There is a job for which many Americans are qualified and which needs very much to be done well. That job used to be called “housewife” or “home-maker” and now, for reasons that complete elude me, is called “stay-at-home mom.”
Feminists complain that housework is “unpaid.” The case can be made that it is quite well paid, albeit on a contingent basis, but let’s just call it unpaid and move on. How about we fix that? Instead of trying to get everyone to work outside the home, why not define “work” to include homemaking, child-rearing, and community-building, and have the government pay for those high-value contributions to the quality of life in these United States?Everywhere we read about how globalization and automation are taking jobs. But neither foreigners nor machines can do what my mom did.
We have become a country of two-earner couples. Many of those families are compelled to have two earners because the families they compete with choose to have two earners. That’s how tragedies of the commons work. America is a less happy place for it. Where one blue-collar income used to support a family, now it doesn’t, at least not as well.
And the kids still have to be cared for, or at least tended to. The left’s solution is to pretend that nannies grow on trees rather than sneak across the border illegally; all we have to do is agree to pay for them and they will appear. The left always believes that money is the only constraint on outcomes, that the relevant material and human resources are just waiting, somewhere, to be tapped. Somehow, the same time that the job market is tight, we are supposed to add a zillion paid child-care workers so that parents will be freed up to further suppress the wages of higher paid professions. Yikes.
We are living in period not just of unprecedented capacity but of unprecedented first derivatives of capacity. Things are changing so fast that we cannot plan for a career of doing anything, because whole job classes may disappear in a decade. How many people drive vehicles for a living? Yet who wants to learn to drive a self-driving truck?
Our challenge is to find and create jobs that require humanity. That’s going to get harder and harder, but homemaking is just sitting there, the lowest-hanging fruit, a job only a mother can love. And yet our politics blinds us to it. My two cents: yes, pay the UBI to everyone, but subsidize the “wages” of homemakers. The market will take care of the rest.