[Updated below the fold.]
I’ve been working on a piece on how singularly unimpressed I am with the positions staked out by the netroots liberal community as their ‘unshakeable core liberal policy proposals’ as set out by Kevin Drum and Atrios, and how ineffective they really are in meeting my core litmus test on policy – the 35-year old single mom test – (note that the conflict is really about jobs – the policy jobs that will get handed out if the democrats can get back into power) when Captain Ed, in the midst of a series of interesting posts on the on again/off again mobile biolabs / weather balloon trailers stepped up and channeled Dickens’ Alderman Cute:
Ruth Cohen looks at an issue for mothers in the workplace that often gets little coverage from the media. With media conglomerates aiming for prized demographics, usually any discussion of workplace challenges for mothers revolve around high-powered executives hitting glass ceilings as they attempt to balance family and career concerns. For most working women, that dilemma would represent a slice of heaven, for more often they worry about keeping their jobs at all when family emergencies hit…
Ed goes on to explain why mandating family leave or flextime is impossible, and suggests instead that the parents accept the burden:
So what are parents to do? The simple answer would be to recast their expectations of work and salary. They should pursue opportunities for flex shifts or, where both spouses work, that their schedules allow for one parent to always be available for the children. Night shifts exist in many industries, and sometimes pay better as companies will often give a bonus for non-daytime hours. Outside intervention in the workplace only exacerbates the problem, as with union contracting, and leads to more inflexibility rather than relieving it.
So parents need to lower their salary expectations, and think hard about the kind of work they wish to take on. Possibly by having one parent take on a night shift job while the other works days. Right.
Now Ed is a conservative, and so it’s understandable that he’d take a conservative position on this. But I’m a liberal, and I think that forcing parent to make that kind of choice is something that we should have stopped in Dickens’ time.
[Update:Note that what I’m saying is very simple; for parents who don’t have the money to hire help or don’t have positions where they can create flexibility, the risk of job loss – not losing a day’s wages – needs to be socialized. yes, this means employers will have to overbudget for staff. But as this graph of profits in the last decade shows:
I think they can afford it.]