Part, if not, a majority of my super awesome economic/political insight comes from the fact my profession requires many miles and many hours on the road. It gives you time to think when you get outside the range of talk radio and are too tired to sift through the country and Jesus stations out in the boonies to pick it up again. Of course my contemporaries and competitors do not have this advantage. Matter of fact they're disadvantaged being couped up in cubicles and offices, forced to study what their employers or grad school uberkommandants tell them to study and not what their brains might genuinely be curious about and things that might actually be interesting. And thus their brains decompose into automotonic (albeit highly mathematically inclined) mush.
So once again time for something that will be more interesting (and much more brief, pointed and useful) than anything you'll read out of the Journal of American Politcal Economy.
I was driving with Natasha during the Christmas season and of the many things she was saying, one piqued my interest - the amount of money she saved using coupons. I'm not talking about 30 cents here or there, but she managed to find sushi for two for $15. And it was good sushi.
This rekindled an observation I had in the never-to-be-solved arena of courting, marriage and men and women. And that observation is despite being villianized, degraded and shamed, activities that were traditionally considered "woman's work" were and still are vitally important to the family and society. Ergo, why were they villianized in the first place? Why were women "shamed" for being "housewives" or "stay at home moms?" And more importantly, WHO DETERMINED THEY WERE TO BE SHAMED IN THE FIRST PLACE?
First, look at what "traditional woman's work" entailed. For the most part it boiled down to three things;
1. Child rearing.
2. House keeping
3. (and this is where Natasha really made it interesting) increasing standards of living by becoming the procurer of consumables for the family.
These things are "trivial" compared to "man's work?" These things are "inferior" compared to "man's work?"
Second, if you look at them they are VITAL, just as vital as brining home the bacon. Rearing children is what prepares them for the real world and makes them productive functioning members of society. Not criminals. Just look at broken families and the correlation with crime, divorce, and other societal ailments.
Housekeeping is what supports the children, the wife and the husband (though men could do with just a cave and a hammock).
And clipping coupons, finding great deals, and making the most of the money increases the standards of living for the whole family. It's economically just as important to spend the money wisely as it was to earn it (making "woman's work" just as important as "men's work" as it is two sides of the same economic earning/consumption coin).
And third, it is arguably the simplest and most important example of the division of labor. If you want to be a DINK (double income, no kids), fine, then both people can work, enjoy life, drink martini's and go to town at Fredericks of Hollywood, but once you bring children into the equation,it behooves SOMEBODY (husband or wife) stay at home and do the "womanly duties." Not because the person who stays home is the lesser of the spouses, but because it just plain makes economic sense to.
Of course today we simply outsource the upbrining of children so that both spouses needn't be bothered with that nasty childrearing. You can kennel the kid at day care or school and afterschool activities and never have to suffer the inconvenience of spending any time with them. And (in an ironic sense) many women seem to pursue careers in industries where they simply seem to be taking care of other people's children, while ironically they have to work in the first place so they can pay the taxes and private sector child-caring services where essentially they're paying other women to take care of their kids (instead of just staying home to take care of their own children in the first place - which I plan on writing about in the future once I refine the thought a bit and pull some economic data).
Regardless, the larger point (and my sarcasm and cynicism aside), why did something so important and vital to society such as "traditional woman's work," regardless of who does it, get disregarded and villianized by society in the first place? And it leads me to a theory that is a bit black-helicopterish, but I am permitted one of those every once in a while.
Ergo, it's time to play Guess the Captain's Helicopter Conspiracy Theory!
I shall give you a couple clues and see if your line of reasoning doesn't come up with the same (thereby showing you I'm not completely insane).
1. The main drive to criminalize and minimize the vital importance of "woman's work" occurred during the 1960's, the peak of the cold war.
2. It mainly came from feminists quartered in the academian world.
3. Unless, I'm way off, I'm going to assume the importance of "woman's work" was so obvious to people at the time, conventional wisdom would never question the value of it.
Any guesses young intrepid junior, deputy, official and otherwise economists?