May 12, 2013

"We can’t democratize good food without placing tangible value on the work done in the home."

Says Kristin Wartman (via Instapundit), op-edding in the NYT about how the government ought to give people a financial incentive to cook at home. I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to bet that encouraging the single-earner family is not the idea — even though the loss of the 2-parent-single-earner household is probably a big reason for our reliance on the convenience foods that are making us fat.

Reading now:
In the 1960s and ’70s, when American feminists were fighting to get women out of the house and into the workplace, there was another feminist arguing for something else. Selma James, a labor organizer from Brooklyn, pushed the idea of wages for housework. Ms. James, who worked in a factory as a young woman and later became a housewife and a mother, argued that household work was essential to the American economy and wondered why women weren’t being paid for it. As Ms. James and a colleague wrote in 1972, “Where women are concerned their labor appears to be a personal service outside of capital.”
Oh! Here we go! The government is the new husband. It's the track we've been on all these years and the consummation is nigh.
Since women first began to enter the work force, families have increasingly relied on processed foods and inexpensive restaurant meals....
Women going out to work was the problem. But we can't go back to old-fashioned husband-and-wife division of labor. We must do something new, moving into a closer and closer embrace with the government.
It’s nearly impossible for a single parent or even two parents working full time to cook every meal from scratch, planning it beforehand and cleaning it up afterward. This is why many working parents of means employ housekeepers. But if we put this work on women of lower socioeconomic status (as is almost always the case), what about their children? Who cooks and cleans up for them?
One way for lower income people to have amenities similar to what rich people have is to have one partner stay home. To do this, you need to do the math and keep a budget. Part of the home-based work is economizing. It costs money to go to work, including all the extra spending on convenience foods. But people have forgotten how to run a family as a single economic unit. Both must work — it will be insisted. Both will work, incur excessive expenses because no one is at home, and they will pay these expenses with after-tax earnings.
Stay-at-home parents should qualify for a new government program while they are raising young children — one that provides money for good food, as well as education on cooking, meal planning and shopping — so that one parent in a two-parent household, or a single parent, can afford to be home with the children and provide wholesome, healthy meals.

These payments could be financed by taxing harmful foods, like sugary beverages, highly caloric, processed snack foods and nutritionally poor options at fast food and other restaurants. 
See? The money for all of this will be created by targeting those who pick the wrong option. By the way, how do you make sure the stay-at-home parent actually does cook and does produce "wholesome, healthy meals"? And isn't this the return of the welfare mother?

Now, I think at some point we will have a problem with women not producing enough offspring to maintain the population, and we might need to provide full support for the women who want this form of work. But who should "qualify for a new government program"? When/if that happens, I predict the people will want the participants in the program to be held to high standards and subjected to surveillance to insure that the rules are followed.

Wartman imagines a program that will be supported by the taxpayers because the money comes only from "a tax on harmful food products." She likes the symmetry of the positive and the negative reinforcement. She inhabits a policy wonk dream world that has so little to do with the ways of the human being that I'd like to think she's doing one of those "Modest Proposal" satires. But she's not. She's one of these people who are infatuated with government and have no realistic idea of what an awful husband the government really is.


This is one of those posts where I wrote one more sentence. Then I contemplated my writing, decided restraint was appropriate, and deleted it. I leave it to you to write a kicker sentence containing the word "fuck."


CEO-MMP said...

Because really, all the government wants to do is hate fuck you until you're quiet.

BigFire said...

Typical Statist. The solution to any problem is more government intervention. Your wife left you? Why there should be a government program to help you with that.

BDNYC said...

If your wife doesn't fuck you enough, there should be a government program, financed by taxing prostitutes and pronographers, which encourages marital sex by paying wives to have sex on a nightly basis. It will make marriages happier, which will help the economy. There will be a multiplier effect. Or something.

Mogget said...

How do you tell the government you have a headache when it wants to fuck you?

The Drill SGT said...

'a new government program'

like WaPo Wonkblog that Glenn linked to yesterday

Universal Basic Income

We pay everybody whether they need it or not. let them decide to work...

fairy dust and unicorn poophs

Pogo said...

"Now, I think at some point we will have a problem with women not producing enough offspring to maintain the population."

By design.

And will there be gay marriage to the state?

edutcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SGT Ted said...

Fuck me, but this woman is just another idiot socialist who thinks she can make people she hates, makers of convenience food, pay for something she wants.

Her argument is just the old, tired Commie/Union argument, trying to squeeze more money from taxpayers.

There is a value for housekeeping alone and that's around 5-10 dollars an hour.

And speaking of slave labor, whats up with no paycheck from Uncle Sugar for kids doing household chores while mummy gets too fat eating bon-bons and watching soaps and picking out her new baby-daddy to keep the funds coming in? That's CHILD SLAVERY! Why is that woman for enslaving children to work for no pay?

And. no, single parents should not be rewarded with a paycheck. That sort of thing we should be discouraging. If having kids is the goal, make it only available to married couples.

dreams said...

The government can fuck us but does it really love us.

Oso Negro said...

Who the fuck do these people think they are?

edutcher said...

The old feminists made a big show about paying housewives.

But Drill puts his finger on it. this is the old Guaranteed Annual Income of the George McGovern campaign, all they need is the companion to Food Stamps - Clothing Stamps ("so poor people can dress up and feel good").

And, if they wanted to "democratize good food" (whatever that means), wouldn't the first step be restricting the kinds of food that Food Stamps buy?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Government is a terrible husband because:

(a) He's a polygamist: e pluribus unions are the norm: he's not looking out for you but your neighbor as well.

(b) He's a terrible lover: his IRS has an anal fetish.

(c) He's a pedophile--unabashedly interested in your kids at ever earlier ages.

(d) He can't control his own urges which means that another government will ultimately have to control him.

(e) He is a gun nut, buying and hoarding ammunition like it's going out of style.

AllenS said...

The government needs to install devices to weigh shoppers in grocery stores. Then, they can tax the fuck out of fat people who buy processed food.

Originally, I thought this up as humor, then, I started to think that this is a good idea. Well, what the fuck?

SGT Ted said...

What is even more depressing is the magical thinking that surrounds these utopian fantasies.

I bet that woman doesn't even know how to cook.

Jason (the commenter) said...

You can eat a healthy diet, cheaply, and with little effort. Just stick to frozen vegetables, pasta, canned tuna, and the like.

The "made from scratch" type of food the author is talking about is nothing more than gluttony, a byproduct of our society's most decadent elements.

If anything the government should tax "health" food. All the organic stuff and fresh vegetables that only rich people eat. And give that to poor people, or use it to pay down our debt.

There's no good reason, no MORAL reason, to tax the foods poor people eat, making their lives even more difficult.

AllenS said...


My first thought was her and a bowl of ramen noodles.

Paul said...

The way I look at it is eating out helps the economy and if people want to eat out... that is FREEDOM.

When the price of food at restaurants gets so high they cannot eat out.. then they will learn to cook on their own.

And yes I'm a guy and while my wife cooks most of the time, I always am the burger chief!

Quayle said...

We need to tell our children to shut up, eat their frozen burrito, and contemplate the justice and beauty of our society having more capitalist executives, bankers and lawyers.

Can't you just taste the cardboard nourishment?

virgil xenophon said...

"It is nearly impossible for a single parent or even two parents working full-time to cook every meal from scratch, planning it beforehand and cleaning it up afterwards."

I would take serious issue with that, Ann. although my case is perhaps special because both my parents were teachers and so were not circumscribed by a 9-5 work-day schedule--my Mother teaching 2nd grade and my Father tennis & basketball coach @ Eastern Ill U. As such growing up in the 50s Mom would have any shopping done by 4-4:30 and begin meal preparation for a late (in those days) supper around 8-8:30 as Dad always had practice (BB, Fall&Winter, Tennis, Spring) and wouldn't get home until then. Meals from scratch in our case were also driven by lack of ready alternatives--unlike today. Our little rural college town did not have a single white table-cloth sit-down restaurant, the microwave was not even on the horizon, and we had only the A&W (a rare summer treat for burgers) the "Dog & Suds", the DQ, and three short-order joints close to campus. That was IT! In fact there wasn't a pizza joint in town until I entered HS. Frozen pizzas were unknown. (as in "hadn't been invented yet")
Mom did it all without the aid of an automatic dishwasher, I might add--until the day she died.

So, TRUST ME, Ann, it CAN be done..

gerry said...


Quayle said...

And my question for atheist feminists is: on what evidence do you conclude that the traditional arrangement of women staying home was not the most efficient evolved form of prosperous living for a family.

One what new capability did you come to believe that you could willfully buck the inherited efficiencies of evolution?

Aren't you progressives?

Or are you just arrogant?

EnigmatiCore said...

Hopefully the deleted sentence was "Fuck John Kerry," just because.

AprilApple said...

What a horrid idea. Only a damn liberal progressive do-gooder could come up with such a government-as-daddy nightmare.

I think the big goal of our communist-lite betters is to have a government take-over of the entire food distribution system.
Sorry Whole Foods, bid daddy government needs to take over.
It won't add one dime! to the deficit. Chumps.

gerry said...

I modestly propose we start eating progressive policy wonks. Heavily-salted and breaded, cooked in deep-fat-frier pressure cookers, progressive policy wonks just may be delicious.

virgil xenophon said...

"The end result of all 'progressive' politics is totalitarianism."

----Eric Voegelin

ricpic said...

We. Who's this we? Together, comrades, we make future bright. Need to break a few eggs is all. But we get there. Forward!

kcom said...

"progressive policy wonks just may be delicious."

Bon appétit!

acm said...

Wait a minute----isn't she describing a government program that already exists? WIC does exactly what she's asking except provide hourly compensation for the cooking and shopping; they give you money (in voucher or debit card form) for "good" food (Rice Krispies aren't good in my book, but, whatever they also cover milk and cheese and veggies) provide classes on nutrition and recipe books and breastfeeding classes. It's available to SAHMs and working parents alike under a certain income (which is actually fairly high, as these programs go) and you can sign up the minute you find out you're pregnant and stay on til the youngest kid is five. At that age, the state stops buying food for Mom to serve at home and starts buying food for cafeteria ladies to serve at school.

But I guess WIC didn't go far enough...

Quayle said...

Son, Daughter, your father and I want to go out and be capitalists.

But don't worry, we're paying a lot of taxes so these nice bureaucrats can come in and take care of you.

Now, make sure you do exactly what they tell you to do, otherwise we'll get audited by the IRS.

And you remember what happened the last time we got audited, we had to cancel our trip to the 4th of July Freedom Festival and our vacation to the Maldives.

Dante said...

Now, I think at some point we will have a problem with women not producing enough offspring to maintain the population

Of course, "At some point" all things that are possible will occur, provided their chances aren't changing a lot over time.

However, in the US the Hispanic minority is not assimilating, and they have a fertility of 3. I doubt we are going to run out of welfare recipients anytime soon.

Ann Althouse said...

"And will there be gay marriage to the state?"

It's for women, whether they are gay or straight. The marriage is to the government program. The sperm will be high-quality and government-approved.

No one cares who these women have sex with, but it must be "healthy and wholesome" (with women or men).

Men cannot qualify for the program, because they can't get pregnant -- a valid basis for sex discrimination, see Michael M. v. Superior Court.

edutcher said...

Dante said...

However, in the US the Hispanic minority is not assimilating, and they have a fertility of 3. I doubt we are going to run out of welfare recipients anytime soon.

Until Chuckie Schumer's AmnestyCare, they were going the other way. If it flops in the House, given the "train wreck" coming at us that is ObamaTax, we'll see that trend renewed, I think.

virgil xenophon said...

I should add that there are currently two parts of our government which every day are charged with delivering nutritious meals to vast numbers of people daily--the prison system and the armed forces--BOTH HIGHLY authoritarian/totalitarian institutions. Note how it is done. All meals are consumed at the same prescribed time of day for a limited number of minutes from a master-menu ranging in choices from none (prison) to severely limited (armed services.)

Neighborhood "community" mess-halls coming your way soon, compliments of your "Community-Organizer"-in-Chief..

Paco Wové said...

"So, TRUST ME, Ann, it CAN be done.."

I think Althouse is quoting from the article in the excerpt you are discussing, v.x. She would probably agree with you.

And Jason (the Commenter, not the Argonaut) is correct - it really isn't very hard to provide simple, fast, cheap, nutritious meals. People around the world do it. For some reason, Americans seem to have trouble with the concept. My personal pet theory is that the majority culture culinary traditions are a blend of the worst food cultures of old Europe -- British, German, Scandinavian -- so when we think of cheap peasant food, we think of horrors like lutefisk, haggis, and spotted dick.

DCS said...

I took one look at the Selma James comment and thought, now there is the potential death knell for marriage. Let's turn it into a renewable contract for domestic services. Sure, I'll pay her wages, but she's not getting any severance pay when I get sick of her!

El Pollo Raylan said...

"Men cannot qualify for the program, because they can't get pregnant -- a valid basis for sex discrimination, see Michael M. v. Superior Court."

The Lord is my shepardizer;
I shall not want men;
He makes me lie down in greener pastures.
He leads me beside clean waters;
He restores my sole efforts.
He leads me in paths of leftousness
for His name's sake.

Astro said...

The Broken Window Fallacy.
Opportunity Cost.
The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Three simple concepts even the dumbest fuckhead graduating from college should understand.

Ann Althouse said...

"So, TRUST ME, Ann, it CAN be done.."

You're quoting Kristin Wartman, not me. Obviously, I think it can be done, as I indicated in the post.

Ann Althouse said...

Click on my "single-earner household" tag. This has been a big issue of mine for a long time.

Paco Wové said...

"Men cannot qualify for the program, because they can't get pregnant -- a valid basis for sex discrimination,"

That's a cool ratchet you've got there -- biology favors men? We must legislate the advantage away. Biology favors women? We must enshrine that advantage into law.

bpm4532 said...

How quickly will this veer into outlawing or severely taxing eating out as needless luxury?

David said...

"have no realistic idea of what an awful husband the government really is."

that would be "fuck-awful husband." Otherwise it's perfect.

And don't worry, gov-wives, the government will fuck you when you least expect it. Exciting, eh?

virgil xenophon said...


Muy mea culpas about the quote--too much Barbancourt this am in my coffee--plus I didn't bother to go back and re-read before I commented. As a certain person would say: "Never mind..."

Jane said...

People who think that it's impossible for two full-time-working parents to feed their kids home-cooked meals apparently don't know how to cook -- or each parent works such long hours that they barely get home in time to put their kids to bed, much less feed them.

It's not that hard. It takes some pre-planning -- before my schedule changed, I used to marinate some pork chops the night before, so that they could go straight into the foreman grill. Some salad (buying a premade bag of salad is perfectly acceptable) and maybe a quick side dish and you're done. Or have some chicken cut up and you've got stroganoff. Buy hamburger meat in bulk, cook it, and freeze it in portions -- then you've got spaghetti. Or set the rice cooker timer in the morning, and you've got any number of options, the easiest of them being fried rice.

Now, granted, my dream appliance still hasn't hit the market: a chill-to-bake minioven that would, in a preprogrammed way, keep a premade casserole chilled all day long, then, at the programmed time, switch to a bake function, so that at 6 pm, your spaghetti pie is ready to eat. (Some years ago, I would have paid the start-up costs for anyone planning on developing such a devise -- now I'm at home in the late afternoons and don't need it any longer.)

But the point being, it's not a matter of lack of money or time. It's lack of will. And I don't see how government cash is going to make a difference.

AprilApple said...

Why don't we control behavior by taxing the fuck out of all bad things so that perfection is within our gasp.

- the creepy collective left

bpm4532 said...

Why don't I get paid for
-housepainting and maintenance (inside and out)
-remodeling (walls and cabinets)
-auto maintenance and repair
-electrical work
-fending off wild varmints
-insect pest control
-music lessons for the kids on piano, guitar and sax
-computer support and maintenance for 4 users, 4 laptops, 2 servers 2 printers, 1 scanner, 4 phones, and 2 tablets.
Oh and I also:
-hold a job and earning $200k+/year
-providing a house, utilities, cable TV and internet access
-pay for clothes and personal activities
-paying college tuition
-paying for vacations and all the other stuff

All I ask it to get to smoke a cigar every once in while, enjoy a glass of whisky a couple times a week and play golf a couple times a month.

To which governmental department do I sent my invoice?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Dear Ms. Wartman: The Government already subsidizes healthy eating for families via the home mortgage interest tax deduction. The answer is to move to the dreaded suburbs and grow your own: Arugula, tomatoes, eggplant.

AprilApple said...

We already pay the government loads of money to educate our children, while we agree to less and less. Art and music are cut and then we are told we clearly don't care about "the children."
All thanks to unions and unaccountable bureaucrats who demand and manipulate us for more more more as they stuff their pockets.
...driving whole municipalities into bankruptcy over unsustainable early retirement promises and bloated pensions.

When I was in school we had home-economics. The basic idea was to learn how to cook something. I'm sure home-ec is long gone from the public education system. Music art home-ec - all sacrificed for the left's poorly thought-out sacred cows: Union bloat and whining for more.

Besides, learning how to cook and balance a check book are so passé.

Plus- Beyoncé Noam Chomsky Hate America first class is up next.

TML said...

Ha! I tweeted that EXACT quote yesterday because it's so idiotic. But Taranto gets the h/t because he tweeted the article link that led me to it.

Dante said...

Until Chuckie Schumer's AmnestyCare, they were going the other way

Assimilation or fertility rates?

I've evidence Hispanics are not assimilating (to 21st century workers), and no evidence the fertility rate is changing.

Paco Wové said...


I really hate mowing the lawn, but I'm too poor/cheap to pay somebody to do it. Where's my compensation, dammit?

virgil xenophon said...


We had home economics/"industrial arts" in JrH for everyone--fast track or not circa 56-57/57-58 And my public HS offered four separate complete career tracks--college prep, business, Vo-tec/industrial economics/Agric. and "home economics." But then in those days no funding was needed for security guards, "diversity" counselors, LGBT advisors, "bullying"/suicide prevention teams, etc. Ah, isn't present-day progress wonderful?

rhhardin said...

If you pay by the hour, there's not much money in microwaving.

virgil xenophon said...

PS to April Apple:

Meant to emphasize that both home economics and industrial arts were required for everyone. Yes, Iearned to sew--but badly--and gritting my teeth all the way...I guess one could say my heart just wasn't in it :)

But cooking..

dbp said...

The government is the worst kind of husband: He will fritter away your hard-earned money on pyramid schemes and con men and will constantly want to fuck you in an uncomfortable place. And I don't mean the back of a Volkswagon.

rhhardin said...

Doing the lawn: try a scythe.

Think of it as gym equipment.

It gives you a reason to go outside for a half hour any time and cut another swath or so across the lawn, listening to birds or sometimes the neighbors' lawn tractors. is where I get my stuff.

There's a several-year learning curve on technique, which is something to do as well.

caplight45 said...

Ann, you used the noun "op ed" as a verb and made it "opedding". For the love all that is linguisticly sacred, NOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Jane said...

the problem with reinstituting home ec in high school (to include cooking, basic mending, basic home repairs) is that kids then go off to college to live in that bubble of dormitory cafeterias. Why do we do that? Why do young adults accumulate massive debt in order to eat prepared food every day instead of cooking for themselves? (And why do universities require it?)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It’s nearly impossible for a single parent or even two parents working full time to cook every meal from scratch, planning it beforehand and cleaning it up afterward.

THIS is utter bull. It isn't impossible. It is just a bit more work. You might have to give up something else to spend some time with your family. If you get the whole family involved in the cooking and cleaning up, you will have created not only a great family meal but some wonderful memories.

I can think of at least 20 different meals that can easily be made from scratch or leftovers from previous meals that take less than 20 minutes to put together. IF you consider that too much work or impossible, I fear for how you can handle the rest of your impossible life. said...

The sad thing is Obama might actually go for this, especially if he needed to keep 'fucking' the base.

Renee said...

Ever hear of a freezer?

I cook and freeze. Throw it in the microwave in single serve ware.

cubanbob said...

Yet again for the umpteenth time another exams of liberalism jumping the shark. Lets take this idiot bimbo's proposal to its logical extreme: have Zero imement Pol Pot's year zero and force the population on to collective farms. Then everyone can do their share of growing organic fruits and vegetables and nuts. Then have collective organic meal preparation. Of course as a public health measure all mechanized farm equipment is forbidden that way we all get a daily measure of vigorous excersize and fresh air. That way we all will get healthy organic food- no unhealthy planet destroying meat and naturally no artificial fertilizer or other planet unfriendly chemicals and we get all the sunshine and fresh air and excersize we need. In addition there being no free time left after farming, eating and sleeping we can dispose of bourgeoise indulgences like the NYT and we get the added bonus of saving the trees. What's not to like?

Edgehopper said...

To take a page from Game of Thrones, when government is your husband, the preferred form of consummation will be "something that sounds very painful and cannot possibly result in children."

MadisonMan said...

The govt program that says to all Restauranteurs: Go to Hell!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Ever hear of a freezer?

No kidding. How about a crockpot? Here is one that even a NYT writer could prepare. Not only easy...CHEAP and nutritious. Throw in a bagged salad with some minor additions and some easy cornbread, even from a mix....and you are set.

People are so lazy.

Freeman Hunt said...

Lottery tickets, cigarette taxes, liquor taxes, sales taxes to pay for stadiums, gas taxes, unhealthy food taxes--shall we never run out of schemes to wring a few more pennies from the poor to subsidize middle class living?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Kicker sentence:

But then, I voted for President Obama, so I guess I'm just a stupid fuck.

Rhythm and Balls said...

One way for lower income people to have amenities similar to what rich people have is to have one partner stay home.... It costs money to go to work...

WTF kind of la-la land do you live in, lady?

Oh yeah, the one where Yoko stays at home and rattles off Beatles royalties statements while thanking fans for their support.

Joanne Jacobs said...

____ing idiot?

As a working, divorced mother, I cooked for my daughter without lots of fuss or clean up required. The key is to keep your child's culinary expectations at a realistic level. And it helps to plan several meals in advance, use leftovers and train your child to help.

Competent people know this. Incompetent people will not turn into healthy food chefs if they're given a government check. They'll be able to afford more KFC.

Birches said...

Rhythm and Balls, sorry you're wrong. There are quite a few of us here on Althouse that are in one wage earner households that do exactly what Althouse says.

My spouse has a good job, but I think most people in our neighborhood would be shocked to hear what we make (since they probably make almost double). They spend their money on child care, taxes and car loans. We don't.

Birches said...

I admit there is a cultural problem among the lower class. Many do not know how to cook cheap things that could actually help them eat better for less money than TV dinners and pizza rolls.

But WIC does try to teach that. I don't think its helped. Maybe you could have food stamp recipients learn how to cook rice, beans, and oatmeal before they get their cash. I doubt it would make much difference, but maybe it would help a few.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Birches, thanks for your clarification. There may be many advantages to a single, or predominantly single bread-winner. And while better attention to economizing might be one of them, higher income surely isn't.

Dreida Kapp said...

I am finding that I can never read anything like this without the crazy ceo of yahoo screaming in my head, "I don't know what women are complaining about"; referring to getting back to work after giving birth.

Bring in state-run childcare, subsidise local farmers rather than tax junk-makers. Please try to help and not enforce grotesque policies.

Peter said...

If she thinks that what she's proposing is new, she should read "Erewhon" (1872) and some of the tracts of the Fabyan Society. Much of what she's proposing is just a recycling of Fabyan Socialism.

Of course, one difference between now and 1872 is the availability of labor-saving devices. Like freezers and microwave ovens. Although if feminist theory is correct, the amount of labor required for housework will simply expand to absorb all additional inputs, as performance standards inevitably rise.

In any case, it's an irony that these demands for massive, permanent government spending come just as government's ability to pay is reaching its limits as productive citizens' incomes have mostly reached a plateau in developed countries (due to international competition, among other factors).

Finally, it's hardly a secret that "single mother" is, for most, not economically viable; for most, it's possible only with large government payments. And it's also hardly a secret that those who practice socially conservative religions (e.g., orthodox Jews) have much higher birth rates than highly educated Liberals.

So perhaps the most effective pro-natalist policy would be to reduce single motherhood (perhaps by reducing government subsidies for it, and bringing back at least some of the stigma) and, if not actively encouraging religion at least stop pushing so hard to get it out of the public square.

anil kumar said...

Dinner time is a perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your family. Unfortunately, many of today’s on-the-go families let this traditional practice go by the wayside.FAMILY MEAL has become verry common now-a-days