Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moving Beyond Words - Revaluing Economics

"In addition to degree of value, however, there are productive areas that aren't valued at all. Take the economic vacuum called "women who don't work." It's a form of semantic slavery that industrialized countries reserve for homemakers (in spite of the fact that homemakers in the United States work longer hours for less pay, and have more likelihood of being replaced by a younger worker, than any other category)....The truth is that almost every woman knows this economic invisibility in some part of her life. Whether or not she is in the paid labor force, a major part of her energy is probably devoted to productive work within the family and household, work that isn't counted as work at all. Its a reality of patriarchal economic systems both in capitalist countries like the United States, where the invisibility of homemaking leads to employed women having two jobs, and in the socialist past or hybrid present of countries in East Europe and Russia, were the so-called emancipation meant the right to do two jobs, one visible and one not." - p 214

"Thanks to our new ability to measure worldwide suffering with computers, the United Nations has come up with conclusions like this often cited one: Women do a third of all the paid work in the world, and two thirds of all work, paid and unpaid, yet receive only 10 percent of the world's salaries, and own only one percent of its property." - 216.

"A woman taking care of her own children is a person who is "not working" - which is why welfare, initially conceived as a widowed mothers' allowance, is treated as a handout, but unemployment compensation, which involves doing nothing at all, is not- though a person or institution raising the same children if that mother died or deserted would be "working" and getting much more than a welfare-level payment." - 216

"Personally, I like the option of treating the full-time homemaker and her or his wage-earning spouse as partners at least as equal as a business partnership - as we are so often assured marriage is - and crediting the homemaker with half of her (or his) spouse's total income. Especially at middle and upper levels, this could half compensate for the fact that consumption increases and elaborates as income goes up, thus demanding a consumption manager with more time and expertise. - p 219-220.

"All this was summed up in Lenore Weitzman's famous statistic from The Divorce Revolution: Women with dependent children experience a 73 percent drop in standard of living after a divorce, while their ex-husbands' living standard goes up by 42 percent. The colloquial summing up is simpler: If women have young children, they are only one man away from welfare...Yet if two homemakers were to cross the street and work for each other's husbands, they would be entitled to an eight-hour day and a forty-hour week, Social Security, disability pay, and unemployment compensation - and perhaps paid vacations, transferable health benefits, and a retirement plan (not to mention a better legal safeguard against violence, which also has economic value). Something is very wrong here." - 220-221

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