Category Archives: Economy

The Cost of NOT Staying At Home

We all know the costs of moms not staying at home with their kids.  But did you know it literally costs more for moms to work?

After factoring in the rising costs of child care, gas, wear and tear on the car, parking, and other work-related expenses (clothes, food, etc.), a growing number of mothers are figuring out it doesn’t pay to have a job. 

In a CNN article, a third-grade teacher making about $48,000 a year in the Fairfax, Virginia  public school system was shadowed.  Out of the $48,000 she earned, she brought home about $30,000 after taxes, health insurance, and retirement contributions.  Even though she lives in Virginia, where child care costs are among the lowest in the country, care for the child would have cost $12,000 a year – nearly half of her before-tax income.

She says, “It wasn’t worth $18,000 for us to let somebody else raise our son.”  So I thought, “Well what amount of money would make it worth it to have somebody else raise your kid?” 

The Pew Research Center also conducted a study on the public attitude about stay-at-home moms.  According to it, when motherhood and children are brought into the debate, there is an ongoing ambivalence about what is best for society. Oh my gosh!  Imagine thinking of the greater good.  Only 21 percent of adults think the trend toward mothers of young children working outside the home has been a good thing for society.  Personally, I’m sad that the response was as large as 21 percent, but it’s still small.  On the other hand, 37 percent of the people surveyed said being a working mom is a bad thing, and 38 percent were not sure it makes a difference. 

The study goes on to say, most working mothers (62%) prefer to only work part time, and only 37% say they prefer full-time work. That’s scary…a third of those children have mothers who would rather be away from them all day. And finally, only one-in-ten moms say having a mother who works full time is the ideal situation for a child.  Do you realize they took ten mothers and asked each of them, “If you work full time, is that ideal for your kid?”  And one of them actually said, “Yeah.”  I wonder what motivated that, because I’ve always said not everybody’s a great mom.  If you’re not a good mom the kid might be better off with somebody else.  It is possible. 

But then I asked my listeners to describe “Aha!” moments they had about being stay-at-home moms.  Here are just three of the responses… 

Heidi wrote:
“My ‘Aha!’ moment happened rather quickly when I became a mom for the first time.  I was open to returning to work and didn’t know how I was going to feel after giving birth.  But when they put my daughter in my arms for the very first time, I looked at her, felt her tiny little body against mine, and said to my husband, ‘I’m never going back to work!’  Within those first few seconds of holding my daughter, a rush of future moments overwhelmed all my senses.  I didn’t want anyone besides this beautiful baby’s mommy and daddy to care for her.  I didn’t want a nanny to call me when she took her first steps.  I didn’t want a text from someone other than her daddy telling me she ate carrots for the first time.  I didn’t want to learn via email my child could swing all by herself at the park.  I didn’t want a video sent to my cell phone watching her speak her first words or hear her first real giggles.  I didn’t want a Picture Mail of my child’s first smile after losing her first tooth.  No, I wanted to be there for every possible moment in her life.  What job or amount of money would be worth missing all of that?  I’m happy to say after 6 years with two children and a grateful husband who not only loves my choice but also respects my choice (as so few do) of staying at home to raise our children, I still stay at home!  Thank God I had my ‘Aha!’ moment so quickly.  Otherwise I would have missed out on the one thing that matters most in life: being a real and present mother who has enough videos and pictures to fill a thousand albums that were all taken by me!  We all have regrets in our lives on what we should have or wished we would have done.  I thank God that not being there for my children each and every day is not one of them.”

Mayi wrote:
“When I started staying home with my children, I was surprised to find out how much I didn’t value my position as a mother.  I found out I only get to be mommy once and time was valuable. I learned I could live on a lot less than I originally believed.  I learned I like teaching (as they were my first students).  I learned I only get one shot at being an awesome mom.  I learned how to love and appreciate myself as a woman with an important job.  I learned how to budget and sacrifice, and I began to connect with and honor other mothers.  I have learned how to be creative, work, and study from home, and I have learned how to organize and plan.  I know the bond we have created will never be broken.  And I learned as long as I put God first, He will lead and direct me down the correct path and continue to make me an awesome mom and wife.”

And Jane:
“I have my stay-at-home parent ‘Aha!’ moment almost daily when I pick my daughters up from school.  I see the other kids who come out from their classes to emerge into the quad or parking lot area only to look for their ‘after school program’ bus/van, and they have this look of sadness when they see children like mine, who have their mom there to greet them with a hug, kiss, and a smile once they come running out of their classroom.  It would break my heart if I was not able to be there like I am for my girls.  Yes, we don’t have the luxuries like the other kids do of going to Disneyland once a year, video game systems, or designer clothes/shoes, but we are happy with what we have and what we can do. I love my two girls, and I wouldn’t change being a stay-at-home mom for anything!”

Exploiting Kids When Finances Are Tight

When times get tough, some folks dig in and just get more creative and try harder.  For some parents, when the economy got tough, they got their children to try harder, and I’m not happy about this at all.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the children’s segment of the modeling industry has seen a 50% increase in applicants in the past three years, as parents try to have the kids’ “looks” subsidize the family income.  Also contributing to the growing number of mini-models are the reality TV shows featuring children (Toddlers and Tiaras and Little Miss Perfect come to mind).

I think this is a despicable development.  Parents there to exploit their children for their own income and ego?  The family income should not be put on the back (or should I say “face”) of children whose ages are still in single digits!
 
The impact on children is horrendous on many levels:

1. They have to deal with rejection at a very early age.  Children take these situations quite personally, and don’t understand the frivolity of choices based upon product, the taste of producers and so on. 
2. Kids think they are the most important part of the family – exaggerated value makes for a narcissism that will likely haunt that child throughout life, especially when it disappears as they get older and less cute or desired by Hollywood.
3. The child who is the performer becomes the “golden child,” and other children in the family are terribly hurt as their value to the parents (i.e., love) seems to disappear.
4. Kids learn that money and looks are the focal point of life.
5. Small children don’t understand the ramifications of the four items above and can’t really make the choice for themselves as to whether or not to participate (and such participation would change their lives and might not be in their best interests).

Exploiting children for ANY reason is wrong.  And that’s that. 

Taking Food Out of the Mouths of Call Girls

I’m still laughing…I read an article last week in one of the online news reporting sites about a new book on economics, called Superfreakonomics.  In the book, the authors discuss the issue of prostitution in today’s economic climate.  As it turns out, prostitution was a profitable enterprise (focusing on mainstream sex acts) until the sexual liberation movement in the 1960s changed “the business of intimacy, and a generation of ‘free love’ altered the marketplace forever.”  The “modesty traditionally displayed by women in search of Mr. Right evolved to a bold pursuit of Mr. Right Now.”  The 1960s genesis of casual sex became prostitution’s direct rival.

So, prices for sex acts plummeted.  Hookers had competition from the average woman who would have sex for free (without even getting a dinner out of it). Being entrepreneurial, hookers then began to provide more unconventional sex -  the kind of things men can’t get from their girlfriends – and the price for those often depraved acts hauled the fees way back up.

As one call girl said:  “Thank God prostitution is illegal, ’cause if it weren’t, I wouldn’t be making $500 an hour; I’d probably be back doing what I was doing, which was working as a computer technician for a Fortune 500 company.” Of course, if you’re the prostitute for a state governor, you’ll probably get lots of media offers!

The call girl entrepreneur who was interviewed was asked whether or not she would suggest this “career” for her daughter.  She obfuscated like crazy, saying she hoped it would be only one of many, many options, and then the article ended with the revelation that she’s now quitting prostitution to go to school to study economics.  I guess morality finally caught up to her.

This is why I use the term “unpaid whore” for women who shack up with guys, rather than dignify themselves and sexual intimacy with a marital commitment.  I tell them that at the very least, they ought to be paid for sex, since it ultimately means nothing profoundly important to him past the orgasm.  Now I can mention that they are taking food out of the mouths of prostitutes and their families!!

Women cannot run away from their true nature, and our true nature (apart from any psychological problems) is to nurture and nest.  We can act like wild women and say it’s our right and freedom, but I take the calls every day from disillusioned, hurt women who did, in fact, expect love and loyalty from the men they had sex with.

So, ladies, have pity on the call girls and prostitutes.  Give them back their turf, and re-elevate womanhood so that men again have a mountain to climb and earn, and therefore value.

 

The High Cost of Obesity

It seems that it’s very much in the nature of human nature to expect more without having more expected of us.  Because so much energy is being focused on the cost of health care and the proposed programs for universal health insurance, the flip side of the equation is starting to get attention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a free website application last week called LEANWorks, designed to motivate employers to start “healthy living” and weight loss programs for their employees, because being overweight is a major cause of certain illnesses, and also contributes to missed work days and higher insurance costs.  Of course, representatives of organizations like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance are up in arms over this.

A keystone to the LEANWorks program is the “obesity cost calculator” for companies to estimate how much their obese and overweight employees are costing them in higher insurance rates and missed work days each year.  The ultimate point is to get preventive programs in place.

Of course, the “fat advocates” don’t want responsibility – just perks.  They are claiming everything from prejudice to discrimination.  In their view, facts are irrelevant.  It’s just their “feelings” that count. 

It’s no secret that obesity is a big risk factor for chronic diseases.  Obesity has accounted for over 25% of the rise in medical costs between 1987 and 2001, according to Dr. Bill Dietz, Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the CDC.  While it is also true that people of normal weight have medical issues which result in work day losses and higher insurance costs, most of their conditions are not as controllable as excess body fat.

It is the moral responsibility of those who are overweight and obese, of those who smoke, of those who abuse alcohol and various drugs to correct their activities for the greater good of the community which has to take on responsibility for the negative consequences of their behavior, and their lack of self-discipline and commitment to health.

If the greater “we” is responsible for taking financial hits in order to cater to the predictable consequences of your actions, then you become accountable to the greater “we,” and we cut out the nonsense about discrimination and prejudice against fat.  It isn’t healthy, plain and simple.  And now that you think about it, it isn’t fair, either.

Take Credit for Being Credit-Wise

While it does interfere with the comfortable digestion of my breakfast, I usually watch the morning TV news for twenty minutes or so, just to see if anything important has happened in the world…and I have to watch carefully, as most morning TV shows just consist of cute exchanges, truncated conversations with important people, or the rehashing of stories that have minimal significance but maximum power to pull in an audience. Recently, though, I watched a story about how credit card companies are raising their interest rates to 30%, and how that might border on “usury” – which is supposed to be illegal. 

As a young adult, I didn’t even have a credit card.  I got my paycheck, put it in the bank, and used checks against what I actually had in my account in order to pay bills.  If there was anything over at the end of the month (and if there was, it was very little, as I was making only $11,000 per year as a college professor), I considered it “splurge money” and used it on something stupid.  Today, I’ve got lots of credit cards, but never pay any interest, as we pay off the bills in full the day they arrive.  Admittedly, in between being a young adult and today, there have been some stupid and/or disastrous times when the use of a credit card put us in debt, and it took effort and pain to pay it off. 

I say all this to make it clear that I’ve “been there and done that” like everyone else.  And ultimately, I think the answer is: don’t use a credit card unless you have every cent in the bank to back it up.  Don’t consider it a credit card at all – consider it a cash card.  In fact, you might consider only having a debit card, which means it can only be used in relation to what you have, and not what you wish you had.  That way, you won’t have credit charges which can rip apart the fabric of your life.

Here’s another idea:  take the time to earn what you want – that special car, a home, jewelry, a vacation – instead of having your folks give you a down payment for a house you can barely afford.  Take the time to build your foundation, and when you can finally afford the next step in your life, you’ll feel much more accomplished, proud, special, and downright happy.

How About Some “Reverse” Ageism for a Change?

I read in my local paper about a formerly wealthy 90-year-old man who now has a job as a “greeter” in a local store.  It seems the company that managed his money was making bad use of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and all was lost…especially since this gentleman’s once fully-paid-for home was re-mortgaged to get a third of a million dollars more to invest in this debacle.

Ironically, one of the factors which keeps people alive longer and healthier in mind, body ,and soul is having work, i.e., some purpose and activity not only to occupy their minds and time but to challenge them.

Coincidently, a dear friend of mine owns and runs a lovely hair salon.  It seems that every month she complains about the “young thing” at the front desk. It seems young women can’t be counted on to come to work regularly, much less on time and do their jobs as receptionists and appointment bookers.  Obviously,  this is not one of the highest-paid jobs in the universe, but young people today seem to feel entitled to “more” rather than grateful for “a foot in the door” and potential long-term opportunities.

Here’s where these two stories intersect: I told my friend that she should hire a retired, mature woman who would appreciate the extra money, would like contact with lots of people as colleagues and customers, and would probably love having her hair done for free.  The mature woman would appreciate the excitement and daily mission, and my friend would probably get one of the most reliable workers she’s ever envisioned.

Were I hiring right now, I’d be a reverse “ageist” and get somebody with a work history and the maturity to appreciate an opportunity where they can still be important to somebody about something and get paid for it!