that encouraging and supporting stay at home parents is also important (see thousands of talks on importance of stay at home parents), then isn’t subsidizing family exactly what the government should be doing with tax dollars?

  37. gst on March 20, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Kaimi, is the government subsidizing family or subsidizing the romantic career choice of a few?

  38. Kaimi Wenger on March 20, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Oman’s Law: You should not attempt to land an academic teaching job until you have developed a physical appearance that suggests you are older than at least 75% of your students.

    Violations of Oman’s law will result in uncomfortable conversations where the Dean runs into you on the elevator and cheerfully asks you which classes you’ll be taking this semester, and whether you have a job lined up for after graduation.

  39. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    bbell,

    The returns to graduate education just are not high enough to justify having the government pay for it on the basis of higher future taxes. And to the extent it justifies some government encouragement, low interest loans (like the PEF) are a much better approach, as they dissuade people who probably will not be earning more due to their education.

    As for the children paying taxes sooner, I am deeply skeptical that there is so much benefit that it is worth providing WIC simply on that financial basis. Remember that, on average, people consume as much taxes as they pay, so you are really relying on the grad parents producing children who are way better than average (amd so produce more taxes than they eat). And the only real benefits you get are based on how many people actually switch their behavior because of the WIC. But there will be tons more people who take the WIC, but don’t have children any sooner than they otherwise would have and so there is no future financial gain to be had from them.

    This part is for Kaimi too: And all of this is especially true given that we _already_ provide large subsidies to people to have children through the tax system, so it is not at all obvious that we societally benefit by adding more. We may well already have more than the socially optimal amount, especially since children incentives exacerbate the income tax distortions which also encourage stay at home parenting.

    Julie,

    If the housing is subsidized by the government then I feel the same way about it as the WIC. If it is provided by the University then it is part of the incentive package to attend, and so simply a form of comepnsation. As I said, loans are quite different, since they get repaid and there are good reasons to think that a completely private market provision will hit market failure. Some government intervention is plausibly a good response, and the repayment keeps people from treating it like free money.

    Grants are a little fuzzier, as they are ostensibly not welfare but an attempt to encourage the best to provide externalities (social benefits) through their education, but I still would be for scaling them back to ensure that the marginal recipient really is somebody we should be supporting because of all the societal good they do. I am doubtful the current marginal dollar for government grants is all that well used, given that there also exists private foundation money to fund those endeavors.

  40. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Frank, if you attend a state school, isn’t the line between the school and the gov’t a little blurred? Ultimately, our rent discount at UCDavis came out of the same pot that our state health insurance would have–if we had taken it. That said, I see your point. I guess I’m just trying to say that I’m very fuzzy about what is and is not justifiable now that I look back on it.

  41. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    “Remember that, on average, people consume as much taxes as they pay”

    Frank, is this really true? For public goods like national defense, extra people don’t make for extra expenses, right?

  42. BBELL on March 20, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Frank,

    Most LDS college students go into more lucrative fields then not. I am thinking more of all the MED, LAW, and business students. But even Professors make on average more then the average worker in the US.

    You are conflating everybody in the US on WIC with my specific example which was limited to LDS married couples in college.

  43. Jonathan Green on March 20, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Adam, other people might have a better idea what will make you richer, but I have to disagree that outside parties have better insight into what will make you happy. Although people can make spectacularly bad decisions about their own happiness, the results on average are far better than the alternative. Otherwise we wouldn’t entrust people with so much money to spend as they want, rather than as the Politburo thinks best.

    Frank, although I think WIC/Medicaid/etc. are great programs, my point is much smaller than that. Grad student families should not bear the burden of resolving the inequities in the American tax and benefit system before they make use of it. They didn’t invent the system. If the government decides that they’re entitled to free health insurance, tax breaks, and free cheese, I think they should take it now, and worry about redesigning the system later.

    In a way, it might even be better for people who want to dismantle WIC/Medicaid/etc. to spend some time living with them first, so they’ll know first-hand what those programs mean for the people who need them. I think it’s OK to say, as a former beneficiary, that we should replace Medicaid, if that’s what your experience teaches you.

    Besides, Frank, are you sure grad student families aren’t the target group? When congress passes laws to benefit the poor, do they typically try to prevent middle-class parents (who might have kids in grad school) from benefitting as well? Is your impression that most congressmen are burning with concern for their poorest constituents, as opposed to the middle class voters or upper class donors? Right. (That’s actually an important point about the politics of welfare: programs that benefit only the poor are politically unpopular and eventually are scaled back or canceled, while programs that benefit everybody end up so popular that they’re politically immortal. If you want a program that benefits the poor to continue, it has to benefit everybody, or else it will eventually be eliminated. The more middle-class people who experience Medicaid and WIC while in grad school, the more likely those programs will continue to serve the poor.)

  44. Russell Arben Fox on March 20, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    “The more middle-class people who experience Medicaid and WIC while in grad school, the more likely those programs will continue to serve the poor.”

    Which I suspect, Jonathan, is exactly why many people are annoyed at all these children of the middle-class taking advantage of systems supposedly designed for the poor: by putting themselves in the position of being a benefiary of the welfare state, they become more accepting of the welfare state. This is also why many people are annoyed at the fact that various exceptions allow the poor to get away with paying no income tax: the fewer taxes you have experience paying, the less likely it is you will be filled with a burning desire to cut taxes.

    For what it’s worth, Melissa and I came out of the graduate school experience with $36,000 in federal loans, which Melissa refers to as “the Mercedes we’ll never own.” Why did we not take advantage of available programs to lessen that load a little bit, in the midst of having two children? Several reasons, I suppose–the most important being, I think, that despite living hand-to-mouth much of that time, we never considered ourselves poor. Class consciousness, again.

  45. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    “Adam, other people might have a better idea what will make you richer, but I have to disagree that outside parties have better insight into what will make you happy. Although people can make spectacularly bad decisions about their own happiness, the results on average are far better than the alternative. Otherwise we wouldn’t entrust people with so much money to spend as they want, rather than as the Politburo thinks best.”

    I don’t want to get in a big squabble here. I think we might just be talking past each other. But I’ve had several experiences in my life where what I thought was best for me and my family was inferior to what other people thought. I believe that listening to advice and following it over your own opinion, if the advice comes from the right source, can be the right thing to do. This is a far cry from advocating a state-planned economy enforced via Gulag.

  46. z on March 20, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Why is this post written as if no women are trying to get academic jobs? Way to reinforce the stereotype of Mormon men as assuming women don\’t do intellectual work, and reducing women to their capacity as mothers. Why didn\’t you mention the problems of trying to accomodate a husband\’s career, or being married to someone unsupportive of women\’s academic endeavors? Please tell me this was an innocent mistake and you actually do think women PhD candidates exist and are worth discussing.

  47. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    I speculate that Jonathan Green may be a man writing from personal experience.

  48. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    z, I think you need to give him a little credit: he’s speaking from his own experience (which also happens to be the experience of the vast majority of ABD LDS: a father in school and a mother home with children). Give him bonus points for focusing on the needs of those SAHMs in the original post, and do realize that we’ve taken on women in academia at T & S on more than one occasion.

  49. z on March 20, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    It’s just no wonder people think Mormons are sexist, with posts like this that don’t even contemplate the possibility that a woman might have any job at all, let alone a job that is demanding or important to her. It’s like women don’t even exist except to be wives. I look forward to the post about women PhD candidates, which I’m sure will be soon forthcoming.

  50. z on March 20, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Julie, so what? I’d still give the post an F for gender issues. I think it’s really sad that you find passing mention of SAHMs worthy of ‘bonus points’– to me it’s the only thing that keeps this post from being egregiously offensive. Don’t women’s career issues deserve acknowledgement, even if those women are a minority? And just because someone’s a SAHM in the present doesn’t mean she doesn’t have career needs, in particular with regards to location. Like I said, it’s obvious why Mormon men are often considered sexist.

  51. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Julie,

    I agree that those are interesting questions and it depends on the particular details. But if the package I get from the state is comparable to the package from a private school, it sounds like a market outcome. If the package is better, then it sounds like a subsidy for education. There are reasonable arguments for some kind of education subsidy, but I don’t, personally, see that that is a great justification for dipping into money designed to alleviate poverty. Obviously, other people are welcome to their own opinion.

    Adam,

    That’s an excellent point. I think my claim is a reasonable enough approximation for the specific use I was putting it to because a huge chunk of government spending is not the sort of public goods that you are envisioning. Rather it is transfers from one person to another (SS, medicare, education, etc.) If public goods, pure and simple, were the public finance I still seriously doubt that _additional_ subsidies through the WIC to grad students represent a socially optimal way to deal with that. We already have a pretty extensive set of subsidies for bearing a child.

    bbell,

    I think I acknowledged that the sample was skewed in my comment before, but let me say it here that I completely agree that the sample is skewed. I just do not think that skewing is sufficient to change the result. And no, I am not talking about all WIC users, but rather the fact that many WIC users in grad school with children are not actually going to change their behavior because of the WIC. They will still go to grad school and they will still have children at the same time. The financial benefits are limited to those who change behavior.

    Put it this way, if _every_ _time_ I paid a grad student with WIC, that grad student bore a child one year earlier, and the child was guaranteed to be a millionaire, then your WIC payments might pay for themselves by transferring that child’s earnings one year into the future. If they make a milllion a year for 40 years, moving that up one year is probably worth about 4% (the risk free interest rate) which is 1.6 million clams. I then discount that by the 25 years in the future before those payments are made, so that is worth several lhundred thousand dollars. Say it is worth a million. Then I take my 30-40% or so in taxes and I get a net discounted benefit of maybe 400k. Then I subtract off the cost of their education (maybe 60k) and other government serivces. That is still certainly worth it. But most people do not change their child-bearing decision because of the WIC and most people don’t make a million dollars a year.

  52. Greg Call on March 20, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    z: here’s something to tide you over while you’re waiting for a better post: http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=2279

  53. z on March 20, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks, but the point is that I find this post objectionable in its failure to treat women as if their careers matter (or even exist), and that it’s a sad commentary on the state of gender equality in the Mormon community, first that women’s careers could be forgotten in this way and second that people think this post is relatively progressive. Where’s the advice for a man whose wife has a career? Apparently those men don’t exist either.

  54. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    JG:

    “If the government decides that they’re entitled to free health insurance, tax breaks, and free cheese, I think they should take it now, and worry about redesigning the system later.”

    Otto above assured me that such behavior represented the height of hypocrisy. Have you cleared your plan with him? As I said, I feel pretty mildly about this, but I am not sure you can get off so easily as you wish. Many people can claim that they have lower back pain (which is essentially unfalsifiable) entitling them to disability. Since the government will let them get disability, does it matter that they are not, in reality, disabled? Should they argue that legislators have not stopped them and, in fact, surely know that it is occurring? That seems unsatisfying. Similarly, are grad school students really the intended population or merely people who cannot be usefully distinguished from the target population? I am inclined to think that they are not the target population and if they are I think that it is silly to call something a poverty program so that you can give money to Stanford MBA students.

    RAF “Which I suspect, Jonathan, is exactly why many people are annoyed at all these children of the middle-class taking advantage of systems supposedly designed for the poor: by putting themselves in the position of being a benefiary of the welfare state, they become more accepting of the welfare state.”

    This is not true for me, and I am doubtful that it is true generally.

  55. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Frank M.,

    a grad student family can get WIC without lying. Someone without disabling lower back pain could not get disability without lying. I understand the point you are making, but lower back pain is probably not the best example.

  56. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Adam,

    OK, Let me clean up my example. My hypothesized individual _does_ have lower back pain and it does hurt when they work. They can work, but it hurts. They do not need to lie, but it is not clear to them morally that they really should live off of disability for the rest of their lives.

    z,

    The post on Mothers in Academia that Greg linked to was 4.5 screens long. You replied in 6 minutes. I don’t think you read it. This post is quite clearly labeled as a post to fathers. At T&S, we find it acceptable to have multiple posts on different angles. Those who wish to share other angles not mentioned in the post are free, and encouraged, to do so in the comments. But it would probably be more pleasant if they did so as an added insight rather than a recrimination.

  57. z on March 20, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I know it’s a post to fathers. I’m asking where is the advice to fathers whose wives work, or want to work? I’m a fast reader.

  58. gst on March 20, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Who are these women that allegedly want careers, and why haven’t I heard anything about them in the Mormon blogs? Someone get on this!

  59. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    “I’m asking where is the advice to fathers whose wives work, or want to work?”

    You can either dig through the archives for times when we’ve talked about that, or make some suggestions as to what you think good advice might be.

    Certainly Jonathan Green is not the man to tell you as his is not a dual income family. In fact, much of Jonathan’s advice is inapplicable to my field, because things vary by discipline, just as they do by family situation.

    “I’m a fast reader.”
    I bet you didn’t read the comments :)

  60. z on March 20, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Look, the problem is not that I need advice. The problem is that the original post treats women as if they exist only to be wives, and men as if they have no obligation to consider or accomodate their wives’ careers. Forgetting working women is inappropriate. It’s one more brick in the wall of cultural sexism. And the advice to men is incomplete without discussing the two-career problem.

  61. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    And why isn’t there advice for the father who has one wife at home and has to accommodate another wife’s career. Are polygamists potted meat?

  62. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    What about unmarried men? Are they to be treated as nothing but chaff?

  63. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    What about the African men who are too poor to go to grad school? Are they spit in God’s eyes?

  64. BBELL on March 20, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    What about Men whose wives simply do not want or need to work and enjoy following the prophet?

    What about their needs?

  65. Russell Arben Fox on March 20, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    “This is not true for me, and I am doubtful that it is true generally.”

    My apologies for the guilt by association, Frank. And I’ll take your word for it that it is not true generally. (It has been quite true, at least in the past, of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, however.)

  66. Ivan Wolfe on March 20, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    And what about same sex married couples in grad school? I submit this post is homophobic too.

    (not serious, just in case)

    methinks z is a troll, plain and simple.

  67. z on March 20, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    I’m not a troll. I just think it’s inappropriate and harmful to both women and men to perpetuate the inaccurate stereotype that women don’t have careers.

  68. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    And what about trolls? Everyone’s willing to talk about trolls when it comes to the internet and bridges, but mention grad school and crickets chirp.

  69. Alison Moore Smith on March 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I’d love to post on this. But my posts haven’t been “sticking” for the past two weeks.

  70. Alison Moore Smith on March 20, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Did I do something wrong?

  71. Jonathan Green on March 20, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Z, your concerns are not unimportant. That a given post does not address a particular set of concerns should not be taken as a comment on their perceived importance. I am, however, speaking to a particular situation that I saw as being prevalent, and which I suspect is prevalent among Mormon grad student families not just at the University of Illinois. Unfortunately, I can’t resolve all the issues surrounding men and women and careers in one bullet point, so I limited my remarks to people who have already found a preferred solution for themselves. Please adapt my suggestions to your personal situation, or ignore them as necessary.

    What should a husband in grad school do whose wife wants to pursue a career? Well, he should be grateful for the extra income flowing in, which should obviate all that discussion of WIC and Medicaid. People are welcome to share their experiences to complement my necessarily limited perspective.

    My wife and I did not hew entirely to the usual pattern, actually. For the first three years, she was working towards her MA. The last 18 months of that involved swapping the kid back and forth between classes. Grad school provides the flexibility for that kind of arrangement. Now she’s working on other projects, and she knows she has my full support for whatever it is she chooses to do.

    The wives of grad students I knew were well educated and intelligent, and certainly capable of pursuing careers or advanced degrees. Why didn’t more of them choose that route? Because they took stock of their goals, the costs and incentives of various choices, and chose those steps that they thought would bring them closer to attaining their goals. The husbands and wives I knew were capable adults making rational and informed decisions, not victims of some sort.

  72. Alison Moore Smith on March 20, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    I’d love to comment. But my posts don’t stick anymore. Did I do something wrong?

  73. z on March 20, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks a lot, Jonathan. But I still think you haven’t quite gotten what I’m trying to say. I’m objecting because your post presented the world as if women with careers didn’t exist. It would have been fine if you had acknowledged their existence and limited your post to families in which only the man has a career. But instead, despite your own personal history, you wrote as if no women have careers. Why did you do that? I’m genuinely curious. And it’s not calling anyone a victim to point out that this sort of thoughtless exclusion of working women is offensive and harmful.

  74. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Jonathan, were you bullied as a kid? Probably by money-hungry Jews, right? Yet you never mention that African-Americans in the Old South were denied educational opportunities and even lynched.

    Homophobe.

  75. Pete Bondat on March 20, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    I’d love to post on this topic, but suddenly, a couple of weeks ago, every WordPress blog on the planet cranks through my comments and then doesn’t post them. :(

    BTW, I’m not a first time commenter, but if I use my usual name, my post disappears into the ether. Any ideas?

  76. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Resolved:

    The next draft of J. Green’s post “To the ABD Fathers in Zion” should include the following amendment (in italics):

    “…Your wife has as much or more at stake in your job search as you do. She needs to know how things are going, and she needs to be part of making decisions. Certainly this should be obvious if you are both trying to find a job at the same time in the same place. If your wife is dealing with the kids at home, she’s doing a difficult job that never ends. Be grateful for what she’s doing, and pull your weight around the house…

  77. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Allison,

    I have no idea why akismet suddenly decided you were spam. we’ll try to watch for your comments (and let us know) so we can train the filter to love you again.

  78. q on March 20, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    I have a complaint about other recent T&S postings. Why does the post on Mormonism and War ignore the very real concerns of Unitarians and unicorn farmers? How dare Julie write about Revelation 11 as if Revelation 12 were not important?

    Why does this post not address the plight of Darfur? Are transfats not an issue for ABDs? You don’t warn me not to play in traffic–are you trying to kill me? What about the self esteem issues of sons of ABD fathers who aren’t doing well in kindergarten?

    Why isn’t this post all things to all people? Huh? Why why why whine ….

  79. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    I stubbed my toe, q, but you say nothing.

  80. Ivan Wolfe on March 20, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Adam –

    why were you favoring crickets? Other animals chirp, and I’m sure I heard a few bird whistles, cat meows and dog barks as well. I demand full rights for all animals making noise!

    (okay, now this is getting silly. Back to grading papers….)

  81. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    I speak for the silent and the voiceless, Ivan Wolfe.

  82. Kaimi Wenger on March 20, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Z,

    You’re right that a whole raft of issues do come up for women who are working or who otherwise don’t fit the stay-at-home model. Jonathan probably should have mentioned them a little more prominently, or discussed potential concerns a bit more broadly. Thanks for pointing out that omission.

    That said, I don’t think that Jonathan’s post merits the disdain you’re giving it. As a few folks have mentioned, it really _is_ one of many posts examining the question of school/family from different angles. If “to the fathers” is really the only post, then there’s a problem. If “to the fathers” (which discusses issues of ABD fathers and doesn’t focus on in-school wives) follows on “to the mothers,” I’m less concerned.

    Also, I don’t think that your valid points are served by your rhetoric. Jonathan absolutely does not write “as if women with careers didn’t exist” since his first paragraph explicitly mentioned the problem of “when husband and wife are both seeking academic jobs.” (However, he did only mention that possibility in passing, and he probably should have said more.)

    On a broader level, I’m always glad to see feminist comments from a reader. And I appreciate the point that you’ve made, that Jonathan’s post omitted some key information. However, I think that your method of presentation has not done anything to advance your point — and if anything, may have undercut it. Your first (and thus far, only) comments have all been highly confrontational, and in them you seem ready to immediately lump Jonathan and the blog into the pile of sexist Mormonism.

    Spend a little time on the blog. Many of us have differing views on the value or place of feminism, but most of us have thought about these issues; we’re all aware of the problems faced by women graduate students; as Greg noted, there have been prior posts on just that subject. (And we have feminist-leaning posts and guest posts with some frequency around here.)

    I’d like to continue to hear from you in the blog comments, because you seem to be intelligent and have insight and things to say, and because I always like to hear feminist perspectives. But if your only comments come in the form of “you’re all sexists, and this post sucks,” they’re not really going to contribute to the discussion, and ultimately you’re going to be written off as a troll. (Hence the sudden wave of lame jokes by my co-bloggers.) I’d really prefer to avoid that outcome, because I think that your concerns are valid, but that your current choice of presentation is badly undercutting your argument.

    So, you’re asked when the post on women grad students is going up. As Greg noted, we’ve already had a very good post by Rosalynde on that topic. I’d be happy to add to that discussion, but I don’t have the first-hand experience that would help me write a good post on the topic.

    Can you help? If you could write up a set of suggestions — concerns often faced by LDS women who either are or who are married to grad students (and who may be working) — it could be very helpful, and could generate some good discussion. I don’t know your own situation, but such a post might deal with single students, mothers, divorcees — all of the group, or perhaps just one slice.

    In any case, if you feel like pushing this discussion in that direction, please write up your suggested post and send it to me (kaimi at timesandseasons.org) . I can’t guarantee publication sight unseen and ahead of time (obviously), but if you write something up, I’ll try to put it into a post. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know by e-mail as well.

    Thanks!

  83. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Lame jokes? Those are the Pieta of trollmockin’.

    Besides, I think Z is really DKL.

  84. Dan on March 20, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t know where else to ask this question, but what happens to those of us whose wives are worth more than us? My position right now professionally will give me a job paying about $50k. My wife, because of her professional path, and experience, can get a job that pays around $120k. That kind of job, however is in New York City (where she has lived the past few years before we moved out to PA), and that would mean I need to find another job back in the city, a year after I just got my job. Do we move because her job possibilities offer her more? What about our daughter?

  85. gst on March 20, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    “What about our daughter?” I don’t know, how much does she make?

  86. gst on March 20, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Dan, if my wife could make more than twice what I do, I’d make her make it, and I’d stay home. Not with the kids, though–I’d hire someone to watch the kids and make sure they don’t bother me.

  87. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Dan, bloggers can’t answer that. You and your wife need to get on your knees and figure out what God wants for your family.

  88. Dan on March 20, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    gst,

    our daughter makes people smile. Does that count? :)

    Julie,

    Yeah, we are doing that. I’m asking others out there who might have similar experiences what their thoughts are. in the end, our decision will be made from our own communication, and prayer with God.

  89. Mathew on March 20, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    gst nails it in #37. Graduate school is, by and large, a luxury. There is no reason to subsidize someone whose luxury makes it difficult for them to feed their children. Get a job hippie! Or at least get a loan.

    Likewise, though I really enjoy rock climbing and think that if I devoted myself to rock climbing for the next five years I could earn a decent living teaching others to do it, it is immoral (yes, immoral) for me to pursue rock climbing and rely on others to pay for my child’s cheese.

  90. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Matthew, there is, I think, something to be said for the presence of Mormons in the academy–do you really think it would be a good idea to have no Mormon voices teaching the next generation, shaping research agendas, speaking as experts, etc.?

  91. Bob on March 20, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    Come on guys, taking the money is wrong. If this is the way the Church wanted you to raise a family and get an education, don’t you think a GA would have brought it up? Don’t you think , if it were a moneymaker, (and right) the Church would be footing the bill and taking about it? What would Jesus do?

  92. Mathew on March 20, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Julie,

    Do you really think Mormons would not be part of the academy if Mormon grad students stopped free loading? And more importantly, isn’t there also something to be said for Mormons in rock climbing?

  93. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    He would attack Iraq, Bob.

  94. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Mathew, we definitely need more Mormon rock climbers! And I’m not at all certain that there would be nearly as many LDS academics if they didn’t scrape together everything available to make it through grad school–based on the people I have known, they aren’t coming from the kind of families that can bankroll their children (and their child’s spouse and their 2-3 kids) for seven years. Again, I am not 100% clear on the morality of WIC, etc., but I also can’t quite condemn it given that we made it through school in subsidized housing, with grants, loans, and cush student jobs. Do you know UCD actually gave us free cable? Only time in my married life I’ve had cable . . .

  95. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Bob, can you produce any statements from GAs specifically authorizing the consumption of feta cheese? Because if not . . .

  96. Naismith on March 20, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Of course, the concern over Medicaid is only an issue in the USA.

    For those who live in a civilized country, like Canada or Australia, there is no problem, because there is universal health coverage.

    For those of you who are against Medicaid for children, are you going to also turn down Medicare when you turn 65 years old?

  97. Mathew on March 20, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    I’m pretty certain we would have plenty of LDS academics. We have plenty of LDS rock climbers. Because they love it. If the academy is a higher calling, let it be a higher calling and make the sacrifices attendant to such callings.

    Even if we did end up with fewer academics, it would not change the morality of a grad student relying on someone else to feed her child cheese so she could pursue a luxury item. Are you making the argument that grad school is not a luxury item because those who complete it have a hand in shaping young minds?

  98. Mathew on March 20, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    My 97 is addressed to Julie’s 94.

  99. Adam Greenwood on March 20, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    Of course, the concern over Medicaid is only an issue in the USA.

    Xenophobe Americans, not providing Medicaid to foreigners in other countries.

  100. Julie M. Smith on March 20, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Matthew, I’m making the argument that what might be a luxury for the individual (i.e., being an academic) is a significant good to the community (i.e., having Mormons in the academy) and that we should call off the dogs when it comes to being judgmental re our brothers and sisters who choose to use gov’t aid to ease their way into those positions.

  101. Mathew on March 20, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Julie,

    I think it is a good argument, but again you have ignored the rock climbers. If you are going to privilege the academy over the rest of the world, you should explicitly state that academics (and dentists apparently) are extra special members of the community. And then I would need to know, of course, why they are extra special–something more than just saying they are a “good” to the community. Otherwise I just can’t see why they get a pass for free loading.

  102. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    I agree with Julie that this is not worth getting in a tizzy over (tizzy being defined as Dan walking out when Bush comes on the radio : ) ). But if one is justifying one’s WIC use because “mormondom needs me as a shining beacon in the academy”, well, I think you are growing delusional. The Church probably already subsidized your undergraduate education. If you can’t foot the bill for your degree without WIC then you should, probably, do something else.

  103. Frank McIntyre on March 20, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Oh wait, I just agreed with Mathew. Dang.

  104. Sarah on March 20, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    The comments on this post had me laughing out loud. Good stuff…

    It\’s difficult to muster up much sympathy for middle-class and relatively privileged academics who choose to have children before they can afford to pay for them. They aren’t disadvantaged. They aren’t unhealthy and unable to work. They just feel it’s either too hard or too inconvenient to have to pay their own way through, so they feel o.k. about making taxpayers pick up the tab. Of course you qualify for the aid, most people who can’t be bothered to work will also qualify. That doesn’t make it a moral choice.

    My brother worked his way through grad school. His wife worked part-time. He felt that if he wanted additional education, he ought to pay for it, and ought to continue to provide for the children he’d chosen to bring into the world. Supposedly when you have children you are making a commitment to try to provide for them.

    I\’m not gonna get all excited about it, but it strikes me as a lazy and unfair way to get by, when both parents are able-bodied and doing exactly what they like. Seems quite spoiled and unethical. I can see how it\’s easy to rationalize though.

  105. Dan on March 20, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    tizzy being defined as Dan walking out when Bush comes on the radio :)

    Hey man, I resemble that remark!

  106. z on March 20, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    Thanks so much, Kaimi, but I’m not a Mormon so I really shouldn’t do a post. I just read a lot of Mormon blogs because I find it so mysterious. You’re one of my favorite writers on this one. I guess it was Jonathan’s gender-consciousness in the early part of the post that made the later part stand out as so objectionable.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think you’ve quite grasped one of my points: Advice to fathers that assumes mothers don’t have careers is poor advice, at least for any family that doesn’t follow the patriarchal model. And regardless of the content of the greater blog, any post that internally forgets that women have careers is inaccurate and perpetuates a pernicious stereotype of women and of Mormon men as sexist. I don’t see how other blog posts could mitigate the inadequacies of this one.

    Also, I feel that feminists are always being called to do the work of educating people, and I’m just sick of it. It’s time for men to figure it out and change their behavior, not for you to put the burden on me to educate them. It seems that educating and monitoring is just one more burden put on the subordinated class.

  107. gst on March 21, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Who put this burden on you? Your perceived burden to educate me weighs heavier on me than it does you, believe me.

  108. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 12:19 am

    z,

    “Nevertheless, I don’t think you’ve quite grasped one of my points…”

    I don’t think anybody here has the least doubt as to exactly what it is you are complaining about. You will surely not be surprised to discover that we are quite cognizant that this post does not cover every contingency. We just don’t draw from that the grave implications you do. Anyway, feel free to hang out all you want. But it would do us all a favor if you spent less time being aggrieved and more time saying interesting, non-cliche, things. You might eventually discover that we are not so mysterious after all (except for Mr. Greenwood, who is nothing if not mysterious).

    “Advice to fathers that assumes mothers don’t have careers is poor advice…”

    Ahem, raising children _is_ a career. It is, in the view of a fair number of Mormons, the closest mortal thing to being like God that we’ve got. One of the most oft-repeated phrases in Church, popularized by one of the prophets, is “no success in life can compensate for failure in the home” More mysterious Mormonism for you.

    “It seems that educating and monitoring is just one more burden put on the subordinated class.”

    I feel that way every time I go give an economics lecture. Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!

  109. Pete Bondat on March 21, 2007 at 2:04 am

    gst and Frank, as an oppressed, LDS, career-mother, I must object to your posts. My sides hurt and my mascara (carefully applied to appease my dominant husband) is running down my face.

    Alison aka Pete the banned

  110. Pete Bondat on March 21, 2007 at 2:06 am

    Oh, and if I ever become legitimized as a poster here again, I’ll share my bit about enduring the years until my husband was hooded.

  111. MikeInWeHo on March 21, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Wow, what a string of comments. Thanks, everybody, for reminding me why I am very, very happy that I didn’t go past my master’s degree in grad school…and why raising one child is enough for me….!

    I’m a bit envious of my friends who completed their PhDs and finally obtained cushy tenure-track jobs in major cities. It’s a great lifestyle, but very few will ever land that gig.

  112. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 3:10 am

    But, Frank, your arguments against grad students making use of WIC/Medicaid/etc. are based on the moral culpability and not the economic interests of the affected people. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s a well-known fact that you are an economist. My suggestion to grad students is to think about their situation in economic terms. And to ignore the moral reservations you mention.

  113. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 3:19 am

    Gst and others kindly remind us that some people do not regard academic careers as real work. Gst, since my specific advice to grad students on the job market is to ignore those voices, I’ve chosen two of your comments at random and deleted them. Thank you for assisting in this demonstration.

    Mathew, since I have spent significant parts of my life climbing and earning a Ph.D., I am quite confident that the two activities are not comparable in their value. If you climb, and if you have earned a Ph.D. or choose to spend the next several years earning one and then still hold the same opinion, I will respect your difference of opinion.

  114. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 3:49 am

    Z, if you’re unfamiliar with the basic context of the discussion, I can fill in some of the background. I addressed the original post to grad student men with wives who were not pursuing careers because that’s what 90% of the Mormon grad students I knew were doing. You’ll note from the preceding discussion that those people have to put up with antagonism towards their career and family choices and the economic measures that make attaining their aspirations possible. They shouldn’t be so casually dismissed as mere followers of the “patriarchal model.” The grad student wives I knew had made particular choices in order to pursue their idea of happiness, and they were engaged in the economic affairs of their families in a lot of interesting ways that I would have liked to hear more about, but that were not clear enough to me as an outsider that I could describe them in my post. I don’t see that choosing to focus talents and energies outside of the workplace is an illegitimate choice for them, and I don’t see that choosing to address the specifics of men in the situation I describe makes me a sexist.

  115. gst on March 21, 2007 at 4:57 am

    Look, I never said that it’s not real work. My only point is the one that I will some day make to the young men who will marry my daughters: If you are reviewing a draft of your career plan and see that it involves a period in which you know you will have to rely on government cheese to feed your children, go back to the damn drawing board.

  116. Ronan on March 21, 2007 at 5:04 am

    If I lived in England, I would make good use of John Fowles’ tax pounds and enjoy all the financial benefits Her Majesty’s government would give me as a poor student. Thanks, John! You’re doing good work. I would even dedicate my dissertation to you.

  117. john f. on March 21, 2007 at 6:14 am

    Thanks brutha (read in Desmond’s accent).

  118. Mark IV on March 21, 2007 at 7:57 am

    gst,

    If you are reviewing a draft of your career plan and see that it involves a period in which you know you will have to rely on government cheese to feed your children, go back to the damn drawing board.

    Would the same opprobrium extend to your son-in-law if he told you he planned to buy a house using an FHA loan, or start a business with an SBA loan? Yeah, they’re both called loans, but in either case, he would be accepting a govt. subsidy worth probably hundreds if not thousands of $$$ more than whatever food assistance he would get under WIC.

  119. Adam Greenwood on March 21, 2007 at 8:02 am

    I saw a patriarchal model once. She was hot.

  120. Russell Arben Fox on March 21, 2007 at 9:29 am

    “But, Frank, your arguments against grad students making use of WIC/Medicaid/etc. are based on the moral culpability and not the economic interests of the affected people. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s a well-known fact that you are an economist. My suggestion to grad students is to think about their situation in economic terms. And to ignore the moral reservations you mention.”

    Jonathan, hush! This is the sort of thinking we want to encourage in Frank, and all economists. Don’t be an enabler.

  121. Mathew on March 21, 2007 at 9:51 am

    “Mathew, since I have spent significant parts of my life climbing and earning a Ph.D., I am quite confident that the two activities are not comparable in their value. If you climb, and if you have earned a Ph.D. or choose to spend the next several years earning one and then still hold the same opinion, I will respect your difference of opinion.”

    Jonathan,

    You have made yourself perfectly clear in this post and in the thread and you have been very consistent: Grad students (hereafter known as “Very Special People”) should consider the dole only in economic terms and ignore any moral reservations. Additionally, I am not a Very Special Person and therefore, as you point out above, there is no reason for you to respect my difference of opinion. Have I got that right?

    Although you are of the mind that rock climbing and earning a Ph.D are not comparable in value, would you change your mind if Harvard started offering Ph.Ds in rock climbing? Is it the Ph.Dness that makes an activity valuable? Are some Ph.Ds more valuable (and I’m letting you define valuable here) than others? Are all Ph.Ds of such value that their pursuit justifies the choice to employ one’s labor in the pursuit thereof even when it means choosing to rely on the community provide one’s children with bread and cheese?

  122. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 9:53 am

    JG,

    Economics is perfectly capable of thinking about moral decisions as well as financial ones. That is why it is so dang cool!

    Ronan,

    Feel any lower back pain coming on? How about mental distress? A life of leisure could await you! Especially in Europe where I think about 7% of the population is on disability.

    Mark IV,

    I think I should clarify that my reasoning is not simplifiable to “one should never take money from the government”. There are many uses of government funds that are at least plausibly a good idea. My qualm is more along the lines of using poverty alleviation money when you are not, in a lifetime sense, poor.

    Adam,

    Was she in a burka?

  123. Mathew on March 21, 2007 at 10:02 am

    BTW,

    I think a good argument can be made that it is indeed the very Ph.Dness that makes an activity valuable. The professionalization of an activity may be all that separates plumbers from Russian lit profs, but the process of professionalization may bring benefits that can be argued to be serve the greater good. I think this is one of the ideas Louis Menand was interested in The Metaphysical Club.

  124. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 10:26 am

    That is OK all us deluded traditionalists kids and grandkids will be paying for Z’s Social Security and Medicare when she is retired. So she gets us both ways. She scorns our lifestyle and is supported by us when she retires.

    Also #73 to address a more serious question.

    “you wrote as if no women have careers. Why did you do that? I’m genuinely curious.”

    In the LDS family wards that I have lived in women with small children generally do not have careers. Usually they work prior to childbirth and if they return to work it is usually at some point after all the kids are in school. This is the culture that Jonathan comes from. “I addressed the original post to grad student men with wives who were not pursuing careers because that’s what 90% of the Mormon grad students I knew were doing.” From #114. Almost all of the young LDS families in grad school are on track for Dad to be the breadwinner and mom to be a stay at home Mom.

    In my subdivision here in TX there are three LDS women with advanced degrees who are stay at home moms. They have 4 kids each and it would not surprise me in the least to see additional children born

  125. Adam Greenwood on March 21, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Frank,

    Burka, petticoats, and a whalebone corset.

  126. Tom on March 21, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Some PhDs are deemed by our elected representatives to be more valuable than others. For example, the government puts a lot of money into the training of biomedical researchers.

  127. Naismith on March 21, 2007 at 10:40 am

    “My qualm is more along the lines of using poverty alleviation money when you are not, in a lifetime sense, poor.”

    Just to be clear, if one goes back and reads the debates at the time Medicare was started, it had to do with alleviating poverty. So why is money for the elderly okay, but money for children somehow immoral?

  128. Julie M. Smith on March 21, 2007 at 10:48 am

    ““My qualm is more along the lines of using poverty alleviation money when you are not, in a lifetime sense, poor.””

    Given that the whole point of 90s welfare reform was that people weren’t supposed to stay on it forever but rather use it as a temporary safety net, wouldn’t a grad student’s use of govt aid be appropriate?

  129. Katie P. on March 21, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Two points:

    1. I am uncomfortable with relying on Medicaid to pay for having children. I’m all for staying home with the kids, but if it isn’t within your means, taking money from those who do work in order to do it in not a choice I agree with. Having a child does not entitle someone to the fruits of someone else’s labor. I pay those taxes and then for my own health care besides. Maybe this is in an indictment of the health care system, but I resent paying for other people who are capable but choose not to work and then for myself on top of it. It isn’t okay.

    2. Thank you for this post, though. It helps to know that I am not alone in missing my fun and brilliant sweetheart who spends part of every day and the majority of his evenings in the library because that’s what he needs to do to complete his dissertation. We aren’t married and don’t live together, so I don’t see him generally on the days he goes to the library at night. I talk to him every day and I see him several times a week, and this post made me focus on the positive aspects of that.

  130. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Naismith,

    Medicare was then explicitly expanded to be a program for all elderly– which is why it has no maximum income requirements. Good or bad, the current purpose of Medicare is to be the medical insurance market for old people (and the disabled).

    Julie,

    When a welfare mom gets off welfare, she’s making, what, 10-20K? Thus she is, in a lifetime sense, poor. And we all know it. The reason she is poor is because she won’t work or can’t work or has very few skills and so gets a low wage. If it is because she won’t work, well there is not nearly as much sympathy for her. In general, the goal of poverty programs is as a safety net when bad things happen to people who have no safety net– i.e. to help those who make very low wages, typically because they are are extremely low-skilled

    When a grad student leaves WIC, their income jumps way up for the proffesional students, and quite a bit up for the phds. Thus the 5 years of self imposed poverty is swamped by years of median income or higher salary. And they know that this will be the case. Furthermore, their poverty is not due to some inability to earn a living or lack of skills. Rather it is due to a choice to take (or try to take) their compensation in terms of the non-wage benefits of being an academic. All of these factors suggest that they are not lifetime poor or low-skilled, and so perhaps not a proper recipient for govt. imposed giving.

    To the extent that they benefit society as a whole, then it makes sense to provide them with low interest loans, or in some cases even grants. And certainly in a phd program many students receive a stipend because they are an asset to the department. But none of that is predicated on welfare grounds of helping the unfortunate among us.

  131. gst on March 21, 2007 at 11:15 am

    If you qualify for government aid, it’s available, and you need it, then take it. I see no moral or ethical difficulty there. But to knowingly embark on a course that will require you to rest your children on the government’s meagre safety net is cutting it a bit thin. Surely not all academic career plans require this.

  132. Mathew on March 21, 2007 at 11:15 am

    To sum up Frank’s argument, grad students want to have their cheese and eat it too.

    (BTW Frank, I too find it disturbing to find myself almost entirely in agreement w/ you.)

  133. Mark IV on March 21, 2007 at 11:26 am

    My qualm is more along the lines of using poverty alleviation money when you are not, in a lifetime sense, poor.

    Frank, I think I understand the point you are making, but I just don’t think it make much sense in this context. It is safe to say that the set of grad students who are poor in a lifetime sense is very, very small. But we nonetheless realize they are temporarily poor, and consequently we subsidize their tuition, health insurance, housing, discount meals in the school cafeteria, etc. I don’t understand the objection to subsidizing other meals as well, through WIC.

  134. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 11:27 am

    GST,

    I would not be so sure that the grad students plan on using WIC and Medicaid when the journey starts. I could be wrong but its been my personal Exp that they turn to it as a last resort when they realize how poor they are about to be when the baby comes.

    I am still of the opinion that a couple of years on WIC is a small price for society to pay to support LDS grad students

  135. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Mark,

    I think, by and large, those are forms of compensation for services rendered. Good PhD students enhance grad programs, so departments compete for them by offering amenities and stipends. To the extent that those perks you mentioned are compensation it is like saying taking the WIC is okay because it is okay to earn a paycheck from the government.

  136. Mark IV on March 21, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Frank, I see you have already responded to some of my concerns in your comment 130. I was going to introduce an example with the phrase “Assume the following scenario” but I was afraid I might be mistaken for an econ prof and thought better of it.

  137. Mark IV on March 21, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Actually the subsidies I am thinking of are of the non-meritorious variety. Even a non-scholarship, non-stipend student pays for only a small portion of his education himself via tuition. The rest of the tab for his expenses (housing, insurance, meals, transportation) during his tenure at Big State U. are picked up by his fellow citizens who have jobs and pay taxes. So these are not forms of compensation and shouldn’t be thought as as earned, in any sense. They are handouts, pure and simple, amounting to tens of thousands of dollars per annum.

  138. gst on March 21, 2007 at 11:51 am

    “I am still of the opinion that a couple of years on WIC is a small price for society to pay to support LDS grad students”

    I like LDS grad students as much as the next guy, but why are we to assume that they are such a boon to society? One LDS grad student is worth how many self-sustaining LDS carpenters?

  139. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 11:56 am

    GST,

    I guess its just lots of exposure to them at Northwestern University on my part from my Chicago days. There is value being brought to the church and society as a whole by these married couples over their lifetimes

  140. Naismith on March 21, 2007 at 11:58 am

    “Medicare was then explicitly expanded to be a program for all elderly– which is why it has no maximum income requirements. Good or bad, the current purpose of Medicare is to be the medical insurance market for old people (and the disabled).”

    And the reason we don’t have Medicare for people of all ages is…what?

    In Massachussetts, where the universal health coverage that will be Mitt Romney’s legacy takes effect, going without health insurance because you can’t afford it (which is what grad students often do) will not be an option, and so grad student families at Harvard, UMass, etc. will be on Medicaid because they must have coverage.

  141. gst on March 21, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Well, the value of LDS Northwestern University grad students to society is self-evident, of course.

  142. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    gst,

    I knew you went there so I threw that out for you.

  143. gst on March 21, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for the love.

  144. Bob on March 21, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    You are right Julie, there is no connection on how you live your life and the statements of GAs. How you get your money, or from whom, is no concern of their’s. I note in 137 posts, no one claims to have been moved by the Spirit through prayer, or asked a Church leader, about taking the money. Is this a ‘don’t ask..don’t tell’ rule of of LDS Grads?

  145. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    “Even a non-scholarship, non-stipend student pays for only a small portion of his education himself via tuition. ”

    Are you talking about grad students or undergrads, because grads usually either pay money or provide some value. Regardless, I think it is an open question how socially efficient it is to subsidize higher education, but whether or not it is right to subsidize higher education I don’t see that as the purpose of the WIC– the purpose of which, according to the website, is:

    “to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, & children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.”

    To my mind, grad students are not “low income women” in a lifetime sense.

  146. Ivan Wolfe on March 21, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Hm. I’m apparently evil incarnate.

    Well, we’ll all have a good time in hell togehter. I’ll be there for using WIC and y’all will be there for judging me about that.

    As for Bob #144 – we did pray and fast about it long and hard, but given the tenor of the self-righteous judgemental comments, I decided no one would believe my anyway, since they already have their minds made up to condemn me and nearly every other LDS grad student family with kids I know.

  147. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Ivan,

    I’ve tried to make it pretty clear that I am not condemning anybody. I’m sorry if that fails to satisfy your desires for persecution!

  148. Ivan Wolfe on March 21, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Oh, I wasn’t talking about you Frank, don’t worry.

  149. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Gst, WIC came as a surprise. At a critical moment, the information I thought was important and tried to find to find out from my department, and the information my department thought was important and therefore told me about, were not the same things. Everything looked pretty good up until then.

    Mathew, I encourage everybody to consider government benefits in economic terms. Viewing government benefits or even tax breaks as shameful is a weird hangup prevalent among Americans that makes for lots of unnecessary acrimony and posturing. The European readers like Ronan are probably laughing their heads off. As for the value of a Ph.D., if you don’t climb, and if you don’t have a Ph.D., then you are correct that I don’t think you have a good understanding of the relative value of those two activities. Since I’ve done both, I would be very mystified if Harvard started offering a climbing Ph.D.

  150. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    I haven’t done much climbing, but I fail to attribute quite the elect status to academia that Jonathan does. Most papers are not read and do not matter. Most good ideas would be written by someone else if a caertain person did not write them. The societal benefits to the marginal professor are, to my mind, largely accounted for by the paycheck the professor receives and the amenities of their job.

    “Viewing government benefits or even tax breaks as shameful is a weird hangup prevalent among Americans that makes for lots of unnecessary acrimony and posturing.”

    Feel that back pain coming on, Jonathan?

    “The European readers like Ronan are probably laughing their heads off. ”

    Laughing all the way to a stagnant economy with 10% unemployment, 7% of the population on disability, and an expectation that the government should take care of you. Oh, and on the continent an academic system that is a comparative disaster.

  151. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    I would agree with Frank and say that the US aversion to public aid is generally a strength. (I still support WIC for Grad Students though but not after graduation and employment).

    I think the proof is in pudding. A look at the lack of economic, demographic, military, and spiritual vigor across the pond can be in large measure attributed to the heavy hand of government domination and the populations subservience to that domination. It essentially saps the will to survive and prosper. See multiple GA talks covering this very topic.

    Even government tax handouts to churches have not stemmed the tide away form Christianity.

  152. MikeInWeHo on March 21, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    re: “I am still of the opinion that a couple of years on WIC is a small price for society to pay to support LDS grad students.”

    Hi Bbell. Nice running into you as always.

    Personally, I think it’s fine for people to use WIC, etc, to help get through grad school. My leftie views lead me to support more government assistance for students and universal health insurance, anyway.

    There is deep irony when people who accept these programs turn out to be social conservatives later on, though, as seems to be the case with many LDS. Humans have a remarkable capacity to rationalize and find loopholes for themselves, that’s for sure. I do it all the time! : )

    What’s the difference between LDS grad students taking government handouts to support religiously-motivated premature fecundity, and FLDS members accessing the very same programs to support their religiously-motivated polygamous families?

  153. Mathew on March 21, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Ivan,

    If you are referring to me, let me assure you of two things: 1) Yes, I’m judging you. 2) The public square is the normal place to discuss whether an idea or practice is a good one. This necessarily involves making a judgment. A certain civility in the discourse is expected and participants should think twice before pointing to specific examples, especially when the specific example is one’s interlocutor, but strong opinions are welcome. If you hold yourself up as a specific example, you are inviting commentary on the general principle being discussed as it applies to you. To my knowledge these rules are not written down, but are fairly uniformly observed. I’ve heard they are a big part of graduate school.

  154. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Mike,

    I am trying to close deals here buddy. In california no less. You and I can get going on this stuff.

    I think the distinction between LDS grad students and the FLDS is this.

    The LDS Grad student on WIC usually does not set out trying to get on WIC when embarking on academic career. It just kind of happens due to circumstances and the reliance on WIC is short lived. I know as many LDS grad students who did not take WIC as I know those who did. Usually those who did not end up on WIC had either wealthy parents or were willing to shoulder larger student debt or managed to find another source of income. The grad student graduates gets a job and starts providing for themselves for the next 30-45 years.

    The opposite is usually the case with the FLDS. They set out knowing that all of their relatives are on various forms of public assistance and they tend to stay on them forever. There is also a tendency to defraud the welfare programs. You see this in the prosecutions of FLDS members.

    So its about the intentions and the duration of the aid.

  155. Kaimi Wenger on March 21, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Bob,

    So which of the two did you do? Did you pray before submitting your blog comment, or did you discuss it with your church leaders? Cause I never can decide which is the best way to have my own decisions made.

    And another thing: I tried to call my Bishop this morning to ask whether I should wear the brown socks or the blue socks, but I just got the answering machine. What’s a guy to do?

  156. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    I may as well point out that I’m not mounting a traditionalist defense of the traditional family roles, but rather suggesting that a reasonable approximation of traditional roles makes economic sense and fits the personal preferences of some people. I know people for whom it doesn’t make economic sense, and I know plenty of people with other preferences, and they certainly don’t require my approval to pursue their own priorities.

    Frank, I’m sure you’ve seen this before, but the incentive curves for people earning around $20,000 a year (which includes a good number of grad students) are shaped very oddly. Depending on family size and a lot of other things, you can nearly double your income and be no better off at the end of the day, once you figure in loss of benefits. WIC isn’t a huge benefit, but Medicaid definitely is, and child care for a small child or two or three is expensive. Add it all up, and adding a second income to our family finances would not have made sense at the time, unless it was considerably higher than anything likely to be forthcoming in the local market. This is not to contradict anything you’ve written, just to suggest something else to take into account in redesigning the American welfare state.

  157. Kaimi Wenger on March 21, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    gst,

    I like your logic, but you’re clearly not going far enough. After all, what if someone’s children (who they selfishly have while they’re in grad school) grow up to become college students who take out lots of Pell grants, and subsidized loans themselves.

    Clearly, child-bearing must wait until (a) the parent is able to support the child out of pocket, and (b) the parent has saved enough funds for the child’s college tuition.

    Also, the parent should have saved enough funds for the child’s eventual nursing-home care, should that become necessary.

    And finally, child-bearing should be postponed until the parent has sufficient cash to pave private roads to and from the child’s place of residence. Otherwise, the child will become a burden on the public, through the use of public roads.

    And of course, we should suggest that these points be incorporated in Proclamation Two: The Sequel, so that they become quasi-doctrinal. Who’s with me?

  158. Seth R. on March 21, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Having kids is like buying a dog.

    It’s never a “convenient” time.

  159. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Sweden. 4.2% GDP growth. But that’s besides the point…

    Frank, the point of this exercise is not and has never been about romanticizing academia. The point is for grad students about to finish their programs to take a good hard look at what they will need to do to get what they want. (And there’s a place, too, for looking to some other branch of industry for a job, but that’s an entirely different matter than the one under discussion now.)

    You don’t climb? Why not? BYU is one of the best-situated universities in the US for climbing. The diversity of climbing available in Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, American Fork, and Rock Canyon is amazing, and that’s just what there was when I was there in the 90s. Find someone safe and experienced to show you what it’s all about (ugh, that comes out sounding so wrong), and then report back on whether you contribute more to society as a teacher or a climber.

  160. Ronan on March 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Frank,
    The British economy is doing pretty well, thankee sai. Don’t believe all the ridiculous anti-European stink that you read. France is not Europe.

    I have to say that this thread is the bizarrest response to a very benign and eminently sensible post I have read in some time. Jonathan, you have my full support, sir. Your advice was spot-on.

  161. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 2:33 pm
  162. Mathew on March 21, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Jonathan,

    Will a J.D. do? Or is the “ick” factor still too high to give credence to my opinions? Can three years of graduate education, albeit in a professional school, provide any insight into the what it means to be a Ph.D student? :)

    Not really on topic, but having had the chance to observe Harvard up close for a number of years I can assure you that if the rock climbing lobby would get serious about getting the respect it deserves, it could get itself a Ph.D program within 30 years. The path is well-trod: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/fashion/26fat.html?ex=1322197200&en=3f0b85a6db5b71a8&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

  163. gst on March 21, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Kaimi (#157): “Clearly, child-bearing must wait until the parent is able to support the child out of pocket”

    I can’t tell if you’re being facetious on this point because it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Stated another way, have your kids when you will, but you should choose a career that allows you to support them out of pocket, if possible.

    I don’t state it as doctrine, a moral imperative, or a requisite for good citizenship. Just as generally sound advice that I would give my kids. However, I will note that according to the first Proclamation on the Family, parents are already accountable to God for the discharge of their duty to provide for the physical needs of their children, so I don’t think a second proclamation is necessary.

  164. Frank McIntyre on March 21, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    JG,

    “Sweden. 4.2% GDP growth. But that’s besides the point…”

    Just think what they could do if more of them worked! Bosnia had 20% economic growth! Obviously we could also pull out examples of countries in Europe with morose economic performance. But hopefully the point came through that it is deeply ineffective to tell an American that such and such an idea is bad because “the Europeans are laughing at us”.

    (We’re way better than the Europeans :) )

    I’ve actually written papers on the disincentive effects of welfare programs around $15,000. They’re huge for single mothers. I agree completely that that is a big problem with means-tested welfare. One nice feature of the 2001 Bush tax cuts was to push the tax bracket out and create a 10% bracket to lower the disincentive at lower incomes. Another option is to tie the EITC to hours instead of dollars, so that you can have it cut out at full time instead of before.

  165. Bob on March 21, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I respect Julie,Ivan, and Kaimi, so I will stop my posting. But both #146 & #155 can’t be right (?)

  166. mfranti on March 21, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    does the avoidance of “government cheese” apply to single mothers working on a degree?

    if it does, I am going to burn!

  167. Seth R. on March 21, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    When my dad was courting my mother, he one day decided to purchase for her a 30 pound block of processed cheese. Since mom was out of the apartment, he left said block of cheese on her doorstep. Later mom wondered out loud what screwball had left a 30 pound block of processed cheese on her doorstep and what exactly they were trying to tell her.

    Dad never did fess-up to the deed until years after the marriage.

    Oh yeah, he also kicked her in the chest during karate class.

  168. mfranti on March 21, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    seth,

    are you picking on me?

  169. Seth R. on March 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    If I am, you’re not alone.

    Everyone around here seems to be in a slightly odd mood today.

    I blame Adam.

  170. Jonathan Green on March 21, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    It suddenly occurs to me that I don’t know what the terminal degree is for people who teach in PE teacher training programs, or rec management programs, and where one would get such a degree, and I’m scared to find out.

  171. Ivan Wolfe on March 21, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    You should be scared Jon. It’s all tied up in the Illuminati, the Templars and the like. If you try to find out, we’ll never hear from you again.

    I blame Adam too.

  172. MikeInWeHo on March 21, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    re: 154 I actually agree with you Bbell. Mostly I was just trying to stir the pot a bit with my first comment about the FLDS. Of course there’s a huge difference between the two. Watch out for all those weirdos while you’re here in Cali ! You ain’t in Texas!

    Bloggernacle euro-bashing is so tedious. It’s pointless to make these broad comparisons when the regional differences are so huge. Go to Sweden, check out their economy and quality of life….then visit Michigan for a while. Anybody who has traveled much and is reasonably honest with themselves should reject American triumphalism. Hey, as an employed professional I’d rather live in SoCal than anywhere else in the world. But I’d rather live in much of Europe than, say, many rust-belt areas of the U.S. In a global economy, it’s all about the regions. Averages are very misleading.

  173. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Mike, I have seen the regional data….

    My first link is very interesting. At the end it takes a European country and compares it to each of the 50 states and then ranks it. Most European countries in terms of economics compare with say Mississippi or Arkansas. Even the UK would be the 5th poorest US state if GDP is your measuring stick.

    Rust belt states like Ohio or Michigan compare very well on the scale. Its the poorer Southern states that do not stack up well.

  174. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Mike,

    I just checked the Data again. Michigan has a much higher GDP then Sweden.

  175. Wilfried on March 21, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Good sense tells me to stay out of this discussion… (I’ve been laughing too, Ronan). OK, I’m not an economist, but I think matters are a little more complicated than simple comparisons suggests. There is also the dynamic relation between the two entities on each side of the Atlantic…

    E.g. “by the end of 2003, EU15 [15 core European countries] direct investment in the US amounted to USD 855.669 billion, or 62.1 percent of total foreign direct investment in the US… An estimated 3.3 million US jobs were supported by EU15 investment in the US in 2002.” http://www.eurunion.org/partner/usstates/usstates.htm

    I’ve read somewhere that Americans can live in so much debt thanks to the massive savings non-Americans put in US-banks. But that is probably another simplistic concept.

    Indeed, “Bloggernacle euro-bashing is so tedious.” And now I’m going into hiding.

  176. BBELL on March 21, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Wilfried,

    Then we can talk about WW2, Marshall plan, and the 50 years of US defense spending to protect the West.

    I think per Capita GDP numbers support a low tax low welfare state economic system

  177. Seth R. on March 21, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Well bbell,

    This rising tide ain’t been raising all ships.

    Can any real people expect to share in a bit of this GDP you’re talking about anytime soon?

  178. MikeInWeHo on March 21, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I don’t question your numbers at all, bbell. What I’m questioning is their implication vis-a-vis overall quality of life, which is almost impossible to define much less debate. Who really has it better off, the people in Michigan or Sweden? It’s an interesting question to mull over, given how many Midwesterners descend from Scandinavians….but that’s definitely for another string.

    “I think per Capita GDP numbers support a low tax low welfare state economic system…,” except for noble WIC-dipping, PELL-grant accepting grad students, apparently !

  179. Ivan Wolfe on March 22, 2007 at 10:26 am

    xcept for noble WIC-dipping, PELL-grant accepting grad students, apparently !

    Except that Pell grants are generally available only to undergrads, not graduate students.

    Oh, well.

  180. Frank McIntyre on March 22, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Wilfired,

    “Good sense tells me to stay out of this discussion…”

    and yet, you just couldn’t resist!

  181. MikeInWeHo on March 22, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Oh, well, indeed. I stand corrected.

  182. Jordan F. on March 22, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    I had a sweet deal in graduate school that carried over into law school. It involved a teaching position in the University of Michigan German Department. Basically, I taught undergraduate German classes (one per semester), and in return I got my full tuition paid, full health insurance premiums paid, and a living stipend each month which allowed my wife and I to have three children, with my wife being able to choose to be a stay-at-home mom throughout my graduate education. This sweet deal continued when I decided to discontinue my Ph.D. program and enroll in law school- the German department continued to provide all these benefits, including paying my full law school tuition each year.

    Yet there were many who condemned this sweet deal. Why would they do that?!? It was because the deal I, and many other graduate students, enjoyed was the result of collective bargaining by a strong graduate student labor union that has existed at the University of Michigan since the 1970s. People thought it was immoral for the graduate student union to have worked out such a good deal for its members. I wonder if people like GST would also feel it was wrong to accept a job teaching given that union-based infrastructure.

    Yet there I was. The German Department really wanted me to keep teaching, even though I was starting law school. I loved teaching, so I also wanted to keep doing it. The contract between the union and the administration, which was binding for all graduate student instructors, was already in place. So, for my 20+ hours a week of teaching/preparation/office hours, etc., I got my legal education 100% paid for, got living stipend that was just enough to live, received full medical insurance (and had two of my four children with that plan), etc. I saw it as a real blessing for me and my family.

    Perhaps folks like GST already think that’s immoral and are already grumbling about how they will tell their daughters never to marry a man who plans on getting his “cheese” from a union contract. After all, like welfare, a union contract takes from the collective good and distributes more than might otherwise be given. Isn’t what I did, in accepting the benefits of the union (which I had to do if I took the teaching job, by the way), just one step up from accepting government welfare in your mind?

    I can never look down or judge poor graduate students who are doing their best to do what they believe is right for their families, and if they take some government cheese to help them through that LIMITED time in their life, more power to them. Perhaps they may see it as a blessing. And if my tax dollars help in any way to subsidize that, I am happy to pay them.

  183. Jordan F. on March 22, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Of course, I am not a fan of my tax dollars being wasted on $15,000 dollar toilets…

  184. Seth R. on March 22, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    If our church is so gung-ho about mothers being at home, why not support government programs that allow them to do it?

  185. Ana on March 22, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    I really, really want to read all this. But I’m the wife of a grad student, we have 2 kids and a foster daughter, and I have a full time job. So I don’t have time. But I do want to say our arrangement is working out pretty well so far. We have neither debt nor government assistance, except a stipend and WIC for our foster baby, who automatically qualifies because of her status as a ward of the county. We’ve been here 3.5 years and think the Ph.D. is probably about a year away.

  186. Jill Green on March 22, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Re: 170 – Most of my professors in the Physical Education pedagogy program at BYU had either a Ed.D. in Physical Education or a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (from reputable universities even!). I assure you, it is not all that scary.

  187. MikeInWeHo on March 23, 2007 at 1:26 am

    re: 182 Wow, Jordan, I was in on a deal at Michigan like that too ! Put myself through two master’s degrees without taking out any loans. Taught a class in the Pilot Program at Alice Lloyd Hall, had the full tuition waiver, stipend, insurance, etc. Because I was an RD in the dorm, I had an apartment and board too. As I recall, there was a year there in grad school where I had about $700 month in leftover spending money….and yet ostensibly I was a “poor” grad student at the time. Everybody should be so poor.

    I say: Go for it, graduate students! Take the grants, the subsidized housing, the WIC benefits, etc. Just remember how blessed you are, how NOT poor you are (from any real, global perspective)…and be thankful.

  188. Jonathan Green on March 23, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Jilll, so there wasn’t a single Kinesthetic Rock Ascent Ph.D. among them? That’s a relief. It’s nice to hear you got back safely.

  189. Jordan F. on March 23, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Mike:

    Was that “pilot program” the Residential College, by chance?

  190. cyril on March 23, 2007 at 10:48 am

    This all reminds me why the law of consecration will never work. The last thing I want my money supporting is the mental masturbation of a pseudo-intellectual so he/she doesn’t have to get a real job to support real children he/she has elected to bring into the world.

    As I said originally, wow.

  191. MikeInWeHo on March 23, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Hey Jordan,
    No, it was something else similar to the R.C., but entirely based in Alice Lloyd Hall. It was later renamed the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program and is still there I believe. This was back in the late 80s, btw, probably when most of you in here were still in Primary.

    Can mental masturbation cost you your TR ?

  192. Jordan F. on March 23, 2007 at 11:24 am

    It seems to me that a professorship at a University where you teach valuable language skills and research regarding a body of literature is much more than “mental masturbation.” Rather, it smacks of full-on intercourse, or at least heavy petting. There is nothing pseudo about it- unless, of course, you get all those degrees and in the end refuse to work even as a professor.

    I, for one, am very grateful for the professors I had in various liberal arts fields who taught me much about the world and its cultures and languages, and for the dedication they showed in becoming true scholars (not “pseudo-intellectuals”) to pass that knowledge along to me.

    I also remember the injunction given by the Lord to Joseph Smith to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.” D&C 90:15. I think it is a good thing to support those ideals with my dollars, and if called under the law of consecration to support Jonathan’s (or others’) endeavors to do so in order for him to pass that knowledge along to my children, I would gladly do so.

    Feel free to edit any “inappropriate” comments, though Cyril opened the door, so to speak… :) lol.

  193. Jordan F. on March 23, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Not only that, but after graduate school, people do actually get jobs to support real children. And, in liberal arts fields, there is usually teaching and/or fellowship money to support your family as you go through school. That some reliance also might be put on the government for support does not offend me.

    Such is not an example of milking society to care for your children while one “mentally masturbates.” Rather, such a person actually is setting up to contribute much to society.

  194. john f. on March 23, 2007 at 11:39 am

    cyrill, research is hard work, even if it is fun. Let me guess, you get off doing business, so that’s what you do for work, right? Complicated research, writing articles and books, and teaching loads of students doesn’t do the trick for you, so you have chosen a different profession. So, isn’t MM a little relative?

    Anyway, I hope you realize that, in essence, you are saying that the Law of Consecration won’t work because of you. The problem isn’t that some people dedicate themselves to research and writing but that you don’t want to contribute to a collective in which some people are doing that and other people are doing other things. You are right — as long as people have an attitude like yours, the Law of Consecration can’t work. It takes a willingness to self-socialize.

  195. Humgrad on March 23, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    See Pres. Ezra Taft Benson’s talk, “A Hope and a Vision for the Youth of Zion.”

    Also, as a side note, Pres. Kimball’s “Marriage is Honorable,” makes a brief reference to university-subsidized student housing. (When the blog discussion above talks about “subsidized housing,” do we mean government-subsidized, or do we mean university-subsidized?)

  196. Jordan F. on March 23, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    I think it was talking about GOVERNMENT-subsidized. University subsidized is another matter- it does not involve connotations of welfare provided by the government, but of a service provided by the University (to whom you are paying tuition).

  197. cyril on March 23, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Clearly, I am the problem.

    Humgrad, this issue has already been debated in the bloggernacle several times, and the quotes by GAs against abusing welfare far outweigh the quotes supporting it. Because I did not go to grad school and am instead a lowly working man, I don’t know how to hyperlink to the previous debates, but you can search for them and find them.

    Look, the bottom line is this, we all can’t see ourselves, and we all sit fat and happy in our life’s path, making judgments and comments about the errant paths of others. I am very guilty of this, of course. To wit, this thread. But, basic principles transcend biases. And some of the basic principles of the gospel are self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and self-sacrifice. These principles dictate that you don’t chase your personal dreams while others pay for it and you don’t pay them back. Are there all different shades of gray here–of course. But WIC is not one of them. It just isn’t. Your future alleged contribution to society is a weak promissory note.

    No one likes to be wrong in their path. But you are and I am and that is the point of this life—progression and change. But please don’t act like you are right here. It is highly hypocritical.

  198. gst on March 23, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Let me try to be more clear. I do not believe it is immoral to accept government aid. I have no idea what the various government aid programs are designed to address, but, as I’ve said once before, if you qualify for aid, and you need it, then take it. If I needed it, I would take it without moral qualms.

    I do not think scholarship is not a “real” job. I do not think it is an easy job. I do not think that scholars’ contributions to society are de minimis.

    I do not begrudge Jordan Fowles his sweet deal at Michigan. I’m sure the university got its money’s worth out of him. If I could have schprechened the deutch I would have tried it myself.

    I have only two points to make on this subject:

    1) A career/family plan that knowingly relies on government assistance for food and basic nutrition is not something I would advise to people that I care about.

    2) I don’t think that scholarship is such an important vocation that it should permit us to think differently about these issues than we would in the context of any other profession with very limited early returns.

  199. Chad too on March 23, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Sorry to go back to the original topic when this threadjack is SO much more interesting, but for those among you who might be wondering, the writing portion of my comp tests is done. I feel very confident in my answers for the communications theory section and in research methods, but I’m sweating it out over my comms law test.

    The prof told me to be prepared to discuss the concept of copyright law and the Internet and I was prepared, but so some reason he prepared a three-part question with only part one on topic. Part 2 asked for the state of intellectual property law in the European Union and Part 3 wanted me to compare EU intellectual property law with US intellectual property law. I had to punt; none of my comms law classes (includung ones taught by him) here ever approached an international perspective; it was all US-centric. I wrote 7.5 pages on US copyright law and .5 pages on an international treaty and droit moral, a vocabulary word I came across once and pulled out of my hat at the last second.

    Those of you who have been there, is this something I should make a stink about? It doesn’t seem right to be told to prepare in one direction and then have the question go so far a-field, especially when the university has no international communications law curriculum.

    Your thoughts, please. I want to graduate and be done!

    Next on the agenda (after working the next 8 hours) sleeping until about June.

  200. Naismith on March 23, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    “A career/family plan that knowingly relies on government assistance for food and basic nutrition is not something I would advise to people that I care about.”

    Then there would be no public school teachers, if everyone followed your advice. All of my grandchildren are on Medicaid, but not all of the parents are grad students. One of them is a public school teacher. It will be some years before he makes enough that his kids won’t qualify for Medicaid.

  201. Jonathan Green on March 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Humgrad, thanks for the references to those talks. It’s really too bad, but this particular thread never really got into the nuts and bolts of grad school family housing. I mean, when you get down to it, WIC is nothing more than 8 oz. of cheese, a box of cereal, and a gallon or two of milk per week. But there’s a fascinating array of housing options, owned and operated and, possibly, subsidized by any number of public, private, or semi-public bodies, all of which are liable to various degrees of envy and resentment.

    Speaking of resentment. Cyril, that seems like an unfriendly way to greet Humgrad’s first comment. You seem to be saying that you’re an old hand who’s seen it all before, but from your own comments I had you pegged as a drive-through troll intent on making your point as insultingly as possible. I don’t care if you change your positions, but you really need to change how you express them if you’re going to keep commenting.

    G. St., you don’t really believe I deleted your comments, do you? It was a joke. You are an award-winning commenter, after all. It’s too bad the discussion got bogged down on the morality of WIC, which in the end is peanuts–or, rather, 2 10-oz. jars of Jif peanut butter, chunky or smooth, every month. The big winners in WIC are probably not the beneficiaries themselves, but the grocery stores who can raise prices on a basket of staple items and suffer little drop in sales for it. Agriculture subsidy policies are implicated as well. It’s fascinating, really. I do agree with you that everyone who meets the income limits should give WIC a whirl; you haven’t lived until you’ve paid for a cartload of carefully sorted and selected items and brands not with cash or check but with WIC instruments, while the befuddled cashier double-checks everything to prevent fraud and the line of people waiting behind you grows longer. Which is why I also agree that no one should plan on WIC, although life has a way of interfering sometimes. But why is WIC such a lightning rod? In terms of economic impact, it’s way behind the SCHIP Medicaid programs, the EIC, section 28 cooperative housing, etc., etc.

    Chad, the person you need to talk to is whatever faculty member is currently the Director of Graduate Studies, or the equivalent. Will you have an oral defense of your written exams? Sometimes that gives you an opportunity to expand or revise your answers. Good luck.

  202. Costanza on March 23, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Chad,
    The options for a situation like the one you describe vary widely from department to department, even within fields. In my case, (history of religion at a major research university) my exams were planned by three different faculty members and all of them did things differently. None of them wandered too far afield on the written exams but they threw some really weird stuff at me during my orals. A friend of mine in the same department, but with a different emphasis, got royally jerked around and ended up failing 2/3 of his written and oral exams. BUT he retook the part he needed to, wrote his dissertation, and got his Ph.D. The first thing you have to do is wait until you get the results back before doing anything. Who knows, maybe your answer to that question was as good as any that your professor has ever read. If it turns out that the question causes you problems, I would recommend that you approach your advisor and ask him about it. Also, find out if the department has any rules about how the exams work, and gather any correspondence you have indicating what the professor said about the content of the exams. In my case, the department always sides with the professors because, technically, a student is supposed to be able to handle anything that the examiner throws at him/her and the professor is not bound to any promises made to the student relative to the content of the exams. But, as I indicated above, students may choose to retake, once, any part of the exam that is failed, and the profs usually coach the students through the second try. I hope this helps, although I sort of doubt it!

  203. Costanza on March 23, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Chad,
    I realized that my advice to ” find out if the department has any rules about how the exams work” is ambiguous. What I meant was that some departments set parameters for the scope of the exams based on reading lists or course content. If this this the case, and the question you mentioned fell beyond that scope, then you have a legitimate grievance.

  204. gst on March 23, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for recognizing my major award.

  205. makakona on March 23, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    my biggest beef about grad school welfare users are the students who continue to have children while being perpetual students. we’ve known several families like this. if you need it to support the ones you have, i can concede, i guess. but to keep having them when someone else is footing the bill?

    gst, if we could have managed to pop out a few boys in lieu of this gaggle of girls, i’d have set them up with your daughters some day… when my husband went to my parents to ask their blessing before he proposed to me, he had in hand a stack of papers. turns out he had taken copies of all sorts of financial statements, transcripts, and such to show that he would be able to provide for me. i was the degree-toting career woman with far more earning potential than he and we had NO plans to have kids any time soon, so it was impressive to me when i later learned (years later) what he had done. good thing he was prepared, too… our plans to not have kids for several years backfired and our oldest was born nine months after the wedding.

  206. Rosalynde Welch on March 24, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Makakona, it’s ironic in light of your latter comment that you present pregnancy in the former as something that ought to be rationally deliberated and carefully controlled. Pregnancy is infrequently either, and rarely both, and public policies (and cultural mores) ought not to assume it is.

  207. Adam Greenwood on March 24, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Good for you, Rosalynde Welch.

    Mormons ought not to embrace the gentile mindset that having children is something you do after you’ve done everything else

  208. Seth R. on March 24, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    If the people in my neighborhood are any indication, dogs are much preferred to children.

  209. Costanza on March 24, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    My situation is probably anomalous, but more non-LDS grad students in my program have kids than LDS grad students have.

  210. Ben H on March 26, 2007 at 12:59 am

    I disagree about debt. This is a sensitive topic, but I’ll say what my view is, fwiw. I don’t mean this as any criticism of people who have done otherwise, but for anyone who is still working out how to proceed . . .

    I recommend: (a) avoid unnecessary expenditures and (b) don’t be too proud about getting help from relatives, government, whatever, but (c) don’t let your frugality interfere with your work. If you take longer to finish or have less on your CV because you were working in the summers and spending a lot of time clipping coupons or working on your beater car, these will have a significant impact on your job prospects. A small difference in your CV can make a big difference in your results.

    Academic jobs are extremely competitive in the humanities and a lot of other fields. Having to move around from one temporary job to the next in your early years happens to a lot of people and is a huge drain on your energy and your wallet. If you can publish a paper because you worked on that one summer instead of other paid work, that could well make the difference between starting with a tenure-track offer, or not. Given the choice of stressing over debt and stressing over whether I will have a job next year that uses my degree, I would rather stress over debt, since at least if you have a job you have a way to service the debt.

    Academia is fundamentally conceived and operated as a leisure activity, best suited to (i) members of religious orders and (ii) the independently wealthy. If you have to ask how much it will cost you, there is a good chance that you can’t afford it. I wish it were otherwise, but that’s the reality as I see it. Those who think that the university system has been democratized are not being realistic. If you are not prepared to fund the leisure it requires (either by having financial resources or a strong stomach for debt), then you should do something practical.

  211. Jonathan Green on March 26, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Ben, I think your suggestion regarding misplaced frugality is correct. “Stay out of debt” is good, but there are times not to regard it as an absolute, and to weigh the costs and the benefits.

    I’m not quite sure I get what you’re saying in your last paragraph, though, as there seems to be a contradiction between having a job to service one’s debt, and only looking at academic work as the province of the monastic and the wealthy. My experience leads me to believe that a lot of non-monastic, non-independently-wealthy people can make a go of it as a career. I try to look at it precisely in terms of career economics–if my chosen profession will provide me approximately what I want in return for the services I can perform, all is well. If not, then it will eventually become time to consider other options. (Which is why I don’t like the term “practical,” as the point is not the inherent value of any particular type of labor, about which opinions will differ drastically, but simply how much someone will pay for it.)

  212. cyril on March 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    “Speaking of resentment. Cyril, that seems like an unfriendly way to greet Humgrad’s first comment. You seem to be saying that you’re an old hand who’s seen it all before, but from your own comments I had you pegged as a drive-through troll intent on making your point as insultingly as possible. I don’t care if you change your positions, but you really need to change how you express them if you’re going to keep commenting.”

    Jonathan, I have commented on this board for three years and resent being called a troll. I did not mean to insult, so my apologies if I did. You see the issue one way, and I see it another. I hope that when the next issue comes out and the tables are turned, you will have the charity of which you find me lacking.

    “Mormons ought not to embrace the gentile mindset that having children is something you do after you’ve done everything else.”

    I very much agree with this comment. I just hope we don’t swing the pendulum so far that we put the statement this way “Mormons ought to have children before they do anything else so long as they are married.” Surely, the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is not so sweeping and random.

  213. Ben H on March 26, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    My experience leads me to believe that a lot of non-monastic, non-independently-wealthy people can make a go of it as a career.

    Sure. Lots do. But the system is still designed to best fit people who are prepared to approach academia as something they (can) pursue mainly for “higher” motives than money. There is generous pay for a very, very few, moderate pay for many, but unreasonably low pay (and security etc.) for a substantial fraction, and lots who leave when, after investing years in a PhD, they realize how bad it is. If you consider the economic return on the economic investment (especially pay foregone during grad school), it is a rather bad investment (of course, law profs are another story). So by “practical” I mean a job where you are paid in proportion to the energy (& education, talent, etc.) you invest.

    In fact I am in academia for other reasons than the money, and luckily I am being paid enough that I can afford to stay in it. Most people have to be paid something to allow them to do it (eat, pay rent, service debts incurred), but it is an expensive lifestyle, no question, in terms of opportunity cost, not just financially but in leisure and other pursuits.

  214. Chad Too on April 6, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks to all who gave me advice eariler. I ended up talking with the Graduate advisor (who happened to chair the Comps committee, and did I mention she’s married to the Prof who wrote the oddball question) on the phone and her advice was to lay low and wait until a decision was made. Then, if it didn’t go my way, it would be time to get ugly. I can do ugly.

    Fortunately for all involved, that won’t be necessary. I just got my letter notifying me I passed all three Masters Degree Comp tests on the first try. I walk next month.

    Pardon me now as I do cartwheels out to my car.

  215. Ardis Parshall on April 6, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Hallelujah! Congratulations, Chad, and good luck with the next steps.