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March 22, 2004

Disagreeing Back to Back

Sometimes it seems as if it's more difficult to resolve disagreements when they are with folks with whom one shares a majority of premises. It's as if trying to bring disagreement into line with agreement makes misunderstanding inevitable. This may be the problem arising in an exchange between fellow Rhode Island conservative blogger Marc Comtois and myself. He's updated his post in the exchange, and it is obvious that I haven't adequately stated my point about the degree to which having a single-income has become a privilege.

For one thing, it wasn't my intention to "amplify" my thoughts in the entry to which his update is a response, but to clarify them. (I apologize if I came across as hostile.) I was addressing neither the "toys" that require some families to maintain two incomes, nor the age at which couples marry. As a matter of fact, I agree completely with the point that Marc is making, that giving children a stay-at-home parent is worth material sacrifice; I'm just making a different one.

For both my own household and many of those with which I've personal experience, putting off children while developing "a little of a nest egg" would mean putting them off indefinitely. In this discussion, the nest egg is what provides the leeway for one parent to stay home, and the class of couples who have suffered most from this area of social experimentation are those for whom two incomes are necessary even without toys, new cars, and expansive wardrobes.

Without question, such families have always existed. However, I'd suggest that the two-income standard has raised the class level at which a married couple is free of the burden. Expanding on this, I expressed my belief that — in broad, general terms — it isn't outlandish to suggest that the class of women who most insistently sought the career option is now the same class of women with the option to stay home. They can "have it all," in other words, only if they earn enough to be able to afford it. Those who cannot do so wind up forced to settle for what that they didn't necessarily want to begin with.

Posted by Justin Katz at March 22, 2004 4:01 PM
Marriage & Family

Boy, this is why Blogging, and Internet discussions in general, can get frustrating. We are "talking past each other." It's probably aking to the overplayed Mars/Venus type confusions, only in this instance its more and Aquidneck/West Bay thing. Suffice it to say that I understand your point and agree with it in it's "broad, general" sense. Had I the time, perhaps I could analyze further what it is about this that keeps niggling at me as a bit off the mark. However, I'm currently immersed in research for a paper that is extremely interesting, due in two weeks, and absolutely irrelevant to modern times. So, I think that the problem is on my end for not being able to actually formulate a cogent point addressing my reservations (albeit small ones) regarding your hypothesis. You made your case clearly, I haven't. Now, I am off to Burgundy, circa A.D. 500. I'll say "Hi" to Clovis for you.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at March 22, 2004 9:36 PM