Frank Zuber

  • commented on President Obama's Attack on Stay-at-Home Moms: Now with 100% More Context 2014-11-08 16:23:55 -0800
    John Pack commented 2 days ago: Why is it that families can’t get by on one income any more? I make six times what my father made.

    Family structure (and ffunction) are determined by how the larger economy works. A century ago in urban America the socialised means of survival worked this way: each household labored to provide for its own survival by forming a unit that could provide a worker for the industrial or commercial economy at large. It required a full-time worker and manager (usually the wife) to organise home life in such a way that another family member (husband, then children more as the family matured) could be supported to enter the wage economy of factory or other work place. The cash earned by father was used by mother and helpers (children) to house, feed, and care for the entire family. That has changed. It is no longer the norm, nor is it easy, for a family to live on that single income, especially with the consumer ‘needs’ that exist today. A hundred years ago children didn’t need all the gear they need now – brand name clothes to display their identity, electronic gear to consume the products of mass entertainment, and so forth. Mom and Dad also have far more extensive need/desire to consume. Managing the household has also become far more expensive in cash terms, and much less expensive in direct labor terms, that it used to be, thanks to things like electricity, plumbing, refrigeration, cleaning products and machinery, ease of transportation, etc, etc. As a result we now have fewer children (they are economic liabilities, not contributors as they were formerly), later age of marriage and having children, and so on. The economy always determines the forms that families will take and how survival tasks will be distributed in them; the economy is the field in which, and the means by which, groups of humans distribute and share survival tasks among members. That is the basic reason why, John Pack, families can’t get by on one income any more. Consumer economies that depend on mass market consumerism work differently than industrial economies that depend on capital deployment for infrastructure and manufacturing. When economies change the social structures they produce change. As simple as that. It’s related to Marxian ideas about ownership of the means of production. Material circumstances determine the parameters within which societies build their means of survival.


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