This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living, support your family, and have a rewarding career.
and Gene at Harry’s Place responds
would any “family-values” Republicans concede that many of these working moms would prefer to be stay-at-home-with-the-kids moms, but can’t afford to do so on one paycheck— especially in a time of stagnant wages?
A quick check of the reference shows that it is tracking percentiles and not actual families. Population growth and immigration can easily make the median family income go down even while no single family income decreases. Of course, that’s extremely unlike to have been the case but it does indicate why statistics like these should be considered in context.
The other thing to keep in mind is that many families are struggling because the expectation of life have grown larger. Larger cars, larger houses, air conditioning, music systems, computers, cell phones — these are all relatively recent. In fact, when parents are willing to make sacrifices for their children a stay at home parent is still quite possible. My personal, anecdotal experience is consistent with that (although I suspect it’s easier out here in the suburban / semi-rural areas than in big cities). What such a life style is, however, is more work and one where the rewards are family and not possessions. It is the beauty of capitalism that allows people to make the choice of these tradeoffs for themselves instead of some bureauocrat deciding for them.
Gene also wonders
Is it really an unmixed blessing of contemporary capitalism that fewer and fewer Americans can count on a lifetime job with health care and a pension?
No, it’s not an unmixed blessing. If you want your blessings unmixed, you’ll need to live in Utopia. Have a nice time there. However, overall it’s a good thing and if there is a workable solution it’s more likely to be Bush’s Ownership Society than the kind of intrusive state we see in the UK and Europe.
On the other hand, like individuals, a society could emphasize lifetime jobs with health and pension at the cost of an overall less materially blessed standard of living. That’s the choice Old Europe has made but they don’t seem very happy with it. It also might not be sustainable as corporations and more important the young and the talented escape. Of course, they could fix that with a wall around Europe to prevent people from escaping…