A Modest Proposal
Once again, Penelope Trunk (or rather, one of her guest bloggers) has put her finger on something I've been thinking about for a few weeks now. As a society, we have moved from a one-wage-earner-one-homemaker model to a working-parent model, but without finding a real solution to the domestic labor gap this causes.
One can hire others to do childcare, cleaning, cooking, etc., but only if you greatly reduce your standard of living in other ways - for the majority of us, this kind of help is too expensive. The most common results are either:
- domestic labor becomes "invisible" - it is an added labor tax which women perform during their unpaid (aka "leisure") time
- individual women limit their time in the paid workforce in order to take care of the necessary domestic chores, thus subjecting themselves to lower earning potential, and dismissal as "less-committed" workers.
The one obvious solution - men contributing more domestic labor as a tradeoff for not having to be the sole wage earner - has not generally occurred, although individual cases vary. Structurally, men today ARE doing more than their fathers or grandfathers did at home, but not enough to make up for the lack of a full-time homemaker, and not anywhere near as much as working women do in their "spare" time.
Since men are either naturally or culturally incapable of filling in this gap, I submit the following modest proposal.
To keep our economy going, we should reinstitute a draft, this time domestic instead of military, requiring anyone 18-21 to spend time working as a low-paid domestic.
Not only will they gain valuable life skills and help working families to make the most of their time and income, they will, by making domestic work a paid endeavor, contribute to our GDP and economic well-being.
See, folks? Job creation isn't that hard.