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Multiple Breadwinners: An American Household Imperative

ultra-right Tea-partiersAnd the beat goes on! More studies, more surveys, more statistics, more data to feed the ongoing fires in present day American cultural wars. Apparently, it isn’t enough to have the constant bickering between the three conservative factions in American politics – ultra-right Tea-partiers, old-guard Republicans and Democrats – so we are now witnessing an attempt to bring forth a fight along gender lines; if not a fight, to add confusion to a situation that should be apolitical and crystal clear to everyone in America, but which, whether by art or design, it is not.

Last week, the Pew Research Center released a study stating that women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children in the US. A figure which more than doubled that of a generation ago, and quadrupled that of nostalgic 50’s and 60’s America of “Leave It to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best”; a figure that would bring dissention even within the conservative cradle of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.

Megyn Kelly, a female Fox News anchor, claimed to be truly offended by a male colleague, Erick Erickson, who presumably had said children of working mothers don’t do as well in life as those from families with stay-at-home moms. Erickson had asserted, it was charged, that in nature males are typically dominant, remark which crossed the ideological gender line and gave Kelly heroine status among many women as she argued on behalf of working mothers who run households with a median incomes less than one-twentieth of what she gets paid at Fox News. In a capitalist society, the obscenely wealthy, or otherwise privileged – Ms. Kelly in this particular case – often lack credibility when they champion people and ideas which might involve the plight experienced by those in the low rungs of the socio-economic ladder, regardless of gender. After all is said and done, the quality level of care received by children outside the home should be somewhat proportional to its cost (plus any subsidies provided), which in our multi-tiered system of daycare doesn’t level the field of opportunity for children; if anything, it extends or accentuates the existing socio-economic chasm. 

The reactions I heard or read to this family quarrel were for the most part filtered through personal experiences which colored the outcome accordingly, oftentimes with proclaimed “indisputable facts” which if scientifically studied might render profoundly different results. A typical example which often makes the rounds in this type of debate is the statement that the overwhelming majority of convicted felons in the US come from a “fatherless” or broken family. We simply forget that society in this nation has pushed the judicial system to incarcerate an inordinate number of individuals, questionably overrepresented by blacks, for drug-related crimes… creating the urban cotton fields of today’s post-slavery US. Indisputable facts that when scientifically studied, ironically bring us to disputable views of today’s America… an America which photographs differently in the eyes of such divergent opinions of a supposedly same reality.

There have been many scholarly studies made in nations of the first world, some here in the US, which deal with this issue of sociology in our modern economy and the possible advantage that a child might have when being raised by a “stay at home parent.” Yet, regardless of what these studies tell us, we might all be in agreement to one irrefutable fact… that, as a rule, mothers possess and provide the best love a child can have. Any argument should stop there… for that is not the issue confronting us today.

Economic circumstances usually determine the need for multiple breadwinners in a household, and the household today in no way resembles the nuclear family of yesteryear. Megyn Kelly, Erick Erickson and the rest of us are detracting from a Pew Center study which basically points to the existing household imperative in America which has made women not just breadwinners, but in 4 out of 10 cases, the primary breadwinner in a household. Why has it reached that level at such socio-vertiginous speed? And that is precisely what we should be discussing, and not ex-tempore sociological topics of male dominance and rearing of children.

Decrease in purchasing power, poverty and unemployment are the result of the destruction of local and regional economies brought about by globalization, and that is simply why we must adhere to the American household imperative of having more and more breadwinners in order to maintain economic sustainability in the household.

Americans – well, the bottom 80 percent – have lost control of their economic destiny… starting during the Reagan years, and the adherence of politicians of both ruling political parties to globalization. By declining to govern ourselves, we have consented to taxation without representation, allowing the Fed – a few men of wealth or representing wealth – to redistribute wealth as it sees fit; not surprisingly taking money from the poor and middle class and passing it on to the rich. It should not come as a surprise 1 in 20 households in the US (5.9 million households or 4.9 percent) is a millionaire household. And by that same reason, forfeiture of the right to govern ourselves, we have consented to a program of foreign aid, via globalization, which is paid in full by a job-disposed middle class… a middle class which has been disappearing in a sinkhole which extends from ex-industrial America, across the earth, and it’s now appearing in China.

Perhaps we would not be in these dire economic straits if instead of Erickson’s dominant males governing the US during the past 32 years… we had been ruled by brainy dominant females – not the Amazon-cliché type. They couldn’t have fared any worse.

© 2013 Ben Tanosborn


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