Monday, April 30, 2012

Immigration debate at the SCOTUS

The Arizona law currently under review at the Supreme Court has brought illegal immigration back to the front of American discourse. I have a question: when we speak of immigration, why are we mainly talking about just hispanics?  Surely we all know that people from Mexico, Central, and South America aren't the only people who are in the US illegally, but folks from those countries seems to be the face of illegal immigration in this country.  I'm bringing this up because a mom at one of my favorite mom-centered advise sites,, posed the following question:
Seems like every time there is proposed legistlation to require someone to provide proof of citizenship, whether it be to vote, attend school, or because they got pulled for a traffic violation, people get really up in arms and defensive. What is the contoversy here? Why shouldn't you have to prove you are a citizen of the U.S.? In other countries, are there stringent requirements to prove citizenship?

There were A LOT of responses.  I find that what other people have to say sometimes far eclipses what I could write about a given topic. There were some people who commented about having understanding/empathy for people fleeing repressive governments and decrepit economic infrastructures:  

You can bet your last dollar, I would take my son and flee to another country that was safe if our country was recruiting child soldiers, in famine, insert several dozen other absolutely terrible and dangerous things. And NO I would not stay where I was and just let him be killed if I couldn't get there legally. MAMABEAR isn't an american thing. It's a MOTHER thing. Mothers protect their children, and they don't care, in general, if they'll have to work crappy jobs and live under the radar to save their children's lives. They make the sacrifice, and they run. ((Very, very, very few illegal immigrants come from first world countries with no danger to themselves. That's why ICE doesn't really care how "awful" your situation is.. because almost everyone's situation is awful.)) If I WOULD DO THE EXACT SAME THING FOR THE SAME REASONS it would be pretty hypocritical of me to be upset about it.

Others spoke about the unfairness the Arizona law would produce due to who would be likely to get stopped.  Basically, in their minds it would be all about racial profiling, like Apartheid South Africa.  Those who looked Mexican would be in danger of being stopped just because of how they looked, and those who don't look that way wouldn't have to deal with such intrusion.

Comment 1: I agree when it comes to voting or attending school, but getting pulled over opens up a whole can of worms that can infringe on people's rights. I'm a blond haired white woman, I don't think I'd ever be asked to prove my citizenship. My husband is a hispanic male, I think he'd be asked a lot. Is it fair that my husband be asked? Some may say it shouldn't bother him since he's legal and was born here, but don't you think it would bother you to have to constantly prove something based on your skin color? Growing up in school and in the work place, I always felt the need to prove how smart I was because I'm a blond, I couldn't imagine having to prove that I'm not a criminal based on my skin color.  
Comment 2: I am up in the air on it, but only because Arizona DOES have a terrible problem. For most states, I'd say, "Hell no" do I think we should have to prove our US citizenship if/when we are pulled over. "Ihre Papiere, bitte!"eta: there is a big difference between "illegal immigration is okay" and "I don't want to have to present proof of citizenship if I am pulled over, or out walking, or at the grocery store..." To me (and I vote Republican or further to the Right), that is just burdensome.
Many people felt like that hispanics, (again the only people who are illegals in many people's minds. In NYC a lot of Eastern Asians from China, Korea, and Japan may not speak a lot of english either, and nobody seems to have a big problem with it) have not embraced being a "full American" because they have not learned the language or tried to "fit in".

Look, my Grandfather came into this country via Ellis Island. Heck, all of our forefathers, if we are not native American Indian, came into this country as immigrants. The difference that I see between my grandfather and today's illegal immigrants is that my grandfather learned a new language, adopted a new culture, and even changed his name to be more "American". He embraced this country and became a citizen to show his appreciation for becoming a part of the country. 
This is not what I see in many of the illegal immigrants in my area. There is no embracing of this country, no attempt to become a citizen, and in many cases, no desire to become one.  

Not only do illegals not properly assimilate, they use up valuable resources like education and health care, without consequence.  They get spots in head start and in-state tuitions for universities that take away from deserving legal citizens' spaces. Also, illegals don't abide by visa laws and stay well beyond their time and those who did come in the right way are given a hard time. (I think this comment is especially telling because who are the people that use au pairs? I'm just saying)

Comment 1: I think it is truly sad when a Spanish speaking child can take up an English speaking child's place in a place like Head Start. They want the other child to have the advantage since they are not around English speaking people at all and need to be exposed to it....tell the parents they are living in a foreign country and they need to learn the language. If I lived in any foreign country they would expect me to know enough of the language to get by in the market or to find work.illegal immigration is not ok ! lets say you have three million illegals here, working, how many LESS jobs does that make for the people here LEGALLY ?? lets see, THREE MILLION !! lets say, along with those three million here illegally working you have an extra ten million dependents, guess how many can get welfare,food stamps etc. etc. without documentation and without a waiting period..ALL OF THEM. nowhere else on planet earth can illegals get a sweet deal like they can get here !! its time to rethink this problem, the constitution was NOT written in spanish !  
Comment 2: I'm not going to convince you because I think it's not right to come here illegally. Our ex-au pair slipped in pretending to be an au pair and a student. She did such a horrible job that we fired her but she went to stay with friends vs going home. I have no illusions that she did leave when her visa was up or that she really enrolled in school like she was supposed to…. 
Comment 3: There are legal ways for people to come here to work, and coming here illegally is an insult to everyone who has gone the legal route. I have a few friends who have come from India and have become US citizens, and now that they are here, they'd like the door closed behind them. Their words, not mine. The biggest problem is the way those who hire illegal workers are not punished enough so that they won't do it again….Business wants cheap labor. 

There are economic arguments….I thought the "slave labor" argument interesting:

My view is more pragmatic. There are many, many, many jobs currently being done by immigrants, most of whom could be here illegally. These jobs include dishwashers at restaurants, field workers on farms, gardeners, nannies, maids - basically the jobs we don't want to pay minimum wage for, as a society, and kids who were born and raised here don't want to grow up and do. So the question (to me, anyway) is: Are you willing to pay 25% more for everything you eat? (That's an arbitrary number, the actual number could be higher or lower - but just for the sake of discussion...) Are you willing to pay twice as much for child care? If not, then I wonder why we are so gung-ho on rounding up immigrants and shipping them back to wherever they came from. Realistically, although they're frequently demonized in the media, immigrants probably cost us as much as they save us. Financially speaking, they're as necessary to us in our economy as slave labor was in the pre-Civil War South.
There are the "If it doesn't apply to you then why are you worried" arguments…(this one really makes me think most Americans don't have a clue how privilege works in the country and what you get simply because you look a certain way):

I don't know why everyone is so up in arms either. Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with asking someone to prove they are here legally. We have to prove we are licensed to drive and that we are insured so why not that we actually belong here!Pretty much I believe it's the illegal immigrants and their families that are so up in arms over it. We don't care what means the cops use to bust drug dealers, pedophiles, murderers, rapists, etc. We literally have no 4th Amendment rights anymore. Why should immigration be any different? If you are here legally, you shouldn't be bothered; in fact, you should be happy because the fewer illegal immigrants, the lower the expenditures of the state are. You know, illegal immigrants will be the only segment of our population not required to have health insurance if the health insurance reform bill passes. You and I, legal, tax-paying citizens will be sanctioned financially if we don't have health insurance, but the illegals will not and they will continue to be able to use our emergency rooms for health care and you and I will continue to pay for it. Now, how is that right?I say, send them all back where they belong and let them apply to be here legally and then subject them to the same requirements as the rest of us!
There's always someone who has to bring this up…sigh:

I agree but the president dosn't want you to have to prove it cause he wont prove it himself!!!!!!! There are some many people that are here illegaly that it makes it hard for the ones that are here legaly. And so many of them can get govenment aid but those of us who were born here can't get help we need because most is going to them.
Finally, one last commenter expresses kind of where I stand on the matter. This mom made a most poetic statement which reminds what we as a country all-too-easily forget. Being born in America is a privilege regardless of what station in life you are born into.  Being on welfare in the US is hella hard, but having literally nothing in another country (you know which one's I'm talking about) is a whole lot harder.  This is not an easy, simple, black (or brown the way everyone wants to put it) and white issue. This is a human issue with many complex variables. For example, Illegals do use up public resources, but they also pay a lot of taxes to purchase goods and services.  We are going to have to find common sense solutions, presuming our government and populace can still do that…. 

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 

Sound familiar? All who wish to come should be welcome. We have a long history of opposing immigration. We didn't want the Italians, the Poles or the Germans. We sent Jews back to Germany to be gassed rather than accept them. We killed the indigenous people to whom this land belonged before us. Up until very recently, we did not accept organized gang rape as a valid reason to seek political asylum - we sent women and children back to their countries to be raped and raped and raped and killed.
We are lucky and privileged to be citizens of this country. I say I have no right to deny this to any human being who wants to come, work hard and contribute. Like my grandparents. Like my husband's great grandparents. And I suspect, like yours.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thoughts On Alternative Energy

I recently finished reading an article from the New York Times which talked about fuel efficiency in cars and how the additional cost of hybrids can take up to 28 years of reduced fuel expenditures to justify.  I, like everyone else, am dealing with the currently high gas prices the best way I know how.  I have a certain amount I will put in my tank each week and that's what I can afford.  The vastly overpriced Washington, DC metro system is looking very attractive to me right now.  I chose not to trade in my old car for a hybrid car several years ago during a similar time of high fuel costs.  It didn't make sense financially for me to only get 50% out of the value of my car and pay another $10-20K so I could get better gas mileage. The savings would only kick in after several years and I would be paying a higher payment monthly for the privilege of helping the environment and getting slightly better gas mileage.  

So I should be one of those people who are rooting for more oil and gas drilling and exploitation of our domestic energy resources, right?  Not really. Though I'm all for natural gas expansion, I'm perplexed as to why the federal government and private industry doesn't really get together on an energy policy that makes alternative energy sources cheaper for the consumer. I'm not talking about tax breaks, though those are nice.  I'm talking about making it so that I can buy solar panels for my house without having to sell a kidney for it.  Why is it so difficult to make these technologies available and relatively inexpensive for consumers? To install a solar panel on my house would cost me about $20,000.  Money already spent if I want my child to go to pre-school.  Let's say I did install them; it would take about 10 years or so in order for me to get back my investment through energy savings. So…you wanna guess how many solar panels I have on my house? 

I've been doing blogs about robots, and matrix chickens and universal translators.  With all the things we are achieving technologically, why can't the USA double down on energy saving technologies and do a Kennedy-esque, man on the moon type imperative?  Why must the US center in on JUST more production? Isn't it about time to be taking the lead in the world in the use of alternative energy sources?  And shouldn't we be preaching conservation? Isn't it about time for the  modern version of Jimmy Carter putting on a sweater and turning down the thermostat of the White House? Shouldn't we be breaking down the doors of everyone who has an idea that is even close to market? Wouldn't that make economic sense? Given the GOP crowing about Solyndra, though, I'm aware this is easier said than actually enacted. To be clear,  I'm not saying that oil/gas should go away, but isn't it time to start turning the needle away from that direction -- even a little? I know I sound a lot like Tom Friedman on this issue but I, too, am very passionate about our energy future. 

Just watched Fuel.  Though the movie is narrated from a distinctly environmentalist point of view, it makes some major points that address a lot of what I'm talking about.  It highlights the different ways that business can make money encouraging the use of alternative fuels, thereby making it cheaper and easier for folks like me to participate.  Like food, it ain't healthy for me to actually eat unless I can afford to buy it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The IMF gets behind debt reduction as a viable strategy

Debt reduction can work. How about a little debt reduction for my behind?!

The International Monetary Fund made the comments in its latest World Economic Outlook.

The IMF said such policies can substantially mitigate the negative effect of household deleveraging on economic activity. 

The report noted the well established link between high levels of household debt run up during a housing boom, and the effect of a high debt overhang on economic recovery.
It found that countries, like Ireland, that saw house prices and household borrowing skyrocket, saw a longer than average period of recession after the bursting of the housing bubble.  
A large part of this protracted recession it said is due to households trying to reduce their debt levels, which in turn leads to less spending in the economy, driving the recession deeper and further. 
"Because debt is acting as a brake on economic growth, it is important to unstick the brake" said the report's author Daniel Leigh. 
The IMF has studied the response of a number of countries to situations where large parts of the population are burdened with high mortgage debt in a recession, and finds that such programmes can help prevent self-reinforcing cycles of falling house prices and lower aggregate demand. 
"Such policies are particularly relevant for economies with limited scope for expansionary macroeconomic policies and in which the financial sector has already received government report", notes the conclusions. Ireland meets both these criteria. 
The report highlighted what it calls the "bold " household debt reduction programmes implemented in the US in the 1930's and in Iceland in this crisis, which it said can "significantly reduce the number of household defaults and foreclosures and substantially reduce debt repayment burdens''.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Iceland could be a model for America

As a person whose house is underwater, I would love for the US to follow Iceland's example.  By writing down debt, the homeowner's capitol is freed up,  since their monthly mortgage payments are lower.  The extra cash in hand allows the homeowner to plow that money into the economy on goods and services.  The housing market starts to stabilize because prices start to come into parity with the market.  People are then able to move for employment or personal reasons again, rather than being stuck in a home not worth what was paid for it. Or waiting for home values to rise to their previous levels, which could take a decade or more.

Being underwater is no joke.  You cannot move and if you're like me, a self employed musician, you have difficulty getting the best rates from the bank regardless of your credit or payment status.  Due in part to their debt forgiveness program, Iceland seems to be growing at slow rate, but it's not shrinking.

It's time for America, like Iceland, to put people first, not just banks.

"The lesson to be learned from Iceland’s crisis is that if other countries think it’s necessary to write down debts, they should look at how successful the 110 percent agreement was here,” said Thorolfur Matthiasson, an economics professor at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, in an interview. “It’s the broadest agreement that’s been undertaken.”
Without the relief, homeowners would have buckled under the weight of their loans after the ratio of debt to incomes surged to 240 percent in 2008, Matthiasson said.
Iceland’s $13 billion economy, which shrank 6.7 percent in 2009, grew 2.9 percent last year and will expand 2.4 percent this year and next, the Paris-based OECD estimates. The euro area will grow 0.2 percent this year and the OECD area will expand 1.6 percent, according to November estimates.
Housing, measured as a subcomponent in the consumer price index, is now only about 3 percent below values in September 2008, just before the collapse. Fitch Ratings last week raised Iceland to investment grade, with a stable outlook, and said the island’s “unorthodox crisis policy response has succeeded.”

Monday, April 23, 2012

If TV is a reflection of ourselves, then who the h*ll are we?!

So now there is another show on HBO, Girls, apparently quite good, based in New York City, that is guessed it: Young White Women (YWW).  Rebecca Carroll of the Daily Beast bemoans the lack of diversity…again:
"Another reason people move to New York City is to hang out with people from all over the world—people of every different racial and ethnic background imaginable. Not that you’d know it from watching HBO’s new comedy series Girls—or Sex and the City, or Friends, or Seinfeld, among other New York City-based shows. In these settings, you rarely see a black person in the periphery, let alone as a main character.
Just for the fun of it, I decided to count the number of black faces in the first episode. I counted three random black extras—a black man walking down the sidewalk behind Hannah and Marni in an early scene; a black man and a black woman in the crowd outside the hotel in the last scene. I see more black people than that in the five minutes it takes me to walk to the subway from my apartment in Brooklyn."
Now, from what I understand since I don't have HBO, these are twenty-somethings, just trying to make it in NYC and they don't look like the standard hot-chick-with-it-all-together types of character.  They're just "normal". Apparently, the writing is "fresh" and "original" and "realistic". I just want to say I'm tired of being left out of "fresh" and "original" and "realistic". My frustration is not really aimed at this particular show per se, but that yet again, we have a show that doesn't really represent the actual diversity of the most diverse city on the planet!  [An aside: I remember my brother wouldn't watch the really good movie, Minority Report, because he just couldn't get past the notion that a movie set in not-too-distant-future Washington, DC could only have one black character in it. For those that may not be aware, currently blacks make up the majority of the population in Washington; DC's well known nickname is Chocolate City. "In the future are there no blacks still living in Washington, DC?" he asked]  I get that somebody that looks like me cannot be in the show The Tudors or my favorite Game of Thrones. But a show in New York City?!! In fairness, though, this show only portends to portray a slice of what life's like for these young women. I understand that every show can't tackle every issue.  The creator has a right to create/define her reality.

You know, it would be different if there were a plethora of dramatic shows about regular people who just happened to not be white. [See Awkward Girl on youtube] 

It's about balance. It's even in the kids shows.  My little Pony has every caucasian stereo-typical voice: western cowgirl, ditzy blond, etc... No one else. Scooby Doo was, in it's own way, trying to be diverse by having different types of caucasians (arguably stereotypical) in it: blond handsome guy, slightly ditzy pretty girl, brainy short, glasses-wearing girl, we-all-know-he's-a-pot-head tall thin guy with the munchies, and of course, the really diverse part -- a talking dog.  Most, if not all, of the guests were white; heck, even the ghosts were white (though I believe ghosts are supposed to be white), and the only black people on the show were the Harlem Globetrotters.  If you didn't know better, you would think that the cartoon universe only consisted of white people and the rest of the planet's demographic population was minuscule in comparison.  But….OMG, I loved this show!  I memorized the theme song and can still sing it to this day.  I watch it with my children with absolute glee.

However, Scooby Doo is a 70s cartoon show.  You would think that 40 years later, in the adult TV world, that there would be more balance.  I don't have to watch "Girls".  It's probably great. I just don't want to watch it.  And I don't want manufactured diversity either.  Dang it, I just want to see shows where there are people who look like me or sound like me or do at least some of the things I do, in a reasonable proportion.  Not all the time, just enough so I don't have to go searching for it…like I do now.  I don't want to see the token black friend,  token zany indian man, token fast talking latina, or token brainy asian.  TV, many times, is aspirational, and if so, TV is telling us we all want to be thin, long haired white women that are "edgy" and "smart", whatever those terms mean. If TV is a reflection of ourselves, then who the hell are we?!  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Death by Robot Capitalism??

I've been writing a lot about how technology is rapidly changing how the world will look in the near future.  My brother and I are fascinated with what could possibly happen to society by such changes.  Teddy always says, "if you see it in a movie, they already have that stuff..."  Or maybe that's my husband who says that.  Well, anyway, I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy.  I love Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card.  I love to imagine what could possibly happen with robots and computers.  But this article in The American Prospect puts into perspective what really could happen if the robots truly do take over and it's not all that pretty:
Keep in mind that even as the number of robots increases dramatically, that doesn't mean there will be millions of self-aware humanoid machines walking around, planning the day when they finally rise up against their meat-sack oppressors. Instead, there will lots and lots of relatively simple robots doing things that now can only be done by humans, and nearly all of them will look nothing like us. Can a robot run a burrito truck? Not now it can't, but some steady advances in speech recognition and mechanical coordination will certainly bring that day before long. Amazon recently bought Kiva Systems, a company that makes robots that bring items to warehouse workers for packing, instead of the workers having to run all over the warehouse finding the items. That's fine for now, but it's pretty obvious that before too long, the robotic systems will become sophisticated enough that you won't need the workers at all (or at least you'll only need a few of them). In a few decades, the idea that we used to actually clean our own toilets and vacuum our own floors will seem ridiculous. Nevertheless, robots meant to look like people are probably going to remain little more than a curiosity for a long time, even as the more functional robots multiply….
...And that may be the real crisis point. It's one thing when a robot turns out to be just as good at legal research as a lawyer; the lawyer it displaces may have a rough time, but she'll probably find some other kind of gainful employment. But once robots take the low-skill jobs, the people who now do them will have few other options for employment.

The laziest techno-utopian visions often assume that once robots are doing all the work, the rest of us will be able to devote ourselves to creative endeavors and generally pursue our happiness, free of the crushing demands of work. The problem is, that assumes we'd be living in some kind of post-capitalist society, like on Star Trek, where we never really learn what people on Earth do with their days, but it certainly doesn't seem to involve labor. But that's unlikely to be our future, so we're all still going to have to find ways to get people to pay us for doing stuff. Otherwise we won't have the money to purchase the fruits of all those robots' labors. As Staniford says, "Depending on how good the roboticists get how quickly, there's going to become a point where there really isn't enough in it for a sufficiently large fraction of humanity. I simply see no way this trend can continue without eventually rendering almost all of us irrelevant. People's basic survival instincts will not tolerate that. However, by that point, there may very well be no easy way back, and all hell will break loose." In other words, the problem won't be that the robots will kill us, but that the rise of robots will disintegrate our society, none of us will be able to make a living, and we'll kill each other. On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice if a robot cleaned your toilet for you?
So the issue is not if this is going to happen, but when.  How as a society are we going to deal with the massive unemployment that could be caused by robots taking not only the everyday jobs, but the highly skilled professions as well.  In one Asimov novel, there's a planet that just has wealthy people on it that are serviced by robots.  People barely see one another because there are more robots than people.  But we don't (yet) have an extra planet to go to to stretch out upon. Will anarchy ensue if the Paul Waldeman's vision in the article comes true?  Will capitalism by robot be the death knell of civilization? Get out some popcorn…I can't wait to see how the movie ends...

Not Enough Time To Eat

I just saw this article and I had to blog about it because it hits home for me.  My daughter was talking about this very subject after I asked her why she's leaving food in her lunch bag.  She said that she didn't get enough time to eat and only gets a few minutes of recess.  Talk about insanity? 

In this time of health consciousness and wanting our children to eat healthily, giving our kids time to eat their lunches is important. A 15 minute lunch is not sufficient for children to get their lunch, eat it, and actually speak to their friends for more than a few seconds. This is the time for children to cool out, rest and rejuvenate their minds so they can work productively for the next few hours.  Time to relax is pivotal to creativity and concentration.  How do we expect to help our children be ready to achieve anything if we do not allow them to be human beings?!  This sixth grader puts the argument extremely well.  I encourage you to go to the link and read the whole article.  Out of the mouths of babes y'all…out of the mouths of babes.
In the Minneapolis public schools, we are supposed to have 15 minutes to eat, which would be bad enough. But realistically we get only 10 to 11 minutes (we have been timing it).
Having to rush to eat is part of the reason for the obesity epidemic, eating disorders, indigestion and kids not doing well in school. There is research that proves all of these points. Kids just need more time to eat at school.
Rushing to eat high-calorie meals at school, or at home, is the cause for the gastroesophageal reflux. This is often called heartburn. Heartburn feels bad -- the symptoms are burning in the chest, overall chest pain, burning in the throat, difficulty swallowing, food sticking in middle of the chest or throat, sore throat and cough.
School-age children especially need nutrition, but we are the ones who don't get a choice about how long we get to eat. We are growing and have to get energy. In middle school especially, our bodies need energy, because middle-school kids are going through puberty. It is essential that we get enough time.
Younger kids, meanwhile, tend to eat much more slowly. That means they eat less in the time allotted and behave poorly for the rest of the day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

More birther baloney

I think this video raises some questions about the underlying tension that people feel concerning President Obama.  Though the birth certificate issue at this point seems pretty irrelevant, I think it is pertinent to ask if the participators in the fundraising event share some of the beliefs of the host; in this case, Donald Trump, a person who staked the entire credibility of his presidential run on proving that Obama was not born a US citizen.  Some in the video just haven't liked Obama as president and that's entirely cool. But some don't like him because his version of Christianity does not jibe with theirs, so he's not a "real" Christian.  Some feel that there's something odd about his birth certificate and want a bit further investigation.  It is my own belief that, as a nation, we cannot move forward if we cannot at least agree on the basic FACTS of any issue.  We may see read those facts differently and reach different conclusions, but the sky is not red because some focus group tends to believe what a few crazy people have told them.  The sky is blue, water is wet, and robots will take over the earth…oh wait, that's another blog.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Just like the folks on Easy Street...

"Are you concerned about growing income inequality in America? Are you resentful of all that wealth concentrated in the 1 percent? I’ve got the perfect solution, a modest proposal that involves just a small adjustment in the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy. Best of all, it will mean that none of us have to work for a living anymore. 
For several years now, the Fed has been making money available to the financial sector at near-zero interest rates. Big banks and hedge funds, among others, have taken this cheap money and invested it in securities with high yields. This type of profit-making, called the “carry trade,” has been enormously profitable for them.
So why not let everyone participate? 
Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on." 
Sheila Blair of the Washington Post wrote this op-ed piece that would solve everything in the economy.  We could all be Ann Romney and do our "work" at home.  All financial problems of everyone would be solved. Our consumer driven economy would bounce back because everyone would have a lot of money to spend.  There would be no more illegal immigration problem because since no one in the US would need to work, we could easily create a guest worker program. We'd need people from outside the US to raise our kids, pick our food, work at McDonalds and other various restaurants, answer our phones for customer service, be our doctors and nurses, create new technology and businesses…wait…hold it.  I've been bamboozled…I think I missed my money!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Work is relative but choice is not...

So Hillary Rosen in-artfully blurted that Anne Romney never worked a day in her life, and Ann Romney, of course, retorted that raising five boys is a lot of work. Ok….

I just want to put out there that work is relative. Choice is not. Ann Romney said that she did not have a nanny and took care of her children herself.  Admirable. But she had that choice. As a "when-do-I-not-work" mom, I would looovvvee to have her choices.  I did not have the choice to stay at home to raise my children.  My first child went on the road with me, as many children of musicians do.  I, like many other mothers, went back to work within weeks of giving birth: six weeks for baby number one (that is, I was on tour in Europe within six weeks of her birth) and two weeks after an emergency c-section for baby number two. (disclaimer: I worked for a week and then I had a couple of weeks off for the christmas holiday afterward)  

Though I am by no means poor, I have had some tough choices to make. Here's a few:
  • Do I continue to live in the super-high-cost-of-living city that might bring me more work musically, New York, or move to a relatively cheaper area where I can also be more sure of better public education (I can only afford free) and access to free child care (Grandma)? 

  • Do I put all my eggs into the unstable world of the music industry, and risk having to scrimp and scrap to be sure I've got enough money coming in, or do I work nights teaching, thereby ensuring that I can maintain a stable income, but also inadvertently creating more financial pressures since the (slightly) increased income means I must pay an over $1000 per month pre-school bill since I am thereby ineligible for financial aid?

  • Do I go to my third job even when I'm sick because I really need the money so my children can have the benefit of camp in the summer, after school activities like a dance class, or clothes that are not second hand? (disclaimer: I would probably buy second hand clothes even if I had more money cause I just don't believe in spending full price for a child who is going to grow out of something in 3-6 months. I'm just saying...)
  • Do I let my kids go to the dentist and get x-rays, knowing that this will mean something else will not get paid for, like, for example, my own medical bills? (I had a colonoscopy this year and the insurance that I pay for out of pocket did not cover it due to the cost of the procedure not reaching the level of my deductible)

  • Do I get to have a night out with my husband, or a vacation with or without family, or have enough money to pay the mortgage that month?

Just by making this list, I see that I am very blessed.  I have some pretty good choices.  But my point is that the amount of money one makes allows for easier choices: house or townhouse in this area or that area, in which both are pretty nice by middle class standards.  I'm not having to figure out, on a regular basis, which bills to pay and whether I can continue to afford to live in my house - - oh wait, I  DO gotta do that…My house is underwater…Should I sell? Nope…can't get the money back I've put in and also want my kids to stay in the school system they're in...and really don't want to move back in with mom….yessir, $250,000,000 would sure come in handy right about now.  Maybe then I could ask Ann Romney how she handled all the pressure…