Sunday, May 09, 2010

Get back, get back, get back to where you never were.

Holly contemplates the dual-income household:
The problem here is that I didn't make some big feminist choice to go to work; no one gave me the chance to be a housewife. I've never dated a guy who could afford to support me at home. (Actually Benny was pretty loaded, but he didn't even want to be seen with me, there's no way he'd've gone for marriage.) If I have kids I'm 90% certain I'll "have it all," not because I'm some superfeminist but because it's that or raising them in a studio apartment eating ramen. I don't think most people these days are rich enough to support an entire family on one income.
Of course to be fair, a lot of what are considered "necessities" these days were either luxuries or props in sci-fi movies back in the days of Ward and June.

38 comments:

William said...

When I was a resident, there were several two-income couples in the hospital. Usually, the wife's income goes for to pay for the child care.

Now, I can see keeping up with your profession, and not WANTING to stay at home, but the "I can't afford to stay home" wears thin.

Anonymous said...

Could we just cut taxes . . . please?

Shootin' Buddy

alath said...

My wife cut her hours way back when our kids were born. She still does one 12-hour hospital day per week to keep her skills current and have a "grown up day," but she doesn't plan to ratchet her work hours back up until the kids are out of the house. This was her decision - I support it now, but it wasn't my idea.

We could probably have a bigger house, newer furniture, and more prestigious cars if she worked full time, but what's that really worth? We will probably be the last family in America with a CRT in our living room, but there's nothing on worth watching anyhow. We dropped our cable 7 years ago and never did bother to get a converter box. We garden, read, ride our bikes a lot, and you just don't need much money to live the lifestyle we're living.

I see a lot of people with 2.0 income families driving themselves nuts, basically to pay interest on luxury crap they don't have enough time to enjoy any more. We're living cheap on 1.2 incomes, and I'd still consider trading off less work time and less money for more family time.

Crustyrusty said...

I somehow manage to support, indirectly and directly, 7 kids, a wife, and a leech ex-wife who not only can't get off her fat ass and work, but who also ends up loaning money to her loser boyfriend, and then complains that she's broke.

It can be done.

I am anxiously awaiting my reward in Heaven, cause I damn sure don't have any cash here on Earth.

TJP said...

A lot of what is considered in determining pay equality is based on thoroughly debunked economic theories that consider only the cost of labor as the meaningful contributor to pricing. Every price is determined (and I hate to use that word, because it implies a single authoritative source, which leads dingbat social engineers to believe that there's a "solution" by substituting their own authority) by a complex relationship of every type of input imaginable--including irrational considerations such as personality, aesthetics and even a touch of xenophoiba--but bound at the lower end by the worth of an individual worker's time, and at the upper end by the buyer's willingness (or ability) to pay. And the inputs are always changing, either in weighting or type, so attempting to enforce something unnatural like fixed pricing eventually fails.

So your boss may be a chauvinistic fuck face, but having been the boss myself, the more likely reason for the numbers on your paycheck is his need to be a cheapskate--the justification generally comes after the fact. In this sort of environment, characteristic male aggressiveness gets attention, and this is advantageous when it garners the boss's attention.


LOL @ Shootin' Buddy

This part: "...and [bound] at the upper end by the buyer's willingness (or ability) to pay."

Revenues fell by half in the great state of California. Why, taxes are just cutting themselves!

Tam said...

"Could we just cut taxes . . . please?"

Hahahahahahaha!

No, seriously, tell us another one. :)

Anonymous said...

O.K., can we abolish the capital gains tax too?

Shootin' Buddy

Außenseiter said...

There is a whole profession of people whose role is to make people buy shit they don't need. So, I can understand why people may feel they need stuff they really don't.

Take just nonsense like diamond wedding rings. De Beers company took the long view and effectively created the market for these rings.

http://www.gemnation.com/base?processor=getPage&pageName=forever_diamonds_1

Coca Cola couldn't make people buy more soda back in the 1970's, so they created a market for bottled water. (that usually isn't much better than what is in the tap)

Keep in mind that real incomes, in the US, have been falling since early 1980's, I believe. Credit has been cheaper, though.

(funny fact.. there were times when one could buy an airliner for 60,000 $)

Tam said...

Außenseiter,

"There is a whole profession of people whose role is to make people buy shit they don't need. So, I can understand why people may feel they need stuff they really don't...."

I especially hate the way DeBeers and Coke hold guns to people's heads and make them buy their stuff.

Why, there oughtta be a law!



(Personally, I would be a little embarrassed if a guy spent a butt load of money to give me a shiny rock. It would mostly tell me that he didn't know me very well.)

Brian Dunbar said...

I don't think most people these days are rich enough to support an entire family on one income.

I don't feel especially rich. But we're doing it: wife, three kids at home (two more out of the nest), dogs, nice house and so on.

- You can't live in a big city. DFW, LA, San Francisco .. they're right out.

- You do have to be fiscally responsible: turn your pennies into dollars, save for a rainy day. Save for a rainy day plus the flood.

- You'll have to scrimp and save. Learn how to fix your own car. Or make friends who will do it for a six-pack and friendship. Buy used everything as the default.

- The breadwinner can't just f*ck off and decide he wants to trek in Nepal or gaze into his belly-button for a few years.

- You'll be living in a smaller town than you might want. The cost of living is better. Get used to it.

- Your job opportunities are limited. Because you live in a smaller town where the cost of living is better. Get used to it.


Aint' easy. But the alternative ..

Twelve years ago my wife was working for the schools as an LD teacher. She loved-loved-loved her job. One day it hit us: her salary was covering the cost of her car, plus daycare. That's just crazy. At the same time we became aware that our next-to-youngest was gifted and the schools were not helping him, could not help him because they did not have a TAG program.

So she dropped out to home school the critter. Years and lots of mistakes later .. I think we've done the right thing.

jetfxr69 said...

(Personally, I would be a little embarrassed if a guy spent a butt load of money to give me a shiny rock. It would mostly tell me that he didn't know me very well.)

Methinks a shiny gun would be more appropriate?

Anonymous said...

An engagement gun! I lurves the idea!!

Außenseiter: REAL incomes have been dropping since 1973. Something to do with Nixon cutting the import tariffs to rock-bottom, starting the stampede of American jobs overseas.

Crustyrusty: been part way there. Married to a lazy witch who wouldn't work, wouldn't keep house, and considered more than 15 minutes a week in the kitchen to be indentured servitude. Daughter went off to college, son went off to the Air Force, and she left to find some guy who could give her a world where unicorns and fuzzy pink bunnies played on the lawn. I was so glad to see her go I didn't even mind that she took my guns.

Tam: As my foster mother would say: The good old days--bad memories and good imaginations.

cap'n chumbucket

Justthisguy said...

Tam already has lotsa guns and likely other kitchen equipment. Buy her a butt load of shiny ammo. Rational sensible wimminz like having lots of the commodities in the pantry, in case of, like, shortages, or something.

Außenseiter said...

@Tam

You don't get it, do you.

You really, really, don't get it.

20th century has proven that it's far better to use persuasion, mind-games, or bribery than threats. The whole eastern bloc was based on making people do stuff or else. Doesn't really work. It completely failed to harness personal initiative most people have.

Far better to let people think up ways of making money and then tax their efforts. That's why at the height of the cold war, US defense expenditure was what, ~6%, and it was far more than the 30% of GDP soviets used to waste.

De Beers had scenes placed in films involving jewelry shopping. Sent people to high schools to talk about how great diamonds are..
http://www.edwardjayepstein.com/diamond.htm

This is from a strategy paper of the marketing agency De Beers contracted: The advertising agency frankly explains in Its 1948 strategy paper, "We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer's wife and the mechanic's sweetheart say 'I wish I had what she has.' " Aside from the romantic connection, N. W. Ayer also found that it could subtly exploit the premarital insecurity women were found to have in their relations with men.

Making people desire shitty, useless, shiny lumps of carbon.

Drinks companies just nudged journalists to blow certain stories about water quality slightly out of proportion, in addition to more ordinary marketing efforts.

No one is holding gun to anyone's head. That's crude and makes people uneasy.

It's far better to make them believe nonsense, or make them think they'd be special if they bought X.. etc.

The Jack said...

"Why, there oughtta be a law!"

"No one is holding gun to anyone's head. That's crude and makes people uneasy.

It's far better to make them believe nonsense, or make them think they'd be special if they bought X.. etc."


Wookie-sense tingling! It's telling me... yes, there should be a law to keep people's minds pure, because these companies have too much power and suck money out of the innocent, but dumb populace.


Thankfully we have a benevolent state that will never use these tools to "nudge" people in ways they want.

Forget fox gaurding the henhouse, using government to "tame" big buisness is like having wolves keep the foxes away.

Anonymous said...

Brian hit it dead on.
I support my family of four on 48,000 a year.
We get by just fine.

Crucis said...

For most of our 42 years married my wife has not had a paying job. We both had jobs until our daughter arrived. When she was in grade school, my wife joined a partnership of financial advisers. That job lasted until my daughter entered middle school. Since then, she's had a teaching gig at a local seminary and operates a free clothing store for our church.

For the most part, we've met all our bills, put our daughter through school and our mortgage is our only debt. You can do marvelous things with a budget and determination to stick too it.

Those who say a second income is a necessity really haven't bothered to see just how their money is spent. There may be extenuating circumstances, but I'll bet they'll be surprised just what can be done when the motivation is there.

perlhaqr said...

(Personally, I would be a little embarrassed if a guy spent a butt load of money to give me a shiny rock. It would mostly tell me that he didn't know me very well.)

But an engagement Barrett would get so heavy!

----

A whole thread in which Shootin' Buddy said nothing but things I agree with. Either he's moonlighting in a Wookiee Suit or mine's getting threadbare... :)

Keads said...

If you do not covet the new shiny things as most do, you can get by very well. I, although considered the alpha geek around here just last year got rid of the 15 year old CRT TV. Still running 30 year old sub woofers and amp on the "home theater". I simply will not run out to buy the "new thing" just because.

A rock for Tam? I think not.

Oh Tam, please enjoy the package, you should have it on the 12th.

og said...

I'm thinking the way to Tam's heart is more likely to lie in a Holland and Holland Dominion sidelock ejector in something thumpy like 465 nitro, with a green baize lined case. The bridal registry would be at Kynoch.

Will said...

I read an article a few years ago that explained the tax rates for ~1950. With the child exemptions then, a typical family with only the husband working, essentially paid no fed income tax. This allowed them to buy a house, with the wife a full time homemaker. Eventually, as tax rates increased everywhere, and the child exemptions essentially shrank with inflation, the need of a two income family began. Thus began the assault on the family unit. Not sure if it was intentional, but the end result is dysfunctional "families" full of dysfunctional people, requiring more and more "services" from the .gov, with the result (so far) of a population that looks to turn this country into a clone of Europe.

RevolverRob said...

"Of course to be fair, a lot of what are considered "necessities" these days were either luxuries or props in sci-fi movies back in the days of Ward and June"

Is that really true? What's considered a luxury from 1955 that is a standard item today?

The motorcar? No. The television (was pretty standard by then, even poor people spent money on one to keep up with news and the world). Coffee pots? Telephones? Refrigerators?

I'm sort of curious as to what's considered a luxury today that wasn't then. Video game systems and cable television? You can still use an aerial (with a digital box or digital tv) and back in the day there weren't Playstations, but there were copious amounts of marketable toys from giants like Mattel. I'm really not sure I am seeing the radical difference.

What I have seen though is that inflation has driven the price of goods up, and that the demand drive has pushed the quality level down. I think that's a reflection less of the era and more of the population. There used to be 166 million people in the U.S. in 1955, there are now 310 million, that's a lot more washing machines and toasters.

-Rob

Tam said...

Außenseiter,

"You don't get it, do you.
You really, really, don't get it.
"

I really "get it" just fine, thank you. I am amply familiar with the (slanted, but largely factual) tales you posted, and plenty more like them, but the point is that cajolery is not force. Protecting stupid people from their own stupid decisions is not only impossible, it cannot be done without committing a greater evil.



RevolverRob,

I was thinking about this.

jimbob86 said...

1.2 incomes here, also: I realized that my income did not cover daycare and commute costs. I had no health insurance bennies, wife did (muy importante w/ 5 kids).... the decision was pretty simple: Stay at home and work a few evenings and weekends.

As for things that were luxuries/sci-fi in the fifties: Modern Health Care. Cell Phones. Computers/ Internet Service. I also know that my grandparents did not pay squat for their kids to play on any ball teams and equipment was pretty limited. When I think of the hundred of dollars I have spent on cleats alone (we have more than a rubbermaid tote full of cleats that don't fit anyone at the moment!)....

markm said...

Revolver Rob: "Is that really true? What's considered a luxury from 1955 that is a standard item today?"

Cell phones. Clothes dryers. Air conditioning anywhere north of Omaha. More than one car per family. A car that's well-built enough that you don't have to either learn to fix it yourself, or learn to know your mechanic. Car air conditioning, automatic transmissions, power brakes and steering, cruise control, antilock brakes, fuel injection, electronic ignition, seat belts, air bags, crush zones, ... (I can remember a car salesman proudly showing my Mom the makeup mirror in the passenger side visor - this was a luxury feature in the better models circa 1960. My basic 1998 pickup has lighted makeup mirrors on both sides.) It's not just new items, but the old items are often much improved, and bought in much larger quantities.

TV's: I first saw one in 1959 or 1960, in a friend's house. My parents were temporarily poor while Dad went back to college 1958-1962, but my quite well-to-do grandparents didn't have a TV until several years later. (My less prosperous grandparents didn't even have indoor plumbing until the old farm house burned down in the mid-sixties.) Nor did either set of grandparents see the need for a car for grandma, or a clothes dryer when some rope strung around the back yard did the same job.

When people did pay the equivalent of a good used car for a TV, it wasn't like the ones today's welfare families have in every room. The screens were tiny. They were either black and white, or displayed color quite badly. When Star Trek was in it's first run, the green faces weren't on the aliens that were supposed to be green, they were on Captain Kirk and the other white crewmembers. You were lucky if you could pull in 3 channels. Staticky, snow-filled pictures were normal. You became experts on adjusting the antenna and the vertical hold.

"To keep up with news and the world", there were these things called newspapers. And having grown up reading them, I can't stand TV "news" - compared to a newspaper, it's like reading just the headlines, and just on page 1. But I've got a better way now - you're reading this on one of these new devices, which were scifi back then.

Justthisguy said...

Dammit, Tam, you would have to bring that up. I had almost forgotten about "Ward, you were hard on the Beaver last night."

Außenseiter said...

@TheJack

Exactly. It's fascinating how some people continue to maintain US of A is a "land of the free", all the while it is a place where you can get to be a felon(obstructing an officer) for not getting on the ground fast enough after being punched in the face by a fan of Glenn Beck.

See: http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1589664&cid=31552060

Bram said...

I'm in the 2 income catagory right now. Lots of us are getting squeezed hard - and it is going to get a lot harder next year.

My boss has a high-earning husband. Doing the math - after over 40% goes to state and federal taxes, daycare, work clothes, meals, and gas to commute - she makes absolutely nothing.

If Obama really cared about the deficit - not just "social justice", he would take Shootin' Buddy's advice and make it worth our while to keep working.

25% of my salary is a lot more than 40% of nothing.

Jeff the Baptist said...

Eventually, as tax rates increased everywhere, and the child exemptions essentially shrank with inflation, the need of a two income family began.

Once both adult members of a household earning income became the norm, you're kidding yourself if you think market forces aren't going to require that level of earning power in order to live "comfortably." Prices are set by the market. They're set by what people can afford to pay and earn. If everyone has 1.5x to 2x the income, costs are going to go up.

A number of my older coworkers have single income families. They're engineers/analysts so income is above the norm but not stratospheric. They make it work with used cars and wise spending habits. The real issue with a lot of people my age (early 30s) is which adult stays home with the kids and whether they can still afford their mortgages.

Joanna said...

I can never remember who said this: "Why is it the people I'm supposed to feel the sorriest for have the biggest TVs?"

Bram said...

Joanna,

Don't feel sorry for me. Just don't expect me to work for nothing after-tax.

RevolverRob said...

Cellphones, clothes dryers, A/C, two cars, and television.

Cellphones is the easiest, I don't have a land line, I have a cellphone. Even back in the 1950s most American homes had telephones.

Clothes dryers, this one I agree with for the most part, along with dish washers, they are now "standard" in most homes. With that said, I still consider them a luxury, but then again, I did grow up with a clothes line and sponge.

A/C north of Omaha. I will difer to you on this one, I grew up in Texas and worked in the HVAC biz. I've replaced dozens upon dozens of air conditioning systems that dated from as late as 1958 and many were from the mid 1960s. From my understanding, it was commonplace in even poor homes in the Dallas area, but 1965 (even if it was just a window unit and not central).

Two cars, again, I think this depends on the family and the income. Poorer families didn't have two cars, but middle class families often did. I wasn't alive then, so maybe I'm wrong, but I base my numbers off of sales records from manufacturers. Ford sold more 1962 Falcons to women and mothers than they did to husbands and the men preferring larger cars or trucks in a 2:1 margin. At that time there weren't that many single mothers...so at least some of those cars had to be going to two car families.

TV, this one I will partially conceed. Many families didn't get televisions until the early to mid 60s from their introduction in the early 1950s. BUT I would argue that while today we have digital flat screens to the old black and white antennae jobbies, that's just progression of technology. If you study a television set from 1955 and 1965 and 1975 you will see a progression, that's normal, just like the power disc brakes standard on the front of your 1970 Mustang that were optional on your 1965 Mustang.

I think there are valid points in both ways, but I still think the driving factor of these things is population and demand. With nearly double the population these days, even if everyone had a single car and only one TV in the house, you still have double the number of cars and televisions.

-Rob

Matt G said...

"(Personally, I would be a little embarrassed if a guy spent a butt load of money to give me a shiny rock. It would mostly tell me that he didn't know me very well.)

You've seen or heard of the Atomic Nerds' "Wedding Rings," right? His and Hers custom (not matching) 1911's. It's the sweetest thing.

Firehand said...

Back when was married and the kids were small, the wife worked it out one day: she'd considered getting a job as money was so tight, but it turned out the income would mostly go to the clothes she'd need and transport and child care; we'd actually gain so little it just wasn't worth it.

On diamonds, after- among other things- reading some stuff Kim du Toit pointed to on the diamond racket, I decided 'never again'. Which caused considerable upset to a lady I was seeing a couple of years ago; she considered a diamond an essential in a ring, no matter what.

Yeah, that was a definite warning point.

atlharp said...

(Personally, I would be a little embarrassed if a guy spent a butt load of money to give me a shiny rock. It would mostly tell me that he didn't know me very well.)



Well if someone was going to that I think he would just take you to a gun show first and shove 5 grand in your hand! I mean if a dude was willing to go that far I think that would have brought a tear to your eye more than some big friggin' rock on a gold band.

"Honey? An 8mm German Mauser and a Colt Pocket Hammerless? You shouldn't have! *sniffle*" ;-)

Geodkyt said...

I got a HiPower for an engagement gift from my wife. . . and she gave me a flintlock rifle for a wedding gift.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect (and agreement) to those pointing out the plethora of luxury items we have that we consider to be mandatory......

after my mom's death, going through papers, I discovered her box of old tax returns - faithfully saved all the way back to the early 1950's. I looked up the average income for a family of four (like us) in 1958 and discovered my dad was right on the money (within $75). Then I figured up their total taxes (State and Federal - no Social Insecurity)from the returns and found their true tax rate was TOTAL of 5.6% Also found their car tag receipts-there was NO ad valorem taxes, only a $3 tag fee. State sales tax was 2%.

Fast forward to today-my wife and I make less than the avg. annual income, but pay 31% in state and federal taxes, $100 in taxes alone for a 10 year old beater car and the sales tax is 7%.

Shootin Buddy is right - taxes absolutely play a large part in the equation...

GunGeek said...

If you look at what Ward and June had that is different from today, especially as it relates to the people that think both parents need to work...

They had two children and lived in a two bedroom house. What? The kiddies have to share a room? How cruel! Most dual income families would insist on having at least a four bedroom house if they had two kids. One for parents, one each for the kids, and at least one for office/guest/hobby/whatever.

They had only one car. When you add up the purchase price of a car, and interest, and insurance, and maintenance you end up with a rather large expense. As a former boss of mine that lived a lot of his adult life in NYC without a car once said to me "You can pay for an incredible amount of taxis and subways for what it takes to own a car"

All the other stuff is fairly trivial. Yeah, we have more climate control and more/better appliances and some more toys (both for kids and grownups), but that doesn't add up to nearly enough to justify both people working.