Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Things Have Gone Out of Whack Since 1970, Plus a Rant on SS Caregiver Credit

Saw this on Facebook and decided to post it here. We who were around then and can remember know this is the case:

The federal minimum wage then was $1.60 an hour, which was sufficient for one person to be able to afford to live.

Back then, people could actually afford a home on one income. Unions were strong and pushed for family wage jobs. Of course, women were largely shut out because they couldn't obtain credit on their own. However, housing costs didn't start to go out of whack until the mid-1970s, when the real estate industry decided, that because there were more two-income households, they would jack up the price of homeownership to fatten their wallets. Housing costs ever since are way out of line with wages and salaries. It is just assumed that there are two income earners in a household and that they make "good" money. Single people find it virtually impossible to be able to afford a home--meaning a stick house on a lot--not a manufactured home, not a condo, both of which don't increase in value or increase little in value compared to a traditional stick house.

In truth, being single, especially as a woman, is a one-way ticket to poverty.

To segue into another rant by yours truly, more tone deaf stuff is being proposed in Congress for "caregiver credit" in Social Security. This is yet another fucking handout to well-to-do people who do NOT need assistance and not to people most at risk for poverty in old age, meaning single women.

On the face of it, the caregiver credit sounds reasonable, but it is in fact not.

Congress just doesn't understand that most women, and this is what this proposal is allegedly trying to help, do NOT take ANY significant time off from the labor force to care for others. That is a MYTH. They simply can't afford to do it. ONLY the well-to-do can afford to do this for any extended period of time. The REASON women make less money than men is not because they take "time off" from the labor force caring for kids and parents--it is because women's work is DEVALUED by definition.

And why is women's work devalued? Because of the concept of the family wage, that the man is the breadwinner of the home, and women work for pin money. The mindset is still very much a part of our economy. It is assumed that all women get married, and because they get married, they don't NEED the money the way men do. They are not seen as primary wage earners but secondary wage earners. And if they are not married, they had better be because this society is going to starve them into poverty if they, to put it crudely, don't spread their legs out for some man in exchange for a roof over their heads. While almost all women see marriage as a personal choice, there is no denying there is an element of economic coercion into doing it. This mindset of women not needing to support themselves is true all across the board, across all occupations, but most notable in traditional women's jobs. Education, work habits, and skills have nothing to do with why women's work is denigrated and why they fare so poorly in old age.

The concept of men as primary wage earners and women as secondary wage earners underlies sex discrimination in the workplace.

Giving caregiver credit just further entrenches this concept when in fact dependent wives already have benefits not available to single women (unless they have been married 10 or more years), meaning spousal or survivors' benefits. Many married women do not take their own SS benefits because their share of their husbands' benefits are greater than their own.

Once again, single people and everybody else who cannot afford to take time off from the labor force are asked to subsidize those who are well-to-do.

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