April 14, 2012

The Hilary Rosen flap shows the way to a new bipartisanship premised on the value of single-earner households.

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.

129 comments:

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Shorter Althosue: Staying home w/ the kids aint' got nothing on staying home to plant bulbs and mowing the lawn. Green baby!

John Lynch said...

Thank you.

I have a lot to say about this subject, since I did stay home with my son, and I paid heavily for it.

Society, men and women, prefers two-income households or one-income households where the man works. Deviate from that and you pay.

bagoh20 said...

Fine idea. Now we just need to get the billions of people around the world who have no idea what we're talking about to jump right on this and get exactly where we are in our myopic culture.

Economics have changed. We are competing now with the world and we just don't get to do what we want anymore. This is one of the big misunderstandings of the American left. Money is free to fly, fly away, high away, bye bye.

dbp said...

One spouse staying home is possible for those of modest means. Our next door neighbors when we lived in Vermont fit this mould. They did it by never going into debt and really economising. For instance, they heated their house with firewood harvested from their own land. The husband also had a very secure, if low-paying job, so there was little risk of loosing all income from a lay off.

Back when all of one income in our own family went to pay for daycare for three kids, we did calculate that we would be better off financially if one or the other of us stayed home. We ultimately rejected this idea for two reasons. 1. Job security: We had each been layed off and figured it would be prudent for both of us to continue work. 2. The kids would one day be out of daycare and it would be tough to re-enter the job market with a big nonworking (for pay) gap.

bagoh20 said...

If the government can't make it with two taxpayer per house, how will it do with just one? Don't lose sight of why they let us live. Stay useful - they don't feed the lazy slaves.

Leland said...

Professor, I like your post. The one issue is if all that could went to single income family; then the economy would necessarily shrink. As you say, those single income families won't need as many goods or services. But then, as you also say, "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?"

bagoh20 said...

Where do you get one of these bread winners to bring home anyway? I don't have one. What do you feed them? Do you have to walk them, or can you just install a doggie door? And most puzzling is, how do you train them to bring home a check, and not run away?

Henry said...

As an old-time reader, the problem with the Tightwad Gazette is its advocacy of trading time for money.

Washing plastic bags to reuse them is trading time for money. (It's also bad environmentalism, but that's a different story.)

For most westerners, time is MUCH more important than money. You have a basic living standard. What are you going to do with it? That question is an exercise of time.

The essential problem with the one-income household is in its very premise. It presupposes that time and money can be exchanged at an equal rate.

They can't. Because the only person who knows that exchange rate is an individual. For an individual time is invaluable.

HT said...

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)

--it's possible/preferably to buy second hand clothes. I do (not all, but many). Having to come up with five different nice outfits a week is a total drag, though.

they rely on fast-food

--with CD, I bring my lunch in everyday (a pain), so I don't really rely on fast food. And let's be honest, if you are at home, are you really going to eat every. single. meal. at home?

they take their children to day care

--or they have a nanny. But yeah, that puts one more person in orbit. Unless there is an aunt/uncle/grandmother around which is possible.

They need to do these things to get along. Yes, they pull in more income, but with more income, they buy more things

--lamentably, this is true, but it by no means has to be. You sound like a simplifier!

and these things must be manufactured, which emits carbon into the atmosphere. A single-earner family sticks with that smaller income and buys less.

--ah, my old standby: I either have time or money. With time, I have the internal space to enjoy shopping, and I do. Working/going to school, no time, no shopping.

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.

I haven't finished reading the post, but I like it, even though I disagree that only conservatives want a one earner household.

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.

--This is true!

DID YOU DO IT?

Quayle said...

Just from the standpoint of capacity and contingency planning, it is less risky to plan to run at 50% of full capacity than at 100% of full capacity.

So, for example, even if both adults in a family work, the best strategy is that the basic needs can be met by the lesser of the two's salaries, and the other salary is totally for savings or extras.

Second, if only one of the adults works, the reserve capacity can be focused on things that tend to save money.

The income/expense ratio does not always have to be improved by increasing the top line.

When you add into your calculations of added expenses to go to work, you should also include the potential that a non-working person can be dong things that lowers the costs for everyone.

In the home, for example, it could be cooking meals (rather than always going out because everyone is too pooped to plan and cook.)

In the community, it could be volunteering at healthcare facilities, or at other basic service oriented venues.

(We've lost most of this free labor.)

The price of healthcare goes down when the volunteer ladies' and men's auxiliary and Grecian urn society donates free time to work in the various hospital wards and offices.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

If the woman stays home, maybe the man will leave her some day

Perhaps, but in something approaching 80 percent of the cases it is the WOMAN who leaves, so that argument is statistically bogus in the extreme.

EMD said...

The Professor wrote too many words.

Rob said...

I've gone you one better: the no-earner household. If it wasn't for the big house, the eight-cylinder Beamer and the occasional trips around the country and abroad, I'd have no carbon footprint at all. Live lightly upon the Earth, y'all.

bagoh20 said...

Q: Why do you need to make more than you need?

A: So you can help those who are not able. Everyone is not OK.

This is why we have always done more than necessary - to have the means to do great things, kind things, unnecessary things.

Quayle said...

And speaking of healthcare:

the left is always screeching that healthcare is big business and that corporations are making a bundle off of sick people.

Perhaps I'm stretching here, but for conversation sake, whose world-view was it that led to a dwindling of huge amounts of volunteer labor at the hospitals, moving the whole thing from a benevolent community service to a paid business?

edutcher said...

One point about 2 income households was that it provided a larger workforce to grow more wealth.

Another of the side effects of Zero's incompetence - assuming it's a bug and not a feature - is that he has grown the welfare underclass, rather than restoring the workforce (we're at our lowest point since the 60s). So 2 income families had their role to play in the greater prosperity of the country, but, as Ann notes, sometimes men choose to be househusband for other reasons - caregivers for sick relatives, whether a child or older one.

Ann Althouse said...

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.

As has been noted elsewhere (Insta, I think), many more women are so poorly educated (thank you, teacher unions) that they can't make enough money working to be viable outside the home.

So, once again, Barry doesn't know what he's talking about.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

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.

Please don't kid yourself thinking up new lifestyles. Logically, you're asking to feed, clothe and house the same population with about half the workers. And you think the remaining workers won't have to 'drive themselves' to produce the same level of goods and services? Sheesh.

FWBuff said...

Another timely aspect to this discussion is how it affects healthcare, especially in care for elderly parents. My wife is a stay-at-home mom, but as our daughters have now grown, more and more of her time has been devoted to taking care of her dad until his death and her mom who is now on hospice care with cancer. Although she has some (occasional) professional and sibling help, she is chaffeur, nurse, confidante, patient advocate, pharmacist, social secretary, comforter, and many other roles for her mom that would be cost-prohibitive or impossible to fill if we only had ObamaCare or even Medicare to turn to. She has chosen to take on these very difficult roles because we both believe in the commandment to honor our parents and because we love them. But if she weren't a stay-at-home spouse, we never could have provided for our parents this way.

36fsfiend said...

“…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.”

That’s quite an assumption. Does each family in modern America really have the power to decide that only one person will be a bread winner?

SteveR said...

We were single earner for most of my children's lives up to teenage years and it was not a luxury. We gave up a lot to make it happen. Obama's comment is insulting. We weren't lucky.

pm317 said...

A Swede once told me that everybody in his country had to work because taxes were so high.

edutcher said...

36fsfiend said...

…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.

That’s quite an assumption. Does each family in modern America really have the power to decide that only one person will be a bread winner?


A lot of families are lucky if they have anybody who's the bread winner in Dictator Zero's America

pm317 said...

A sincere question for parents: what would the stay at home spouse do once your children stop needing your full attention?

America's Politico said...

This issue will fade away.

Obama/Biden will get help from the Press. Remember what Chuck Todd said: This was a manufactured issue by the GOP. The same Chuck Todd who deliberately said that Ectch-sketch had nothing to do with starting the general campaign mode.

You see, the GOP is alone. What happens when is alone? One loses. It is over for the GOP.

Give it up. You have nowhere to go.

36fsfiend said...

edutcher,

I have a brother who would love to have his wife stay home and raise their three young children. It's not going to happen and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama.

EDH said...

On this subject I hope Althouse doesn't forget her earlier post from July 2011
The entire two-income trap... is actually a two-income tax trap...


Explains Todd Zywicki, correcting Christopher Caldwell, who was explaining Elizabeth Warren....

The 2-income family gives a shocking amount of the extra money they scramble to earn to the government. I'm no tax expert, but my suspicion is that this happens because liberals like more taxes and conservatives like subsidizing the traditional family with a stay-at-home parent. Put those 2 forces together and we get the (perverse?) burdening of the 2-earner family.

Elle said...

Thank you, SteveR.

My husband and I dated 6 years before we married, each building a career and nest egg. We then waited another 6 years before we had children in order for me to stay home. I guess that's a perfect world, a luxury, or maybe it's working as a team, taking responsibility for ourselves, our children?

I guess we're lucky to be born in the USA, but we made our American dream happen with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

Lord I'm tired of this class warfare, women as props sh!t.

edutcher said...

36fsfiend said...

edutcher,

I have a brother who would love to have his wife stay home and raise their three young children. It's not going to happen and it doesn't have anything to do with Obama.


He's lucky. For a lot of people, it has everything to do with Obama.

Elle said...

pm317 - I have a sneaking suspicion that just about the time our oldest leaves for college, one or more of our parents will need my help. If not, there's always volunteering or hourly work. I hear Banana Republic gives fantastic employee discounts.

My husband thinks I should try tennis.

pm317 said...

This two-income family dilemma occurs because of competing careers and neither wanting to give up and get hurt by the gap.

36fsfiend said...

edutcher,

"He's lucky."

Luckier than some since only one child requires special education.

DKWalser said...

My wife chose to stay at home to raise our kids. When she made this choice, we already had two kids and I had just started grad school. She gave up her job because, as she said at the time, "I have a degree in child development. Even if I weren't their mother, I could do a better job of raising our children than does the daycare center."

Neither of us were sure how we'd make ends meet without her income as the accountant at a computer store. The answer to that question is that we found ways to cut our family budget, I took on another part-time job, and my wife started providing daycare services out of our two bedroom student apartment.

Her decision to stay at home entailed a lot of costs in addition to the obvious ones of a smaller bank account and a lower standard of living:

*After I graduated and got my first "real job", I competed with professionals in our firm who were either single or part of two-income households. In one of my first annual reviews, I was told I needed to drive a nicer car and needed to wear nicer clothes. (The reviewer's fear was I didn't project the "successful professional" image the firm wanted from its young professionals.) The partners who decided my professional fate didn't all know my work product well, but they all knew I drove a 10 year-old car and didn't wear $400 suits.

*The firm had a policy forbidding professionals from bringing a lunch to work. (Professionals ate lunch at restaurants.) Money was so tight that most days I "chose" to work through lunch. I only had a $25/wk budget for "incidentals", such as parking (if I drove our only car to work), bus fare, and lunch. By not going to lunch with my peers and by not socializing with them after work, I earned a reputation as a loner.

*My wife was routinely shunned by other women at professional functions. After a few years, she asked if it wouldn't be possible for us to forgo the pleasure of attending the firm's annual holiday party.

*Etc.

Despite these costs, I think my wife's decision to stay at home was one of the best decisions she's ever made. Our three children have benefited tremendously from her decision. Next week, we'll attend our youngest child's college graduation.

Other families, too, have benefited from my wife's decision. After our youngest graduated from elementary school, the principal asked her to continue to be the "room mother" for our children's former teachers. As she had done before, she continued to bake cup cakes to celebrate birthdays and to serve as chaperon on field trips. Other parent's children came to our home after school because their parents were still at work. In these and countless other ways, her staying home helped make our neighborhood a better place to live -- not just for us, but for others, too.

pm317 said...

Elle said...
--------------
A friend was the one who told me how lonely she felt once her kids stopped needing her.. She got back to school in the her mid 40s and got her MS and now works part time in a Univ.

Capitalism is ruthless. Maybe more flexible career options should be available so that more people can be part of the workforce.

Canuck said...

I'd note that both Rosen & Romney are in their 60s. They come out of a time this was debated quite a bit. Nowadays people aren't such buttinskies about personal choices.

I know two families where the male partner stays at home. But it's after the first year--no more breastfeeding. Momma stayed at home the first year.

I don't think people really care if mama or papa stays home. It's not the 60s anymore. It's really up to the individual family.

I have heard men say they want their wives to work and bring in an income because they want two incomes in this economy. And that's fine too-- as long as they marry a woman who is down with that plan.

I do think student loans can make it more difficult for a spouse to stay at home. It's a potential problem facing the younger generations. The Romney's had parents who supported early marriage and babies during their undergrad years. Parents should consider giving emotional and economic support to the younger generation to encourage marriage and babies.

Conserve Liberty said...

My wife's brother never worked a day in his life. His wife had a 1-percenter career while he raised their 2 children, cleaned their house, cooked their meals, drove their (gasp) Country Squire station wagon, etc. You get the picture, right?

Rational decision. Everything turned out just fine, including the children (except the identify with their father more than their mother, which is a bit unusual).

DKWalser said...

I just re-read my comments above and wanted to say that, while I think my wife made a great decision in staying at home with our kids, I'm not saying that choice is best for other families. Our unique situation -- my talents, my wife's talents, our children's needs (one had a learning disability) -- made this decision appropriate for us. It might not be appropriate for others.

However, in no way was her decision made because we had the luxury to make it. While my earnings now put our family's income within the nation's top quartile, we didn't start out that way. Her decision was in some ways hard on all of us. We had to do without a lot of the things our peers had, material things we would have enjoyed and that our children would have benefited from. Still, it was worthwhile for us to go without those things. Worthwhile, yes. Easy, no.

Allison said...

Pm317,
It depends on how big your family is. If you have even 3 kids over 6 years, then it is 11 years until all are in K or above. Have 5 over 11 years, and it is at least 16.

Now, the assumption that all kids in full day school means time enough for a career is not reasonable in this modern life. Kids of different ages go to different schools with different start and end times. They can no longer walk themselves to or from school but must be driven. They have sports, music, scouts, and other extracurriculars. Their afternoons are times they must be watched or chauffeured. It is no longer acceptable to just throw them outside to play. This is extraordinarily time consuming, far more so than when all kids are preschoolers or smaller.
Schools too are the new neighborhood--a parent is expected to volunteer and participate in that community. The time spent planning enriching experiences for the children is significant now. kids get sick and will need backup care. Worse, as schools are so poor at academics, parents now need to research curricula and then afterschool their children in math, grammar, spelling, handwriting, etc.


If the spouse works a career with travel, then the at home spouse is on call all of the time. Given one works, all of the domestic responsibilities fall on the at home spouse:cooking cleaning house upkeep errands appt planning. Also, given how far behind families fall during the small child years now, just catching up on those activities takes a couple years. And then there is volunteering at charities, church, etc. In addition to schools and kids sports events.

David said...

Feminism has served the interests of commerce by expanding the base of earners significantly. In theory we have potentially doubled the base of income earners, though in practice its somewhat less. Our economy would not have expanded as fast over the past 40 years without the influx of skilled (and unskilled) females.

It also created a demand for a higher standard of consumption. Obama's complaint that he and Michelle were both required required to work, insofar as it reflects their need for upscale living. They were upwardly mobile Ivy League grads, and could not possibly have lived as modestly as (say) Michelle's parents did. In this the Obamas were mainstream and normal. It takes a lot of imagination to step off of that escalator.

kimsch said...

When my two older kids were young I was a SAHM, mostly because it would cost more to put the kids in daycare than I could net per week. Add in extra transportation, clothing, convenience foods, etc. and it was definitely a losing proposition.

Then I got divorced and had to go to work. Then I remarried and still worked because I had a good job that I liked.

In 2003 the company I was working for underwent a hostile takeover and went private. They moved the headquarters and my job was spread out to three different employees.

I worked temp jobs for a while, but then my Little Guy was expelled from pre-school/daycare for headbutting a teacher and breaking her tooth.

So I once again became a SAHM. The temp job I had been working wanted me back, but my Little Guy needed me much more.

I can't believe how much of my kids lives I missed while working. I was away from home 10-12 hours a day. Once home there were a few hours with the kids before bedtime and much of that time was taken up with cooking, picking up, and dishes. And then it was time for bed to wake up and start all over again the next day.

The loss of income also had a reduction in expenses. When the lease on my vehicle was up, we turned it in. We used to go out every Friday night to dinner and a movie, now we go out much less frequently and when we do it's with the whole family.

I've spent a lot of time with them since. The Little Guy is now in an enriched 5th grade class that was established from the whole district (5 grade schools) just this past January. I've spent a lot of time volunteering with the PTO running bookfairs, movie nights, Santa Shops, Bingo for Books, Fun Fairs, Market Day, and more. Just last week I spent the day at school to help with picture day.

I was also the Cubmaster for The Little Guy's Cub Scout Pack. He's moved on to Boy Scouts now so I'm just Treasurer and Webmaster for the Cub Scout Pack and Webmaster for the Boy Scout Troop.

I am cooking from scratch and avoiding processed foods. I make my own broths and stocks and pressure cook beans instead of buying canned. We don't have as much money as we used to, but our quality of life is so much better.

Elle said...

I agree pm317. The last piece of "advice" handed to me by my boss, a working mom of two, was "don't expect to jump back in when you want to."

With such sisterly support, I can't imagine that transition would be easy. Like I mentioned before, we waited a great deal of time before having children. God willing, by the time our youngest leaves for college I'll be in my mid 50s, so honestly, I'm not sure what that next chapter will hold. I would love to return to graphic design and writing, but if not, something else will present itself. Maybe flipping burgers or ditch digging? Who knows?

Bottom line, if I wanted a huge career, I wouldn't have had kids. I know me, and I cannot have it all, at least not all at the same time. I know I killed any large, long-term, independent financial goals the day I walked. Flexible career options would be nice, but women "enjoying" the flexibility would still have to return to work shoulder to shoulder with the women who had to stay, women who chose to stay and women who chose to not have children.

Never underestimate the cattiness of the ladies.

Dante said...

Huh. An old guy I know was telling me in the late 70s feminism was a man's invention.

Meanwhile, I think the NYT has made a big deal about those women who worked hard to establish their career, and now need to rely on the safety net of those of us to reproduce to take care of them in their old age.

Insofar as men staying at home. Sure, people are pretty flexible, and there are overlaps in a lot of abilities. But I would guess women are in general vastly more suited to child rearing than men.

Also, take a look at the animal kingdom. See all the nice deer with the pointy antlers, fighting it out with each other? The lions that kill each other for the prize of mating? All that's because of female choice. Women made us what we are. Let's start accepting our differences, and build a society that acknowledges them instead of playing the endless fairness game.

Still, I have no problem with women who want to push themselves in their career, only don't tell me raising kids is not work, and don't try to guilt the rest of the female population into your mania.

Ann Althouse said...

"A sincere question for parents: what would the stay at home spouse do once your children stop needing your full attention?"

Keep up a great home for everyone.

Pursue valuable activities such as a business or artistic enterprise.

Do volunteer work in the community.

Take care of other young or old people in the extended family.

Lavish care and affection on the working spouse.

Cook fabulous meals.

Cultivate your garden.

Rick said...

My wife worked to help with the expense of putting us both through college and then me through law school. After I passed the bar exam in 1969 my wife became a stay at home mom. She raised our two kids, helping them get their educations through law schools themselves, and helped me through a successful legal career. It was an equal partnership all the way through.

pm317 said...

@Elle: I would love to return to graphic design and writing, but if not, something else will present itself. Maybe flipping burgers or ditch digging?

You can't talk about graphic design and flipping burgers in the same breath. Hopefully, you can start a second career when you are ready if that is your choice.

Never underestimate the cattiness of the ladies.

Agree. I have been on the receiving end of it to the extent that it hurt my tenure prospects. I decided to not have children because neither one of us wanted to take time off and I wanted to be with the child at least during the early formative years if I had one. Then my career ran into usual gender driven hurdles and didn't blossom into something big as I envisioned. So here I am over the hill with a mediocre career. But no regrets.

pm317 said...

Thanks, Allison for painting a good picture of what it takes to raise kids these days.

Mark said...

what would the stay at home spouse do once your children stop needing your full attention?

Counter question: what does the stay-at-home spouse do when the kids need only 50% of your attention?

I did the stay-at-home-dad thing with our twins. It turns out that when they hit Pre-K, they still eat up a huge chunk of your day, even when it isn't a day that the school system decides to give the kids a day off.

I've spent the time I got back learning new development skills (Android, natch) and have an app that's about to go up on the markets, but that isn't any guarantee that anything will come of it. But I got a late start on parenting, and as a guy in his late forties (even with a really good resume up to the point when my wife and I reproduced, and a really bitchin' IQ) I don't think I would be a hot commodity on the job market right now. Especially considering my most recent corporate experience was as in global banking, and I'm no longer willing to travel for the salary I was making when I left the workforce.

I made my choices. And I'm pretty sure in the near future I'll have a decent income from some entrepreneurial endeavor that doesn't require me to spend weeks at a time away from home. But I am lucky even if I didn't marry someone who would become a billionaire, because we get along well enough on her salary.

Shorter answer: Make it easier to start and maintain small business that fill in the gaps in the economy. There's a reason so many women work as Realtors: the hours are flexible and the pay is good even if it's sporadic as hell. Everything Barry has done has made it harder for the small business owner to do business. If he reversed tack and tried to reach out to the people who want to create he might win in November. But I'm not seeing it.

Rabel said...

Peg Bundy agrees with this post.

bagoh20 said...

All this talk of careers is alien to me. I never considered what I did for work as a "career". I was just working, investing, taking opportunities when I discovered them, and trying to be wise about money. Although I attended about 6 years of college, I never tried to get a degree in anything. I really just enjoyed learning, and changed majors 4 times moving to whatever I found interesting and thought might help me do things and make money. I was poor too, just working enough to survive and pay for school. I loved to learn stuff: psychology, engineering, business, computer science. I learned what I wanted and moved on. I guess a career is more of a planned thing with a thread of direction to it. I didn't do that, never wanted to, and I'm glad I didn't. It's just not my style. I would find that very restricting, and even stifling.

Or maybe I just have commitment issues.

Penny said...

Sounds like we all struggled.

The good news is, all in all, we made it work.

Well done!

Penny said...

And to Althouse, have to give you credit for changing some long held terminology here.

"Single earner" much better than "single worker".

Elle said...

pm317 - I respectfully disagree, I believe I can talk about graphic design and flipping burgers in the same breath.

Customer service is customer service. Whether it's hitting a grand slam in a client brainstorming meeting or placing a pickle just so. I was raised to have pride in my work, no matter what that entails. I may return to the workforce just for a pay check, not necessarily for a second career, but you can bet I'll still do a damn good job.

I believe this is one of the key downfalls of the current generation entering the workforce. They've been told they're special, find a fulfilling career, make a difference!

Know what I tell my young sons? Wave and smile at the garbage collectors. Think of what they do to make sure their families get fed. That's a thankless, difficult job that most think they're too good for. Try going w/o trash pick up for a month.

I'm glad you have no regrets. So far, me either. We are the fortunate.

pm317 said...

@Elle, didn't mean to offend anyone with my response. Dignity of labor and treating everyone with humanity is important but the extent of skills and intellect required for different jobs is varied. Why can't we talk about that freely? I am certainly thankful to my garbage collector and in no way look down on what he does. Dignity of labor is one beautiful thing in this country that I don't find where I come from. But if you are skilled and have a need for doing bigger and better things, why wouldn't you (or I) do that?

Nora said...

Ann: "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?"

If? Helloooo! Where have you been for the last couple of decades. It had been noticed years ago that feminism and break up of traditional family, devorces, etc. contributed heavily to consumption of goods, as the number of households grows so the need for housing units, appliances, etc. Anyway, with the proportion of traditional family housholds dwingling and a trend to marry later in life this discussion is somewhat late to the table.

For me, what Rosen kerffufle demonstrate is that, while at the beginning feminism was about women's liberation from male dominance and equalty of rights, modern 'progressive' feminists are just assuming men's traditional role in managing women's lives. As such I do not have use for 'progressive' feminism.

I don't want any Rosens telling me how to live my life. I'm perfectly capable of making these decisions for myself. Thank you very much.

And BTW Rosen nincompoop, it had been calculated long ago, that staying at home moms on average make decissions at the rate and complexity of the middle management. I read about this research definitely before 1992 in the Project Management Journal. It was conducted at the Harward Business School, IIRC.

leslyn said...

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.

I too reject the premise that a single-earner household is a luxury. It sucks.

My father worked three jobs. We lived on a small farm, so my mom was a SAHM who worked. When all three of us kids were in school my father encouraged my mother to go back to school and get a paying job. When she did, our lives stopped being precarious and became more stable.

We were never rich. We weren't even middle income. But there's a lot to he said for stability.

When I look around at our extended family, I see how two incomes lifted them out of poverty. Children do not benefit from economic instability. And my mother, who is now retired, talks about a work life that is rich with stories. We don't talk about her non-income life. We don't glorify the past.

Penny said...

Elle and pm, I agree with the both of you and see no rough edges in doing so.

Work is admirable, and working to your full potential is even more admirable.

Penny said...

Feminism is a trap, and Hilary Rosen was this week's trapper, just before she was the trapped.

If that seemed circular, it's because it is.

leslyn said...

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.

I too reject the premise that a single-earner household is a luxury. It sucks.

My father worked three jobs. We lived on a small farm, so my mom was a SAHM who worked. When all three of us kids were in school my father encouraged my mother to go back to school and get a paying job. When she did, our lives stopped being precarious and became more stable.

We were never rich. We weren't even middle income. But there's a lot to he said for stability.

It looks to me like those two-earner families aren't represented here.

When I look around at our extended family, I see how two incomes lifted them out of poverty. Children do not benefit from economic instability. And my mother, who is now retired, talks about a work life that is rich with stories. We don't talk about her non-income life. We don't glorify the past.

Penny said...

It's been really interesting reading so many life stories here. What caught my attention most recently was how many of you, who are older, like me, had both mothers and grandmothers who worked outside the home. And all this WELL before a single feminist chose to "brand" our female relatives as "unique" or "special", and "Fighting a battle for ALL women!"

Penny said...

That's pretty well hogwash.

American women and men have been working their collective asses off for their families for as long as they've been in this great country.

And if I were a betting woman, I would double down that this is how it will always be.

leslyn said...

I also reject the idea that feminism is a trap. It's a luxury to say that.

Feminism enabled me to enter more lucrative job fields that were dominated by men. It enabled me to establish a single home without having to get married for economic reasons or social pressures.

When I was brought to nothing twice because of extended illnesses, it reminded me that I could still be self-sufficient and get back up again.

Feminism insists that I can make it despite gender and disability. I wouldn't trade it.

If that disturbs anyone's comfortable neo-gender roles, too bad.

MayBee said...

Ann, I really love your thinking in this piece. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

leslyn said...

Althouse said:

"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 don't give a flying fuck if it does. I care that it serves my individual "liberation." An outdated word. Young women (and men) are past the time of needing liberation. We have moved into empowerment.

If that also serves commercial interests (which it does), that's a nice side-effect.

leslyn said...

I also reject the idea that feminism is a trap. It's a luxury to say that.

Feminism enabled me to enter more lucrative job fields that were dominated by men. It allowed me self-sufficiency. It enabled me. I am fortunate to know a lot of women like that. I am also fortunate to know younger men who appreciate it.

Feminism insists that I can make it despite gender, adversity and disability. I wouldn't trade it.

If that disturbs comfortable notions of neo-gender roles, too bad.

Palladian said...

What a bunch of grim comments. We were given our incredibly brief, beautiful lives above the soil, and what have we done with them? Worried about careers and taxes and other meaningless nonsense.

Tomorrow isn't promised to us. Death is eternal. What matters is love, and beauty, and survival.

I dream of this edifice of falsehood crashing to rubble at our happy feet.

Do what you need to survive, so that you can live in love and beauty as long as you can. Nothing else matters at all.

Penny said...

Course if feminists choose to start talking about the "obvious", well then, they just might get my ear.

Little obvious things... like women with husbands do better financially than single or divorced women. And how women who complete high school do better than those who don't.

Or maybe they could talk about how women who have kids without a father present have very few CHOICES at all.

They're going to be "single earners"! Except for that family thing or the government dole.

How about feminists getting shrill about the absolute stupidity of the huge numbers of woman getting pregnant in 2012 "by mistake"?

Penny said...

Sheesh, I wore myself out there, but I'm sure others can add to the ever growing list of SERIOUS fucking problems that women have created for themselves.

Penny said...

Apparently, women are very creative that way.

Well done!

Penny said...

Can we bring in the male cheerleaders to bring this point home please?

JUST KIDDING!

But not about the "feminists".

Penny said...

TEACH or stand down.

Penny said...

"Feminism enabled me to enter more lucrative job fields that were dominated by men."

Leslyn, I have been reading your comments here for a while now. Let me assure you that it was YOU who enabled yourself to enter lucrative job fields.

Fen said...

Feminism enabled me to enter more lucrative job fields that were dominated by men. It allowed me self-sufficiency. It enabled me. I am fortunate to know a lot of women like that. I am also fortunate to know younger men who appreciate it.

Younger men? Who do you think gave women rights? It wasn't feminists. Men have dominated women for 2.4 million years. You think women wrested power from them?

No. The only reason you have rights is because of the evolution of western civ. From the founders who gave the merchant class rights, to Shay's Rebellion which gave common men rights...a constant evolution of a culture that values Liberty, leading finally to the men of the early 20th century who saw fit to extend equality to women.

You could show some gratitude to those old geezers.

Penny said...

Feminists merely noticed the PATTERN of competent women, LIKE YOU!

And then they took your success as their own.

Penny said...

I am suggesting that feminists need to notice the patterns of UNSUCCESSFUL women, and to make THAT "their own".

Penny said...

And not to go totally off topic here, but I would say the very same thing to civil rights leaders.

You see the patterns. Hell, a blind person can see the patterns.

leslyn said...

"...SERIOUS fucking problems that women have created for themselves"?

Your shrillness seems to be all about pregnancy and single mothers. Let's bring in the "male cheerleaders" to say, "If men stopped having sex, women would stop getting pregnant." Or, "If men used protection, women could stop getting pregnant." It sounds like women create all their "problems" through immaculate conception. And babies.

Since when is a child brought to birth a "problem"? "[Mothers are] going to be "single earners"! Except for that family thing or the government dole." "That family thing?" What is that? Not everyone can leverage being a single mom into fame and fortune.

Consider the single-earner mothers that are put in that position through abandonment. Add those who must leave abusive homes. Add divorce rates. Men could step up to the plate, or at least be part of the equation here. And yes, add in single mothers who work hard to support themselves. Are all these women invisible? Do they disappear for the sake of rhetoric?

leslyn said...

Penny said...

"Feminism enabled me to enter more lucrative job fields that were dominated by men." Leslyn, I have been reading your comments here for a while now. Let me assure you that it was YOU who enabled yourself to enter lucrative job fields. 4/15/12 2:40 A.M.

Penny, without my initiative I would not have applied for those job fields. Without feminism I would never have been hired. Big difference, and I am well aware of it.

leslyn said...

@Fen:

"You could show some gratitude to those old geezers."

Fen, most of them were dragged kicking and screaming into it. For instance, "sex" was added to the equal employment bill as a joke, and a way to prevent the bill from passing. But I am indeed grateful to those who overcame that resistance and passed it.

I stand on some tall shoulders. And a lot of them were women who became adept at wresting power. Do you think women got the vote because men were nice?

Your statement is blindly paternalistic.

traditionalguy said...

What Palladian said @2:18.

tim in vermont said...

As a man who earns a good income, but has a wife who earns multiples of that income, her income alone puts us in the 1%, I can say that once the tax hikes come through in 2013 the only purpose of my working becomes to provide cash to the federal govt. At which point I will stop.

Amy of you liberals out there who think that the marriage penalty doesn't exist, please try to convince our accountant.

Darcy said...

@Palladian:

That was beautifully said.

MikeR said...

My wife was a stay-at-home mother for many years. Even though we lived in a community where that was a prized value, she actually didn't have many peers doing the same. And it was hard for her. Unlike in earlier generations, where you could gossip with your neighbor over the fence, today your neighbor is probably working. Pretty much all the social interaction of most people has to do with going to work. So, my wife found it hard to find people with whom she had enough in common to form close friendships.

Timeforchange said...

A sincere question for parents: what would the stay at home spouse do once your children stop needing your full attention?

I volunter for meals on wheels, helping to feed about 100 people a day that need help.

Elle said...

@pm317 - sorry for delay, fell asleep. I completely agree, if a person has the skill set and the desire, a second career later in life should be an explored option, a viable option. I don't think it's their duty though, as long as all family financial needs are being met.

At this moment, I cannot imagine I will ever have that desire again. However, in 15 years, the workforce will look quite different as more and more Boomers age out of the employment pool. Again, who knows? I might have the need by then. Nothing is guaranteed, including the luxury of choice, whatever choice that might be.

I lived up to my college-educated, corporate potential once upon a time. I found those 10+ years somewhat hollow and exhausting. What's that saying - work to live, don't live to work? That's from my personal experience though. Again, I completely support anyone wanting to jump back in, stay in, etc., but no, I don't feel like I'm letting myself down, or Feminism for that matter, by not finding my identity from a well-paying job.

Not screwing up my kids is the only accomplishment that will mean anything to me. If I can go to the grave with that checked off my list, I'll be a happy and fullfilled person, much to the chagrin of a large majority of women I'm afraid. That's what works for me though.

Pogo said...

I want people to be free to make this decision.
And if the State took in far less of our income, we would need far fewer second earners.

• Since 1950 the average household tax bill
has risen fourfold in real terms

• Americans now spend almost half our working lives complying with and paying for government rules, edicts, levies, paperwork
requirements, and fees.

• In 1970 the nation spent $25 billion on environmental regulation.
• In 1990 the nation spent $147 billion on environmental regulation.
• In 1999 the nation spent more than $280 billion on environmental regulation.

• In three states —California, Maine, and New York— almost half of all middle-income family wages are captured by government through income, payroll, property, and sales taxes, and other levies.

• In 1900 the federal government consumed less than 5 percent of total output.
• In 1950 the federal government consumed roughly 15 percent of total output.
• In 1999 the federal government consumed almost 19 percent of total output.

• Today, the average American household pays almost $10,000 in federal income taxes, double the 1950 burden.

• In 1930 workers paid one of every eight dollars of them income in taxes.
• In 1950 workers paid one of every four dollars of their income in taxes.
• In 1992 workers paid one of every three dollars of their income in taxes.

On and on and on.

Our real problem is Leviathan.
Reduce it, and these choices are made more freely.

SGT Ted said...

How about one spouse stays at home because your children deserve it?

Children won't notice the extra money one way or the other, but will notice the missing parents.

Sacirificing your child raising for extra money is short sighted.

SGT Ted said...

Children want parents, not a paycheck. If you can't be bothered to raise them due to your desire for a two income household, don't have them.

hank_F_M said...

/Pogo

In the 1990's it was pointed out the relative to 1950 when most households were single income with a much lower tax lower rate than in in the 1990's, the average household's second income paid the additional taxes on the first income. It was questioned whether the value received by the household from the extra taxes was worth the cost to the household from having both of the adults involved in the work force.


Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

Freeman Hunt said...

Better to work, save, and live within your means so you can buy time for yourself. Not luxury time, just regular time, spent wisely.

I agree.

One problem with your "couples" example: too many stay-at-homers do not know how to cook from scratch. Nor do they have a proper education (or desire or discipline) to early educate their children.

I think that the disrespect for at home work has seeped into the mindsets of many who stay home. Many (most?) families, whether a parent stays home or not, do not take the responsibility of parenting seriously. Sure, sure, everyone wants the best for their children, but most people expect that to come by, it would seem, magic and wishful thinking. They make no effort whatsoever to learn about what they're trying to do and commit themselves to the application of it. They settle for thinking, "so and so didn't do any of that and his kids turned out great," where "great" is defined down to mean something like "not dead or imprisoned."

cf said...

Unless the second earner holds a rather high paying position, for most families that second income is almost entirely eaten up by higher clothing, transportation, food and child care costs--and taxes. More young families ought to sit down with a bookkeeper before they decide whether the two incomes are worth it.

rhhardin said...

Economy < Gk oikos "house" + nemein "manage"

Eve'sBlog said...

According to our real estate agent the biggest driver of home sales is divorce. Great for business!

Michael Haz said...

I was raised in a single-worker household. Dad worked, Mom stayed home with the four children. We lived in a 1,600 square foot home that had one bathroom, and the big luxury of the day---a dishwasher!

We turned out fine. None of us kids, now adults, ever felt deprived, even though Dad was a lower-middle income earner.

My parents lived frugally, but not stingily. Money was spent where it was needed, but never wasted. Things that broke were repaired, not discarded. Food was cooked at home. Vacations were fun, but never expensive.

All of us worked for what we wanted. I mowed lawns and baby-sat beginning in late grade school. I had part-time jobs all through high school, and paid my own way through U of Wisconsin tending bar and making pizza, and graduated with one student loan of $200.

A family can easily live on a single income, if that family doesn't fall into the trap of credit cards, car loans, big mortgages and spending money on things you don't need in order to impress people you don't know.

Michael said...

My oldest son is now 13 and during those 13 years I've stayed home; some years I made enough freelancing to call it a legitimate career, some I was clearly a stay at home dad dabbling in a former career in advertising.

What I think many people do not realize is how little the second parent is often working for once you subtract actual costs, taxes, etc. If you have a nanny, you have to make her salary plus the taxes on her plus the additional taxes you'll pay on your salary to break even. Pay her $30,000 and you need to make around $50,000 just to pay for the privilege of working, so you need to make $100,000 to really gain an extra $30,000 in disposable income. (Math by Pulled From Thin Air Inc., but you get the idea.) Throw in the Chinese food you'll order because no one made dinner, etc....

AprilApple said...

What Rosen said pointed to the fact that the left are void of ideas. They have nothing to offer but crap, vitriol and hypocrisy. Of course single earner households are acceptable and I submit preferable situations for raising children. It doesn't matter who stays home. What could be better than raising your own children?

leslyn said...

SGT Ted said...

"Children want parents, not a paycheck. If you can't be bothered to raise them due to your desire for a two income household, don't have them." 4/15/12 8:05 A.M.

Not very two income household is so by choice. Sometimes those two incomes are necessary for the survival of the family unit.

This happens with changed circumstances too. Parents who were well able to live on one income now can't, due to job loss, illness or injury within the family. Just--don't be so quick to judge.

leslyn said...

Hey, April, don't let one bad Apple spoil it.

pm317 said...

Blogger Palladian said...

What a bunch of grim comments. We were given our incredibly brief, beautiful lives above the soil, and what have we done with them? Worried about careers and taxes and other meaningless nonsense.

Tomorrow isn't promised to us. Death is eternal. What matters is love, and beauty, and survival.

I dream of this edifice of falsehood crashing to rubble at our happy feet.

Do what you need to survive, so that you can live in love and beauty as long as you can. Nothing else matters at all.

4/15/12 2:18 AM
--------------------------

I am warming up to this sentiment as I grow older. Because the rat race and disappointments can kill you. But I would never suggest that to my younger nieces. I would always urge them to pursue their career dreams to their fullest potential because there are still so few women in many areas that we need their participation and voice to make this world a wholesome place.

MarkW said...

Actually, in terms of efficiency and carbon footprint, it's likely that home preparation of foods will be worse, not better. Food companies don't heat up the oven for a single meal, and they're much better about making use of things that would be garbage in a home environment. For example, if you buy & squeeze your own OJ, you'll probably throw away the peels, commercial processors don't do that.

And once kids are in school, if the stay-at-home parent is at home, the entire house is kept warm or cool for just one person, and so on.

Carbon efficiency would be a silly reason to make such life choices, but don't assume that the stay-at-home model with lots of small-scale, low-tech home production is necessarily more energy efficient.

pm317 said...

Michael Haz said...

I was raised in a single-worker household. Dad worked, Mom stayed home with the four children. We lived in a 1,600 square foot home that had one bathroom, and the big luxury of the day---a dishwasher!
---------------------

Looking at these 'first-world' comments, may be I should share my 'third-world' childhood. It was a lovely childhood. We lived in a 700sqft two bedroom 1 bath house. We were 6 of us. At any time in that house there were one or more out of town guest relatives that my parents generously offered to put up. I was the youngest of 6 so by the time I got to HS and college, my older sister had married and gone and a couple of my brothers had left for jobs or higher ed. We had adequate food and shelter but everything else was luxury. However, what was not luxury was good education, culture, music, and plain old high class in taste and behavior. You could attribute some of that for being part of a brahmin family but it was also the very broad middle class in India. My dad (and mom too) gave me the confidence and the independence to go out there and conquer the world and here I am today, winner or not, it does not matter at this point.

Phil 3:14 said...

For several years we were a 2 income family with both of us at home.

Let's not ignore tele-commuting.

AprilApple said...

If you don't raise your own kids, you must pay someone else to do it.
Meanwhile, life is more expensive than ever due to the fact that the collective progressive (don't say communist) left are out to destroy it so they can replace freedom with government.

Leslyn-
The entire MSNBC network doubled down on the left's idea that Ann Romney is the only lucky female on the planet to make the decision to raise her own children. Give the freaks at MSDNC a reason to spread hate and class warfare, and they will gladly carry the torch.

kmk said...

I am a SAHM for 21 years and we have homeschooled (through 8th grade) for the past 16 years. We have saved the state of Maryland $10-$40 thousand/year, and so far have raised upstanding taxpaying citizens. It has been a blessing.

The first 2 years at home I felt guilty that I wasn't still a military officer, that I was wasting my college education, that I wasn't contributing financially to our home. What a bunch of brainwashing I had to overcome.

There is so much depression, anxiety, despair, especially in our younger generations. Could it be that our materialistic culture is only conderned about what we do as opposed to who we are? We place such burdens on ourselves and others. Are we not children of God, who loves the weakest among us most of all?

As to what I will do when our youngest leaves the house (and I enjoy his babyhood too much to relish the thought)-- there is so much to be done in our community, I imagine something will occur to me. ;)

roesch/voltaire said...

Sorry even the MItt believes women should work:
“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” said Romney. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that’s heartless.’ And I said, ‘No, no, I’m willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It’ll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.”

Sandi said...

I was born in 1953, smack dab in the middle of the Baby Boom. Graduated from college in 1975. Have always said that the push to "liberate" women from the home served the needs of business at a time when things were booming and many were needed to fill the office desks.

By the way, I was largely a stay-at-home mom (did freelance writing) and do not regret it one iota. Have thanked my husband for making the bucks that helped facilitate it, but we also have lived wisely, making frugal choices while also giving generously to charity and church.

The kids are all out of the nest and successful; meanwhile, we are driving cars that have 168,000 and 193,000 miles on them. We sleep well at night, having made our choices and lived within them.

John Lynch said...

Everyone talks about "spouse," or "earner," as if it's interchangeable.

It's not. Women stay home. I only read one commenter other than myself who was male and stayed home. And he paid a big price, too.

Men can't stay home as easily as women can, and pay a higher price when they do. As long as our expectations are structured this way, women will be under the most pressure to give up their careers to stay home. Men will be under the most pressure to work.

Men and women are not equal when it comes to this decision, and it's not because men make more money. If men make more money then it's because they work more and don't take years off to care for children. Which takes us back to the same problem- societal expectations.

Peter Hoh said...

I stayed home. It's not a luxury, but it wasn't easy. We had to make sacrifices, but I am confident that it was what was best for our children.

I can't step back into the career I had, but I have been able to build a new one for myself. I don't think it would be particularly easier for a woman to step back into the workforce after a decade or so of being at home.

I know several other men who stayed home. The two guys I know best (they live in my neighborhood) reduced their hours to extreme part-time during their child-raising years and are now doing pretty much what they were doing before their at-home stint.

obladioblada said...

""A sincere question for parents: what would the stay at home spouse do once your children stop needing your full attention?""

For one thing, I keep doing the things I've done all along: the household accounting, taxes, investing and healthcare administration; automotive and household repair and maintenance; provide tech support for all of the households' hardware and software; manage the education of kids in high school and college; manage the healthcare and unique needs of a kid with disabilities; support parents and extended family members who are in crisis; prepare meals from scratch; provide technical and administrative support for community groups (yeah, I'm the one who incorporates the non-profit and applies for 501(c)(3) status, maintains the organizations' internet presence/electronic communications, files the tax returns and handles all the paperwork) and a many of the things that the people who assume I have nothing to do ask me to do (although I've learned to refuse). Everyone does their own laundry and no one cleans the house.

Earlier this year I looked into employment and quickly learned that, once the expenses and tax burden are considered, employment outside of the home is a financial loser. So I work 2 freelance jobs. I'm also a gallery artist.

In return, my enlightened female friends and acquaintances make comment such as "I chose professional accomplishment", "I was raised not to respect women who stay at home", "it must be nice to be able to stay at home (in the resentful and/or condescending tone)", etc. A few have been more direct: "what a waste" or "you're nothing but a f*ing housewife".

pm317 said...

roesch/voltaire said...
---------------

you have a link for it? I could use that elsewhere.

mockmook said...

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

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.

Please don't kid yourself thinking up new lifestyles. Logically, you're asking to feed, clothe and house the same population with about half the workers. And you think the remaining workers won't have to 'drive themselves' to produce the same level of goods and services? Sheesh.
4/14/12 10:17 PM


My, my, my.

How did anyone survive the 50's?

Is it possible that the "shortage" of workers would drive of the real income of the remaining workers?

Laura said...

If feminism has made it so much easier for women to have choices, why is it so hard for stay-at-home parents to get past the (usually) women in the HR office when they do try to return to work? (Hint: Sandra Fluke's $3K birth control is more important than raising wages and prestige for ordinary day care workers.)

And since when is volunteer work not work? Perhaps Mrs. Romney should refer to her "internships"...

Julie C said...

I've been a full time wife and mother for 15 years. Here are a few tips:

1. Marry well. Not "wealthy" well, but character well. Find a nice responsible person who is trustworthy. Don't marry a bad boy or a drama queen. Don't think you are going to change him/her after marriage.

2. Treat your spouse well. Have sex frequently and cook nice meals. Make your house a place he or she wants to come home to. Don't get fat or sloppy. Be nice! Really, it isn't rocket science.

3. Stay out of debt! Live within your means. Staying at home with the kids is a lot easier if you haven't charged up a bunch of credit cards and bought expensive cars and furniture. I'm always amazed by the cars some people drive when I know they don't have a pot to piss in. Save as much money as you can for an emergency fund. That takes the sting out of depending on one earner. And even better, pay off your house as soon as possible.

4. When you are at home, you have an obligation to keep yourself as interesting as possible. Don't be that person who can only talk about the kids. Read the news, keep up with current events and even better, learn a new skill. I took volunteer jobs at my kids' school that allowed me to learn new skills, such as fundraising (not bake sales) and web design.

5. The kids will still need you as they get older, but in different, equally important ways. Be there when they need you. But as they get older, you now have the opportunity to volunteer out in the community, or, as others have pointed out, help with aged parents.

Alex said...

There is no way Apple makes billions of dollars in profit with single-earner households.

Alex said...

In return, my enlightened female friends and acquaintances make comment such as "I chose professional accomplishment", "I was raised not to respect women who stay at home", "it must be nice to be able to stay at home (in the resentful and/or condescending tone)", etc. A few have been more direct: "what a waste" or "you're nothing but a f*ing housewife".

Yup the left in a nutshell. Absolute hatred for housewives.

Laura said...

"Funny how you don't see those as your competitors, with extra experience, as you do your fellow women..."

Funny how volunteering in a church basement teaching ESL to Sudanese refugees and working as a teacher's aide in a preschool doesn't count for experience...

But taking on extra debt to add a teaching certificate or a master's degree somehow does.

Georgfelis said...

Caution: Sarcasm

How 20th Century quaint, the concept that you can be a single income family. With the new powers of Enforced Commerce granted to the Federal Government by Obamacare, that useless layabout spouse can be forced by Law to go forth and labor, bringing home that wonderful tax revenue...um..income so you can afford to send your children to the finest government run institutions where government union employees can teach them proper things. After all, one spouse staying home and refusing to engage in Commerce is Anti-State behavior, and we can't have that now, can we?

/sarc

Mutaman said...

"Dressage is a sport of seven-figure horses and four-figure saddles. The monthly boarding costs are more than most people’s rent. Asked how many dressage horses she owns, Mrs. Romney laughed. “Mitt doesn’t even know the answer to that,” she said. “I’m not going to tell you!”
Ann Romney
New York Times 2007

Julie C said...

Mrs. Romney can own all the dressage horses etc. she wants because, guess what! -- she and Mitt paid for them.

Mrs. O, on the other hand, takes her fancy vacations on the public's dime.

Laura said...

An alarming possible trend? I think so: http://nalert.blogspot.com/2012/04/csu-may-pull-cash-grants-to-half-its.html

Tough luck for mothers hoping to reinvent their careers...

Missing from the New York Times: Does Mitt blindly sign the checks or does Ann have uninhibited economic discretion? How many employees does the stable employ?

n.n said...

There are reasonable comprises. While it is ideal that a mother remains with her children especially in the early years, this does not preclude a change in priorities later in life, where both the husband and wife pursue their own or mutual interests, both for reasons of business and pleasure.

Something else to consider is that as men, and especially women, delay procreation to later in their life, the risks, both fiscal and human, increase. They require exotic medical procedures to overcome infertility and other dysfunctional conditions which are progressive with the aging human body. Their children are at increased risk of suffering from physical and mental impairments. This cost is borne by the couple, society, and, of course, the new human life.

The individuals and cooperatives who want a strong and well funded central government are overjoyed by this form of "liberation." It is to their benefit to increase labor participation and their own revenue. However, as individuals dream of instant gratification, then the priorities have been set, and will be exploited by opportunists. This is neither unique nor innovative, in America or anywhere else, in the 21st century or before.

Alex said...

Laura - why do you care?

Dante said...

Leslyn sez:

Your shrillness seems to be all about pregnancy and single mothers. Let's bring in the "male cheerleaders" to say, "If men stopped having sex, women would stop getting pregnant." Or, "If men used protection, women could stop getting pregnant." It sounds like women create all their "problems" through immaculate conception. And babies.

This is what I mean when I say not understanding our biology. I don't see females out in the wild killing each other for a chance at the guy, but males sure do it for a chance to get the chick. See, there different.

This whole idea that men and women have equal sex drives is insane. They are driven by different things. Lesbians have on average around 7 partners in their lives. Same for heterosexual men. Now, homosexual men? It's in the hundreds. See what's different?

Oh yes, leslyn, it's certainly "Fair" to have men and women care about the consequences of sex equally. But it isn't natural. And because it isn't natural, it is you who aren't being fair.

Fen said...

Leslyn: Fen, most of them were dragged kicking and screaming into it.

No. Most of them wanted you to get your rights. Else, you would still not have them.


I stand on some tall shoulders.

Yes, my father's.


Do you think women got the vote because men were nice?

I think women got the vote because men allowed it.


Your statement is blindly paternalistic.

No, I would just like to hear you feminists give credit where its due. Instead of bashing men at every opportunity, recognize that you would not have equal rights without our explicit permission.

Laura said...

Alex - Just an unemployed proofreader/editorial assistant tired of reading between the lines for free, but loving the life of the autodidact and the ability to self-medicate with books after I work part-time at my daughter's school

barry bonds said...

Ann Romney should have gotten a job and WORKED so that she could have increased the Romney household's earnings. Already, the Romney household was earning a lot just from Mitt's earnings. If Ann also actually worked, she too would add to the household's earnings, and then the Romney household would have even more earnings then the poor middle and lower class households. That the Romney household would have even more earnings would increase the income disparity between the rich and the poor, which is exactly what progressives have been arguing forever is what society needs.

Teri said...

I've been the primary bread-winner for the last 18 years, since my third child was born. My husband is brilliant and has two masters degrees, in history and religious education (seminary). He had never planned on working in the corporate world so he only has basic clerical skills. I, on the other hand, had accounting experience, and at that time I made 30% more than he did.

With three children, the cost of daycare was equivalent to my husband's salary. In addition, I found that I didn't really have the patience to be a good parent to three children under five. So he stayed home with the children and I went to work. He has been a magnificent primary caregiver, especially when our youngest son was diagnosed with severe autism. We were hand-to-mouth for a long time, but our children were secure and didn’t really know that they were missing much.

Back then it was pretty tough on both of us - people thought he was a bum, and employers didn't realize that economically I was a man. Can't tell you how many interviews I went on where they assumed that I didn't need health insurance because I was on my husband's policy.

When the youngest was in second grade, my husband went back to work part time. For five years, he could only get temporary jobs - everyone assumed that because he had so much education that he would leave as soon as something better came along. They just wouldn't believe that he would be happy to work in a humble job. They were also suspicious of any explanation he gave for the seven-year-gap in his resume. (He used to say he would have been better off if he had been in prison, because at least he could have learned a trade.) Finally he found work in a customer call center, which he has done for the last ten years, going full-time five years ago.

We've basically lived on my income, and used my husband's income to pay off his student loans, his car and to pay a good portion of our children's tuition, leaving them with very little in student loans. He paid off his car in January, and the kids are almost through college. So he no longer “needs” to work.

So he is getting off the merry-go-round and we are going to go back to being a one-earner family. We can do this because as our income increased 500% over the last 20 years our lifestyle only increased maybe 250%. We still live in the 1000 square foot house we bought when we could barely afford it, with our $600 house payment. It’ll be paid off in five years. We both have paid-off six-year-old cars in excellent shape, don’t plan to replace them for another five or six years. He will fix up the house, make dinner, clean, do laundry, read great literature, garden, think great thoughts and be very, very happy that he is not dying the death of a thousand cuts in a call center. And so will I.

John Lynch said...

Teri-

Yeah, that's the other side of it.

There's a cultural bias against men who stay home, and a cultural bias against women who work while their husband stays home.

This isn't about women's choices, or even men's choices. It's family choices. We're under a lot of pressure to have two-income families with no more than two children.

Jessica said...

Here Here, Ann! As a member of a single-earner household (I am the stay-at-home partner), I am very much looking forward to this series of posts.

Micha Elyi said...

roesch/voltaire claimed, "Sorry even the MItt believes women should work".

Nice try but sorry, the Mitt believes welfare is a last resort, not the ideal lifestyle.

Try again.

Bob said...

Where you stand depends on where you sit.

I was raised in a single-earner, mom at home family, straight from the fifties. My dad was a bus driver. Us kids liked to call him Ralph Kramden. My mom stayed at home and ran the household, raising four kids, plus one who died in infancy. When I was eight years old, we moved from the low income housing projects in the city to a Levittown-type blue collar suburb. My dad still lives there.

My wife was raised in a single-earner, mom at home family, also straight from the fifties. Her dad was a doctor. Her mom stayed at home and ran the household, raising three kids. They lived in a comfortable suburb.

Both of my wife's parents are now dead. They were married over fifty years. My mom is dead, my dad now living alone. They were married over fifty years.

My wife and I were high school sweethearts. After we both graduated from college we got married, at age 21. My wife got a high school teaching job while I went to law school. After three years, I got a job with a law firm, where I have been for nearly forty years.

Two years out from law school, our son was born, and three years after that, our daughter. From the time our son was born, we have been a single-earner family, my wife staying at home.

We've been married forty years. I'm nearing retirement age now, and like the song from my youth says, "Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy."

Our children have blessed us with six grandchildren. We live within walking distance of five of these. My son, daughter and their respective spouses all work outside the home.

Our personal situation was made possible by having a comfortable single income. Everyone doesn't have that. But I see every day other married couples, other households, whose income from a single earner would approximate ours. Notwithstanding, they have opted for the two-career, two-income setup, so as to, let's say it, make even more money.

To each his own on this most personal of lifestyle decisions. I can only say for me, and my spouse, our setup has made it far, far easier to deal with all the varied pressures and demands life has to offer.

My wife came of age just as the culture was changing so as to "liberate" and encourage women to work outside the home, and so to make more money. In some circles, this developed into a cultural disdain for women, and multiplied x times, for men, who opted not to do that.

In the end, just how much is the extra money worth?