[Parentsgroup-list] last time, I swear :)

Jesse Garrett Barnes jbarnes at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Aug 1 11:00:02 EDT 2005


Oppressed families of the U.S., unite!

I guess we've given up on the no political discussion stuff?  I do
appreciate the actual arguments made below, which, while in my opinion
grossly misinformed, are at least elevated beyond the previous epiteths.
There are a host of problems with your analysis below, but for brevity
I'll just make two points in defense:

1.  The overwhelming majority of American families disagree with you
Christine.  In the last election Bush pulled 59% of those with children.
Not that Kerry represents the policies you advocate below (Nader maybe?)
but it seems strange to me that so many families would vote for someone
who represents precisely what is "destroying" them more than anything.

2.  Govt. policies that impose conditions on labor---minimum wage laws,
maternity leave laws, etc.---inevitably cause unemployment.  You can close
your ears and pretend it isn't true but it is.  Are French families so
much better off with an unemployment rate that is currently 10.2% (nearly
double the U.S. rate)?  Or German families with 11.7%?  Why do you think
it is that U.S. per-capita GDP and consumption dwarf other industrialized
nations year after year?  Why do you think the average American has
roughly 33% more real income than the average Western European?

I'm not taking the position that all welfare programs should be
terminated.  But policies involve trade-offs, and closing your eyes and
ignoring them does nothing for the families whose lives are affected by
them.

Oh and one more thing.  I think you must have typed the wrong word in your
post below.  You said "dependents have no place in capitalism because they
cannot be productive."  Sorry, that's communism, not capitalism.
Capitalists favor the rights of all individuals, productive or not, to
choose their path in life.  It is "planned" economies (say, China, the
former Soviet Union, Romania, etc.) where governments decide the worth of
individuals (including dependents) based on their productivity (for
dependents either, in the case of China or the Soviet Union, to limit
them, or in the case of Romania, to require no limit).

Jesse

On Sun, 31 Jul 2005, Christine Dianne Wenc wrote:

>
> I know I'm violating my own new ground rules, but this is the last speech,
> I promise!!  I am enjoying the conversation.  Just delete if you don't
> want to hear it.
>
> One comment on the military, which is hardly a left-wing institution--they
> apparently have one of the best child-care services in the United
> States--excellent, low-cost care for the kids of servicemen & women.
>
> And one comment on maternity leaves--This is just one part of the
> picture as far as I'm concerned.  I think many more families
> could be one-income families if we had a higher minimum wage, were far
> more supportive of labor unions, and had national health insurance.  I
> don't think many women put their babies in day care after 6 weeks because
> they feel empty without their careers--they do it because their families
> need the money.  (After all, most working women are
> NOT lawyers and radical academics--they are secretaries & retail salespeople.)
>
> There was an article in the NYT recently about how many
> American cities--including Boston--are losing their
> children because families cannot afford to live there, only single people
> & couples without children.  This seems so absurd and wrong, and to me
> epitomizes the outcome of our economic policies that take as their normal
> economic unit the individual unencumbered
> adult, not families.  Dependents have no place in capitalism because they
> cannot be productive, and capitalism wants everyone working to increase producers'
> profits (and doesn't give a damn about ANY family structure as far as I
> can see).  But this also happens simultanously with a culture that still
> has a really hard time with women being something other than stay-at-home
> mothers, and a feminist movement which has mostly been concerned with
> increasing women's opportunity in our highly individualist economic
> system.  (The last serious attempt at getting maternity leaves & child
> care was in 1974--shot down by a Nixon veto.)
>
> So we have no maternity leaves and no child care, because these
> support working mothers (conservative p.o.v.) or encourage the maternalist
> idea that women are essentially mothers (feminist p.o.v.).  But at the
> same time, due to our economic policies most families now can't survive on
> one income, so many women--and some men--work outside the home whether or not
> they really want to, and maternity leave/child care policy is set by the
> market.  Capitalism is destroying the American family more than anything
> else.
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