Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mama Don't Come Cheap

Did you know that a stay-at-home mother of two should be earning $133,000 per year? It's true because a man in a suit from Salary.com said it on Today yesterday morning.

This sort of thing epitomizes the most vacuous brand of planted news - a fabricated water cooler statistic strategically and solely designed to get a company's name into the public eye. Furthermore, it commodifies the act of child-rearing, reducing children to the economic status of widgets. At the same time, it creates a phony sense of market entitlement among stay-at-home moms, who already tend to reside in our society's more advantaged strata. Meanwhile, the struggle of poor single working moms and our government's zeal for dismantling the human services infrastructure for women and children goes duly unnoted because it doesn't make a nice soundbite.

There are some folks who really believe stay-at-home moms should be compensated because they're "adding value" to "future human capital." Following this line of reasoning, I guess we should also be able to dock moms (and dads, for that matter) whose kids grow up to become criminals. "No blood pressure pills for you today, Mrs. Jones. Your son got pinched for soliciting prostitution at a truck stop last night."

Raising children is time-consuming and expensive, but it's also a choice. You have to take care of them for free or else they get taken away from you. If you're concerned about this meager compensation package (no sick days! no adult interaction!), the time to think about that is before reproductive fluids are exchanged. Happy Mother's Day!

12 comments:

Karla said...

Living in Norway has been an eye-opening experience for me on this issue.
The whole issue of worrying about single mom childcare has been erased.
If you are a single mom (and there are lots of them) childcare is provided by the state at a reasonable rate. Marital status, job status does not matter. If you are a stay at home mom (those are usually in relationships) and choose not to send your kid to childcare, you get a monthly stipend from the state to equal what it might cost to go to daycare. For fairness sake. Abortion? Non issue. Morning After pills? Over the counter, no questions asked.
Having a kid here is just another facet of your life, it does not mean financial ruin or the loss of a career. It's just procreation. It's really rather nice having that stress removed. People here are allowed to get on with their lives whether they have kids or not.
Now, whether i get pissed at having to pay 52% taxes is another whole issue.....

jennifer said...

I'd like to be compensated for staying home and taking care of myself! It's not easy making myself breakfast, making sure there's enough Scotch stocked in the minibar, and cleaning up after my long baths. What about the stay-at-home single non-moms, huh? Where's our payback?

Also, although I've never met her, I'd like to offer my services: Does Karla need an au pair in Norway? I'm very good at pouring drinks and drawing baths!

Greg said...

Most of the evidence I've seen suggests the benign socialism of Western Europe is a better model for building healthy families than the non-system we have in the U.S. Unfortunately, too many Americans fancy themselves as "self-made" and are blind to ways in which the infrastructure helps them along. Free cereal for babies is nanny state liberalism, but a $1 million mortgage interest deduction is just fine.

That said, if I was being taxed at 52%, I too might push for a non-parent stipend similar to the one Jennifer is advocating for.

Kat said...

"What about the stay-at-home single non-moms, huh? Where's our payback?" ha! well, how about the luxury of unmitigated self-absorption! I remember it well...

You have to take care of them for free, or, go to work and pay someone $600 a month to take care of them... it's amazing that anyone reproduces. But if we didn't, where would the garage bands of the future come from?

jennifer said...

Um, I guess no one gets my sense of humor, since I was actually joking when I said stay-at-home single non-moms should get compensated. Is there an "ironic" emoticon I can buy somewhere?

Greg said...

I figured as much, Jennifer. And just to be sure, I was way more than half-kidding when I suggested that perhaps parents whose kids get busted en or close to flagrante with commercial sex workers at truck stops should be denied medical treatment.

Leslie said...

I get nothing for being a stay at home mum (as I am called here) except gray hairs and the knowledge that my kids are being brought up the way I want them to be. Late last year, the Australian government decided to pay a 'baby bonus' to encourage people to have more kids. . .AU$ 3,000 a pop! Pity it's not retroactive, I could use a spare $12k - although it's only a drop in the bucket in comparison to the actual cost of raising kids.
I fell a bit better about the 48% tax we pay here though!

Kat said...

I got the irony, Jennifer -- mea culpa, I apologize for a snarky tone. Such is the fallout of a day like mine yesterday: a work-at-home mom with too many jobs and intense PMS hits the wall...
Having kids IS a choice, and not having them is equally good. I guess my angry despair on days like yesterday stems from just how little support there is for all families in a "family values" culture. Meaning: why is there no affordable childcare? Why so few alternatives for those of us who aren't rich SUV-driving perfect pedicure mommies?
We chose to have a kid, yeah, but I don't think that should mean we have to shut up about how our culture makes a hard job even tougher and more expensive.
So where's that $100,000 box again? I want that check. I'll pull the kid out of preschool. And hire a nanny.

jennifer said...

I really feel for all you moms--single, stay-at-home, or otherwise.

I have a friend in LA who said the private preschool his friend's kid is about to be enrolled in costs $20,000 a year. More than Bennington in the Bret Easton Ellis years! PRESCHOOL!

The "family values"/no affordable child care/no adoption for gay couples oxymoronic policies of this administration remind me a lot of the whole "culture of life"/death penalty/war in Iraq thing we've got going on here. None of it makes it any sense whatsoever.

I can't wait to get my dual American/Euro citizenship--52% tax rate or bust! Most likely bust...

Greg said...

In spite of my sardonic tone in the initial post, I too have much love and respect for the moms. Being told I'm on the wrong side of God or government doesn't scare me, but being on the wrong side of mom would be a LONELY place!

About this $20,000 pre-school in L.A., does that include a cocaine allowance?

Karla said...

I don't have kids, so we get to pay the taxes but don't get the mom stipend. We are supporting all those other moms. The Non-Mom stipend sounds nice, actually!
I am, however, trying like hell to have a kid, as if i do, the Norwegian govt would give me about 5000 USD! Just for having a pup! It would be the only real money I would make here.

Kat said...

$20,000 preschools in L.A. -- and an Ivy League admissions process for private elementaries. A friend's kid is WAITLISTED for first grade. I don't know if there's a cocaine allowance, but I think they can get Botoxed at the nurse's office.
"being on the wrong side of mom would be a LONELY place!" Ha!
How many times do I have to tell you, Greg: NO WIRE HANGERS!