Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How America really treats its mothers

We can afford to give parents a break - Washington Post

Jody Heymann is looking out for mothers. In her alternate reality working mothers in the US should be treated differently from other employees. More time off, more flexibility, higher pay. What she ignores in her little world is mothers, and perhaps all women, will find it harder to find jobs as their cost to employers compared to other candidates will favor, well, everyone who isn't a woman of child-bearing age.

That's progress.

True, all the countries she mentions in her article treat mothers better than we do. But America doesn't categorize people and treat them differently or favor one class of person over another. Strike that. Let me rephrase that as "America isn't supposed to categorize..," but that's an article for another time.

Ms. Heymann doesn't seem to recognize small companies, where most people are employed, are seriously affected by the absence of an employee where absences make a difference. Or that by having shorter maternity leaves women may be more employable. Only the Scroogiest employers wouldn't want to give mothers all they want and more, but they have a business to run and that business pays other people so they can feed their families.

Or that mothers in America get to keep more of their pay than working mothers in France or Germany? And that by keeping more of their paycheck they're able to afford more than working mothers in other countries? They're able to wear nicer clothes inside bigger cars with more features and park in a two-car garages attached to a two-story homes on their own property in a top-rated school district which is why, after all, both mom and dad work anyway--they're chasing school districts.

But that wouldn't be towing the feminist line, now, would it?

The article teases us with how better to treat mothers but it's really about giving everybody more paid time-off and makes apples-to-oranges comparison between the US and economic power-houses like Iceland (that was sarcasm for you recent graduates that didn't notice).

Maternity, breast-feeding breaks, sick leave, early childhood education and after-school programs: in Ms. Heymann's opinion these are the benefits the US should give working moms. With these in hand, Ms. Heymann believes,
[The] United States could be truly competitive in the most meaningful sense, and "Happy Mother's Day" would be more than just another myth.
What she misses is the myth of the stay-at-home parent. You've probably seen them on TV. One of a pair of parents that decided raising their own children with their values was their responsibility and more meaningful than outsourcing or getting the ultimate in high-fashioned conveniences, an au pair (the trendy word for nanny). The may even save enough money on parking, work clothes, lunches, taxes and skipping the wet nurse to afford to send their 1.6 kids to private school!

Happy Mother's Day!

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