How much does it cost to raise a child? According to the Associated Press:
For $235,000, you could indulge in a shiny new Ferrari — or raise a child for 17 years. A government report released Thursday found that a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about that much in child-related expenses from birth through age 17. That’s a 3.5 percent increase from 2010.
This immense amount of money required to raise a child has serious ramifications.
At this time, though, I would merely like to note that there are (assuming a child sleeps 8 hours a day) a child is awake almost 100,000 hours over 17 years (17 years x 365 days x 16 hours waking time per day). That means that it costs parents about $2.35 for each of their children’s waking hours.
But parents don’t necessarily get to enjoy the company of their children during every one of their child’s waking hours. I’m going to make a great leap and guess that parents only spend about 4 hours per day in the company of each of their children each day over a period of 17 years. Therefore, parents spend about 24,820 hours in the company of their children over 17 years. Therefore, it costs parents ($235,000/24,820) $9.47 for each hour that they actually get to spend with each of their children during the first 17 years.
Quite often, this can be a great bargain, at least in my experience.
I’ve never used marijuana. I’m not promoting the use of marijuana, or alcohol intoxication, or the use of prescription drugs to get high. On the other hand, I know that many people do these things. In my opinion, it is not for me to tell other folks how to run their lives, as long as A) they are not minors and B) these activities don’t seriously interfere with their duties to their family or work. How is it that getting high on alcohol or prescription drugs (or runner’s high and other natural ways to get high) are OK, yet smoking a joint will cause you to end up in jail and give you a noteworthy criminal record? Yes, if you are arrested on your own property for the crime of trying to escape stress or pain, you can be marched through the same criminal justice system as those who steal cars, those who rape, and those who commit arson.
With that in mind consider the following statistics regarding marijuana usage from Huffpo:
While Obama’s term began with great promise for drug policy reformers, in the past two years it has been difficult to distinguish Obama’s drug policies from those of his White House predecessors. Although President Obama has acknowledged that legalization is “an entirely legitimate topic for debate” — the first time a sitting president has made such a statement — his administration has made a string of increasingly disappointing moves over the last year. Half of all U.S. drug arrests are for marijuana — more than 850,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana in 2010 alone, 88 percent for mere possession.
Please note carefully that 850,000 is more people than the entire state of South Dakota. America has massively dysfunctional priorities, and it’s time to think of a better way to handle urges people to get high. I would propose that we handle marijuana like we handle alcohol. Regulate it and tax it. When people whine that others are getting high illegally, I’m inclined to tell them to shut the hell up, because they are probably getting high on something (most likely alcohol or prescription drugs). And perhaps they are getting high on their feelings of moral superiority and the the excitement they get when they support laws that invade the private lives of their neighbors.
The above Huffpo article makes the legitimate point that Barack Obama would not be President if the harsh marijuana crackdown he is supporting had been applied to the young Barry Obama smoking a joint. How many otherwise law-abiding people are thrown into the criminal justice system because of the sin of wanting to feel some pleasure or some escape from the stress of the crazy world, or some relief from serious chronic pain?
I’d bet that a lot of those obstructionists in Marin County are wishing they could rewind the clock.
But after spending years and millions of dollars, Mr. Lucas abruptly canceled plans recently for the third, and most likely last, major [studio] expansion, citing community opposition. An emotional statement posted online said Lucasfilm would build instead in a place “that sees us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire.”
If the announcement took Marin by surprise, it was nothing compared with what came next. Mr. Lucas said he would sell the land to a developer to bring “low income housing” here.
I’d bet about 10% of people go utterly ballistic about their property. I’ve seen it in my own neighborhood, where a contingent of people stepped forward about 15 years ago to prevent a low-key art fair on my street. You couldn’t believe all of the hyperbole and all the venom. The opponents were worried that people would be walking on the sidewalks in front of their houses during the fair, if you can believe that one. Well, the fair went on, and it continues to this day on an annual basis. I’ve thought a lot about the “sacred” since reading Jonathan Haidt’s thoughts on it (I’ll post on it soon). The basic idea is that once some declares something (e.g., their home) to be sacred, there is no negotiation allowed, and anyone who tries to cross them is evil. The bottom line is that otherwise reasonable people become crazy.
George Lucas apparently had enough of it and decided to let some ordinary folks move into Marin. Talk about inhumane punishment: forcing rich folks to live nearby modest-income Americans . . .
Today, an attorney with whom I work told me I absolutely needed to drop what I was doing in order to listen to a 19-year old man giving a statement to the Iowa legislature. Under consideration was a constitutional amendment that would reverse the landmark case of Varnum v Brien. I looked up Zach Wahls on Youtube and watched his incredible speech.
My friend then told me that Zach also happened to be in town, at Left Bank Books, 5 blocks away from my law office. I walked over, arriving in time to hear Zach ending his prepared remarks, and opening the floor to questions. One of the main points he made is that people react badly to households of two gay parents because they have a “fear of the unknown.”
I’ve been thinking about the Missouri “Don’t Say Gay” legislation (HB2051) since it hit public awareness. I’ve lived in Missouri most of my life, I am used to seeing legislative discussions that make my head hurt, but this one hit me harder than most.
I realize that this bill, like much legislation around the country, is a fearful reaction to the many advances that gay folk are making. It is more accepted to be gay now than 20 years ago. Gay people are often portrayed on TV shows, in books and movies and the storyline is no longer about being gay. The dramatic value of homosexuality has dipped in popularity. Being gay is less taboo, and for some people that is the last straw. This legislation feels like a last ditch effort from the folks petrified and disgusted by homosexuals to protect themselves through the guise of protecting the children. But from what?
I don’t have a lot to say about this kerfluffle over the remarks of someone who, as it turns out, is not actually working for Obama regarding Ann Romney never having worked a day in her life. This kind of hyperbole ought to be treated as it deserves—ignored.
But we live in an age when the least thing can become a huge political Thing, so ignoring idiocy is not an option.
I remember back in the 1990s a brief flap over Robert Reich. I’m not certain but I believe it was Rush Limbaugh who started it by lampooning the Clinton Administration’s Secretary of Labor for “never having had a real job in his life.” Meaning that he had gone from graduation into politics with no intervening time served as, at a guess, a fast-food cook or carwasher or checker at a WalMart. Whatever might qualify as “real” or as a “job” in this formulation. In any event, it was an absurd criticism that overlooked what had been a long career in law and as a teacher before Clinton appointed him. It’s intent was to discredit him, of course, which was the intent of the comments aimed at Mrs. Romney by asserting that she has no idea what a working mother has to go through.
A different formulation of the charge might carry more weight, but would garner less attention. It is true being a mother has little to do with what we regard as “gainful employment” in this country: employees have laws which would prevent the kinds of hours worked (all of them, on call, every day including weekends and holidays) for the level of wages paid (none to speak of) mothers endure.
Hilary Rosen raised a storm over remarks aimed at making Mrs. Romney appear out of touch with working mothers. A more pointed criticism might be that Mrs. Romney does not have any experience like that of many women who must enter employment in order to support themselves and their families, that a woman who can afford nannies (whether she actually made use of any is beside the point—the fact is she had that option, which most women do not) can’t know what working mothers must go through.
But that’s a nuanced critique and we aren’t used to that, apparently. Soundbite, twitter tweets, that’s what people are used to, encapsulate your charge in a 144 characters or less, if we have to think about it more than thirty seconds, boredom takes over and the audience is lost.
Unfortunately, the chief victims then are truth and reality.
So the president gets dragged into it for damage control and the issue becomes a campaign issue.
Which might not be such a bad thing. We could stand to have a renewed conversation about all this, what with so many related issues being on the table, given the last year of legislation aimed at “modifying” women’s services and rights. Whether they intended it this way or not, the GOP has become saddled with the appearance of waging culture wars against women, the most recent act being Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin’s repeal of that state’s equal pay law. Romney is the presumptive nominee for head of that party and one of the things he’s going to have to do if figure out where he stands on these matters and then try to convince the country that he and his party are not anti-woman.
Yes, that’s hyperbolic, but not by much. This is where the culture wars have brought us—one part of society trying to tell the other part what it ought to be doing and apparently prepared to enact legislation to force the issue. Ms. Rosen’s remarks, ill-aimed as they were, point up a major policy problem facing the GOP and the country as a whole, which is the matter of inequality.
That’s become a catch-all phrase these days, but that doesn’t mean it lacks importance. The fact is that money and position pertain directly to questions of relevance in matters of representation. Ann Romney becomes in this a symbol, which is an unfortunate but inevitable by-product of our politics, and it is legitimate to ask if she can speak to women’s concerns among those well below her level of available resource and degree of life experience.
The problem with all politics, left, right, or center, is that in general it’s all too general. Which is why Ms. Rosen’s remarks, no matter how well-intentioned or even statistically based on economic disparities, fail to hit the mark. She can’t know Ann Romney’s life experience and how it has equipped her to empathize with other women. Just as Ann Romney, viewing life through the lens of party politics, may be unable to empathize with women the GOP has been trying very hard to pretend are irrelevant.
Like with Robert Reich’s critics, it all comes down to what you mean by “real” and “work.” And that’s both personal and relative. Isn’t it?
Our family vacuum cleaner had seen better days. Like most things that break these days, it wasn’t that old; my wife and I bought it less than five years ago. Thus, the frustration and an opportunity. We were aware that there was a vacuum repair store less than a mile from our house, and we decided to see whether we could save our vacuum.
Upon entering, we spoke to “Dan,” who has been running his vacuum repair shop for fifty years. He is a affable fellow with a small shop filled with more than 50 used vacuum cleaners. After a quick test of our machine, Dan announced that $40 would get our old vacuum working again. That would have been much less than $200, the price we would pay for a new vacuum cleaner. But for $100 and our vacuum as a trade-in, we could upgrade to a significantly better “commercial vacuum” that someone else had traded-in and which Dan had already repaired. My wife and I decided to upgrade, and we are now happy with our powerful “new” vacuum (not so powerful that it sucks up pets and children, but quite powerful).
It occurred to me that this is an unusual way of doing business in modern America. As Annie Leonard explains so well in “The Story of Stuff,” most things that are manufactured these days are designed for a single use (including immense amounts of packaging). My family makes regular use of other kinds of re-sell-it shops, including Goodwill, Salvation Army and private garage sales. But how nice, to also be able to make use of a store for fixes things in order to keep them out of the landfill, especially when these things are expensive household appliances. Perhaps a vacuum cleaner is about as cheap as appliance can be while it is still expensive enough to make it worthwhile to offer a repair shop. At least, I don’t remember seeing any smaller appliance repair shops; a look on the Internet tells me that such shops do exist, however.
Dan had more than a few noticeably old (repaired) vacuums for sale, a sight that made me think of the phrase “planned obsolescence.” I do think society would be better off with fewer big box purchases and more repair shops. And since Dan was such a competent and friendly fellow, I’ll mention that he is an avid bowler who recently bowled his second 300 game.