Thursday, November 17, 2005

Over at Crooked Timber, there's a post on a speech recently given by Barack Obama, along with some excellent comments. This quotation is featured:

And so women still earn 76% of what men do. They receive less in health benefits, less in pensions, less in Social Security. They receive little help for the rising cost of child care. They make up 71% of all Medicaid beneficiaries, and a full two-thirds of all the Americans who lost their health care this year. When women go on maternity leave, America is the only country in the industrialized world to let them go unpaid. When their children become sick and are sent home from school, many mothers are forced to choose between caring for their child and keeping their job.

… In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it – Social Darwinism, every man and woman for him or herself. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford – tough luck. It allows us to say to the women who lose their jobs when they have to care for a sick child – life isn’t fair. It let’s us say to the child born into poverty – pull yourself up by your bootstraps

http://crookedtimber.org/2005/11/14/obama-on-child-care/

Whenever I mention any of this in any of my classes, throwing out the notion that maybe it might be useful if parents got some help with childcare, if the entire burden of providing for taking care of kids didn't devolve on the nuclear family -- whenever I mention that, here in the Fort, invariably I get some student snorting something about communism, or social engineering, or right, that's how they do things over there in France, maybe...

It's almost always some single male saying that, I've noticed. Oddly enough. It's never some single mother with kids. And it's never some guy with a wife and two kids at home, either.

Odd how we don't have any problem with the government providing families with help paying for care for their elderly in this country. But help paying for their young'uns? That's just crazy talk.

2 comments:

Cynthia said...

delagar, also worth mentioning is how, in the halcyon days of yore, families didn't move all over the country chasing jobs. Kids grew up near grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom assisted each other in the caring for and rearing of all the children. Parents, single or together, had a lot of family support (best case scenario, I know) that is not practical today.

My mother said a few years ago that the reason we four children are alive today is that she had help from her mother and aunt in caring for us. I believe her!

delagar said...

Re the family support net -- that's an excellent point. It's one of the roughest parts of raising the kid, not having grandparents or aunts and uncles around to call on when I need help with her. I'm so jealous of the Other Liberal Professor, who has grandparents in the area...