Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Women's Liberation Movement Felled by the Division of Labor

The largest single factor in US economics, as well as the economics of the developed world in the past 50 years has been hands down the migration of women into the labor force.

No argument about it. Cannot be debated. Cannot be questioned. Just go and look at the data yourself.

It shouldn’t be surprising since allowing the better half of society to enter college, work, establish careers, etc., effectively doubles your labor force, doubles your intellectual capital, and therefore doubles your ability to produce wealth. Therefore the majority, or at least the plurality of increases in standards of living in the past 50 years can be contributed to women working.

It may also go a long way in explaining why Islamic countries or just countries in general that have their women subservient to men suffer such low standards of living, since they effectively bar half their potential labor force from working, severely handicapping their country’s ability to produce wealth.

Regardless, for all the economic benefits to women entering the labor force there are some drawbacks.

Notably with women out of the house, the responsibility of child rearing has not been outsourced to the father (oh, no, we’re too proud for that), but rather outsourced to the state. It is no coincidence that spending on public education has not only exploded, but expanded to cover things like feeding kids (lunch boxes are antiques now with taxpayer-financed breakfast and lunch served to the students), pre-school, after school programs, tutoring, counseling, teenage pregnancy programs, sex education, etc., as more and more women have entered the labor force, effectively turning the Department of Education to the Department of Baby Sitting and Child Rearing.

Also, the explosion in the use of day care facilities. A fact that I particularly detest for, again, it would seem to me that if you had the child and loved the child, you would want to spend those precious few moments with them in childhood. Alas, I must be too damn idealistic or old school for it seems to me children are now no different than an SUV, a huge diamond ring, a flat panel TV etc., ie- a “status” symbol, an “item” to have that goes well with the drapes, and sadly something that is no more loved than one’s granite kitchen counter tops. Ergo, it’s like a dog, you can leave “it” at the kennel. I can think of no other explanation why somebody would use day care.

An additional drawback to women’s entrance into the labor market, though I have not scientific evidence for it, is that I would speculate a lot of the “social” problems children have where they’re walking into schools, shooting their peers, doing drugs, putting “bodily fluids” in cafeteria salad dressing, waving gang signs at each and just in general acting like immature, disrespectful feral youth comes from the fact there is not a stable traditional “nuclear” family around. And as these kids age and become “adults” no doubt the crime rate will increase as these “Lord of the Flies” adults enter society, as it has.

Now fingers are typically pointed to the “women’s liberation movement” as the main culprit for women’s migration to the labor force and therefore these social costs (and the rarely mentioned economic benefits). However, I had an epiphany recently that points to a different culprit/hero (depending on your take).

It was Fall and I was too busy to rake my own yard. Ye, the city of Minneapolis demands that it be raked so, despite it hurting my blue collar soul, I actually decided to drop the money on having somebody else rake my yard for me.

There was an element of lost pride there as I always fathomed myself raking my own yard for “such a thing would never be beneath me.”

But with 90-100 hour work weeks it had to be.

Fortunately I had a female friend of mine rake my yard for the low low price of dinner. This permitted me, in the classical Adam Smith’s Division of Labor way, to work up more money than I would have had to pay for dinner, benefiting not just me, but my female friend as well.

But the interesting thing was my female friend is an accountant and by no means has a lot of free time on her hands either. She’s just a very charitable person and was only working 50 hours a week. But I thought, she could have just as well outsourced the job to some neighborhood kid, paid him $10 and got a $40 out of me.

And then the epiphany hit.

Raking is a chore. Cleaning is a chore. Preparing food is a chore.

All of which we outsource because it is more efficient to do so.

Child rearing is also a chore.

Child rearing is also being outsourced.

And thus my theory was born. It is not so much because of the women’s liberation movement that women entered the work force as much as it may be just the natural progression of economics and a further specialization of labor.

One cannot argue that this isn’t effectively is happening anyway. We are effectively outsourcing the upbringing of our children to third parties, either be it nannies, the government, or day care facilities. And the reason I surmise isn’t so much because women swallowed whole the ideology of the women’s liberation movement about “being independent” and “having a career just as a guy,” but rather because it makes complete economic sense.

In outsourcing your child to be reared by somebody else not only do you free up your own time to go and pursue a career, but (in most cases) you make more money. Both husband and wife can pull down $50,000 each, cumulatively $100,000 together, pay the schools $10,000 a year per pupil to take care of their children, netting them $90,000 in income (assuming one kid). Whereas if a wife (or husband) has to stay at home and rear the child, $50,000 of income is lost and the family must do with $50,000. It only makes ECONOMIC sense to then farm out your kids to child-farms (read, day care centers).

Of course the quality of the rearing may be called into question. The utter deteriorating in decorum, respect, civility and so forth demonstrated by today’s youth and even Gen X’ers my age show the social costs we now get to deal with.

Instead of gossip about Sophia Loren and Cary Grant being an item, we gossip about whether Britney Spears has panties on.

Instead of men singing eloquies about the beauty of women such as Frank Sintara we have a bevy of degenerates singing about pimps and hoes and how women are meat.

Chivalry is shot. So are women that like upstanding men. If you want to keep a girl now, you just treat her like crap. Dare you show any chivalry or Cary Grantedness or (as a policy I’ve recently discontinued) buy your date a corsage, you are a stalker, or at least at minimum, weird.

No, now we have SENIORS IN HIGH SCHOOL putting their semen into salad dressing.

Brilliant. Grand.

Throwing the fabric of society down the toilet because it’s more efficient to outsource the upbringing of our children.

I’m sure there’s no longer term consequences for this.


Peter said...

It must have been ranch or bleu cheese.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant observation and analysis. I agree wholeheartedly. However, what is the alternative? How can this situation be corrected? Certainly we cannot bar women from the workforce. So, my idea is a throwback to the past, Finishing School and compulsory boot camp for every child. If the parents are too busy making money to teach their children discipline or manners, why not make it part of the school curriculum as necessary to graduate? It’s been done before, why not again?

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading. I remember in High School in the 70's that students generously deposited bodily fluids in various places, but it was generally reserved for teachers and not students. However, as always, a great read my friend, keep up the good work!

Marching the road to serfdom,


Scott Hennig said...

...and if you live in Quebec, the government will sweeten the economic pot by providing $7 a day, day-care.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Captain. Although I can whole heartedly agree with you that children are not receiving the parental care that is necessary, I think you missed an important fact about the women's entry into the work force.

The woman's lib began in the 60s. It was Rosie and her riverter friends that began the trek into the workforce. And why? Did they really want to leave their children to work on a production line? I don't think so. As I remember it, there was something called WWII which took boat loads of our young lads out of the work arena. And as you know, companies can not remain solvent unless someone is putting together the widgets. Guess who stepped in to keep the country going on the home front? (This does not degrade the heroic efforts of our enlisted).

And then the war ended. Some husbands didn't come home. Some wives (now widows) still needed to work. Women remained in the workplace, although not in the same capacity as during the war.

And the rub: woman were doing some of the same work as men, for less pay. Was it because they were less intelligent? No, it was because they weren't considered the bread winners.

And then the 60s arrived and women had all they could take. Viet Nam took more of the young men away (oops I forgot to mention Korea in the 50s). More women returned to the workplace. Women were tired of getting less pay and being treated as secondary class citizens. Hooray women's lib.

What was women's lib NOT about? Forsaking the children for a career life. Forsaking the role of Suzie home-maker. But as inflation rose (those horrible interest rates of the 70s) it required 2 incomes to have the same buying power as one used to have.

And now? We are stuck in a system where it is very difficult for a woman to stay home to be the home-maker and mother. And yet the maternal instinct is there; like a time-clock, so children happen. And women tearfully go to work, leaving their babies for someone else to raise.

What's the solution? People like you who want the world to improve and point out where it's way off. Set a good example (as a parent?) so other's can see that children can still be raised with respect of others.

Is this really possible? Yes. It's not easy. It requires a lot of love and time and self-sacrifice on the parents' part. The big question is whether people want to make the sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Just a stage we're going through, happens during revolutions.

Captain Capitalism said...

Hi Mollie,

Good point about the Rosie Rivetters. Makes perfect sense, but I would presume the labor force participation rate would then fall for women as the late 40's/50's began. Women's entrance into the labor force may have gotten it seeds there. Will make another post though addressing it.

But my solution would be what anonoymous said, military and finishing school. It would work.

Anonymous said...

"It’s been done before, why not again?"

State ownership of everything has been tried before, why not again? Oh yeah; because governments are among the most inefficient, irresponsible organizations ever created.

Boot camp and finishing school? You can't be serious.

I find the prospect horrifying. The obvious failures in personal responsibility that come as a result of outsourcing parenting responsibilities cannot be overcome by pushing even more of this responsibility onto the State.

There is a difference between responsibility and unquestioning obedience to authority. The latter degrades the former, and it's fairly obvious which one the government benefits from pushing.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Captain said it correctly in his original post, that parents need to raise the family. Sending kids off the day-care, boot-camp or military school, doesn't solve the situation.

Parents also need to stop depending on the public schools to fill in the raising and disciplining of their kids. Oh wait, can't discipline kids in school anymore. Leaves the poor teacher without ANY recourse.

Seniors adding extra flavoring to the salads is a gross prank, but not life threatening. What about the guns and knives that threaten and kill in school? I personally had a second grader bring his dad's pistol to school for 'show n' tell'. Thankfully (for the class), the kid had removed the bullets on the bus before school. What happened to me, the innocent teacher? Couldn't discipline the kid (after I grabbed the gun away) and I couldn't even tell the students' parents what had happened (by order from the principal). Guess the principal figured that if no one knew, it didn't really happen. Parents found out anyway - and were upset with ME!

Needless to say, I don't teach anymore.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that women have ALWAYS worked, just that until recently, few people valued cooked food and clean houses enough to pay for it. The difference is that most women today work outside the home and actually get paid for it.

Anonymous said...

Ralph Peters wrote something along the lines of this in"Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States" (

Good reading...

Anonymous said...

Two adults can pull in 50k each annually - but their expenses are higher than one working adult. Subtract taxes, mid level daycare, two cars, professional clothing, etc. and that 100k is actually a lot less.

Now one adult (usually the male because he doesn't carry the child or breastfeed) can work hard and pull in 75k or more with fewer expenses if the other spouse takes care of all the other "chores" such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, child rearing, etc. Also the home spouse can maintain an oasis in the home reducing stress levels.

Allowing/encouraging adults to outsource child care (unlike raking the yard) negatively impacts everyone around them. Stay at home Mothers keep crime low (there are always a set of eyes watching), lower family medical costs, and with just a little training in household management can save the family thousands a year in laundry, cleaning, sewing, and home maintenance costs. Additionally, many stay home Mommies run small (untaxed cash) home based businesses to bring in additional money. For example alterations or one woman in my area runs "breadflix" (a fresh baked bread loaf delivered to your home on the day of the week you request).

Women can work outside the home before they have children and after their children are adults. We can still meaningfully participate in the workforce and society can still benefit from our contributions. Most women would prefer to be home with their children.

Also the costs to outsource childcare exceeds 10k a year per child. It is hard to determine the real cost because this outsourcing is paid for with tax money - paid by everyone regardless of how many children they have, if they use the government to raise their children, or even if they have children at all over the course of their entire lives. A short list of costs:
public "education", school provided breakfast and lunch, after school care, WIC, free medical care, transportation (school buses) etc.

Jenny said...

Awesome post! I think it was feminism and its PRESSURE to enter the workforce (not entering the workforce alone) that's helped damage things so terribly between the sexes and leave kids without parents.