Yes, Hilary Rosen disrespected Ann Romney, who, she said, had "actually not worked a day in her life." Fine. Everybody learned that the American people think it's important to acknowledge the work that women do when they choose to forgo careers and stay home with the children.
But now that this door is open, let's walk through it. There is much more here, and I'm only going to begin to talk about it in this post. I have already talked about the less-noticed issue of respecting men's choices. It shouldn't be simply a matter of women getting to choose to stay home. This is a household economics decision. Traditionally, it's been the woman who stays home in the single-earner family, but in modern America, each family has the power to decide who will bring in the money, and it may be preferable for the man to be the one to contribute to the family in the non-monetary ways. This is something I will talk about much more in future posts.
What I want to concentrate on in this first post, initiating my "single-earner household" tag, is the way it's not just for traditionalists. I want to challenge liberals, left-wingers, feminists, progressives — all those folks — to see why they should want to actively promote the single-earner household.
Single-earner households benefit the environment. You believe in global warming? Prove it! A 2-earner household has a much larger carbon footprint. 2 adults travel to work each day, they buy extra consumer goods (such as work clothes), they rely on fast-food, they take their children to day care. They need to do these things to get along. Yes, they pull in more income, but with more income, they buy more things, and these things must be manufactured, which emits carbon into the atmosphere. A single-earner family sticks with that smaller income and buys less. The stay-at-home spouse works hard to stretch and conserve that income, so that the family's needs are met. In fact, these needs can be better met, as the home spouse cooks meals from scratch, teaches and plays with young children, and so forth.
Here's "The Tightwad Gazette." It's all about using ingenuity to make it possible for a family to live on a single income. Why should we all have to join what they used to call the "rat race"? Is life about having a job? Some people need jobs, but why have we come to believe that every adult must have a job?
Let's form single-earner households. We talk about economics all the time, but why don't we economize — at the personal level?
I've concentrated on environmentalism here, but there is so much more to talk about. For example, unemployment. If the single-earner household movement were to flourish, we wouldn't need so many jobs, and we wouldn't need to drive ourselves so hard. Then there are taxes. If you're living alone, filing as an unmarried person, you've probably noticed how much less you would pay if you added a spouse. And what about feminism? If the woman stays home, maybe the man will leave her some day — leave her for a younger woman! — and then what will she do, not having developed her career? The women's movement made a big deal out of warning us about that danger, but something I want to examine — not here, but in later posts — is the way this women's movement came along just when we Baby Boomers in the 1960s were inspired by the hippie movement, which tipped us off that life might be about freedom and not about taking one's place in the conventional workworld. Wouldn't it be a kick in the head if it turned out feminism served, above all, the interests of commerce and not individual liberation?
I'll end this post now, but I'm beginning a conversation. I want to reject the idea — which Obama himself propounded — that the single-earner household is a luxury available only to a few lucky people. Let's consider the possibility that it is available to most people and what we need is to understand when it works and how to make it work.