Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why just women?

Ross Douthat highlights Dana Goldstein's comments on Obama's remarks to Planned Parenthood.

One interesting note -- Goldstein seems to think it's a bad thing that Obama stresses family friendly policies that enable choice over red-meat issues like abortion.

But what women actually want, the polls suggest, is a more family-friendly system, which makes it easier for them to work part-time or not at all while their children are young. If Republicans were smart, they would find a package of reforms tailored to precisely that desire: For instance, they could advance a significant Ponnuru-style (or Cesar Conda-style) tax credit for families with children; a health care plan that severs health insurance from employment, so women don't feel bound to jobs they dislike; and maybe even a package of tuition credits for women (or men!) looking to re-train and re-enter the workforce after staying at home for a few years.

Bold emphasis added.

I submit that it not just women who are unsatisfied by the choice between complete withdrawal from the workforce and full time work.

Generalizing from my own experience, I would be much happier in an arrangement where my wife and I each worked 25-30 hours, and equitably shared in the child-raising. I suspect she would be much happier as well.

But that is not an option for us, especially with one child having a chronic disease. That mandates health insurance, which effectively mandates that one of us work full time. Since the market for my skills is more attractive than the market for my wife skills, that means I work a 40 hour a week job.

The easy way to exploit this is to choose sides in the Mommy Wars or Culture Wars, etc. Families with stay at home parents are unhappy because dual income families lead a lifestyle it is impossible to keep up with on one income. Families with two incomes are unhappy because those with stay at home parents set unrealistic standard for parenting.

But that isn't getting us anywhere.

If a candidate like Obama can help create true freedom for families to find solutions to the problems parenting creates, he'll win my vote, and I think a lot of other votes, too.