Third wave feminism seems pretty misogynistic sometimes….

The latest “feminist” movement is to get the government to pay women to stay at home with their kids and caretake for older adults.  (See, NYT essay.)   The basic argument:

The feminist argument for a U.B.I. [Universal Basic Income] is that it’s a way to reimburse mothers and other caregivers for the heavy lifting they now do free of charge. Roughly one-fifth of Americans have children 18 or under. Many also attend to ill or elderly relatives. They perform these labors out of love or a sense of duty, but still, at some point during the diaper-changing or bedpan cleaning, they have to wonder why their efforts aren’t seen as “work.” They may even ask why they have to pay for the privilege of doing it, by cutting back on their hours or quitting jobs to stay home.

For eff’s sake.  Let’s talk about basic economics and family structure.

You get paid for “work” because someone would rather you do those things at the office than have the money they pay you.  It is not a reflection on your self-worth, contributions to making the world a better place, or anything but the fact that you are performing labour that someone would give up money to have performed. When we pay people to scoop ice cream, mow our lawns, or change the oil, it’s not because we are saying that scooping ice cream is more worthwhile than singing your child to sleep; it’s because we need the oil changed.  This is not a way to advance cosmic justice or give people the warm fuzzies; it’s about (pardon the language) getting shit done that needs to get done, which you cannot or do not want to do yourself.

The important thing in all that is the person who pays the money gets something in return – an ice cream cone, a functioning automobile, or a lawn that does not resemble Einstein’s hair.  You figuring out how to make your household work is not anything that benefits anyone outside the household, which is why no one pays you for it.  If you want to get paid for raising kids or the cleaning the house, raise someone else’s kids or clean someone else’s house, and have that ‘someone else’ give you a check in exchange.  But your kids, your house? It’s called being an adult.

(Incidentally, we already pay people to have kids: child tax credits, maternity care that is included in all health insurance premiums, free public schools for 13 years, subsidised state universities, after-school programmes, youth sports leagues.  We also pay people who are old through Medicare, Medicaid, Elder Services, and heaven only knows what else.  Let’s not pretend that women are doing the lion’s share of the work already that needs to be shifted even more to the taxpayer.)

Now, actual feminists have a good solution to this problem about not getting paid for “women’s work:” it’s called equally sharing their husband’s paychecks, or, in the case of elderly relatives, having a sit-down conversation with their siblings and saying, “Look, it’s going to cost $X in either foregone salary for me, or $Y to pay someone else to do this, to take care of Dad.  Either come up with better ideas or open up your checkbooks, because this one isn’t falling all on me.”  Sad, pathetic excuses for adults look to strangers to make their households function properly.

Readers, am I being harsh, or is this beyond absurd?

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Filed under Economics, Feminism

The legal right to medical decision-making

Hi, readers!  Long time, no blogging.

In the few years, there has been a huge push to legalise assisted suicide. Brittany Maynard became a national figure for the right to assisted suicide before she took her life.  Several states have legalised it.  Proponents of assisted suicide have argued that dying individuals, not the State, have a right to determine their medical care, and that swift death can be a compassionate alternative to prolonged, hopeless suffering.  (For the record, I do not find these arguments to be persuasive.)

Given that Americans are embracing this logic, it’s ironic that the same logic does not apply to the F.D.A.’s approval and clinical trial process for experimental, potentially life-saving, drugs.  The New York Times (hat tip) reported that the FDA is streamlining the process after its oncology chief, Dr. Richard Pazdur, lost his wife to ovarian cancer.

The F.D.A. has a notoriously slow approval process for new drugs.  This is largely a result of the thalidomide crisis in the 1960s, when pregnant women who took an anti-nausea drug gave birth to children with severe deformities (including flippers instead of arms).   F.D.A. medical officer Dr. Frances Kelsey refused to approve the drug after he found that it had not been tested on pregnant animals.  As the drug was never approved in the United States, American babies avoided the devastating harm that other children faced in countries where thalidomide had been approved.  The F.D.A.’s cautiousness in approving the drug has been used to justify its slow approval process in the half-century since the crisis.

Much of the problem with thalidomide was that its costs were out of proportion with its benefits: it reduced nausea, but could cause lifelong severe deformities.  As a general rule, we are more willing to approve drugs that cause a lot of harm if they also do a lot of good (e.g. a drug that has chemotherapy’s side effects would never be approved to reduce headaches, but is fine when it could save someone’s life). As such, the F.D.A. has a “compassionate use” programme, wherein severely ill people can apply to take unapproved drugs in the hope of saving their lives.  The rationale is that the patient will probably die anyway, so the additional risk of taking the unproven drug is minimal.  As the NYT explains,

That decision was made in a separate category of “compassionate use” drug approvals for individual patients. Every year, the F.D.A. receives about 1,000 similar applications from terminally ill people seeking experimental medications, and agency officials say they approve 99 percent of them. The approvals are distinct from those for drugs that have gone through clinical trials and that are for broad distribution.

So every year, about a thousand people apply for “compassionate use” drugs.  Every year, over a half-million people die from cancer.  Obviously, many of those people pass away from types of cancer that are not the target of any drugs in clinical trials or the approval process; but whatever that percentage of cancer patients who could benefit from a drug in the pipeline is, it is probably higher than 0.5%.  In fact, the number of people who apply for and receive permission for “compassionate use” of an experimental drug is approximately equal to the number of people who undergo euthanasia every year in America (even though assisted suicide is limited to a small number of states).

In effect, we are a country wherein a cancer patient is just as likely to commit suicide via a lethal dose of legal drugs as he is to receive experimental, potentially life-saving medical treatment.  Analytically, the laws governing each are different: the “drug cocktail” that is used for assisted suicide is an off-label use and therefore not governed by the F.D.A., and state law, not federal law, governs assisted suicide.  But in a discussion about the policy that governs the approval process for potentially life-saving medication and the availability of compassionate use, it is damning that Americans are just as likely to use legal drugs to kill themselves as they are to apply for life-saving ones.

 

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Filed under Bioethics, Law, Reforming health care

‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Group May Close

The Cambridge, MA based Our Bodies, Ourselves organisation is at risk of closing. They cite “onsumers’ shift to the Internet, dwindling grants, and the lack of a long-term financial plan” as the reasons for the potential closure. (Article.)

When Our Bodies, Ourselves was published, public schools didn’t have the comprehensive health classes they do today; the stories many women tell indicate that their biology classes didn’t even cover human reproductive biology; and the topics it discussed (abortion, birth control, etc.) were taboo.  Of course grants were readily available and many people purchased the book.

Almost fifty years later, support for abortion is on the decline; innumerable forms of birth control are available over the counter; hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding are given to providing women with birth control; and practically every school in America teaches the basics of human reproductive biology (even if they do not teach ‘comprehensive’ sex ed).  The White House was lit up with rainbow lights when the Supreme Court mandated same-sex marriage.   It’s hard enough to see how Our Bodies, Ourselves is anything but redundant, let alone why people or the government would prop up a small bureaucracy around it.

If the goal was to change the conversation and the culture, OBS won. The downside of ‘winning,’ however, is that they became irrelevant. In fact, much of the screeching about “infringing on women’s rights” (by, for example, suggesting that women are capable of purchasing their own condoms if they don’t want to be pregnant) has nothing to do with the actual policy, so much as justifying the existence of these grant- and donation-supported groups.  The subtext is that this group is only viable so long as it is controversial, ground-breaking, and has something to rebel against.

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Filed under Bioethics, Feminism

“The world is awash in cash”

So says Kevin Ahearn, the president of condominium marketing and brokerage firm Otis & Ahearn, in explaining why a condo in the Back Bay was just sold for almost $4,000 per square foot.  (Story.)

Those who like to ogle the pads of the rich and famous (or merely rich) can check out some of the Mandarin Oriental’s condos here.  A sample:

Boston’s luxury housing market is booming (hence, the condos that sell for $8 to $12 million). It’s a fascinating example of the economic “recovery,” i.e. a recovery that has left some “awash in cash” and others… not so much.

Readers, thoughts?

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Filed under Economics

Yawn?

Sorry, y’all, for the lack of blogging. I’ve barely had time to sleep, do laundry, or pet the kitty (and the latter has made the first one quite difficult).

There’s a thing called work-life balance that I’m working on… but it does not yet include work-life-blog balance.

 

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Filed under Miscellanea

Home is where the heart is

Via Instapundit, the HUD is engaging in rather creepy behaviour: attempting to strong-arm towns across America into re-doing their zoning to achieve more diversity.

But the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development—the source of the $5 million planning grant used to fund the racial mapping—says that mapping is intended, in part, to identify suburban land-use and zoning practices that allegedly deny opportunity and create “barriers” for low-income and minority people. Under its forthcoming “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule, HUD will provide communities with “nationally uniform data” of what it views as an appropriate racial, ethnic and economic mix. Local governments will have to “take meaningful actions” to further the goals identified.

Let me explain something to these geniuses who want to re-engineer America: what makes an area a valuable place to live is the civic engagement of one’s neighbours, not the value of the property, the amount of property taxes, or the ethnic make-up of the town. All other things being equal, people would rather move into a street with a youth basketball coach, volunteer fireman, college alumni volunteer, and Boy Scout leader than one in which people sit on their arses all day and eat bonbons.

Maybe instead of browbeating nice, middle-class families about their zoning ordinances and lack of inclusiveness, these rocket surgeons in the bureaucracy could try giving lessons in civic engagement to the people they are trying to help.  Our parks don’t get magically cleaned; money doesn’t fall from the sky to pay our science team and youth baseball coaches; our bake sales baked goods don’t spring into being like Athene from Zeus’ brow; and people who sit on town boards aren’t getting paid for their service.  Moving in people with no idea of civic engagement only means that our towns will have fewer coaches, cleanup crews, and bake sale bakers per capita.

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As Mark Twain said, there’s lies, damn lies, and social science

Okay, he didn’t quite say that, and “lies” is harsh.

I came across this article in the Harvard Business Review, citing a study which proves that wearing high-status brands signals to potential interviewers that you are more qualified and should be paid more money. (Story here.)  Put on a Burberry and, voila!, people will think that are qualified and worth extra money.

The set-up itself was good: videos of the same interview, but some of them were edited to add a conspicuous logo to the interviewee’s attire. The problem is that the people analysing the interview are college students.  Not only are they all barely legal to drink, at best (and therefore entirely unrepresentative of what a fifty-year-old interviewer may think), they have never hired someone for a position before.

The research is intriguing, but the proper conclusion may well be that young people with little experience rely heavily on outward indicators of success and status.  It is entirely possible that older, more seasoned interviewers would dislike status signalling (and, anecdotally, I know a few who prefer hungry and ambitious to spoiled and wealthy).

Thoughts, readers?

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Filed under Economics, Nerdiness

Cat Owners Survival Guide

Cat Owners Survival Guide.

I’ve just given up on my carpet. At this point, I cover my bedspread with a blanket so that Sir Pukes A Lot will throw up on something easily washable.

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Filed under Nerdiness

Lilly Pulitzer for Target: Fun, Pretty, and Upbeat is for Everyone

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently.  I  have thirty or so articles lined up in my email, all ready to type something about… and I haven’t had the chance.  Mea culpa.

Anyway, onto actual blogging.  In January, Lilly Pulitzer announced that it would be pairing with Target to come out with a special line for the store. Mayhem ensued.  Last weekend, the brand hit stores, and even more mayhem ensued.  Target’s server almost crashed; the stores were sold out in hours; and throngs of Lilly-loving bargain hunters cleaned the place out.

This is fodder for the commetariat set, who enjoy the shrieking about how Lilly would be rolling over in her grave, or how this is so gauche. Charlotte Wilder covers it here, but she falls into the “Lilly is for snobs” trap.

Look, kids: Lilly Pulitzer isn’t about being snobbish, exclusive, or elite.  It’s about being fun.  In case you can’t tell from the giant animals in bright pastels, Lilly apparel and accessories are about enjoying life. You can buy secondhand Lilly (there’s even a Facebook group for it!), Lilly on sale, or wear your Lilly for years.  My great aunt tried to steal my Lilly Pulitzer bracelet over Christmas.  She has dementia, so it’s probably not a brand recognition thing; it’s because it’s super-cute and shiny:

Who can resist that, whether it’s sold in Target or on Martha’s Vineyard? So cute.

If you see “fun” and “lighthearted” and immediately think of dour snobbery, it’s not the country club set with the problem.  Get yourself a flamingo dress, a mai tai, and a pedicure, and come back to us.

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Filed under Miscellanea

I tried to make the K-Cup environmental issue one of my top 100 concerns, but just couldn’t do it.

Neil says it well.

The K-cups that I throw away every week can fit in my hand. We aren’t talking the Exxon-Valdez spill here.

Eternity Matters

How Bad Are K-Cups for the Environment?  Probably not that bad. The “My K-cups” with filters make very little waste. Amazon’s San Francisco Bay coffees are less than 30 cents each on Subscribe and Save and are partially biodegradable.

P.S. Are Starbucks lids biodegradable? I don’t hear people complaining about those. And even a full year of K-cups wouldn’t fill a single garbage bag. Not sure why this thing gets so much attention.  We pay $10 or so a month to recycle and one week’s worth of that takes up less space than a year of K-Cups.

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Filed under Miscellanea