Blue Collar Blues

Great article several weeks ago in The Oregonian titled Power Moms Not Only Ones Needing Help. (Thank you, Mother of 4, for bringing it to my attention.) The main point is that middle and lower income families don't get sufficient media attention.

"The shift workers. The retail clerks. The waitresses and the line cooks. The single mothers with no give, and the dads whose employers offer zero flexibility...[T]he media...keep hashing over the same old question: How do white-collar women raise children without squandering their college degrees and man-worthy careers? As a result, the public debate about improving the work-life balance reflects the specific desires of well-paid professionals: better part-time work, longer leaves, more flex time and fewer hours. These worthy ideas sound like fever dreams to the tens of millions of women (and men) with bigger problems on their hands. They are the people who need extra shifts to make ends meet; who get in trouble for calling home during work; who lack the savings or eligibility to take unpaid family leave."

And one of my favorites: "A helpful husband can do more for his wife's sanity and children's well-being than any employer." (This advice applies no matter what your household net worth.)

My only issue with the article is that ALL women (no matter what their incomes -- or their husbands' incomes) have the right to speak out about the problems facing them as they try to combine working and raising children. College-educated, economically successful men are not derided for their opinions, so let's not undermine the opinions of their female equivalents - or turn the "mommy wars" into a class war, with women divided by income level.

We all benefit from talking openly about the very real problems moms in America face finding affordable, quality daycare, jobs that offer flexible work hours and reasonable policies concerning work/family conflicts. Speaking out helps women at all income levels who want to be good employees -- and good moms.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 9, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
Previous: From Olympics to Mocha Moms | Next: Do At-Home Dads Help or Hurt Work-Life Balance?


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I agree and have been saying this for some time. Not only do all mothers (and fathers) have work/life balance issues to deal with, but maybe it's time to take some of our energy talking about it to focus on actually helping to change the policies that realistically end up hitting those families the hardest. If we have the time and energy to discuss this on blogs, we should find the time to let our opinions and voices be known to those who have the power to make the changes -- or elect people who share our views and who will truly work to help families. With campaigns getting underway and mid-term elections coming up in the fall, now is a perfect time to start focusing on candidates' positions on work/life balance and taking them to heart when we vote in November.

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | August 9, 2006 7:18 AM

I don't think bringing attention to the income level is a bad thing. There is an absence of opinions and feedback from lower economic circles, your blog is a good example of that. These people your post just listed are typically living in the margins - there is in most case not enough energy (physical or mental) left over to even form opinions much less to excersize an ability to articulate these thoughts in an effective way like blogging, networking or writing. This missing group, as defined by their class, needs champions - and the only ones with the means to get the work/life balance issue out there is the more available group of parents/caregivers. As Punditmom said we do have a responsiblity to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Posted by: Tracy | August 9, 2006 7:41 AM

With education comes flexibility. If my job was writing/editing, as long as I met the deadline, I'm pretty sure "when" I worked on the project is irrelevant - be it during 9am-5pm or be it 6am-10am & 6pm-10pm. Still 8 hours of work.

However, if you are a retail clerk or waitperson, you MUST work during the hours the store is open. Sure, you might be able to work a split shift but if the store closes at 8pm, you can't do any clerk work after 8:01pm.

Work at a computer can be done pretty much anywhere a computer is (or can go) - office, home, beach, etc. But if you are a waitperson, you can only work in the restaurant. Can't be flexible there.

There's no media attention about the lack of flexibility because there can be no flexibility.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 9, 2006 7:58 AM

Yes, ALL women have the right to speak out. However, I can't get too upset over the plight of any person earning seventy or eighty thousand dollars or more.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 8:02 AM

Work life balance?
In my 'class' I need more money to live on.
Your comment that all women have the right to speak out and shouldn't be divided by class is astoundingly naive. Women *are* divided by class.

Posted by: A working woman | August 9, 2006 8:11 AM

A friend of mine, raising two children on her own (a third lives with her dad) on a waitress' salary, at least works at a place that offers both some flexibility in her hours and a basic health insurance plan. That way she can take care of her children during the day and their father can do so when she works in the evening (avoiding daycare expenses).
Even with her children's father helping her out financially, though, she still struggles to make ends meet.

Posted by: John | August 9, 2006 8:17 AM

As long as we have the society we live in, and don't take on a socialist model, we are going to have class differences. But what does class have to do with society working toward finding things like affordable, quality day care for those working families who need it? Or convincing employers that if there is room to be flexible, in the end, they get more productive and loyal employees if they allow the flexibility?

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | August 9, 2006 8:20 AM

This is a tough issue and as usual there are politics surrounding it. Unions, that used to protect workers, don't have this power anymore and certainly there is no will amongst the business community to make the workplace more worker friendly. It will take a shift in the political world for even incremental changes.

Think about this--many workers in this country earn minimum wage are just slightly more. That's $5.15 an hour. That's just over $10,000 a year. Can anyone imagine living on that? It's dispicable that CEOs and other top execs (AKA pigs) can earn tens of millions and their workers starve and struggle. Blue collar jobs that pay well have gone by the wayside. And as a poster above noted, there is little flexibility for the lower wage worker, but I don't agree that there can't be in many of the types of jobs that are low wage.

How does this impact on families? Childcare is a major issue as families try to put together a series of babysitters (low paid, substandard), daycare, etc. These families go without health insurance because their employers don't provide it and they can't afford it. The families are less healthy, have poor nutrition (healthy food costs more), and are stressed beyond belief.

When I was the director of my department, when I head my very highly paid people complain about why they couldn't go to meetings because of childcare issues, I told them to give me a break and look at the admin. assistants who have kids, who take 2 buses to work and don't complain. I really had more sympathy than that because I think this issue is stressful for all of us.

A change and more real compassion is in order.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 8:22 AM

I have vast respect for any single parent, mom or dad, at any income level. Okay, maybe not so much for the super-rich who can afford live-in help, but for those who have to do it "all" by themselves. Mrs. Do2 has to travel from time to time for her job, and I've gone through all the hassles that come with two young kids....getting up early to get myself ready before getting them up, dealing with homework, sibling rivalry, etc.....after a week I'm exhausted. I really admire those who have to do that all the time.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 9, 2006 8:26 AM

What a joke. You've spent the last how many months complaining about the needs/problems of "upper middle class" mommies and NOW you decide to focus on the "silent" majority? Give me a break. 1000s of posts from women who have the luxury of staying home b/c their husbands are able to make enough or college educated mommies who continue to work so little Sienna can go to the best pre-school and NOW you realize that most of us can't AFFORD NOT TO WORK. It would be funny if it weren't such a sad commentary on how the elite in this country (and particularly in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas) are out of touch with what "ordinary" Americans go through.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 8:34 AM

"When I was the director of my department, when I head my very highly paid people complain about why they couldn't go to meetings because of childcare issues, I told them to give me a break and look at the admin. assistants who have kids, who take 2 buses to work and don't complain."

I hope that this poster is not implying that because life was hard for his admin assistants, he thought it was ok to make life hard for the professionals too! I hope that instead he was looking for ways to let all his staff have the maximum amount of flexibility that their particular jobs allowed for.

Posted by: randommom | August 9, 2006 8:35 AM

I agree with 'A working woman' that class divisions are very real, for women and men. I think Nielsen's plea for no more books about the mommy wars is just a hook and being concerned about wealthy, educated women being denied forums to express their legitimate challenges has very little to do with the issues many women (and men) face all the time. Affordable daycare that is high enough quality that the children of wealthy parents play with the children of the waitresses and shop clerks is beyond scarce. For many of us, quality health care often means forgoing savings, homeownership or other benefits the wealthier classes enjoy. I don't want to pit poor against wealthy but the real challenges those with less $ face every day seem far more important, to those families and to society at large, then the undeniably valid challenges the wealthier parents face.

Posted by: Burg Dad | August 9, 2006 8:38 AM

The Oregonian article is excellent, by the way. And it should remind the readers of this blog, who for the most part seem to be well-paid professionals, that we ourselves are often in positions of power (as employers of people at work and at home, for example) and our decisions affect the lives of those we employ.

Posted by: randommom | August 9, 2006 8:49 AM

Random mom,
No that was not my point. Meetings were once a week, mandatory and during working hours (mid-day). I typically got all kinds of excuses related to childcare and child related things. If it was once in a long while, fine, but it was weekly. These highly paid people complained despite just asking them to do their jobs (be on time, etc). These people also had some control over their schedules, they were not 9-5ers! It was just notable that the admin assistants, paid a lot less, working 9-5, didn't complain and didn't miss work for child related issues.

And I'm a woman and mother. Nice assuming I'm a man just because I was the boss.
And I've rarely if ever used child related things to get out of doing my job. Of course stuff comes up, but I am a responsible parent who has made great efforts to ensure that my family's needs are met and I can fulfull the duties of my job. Some of these women were not responsible workers/parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 8:51 AM

Burg Dad,
And I might add that it's not really jsut the rich vs. the poor. The middle class has been hit badly over the last several years. With wages stagnant, child care expensive and difficult to find, prices of items rising, affordable housing out of reach of many, I'd venture to say that it's the middle class and the poor vs. the wealthy. That's why I thought it interesting that a poster thought anyone earning more than 70,000 couldn't complain. A family in the DC area earning 80,000 is probably struggling to make ends meet.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 8:56 AM

It is true that women (and all people) are divided by class, even more so than race, I would venture to say. That was one of the main stumbling blocks in the feminist movement--rich women were fighting to have rights equal to rich men in high paying jobs, while middle-class women were being left behind.

It's good that we're focusing on the needs of middle and lower class women. However, in order to speak for them, we need to know the exact problems. Here are what I think they are:

1. Not being paid enough. Maybe the minimum wage increase will help. There's only so much that lower-skilled jobs will pay, though. So the solution might be more education opportunities. Or more intervention in high schools with young women that emphasizes education and waiting to have children.

2. Flexibility. As Fo4 said, some jobs are inherently inflexible. I doubt we could work to change that, but we could offer advice like teaming up with co-workers to cover all the shifts, or joining unions.

3. Affordable quality day care. This is something we all want, so we should be encouraging our representatives to support better regulations and maybe tax credits. I don't know if we can do anything about cost.

But I'm not in their situation, so these are guesses. And I certainly don't have the solutions. We need more working class women on the blog telling us what they need.

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 8:56 AM

I completely agree that the voice of lower income women are lost in the work/life balance debate. As a working mom with a graduate education and a flexible schedule, I feel my "problems" pale in comparison to many working moms in the workforce. Women who work retail, manufacturing or other similar jobs can really have work/life balance issues that have no solutions. (I worked retail for many years during school.) I imagine the pressure on these women (and men) is great.

Posted by: riley | August 9, 2006 9:00 AM

One interesting point is to look at the recurring cycle of low-wage families. For the parents in blue-collor jobs with little income, often living in school districts that, to put it mildly, are less than the standard, and little health care...where do you think the majority of those children will be working and living in 10-20 years? In the same type of setting they grew up in.

We hear about the few success stories, but the majority of the children from families that live near the poverty level, stay in the same "class" in thier adult lives. The shift needs to come from every direction...educational reform, welfare reform, employment reform. The poor can't afford to live in the "better" school districts. The high-schools that thier children attend have enormous drop-out rates. The community resources are few and far between. Heck, even the grocery stores are poorly stocked and often price-gouge because they know most of thier customers don't have the resources to go further out for higher-quality food.

Also - in terms of balance, there isn't any. There is NO choice to sit down and weigh the options of working or not. It isn't a matter of getting rid of cable and clipping coupons to make ends meet. The work-life balance is simply a matter of survival. Work to eat and pay rent at a dead end job, school is basically just daycare, go home, cook, try to pay bills, can't afford any entertainment. Gosh, if that was my life, I might turn to alcohol or drugs...hmmm

Posted by: repeat cycle | August 9, 2006 9:04 AM

This is a sticky issue. With more education comes more options. However, not everyone is able to get an education (a college degree) no matter how they might desperately want it. Money is an issue or life gets in the way. And as my father used to say to me when I was a child, "someone has to pump the gas".

I do feel for blue-collar parents, because I know they face the same issues that any two working parents face, and more. But in my experience, the families and friends are closer knit and really lean on each other. They also aren't so introspective that they sit and angst over their choices -- it's not a choice when it's something you MUST do.

Posted by: MomNC | August 9, 2006 9:11 AM

I'm a mom with two master's degrees and I have a nice, flexible part-time job. But I'm also a military wife, which I guess puts me in the category of 'people with husbands whose jobs aren't flexible.' I've felt excluded from the conversation for a long time. ("Um, hon, on your way home driving the tank in Iraq, would you mind swinging by the 7/11 and picking up some milk? We're out. Make sure you bring it home sometime in the next six months -- provided, of course, they don't extend your tour of duty.")

I frequently have no one at home to backstop me on the childcare, and my husband sure as heck isn't in a position to demand any give on his end. Sometimes, I'm able to pull the patriotic card (doing stuff like bringing a child along to a faculty meeting because 'my husband is busy defending our country'). That works better down south in a red state. Wouldn't dare try it anywhere else.

But I frequently feel that my issues are so different than anyone else's (what to do with sick kids and work deadlines and no family members nearby to help out) that columns about vacations and nannies have practically no relevance to my life.

Posted by: Military Wife | August 9, 2006 9:15 AM

What about the moms leave their own children at home with a relative or neighbor so they can go be someone else's nanny...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 9:16 AM

I love the idea of making Head Start available for all kids-- with sliding scale payment for those making above poverty. I HATE the idea of separating children by economic class. Universal preschool at the public schools is another possibility, although I do think parents who can afford it should pay market rate. This would really help blue collar parents out because their kids would be in a preschool program and making friends with kids from other economic backgrounds.

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | August 9, 2006 9:34 AM

Yet another upper-middle-class white yuppie mom who is completely out of touch. I have zero sympathy for families bringing in $70,000+/year. It's ALL about class. Maybe this country needs a class war in order to straighten out such horrific economic inequities in the US!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 9:35 AM

An anonymous poster wrote -" These highly paid people complained despite just asking them to do their jobs (be on time, etc)....It was just notable that the admin assistants, paid a lot less, working 9-5, didn't complain and didn't miss work for child related issues."

Hmm... Interesting comment. It sounds like the highly paid people have a greatet sense of entitlement and confidence than the admin. people. I'm guessing they believe they're safe from being fired for lateness. (Is this true? Have you ever fired a highly paid person for lateness? What would happen if you did? And what would happen if you fired an admin. person for lateness? Probably a lot less helll to pay.)

Posted by: Friend | August 9, 2006 9:46 AM

Th Oregonian article mentioned after school programs as a societal change that makes a real difference in blue collar workers lives. It reminded me that I had to attend private school at some point during elementary school because the local elementary school didn't have after care, but the private school did. How do blue collar parents handle this if there is no after care at the school? I wonder if some parents just don't send their kids to Kindergarten because the half-day program (isn't that what Montgomery county) has makes it too difficult for them to juggle? Any expereiences, positive and negative, to share regarding public school after care?

Posted by: Capitol Hill Mom | August 9, 2006 9:46 AM

"But I frequently feel that my issues are so different than anyone else's (what to do with sick kids and work deadlines and no family members nearby to help out) that columns about vacations and nannies have practically no relevance to my life."

I can't imagine that even in "blue" states that your employer couldn't understand needing to bring your kids with you in a pinch while your husband is in Iraq. Not only is it a temporary problem, but geez, he's fighting a war on the other side of the world! My friends in the military describe a network of people that they rely on for support. It seems from the outside that military families form a nice, supportive community. Do you have that kind of network where you are?

And to those who say that the work-balance issues between the classes are different and the issues of the "haves" is not relevant to the "have-nots" lives, might I propose that the benefits and rights afforded to the "haves" eventually trickle down to the "have nots". When family friendly policies become the norm, I would hope that would be true for hourly workers as well.

And with regard to people staying within their class, that was ok for a lot of years when blue collar workers could earn a good wage. Steel workers, auto workers and such made good money. They also got health insurance and pensions. When these industries closed and business began to outsource work out of the country, we saw gains made by the blue collar workers fade. This is why raising the minimum wage is so critical. Wages have stagnated and even decreased in real dollars while cost of living has increased. And politicizing this important issue like congress did last week was despicable. Since unions are so weak and can't do what they once did, it's up to society, politicians to make sure business does what is right. Once someone who works full time earns a living wage, then discussions of work-life balance can begin for those workers.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 9:50 AM

Wow, all this bitterness toward people who make a little money. Believe me, 70K ir 80K isn't that much anymore. There are a lot of people out there who waste their energy envying those who have more. And those who have more usually have it because they worked hard to get an education and a good job. In this country, there is no excuse for being a failure. This is the land of opportunity. If you did not get a piece of the pie, it's because you were waiting for a handout and did not have the wherewithal to get up and work for it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 9:51 AM

Yikes. I have a feeling we might be reverting to one of those "tough days on the blog." Where's F04 when you need him? I am glad we're remaining mindful of the needs of all parents - particularly as our economy is changing from production/manufacturing to service. Has anyone been paying attention to the series in the New York Times about blue collar white men? Anyway, before we start yelling about a "class war" (which, by the way, hasn't worked out so well for Russia, Venezuela, et. al.), think about how work policies actually change. They are changed by people at the top. Until people who care about work life balance stay in the workforce long enough to get into those positions to make change, nothing will change. And universal preschool sounds like a good idea, but I wonder if down the line we'd end up with the same BS "good district/bad district" arguments we have now with public schools.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 9, 2006 9:52 AM

How do we provide affordable daycare, but make sure to pay the daycare providers a living wage? How do companies provide healthcare, but not take it from the employees' pay, which is already low? I'm not talking about fortune 500 companies, I'm talking about the smaller, establishments, often family-run.

Posted by: Raia | August 9, 2006 9:54 AM

Corporate wives, thrown into the situation of adapting to moves when transfers occur,experience the same isolation and inflexibility that military wife, above, experiences.

Mothers at all levels need to support flexibility and good daycare and I would add one other item: health care needs and special needs support -- societally (among others).

Someone once suggested that schools have more ability to administer health care needs (like quick strep tests). There needs to be more support for parents who have special needs children. Mothers are totally frayed and many marriages stressed to the max.

There are across-the-board issues and not binary us/them. Relating to issues in binary terms only frames the debate in a terms of a class distinction and prevents the healthy talk of solutions and needs for all women -- and the children and families.

I respectfully disagree that we need more "lower class" women to participate in the online debates. We need to think "whole mothers" and approach the issue from a broader perspective that does not ignore the shades of gray. It is classless to debate it in terms of class.

MotherPie.com (verbose) Cheers.

Posted by: MotherPie | August 9, 2006 9:55 AM

If you live in the DC area, $70,000 does not buy a luxurious lifestyle for a family of 4. Where can you live on that salary? The average price of a single family home in the DC area is well over $250,000. Having to live 40-50 miles from you job does not make one an "upper middle class yuppie" This is why there is so much discussion about teachers, firefighters, policeoffers not being able to afford to live in the communities they work in. Whoever you are, you need a reality check. I'm guessing you live in podunk USA where $70,000/year buys a house and every other luxury.

Posted by: To 9:35 | August 9, 2006 9:55 AM

You're somewhat right. It seemed to me that my employer was tougher on our admin assistant than with the highly paid employees. I did not directly supervise the admin assistants and if I did, I certainly would be more lenient than my employer. The admin assistants had to clock in and out and fill out paperwork requests for days off. I tended to trust them and if one of them told me she needed to see a doctor, then fine with me. The admin assistants were very dedicated and responsible employees. My belief is that if you show yourself to be a responsible employee, a team player and do your job well, then I think the boss should show leniency and compassion.

With some of the professional staff, not so responsible. People keep telling me it's a "generational" thing that gen Ys feel more entitled to things we (Xers and boomers) did. To be honest, I think these people were irresponsible. They know what the expectations of the job are, they are highly paid and have nannies and none were single mothers. Therefore I lacked much sympathy for them (I am a mother too and would never do the things they did). The admin assistants by the way were all single mothers including one grandmother bringing up a grandson.

And I left that job in part because I thought the professional staff was not manageable and I couldn't fire them too easily. I have fired people but for egregious offenses (e.g. sexual harrassment).

Posted by: To friend | August 9, 2006 10:00 AM

"There needs to be more support for parents who have special needs children. Mothers are totally frayed and many marriages stressed to the max."

Their husbands should support them.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 10:11 AM

I knowmore than a few blue collar families where one parent works days and the other works nights -- thereby having at least one parent at home to watch the kids 2/3 of the day, assuming they sleep the other 1/3 of the time. One neighbor family does it like that. The father works days at a lawn service; mother works evening shift at the hospital. When dad gets home at 4:30, the mother leaves and heads to the hospital. A couple times when the father was delayed, I watched the kids after mom left until dad arrived. Not a big deal.
Let's see some of the well-paid yuppies work out some kind of arrangement like that. Yeah, right. When pigs fly.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | August 9, 2006 10:13 AM

$70,000 to $80,000 is freakin lap of luxury. If you don't think so, there's something wrong wiht your perspective. We make about $80,000 here in San Francisco, and it's definitely leaps and bounds over six or seven years ago, when I was making $6/hour (in the same city). It's a completely different world. Can't afford a house, and we don't have a car, but we can go out to dinner now. Movies. Definitely luxury.

And, I did work my way up from an hourly wage to the big bucks with a good education. But it's not just picking yourself by your bootstraps. I've been really lucky---I really think luck is a big part of it when you try to work your way out of poverty. I didn't have health insurance or benefits for years. If I had broken my leg or something, I would've been completely screwed. So please keep that in mind---it's not just hard work that enables class mobility. And $80,000 is a lot of money. Really.

Posted by: SFbay | August 9, 2006 10:17 AM

I agree with what Meesh outlined as major problems, although I would bump up affordable child care in importance and add that it needs to be FLEXIBLE as well. Service industry workers often work when everyone else (including child care) is off.

I would also put affordable, quality health insurance at the top of the list. It is difficult to find a job in the service industry that offers comprehensive, or even reasonable health insurance. Bartending, waiting tables can pay reasonably well, but when you factor in the cost and uncertainty of providing your own health insurance, it isn't worth it.

On a related note, did anyone see the article on the changes in Welfare the other day? It talked about the federal govt taking over from the states and reduction in time spent on education, rehab or recovering from mental illness. Seemed like a case of forcing people to take fish and refusing to teach them how to catch them on their own . . .

Posted by: B | August 9, 2006 10:19 AM

To the "boss" who responded to randommom,

I think it is great that you found ways to balance and manage your responsibilities of work and family. I would seriously like to know how you did that without hardly ever having to miss work. What did you do?

Posted by: MDmom | August 9, 2006 10:19 AM

I make $80K and it's not a lot of money to live on in this part of the country.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 10:23 AM

I guess it's all a matter of priorities. Those of us with kids want to be able to provide them with a home. And I need a car to drive to work. So the fact that you can afford a movie once in a while is irrelevent because you don't have a house and a car. You can't afford a house in the SF area on $70,000. Fixer uppers are close to a million dollars in that area.

And in DC, it's difficult to afford a house and a car on $70,000 a year and to feed and clothe kids, pay for child care, health insurance, etc. No one making $70,000 a year supporting a family of 4 or more is living in the lap of luxury.

Posted by: To SF | August 9, 2006 10:30 AM

To 9:51 AM:

"If you did not get a piece of the pie, it's because you were waiting for a handout and did not have the wherewithal to get up and work for it."

Not all of us were "waiting for a handout." For those of us who don't make enough outrageous salaries like $70K but make too much to qualify for aid, we have the "wherewithal to get up and work" multiple jobs to keep a roof over our heads.

Maybe you should try working multiple jobs, 50-60 hours a week, while keeping a household running. You may change your definition of lazy. I know you didn't say "lazy" but that's exactly what came through.

Posted by: NAC | August 9, 2006 10:30 AM

Whoa, folks -- let's not confuse 'class' with income here. I know some really despicable creatures making nearly $1 million a year. They're called lawyers and politicians. And take a look at the movie industry where people can earn $20 million and more per film. Jeez, talk about your low class citizens! And look at what we've put into Congress and the White House. And I know some wonderfully kind, thoughtful and generous blue collar workers barely scraping by on $40,0000 or less -- teachers, nurses, police officers, ministers, social workers. Money can't buy class. Class is determined by how you treat other people, how you live your life, how you conduct your business. Don't ever consider blue collar workers 'low class.' Class and income are two very separate things.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | August 9, 2006 10:34 AM

It's tough balancing a career and family. I have a very supportive husband who does his fair share and we spend a lot of time and effort working on our childcare arrangements. I admit I'm fortunate to earn enough to do that. I also take my work seriously. For a while, I had some flexibility, but it takes effort to work everything out. I've had to take a day off here and there for child related things like everyone else, but my husband does his fair share. That is key.

What I was talking about is employees who are chronically late, don't have the appropriate childcare for their position and then expect the entire work place to bend to their needs. I would never expect that of my employer and employees have to meet the needs of their job or do something else. I'm talking about people earning over $150,000 a year. They can afford nannies. It's as if some of them became mothers and now just want to dabble in the workworld at full salary. I know what it's like to balance a family and career, it's tough at any salary level. However, I have greater sympathy for the worker earning $25,000 a year with children, no father in the picture, and taking 2 buses to get to work.

Posted by: To MD Mom | August 9, 2006 10:34 AM

$80K isn't a lot of money for one person to make? My family makes $60K (2 adults, 1 kid) and we feel incredibly well-off. And yes, we live in NoVa. We can pay rent, insurance, utilities, student loans, eat well, see the occasional movie, take a few days vacation every now and then and still have money to save. We don't have new cars, designer anything or drink Starbucks everyday, but we don't care. We have friends living on half of what we make and we are incredibly lucky to be able to live the lifestyle we do. When you start saying $80K isn't a lot, look at a family that's living on $20K and count your blessings.

Posted by: B | August 9, 2006 10:34 AM

Add one more child, pre-school tuition, daycare, try to buy a house and then come back and tell us you feel "incredibly well off".

Posted by: To B | August 9, 2006 10:40 AM

My single mom friend does that, SouthernMaryland. She works evenings as a waitress after her baby's dad gets off from his day job. She gets home late at night, does her grocery shopping at night and stays up past midnight, but it works for her. I know she worries about money a lot, but she is one of the most determined and resourceful women I've ever been blessed to know, and I respect immensely.

Posted by: John | August 9, 2006 10:42 AM

You bring up a good issue of sick days and days off. Many blue collar jobs or service industry jobs don't provide a lot of days off. Or sick/vacation days accrue over time. Higher paying jobs provice more. So there is disparity with regard to this very important benefit to families.

And I think you all are right that there are a number of people in other parts of the country who are closer to family and develop a network of support. DC is a vary transitory place compared to other parts of the country. Having family nearby to help in a pinch is a really nice perk.

Posted by: To m | August 9, 2006 10:45 AM

The situation of working class moms may vary by specific circumstances. A young woman where I worked got free daycare and preschool from the state; when her kids were sick, her mom watched them, and if her mom was busy her aunt watched them. I don't have that opportunity and neither do other working class moms. I will say that many of the working class people in my building live where they grew up, near their parents and other relatives and they all use the support network this provides. Myself and my husband, both highly educated, get jobs where we can, which means moving to whatever city has a job that we are qualified for. So we don't live near family. So I think things just vary.

I think one useful change would be to have a minimum number of paid sick days, universally, and that you can use these if your kids get sick.

Posted by: m | August 9, 2006 10:45 AM

I vote that PunditMom stop plugging her own blog every time she posts. Sheesh, alright - we know where to find your blog by now.

Posted by: enough already | August 9, 2006 10:46 AM

I feel bad for those who earn minimum wage and have to raise kids. However, I feel that it is a shame that those of us who have good careers and pretty good incomes still cannot seem to manage work-life balance. In fact it seems to me that those with high powered jobs (I have to include myself in that category) find less flexibility in our jobs because the nature of the job dictates you be in the office, fly for business trips etc. Lower level jobs e.g. waitress, bartender actually have more flexibility in terms of which hours you need to be at work so parents can actually stagger their working hours. Not so for professional parents. And as others have said, it is the professionals that can successfully push for change in corporate America. I really don't understand those who say that successful people don't have a right to complain about work-life balance just because they earn more. Money doesn't equal time and time is what we need!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 9, 2006 10:47 AM

I'm coming in on this discussion late, but I'd like to comment on something PunditMom said at 8:20.

She asked: "But what does class have to do with society working toward finding things like affordable, quality day care for those working families who need it? Or convincing employers that if there is room to be flexible, in the end, they get more productive and loyal employees if they allow the flexibility?"

As an ideal, this is a wonderful -- and laudable -- sentiment. However, it can be nothing more than that when we live in an economic climate in which employers don't want to pay workers more than $5.15/hour and Congress plays along by refusing to raise the minimum wage.

Employers who don't want to pay a living wage aren't going to be swayed by arguments about employee productivity and loyalty in confronting issues like affordable daycare and flexible scheduling. When you're paying semi- or unskilled employees $5.15 an hour, you don't care what will make them more productive or loyal employees because, if they're not productive enough, you'll replace them, and loyalty doesn't matter. (We know this because of WalMart's strategy of firing employees before they reach their seven-year mark so as to avoid paying the maximum wage. The ultimate reward for loyalty.)

Unfortunately, no matter how much we'd like to change things for poor working women, we're generally loathe to do the things that would really count. Voting as a bloc for wage reform, boycotting businesses that oppress poor workers, really making a dent in the profits of companies that exploit poor labor -- these are actions that could make a difference, but they require huge committments of time and energy. Organizing effective social/political activism just isn't something most white-collar women are prepared to do. They're having a hard enough time finding "balance" in their busy, busy lives.

For most poor working women, "balance" is a luxury; "survival" is the reality.

Posted by: pittypat | August 9, 2006 10:48 AM

From what I've read in this blog over the past months, it seems that the so-called "Mommy Wars" really are between wealthy SAHMs and "working moms." I count myself as one of the wealthy because I own a house, have some savings, and don't have to worry about how I will pay my bills every month. (I know so many people who don't think they are wealthy because other people make more money than they do. Face it -- Bill Gates is not the only wealthy person in America!)

Every day, I feel lucky because:
I have a choice whether to work or not (we'd have a very different standard of living if I didn't work, mostly because we live in the NY area, which is very expensive like DC).
I love what I do for a living, and I enjoy going to work.
I have access to terrific day care for my son.
If I didn't have terrific day care, I could afford to hire a nanny.
My parents live close by and often help out when I need them to.
I have the education and experience to stand up for myself and my family when I get into a tough situation (which is rare because of all the advantages listed above).

My parents have always impressed upon me how lucky we are in our family to have all that we have (and we weren't rich growing up -- my parents are teachers). I never forget that most people in this country work because they have to, may have boring/abusive jobs, and worry about what's happening to their kids more than I have to.

So when Leslie says that mothers' issues are issues for all of us, I have to disagree. The feminist movement has done a lot for educated upper middle class and wealthy women. It has almost completely left behind the vast majority of working women in America. I'm not saying that sexism doesn't exist (in fact, I've felt it much more since I became a mom), but I am saying that you absolutely cannot ignore class issues.

Posted by: NY Mom | August 9, 2006 10:49 AM

Whenever something is framed as a "war," there's already a disconnect. Leslie seems keen to preserve the "mommy wars," but to make sure folks divided by income don't venture into "class wars." Why should one be worthy of the battlefield, and the other not?

Perhaps, as I've said before, there is no need for wars at all on issues like these, and instead we could focus more on the reality that, while the costumes and settings change, we're all playing out some form of the human drama, in this case as parents. Let go of the "war" mentality, everyone, and see that every mother's struggle is your struggle, too, just with variations in theme.

Posted by: Sarah S | August 9, 2006 10:52 AM

"CEOs and other top execs (AKA pigs)"

That's very nice. Adds a lot to the discussion.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 10:54 AM

"Think about this--many workers in this country earn minimum wage are just slightly more. That's $5.15 an hour. That's just over $10,000 a year."

No they don't. Very few workers are really paid the minimum wage and hardly any of them are sole breadwinners.

Posted by: JoMama | August 9, 2006 10:58 AM

I'd love to know what luxuries those who think 80K is "not a lot of money" spend their salary on .. cell phones, cable tv, eating out, etc ... those are luxuries, not necessities.

I also found it interesting that some have equated "success" with their salary. A manager at a retail store is "successful" in my opinion, but may "only" make 40K a year. Conversely, a college graduate who starts out teaching may "only" make 30K, but is viewed as "successful" because s/he got a college education? I"d also like to know how many of those PAID for their own schooling versus having mommy and daddy take care of it for them.

Of course, in a message thread started by a woman who bemoans her appearances on the "Today" show and how poopy her week at the Hamptons was because "dear hubby" had a business trip, I can expect the echo chamber of similarly entitled women to rise to the defense of the upper class.

Still a joke!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 10:59 AM

One thing I want to throw out, it appears to me in some ways that these so-called "Wars" are not necessarily divided between wage class, as it is between geography. Someone earning 30 to 50K in the DC/NY/SF/LA/Chicago/subsitute any decent sized metro area is REALLY struggling. But that same person, earning the same realistic wage, is doing okay in many areas of the country. $50,000 annual salary, with 10% down, will buy a decent home in many places. In other words, it is all relative to where you live.

Posted by: NC Mom | August 9, 2006 11:01 AM

"blue collar workers barely scraping by on $40,0000 or less -- teachers, nurses, police officers, ministers, social workers"

Whoa! how are teachers, nurses, and social workers "blue collar"? They're college graduates who most often have earned advanced degrees. Why are they paid as poorly as blue collar workers, then? My guess is because public sector work in general is not well compensated, and because there's a certain sense that these professions are womens' work.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:02 AM

As someone who has worked those 'minimum wage' and slightly better jobs (and barely struggled along as a single person, much less as a parent), and who has bootstrapped herself up to middle class (paying my own way through college, with lots of loans I'll be paying off until I die), I can say that there is a difference in the options available to the blue/pink collar and white collar workers. When I was making $5.35 an hour at the bookstore, if I was sick I had to just hope I didn't sneeze on a customer (forget sick days - I was held to 30 hours a week so I didn't qualify for them). Now, if I'm not feeling up to the long drive in, I can just fire up my company laptop and log in via my home wireless network and do my job. If my stepdaughter needs me to drive her to a doctor's appointment, I just take a couple of hours off and make it up later. These options were dreams when I was working for minimum wage. When we have affordable daycare, affordable health care, reasonable sick leave policies to allow for needed illness recovery, and a living wage, then we can spend hours delving into the dilemmas of 'should I send my 7 year old to a private afterschool program or daycare?' Until then, it's just the upper middle class and higher talking, and the rest of us sweating out daily life.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | August 9, 2006 11:05 AM

To SFBay - do you have kids and have to pay childcare and other costs? $80,000 is a good living, but it is not luxury. My childcare costs $15000/year for one child. A nanny (which I do not have) costs well over $30,000/year around here. I am pretty sure that SF is more expensive than here. Yes, $80,000 is well above the poverty level but raising a family is expensive.

On the minimum wage front, how many people actually make minimum wage? My understanding is that it is mostly entry level positions in fast food places, the types of jobs that go to teenagers, not the majority of the workforce that need to support a family, even blue collar. I work for the governemnt and we pay our high school educated clerks (most of whom are going to colege at night) between $25,000 and $30,000/year. I pay the person who cleans our house (once every 2 weeks - yes it is a luxury) $90 for a job that takes her probably less than 3 hours (I pay her directly, I do not use a service - read "Five and Dimed" for how bad cleaning services are, both to their employees and they do a bad cleaning job). It is "unskilled" work, but she does a great job and I that is the going cost in this area. She is new to us because the couple that worked for us for 5 years left the business (sold it to the new person I believe) and moved on to white collar careers. I admire them tremendously, they were responsible, did a wonderful job and were personifying the american dream to me. They ran a great business, were lovely people, clearly care about their children's education (rescheduled on occasion due to school programs they did not want to miss - I thought that was great) and were working hard to get themselves an education. I suspect they made well over $80,000/year in the cleaning business, they were very busy.

My only point here is that raising the minimum wage is not going to change the life of that many people in the lower income brackets. It is not going to be raised above what most people, even in lower paid areas, already make, it is going to raise the cost to hire minimum skilled people who are starting out.

In "Five and Dimed", mentioned above, the author went out representing herself as an unskilled worker reintering the workforce in 3 different parts of the country. Her goal was to learn how hard it was to live on the wages available to unskilled workers in this country. She worked as a waitress, in retail at a Walmart, and for a cleaning service. In every instance she earned more than minimum wage, barely enough to live on, but higher than anything they will raise the minimum wage to. It is a great and eductional read, I highly recommend it.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | August 9, 2006 11:09 AM

I have a question -- what would happen if government decided to mandate that all school districts be funded equally?

Sure, property values would go crazy as a result, but what's more important?

That may be a start at giving poor kids a leg up out of bad neighborhoods, and may have a great effect on those neighborhoods. Meanwhile, superrich districts would have to use their heads and be more creative on providing education with less money. Or would this fuel a rush to private schools? Perhaps initially, but long-term...

Posted by: Rebecca | August 9, 2006 11:10 AM

I think a lot of things are regional. 70,000/year in DC with a family of four is not much more then middle class. It would be still hard to live a comfortable life. But there are a lot of factors in play besides salary. If you bought 10 or more years ago and your house was say in the 165,000 range, 70,000/year probably is not that bad around here. If your trying to pick up a 450,000$ town house today for your wife/husband and two small children, 70,000/year sounds like a lot of mac and cheese dinners. I did like the article. I do think the Mommy Wars and work life balance issues feature around people who are white collar professionals who have the luxury to even debate work/life issues. I also think the whole subsidized preschool and day care is a non issue to the upper middle class. The upper middle class can afford good quality day care and preschool or options to stay home. I would like to see those programs implemented for the lower class. Unfortunately America has always been and will always be an economically divided country. I would like to see things more level. But as we all talk about subsidized day care/preschool/health insurance, how many people are going to put their money where their mouth is? The same people that can sit around in their white collar offices and write on blogs (me included in this), don't tend to vote for raising taxes. No all you hear is I want this program but I don't want to pay for it. I would like to actually see taxes raised and more help to the lower class. Does that mean I only get to go on a cruise every other year? Maybe but I still think it is worth it. How many others are willing to forgo some of the multiple luxuries we do have as the professional class?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:12 AM

While I agree that the NY Times and the elite publications for which Caitlin Flanagan writes, for example, are very guilty of focusing upon upper and upper middle class mothers, I have seen many examples of discussions that consider working motherhood from all perspectives. I think it's unfair to paint this problem as universal.

For example, the advocacy group, momsrising.org, and their new book pay a lot of attention to the problems of shift workers and the lack of affordable quality day care and health insurance.

And I believe that the work-life balance scholars at American University have brought discrimination cases on behalf of lower paid shift workers who couldn't get the flexibility they needed to care for their children. Their focus seems to be multi-faceted.

And someone raised an example of nannies who can't bring their children to work with them, but I have heard of many nannies and in-home day care providers who chose their jobs because they could bring their children with them to work. And my son's private school and many high quality day care providers in my City provide large financial breaks to teachers and employees so that they can send their children to those institutions.

I also think it's very simplistic to assume that moms who make a little more money don't have any problems with raising their kids or with inflexible workplaces.

I think that shift workers or non-executive/professionals overall face a greater flexibility problem than professionals do, and they have fewer resources to cope with those problems. But as an attorney (and I'm lowly a City government attorney before you rush in to scream that I could afford a $100k a year nanny to solve all my problems), I can't clock out at 5 pm every day which presents its own challenges. Sometimes I long for a job where I could turn my job responsibilities on and off.

Maybe my challenges aren't as great as those that a waitress faces, but I deserve to talk about those challenges and to have them addressed and acknowledged.

Finally, there is something universal here: (1) all working moms want flexibility to attend to their children's needs and to spend quality time with them while they grow up; (2) all working moms are striving for financial security to fulfill their children's needs and to develop their children's intellectual talents and abilities; (3) and all working moms want high quality, affordable care for their children when we have to be away from them. And regardless our income and educational levels, we have all had problems with respect to all three categories. Believe me, $70K doesn't solve these problems.

Posted by: janei | August 9, 2006 11:13 AM

Low-wage workers perform vital services for our communities. Low-wage jobs include child care workers, EMTs, nursing aids, etc. The solution can't be at the individual level because if an individual is able to move from a low-wage job to a higher wage job, the job still needs to get done by someone! I don't think the solution can be entirely on the shoulders of businesses. How can a small business survive if it is required to offer paid leave, health insurance, and other benefits? We want to encourage growth in businesses, rather than constrain them with too much overhead. The only solution is a government solution including universal health care, subsidized child care, tax credits and refunds (like the earned income tax credit) for low wage workers.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:15 AM

Wow, this is turning into a tug-a-war between various income brackets... never a dull moment in the On Balance universe. I think you all need to cut each other a bit of slack. For all your reasoning and thought, no one knows exactly where another person is coming from even if you happen to be in similar situations. Don't judge a person by how much they make, and that goes both ways. You don't know what they do to make the amount they do. Different communities compensate people for various types of work differently. It's true that people in NoVA tend to make more than their counterparts in other areas of the country due and that money has less value here. However, that doesn't mean that someone making 70K or 80K can truly understand the hardships that lower income families have to bear even if they do live in a place where cost of living is much cheaper than it is here. No one here should belittle the trials of anyone else, regardless of whether they make more money than you or live in a less expensive part of the country.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 11:19 AM

"I have a question -- what would happen if government decided to mandate that all school districts be funded equally?

Sure, property values would go crazy as a result, but what's more important?"

Pouring more $ into schools doesn't work. Just look at the DC public school system and you get your answer. They are quite possibly the worst schools in the country, and they spend more per pupil than any other school district in the entire country. Money isn't the answer, unfortunately. If only it were that easy!

Posted by: to Rebecca | August 9, 2006 11:20 AM

Not to be too much of a hardlining economist here but let me ask the obvious question: why do minimum wage workers get paid minimum wage - because that's what the market will bear! If a job is worth more than minimum wage believe me the pay will be more than minimum wage - that's what makes capitalism a great system. The fact of the matter is the supply of low wage workers is so great that the wages they are paid is low - it's that simple. Now is that fair? - that's another topic because for some people don't get educated due to circumstances beyond their control. That is where the government is supposed to step in with programs to help.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:23 AM


The problem with the article is that she has not written anything about people that have to work to survive and live, not to work to be "fulfilled", whatever that means. The poster at "08:34 AM" had it exactly right. The last thing I want to read is another article about the travails for the upper middle class and the author's self-absorption and navel gazing, it getting very old.

Posted by: Dave | August 9, 2006 11:24 AM

That should have been "do" and not "due"... I really should remember to preview my posts before putting them up. :)

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 11:27 AM

Blue collar/lower income does not mean just making minimum wage. And making $25K, in my opinion, if you have children, puts you on the lower end of the scale. My mother was a single mother and nurse who made very little money, worked three jobs to support her four children - things were tight, very tight. Luckily, the hardest times (post-divorce) were after we were all old enough to babysit ourselves and were fairly independent. Others would not have been so lucky. We could have been much worse, but remember much of the "working poor" are people that make just enough not to qualify for any assistance (as my family did - a phone (this is pre-cell phone days, so I'm talking about the regular old landline was considered a luxury), but struggle every day to make ends meet and going "out to dinner" is Burger King once a month when you mother feels like splurging!

As for the person who thinks that an employer would understand if the Iraq war wife brought in her child is, with all due respect, very naive. I honestly cannot imagine most employers, outside of an office setting, allowing this to happen.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:30 AM

"I have a question -- what would happen if government decided to mandate that all school districts be funded equally?"

Nothing. Because "equal" funding isn't the problem. Kids in poor rural and urban areas need two to three times the amount upper-middle class kids need to be "successful." And yes, even if it happened, it would fuel a push where parents seek out educational communities that match their own preferences (private schools, etc). I don't want my kid to attend a school where parents don't expect their children to respect their teachers, do their homework, show up for class on time, be prepared, etc. A number of graduate school case studies have been written on "equalizing funding" for public school and they all find the same thing. It doesn't work because kids don't need equal funds - kids with absentee/alcoholic/whatever parents need MORE money than kids in upper middle class communities where parents care about their children's education. This is why Gov. Corzine in NJ has put a moratorium on the so-called Abbott Districts (named after the court case that mandated equal funding throughout NJ), because the money wasn't increasing success in these schools. I will look for a few good case studies and post them here later.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 9, 2006 11:33 AM

"Wow, all this bitterness toward people who make a little money. Believe me, 70K ir 80K isn't that much anymore."

AMEN! We have just got to this level of income but we are so behind financially because of loss of jobs and my husband earning his BA just to get out of lower paying jobs that it feels more like we make 1/2 that much. Plus we moved to the Chicago area out of rural Indiana and when I went to look for a job the employment place was mad at me because I was looking for a job to pay higher than what I came from. I told her I had to compensate for a higher cost of living and I was working for a non-profit and making less than what the market here pays for the same postion. I had already done my research but she said that it would be hard to find a job that paid me more than my last position. She never called me back and I found one that pays way more than before. Too bad, that just means she didn't get her commision.

Posted by: In the Midwest | August 9, 2006 11:40 AM

Many, if not most, firefighters and EMTs in this country are volunteers. We don't get a dime for our time, work, and heroics and we work full-time jobs in addition to serving the communities we live in. Think about that when your million dollar McMansions go up in flames, or when your stressed out hubby drops dead from an early heart attack.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:41 AM

Anyone who makes $80 K a year and describes themselves as "barely getting by" needs to visit a homeless shelter sometime.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:41 AM

Just a thought-the answer is not equal funding. It seems like the answer is giving more to the lower income areas to compensate for their lack of home life. Who here would agree to that? The rich will always have more advantages to work outside the system. Let's give the poor at least a half way decent education. Even if means giving them 2X the aid needed to upper income areas.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:41 AM

It wouldn't be interesting or even possible for a blog like this to be all things to all people of all income brackets at all times. If this is destined to be the blog for educated people of means to spout off on work/life balance issues then so be it.

It sounds liike there's room out there for a struggling-class mom to take on the work/life balance issue in her own blog. If she's a good writer, I'd read it. But I just don't think that mom is Leslie. Any takers?

Posted by: Friend | August 9, 2006 11:43 AM

>>

Not barely getting by, but $80K is not a lot of money.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:50 AM

I have a hard time feeling sorry for folks who complain that they can't get by on low wage jobs. Boohoo. My parents were immigrants. When they came, they could barely speak English. My mother cleaned houses and my dad was a handy man. They had four kids. They worked staggered shifts and scrimped and saved. They bought a house and raised their kids well. We all went to college and make good livings. My parents retired comfortably. Where there's a will there's a way, and those who can't do it are lazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:50 AM

"Anyone who makes $80 K a year and describes themselves as "barely getting by" needs to visit a homeless shelter sometime."

Nobody said that $80,000/yr is "barely getting by". We've said that in some parts of the country, it's not rich. Geez, why don't you visit a homeless shelter.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:55 AM

I'd love to know how many of the "we're barely scraping by" on 70-80K are the same SAHM's who frequent the starbucks and shopping malls all day. Sure, you are barely getting by, but maybe you should stop spending your money at Baby Gap and Gymboree. This board OOZES the entitlement of the upper class who has the LUXURY of things like vacations, 2d and 3d cars and a parent who stays at home.

I would bet most wouldn't know what it was like to NOT have health insurance, or have to ask a parent for a loan, or drive around in a 15 year old car because you can't afford a new one.

The whole DC-Metro area is saturated with a well-heeled snottiness that us "silent majority" folks, you know, the ones who swipe your gold VISA cards at the register, fetch your dry cleaning, educate your bratty children, etc find loathsome.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:57 AM

The book is called "Nickled and Dimed," not "Fived and Dimed." Very Good Book.

Posted by: casual browser | August 9, 2006 11:57 AM

Let me get this straight. We're supposed to be talking about the struggle for blue-collar families in balancing work and families because they have fewer options. I have some so-called blue-collar relatives who struggle, especially with daycare, even with childcare vouchers, etc. No childcare means no job, and no job means no childcare. Quite a vicious cycle, no?

But why has this discussion devolved into a "My $70K doesn't go very far" debate? Hoo-kay! If you think $70 doesn't go far, imagine how far $20k - $30K goes. And, on the other end of the spectrum, are people who make above $70k or six figures are supposed to go shamefully hide under a rock, based on the commentary here? What kind of shiggity is that?

The blue collar parents not only have fewer options as far as deciding whether they can stay at home with their kids, they often have to scrape the bottom or near-bottom of the barrel for childcare, because much of the affordable childcare is mediocre at best.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 9, 2006 11:58 AM

"shiggity"

The word of the day. Thank you momoftwo.

Posted by: Love it | August 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Wow, I drive a 15 year old car, my wife was for a short time without health insurance because I couldn't afford to cover her myself until she found another job, and I make right at $75k. Are we lower income? Not hardly, but we made those decisions to enable us to make ends meet while she finished her education and found a job. Now we're climbing out of the hole we put ourselves in during that time, but it's taking a while to do it.

Posted by: John | August 9, 2006 12:03 PM

RE: "Pouring more $ into schools doesn't work. Just look at the DC public school system and you get your answer. They are quite possibly the worst schools in the country, and they spend more per pupil than any other school district in the entire country. Money isn't the answer, unfortunately. If only it were that easy!"

Actually the posted was talking about making things EQUITABLE. Once you factor in all the little "extras" that suburban schools communities provide to their schools through the PTA fundraisers etc., I bet it is more than what DC provides to
individual schools through the tax base. And remember, the numbers about DC schools getting so much money compared to other school districts are biased because the Dc school district has to also perform all the costs of being a "State Dept of Education" not just a school district. Plus, DCPS are really improving-- it's new curriculum is considered the fourth best in the country! See--
http://www.k12.dc.us/DCPS/frontpagepdfs/DC-Standards-Top4.pdf

Posted by: to Rebecca | August 9, 2006 11:20 AM

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | August 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Okay fine, 80K is not a lot of money. Whatever. Now, step out of your narrow box and try to make it on 30K or 20K or 10K. How much harder is it then? Stop whining about yourselves and think about the truly less priviledged which, for once, this blog is about.

Posted by: NFONWM | August 9, 2006 12:03 PM

Thinking about the truly less privileged is not productive. Let them think about themselves. Maybe, if they do, they will find a way out of their predicament. How did their situation become my problem?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:07 PM

"It wouldn't be interesting or even possible for a blog like this to be all things to all people of all income brackets at all times. If this is destined to be the blog for educated people of means to spout off on work/life balance issues then so be it."

Let's face it. The people who have access to a computer during work hours are (1) SAHPs with a computer at home; and (2) professionals who work in an office setting. Administrative assistants who use computers on their jobs are likely situated such that they do not have enough privacy to feel comfortable posting. Other professionals, such as teachers and nurses, have impediements to posting. Teachers can't post during teaching hours, and nurses certainly don't have the time while at work. Nor are you likely to get anyone who works a retail job, works at a day care, or does physical labor on here. So, to a certain extent, we're stuck with a largely high-income population, with the WOHPs being office types. At least until the people who post here after hours sign on.

While the concerns on work/life balance apply to all classes, I think the so-called "professional" class has more leverage in negotiating their work situation. If you do a good job and have the credentials to go elsewhere, I think your employer is more likley to accommodate you. So-called "blue collar" and "pink collar" workers may have less options to leave, even if they do a terrific job, so they may not have as much negotiating power to get the flexibility they need. So that's where it would be helpful for the government to come in, perhaps with laws like the one passed regarding family sick leave. That was a step forward - that you can use your own sick leave to attend to family members.

Somewhat off-topic, as a WOH professional mom, I'm beginning to feel at "war" with everyone if you believe the media! First we're supposed to be at war with SAHMs. This blog seems to be developing into a class war. I saw an article in Oprah's magazine the other day that working moms and working non-moms are now at war with each other because non-moms are tired of picking up the slack for the moms . . . . (Didn't get a chance to read it because it was at a doctor's office and I got called back.) Isn't there enough "war" going on in the Middle East?! Time for me to stop looking at this blog and all the material on mothers out there. Despite the fact I am one, I'm getting tired of all the whining moms! (And yes, I count myself not just as a mom, but as a "whining mom").

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 12:08 PM

After all the discussion today do we all now realize that EVERYONE has their own situations to deal with. That not everyone or everywhere is created equal. That we all do what we can with what we have. I think the biggest difference between to making your life more balanced is being able to have others to help you keep balanced whether its your spouse, your relatives, really good friends and your community. For those people who don't have these resources it is going to be much harder and as one poster said there is a lot of luck involved. My wish for the world is that we had more communities or as some would say "villages" and that we also would stop casting so many stones.

Posted by: Dlyn | August 9, 2006 12:10 PM

"They are quite possibly the worst schools in the country, and they spend more per pupil than any other school district in the entire country."

To Rebecca,
First, DC public school system does not have the highest per-pupil spending rate. That is one of the biggest misconceptions placed out there. That rate includes special education, which you probably don't know is a extremely expensive expense. It actually spends around the same as other counties around the DC Metro Area.
Second, where do you come off making the vast generalization that the DC Public School system the worst in the country? Did you or your children attend public schools in the District or was your assumption based off media coverage. Now since I went to a high school in DC where 100% of the graduates attended college, I can say not every public school in DC is horrible. There are actually some great schools out there. Do you research before you make that horrible judgement.

Posted by: DC | August 9, 2006 12:10 PM

To 11:50 AM,

Re: your immigrant parents and four kids -- may I ask how much aid they qualified for? You know, subsidized housing and subsidized health care? Working as a house cleaner and a handy man and having to support 4 kids, I imagine they made little enough to qualify for some form of aid.

Posted by: NAC | August 9, 2006 12:18 PM

My parents never got aid. We have no idea whether they would have qualified for it or not. They were just to proud and self-sufficient to ask for it. This aid thing is strictly an American thing. My parents were just thrilled to be in a country where they could actually work and make a living, even if it meant working long hours at menial jobs. Americans don't realize how good you have it here.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:19 PM

To 12:07 PM,

OK. I'll go back to school and get one of those high-paying $70K jobs. Oops, I make too much to qualify for aid. So I'll quit both of my jobs so I will qualify for aid. After all, school is darned expensive! So not only can you subsidize my education, you can subsidize my rent, electricity, and food as well.

That's how it becomes your problem.

Posted by: NAC | August 9, 2006 12:22 PM

I don't think the article's author is criticizing professional women for speaking out as much as she's criticizing the media for ignoring the stories of working-class women. The reason professional women's stories get coverage is that reporters and their friends are professional women. How do you think the "Opt-out" myth got started? Some well-educated reporter noticed that a few of her well-educated friends were leaving work to raise kids, and boom, a trend is born. It's understandable that people want to write what they know, but perhaps it's time for reporters to get out of their circle of friends and see what it's like for other women.

Posted by: JS | August 9, 2006 12:24 PM

Give me a break. DC schools are terrible. Proof:

370 teachers system wide who weren't even certified, who were allowed to continue teaching and have just now been fired:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/08/AR2006070800719.html

Let's see, what else, shootings at high schools, playing with mercury and shutting down a school for weeks on end, dismal graduation rates, yeah, DC schools are just peachy. I wouldn't send my child there for all the money in the world.

Posted by: To DC | August 9, 2006 12:25 PM

If you choose to live on handouts, the problem is more yours than mine. Sure, I may be subsidizing it, but who cares, I still live better than you do. And you will never make it in the world if you always look to others to pay your way. You will always be dependent, and being dependent will make you bitter. Wait, you are already bitter.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:26 PM

And yes, before anyone pipes up with Columbine or any other tragic school shooting, yes, I know it can and does happen anywhere in schools of any type. But that doesn't mean that DC schools are just as safe as the average school nationwide simply because there have been school shootings in other locations.

Posted by: To DC, cont. | August 9, 2006 12:27 PM

ok, all the people acting like $70-80K/year affords a lap of luxury lifestyle are driving me insane. My husband and I fit that category. We know that we are very fortunate as we know lots of people who have to make do on far less and in fact, we have had to make do on far less until a couple of years ago. But I also know that if we bought even a small home and/or had a child, our nice cushion of money for luxuries and savings would disappear pretty quickly, so I don't criticize other people.

If no matter how much you economize, you STILL can't afford to buy a home, save for retirement, have health insurance, and/or save for college for your kids, you still can't consider yourself *comfortably* middle class. All of the above things are what makes the difference between people who can ride out a job loss or health crisis and eventually retire without ending up in poverty and who have children who can start adulthood with at least some semblance of a middle class lifestyle. Just because others have even less doesn't mean that there isn't reason to be concerned.

Posted by: MECM | August 9, 2006 12:27 PM

Re Friend, 11:43 a.m. --

Takers?

I think you've missed the point. Poor working moms don't have the time -- or the luxury -- of even reading blogs like this one. How is a woman who works one or two jobs -- probably not sitting at a desk -- and is raising children -- with our without paternal help -- going to start up her own blog? And when? (And does she have a computer?)

Don't think you'll get many takers.

Posted by: pittypat | August 9, 2006 12:29 PM

Since this is relevant to part of our discussion today, I offer the following to think about - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/education/09education.html

I'm not sure who the 11:41 poster was, but I think you might be interested in this article - I get what you're saying about the benefits of civic indoctrination for poorer children in public schools to balance out their parents, but short of taking these children over from about 7 am to 7 pm 11 months a year, I don't know if we can go the children route....maybe we have to do something with their parents....I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 9, 2006 12:34 PM

To 12:26 PM,

The only thing I'm bitter about is having to work multiple jobs so I DON'T live on handouts. And I certainly don't depend on anyone to pay my way.

As I told somebody earlier (maybe you?), perhaps you should try working multiple jobs sometime. You may realize that there are other people out here in the world besides you rich people.

Posted by: NAC | August 9, 2006 12:34 PM

You don't seem to understand what seems to be (or used to be, at least) the prevalent immigrant mindset. My parents were also immigrants, working blue collar jobs, and they, too, did not take aid of any sort. They only had two children, but both myself and my brother are highly trained, well-paid individuals who paid our own ways through school, and my folks are almost totally set for retirement in a few years. Up until 2000, this sort of thing was doable without handouts - hard, but nowhere near impossible for most people.

That said, since 1999/2000, we've seen tons of irresponsible spending and big government programs (sometimes federalizing traditionally local and state operations - see the ill-thought out No Child Left Behind) as well as anti-capitalist corporate welfare initiatives that have made it more difficult for average individuals to move up the class ladder. I would not be surprised if upward mobility weren't as prevalent today as it was seven or eight years ago.

Oh, and: $80k as a single person's salary is awesome (I am comfortable at $40k), but when raising a family in the DC area, it's staunchly middle class.

Posted by: To NAC | August 9, 2006 12:38 PM

test

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:45 PM

To all the posters that say that $70,000 a year is a lap of luxury -- read this info from LAST year -- from www.wowonline.org:

http://www.wowonline.org/docs/dynamic-WITN-96.pdf

In September 2005, Wider for Opportunities for Women (WOW) released The Self-Sufficiency Standards for Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. The last Standard was released in 1999. The 2005 Standard demonstrates that the annual income necessary to meet the costs of a two adult-headed household with 2 young children in the District is about $63,000. The current median earnings for men who live in the District are $40,513 and for women $36,361.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:48 PM

pass

Posted by: Fo3 | August 9, 2006 12:50 PM

Pittypat - That's EXACTLY my point.

Maybe we need to prevail on Sandra Tsing Loh to start an Alternaitive to the Mommy Wars Blog. (Ms. Tsing Loh playfully skewered Leslie's book in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly a few months ago for the same reasons being discussed today). I'm a HUGE Tsing Loh fan. At the same time, I find this blog to be pretty darned entertaining most of the time.

Posted by: Friend | August 9, 2006 12:50 PM

What makes anybody think I take handouts? I don't. That's why I work multiple jobs, so I can avoid handouts.

Posted by: NAC | August 9, 2006 12:52 PM

If I were working for minimum wage ad barely making rent every month, I WOULD NOT HAVE CHILDREN!!!!!

It's hard to have sympathy for people who can barely make ends meet, have children expecting "things to just work out," and then complain when you're struggling with balance issues! If you're expecting the government to pay you to raise your kids, you better not be surprised when you have to go back to school or get a second job.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:54 PM

Let's face it: we pay a lot of lip service to family values, but when it comes down to it, if you are poor, your choice is likely to be between having kids or going bankrupt. Elizabeth Warren's research has shown that having children is the #1 predictor of bankruptcy. Nominally, all classes in this country have the right to a family. However, it's basically a false choice if having a family means you will likely go bankrupt. We wave the banner of family values, but we vote in a way that says "don't have kids if you can't afford them".

Posted by: AB | August 9, 2006 12:55 PM

To JUsta thought: That was me. I forgot to sign my name. I read the article and I agree the schools can not be the only solution or the whole answer. But why not give some of the kids at least a fighting chance. I don't see how continuing to over the same or less money to low income areas is helping anyone. I do think we would need a variety of programs that addressed a lot of outside needs to truly level the playing field. But in truth it will never be level. My kid will always have enriched programs, travel abroad, museum trips, and educated parents to fall back on. I know the highest correlation to a child's academic success is the professional level of their parents. But I would like to give a willing kid a fighting chance. Starving poor public schools is not helping anyone. Frankly, I sort of given up on their parents. The government can't buy or for cultural change. The best we can do is offer a band aid.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 12:56 PM

response to why have children?

sometimes things change - parents married, had lots of $$, HUGE house, 4 kids - fast forward 10 years later - father sucks, gambled all money away - divorce, one mom, three jobs, no child support = hard times.

I am so amazed when I read this blog at the over-generalizations and judgments others place on people, especially the less well-off. I had no money growing up, am now a lawyer making a good living, and you know what? Got some handouts along the way that I am not ashamed of - sometimes you have to be on food stamps so your mother will actually eat dinner (as opposed to pretending she's not hungry or "ate at work" so we got all the food) and if not for grants and gov't subsidized student loans, I would not be where I am!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 12:59 PM

hello "To DC"

On your point about uncertified teacher--1) don't be naive-- this is a problem that all states are grapling with, and 2) as the article you referred to pointed out, "the city has long grappled with a high number of uncertified teachers, but this is the first time in recent memory that school leaders have moved aggressively to address it." So mistakes were mad ein the past and now the system is addressing the problem.

What will it take for you to believe DC has good schools? Isn't the fact that the new curriculum is rated as fourth best in the entire country an indication that things are really much better than you seem to believe?

Regarding violence at the schools, where are you getting this? Rather than just looking for info from Washington Post maybe you should actually go to the schools and see for yourselves. They aren't perfect, but the tide is turning. Besides, even if the schools are as violent as you think they are, what is the answer? Cut and run?

Some of you who moved out of the city for better schools a few years ago and struggle with major commutes may someday regret it. (I suspect many Posties did this and that is why you rarely see a positive story about DCPS-- "those schools suck!" OK, you just keep telling yourself that, dude.)


Posted by: Capitol Hill Mom | August 9, 2006 12:59 PM

Seriously. Get Over yourselves.

I make this. I have two grad degrees. Blah blah blah. Some people simply don't have the proper resources to get or finish a college education. They're your Admins, secretaries, bookkeepers, IT people and retail clerks. Five years ago the wages they were paid were pretty decent, but sadly--they haven't changed much. While Professional wages have increased, others have remained stagnant. It's hard to justify paying an Admin 50K a year, espeically when that person doesn't have a college degree. (experience will pay more, but, still...) Childcare is EXPENSIVE, and you can forget about a "nanny". Puhhleaase.
In a few years, My daughter will be complaining that her starting salary is 60K instead of 80K. wages will go up--But only after everything else does as well.

Posted by: GetOverYourselves | August 9, 2006 1:02 PM

Oh, it's you Lieu? Well, I usually agree with you, so I'll stop rattling my sabre about education. I just used to teach in a lower-middle class community and it used to drive me crazy when I would meet with parents (and, as always, the ones who showed up usually were the parents of the kids you didn't worry about), and the parents of kids doing poorly would criticize they "school district" and say their kid was doing badly because they weren't in a "better school." When in reality most of these parents didn't see a thing wrong with passing in assignments days late, coming to class late, sporadically doing homework, etc. If these knuckleheads just expected their kids to do assigned work and show up on time, I think most of their Ds would have turned into at least B-minuses.
And Lieu - thanks for actually reading the article. I remember from previous posts you seem to have a good solid head on your shoulders.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 9, 2006 1:09 PM

To DC:

Did you go to Banneker?

Posted by: jessker | August 9, 2006 1:11 PM

Stop looking at the dollar amounts. You have to look at what people do and where they are employed/living.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 1:12 PM

"We wave the banner of family values, but we vote in a way that says "don't have kids if you can't afford them"."

There is nothing wrong with that. You shouldn't be having kids if you can't afford them, just like you shouldn't be buying expensive cars on credit cards if you can't pay them off. Expect it's worse with kids because THEY are the ones who suffer because of the parents' poor planning. You want kids? Figure out how to pay for them first.

And I'm not talking about the all-too-familiar "but what if the husband dies while the mom is pregnant with quadruplets and..." argument. THOSE situations are the ones that necessitate government programs and assistance. I'm talking about all the other people who have no excuse expect for overwhelming stupidity and the urge to breed.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 1:12 PM

Well the name should describe me. Or does it.

In a Marxian economics class I took in college I learned that the "worker" is the one that adds value to the raw materials. They should be rewarded. Sure that makes sense.

However... Who bought the raw materials? The worker? No, the capitalist. He puts his $$$ on the line and gets the reward. Yet he pays what the worker asks.

I'm kidding right? No, I was in the military, had my cars paid off, was within three months of being totally out of credit card debt and decided to be adventurous and do financial services since I loved teaching people about $$$$.

Only one problem. Too many people making $60K a year whine and moan and complain when you recommend getting rid of that 2005 Lexus, Digital cable, and two of their three internet accounts so they can pay off the $10K loan they took from their 401k and also put away a little money for the future.

Long story short after refinancing my cars, having them repossessed because I sunk the money into my business and lost money teaching people about money, I got smart and worked as a produce clerk for two years at $8/hr until I landed a job paying $67K a year. Don't ask, it took some determination to never work for a low wage again and a lot of patience.

So while my second child was born on Medicaid, and I was barely making $17K a year paying off $10K in debt, I got the pay I wanted.

So now I'm making more than $80K commuting three hours a day and less happy than I was as a produce clerk. Though my wife does stay at home with our three kids.

So the moral of the story, less time should be spent complaining about your circumstances and more time spent changing them.

I'm going back for my MBA and my life sucks. There I'm the victim. And I don't feel any better.

Okay, I said nothing but really put alot of effort into it.

So quit complaining about the grass on the other side of the fence, just water your own.

Still unhappy at $80K.

Posted by: An 80K a year communist from poverty | August 9, 2006 1:13 PM

hmmmm, $80,000 buys alot of beer and lottery tickets...

"Nominally, all classes in this country have the right to a family."

Big picture: the right to the pursuit of happiness and protection under the law does not guarantee the right to a job, a home, healthcare, food, privacy, vacation, or kids.

But you can have kids w/o a license.

In these US of A we are all free to fail. There is a safety net - but it is full of holes as a (cruel?) incentive to ambition and a work ethic. I happen to believe that the labor laws (safety, minimum wage, minimum age etc) are better at providing a framework for a fair work place here in the US than anywhere else while remaining competitive globally. Look at the labor straight-jacket in Europe as a contrast. The unofficial labor force which skirts official hard fought union and govt protections as well as global competition from less fair labor markets have eroded the US labor forces strong economic position. How to fairly ring fence, contain and control these complex issues is a matter of heated debate... as is enhancing our current workplace legal framework to allow for greater flexibility/support for working parents.

As far as the $80k goes, the dollar has different purchasing power just by crossing town, county and state lines. The myriad of choice is what makes us free. How you spend (or save, or borrow?) is up to you.

The sense of entitlement to Americans is sometimes a problem. The right to a car, the right to drive, right to live as well as their parents did is not guaranteed. No same seats.

Immigrants certainly recognize the opportunity to succeed here - sometimes multi-generation American citizens in the lower income brackets don't seem to see as clearly - across racial lines. Poor WP that borrow up the wazzoo and then sue the bank for lending got some serious shiggety IMHO.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 9, 2006 1:16 PM

Yes - and what kind of people buy/live in expensive houses? There is an intermediary cause and effect between housing prices and education systems.

Posted by: JAT | August 9, 2006 1:19 PM

On the education note, wasn't there a recent article here in the online Post that one of the steps for looking for a good school was to check out the housing prices in the area? Apparently, if the housing is expensive the school is almost certain to be good.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 1:19 PM

You're absolutely right, Just a Thought. In the vast majority of schools across the country, there are resources available for kids to get a good education. I mean, even in the worst districts there are libraries. As for all kids who fail (except, clearly, the ones who have undiagnosed or improperly treated learning and mental disabilies), the blame is with the parents. Learning does not stop at school, and when kids are shown at home that their parents don't care about their education (like no help with homework or discipline to do it), the kids won't either. I hated school, but I never missed it because if I did, my parents would lose their minds.

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 1:22 PM

Wow, there's a LOT of elitism on the blog today!

There are skilled blue collar jobs. It seems like people in this blog are assuming that anyone who isn't a professional with graduate degrees has a job along the lines of cashiering at Walmart (not that that isn't honest work).

It's true that there aren't as many good blue collar jobs available in this country as there once were, and there are certainly challenges blue collar parents face which are different than those of white collar parents, but lets not generalize that anyone who gets their hands dirty at work is barely able to pay their bills. For the record, there are plenty of low wage white collar jobs out there too.

The suggestion that blue collar workers can't teach their kids the social skills they need, and therefore we need to get them away from home 12 hours a day is downright offensive.

How many people who write in this blog actually interact with blue collar people on any kind of regular basis?

Posted by: just have to point out... | August 9, 2006 1:23 PM

Amen to Fo3 comment. You hit it right on the head.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 1:23 PM

Just had to point out does have, well, a point! A good qualified electrician, plumber or HVAC tech can earn a good living.
I have always found it interesting how people react to what is a high or low salary depending on where they are from...I was born and raised in the DC area and have to agree tht 70-80K does only get you to the middle-class level. Unfortunately....

Posted by: missicat | August 9, 2006 1:25 PM

I think that all Americans should be entitled to access to a decent living that pays for all their needs and just a few perks.

At the same time, the work required to make these wages shouldn't be so overbearing that they can't spend most of their waking hours growing with and enjoying their family time.

Posted by: Boffo | August 9, 2006 1:25 PM

Justa thought- The pass the buck parent's seem to span all income levels. Just ask professors of private elite colleges. How many of their students come in to whine about why they did not get an A, when they failed to turn in 1/2 their assignments, attended class only every other day and did not understand a blinking thing. Yes, I can understand your frustration. I just would like to see some of the privileged class (an I include myself in this) have a little heart and stop counting how much they got in comparison to others. Our country still works on a third grade mentality when it comes to government services. He got two cookies and I got one! This would be my mom's response: You don't get more because you don't need it. Who every told you life was fair?

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 1:31 PM

I just want to clear up something from "Just have to point out"'s post. I think I didn't properly articulate what I was trying to say. First of all, I am not talking about social skills in school. Respect for authority, doing work in a timely manner, showing up for class, etc. are not social skills. They are basic academic and professional skills that all people should know whether they want to be computer programmers, lawyers, plumbers or carpenters. And I was not referring to blue collar communities when I said the children should be in school from 7 to 7, I was talking about poor urban and rural communities where they usually isn't any adult supervision outside of school hours. Both groups need to learn the academic/professional responsibilities most upper-middle class (not all, but most) students learn by high school, but the very poor children are the ones who need schooling many hours a day, not the offspring of blue collar workers.

Posted by: JAT | August 9, 2006 1:31 PM

"I think that all Americans should be entitled to access to a decent living that pays for all their needs and just a few perks."

'entitled to access'

I like that. Is that like being married to assure I get access to great sex?

Cool.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 9, 2006 1:33 PM

Thanks to the 12:59 anon for the reality check on societal programs meant to keep people from falling through the cracks.

My school teacher mom got extremely (critical care to nursing home) sick when I was young, and my bus driver dad got social security/disability to help pay the bills. For years. If not for it, I don't know how we would have managed. I was still under 18 when I went to college, and that helped me pay for a great school rather than a community college.

Don't hate on the security nets designed to stop people from falling down to the bottom of the barrel. If not for this, there would be a much larger lower class of people who face enormous barriers (physical & mental health/education) to improving their situation.

Unless you plan to wall yourself into a compound somewhere, these people will become your "problem". At the very least, you will risk stepping on them and getting your $1,000 shoes dirty on the way to work [snark].

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 9, 2006 1:36 PM

To jessker,
Yes, I went to Banneker, but I also had friends at Ellington,. Wilson, Schools without Walls, etc. Again top high schools in DC. I attended a great JHS in DC with accelerated math & science classes. Additionally, I did not attend Oyster or Janney, or some of the other well-performing elementary schools. However, all my elementary teachers were simply amazing and they continue to be my role models.

There are problem areas in the school system, but don't write off the DC Public Schools, because for every black hole, there are many shining stars in the system.

Posted by: DC | August 9, 2006 1:39 PM

To 12:54: For goodness sakes, haven't we gotten beyond only the rich should have kids. Every child in America is your problem. They are the future of this country. And I really wish people would understand rich kid with good grades does not always equal good kid! Some of the best people in the world come from humble beginnnings. I also hope nothing ever undexpected happens to you. You may find when you need help, you find more people with your attitudes and good luck getting help.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 1:47 PM

People are making a lot of assumptions about what "blue-collar" means nowadays. Sure it can refer to immigrant workers on construction crews and table bussers in fancy restaurants. However, blue-collar also covers the categories that include auto workers, teamsters, cable techs, plumbers, applicance repair workers, etc., etc., and the list goes on. Most of these people make more money and have far better benefits than I'll ever see (and I work for a huge educational institution).

So, I think we need to be careful to define the categories of workers that we're discussing and terms we're using in that discussion. "Blue-collar" doesn't mean "poor," but "minimum wage" always does.

Posted by: pittypat | August 9, 2006 1:52 PM

OK, it might be interesting to share our jobs and income levels in light of today's discussion. Anyone up for it?

I'm a married WAH editor with one child, I make about $65k, and I live in Ohio. Hubby makes about same.

Posted by: Rebecca | August 9, 2006 1:53 PM

It makes sense to wait until you can afford to have kids to have them. However, most single parents (who are much more likely to be low-income) are divorced. Their financial situation changed after they had kids. Also, even if you are mad at parents for having kids when they couldn't afford them, why make the kids suffer for it? For example, providing high quality, affordable daycare for children not only encourages parental employment, it is good for children. And it is cost effective, studies show that for every dollar spent on Head Start, society gets $7 back in savings through increased employment and reduced crime when the kids are adults.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 1:53 PM

I'm a single young professional in my early 20's. I live and work in Fairfax, VA and make around 36K.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 1:57 PM

DC: I agree with you on DCPS. I was in the first four year class at Banneker, before that went to public school on the hill. The kids at banneker were there because they wanted to learn, worked hard because they didnt have the safety net of wealth and privilege to fall back on, had a strong community/religious/family network behind them. I had friends who went to the dc private schools: a lot of the kids there drank, did drugs and worse early on, never worked for anything and expected everything, and from what I hear, did not do well except for with their parents help. I would send my kids to DCPS in an instant, but never to the "elite" private schools.

Posted by: jessker2 | August 9, 2006 1:57 PM

To the latte sipping SAHM's who are currently "parenting" by putting Barney in the DVD Player:

1. I work retail management. I have news for you: MANY of the applicants I see these days HAVE college degrees and can't find work in their so called "field."

2. Contrary to some of the narrow minded folks, my work week is 7 DAYS a week . not M-F. Because you SAHM's spend your days in the mall, you surely notice they ARE open on both Saturday and Sunday (which is why some of us CAN post but NOT be at work).

3. If you all knew what us "blue collar" people thought of you, how your wretched desire for materialism so disgusts us even as we sell you merchandise you don't need, you wouldn't be able to handle it because you are scared to be honest - that ALL you DO care about are things like (1) how fancy your kitchens are (my good friend, a Home Depot employee has a million stories about the upper crust and the constant attempts to be CHEAP and double exchange products, try to get $$ back for stuff without receipts (or obviously pre-used) (2) how prestigious your child's PRE-SCHOOL is; (3) the latest (fill in the blank) purse/shoe/cell phone accessory/SUV so that your neighbor is just pea green with envy; (4) dressing like you were still in high school (gag).

And now, a slew of self-justification as to why you are "just" getting by on 80K.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:01 PM

I am single, one cat, 40 years old, live in Old Town Alexandria and make 67K. Before anyone thinks I live in the lap of luxury, let me repeat, "I live in Old Town Alexandria". 67K is peanuts here.

Posted by: missicat | August 9, 2006 2:02 PM

To casual observer:

But the title "Fived and Dimed" sounds so much funnier! More pick-up-and-buy potential.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 9, 2006 2:03 PM

I read the comments today, and yes, it's a string of class warfare going on here. But the truth is, family balance is so much harder for folks on the lower income spectrum, especially for single mothers in pink-collar jobs (as my mother was).

The NY Times did a fascinating series on class mobility last fall (and there is a very good NYT article right now on the achievement gap in schools, which some have commented on today). Where you are born really plays a huge factor in where you will end up in socioeconomic terms. I am one of the rare people who moved from the bottom to middle class.

Some have asked, "How is this my problem?" When Wal-Mart workers are paid so little that they rely on state-subsidized health care, it's a problem for everyone who pays taxes. When entire industries shut down (steel in the '80s, textile in the '90s, and now much of the IT work) because of offshoring and national government policies that offer incentives to business who move jobs to Mexico, the overall economic well-being of the nation is hurt (check out the stories on the pending pension problems...steel industry and airline industry pensions are way under-guaranteed. And guess who picks up the slack? The taxpayer will.).

Posted by: single western mom | August 9, 2006 2:04 PM

31, single, lawyer, $95K, Arlington

Posted by: 12:59 anon. | August 9, 2006 2:06 PM

"With more education comes more options. However, not everyone is able to get an education (a college degree) no matter how they might desperately want it."

Even if one does get a college degree, paying back the loans becomes another burden that reduces options.

"What about the moms leave their own children at home with a relative or neighbor so they can go be someone else's nanny..."

Or Josie Pingkihan, who left her younger child at home with a nanny so she could go be someone else's nanny...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/asia_pac_filipino_nanny/html/3.stm

"I used to be married, but we separated just before I came to Hong Kong. My mother looks after the children some of the time, but she is more than 80 and finds it difficult.

I also employ a helper. It's so ironic that I take care of another child here, while somebody else is taking care of my children back home [in the Philippines]."

"It's true that there aren't as many good blue collar jobs available in this country as there once were, and there are certainly challenges blue collar parents face which are different than those of white collar parents, but lets not generalize that anyone who gets their hands dirty at work is barely able to pay their bills. For the record, there are plenty of low wage white collar jobs out there too."

Great point!

Posted by: Maria | August 9, 2006 2:09 PM

I am one of those traders ramping up the price of oil. My total comp is immeasurable, but I still drive a 94 dodge pick-up because I am cheap.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 9, 2006 2:09 PM

If we are talking about the same series, it's now in a book (that I happen to just buy!) called "Class Matters" - very interesting so far!!

Posted by: NY times series | August 9, 2006 2:09 PM

Another plus with blue collar workers such as electricians, plumbers, etc...many of them are paid hourly so if they work over 40 hours a week they get overtime! That can add up quickly.

Posted by: anon | August 9, 2006 2:11 PM

I'm sorry Capitol Hill Mom, but I just can't let all this rose-colored glasses nonsense about how fabulous the DC schools are go unanswered! You can't argue with test scores - go to http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/dc/district_profile/1
for the facts. The achievement numbers start out bad - only 38% meet reading standards in the third grade, and by the time kids get to high school, only 12% read at an acceptable level!

Posted by: To DC, cont, again. | August 9, 2006 2:12 PM

Here, here on paying back the student loans! This is one way that someone who "got a handout remains bitter" because I happen to lose the birth lottery and was not born rich, I have a $1000/month loan payment that my other friends whose parents paid for everything (including their credit cards bills during law school) don't have - trust me, that can make one VERY bitter!

Oh well! :)

Posted by: 12:49 anon | August 9, 2006 2:15 PM

DH and I are both well paid professionals with one child in Springfield.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 2:15 PM

Forgot to mention I work in grassroots for a non-profit.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 2:16 PM

Blue collar also means factory workers and farmers -- remember them? My grandparents were immigrants who arrived penniless. They raised families during the Depression and WWII. One grandfather worked in a wool mill, another was a tenant farmer on a dairy farm. Neither grandmother worked outside the home. They didn't arrive here and sign up for Section 8 housing, welfare, food stamps, or medicaid, and they certainly didn't wear designer jeans and acrylic nails. Their children worked blue collar jobs and eventually owned their own homes, drove used cars, wore handmade or handed down clothes, NEVER went on welfare. We didn't even have a phone in the house until I was 15 years old. If we really, really needed to make a phone call, we went next door to use a neighbor's phone and paid with a dime.
You'd be surprised how little you can get by on if you really tried.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | August 9, 2006 2:18 PM

We're not going to end up with the "don't have kids until you can afford them" argument again, are we?

As for the earnings question, I'll go. I'm married, live in NC, work as a civil engineer for the state. Make around $75k; my wife is an engineering designer for a private firm, making less than half of my salary.

Posted by: John | August 9, 2006 2:18 PM

Married, white, two kids, make $80k. Husband makes $100k. He was making about $75k when we had our first child and wouldn't agree to my quitting work because he didn't think it was enough to support a family. I still don't understand that, but ultimately had to accept it for the sake of our marriage.

To the 2:01 pm poster, I wasn't trying to be "narrow-minded" when I suggested that someone working retail wouldn't be able to post during work hours. Just trying to explain why this blog seems to be skewed to people with office jobs. So I was wrong with respect to people who work retail, and that's fine. But you need to chill.

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 2:19 PM

Those of you interested in continuing to debate the class-war issue. Please, please come on over to Barbara Ehrenreich's forum! (She's the author of both "Nickle and Dimed" and "Bait and Switch.")

http://www.barbaraehrenreich.com/forum/toast.asp

Posted by: Friend | August 9, 2006 2:19 PM

Speaking of a given salary having different values in different areas, here's another good article:

http://www.economist.com/world/displaystory.cfm?story_id=5323888

"...Why juxtapose the lives of a poor man in a rich country and a relatively well-off man in a poor one? The exercise is useful for two reasons. First, it puts the rich world's wealth into context. A Congolese doctor, a man most other Congolese would consider wealthy, is worse off materially than most poor people in America. That, in itself, is striking.

"The second purpose of the exercise is to shed light on some ticklish questions. What is the relationship between wealth and happiness? And what is the significance of relative poverty? Mr Banks makes $521 a month in a country where median male earnings are $3,400 a month. Dr Kabamba earns $600 a month in a country where most people grow their own food and hardly ever see a bank note. The two men's experiences could hardly be less similar. But which of the two would one expect to be happier?..."

Posted by: Maria | August 9, 2006 2:20 PM

I'm an editor who makes $40K married to a manager who makes $57K living in North Carolina. No kids, just dogs.

We moved from D.C. because with our combined <$100K we couldn't afford a house within an hour of work.

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 2:20 PM

I definitely concur on the paying back of school loans bit. My roommate had her undergrad education paid in full by her father, but now mourns that he can't afford to put her through grad school. In the meanwhile I will be paying back my undergrad loans for the next 12 years. I wouldn't say I'm bitter, but it does annoy me when people who had their college educations taken care of by mommy and daddy start whinning about their situations sometimes. It's okay to complain and vent (we all need to do it), but have a care and keep in mind how you're phrasing things and who you're talking to.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 2:21 PM

Interesting discussion, and yes, what seems to be a class war. To be perfectly honest, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about rich people or poor people. I do think that good schools are important, and that education is the way to a prosperous life. You need skills, and whether that means that you are a lawyer or a plumber is up to you, but either way, skills are key. My plumber is self-employed with 2 kids and a wife who stays at home. He lives next door to me. He makes a living comparable to mine. Our lives are very similar, although our educations were very different. We each have important skills. What I don't get is all the angst and bitterness over people having more. It is a fact of life that some people will have more money, more education, easier lives, more supportive parents, whatever. How does being bitter over the fact that your friends' parents paid for their education make your life better? It is a stupid waste of energy to be bitter. That energy could be better spent doing somethng constructive to improve your life.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 2:26 PM

"We're not going to end up with the "don't have kids until you can afford them" argument again, are we?"

I haven't seen the other side of that argument--is anyone really saying that people should have kids if they can't afford them?

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 2:27 PM

$180K a year and *I* need to chill? Sorry, sister. It's also interesting that the "just scraping by" sorts tend to live in nicer area where it's obviously more expensive. If the answers I am giving frighten you "Sam" perhaps you should stop asking scary questions. I encourage you to take a part time job in retail and listen to how us "blue collar" workers talk about you, it would be quite illuminating.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:28 PM

Okay, maybe bitter was the wrong word, but frustrated. And Rockville, please, I don't waste any energy, it's just a feeling sometimes when, as someone above noted, friends complain about certain things.

Posted by: 12:59 anon | August 9, 2006 2:32 PM

"Wow, all this bitterness toward people who make a little money. Believe me, 70K ir 80K isn't that much anymore. "

Here's a news flash: $70k is not a LITTLE money. $35k or $18k --that's a LITTLE money.

I know from experience.

Posted by: Reality here NOT | August 9, 2006 2:33 PM

Hey-Sam my DH felt the same way. Personally, I know we could afford it but he wasn't willing to give up all the extras. Oh well. Just like you for the sake of the marriage, I went back to work. You know what, I love working. Still dream of being SAHM but I know that is probably idealising the situation. to 2:28-I am kind of scared of what you said. I didn't realize they retail sector hated us so much. BTW, I never return things. Too lazy but it did stop and make me think.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 2:35 PM

Chances are that none of the people you talk about give a hoot about what you have to say about them. Surprise surprise, the kids who have to work for a living are bitter about the ones who don't. It's all so "Pretty in Pink."

It sounds like you have a lot of stereotypes and narrowmindedness clogging up your head. Do I even have to point out that not all women you see at the mall are like that? Learn to be more tolerant of people and you'll be a lot happier--unless being rude and catty makes you happy.

Posted by: To 2:28 | August 9, 2006 2:37 PM

I make $70K, my wife stays home with our son, we have a second on the way. We live in NYC. We definitely have to be careful with our money to get by. We live over an hour away from my job, and we don't have a car. But, the median income for households in NYC is only $40 K! It amazes me that families can get by on that here in NYC. If parents are working full-time and can't afford quality day care or health insurance, I am happy to have my tax dollars pay for that. I think working families should have those things, and they are really expensive.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:38 PM

re:
I make $80K and it's not a lot of money to live on in this part of the country.


Try living on $30K in this area. People do.

Posted by: incredulous | August 9, 2006 2:40 PM

I agree with the "to 2:28" poster. My first reaction was that I really don't care what she or her coworkers say about me or anyone else. If I cared about things like that, I would have waaaay too much time on my hands.

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 2:40 PM

"Where there's a will there's a way, and those who can't do it are lazy."

Clearly written by a Starbucks-swilling yuppie.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:42 PM

How do you live here on 30K a year? Not trying to be snarky, I really want to know how you can economize that much. I am actually quite impressed....

Posted by: to incredulous | August 9, 2006 2:43 PM

Truly, I don't care much about what retail clerks think about me either. I treat people with respect, whether I am at the mall or the doctors. If they like me, fine. If they resent me because I shop, fine too. In the end, they are the ones with the resentment in their heads.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 2:44 PM

"But, the median income for households in NYC is only $40 K! It amazes me that families can get by on that here in NYC."

What's the median income for families in NYC? Wouldn't "households" include a lot of apartments with only one person in them and a lot of apartments with DINK couples in them?

Posted by: Maria | August 9, 2006 2:48 PM

To 2:28 poster (give yourself a name)

I never claimed to be "just scraping by". Don't know where you got that one from. I'm the one who thought we could get by on less, but my husband didn't agree. And for the life of me, I can't think of what "scary" question I asked. I can't remember asking a question at all. So yes, you need to chill, because you obviously take things way too personally. And by the way, I interviewed for a job at Hecht's right out of college and was turned down. I have nothing against retail.

Lieu - wonder how many of us are out there. There's talk about those who "choose" to leave the work force, and those who "can't" leave the work force. Wonder how many think they can but their spouse doesn't think so? My husband's looking to retire in five years and I'm thinking of telling him we can't afford it with two kids to send to college . . . we'll see how well that goes over!

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 2:48 PM

"Thinking about the truly less privileged is not productive. Let them think about themselves. Maybe, if they do, they will find a way out of their predicament. How did their situation become my problem?"

And, let them eat cake.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:50 PM

I just love that "snarky" is used so freely in this blog - must add to my day to day vocabulary - seriously, it's just a word that makes me laugh!!

Posted by: Snarky | August 9, 2006 2:50 PM

Sorry if this ends up getting posted twice. Don't think it worked so am trying again.

To 2:28 poster (give yourself a name)

I never claimed to be "just scraping by". Don't know where you got that one from. I'm the one who thought we could get by on less, but my husband didn't agree. And for the life of me, I can't think of what "scary" question I asked. I can't remember asking a question at all. So yes, you need to chill, because you obviously take things way too personally.

Lieu - wonder how many of us are out there. There's talk about those who "choose" to leave the work force, and those who "can't" leave the work force. Wonder how many think they can but their spouse doesn't think so? My husband's looking to retire in five years and I'm thinking of telling him we can't afford it with two kids to send to college . . . we'll see how well that goes over!

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 2:51 PM

Sam and Lieu - sounds like a future guest blog! I think it would be interesting...

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 2:52 PM

If no matter how much you economize, you STILL can't afford to buy a home, save for retirement, have health insurance, and/or save for college for your kids, you still can't consider yourself *comfortably* middle class.
=============================================
What if you cna't even think about retirement?
Do you think you are middle class at all?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:53 PM

Ooo, this anonymous poster is a rather nasty unhappy person. As a friend of mine says "G-d gives you only as much as you can handle". Everyone, no matter their station in life, has the right to discuss their circumstances. You should not be judging anyone here.

My family earns well into the 6 figures and I don't complain about money because I have it. But it wasn't always like this. I could only buy my first house after the age of 30 whereas others of similar education could afford one before me. It was a fixer upper and a money pit in an iffy neighborhood. We scraped by until I was finished with training. So I know what it's like to live on little while others had more. I didn't resent them. Good for them.

And isn't it the American way to better yourself? Immigrants to this country have the right attitude. Many can delay gratification so that they and their children can lead better lives. That's not to say that I don't think we need to provide supports to those in poverty, but opportunites do exist and people should avail themselves of these opportunities.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:55 PM

DH - code word for someone who posts or reads Urban Baby .. populated by, yup, you guessed it, upper crust elites who complain about many things, most of which have to do with their constant need to up their materialism status or aren't getting laid because "DH" is out shtupping the secretary.

Oh yes, it is more comfortable to mock those of us who fold your lingerie (b/c hubby promised a sexy "date night") or look the other way when junior spits up on a stack of t-shirts and tell us to "chill" because gosh darn it, my hubby MADE ME go back to work. That presupposes that you are in a situation comfortable enough to NOT HAVE TO WORK. It was also funny, a pithy, oh, sorry, I didn't realize you retail workers might actually be home on a weekday because you work weekends. So out of touch, so self-absorbed .. I hope that office chair is comfy ... try standing on your feet for a "double shift" from 8 am to 10 pm and then we can talk.

And PS .. I have a college degree, but guess what, I had to pay for it, by you guessed it, WORKING, so spare me the song and dance about laziness, not trying hard enough, etc ... The economy in today's world stinks and like I said, I've turned down many many applicants who were willing to give an organ JUST TO WORK.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:56 PM

Sam- there are probably a lot of us out there. We all thought the feminist movement would entitle us to get men who would support any choice we made. Boy were we wrong!!! I love my DH and always will. But he is just paranoid about me not working. Like we fully admit that we know we are not just getting by in our income brackets. I definitely love your answer about your husbands retirement. Wouldn't work for me. DH wants to be a consultant after retiring. Eeks, I married a work-a-holic! Rockville-2:28 did not make me think about why they hate us. Just that I do know middle to upper middle class people that do the stuff she is talking about. My GF totally admitted to returning a 3 year old anwering machine to Walmart with the excuse I changed my mind. It still cracks me up but I now get a better perspective of what the retail clerk at Walmart thought about it.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 2:56 PM

Why are you people so worried about your childrens' education? After age 18 parents are no longer legally or financially responsible for them. Make them pay their own way -- including education, food, clothes, cars, insurance. If they still live at home after 18, make them pay room and board. That's what I did. When I left home at 19 my mother said "You don't live here, we don't owe you a thing." Our payback is we get to choose the nursing home she'll go into in the near future.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | August 9, 2006 2:58 PM

I do think it is ridiculous to return things that are old or used. But people of all kinds do that. Not just middle class to afflent suburban types.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 2:58 PM

"I could only buy my first house after the age of 30 whereas others of similar education could afford one before me. It was a fixer upper and a money pit in an iffy neighborhood."

Boo hoo.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 2:59 PM

Lieu:

"It still cracks me up but I now get a better perspective of what the retail clerk at Walmart thought about it."

So nice that you are getting a better perspective on what "the little people" think when your snobby friends return answering machines after three years. Just more proof of how out of touch you are ... the sad thing is, you don't even realize how elitist you sound when you say something like that, though I'm glad all those Wal-Mart workers can now rest easy after a long day (no health insurance either) knowing some upper middle class yupster can now "see things from their perspective."

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:00 PM

You are a real jerk.

Posted by: to 2:59 poster | August 9, 2006 3:01 PM

I found $54K as the median family income in New York City. (Sixty percent of families make less than $70K.)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:02 PM

Ques:

How do you live here on 30K a year? Not trying to be snarky, I really want to know how you can economize that much. I am actually quite impressed....

Posted by: to incredulous | August 9, 2006 02:43 PM
--------------------------------------
Answer: Rent a tiny apartment. No cell phone. No car. Never eat out. Buy clothes at thrift store.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:04 PM

Lieu - One more comment and then I REALLY have to get out of this blog and get back to work before I get fired and we have no choice but to get by on my husband's income alone (hmmmm . . . that's a thought).

We actually did put significant effort into looking for a house we could afford on just his salary a few years ago, and he was so stressed it was unbelievable. It was clear he would come close to having a nervous breakdown if he were the sole means of support. I still think it's ridiculous. Have to agree with 2:28 and others that to consider the salary he had then ($75k) as just scraping by is nonsense. But he was in a signficant amount of debt when we married based on his former spouse spending a lot more income than they had coming in (that's his story anyway) and, as it turned out, the fact I could carry my own was part of the attraction. And I had no clue until after my daughter was born that I'd even want to stay home, so we were both caught by surprise. But it's been very hard to get over. Now that my youngest is going to kindergarten I feel better, but I regret what I've missed over the past 7 years.

DH is on the old government retirement system, as was his Dad, and has always planned on getting out as soon as possible and not doing anything else . . . .

Nice chatting with you. Really have to go earn my salary now . . . (that's why I usually don't comment and try to log on only once a day. Otherwise you get caught coming back to see if anyone agrees or disagrees with you on something and next thing you know I'm working on the weekend to make up for my lack of productivity.)

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 3:05 PM

Why are you people so worried about your childrens' education? After age 18 parents are no longer legally or financially responsible for them. Make them pay their own way -- including education, food, clothes, cars, insurance. If they still live at home after 18, make them pay room and board. That's what I did. When I left home at 19 my mother said "You don't live here, we don't owe you a thing." Our payback is we get to choose the nursing home she'll go into in the near future.

I don't know, when I had my son, I figured my responsibility to him extended beyond the 18 years of childhood. Of course my goal is that he be a self-sufficient, responsible, tax-paying citizen. But I do want to help him a little along the way, for example, by paying for college (or at least some of it). I had to pay for college on my own because my parents could not afford to. But they were supportive in their own way. They provided room and board, which was no small thing. They were there to advise and help and listen and give emotional support. If they could have paid for college, they would have. That is what being a parent is all about. If you intend to kick your child out at 18 and figure you are done with them by then, why on earth would you bother having them? Get a dog instead. They only live 10-15 years and they don't need to go to college.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:05 PM

Hey, I had a thought. To live on $30,000 here---become a live in nanny. They get the salary, often health benefits, room and board. Then I imagine $30,000 would seem like a lot!

Posted by: to incredulous | August 9, 2006 3:06 PM

to 2:56 poster: Boo Hoo.

I worked retail. I worked as a bank teller. I studied hard in high school and got a scholarship to college and had my brother help pay for books because my mom couldnt afford it and I didn't have a job when I started college. And then I got a degree and found a job in my field and worked my way up to where I am now. I met my husband when I moved to Virginia and he had a good job that he is still in after 10 years. And I moved to Virginia because the job market was better and my opportunities would be better. My husband gets paid extremely well and I get paid well but nowhere near as well as he does.

We WORKED to get to where we are today. Hard. I don't think I or anyone else on this blog should have to apologize to you or feel sorry for you for our successes. Its not my fault you work in retail. Don't blame me or others who have a lot of money for your lack of ability to find a better job or for the decisions you made in life.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 3:08 PM

I agree with you Rockville. Many parents' impulse is to help children beyond 18 if you can. My parents allowed me to move back in during grad school which was a big help. I didn't expect that they could pay for it, but having my living expenses taken care of was very, very helpful.

Posted by: to Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:11 PM

OK 3:00 must = 2:28 by the tone. It cracks me up because it is so IMORAL to do something like that. I guess you missed that point. Not because they pulled the whool over Walmart! Misscat-Wish I could be a guest blogger but I am a terrible writer.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 3:12 PM

"Don't blame me or others who have a lot of money for your lack of ability to find a better job or for the decisions you made in life."

I think you just proved 2:56pm's point.

How hard is it for everyone to respect everyone else? Seriously.

Posted by: To cry me a river... | August 9, 2006 3:13 PM

"We WORKED to get to where we are today. Hard."


Hey, you. Here's a news flash: People who make low salaries also WORK. HARD.
Actually, harder than you can possibly imagine.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:13 PM

When did this turn into "I'm a bigger victim than you are" blog?

"In my day we had to walk to school uphill both ways with no shoes on our feet"
"Feet? You had feet?!"

It's getting ridiculous.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:14 PM

to 3:13 poster: I never said people with low salaries don't. But don't expect me to apologize when I have also worked hard. It was not luck that got me where I am, and it was not a rich family because I didn't have that. It was hard work.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 3:15 PM

Are you not understanding on purpose?

It was at least 50% luck thst you got where you are. Many people work as hard, or harder, and don't get that far.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:17 PM

This is not about who is a bigger victim. It's about how some people need help.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:18 PM

The concept of working hard is part of the American culture, the work ethic, as it were. Some people work hard and think that it should be enough. Maybe it should. But often it isn't. So you have to learn to work smart also. You don't have to college educated or rich to do that. That is how some blue collar workers get up in the world, as well as while collar workers. If working hard isn't working for you, try working smart also. It may just do the trick.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:19 PM

The women's movement wasn't intended just to benefit women. Part of the idea was that men shouldn't have to shoulder alone the enormous responsibility of feeding, clothing, and putting a roof over their families.

Whatever happened to that idea? What I don't hear any of the wanna-be-a-SAHM-but-DH-won't-let-me women saying is anything about the value of their husbands' health (physical and mental) and wellbeing.

It's one thing for a woman to stay at home with chidren because she and her husband have decided to structure their lives in a way that accommodates their personal beliefs. However, saddling one partner (male or female) with sole financial responsibility just so the other one can have a particular lifestyle is hugely selfish and inconsiderate.

Come on, ladies. We don't live in an "Ozzie and Harriet" world anymore!

Posted by: Feminist-at-Heart | August 9, 2006 3:19 PM

The women's movement wasn't intended just to benefit women. Part of the idea was that men shouldn't have to shoulder alone the enormous responsibility of feeding, clothing, and putting a roof over their families.

Whatever happened to that idea? What I don't hear any of the wanna-be-a-SAHM-but-DH-won't-let-me women saying is anything about the value of their husbands' health (physical and mental) and wellbeing.

It's one thing for a woman to stay at home with children because she and her husband have decided to structure their lives in a way that accommodates their personal beliefs. However, saddling one partner (male or female) with sole financial responsibility just so the other one can have a particular lifestyle is hugely selfish and inconsiderate.

Come on, ladies. We don't live in an "Ozzie and Harriet" world anymore!

Posted by: Feminist-at-Heart | August 9, 2006 3:20 PM

"Are you not understanding on purpose?

It was at least 50% luck thst you got where you are. Many people work as hard, or harder, and don't get that far"

How exactly was it luck? I studied in school, got good grades, went to college on a scholarship because of those grades, made a decision to leave my home state and move somewhere with a better economy and better job opportunities and have worked my way up since then. How is that luck?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:22 PM

It's pretty clear that the 'haves' don't want to hear from or even think about the 'have nots'. It's sad in a way. Some people do not understand luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:22 PM

How exactly was it luck? I studied in school, got good grades, went to college on a scholarship because of those grades, made a decision to leave my home state and move somewhere with a better economy and better job opportunities and have worked my way up since then. How is that luck?
------------------------

Does everyone who does what you did end up like you did?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:24 PM

Yes, Rockville: I agree; if you want to watch something grow, plant a tree. If you want companionship, get a dog. I have a cat who never went to school, doesn't borrow the car, doesn't do drugs, and I've never had to bail him out of jail. If more people had pets than incorrigible children, society would be better off. Children are not for everybody; college is not for everybody; marriage is not for everybody.

Posted by: So. MD. | August 9, 2006 3:24 PM

I think people make their own luck. Your outlook has a lot to do with how life turns out for you. If you think you will be downtrodden and poor all your life because everyone else gets the lucky breaks, you probably won't recognize the lucky breaks that you could have had because your bitterness and pessimism blind you to them.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:25 PM

"You are a real jerk." Great comeback. I guess the Bob the Builder DVDs must be over, it's time to take the kids swimming, or perhaps a communal trip to the mall is in order to extend apologies to all the "little people" for not realizing how loathsome we have been ... The SAHM's have been silenced or muted in a wave of SUV air-conditoning.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:25 PM

As an old Knicks fan, here is a chance for me to quote Patrick Ewing ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Ewing ) "Yeah, we players make a lot of money, but we spend a lot of money too."

Stupidest statement ever uttered concerning class warfare.

Proud Mama and I (33 & 34 yr old respectively) do make a lot. But we make an effort to be grateful, humble, charitable and had to work our a$$es off to get where we are. And still we worry about retirement just like everyone else. We carry a large mortgage as a hedge to ensure that we save for retirement. If it comes down to it we hope to turn 65, sell the house and go live somewhere cheap (if such a place exists by then.)

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 9, 2006 3:26 PM

You should consider paying for your kids education, so they don't end up being angry and bitter like 2:28.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:26 PM

Excuse me, 3:22, but I specifically asked earlier for low-wage earners to contribute to the blog. I was hoping to get ideas of what they need and gave examples of things I think they need. The problem is that the "have nots" only seem to be bitterly complaining instead of thinking critically.

So go on! I'd love to hear what you have to say about what you need to balance your life.

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 3:27 PM

Lieu:

"Immoral" not "Imoral"
"wool" not "whool"

for someone who makes so much money, you have become far too reliant on spell check.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:28 PM

You should consider paying for your kids education, so they don't end up being angry and bitter like 2:28.
-----------------------------

And also be sure to tel them that luck plays a part in life. Thaere are things they cannot control.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:30 PM

3:22 it was luck because you did not get randomly shot on your way to class.

You did not have your bank fail and take all your savings in an S&L scandal.

You found a job with an employer that did not go out of biz in the dot.com boom.

There are a million forms of luck. The point of luck is that it's things you can't control, and those things stop people in their tracks all the time.

Posted by: To 3:22 | August 9, 2006 3:31 PM

Okay folks, some of you need to take a chill pill. I'm not naming names (for those who provided them), but let's act like adults, shall we? The fact that a 20-something only a few years out of college feels the need to say this to older folks who should be high up on the maturity scale is a bit shocking, but understandable given the emotional nature of the topic and line of discussion. We can't "walk a mile" in the other guy's shoes, but I think everyone deserves the opportunity to have their experiences and opinion listened to objectively without fear of being shot down by someone who sees himself or herself as being on the other side of the fence, regardless of which side that it. Debate and disagree is okay and healthy; being rude and "snarky" is not.

Posted by: 215 | August 9, 2006 3:31 PM

So go on! I'd love to hear what you have to say about what you need to balance your life.
============================================

What I need is more money. I work two jobs to keep body and soul together.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:32 PM

Did anyone else notice the http: address for this page isn't Blue Collar Blues, it's "Respect for Low Powered Moms?" ouch.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:33 PM

You need to do better than that. Where do you want the money to come from. How could you make more money? What are your skills. Maybe you could get a loan to get better skills so that you can make more money in the future? You need a little imagination here.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:34 PM

To the people lamenting their "luck" or lot in life, you're typing on a computer. You are computer literate. It's pretty lucky someone taught you to use one, or you taught yourself and had access to a computer.

You're lucky if your children were born without dibilatating diseases, or born at all. You're lucky you went to school and weren't born to a crackhead mom, given up for adoption, and forced to sell yourself for food.

Need I go on?

Posted by: BTW | August 9, 2006 3:36 PM

It really makes me sad to read this blog today. As someone who worked hard to get to where I am today, I feel for people who are working hard, either in school, folding the shirts at the Gap, or washing the dishes in the restaurant where I used to wait tables (seriously the WORST job and he got paid the least) and at least try to respect everyone I encounter along the way - be it the senior partner down the hall or the guy vacuuming the hallway when I leave the office at night.

It makes me sad that people place so many judgments on others and the choices that they have made, especially those here who say that they had to work to get where they were. Just because someone is the dishwasher does not mean that you worked any less hard or less smart than you did to get to where you are - just worked differently.

I guess it just makes me sad, as someone who has been on both sides of it.

And really, sometimes, work is just not enough - trust me - my mother would be a millionaire by now if that was the case.

Posted by: 12:59 anon | August 9, 2006 3:36 PM

So go on! I'd love to hear what you have to say about what you need to balance your life.
==============================================
You need to take some of your moeny and buy a clue!

Low-wage life is like this:
1. Buying clothes and other stuff at yard sales and thrift stores not because it is quirky but because you can not afford to buy in stores.

2. Learning how to make lots of bean dishes because they are nutritious and meat is an expensive and occasional treat,

3. Having you whole budget thrown out of whack by the slightest thing--- car repair, trip to the dentist, increase in electric rates.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:36 PM

3:28-guilty as charged. I said I could not be a guest blogger because I am a terrible writer. I majored in math!

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 3:37 PM

To anon 3:39 - so you are saying if we work hard and achieve success, we are "trading in our values"? Please explain the logic....
I bought my 400 thread count sheets on Overstock :-)

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 3:38 PM

Alright, what can we take away from this discussion?

Class warfare exists, and it's a problem in America today.

I think it will always exist, and is either lessened or exacerbated by outside conditions. Probably most of us would agree that conditions as of late with the economy have EXCACERBATED, not lessened, this class warfare.

Posted by: Rebecca | August 9, 2006 3:39 PM

Speaking of have/have nots, did anyone read the article in the post mag about the poverty studies program at Washingotn and Lee? Studies show most americans see poverty as a moral failing, but the program shows a whole range of factors/opened students eyes. Contrast that with the article in the same mag about the capitol hill mom obsessing about getting child in the right preschool. Please.

Posted by: jess | August 9, 2006 3:39 PM

2:28 is merely illustrating an ability to refer to herself in the third-person and to call some of these self-righteous blow-hards on their s**t. How do you value "working hard." If I work hard, but that work is manual, and does not pay well, am I not working hard because I am not smart enough to figure out a way to get an office job where I can sit on my a** 8 hours a day and post blog messages? Am I "gaming" the system if I find a comfortable, well-paying job, or better yet, find a husband who makes a lot of money so I can learn Barney songs and master the art of placing Cheerios in a ziploc bag? The "I worked hard to get ahead" vibe is fine and dandy, if a bit self-righteous. I promise you, buried within that story is a helping hand you recieved, not only from a brother who helped with books, but others along the way that advanced your career.

If you can't handle being criticized, then don't post. To those who deem me "bitter," you are wrong. I am an observer of your ways, and you do not like it. I am among you every day, but you ignore me, or pretend I am not there. And when you go to bed at night in your 400 count egyptian cotton sheets, it's more comfortable to demean and diminish because deep down, you can't accept the fact that you traded in your values for a granite counter top or a week in the Bahamas.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:39 PM

"Does everyone who does what you did end up like you did?"

I'm guessing the answer is no, given that you asked the question, but I guess the difference is I wasn't willing to settle for less. I wasn't willing to say, well, I applied to a couple of jobs, didn't get them, so I must have bad luck. I kept trying and eventually got a job that was good for me and used a skill that I had. And since then I haven't been willing to settle for less than I think I am worth.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 3:39 PM

If you are do darn tired, get off the blog and go to sleep. And if you are working while you blog, stop whining about your two jobs. ONe of them obviously isn't that demanding.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:39 PM

You need a little imagination here.

-----------------

NO, YOU need imagination. I need some sleep.
I work two full-time jobs.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:41 PM

I can hear young yuppies yellin',
"The blues just ain't for me"
But if you're drivin' a taxi,
And you got a PhD
You got the blues, young yuppy
Sometimes you have 'em every day
There ain't no doubt about it,
Sometimes it be that way

Your Visa's at the limit,
Your Mastercard is too,
Your second mortgage payment
On your condo's overdue
You got the blues, young yuppy
Sometimes you have 'em every day
There ain't no doubt about it,
Sometimes it be that way

(solos)
You're thirto-two and holding
Things are going from bad to worse
You better hug it while you can
There ain't no luggage on the hearse
You got the blues, young yuppy
Sometimes you have 'em every day
There ain't no doubt about it,
Sometimes it be that way

Sometimes it be that way
Sometimes it be that way
Sometimes it be that way
Sometimes it be that way
(all together:) Sometimes it be that way
BY Jeannie & Jimmy Cheatham). From the CD "Homeward Bound".

Posted by: Zed Feldman | August 9, 2006 3:42 PM

To the guy complaining about having two jobs and needing sleep.
If you are so darn tired, get off the blog and go to sleep. ANd if you can't because you are blogging on the job, quit complaining because obviously, one of your jobs isn't very demanding.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:43 PM

What does this mean: "you traded in your values for a granite counter top or a week in the Bahamas." Traded which values? To whom were they traded?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:44 PM

To anonymous 3:25,
You think you're so smart. I am not a sahm nor am I a mother of a toddler. And you are a jerk---a jerk for criticizing others. You must be a miserable person to be around. I'm guessing you work at home by yourself. I might suggest prozac and an attitude adjustment.

Posted by: to 3:25 | August 9, 2006 3:46 PM

So you think people who are working for low wages have given up?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:47 PM

Wow tempers are flaring. So far I have been insulted for being educated, insulted for having a sense of humor, insulted for being a bad speller (which I full admit to-I hope I spell everthing correctly)--seems to be a pretty productive day. OK 2:28 before you crucify me for being educated and middle class, maybe you should take a minute and read some of my posts. I am for subsidizing health care/day care/ and education for the poor. Not for people like me, who you despise, but for people like you. Not because your angry and bitter but because I believe everyone deserves a chance and a bit of luck. So before you assume that all of us middle class shoppers are awful people, maybe you will stop and realize we are NOT out to get you. Some of us are even there to help you.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 3:48 PM

See, at least Rockville is either honest enough to admit she lusts after her granite countertops in ways her husband probably no longer does for her or she has a sense of humor. Let's hope it's the latter.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:49 PM

I think almost anything is worth granite countertops. Values? easy come, easy go. Granite countertops last forever.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:49 PM

So you think people who are working for low wages have given up?

Not in all cases. Some people do it with a vision of something beyond that low paying job. I know a couple where both of them work at Sams Club. The husband also has a second job as a housepainter. They work hard, save, and raise their two daughters. They have a nice home. The future is bright for both of them. And they don't bemoan their situation. They work to improve it.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 3:52 PM

It would appear that it is your temper that is flaring.
And what about higher wages instead of subsidized this and subsidized that so you can go merrily along in your haze of self-righteous noblesse oblige?

Posted by: to lieu | August 9, 2006 3:55 PM

Rockville - stop straddling your granite counter tops and smell the coffee. Lieu is my savior ..she's one of those upwardly mobile types who has "liberal guilt." She'll get me the health care I need to afford Prozac (to whoever suggested I take some, I'd love to but I don't GET health insurance and that stuff ain't cheap ..another example of having no touch with "real" people .. yes, we do figure out ways to survive without health insurance).

Awfully presumptuous to assume I've given up, I work hard, have my own place but don't go wasting my precious few dollars in ways most who post on this board probably won't admit to. Just because some lowly retail worker is dancing rhetorical circles around you and exposing you for the shallow consumers you are does not mean you should be angry, bitter or jealous (or if you are going to be, come up with something better than "you're a jerk" or "go on prozac." Cripes all those Barbie DVDs have really rotted your brains).

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:55 PM

I have no problem helping people who need the help. My problem is with people who EXPECT me to help them because of my success and who resent me for achieving this success.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 3:55 PM

OK some of us have been luckier or worked harder than others, but that doesn't mean we have to look down on those who haven't been as successfull and help them and especially there children when needed. And those of us who are less successful should stop generalizing as well against those who have been successfull, just because I may have "granite countertops and a week in the Bahamas" doesn't mean that I have behaved unethically or I don't contribute my time and money to help others.

Now can we discuss what will help all of us - affordable health care for all, quality day care, decent schools, living wages, affordable housing

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | August 9, 2006 3:55 PM

Whoa...time for everyone to put down the keyboards, and back away slowly with their hands up.

What started out as a gentle reminder that there are many lower income women handling the same issues that has been overwritten about in higher income women has devolved into a "my life is harder than yours" or "I've done more with what I had than you did". Please, stop throwing sand at each other.

And elitism runs both ways. Despite the fact that I am a working married man with a high income and a new McMansion, it seems that I'm considered less of a citizen? Or a match for all of the classism judgements of the undeserving rich folk? For the volunteer fireworker, I do appreciate what you do. I also contribute **as a volunteer** to the community by staffing the soup kitchen that serves dinner to many in our community that need that extra hand to make ends meet. So don't just assume that because we are at the high end of the income bracket that we don't contribute back to our community equally to those in lower income brackets. And don't assume that we don't appreciate the other aspects of our communities.

I have been there. I made sandiches for Subway, working seven days a week running around to three different shops to get enough hours to make ends meet...I also was a fry cook in a Captain D's restaurant (still remember the fry cook "measles" from working with popping oil) to pay many of my college expenses. I've been there, so I appreciate what others who are still there do and have to go through. I don't cheat on money (like returning items that I have no business returning), I respect and treat people fairly and kindly regardless of their job or their situations. I do expect that same consideration in return.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 3:55 PM

Some people work hard and do well financially. Some people don't work hard and do well financially (because they have rich parents or just get lucky). Some people work hard and do badly financially (because unfortunate things happen to them.) I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to see that working harder is correlated with higher wages, but not a guarantee of financial security. Life is unfair. Because it is unfair, we need to have a safety net for families and CHILDREN when unfortunate things happen. Why is this even controversial? All families should be able to have access to affordable, high quality day care. All families should have access to health insurance. Even if you think parents are completely at fault for not providing enough for their children, why would you deny a child these things?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:57 PM

Rockville,
That's too funny. I too fail to see what that anonymous person meant. You can have your granite counters and your values too! There are nice, generous wealthy people out there. Bill and Melinda Gates come to mind. I think we can all agree they are rich :-)

I sense it is one person just being a mean nasty cow. Telling people "boo hoo" and being vicious doesn't further the discussion, only makes people defensive.

I maintain that people have challenges no matter their status in society. But I do agree that those who earn lower wages deserve more sympathy and compassion. I do respect and admire the hard working pink collar, blue collar and white collar workers (don't want to offend anyone's collar) who are not so well compensated financially. Life balance is easier with money. This is why some of us earlier were advocating for a higher min. wage. Whither the min. wage goes, goes other wages as well. Most may not be making rock bottom but if the min. wage is increased then other wages would go up as well. And I think it is important to support those at lower wages with affordable housing and healthcare. As another poster stated, just because you earn low wages doesn't mean you don't work hard.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:57 PM

My, my, my. You yuppies are really sensitive, ain't ya.
Or mybe you just don't like the uppity lower classes saying things you'd rather not hear.

Posted by: to dadwannabe | August 9, 2006 3:58 PM

"3. If you all knew what us "blue collar" people thought of you, how your wretched desire for materialism so disgusts us even as we sell you merchandise you don't need, you wouldn't be able to handle it because you are scared to be honest..."

Child, please! If someone offered you or you hit the lottery for what amounted to 80K or more per year, would you not take it? Or would you declare, "No! I refuse to cultivate a wretched desire for materialism"?

Uh-huh.

And people buying a bunch of stuff contribute to economy and jobs, such as retail jobs, by the way. No sales, no jobs.

It appears the the white-collared folks aren't the only high-minded ones here today...

Posted by: momoftwo | August 9, 2006 3:58 PM

Well, I was composing a post, but DadWannaBe took the words out of my mouth. Why is it OK to bash those who have pulled themselves up and been successful, and to assume we are all snobs who pass judgment on retail workers, etc.? You wouldn't want to be judged that quickly, would you?

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 3:59 PM

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to see that working harder is correlated with higher wages, but not a guarantee of financial security. Life is unfair. Because it is unfair, we need to have a safety net for families and CHILDREN when unfortunate things happen.

I could not agree with this more!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:02 PM

"Cripes all those Barbie DVDs have really rotted your brains."

I suggested the Prozac. If you're really that poor, then you can qualify for medicaid and get your prozac. If you don't qualify, then shame on you for speaking like a fool. People don't listen to arguments that are infused with hatred and vitriol. Calling people SAHM with granite counters, Starbucks swilling or whatever other stupid things you've spewed forth doesn't win anyone to your side. Give it a rest and come back when you've adjusted your attitude.

Posted by: To nasty anonymous poster | August 9, 2006 4:03 PM

'...and to assume we are all snobs who pass judgment on retail workers, etc.'

Uh, maybe because you DO pass judgment.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:04 PM

Exactly right missicat

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:04 PM

Wow, I have never been called a savior before!

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 4:05 PM

" If you're really that poor, then you can qualify for medicaid and get your prozac."

You clearly have NO IDEA HOW POOR YOU HAVE TO BE TO QUALIFY FOR MEDICAID.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:06 PM

Hmm...now who is judging? I also worked retail and worked as a waitress, so believe me I know how irritating and tiring those jobs can be.

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 4:06 PM

Melinda - married wealthy. Bill - stole Apple's idea and swindled IBM into giving him exclusive rights to the OS - might call that ..um .. lucky?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:07 PM

Spoken like someone with common sense. I'm sure many poorer people aspire to have money and when they do get it, they spend it.

Posted by: to momoftwo | August 9, 2006 4:08 PM

"Melinda - married wealthy. Bill - stole Apple's idea and swindled IBM into giving him exclusive rights to the OS - might call that ..um .. lucky?"

Not at all. Bill Gates saw opportunity when it came around and capitalized on it. He was a visionary who saw what the future held when everyone else was thinking this concept of a "PC" would never take off. Thats not luck, its brilliance (and trust me, it pains me to say that about Bill Gates).

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 4:08 PM

So,since people all have 'challenges' regardless of their stations in life, would you rather have the 'challenges' of a person making $25,000 a yer or the 'challenges' of a person making a paltry $75,000?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:09 PM

Anonymous...I have no problem with you giving your opinion. It's your attitude and nastiness to which I object. Just because there are mean, self-centered, rude wealthier people out there doesn't mean that all of us are and deserved to be treated as such. Fortunately, I don't treat everyone who works in the retail sector as if they were you. I try to give them the respect due to them as a person. I don't judge them by my opinion of you, although you do seem to judge all of us who make more money than you as one communal entity that has done every mean, nasty, wrong thing to you.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 4:09 PM

"You clearly have NO IDEA HOW POOR YOU HAVE TO BE TO QUALIFY FOR MEDICAID."

Gee, you're not that bright. I do know how poor one has to be because knowing that is part of my job. I work with a lot of poor people and I've not met anyone with as bad an attitude as you. Perhaps you need to meet up with a social worker who can help you. No doubt our mental health system in this country sucks, but he or she may be able to find you an outpatient setting with a sliding scale.

Posted by: To nasty anonymous poster | August 9, 2006 4:09 PM

Wow there are A LOT of angry blogs on this site today, but I was struck by the student loan thing. I too had friends who parents paid their way through school and I had to take out loans. Am I bitter about it? No, because I look at it this way: my student loans gave me credit which helped me buy my car, I am learning about responsiblity each month when I make my loan payment, I now know more about consolidated interest rates than I thought possible, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to go to college and get a good education. Those are just my thoughts...

Posted by: Melissa | August 9, 2006 4:09 PM

No, it's luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:10 PM

You're exactly right. For all the bad things we can say about Bill Gates, he has redeemed himself somewhat with his foundation. They spend BILLIONS to address the worlds health and education issues. He could just spend it all on himself, but he doesn't.

Posted by: To cry me a river | August 9, 2006 4:13 PM

Dude, here's a book you might want to read. It could be just the attitude adjustment you need.
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
by Nassim Taleb

Posted by: to: cry me a river | August 9, 2006 4:14 PM

I LOVE CAPSLOCK, LA LA LA. I LOVE CAPSLOCK, WHOOPIE DOOOOOOO.

2:34 - rich people go to jupiter to get more stupider.

2:35 - poor people are lazy. lazy, lazy, lazy.

2:36 - rich people and poor people who have kids are awful because people with children make other people work hard.

2:37 - I was born blind, deaf and dumb in a VAN, DOWN BY THE RIVER. Now, solely because of my pluck and hard work, I am an olympic athlete who will soon be competing with Gates, Welch and Buffett to be america's next corporate titan.

Good times today, people. Good times.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:15 PM

Hello, "To DC, cont, again."

Just wanted to point out that 1) DC's new curriculum is still considered 4th best in the country, 2) test scores on standardized tests are tricky--I've heard that African-Americans, who constitute the bulk of DCPS population, just don't test well for some reason so concluding DC schools are absymal based only on test scores is wrong headed (N.B. blacks seem to do just as well in college as those white kids that scored higher) and 3) parents shouldn't decide all DC schools suck just because so many do. (And many do-- no arguement here. I NEVER said they were fabulous you jerk!) Instead people need to look at the actual school your child would attend. If you really want to obsess over test scores, consider how they break down by race and economic factor. Note that white middle class kids do just as well in DC public elementary neighborhood schools as in any other state. As a white, upper-middle class child, I am confident that my child will do fine in our local DC public elementary school. But I promise I'll leave my rose-colored glasses at the door when I walk my child in the classroom door. (p.s. I'd do the same whatever state we lived in.)

I can't believe I just wasted my coffee break on this . . .


Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | August 9, 2006 4:15 PM

"Just because there are mean, self-centered, rude wealthier people out there doesn't mean that all of us are and deserved to be treated as such."

I feel like this is partly directed at me, so let me clarify. I said it above, but I have no problem helping people who need help. I support higher taxes for social programs, I give to charities that I think are working to help people, and for the most part I do not judge people based on their income/station in life. But when someone comes on a blog and acts like I have something to apologize for and resents me because I have worked hard and succeeded because of it, then I lose all respect for that person and have no problem saying so.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 4:15 PM

3:55 I don't get what you want. You clearly don't want subsidized health care. You want us to stop shopping and that is some how going to lead to you getting a higher wage? Sounds to me like you would get laid off. If you want us to respect you as a person, well news flash we do. Not everyone goes into a store and treats the retail clerk like trash. Sorry you had such bad experiences but your equally prejudice in assuming anyone who has a few bucks to spend is a horrible person who looks down on retail clerks. And as most of us have pointed out, we did our share of low wage jobs. I spend every available minute in HS working at a deli for minimum wage.

Posted by: Lieu | August 9, 2006 4:16 PM

Lots of spirited discussion here today. I like it. And on te elitist Post website, too.

Posted by: Ann Onymous | August 9, 2006 4:16 PM

Today's lesson is that is that we can't discuss issues of folks with household income of less than $70,000.

Because those folks want a forum for venting, not a forum for brainstorming solutions. They're too angry/tired to discuss solutions -- at least those that are online during the day.

This blog just isn't a great space for venting, because everyone takes everything personally.

Posted by: Today's Lesson | August 9, 2006 4:16 PM

Melinda - married wealthy. Bill - stole Apple's idea and swindled IBM into giving him exclusive rights to the OS - might call that ..um .. lucky?

No, I would say smart.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 4:17 PM

I think the "bitterness" came out, not from undergrad, but in law school. (Most of my undergrad friends' parents paid for everything, but it was never a big deal) I was 25 and independent when I started and ignorantly assumed others would be as well, but it was not the case - whether right out of undergrad or older than me, I was amazed of the number of people whose parents paid their credit card bills, rent, phone, car insurance, etc. My friends in undergrad were more financially independent when we were 18 (parents paid for everything, but by giving them money to budget, etc. and not paying the actual bills).

But that said, I would not be the person I am today without making myself who I am the way I did, so I do get satisfaction out of that!

Hope you got a good consolidation interest rate!!

Posted by: To Melissa | August 9, 2006 4:17 PM

"You're exactly right. For all the bad things we can say about Bill Gates, he has redeemed himself somewhat with his foundation. They spend BILLIONS to address the worlds health and education issues. He could just spend it all on himself, but he doesn't."

Yeah, I know. I can't help it though - those of us who have stake in the East Coast Evil Empire just have a natural dislike for the West Coast Evil Empire. Sort of like RedWings/Avalance fans - can't help it, its just nature. :-)

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 9, 2006 4:18 PM

To the anonymous poster -

Your silly one-line responses make you sound petty and childish, especially since they're unsigned. If you're so intent on taking people on, stand up and identify yourself. I really wish the website staff at the Post would set up this and all blogs so that a comment cannot be left without a name!

Posted by: Sarah | August 9, 2006 4:18 PM

Melinda - married wealthy. Bill - stole Apple's idea and swindled IBM into giving him exclusive rights to the OS - might call that ..um .. lucky?

No, I would say smart.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 4:19 PM

"Why is it OK to bash those who have pulled themselves up and been successful, and to assume we are all snobs who pass judgment on retail workers, etc.?"

Because many of those who pass judgment on the Poor Working Class seem to have forgotten what it was like before they pulled themselves up.

We of the PWC don't pretend we know or understand what it's like to be wealthy. On the other hand, the wealthy people, seem to think they have us PWC all figured out -- we're lazy and it's all our fault.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:19 PM

To the anonymous poster -

Your silly one-line responses make you sound petty and childish, especially since they're unsigned. If you're so intent on taking people on, stand up and identify yourself. I really wish the website staff at the Post would set up this and all blogs so that a comment cannot be left without a name!

Posted by: Sarah | August 9, 2006 4:20 PM

Yuo really don't like poor people giving their opinion, do you?
Especially if they are not sufficiently respectful of their 'betters'.
WOW

Posted by: to dadwannabe | August 9, 2006 4:21 PM

Okay, everybody admit it. You laughed at the 4:15 post. You all did.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:22 PM

To anon 4:19 - again, faulty logic. You say many people have forgotten what it was like before they pulled themselves up? Where did you get that information? From reading these posts it seems that many of us do remember and would like to see (and help) others pull themselves up.

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 4:25 PM

See, at least Rockville is either honest enough to admit she lusts after her granite countertops in ways her husband probably no longer does for her...

Hey, I'm 40, so I doubt a lot of people out there are lusting after me, but I do have big knockers and my husband really likes them.

Posted by: Rockville | August 9, 2006 4:26 PM

Today's Lesson seems right. I'll check in tomorrow.

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 4:32 PM

Rockville = Comment of the day.

This blog is like watching a 30 car pileup. Then someone starts throwing rocks from the overpass. Then someone from Rockville exposes herself...

Must see TV.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:34 PM

Wow...talk about judgemental. At the beginning of the post, I said, "I have no problem with you giving your opinion."

I have never once said or implied that I am better. I make more money than you. That is a measurement of what the government considers the worth of my professional experience. It is not a measure of myself by any other standard. I am not better than you...only more polite it seems. If you want to be petty, bitter and judgemental, go ahead. But don't put words in my mouth that come from your bitterness over past wrongs from other people.

You are the one that doesn't seem to like those you deem to be beneath you (merely because they have wealth and clearly don't deserve it or opinions) giving their opinions. You are the one that is insulting people just for being wealthy. You are the one that believes that only those people from the working class deserve to have an opinion. Get rid of the double standard and the attitude.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 4:35 PM

The whole DC-Metro area is saturated with a well-heeled snottiness that us "silent majority" folks, you know, the ones who swipe your gold VISA cards at the register, fetch your dry cleaning, educate your bratty children, etc find loathsome.

Stop whining. Choose a profession to pursue. Put yourself through college. Then put yourself through graduate school. Work your butt off. That's what I did. I have a great job now-- I earned it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 4:38 PM

Do none of you understand the economic definition of "middle class"?

Step 1: Find the median household income for your area. (Not your specific neighborhood but all of the DC SMSA - Standard Metroplolitan Statistical Area.) You can locate it on the US Census website.

Step 2: Find the median household size for your area. If it is >2, get the median family size. (Same source.)

Step 3: Take the median income and multiply it by .8 and then do it again multipying by 1.2. That gives the income range for 80% of the median income to 120% of the meedian income.

AND THOSE NUMBERS ARE THE INCOME RANGE FOR THE 3RD QUINTILE OR THE MIDDLE CLASS - AT LEAST IN ECONOMIC TERMS WHICH ARE NOT THE SAME AS EDUACATIONAL OR SOCIAL CLASS.

On the national level, the median size household has 2.59 people and a meian income of $45,000+. The national economic middle class income goes from $36,000 - 54,000.

Alexandria VA (2000 data)

Median household size: 2.04
Median family size: 2.87

Median household income: 56,054
Median family income: 67,023

The economic middle class income (always done on HOUSEHOLD) is $44843 - 67,264.

LA Calif.

Median household size: 2.98
Median family size: 3.61

Median household income: 42,189
Median family income: 46,452

The economic middle class income (always done on HOUSEHOLD) is $33,751 - 50,626.


In neither area can a household that is "middle class" in terms of income afford to buy a house.

In either area, a household income of $70,000 in Claifornia, or 80,000 in DC or whatever is NOT a middle class household but is in the 4th quintile or upper 60% of income. That is called making more money than someone in the middle class.

So yes, in terms of even those areas, $70,000 is a lot of money - even if it can't buy a house. (And in California, for example, only 16% of all households can afford to purchase a MEDIAN priced house.)

Posted by: Ann | August 9, 2006 4:46 PM

Wow. Log off for awhile and you miss a lot.

To Feminist-At-Heart. I agree that the husband's mental and physical well-being are important. That is why, when my husband was finally willing to make the move and I saw how it was affecting him, I backed off. I didn't want to do that to him. But you should know that, even before I reached that point, I did not want to "saddle" my partner with sole financial responsibility just so I could have a particular lifestyle. This wasn't a case of my wanting to kick back and play with my baby all day. I was completely caught by surprise, but when I dropped my daughter off at day care it was like someone was taking a piece of my heart out. I had never before felt so sad or depressed. Whether others understand that or not, that's the way I felt. I also felt that it would be best for our children to have one of us stay home which, unfortunately, I didn't feel before having children. And it wasn't going to be my husband, because he didn't want to give up his pension. So while I agree with your general point, and could've written your post myself before having children, I found the reality once they were here to be a lot harder.

And yes, I realize that I am lucky to be in a position where I think I could get by on my husband's salary, even if I'm not in fact able to quit because he doesn't agree. That doesn't mean that, given the fact that I thought we had the flexibility to let me stay home a few years, I don't regret missing out.

4:15 - very funny post.

Well, this blog takes the cake for very few productive suggestions and a lot of negativity. Forget SAHM v WOHM. Apparently we're all scum of the earth.

Where are you Fo4? We need some comic relief! 4:15 was good, but we need more!

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 4:51 PM

Let's stop for a minute here...so everyone should go to college and earn more. Get more training and then they wouldn't be poor. OK, so then no one would go to McDonald's anymore? No one would expect retail help? The reality is training and education help people get better jobs BUT there are always going to be low end jobs that need to be filled. Because PEOPLE use those services.

So, we need to not only talk about education, we also need to talk about valuing the people who are performing services that all of us use. The idea that everyone should just learn data processing and then we'll all be OK is ignoring the reality of the workplace.

We need a higher minimum/living wage and more unionization for workers on the lower rungs so they can get better wages and benefits--including childcare.

Posted by: DC Activist | August 9, 2006 4:52 PM

I forgot to mention that I only brought up wanting to stay home in the first place because it was relevant to the question of whether $75k is enough to support a family in this area comfortably. I thought it was, my husband thought it wasn't.

Posted by: Sam | August 9, 2006 4:52 PM

but the difference between $67K+ and $70K is minimal and if you have two children and a family size 4 instead of 2.67 (or 3.68 for LA) you probably are middle class.

Posted by: to ann | August 9, 2006 4:53 PM

But some of us are apparently "elitist" scum....

Posted by: Missicat | August 9, 2006 4:56 PM

To Capitol Hill Mom -

If you don't have your child in a charter school or a private school by the time Jr. High rolls around, I'll eat my hat. We'll never know if you do of course, but in a few years, remember this little conversation that wasted your coffee break as you try to explain away your decision in your own mind. People who refuse to place their kids in a school system where the highest achievement level is below 40% in something as fundamental as reading, and it only gets worse from there, at least aren't fooling themselves like you are. And spare me the bit about race - you should go back and re-read what you wrote. So African American kids are doomed to test poorly but white kids are going to do great no matter what? Lovely.

Posted by: DC schools debate, cont. | August 9, 2006 5:00 PM

2:59 poster is a "real jerk" because s/he pointed out that buying a first house after thirty in an "iffy" area isn't a tragedy?

Wow!

The revolution is closer than I thought ...

BTW, the median 4-person family income in the District is $55,692 according tot he Census Bureau. Don't you think there are a lot of families in DC that'd like to make "just" $80k/year ...?

Posted by: Historian | August 9, 2006 5:01 PM

dadwannabe--

Off-topic but the only Captain D's I know of is in Savannah, GA. Is it a chain or did you live there? My husband is gonna die tonight when I tell him someone mentioned it on the blog today.

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | August 9, 2006 5:03 PM

I use the self-check out at the grocery store because I am fed up with surly clerks. I figure most stores will eventually go to that anyway, if only to relieve disgruntled retail clerks from having to put up with snotty shoppers. The day is coming where a lot of service employees will simply become obsolete. And the sooner the better.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 5:06 PM

DH is actually an abbrieviation for Dear Husband also used on my stepparenting forum, which is mostly middle to lower-middle class. Wanted to correct the poster who assumed it is only used on Urban Baby.

Posted by: About DH | August 9, 2006 5:09 PM

And used on the weight watchers site for YEARS!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 5:10 PM

After I graduated from high school in Pittsburgh, my parents moved to Orlando, FL where my dad's job transferred him (they are still there after 23 years). I worked while paying my expenses going to school at UCF.

Captain D's was pretty common throughout the Orlando area. I've also seen them on the drive (along I-10) between Orlando and Houston where my two siblings live. I haven't seen many Captain D's for a while since I have lived in the DC area for 20 years now.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 5:11 PM

Oops. I forgot to add that Captain D's is a subsidiary of the Shoney's chain which is a huge set of chain restaurants through the South. And for those who are trying to figure out what a Captain D's is, think Long John Silver's or Captain Treacher's fish and chips. It's a mostly fried food fast food chain specializing in seafood.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 5:13 PM

Thanks for responding DadWannaBe.

My husband (then boyfriend) always wanted to go there, but he never made it before I graduated and we moved away. There was something irrestible about the place to him. It became a long-running gag.

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | August 9, 2006 5:16 PM

Dear pro-nursing mama,

Does your moniker mean that you support nurses or are a member of the nursing profession?

Posted by: Justwondering | August 9, 2006 5:19 PM

no, it means she is pro breastfeeding

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 5:24 PM

This just in from the blues masters:

"I ain't got no education, I'm just another fool in town
I ain't got no education, I'm just another fool in town
You know the first day I went to school man, the big schoolhouse burnt down

Can't write my name, can't even say my ABC's
Can't write my name, I can't even say my ABC's
Wonder can I get nobody educated, come try to teach po' me?

School in the mornin', tomorrow is schoolday
School in the mornin', tomorrow is schoolday
Yes I just want to get somebody to teach me and help me on my way"
-- Blues standard, "Unlucky 13 Blues," lyrics and music by Lightnin' Hopkins and Roosevelt Sykes, 1939

Posted by: Zed Feldman | August 9, 2006 5:25 PM

To DC schools debate, cont
Yes, the average test scores are in the 40 percentile range, but of course you fail to mentioned the number of schools who scored way above average in both the reading and math. Additionally there were schools who scored 100% in both sections. Remember the general scores are merely averages of the entire system.
Did you or your family attend DCPS? You obviously have this bias against the school system. Beyond elementary school in DC, there are some great schools: ie Deal, Jefferson, Wilson, SWW, Banneker, Ellington, etc. Alot of my friends, white and black who attended DC Schools went on to excellent colleges (Ivy League, Seven Sister, etc).

Posted by: DC | August 9, 2006 5:30 PM

RE: but the difference between $67K+ and $70K is minimal and if you have two children and a family size 4 instead of 2.67 (or 3.68 for LA) you probably are middle class.

Posted by: to ann | August 9, 2006 04:53 PM

$70,000 is close in DC since there would be an inflation index to the 2000 numbers - probably the upper edge of the 3rd quintile or very, very bottom of the 4th quintile in DC BUT NOT IN LA. $70,000 in LA is still far, far above the median household OR family income.

(By the way, a household where children are living with, say, a grandparent, is not classed as a "family" household. Also, if there is a divorce situation with joint custody and both parents contribute proportionately equal amounts towards the children, one household is called "family and the other "household" even though the children spend equal amoutns of time at both homes.)

Employers don't pay you more because of how many kids you have. That is why "household" income is more accurate than "family" income. "Family income" is only useful to examine how much money is available to a household with adults and related childen. It does not change the household's position on the economic ladder relative to other households - particularly in the marketplace for housing, goods and services.)

If you want to assess income on how much there is available per person, then you need to look at the "per capita income."

National per capita: $22,000+/-
Alexandria per capita: $37645
LA per capita: $20,683

Posted by: Ann | August 9, 2006 5:34 PM

to JustWondering,

The first time I posted was when talking about breast-feeding. So I figured for continuity I should stick with it, even though I feel weird everytime I post about something that has nothing to do with breastfeeding.

I am pro-nurses though. My grandmother was a nurse. However, my moniker was refering to "bf".

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | August 9, 2006 5:34 PM

Yeah, I realize that. But . . .

Why would someone want to use a blogging name which proclaims she's in favor of breastfeeding?

Are there people who are against it? Are there people who have tried to stop her? Is she committed to doing it publicly, or does she just want to bully all mothers into doing it along with her?

What's her point?

Posted by: Justcurious | August 9, 2006 5:38 PM

Maybe you should change your nickname to "P-N Mama" People who are looking for you to tie you in with other opinions will probably note it and follow it and then you don't have to trail that nickname from a previous blog with you...

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 5:40 PM

RE: I use the self-check out at the grocery store because I am fed up with surly clerks. I figure most stores will eventually go to that anyway, if only to relieve disgruntled retail clerks from having to put up with snotty shoppers. The day is coming where a lot of service employees will simply become obsolete. And the sooner the better.

Posted by: | August 9, 2006 05:06 PM

HMM..... guess you want to give up buying fuel for your SUV and going out to dinner (don't think they make robots to cook and serve your food) and buying anything that is not sold in a mega-store.

How odd that you find so many clerks "surly" towards you. Consider this:

(1) expecting unbounding cheeriness from someone who has been standing on their feet for 6, 8 or 10 hours is unreasonable.

(2) expecting sparkling wit and sunshine from who has been standing on their feet while sufferring from a chronic illness such as asthma or diabetes that it treatable but they can't afford medical care; or who is frantically worried about having their paycheck attached to pay medical bills; or who is terrified about how they will cope because their old car just quit and they need 3 months wages to pay for the repairs is unreasonable.

(3) Expecting happiness at your presence when you are demanding this, that and everything else; or heaving sighs and sulking because the line is long is unreasonable.

(4) If you are dismissive, unpleasant or demanding, it is unreasonable to expect others to be happy to wait on you. (Around my village, we call people like that "tourists" - and about 1/2 of the 1.8 million do act like that.)

I can't ever recall having a clerk anywhere behave towards me in a manner that I would describe as "surly." On the other hand, I always smile, say hello, apologize if I had inadvertently placed an itme on the counter in a way so it was inconvienent to scan and generally go out of my way to be pleasant and polite. (I also thank the waitress for bringing me something, and say "please" when I ask for something.)

If you think clerks are "surly" towards you, I suggest you check your manners.


And, for general information as to my social and economic class, I'm a lawyer/micro-economist now retired as is my husband and we live very well on under $30,000 a year with a mortgage payment. Now if you will excuse me, we are going out to dinner after my lawn service stops by to go over where the new garden is going in.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 5:54 PM

I have to admit I have not read 95% of the above posts today. So my comment may be redundant to someone else's. Actually, it's a question, not a comment.

Do you think that all of us college-educated moms who had/have careers so "up"ed the ante on lifestyle and income that we sort of ruined it for less well-paid folks or those families who would have liked to exist on one income?

Or do rising tides float all boats?

Posted by: granny | August 9, 2006 5:59 PM

Dear pro-nursing mama,

Thank you for your explanation. It was nicer than my kind of snarky query.

I do agree with DadWannaBe that you might want to modify your name a bit to avoid people making assumptions (as I did) about your being a radical BF-ist.

But your response was really gracious. I didn't deserve it.

Posted by: Justwondering | August 9, 2006 6:02 PM

Pro-Nursing Mama,
There is nothing wrong with your name. Keep it if you like it. Change it if you don't. And you were very gracious in your reply. Kudos to you.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 6:04 PM

Rising tides don't float all boats because the smaller boats get ticked about the bigger waves, and want the bigger boats to sink, and the bigger boats just whiz by crying, eat my dust.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 6:06 PM

"2:59 poster is a "real jerk" because s/he pointed out that buying a first house after thirty in an "iffy" area isn't a tragedy?"

No, he or she is a real jerk because he or she has been nasty, arrogant, judgemental and intolerant. He or she seems to believe that anyone with money is evil. Now it seems there is some explanation. Is it the elderly lawyer a few posts back?---aged bitterness in a nasty profession. Explains it all.

Posted by: re: anon poster | August 9, 2006 6:29 PM

Wow.

I just logged on and found out that the article I sent to Leslie was featured in today's blog. Never in a million years did I imagine that it would generate *this*....

Just in case the original point was missed (which I believe it was) - here's something from the Oregonian article that gives further reading on the subject (for those who are actually interested!)

www.worklifelaw.org: Read a recent study by the Center for WorkLife Law about work-family conflicts among union workers. It's called, "One sick child away from being fired: When 'opting out' isn't an option."

www.law.duke.edu/journals: Read the study by George Washington University law professors Michael Selmi and Naomi Cahn about working mothers who aren't high-powered professionals.


Posted by: momof4 | August 9, 2006 7:05 PM

To the anonymous 2:01/2:28/etc. retail worker poster:

I'm one of the SAHMs to whom you're directing your bitterness. I suppose some of your generalizations are true: my husband makes $80K a year. My kids are watching television right now and I'm taking them to the pool in a few minutes.

However - every single other thing that you stereotyped me and every other SAHM in the country with couldn't be further than the truth. Egyptian sheets? WTH are those? Starbucks lattes? Hardly...try Folgers made in my own pot.

I brought this article to Leslie's attention because I do feel that this blog, and her book, leave the majority of the country's women (and men) out of the discussion. Yes, we all need balance, and the upper and upper-middle class shouldn't be "silenced" on the subject. But (and this is maybe what you're trying to say...?) "balance" becomes exponentially harder to achieve when your choices are limited because of your income level.


Posted by: momof4 | August 9, 2006 7:12 PM

It's a shame that your post is at 7PM. If it were earlier, maybe you could have gotten the blog back on track.

There are a number of us today who acknowledged how difficult it is for low and lower wage workers to achieve work-life balance. Without financial resources or a cushion, a job is vital to one's existance and decisions regarding taking time off for a child are excruciating. Also the type of work performed by lower wage workers often is not ameniable to flexability. This is why unions are/were so important as well as understanding of the issues by decision makers. We need to find ways to achieve affordable and safe childcare, affordable housing, a living wage, affordable healthcare. Finding solutions to these problems are crucial to not only the lower wage worker but obviously to the middle class worker as well. It is my opinion that the middle class is getting squeezed---comments of excessive starbucks consumption non-withstanding. I believe our quality of life has suffered over the last several years while that of the top of the tax brackets has gained much.

I think if this blog is any indication, this "class war" may boil over into the 2006 and 2008 elections. Hopefully a change in administration will help to get our congress an administration to consider better policies so that all of our quality of lives will improve.

Posted by: To momof4 | August 9, 2006 7:12 PM

"It's a shame that your post is at 7PM. If it were earlier, maybe you could have gotten the blog back on track."

I doubt it!! And I'm on the West Coast, so it's only 4:00 here. :o)

Posted by: momof4 | August 9, 2006 7:16 PM

Hey, she directed her vitriol at those of us who are not SAHMs. I was nothing as she described (no pooltaking, no TV time and I work out of the home). I completely agree with you and I think others today did as well. We got side tracked by the classism. Thanks for bringing the article to Leslie's attention.

Posted by: To momof4 | August 9, 2006 7:19 PM

No, he or she is a real jerk because he or she has been nasty, arrogant, judgemental and intolerant. He or she seems to believe that anyone with money is evil. Now it seems there is some explanation. Is it the elderly lawyer a few posts back?---aged bitterness in a nasty profession. Explains it all.

We uppity poor people won't bow and scrape so we are nasty, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 7:32 PM

I am not a breastfeeding nazi, I do believe in it *when* the stars align for a family. Obviously, a working mom has enough guilt on her that she doesn't need me telling her she should be bf'ing if it is really just not a possibility (no place to pump other than a bathroom-gross, no time to pump cuz she is barely making ends meet and her employer makes her clock out, daycare won't do pumped milk, etc. etc...) However, my feeling is that if a woman actually WANTS to bf I think as a society we should make it easier (cuz shigitty, it really isn't always the easier choice). I shall descend from my stump now.

maybe my name should be UberBoober....

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | August 9, 2006 7:44 PM

"We uppity poor people won't bow and scrape so we are nasty, arrogant, judgmental, and intolerant?"

No, we are talking about you, not all poor people. You do not represent poor people. You as an individual are nasty and intolerant. I don't think you're very bright either looking at your stupid posts.


Posted by: to the anon poster | August 9, 2006 8:00 PM

Married, mid-50's, 2 teenagers, combined income 97000 (after 30+ years working). Consider my family middle-class with economic strides in the last 7 years. Middle class prior to that but closer to lower middle class for most of adulthood. Live in Howard county md - great school district - lots of professional families - this puts us in the lower economic class in our area (Many families with one parent working in our area have a household income higher than ours and the two 'professional' worker families are in a completely different league.)

To cry a river (and others) - I do appreciate that you worked hard to get where you are. What I don't appreciate is the idea that people who have done well haven't worked hard enough or smart enough. People who talk about luck and opportunity aren't just crying "poor me" or blaming their circumstances on bad luck or looking for handouts.

Some examples of how luck/opportunity come into play:

Scholarships - work hard, study, and get good grades -- there are many people who do this and still don't get scholarships due to limited funding and numerous applications.

Apply for jobs - I work for a large fed agency - my friend and I both applied for a position and were both on the qualifying list, meaning either of us could be selected. I got the job, not because I was better or more deserving, but because the job I wasn't needed in the job I was leaving as much as she was needed in the job she was leaving. Even though she eventually was promoted also, I have advanced as well, so 15 years later I am still at a higher level.

Skill/talent - some of this can be learned/developed, but some you are just born with. No matter how hard I study and practice, I will never be able to sing.

I promise not to think of the upper middle class and rich as elitist snobs if you promise not to think of middle class and poor people as lazy, looking for handouts, or not willing to work hard enough.

Let's all have a truce now.

Posted by: kea | August 9, 2006 8:28 PM

DadWannaBe - I actually liked your post. Character always shines through.

My ideas for improvement for regular working people:

Build more affordable housing - proposals to build moderate income (town)housing in my county have been met with strong opposition from residents (usually the pricier neighborhoods) complaining about increased traffic, crowding in schools, lowering their property values, etc. Valid concerns, but not as critical as the need for affordable housing IMHO.

More after school programs with bus service, especially middle school. Many children would like to participate in fun activities and many would benefit from educational help. However, if school is over at 2:30 or 3:00 and the programs are over by 4:00, many children can't participate because they have no way home. An activity bus or more public transportation (no bus other than school bus in my suburbs and 5 miles too far to walk). Grants or subsidies would work, but many parents, even lower middle class would be willing to pay for the service. It's good for the kids and great peace of mind for the parents. It's hard to keep kids over 11 in a workable after-school care arrangement.

High schools - activity buses here as well. Not all kids are 16, not all drive or have cars, and not all have sah parents. Many who chose to have a parent home while kids are young go to work when they are older to help with college. High school athletic try-outs start next week. Generally a few hours in the am and then maybe an afternoon session. This goes on for about a week before teams are chosen then a week of daytime practice before school starts. It's hard to carpool if your kid is a freshman or new to the school and doesn't know anyone yet. I refuse to allow my child to get a ride home with a teenage driver who we don't know.

All schools - eliminate 1/2 days of school - much easier to make daycare arrangements for a full day than a 1/2 day.

School-improvement-teams -MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT these teams are made up of school teachers, admin, parents. All meetings are held immediately after school. I would love to be a part of this team, but have to save my leave for sick days, dr & dental appts, other appts (car repair, teacher conferences, etc). And there are others who don't have the flexibility I have who are shut out of this process. It seems that any activity that involves raising money for the school or pta is held evenings or weekends for maximum participation, but something as important as school improvement is restricted to immediately after school. The meetings should alternate between afternoon (accommodating for school staff) and evenings (accommodating for most working parents). Since school improvement benefits both teachers and parents as well as the children, alternating schedules would allow the most participants.

National health care - not free necessarily, but the same cost per person. Some people pay nothing for premiums or out-of-pocket, pay for premiums and out-of-pocket, out-of-pocket amounts vary per plan, and some people have no insurance and pay everything, and some people have medicaid.
If everyone paid the same premium for the same coverage, I don't know if it would be affordable or not. Many premiums are high now because of the cost to the insurance companies due to the unpaid bills of under- or uninsured patients.

Posted by: kea | August 9, 2006 9:07 PM

Sorry for all the comments - there's a lot to think about today.

More sick-child day care options. My pediatrician is actually considering having a room for kids who shouldn't be in school or day-care, but would be ok around other kids with similar ailments. And since they're doctors, they could really decide who needs to be home.

More On-site day care - Personally not my choice. I always preferred daycare close to home. It's easier for both parents to drop-off/pick-up close to home rather than at the workplace of one of them. It's also easier to have a neighbor pick up in case of emergency if it is close to home.

Comment - re: the admin assistants who were more reliable than some of the professional employees. I think that this happens because the lower-paid employees have less of a cushion if they lose their jobs and therefore do everything possible to make sure they dont. some of the professionals do feel more entitled, but most are just more comfortable because they could withstand a jobloss much more easily until they found a new one. The regular working people I know who lost their jobs were immediately in the unemployment line. The one professional person I know who lost his job received a whole year's salary as severance. This standard shouldn't make a difference in work ethic, but sometimes it does.

Posted by: kea | August 9, 2006 9:26 PM

There were some very mean and self-righteous posting today. Shame on you.

I'm suprised no one followed up on an early morning comment about blue collar workers taking alternate shifts to cover child care. My husband and I did that for a while - not as blue collar workers, but as underpaid professionals.

1. Yes, it works, and the kids get decent child care (which is otherwise unaffordable at such incomes).

2. No, it is not a balanced way to live a life (oh yeah, we're supposed to be blogging about balance). No, it isn't costless to the family or the marriage. Yes, I missed my husband. To the poster - you might want to ask your parents about that.

Later once we earned more, we were able to hire a nanny - a wonderful, talented, and well paid one.

That was better - no question. We had more freedom. We had more quality time with the kid.

Posted by: anyone | August 9, 2006 10:56 PM

school performance & test scores - If your children go to school in one of the "lesser schools" and you still do the same things such as volunteering, helping with homework, setting examples concerning the value of education, won't that help to make the school better? Why is it always assumed that those schools will bring the kids down? Why can't it be true that your kids will bring the schools up?

This blog is full of people saying that we all have the opportunity to work hard and make something of ourselves, yet such negativity about the public schools leads one to believe that maybe the opportunities are limited for those of lesser means.

I would want my child to do their best where ever they went to school.

Posted by: justwondering | August 9, 2006 10:58 PM

My husband and I work 80-hour weeks (40 each) and together make less money than many professionals. Although I will admit that I am envious of the money and homes, I am glad that we get to spend time with each other and our children. We lived in an apartment for years with 2 kids, bought a tiny townhouse and then a single family home that we will sell or refinance when we retire (won't be able to afford the mortgage on our retirement income). We have never been hungry or homeless, so we are richer than many. I have to remember that in my moments of jealousy. And when I want to feel superior, I remind myself that neither one of us works excessively long hours or travels for work, so we actually are richer in family time than others who are richer in money.

I play Bunco (I am not Mrs fatherof4) with a group of women aged 20-something to 60-something. some are professional women, some regular workers, some SAHM's scraping by on one income, some SAHM's living a pampered life (Drs wife), some divorced, some married, some childless. We get together once per month. Some socialize outside of Bunco, some are just Bunco buddies and that's it. We all get along and have fun and I don't think that any of us judge each other the way the women on this blog do. I think that we are all much more civil and non-confrontational in person than on an anonymous blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 11:18 PM

(kea)
DadWannaBe - I actually liked your post. Character always shines through.

=====

Thanks. It's a shame that the discussion got so sidetracked with class warfare. It's important to discuss how to take care of kids and still be able to function in the working world, whether you work for an office, a shop, a service business, or a trade. Too often the discussion gets sidetracked by the "haves" vs "have-nots" or the SINKs/DINKs vs the parents. As you can see from my nickname, I am a DINK that would like to cross over.

Somehow, by merely trying to get the discussion away from gratuitous insults, I became the victim of same.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 9, 2006 11:53 PM

It's amazing to me how many relatively well off people have no clue about what life is like for people who make less money. Granted that $70k may not mean wealthy in this area, but there are lots and lots of people who make much less. And the people who make more want the people who make less to keep quiet and work harder. I would have thought that we had advanced beyond the days when povery--or near poverty-- was seen as a moral failing.

Posted by: Rachel | August 10, 2006 8:34 AM

Had to get the last word in, even if it is "the morning after." Seems to me that all the "well to do" served up a whole heaping dish of variations on "don't be jealous because I make my money," "you don't work hard enough," or the most clever, "you're a jerk." My point is (and was) that all the complaining that people were doing about "only" making 70-80K or whatever their salary is/was failed to take into account all of the discretionary choices many, MANY parents *I* see on a day to day basis make.

If you are going to complain about only scraping by, do so after you've stopped running up your credit card bills, spending 4 dollars on a cup of coffee, dressing little Morgan or Seamus in 50 dollar design duds that they'll outgrow in 3 months and for god sakes, don't get all uppity when people call you on it. Whoever suggested that "that's not me" .. "I don't do that" should spend an afternoon (as I've suggested) or 10 working in retail at Tyson's, Montgomery Mall, or maybe waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory. There you will see the myriad upper crusters striving so lustily over whatever it is they crave. Spare me the "I volunteer" so leave me out of the discussion or "I worked hard" to get where I am so I "deserve" the granite counter tops ..

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 9:13 AM

The last post (anon 9:13) doesn't make any sense-- just because some people buy expensive things doesn't mean that everyone does. I tend to think a lot of the people spending like that at the mall are not very far from a financial crisis.

I spent a couple years living on 15k a year. It was very hard, and so I know where the bitterness comes from (at the time I had my sister who was making twice what I was explaining to me regularly that she actually had it tougher-- its a wonder I didn't kill her.)

For the folks who are REALLY just scraping by, you have my respect. I wish you only pleasant surprises.

Posted by: good morning.. | August 10, 2006 9:47 AM

Re anonymous poster's "last word":

I've no doubt that you see the consumer excesses you've described on a daily basis, and it must be hard to grit your teeth and wait on these spoiled women. I wonder, though, if maybe you've generalized their horrendous behavior and wasteful spending to a wider group of women whose incomes may be similar but whose attitudes and behavior are not.

The women (and men) posting to this blog seem to be a pretty thoughtful bunch, and I think maybe you've underestimated their basic committment to decency.

Posted by: pittypat | August 10, 2006 10:21 AM

PP - Fair point if one assumes that the posters are entirely honest. I don't think the "bitter" rap is a fair one. Some posts ago (not that anyone cared to notice) I mentioned, I have my own place, and pay my own bills, I just choose not to waste my money on unnecessary consumer goods. In addition, I take umbrage with the fact that SAHM's (many of whom I see in the mall on a daily basis) try to "cry me a river" (to borrow from another poster's insults toward me) about the difficulties they have when I see SO MANY OF THEM wasting endless hours allowing "us" (and by us I mean the "blue collar" retail workers in the DC area) to essentially act as hired help as they patrol the malls in their stroller SUVs. I then find it funny to read about working moms who either complain b/c their "DH" won't "let them" NOT work or feel all high and mighty because their salary "allows" them the luxuries they can't quite bring themselves to defend (rockville granite top straddler with the self-alleged "nice rack" notwithstanding .. though I have my doubts about the rack claim too).

Finally, I then get a whole heaping helping of "I worked hard" or "you should work harder" etc .. where $$ is equated with how hard you work (again, no one noticed I also mentioned I not only have a college degree but WORKED MY WAY through college to get it). The self-righteousness just oozes out of these people but we have no way of knowing (because again, this is all anonymous, whether you put a made up name like "Lieu" or "Sam" or just post without one) if, for example, these people came into money, had their educations paid for, etc etc ... It's just alot of self-justifying moralizing and name calling to make themselves feel better about being crass consumers ....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 10:38 AM

Clearly you are against consumerism in general and conspicuous consumption specifically. You have your opinion, but not everybody is ashamed of wanting things, no matter how many times you repeat it (how many times did you refer to the freakin' countertops?). For some people, life is made better by nice things. The guilt you force on them has no effect.

If I hated consumerism, I certainly wouldn't be living in D.C.--it is a mecca for spending. Why don't you live in Montana or South Dakota? Then you'd at least be spared the vision of these people everyday. Unlike many of us who are tied to D.C. because of our jobs, you could probably easily find a job in any part of the country, maybe even using your degree.

Posted by: To 10:38 | August 10, 2006 11:01 AM

Many people who posted here seem to feel that they are having a hard time even though they are making --what seems to some people to be --a lot of money. I wonder whether those people think they wouldbe better off if they made twice as much?

I know the people making $23000 would be better off.

There are a couple of posts that mention buying at thrift stores, renting small apartments, never eating out, not having a car, not being able to save for retirement, having an unexpected doctor visit be a real financial problem. What is surprising that they got few responses. Perhaps the peope who are truly well off don't want to think about poor or near-poor people.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 11:16 AM

Ok 11:01 have it your way ..

Moen Faucets
Hermes Scarves
Solid Oak Floors
Coach Cell Phone Sleeves
Cell Phones for 7 year olds ...

need I go on?

You both miss and prove the point. The part you miss is that if you read this lame blog you will read endless and whiny posts from "SAHMs" who have the luxury of not working while "raising" their kids and then have the temerity to complain about things that those of us who are LITERALLY "just scraping by" can't even contemplate .. how the Hamptons vacation got ruined (Leslie's boo hoo of a few days ago) or how someone else's kid had a fancier 4th birthday party, or how "DH" has to travel too much (no doubt with younger female companionship he he).

It is this odious self-pity and lack of understanding for what "real problems" look like (i.e. not having health insurance, one car repair blowing your entire checking account, not taking a vacation in years, etc ..) that causes people like me to respond. I have the advantage of seeing people like this ALL THE TIME in my job. I also have friends, just like me, college GRADUATES who are working in retail fields because they DO WANT TO take care of themselves and "WORK HARD" and see people 10-15 years older then them who are so out of touch with any sort of financial reality that it literally makes us wretch, laugh and cry.

When these same people then spend countless hours bemoaning their lives and how they wish (fill in the blank ..hubby would help more, he'd "let" me stay at home, the nanny stinks, etc ...) it has to be called out for what it is. Not to mention the fact that ALL of these women made the CHOICE to have these children and now don't like the consequences.

If you want to spend your disposable income on all this stuff, be my guest, but kindly separate out your admitted consumerism from the real issue which is at the core ... that people with money who complain about luxuries and discretionary buying most of us can't do come of as elitist and self-centered.

PS ... If you look at many of these self-justifiers, you see an admission that they DO spend their money on this. So while I might be generalizing, the admissions seem to bear me out.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 11:42 AM

To Today's lesson -

I saw the post and thought, wow, maybe I'll get some new ideas. What I started to read and then skimed, saddened me.

So, in the hopes that someone else out there is looking for ideas as I was, I'll offer what I can.

Background: I am a single mom (no child support, no family nearby). Fives years ago, I moved to Arlington, only to be laid off a week later. It was around Sept 11th, and I quickly found that finding a job was not as easy as it had been in the past. So... I worked retail and other jobs to subsidize my savings... I didn't know how long it would be before I couldn't afford my rent. A year later, I met an executive in the store I was working at - he hired me . I was in the right place at the right time.

So, how to balance my life? I have a 9-6 job during the week. I use my vacation/sick time to make it to my childs events (games/plays/recitals/etc.) I also work on the weekend, in that same retail establishment. My child is 9 now, old enough to stay at home alone for two hours (per arlington county law). On the weekend, she goes to various friends houses. When she was younger, I got a college student to live with me. I didn't pay her...we had a trade. She had her own room (my child and I shared a room), I cooked for her, she had full access to everything that was mine, used my car (it's old but it runs!) to go to school and even had a job during school hours. She watched my child for 3 hours M-F and occasionally on the weekends. Never nights - I was (am) on a budget - can't splurge on a night out.

Do I consider myself poor? No. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, a job, and a car. My luxury splurges include music lessons and soccer fees for my child; oh and my internet service. I keep track of every expense. I actually carry a notebook in my purse and write down every purchase, even if it is a 99 cent slurpee that my child wants on an especially hot day.

Slowly, I have paid off all of the debt that I accrued when I was unemployed....a feat in an of itself, and something I am very proud of. I have started saving - $1 a day adds up to $365 a year down the road...I want to take a trip to Italy in five years...I'll have $1825 saved up by then ($2117 since I have it in an HSBC savings account with 5% interest that I opened.

Some other tips to save/survive on less:

-Don't go to the movie theatre. If you must see movies, try Netflix.
-Skip the Starbucks. Get a coffe machine and wait until coffee beans are buy one get one free at the grocery store.
-Use coupons
-Check out sites like mommysavers.com
-Sign up for free samples. I haven't bought toothpaste, razors, shampoo (for myself), deoderant, etc in years! Companys will send you samples, you just have to request them.
-Never make a big purchase on something without researching it first. The internet is a valuable tool. If you don't have a computer or access, find a library.
-Never buy anything at regular price.
-Shop thrift stores/cosignment shops/etc.
-Drop the gym membership, go running outside instead.
-Don't buy shoes unless you really need them!
-Buy jeans/pants/dresses for your child that are too long. Take a few minutes and take up the hem. Let it out when you need to, a steam iron works wonders!
-Skip the salon. Do your nails yourself and get a trim at a discount hair place if need be.
-Get a part time job at a store you shop at regularly, you get a little extra money and you get an employee discount.
-Pack your lunch.
-NEVER EVER EVER use the vending machine. Keep a bag of munchies at your desk.
-Many offices have tea and coffee...in the summer, use two teabags in one small cup of water and then pour it over ice after 5 minutes. Instant iced tea -- free.
-If you are in DC - go visit the museums, or walk the monuments! there are so many free activities in this town!
-see how much money you waste. check out the latte factor calculator on finishrich.com

Balance is making the best of what you have and being happy with yourself.Sure, I dream of the big house and the new car... it will come one day :)

I can think of much more right now but I am off my break so I have to get back to work.

Oh, and to respond the the many postings on "retail workers hate the customers" - my two cents.... I speak to everyone at my weekend job, I always smile... and I never look down on them....almost all of the time. The ones that get under my skin are the ones that act better than me. I could be misreading them, but it is hard not to notice the "I'm so much better than you retail scum." Not everyone acts that way, but when they do it hurts. However, I still address them as sir or maam. I just keep hoping that maybe they are just having a bad day. Unfortunately not everyone can let it go or rationalize it as easily.

Back to the balance in my life - my child and I are happy... I splurge on some little things, and we don't need for anything. All this on under $50,000 a year... and renting a house in N. Arlington (I could move to a "cheaper" town but I moved here for the schools)... and you have to make sacrifices depending on what is important to you and your family.... it isn't easy...but it is possible.

I hope someone reading this post gets some ideas from me.

Posted by: My Two Cents | August 10, 2006 11:56 AM

'All this on under $50,000 a year.'

Do you have any ideas for the 'under #30,000 a year' crowd ?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 12:13 PM

To MyTwoCents,

Thank you very much! An excellent post to the blog and one that (after some 300+) got the well exhausted blog back onto the track it was originally intended as (instead of the class warfare that started).

I personally think that you have successfully found many options for that "Balance". I also think you're very smart. You've made the most of the cards you've been dealt and I hope you get your trip to Italy!

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 10, 2006 12:30 PM

My Two Cents:

What a terrific post. Thank you for all the suggestions and for offering an upbeat perspective on having/not having. You're an inspiration.

Posted by: pittypat | August 10, 2006 12:36 PM

" I could be misreading them, but it is hard not to notice the "I'm so much better than you retail scum." Not everyone acts that way, but when they do it hurts."

Its funny, because I get exactly the opposite when I walk into many stores in malls around the area, Tysons specifically. If I am not dressed up (at least slacks and a nice shirt), I get completely ignored by the sales personnel in favor of the people who "look richer". I've actually left stores and refused to shop there again (Bailey, Banks & Biddle in Fair Oaks while looking for an engagement ring years ago) because they ignored us while we stood in front of engagement rings for about 10 minutes and they stood in the corner laughing amongst themselves.

Posted by: Jolie | August 10, 2006 12:43 PM

To My Two Cents:

Great post. Regarding finances, one thing I did right out of college, about 20 years, a marriage, and two kids ago, was to go to happy hours with food, buy a $1 beer, and eat dinner. That doesn't work so well with families, though.

To anonymous:

Point taken. I'm luckier than most, so shouldn't complain that I couldn't stay home with my kids, regardless of the reason why I couldn't. But consider my posting in terms of past blogs. There are a lot of SAHMs who ardently believe that any family can get by on one income, and that those who do not simply do not want to give up their standard of living. Then there are many people who correctly point out that having a choice is a luxury, and that for most families there is no choice but to have both parents work one or more jobs. I was pointing out that there are situations where the parents disagree as to what their flexibility is and what the priorities should be. But doing so brought back some old feelings of sadness, so I'm guilty as charged on whining.

On a minor point, I agree on it being ridiculous what some people spend money on. Whenever I see a kid in a Burberry outfit (once or twice a year) I think "My God, that family has too much money." If they don't spit up on it, they'll outgrow it in a few months anyway. Once a year I go to Nordstrom's because my mother gets me a gift card there for Christmas. The last time I was there I heard a woman on her cell phone talking about how she was going to have to get a new driver. That completely floored me. I imagine a steady diet of people with that lifestyle, and attitude, would really get to you. (I mean "you" in a generic sense, not "you" personally.) Anyway, the good news is that I hate shopping, and only go about four times a year (when the kids need new clothes in the spring and the fall, before the holidays, and when I go to Nordstrom's once a year), so you shouldn't ever have to deal with me. Not that I'm that difficult in person.

Posted by: Sam | August 10, 2006 12:55 PM

To Jolie:

I should have been more clear when I made my retail comment. You are absolutely right. In the more upscale stores, the sales people do look down on those that are not "dressed rich". I too have walked out of many stores for that reason. In fact, out of principal, I dress down when I am making a big ticket purchase. I figure if they are going to get a commision, I want the nice salesperson to get it!

My retail comment was made in regards to places the grocery store or target... shops where you get a mix of poor and rich.

Posted by: My Two Cents | August 10, 2006 12:59 PM

The only reason you are "only" seeing baby burberry 1-2 times a year is because you "only" go shopping 3-4 times a year. It's a very PC answer to say ..well some see it this way and some see it that way. Again, my postings are being misread. I don't begrudge you your bluetooth enabled cell-phones or your caramel machiatto (sp.?) but PLEASE for the love of all that is good and decent in the world, don't post about how god awful your life is because (and I won't run down the laundry list but .. the Hamptons vacation, the nanny who got fired, DH won't agree on a color palette for the new, remodeled kitchen, blah blah blah). It's ALL so self-absorded like you're filling your lives (and McMansions!) with material things because there is obviously some hole in your personal lives that is being filled.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 1:09 PM

that is NOT being filled ...sorry

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 1:10 PM

that is NOT being filled ...sorry

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 1:11 PM

Sam -

I do splurge on myself a little and hit the happy hours once in a while now, when my child is spending the night with a friend. I get a few beers and some food for under $10! Not bad for a night out :)

Posted by: My Two Cents | August 10, 2006 1:15 PM

I think my last post WAS acknolwedging that I shouldn't be complaining. I give up.

Posted by: Sam | August 10, 2006 1:18 PM

'All this on under $50,000 a year.'

Do you have any ideas for the 'under #30,000 a year' crowd ?


Well??????????????????????????
Is anyone going to address this?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 1:24 PM

I have tried to post this a few times, but it isn't coming up. So, I apologize in advance if I am double (or triple) posting.

To "'All this on under $50,000 a year.'

Do you have any ideas for the 'under #30,000 a year' crowd ?"

Follow the same principles. I lived on less than $15,000 that year after I lost my job. I did go to Salvation Army once. December of 2001. It was a hard pill for me to swallow. We lived off of ramen noodles and lots of generic cereal and pasta. I grew tomatos in my kitchen. We also drank tons of water.

The extra money I make now pays for the luxuries I couldn't afford before. The music lessons, soccer, internet access, treats for my child one in a while. Back then, I was not able to save or afford what I consider luxuries, but I was able to live. Even where I live is a luxury. The extra money I make now lets me live in a neighborhood of my choice.

My list of suggestions was just that. I wasn't trying to upset anyone. 80% of the Average Median Income where I live is a little over $80,000. So my statement on how much I pull in from my two jobs was just a number to show where I fell in the economic spectrum. I know that when I became overwhelmed with my lack of funds, I was grasping at ideas as to how am I going to make it.

I started scrimping and I haven't stopped. That is why I am able to save now that I have a better job, instead of falling into the trap of making more money and still complaining/whining about where it all go. I can account for every penny I bring home.

My heart goes out to the families that are struggling. More so when children are involved. But, I feel that each family is responsible to make choices that benefit them. It is really hard to make ends meet. My list (and my post really) was just a list of ideas that worked for me. It isn't easy seeing the extravagant lifestyles of my childs friends families... but I don't lament over it. I know that I make more than many people out there. I know that I could save even more if I got a roommate. But I choose not too. Yes, that is another luxury. Some people don't have that choice. A few years ago, I almost didn't.

My car "died" last month. I was about to have a meltdown but then I remembered what I always tell my child - "Take a deep breath, and calm down." Several deep breaths later....So my car wasn't working. The metro is a two mile walk. Work is an 8 mile walk. Yes, it would be a pain, but it is doable. This isn't the end of the world. After calming down, I pulled out my trusty manual, troubled shooted, found out I needed a new starter and started calling junkyards. $50 and a little elbow grease and it is running again. I wasn't happy about spending the money, but it didn't kill me. In simple financial terms (for me), that's a little less than saving $1 a day for 2 months.

My point is, I have a choice every morning when I wake up. I have a choice as to how I let the trials and tribulations of life get to me. I can be grateful for what I have and be happy... or I can be stressed out and miserable. I hold myself fully accountable for everything in my life. I don't hate the stereotypical "haves" because if you really take a long hard look, all of us are "haves". Almost all of us have seen or know someone that has less than us. Unexpected and bad things happen. Balance is how you choose to deal with it. I don't think that there is anything wrong with wanting more. On that note, being upset and obsessing about not having more is counterproductive. Where there is a will, there is a way. I truly believe that.

Posted by: My Two Cents | August 10, 2006 1:30 PM

YEA! Thank you for a honest and wonderful post from someone who until just recently worked two jobs in order to continue to pay student loans (finally got my high paying job! :) ) Thank you for putting it all into perspective for many on this blog, who do not understand what it's like not to have that $5 in your pocket for a cup of coffee (NOT passing judgment on someone - just an intersting conversation that I had with my best friend who grew up in a much different financial situation).

The house and the car will come someday! Me, once I pay off my student loans, I am buying a super pretentious car and you know what anon poster, I'm not going to care what people think and I will be proud of it!! Because I can *finally* have some blatent ridiculous consumerism! :)

Posted by: To my two cents... | August 10, 2006 1:30 PM

"The only reason you are "only" seeing baby burberry 1-2 times a year is because you "only" go shopping 3-4 times a year. "

I go shopping all the time. Seriously, I am at some sort of shopping establishment (and not groceries) almost every saturday and sunday. I don't think I have ever seen a burberry baby outfit. I may just not know what one looks like, or may be entirely too unobservant, but I've never seen one. And I was even at Nordstroms buying baby shoes this weekend and don't think I saw a burberry baby outfit.

Posted by: Jolie | August 10, 2006 1:42 PM

To my two cents,
You are an inspiration and an example to all of us. Thank you for your thoughtful advice and insightful perspective. Your child is lucky to have such a parent. And I do agree with you that in life, we all have choices about how we deal with our challenges. Some would call you lucky, but I would say that you are smart. I hope you get your trip to Italy, and many more thereafter.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 1:44 PM

'All this on under $50,000 a year.'

Do you have any ideas for the 'under #30,000 a year' crowd ?

=====

Some tips from my sister who is a divorced, half-time mom (she and ex-BIL each have 3 or 4 days/week with my niece). She works in the floral shop of her local supermarket and probably makes about $20-25K/year.

She lives in an apartment across the street from the shopping center where she works. She walks to and from work and very rarely uses her car (mostly for things dealing with my niece). For dinner, she often goes to the deli department of the supermarket and gets items that cannot be reheated and will be tossed. She gets much of that for free. She used to spend more on photography, but she invested in a digital camera now and e-mails photos instead of printing and sending. She makes her own birthday/holiday cards instead of buying them. She usually uses photos of her and her daughter for the cards. She makes her birthday and holiday gifts instead of buying them.

Other tips, for movies, share things like a netflicks subscription with another friend and each pay half, then trade the movies back and forth until you return them.

My mother taught us when we were kids to buy in bulk when a non-perishable item is on sale. She never bought household supplies or non-perishable staples for full price. When making dinner, make enough for several meals, freeze in individual serving plastic containers. Meals are often cheaper to make if made in larger quantities.

If Internet is one of your few luxuries, then get Vonage for your phone service. It's cheaper for your local/long distance than regular phone service. Once you are already paying for Internet service, take advantage of it. And you can also shop via E-Bay. Frequently, even paying shipping, you can get better deals on many items that you need for less. It's like an electronic thrift store sometimes.

Sorry I don't have more, but these are things that I've culled from my sister when I've chatted with her...not from interviewing her for this posting.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 10, 2006 1:50 PM

Also, do your grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday mornings around lunchtime when they put the sample trays out - that way you get a free lunch.

Posted by: Jolie | August 10, 2006 1:53 PM

And to anyone yearning for granite counters, if your counters aren't too large, you can get surplus scrap from bigger jobs at way discounted prices. That's how I got mine. You don't have to be rich to have nice things. You just need to be a little resourceful.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 1:54 PM

Holy I don't know what.
Did I stumble into the 'Hints from Heloise' column?
Be resourceful and you, too, can have granite counters. Buy non-perishables in bulk.
Yikes! What about health care? Retirement?

Posted by: Amazed | August 10, 2006 2:05 PM

To anonymous poster:

Come on, now. I'm pretty much in agreement with you on a lot of things, but you're making it impossible for people to engage with you.

You say: "but PLEASE for the love of all that is good and decent in the world, don't post about how god awful your life is because (and I won't run down the laundry list but .. the Hamptons vacation, the nanny who got fired, DH won't agree on a color palette for the new, remodeled kitchen, blah blah blah). It's ALL so self-absorded like you're filling your lives (and McMansions!) with material things because there is obviously some hole in your personal lives that is being filled."

But nobody has been whining about these things, and no one has even mentioned them since yesterday afternoon.

Some of these folks are trying really hard to connect with you, sympathize, learn something, but you keep throwing the same worn-out accusations back at them.

How is it possible for people to learn about you and find out if they share opinions or circumstances if you insist on rebuilding the same wall over and over again?

Posted by: pittypat | August 10, 2006 2:06 PM

To My Two Cents:

Thank you so much for your postings. You had a lot of useful things to say. I found following the blog yesterday fairly depressing. And useless.

To anonymous poster:

You say you're not bitter. Well, I hope you're happier in real life than you are on the blog. And hopefully you can find some better outlets for your issues than slamming anyone who dares complain even though others may have it much worse. Especially since I can't tell that you said anything helpful for people trying to live/balance their lives with children at whatever income level.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 2:10 PM

If you cannot afford insurance and live in MD, your kids are likely to be eligible for insurance paid by the state. If you are young and in good health, you might be able to afford an individual plan under an HMO. These tend to be the least expensive. If your wife is pregnant and you can't afford insurance, she can also be eligible for insurance paid by the state during her pregnancy. If you want to save for retirement, put whatever you can afford a month in a Roth IRA, even if it's only $10.00 a month. It adds up. But if you don't think you can do it, your probably can't. It all begins in your mindset.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 2:12 PM

If you spent as much time actually trying to solve your problems as you do whining about them or blaming other people for them, you probably would be much better off. Sorry dude, you don't have my sympathy. You are the kind of person who will be unhappy no matter what. Trying to help you is a waste of time and energy.

Posted by: to anonymous poster | August 10, 2006 2:18 PM

Re: "the Hamptons vacation got ruined"

Actually i got had the opposite reaction to Leslie's post. She was sayig that the vacation wasn't going as she had hoed, then to top it off some jerk was blasting loud music-- then, suddenly, miraculously, she realized it was Paul Figgin' Simon playing live! Far from being "boo hoo" this was a transcendent moment for her.

On the otherhand, I'm the one accused of wearing rose colored glasses, so maybe you are right and she was PO'ed.

Posted by: Capitol Hill mom | August 10, 2006 2:19 PM

(Amazed)
Did I stumble into the 'Hints from Heloise' column?
Be resourceful and you, too, can have granite counters. Buy non-perishables in bulk.
Yikes! What about health care? Retirement?

=====

Those are good ideas to plug and to work on, but hardly something that can be solved in a Blog. Those are items which require work in the workplace and politics. I'm not sure what you are looking for, but I certainly am not interested in a discussion about politics or the policies of this party or that.

The originally topic was on balancing work and home issues for lower income Moms and how to do so on a limited income. Despite the fact that some of the tips may be obvious, and may sound like a Hints from Heloise column, these are items which can certainly help anyone save a little to change their personal economics and try to alleviate some of the pressures of paycheck-to-paycheck.

Although talk about health care, benefits and retirement are good things to work on, how does this help the short term interests of hourly wage earning parents? Let's face it, blogs are not the place for long term political or workplace initiatives and certainly people are not going to look for that (long term solutions) in an article/blog about balancing work vs home for lower income mothers.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 10, 2006 2:24 PM

The point is most of us can't even RELATE to a hamptons vacation. As for whining, I encourage whoever said people don't use this board to complain to go read prior threads about life in the suburbs.

2 cents is a good, no, great example of a person who made the right choices and I have a great deal of admiration for her.

Rockville, you need to hop off your granite countertops before you get saddle sore.

As for whoever is going to buy a pretentious car, I'm reminded of what an old boss once told me ... anyone can make a car payment. Not that you need my advice, but go for practical over pretentious.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 2:25 PM

To Capitol Hill mom:

Yes, I had the same reaction to Leslie's story. Definitely not a boo-hoo. Rather, one of those Eureka! moments when you climb out of yourself and recognize some magic happening in your life.

Those moments are precious.

Posted by: pittypat | August 10, 2006 2:25 PM

You know what anonymous, I rarely tell people this, but you are a waste of flesh, bone and blood. Go crawl back under the rock you came from. If your situation sucks, it's because you are feeling too sorry for yourself to do anything about it. If you can't help yourself, why should anyone else bother with you. As the British say, Piss off!

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 2:30 PM

Sticks and stones "rockville" .. and I mean really ...you live in Rockville .. not Potomac, so you're granite can't be THAT good ha ha.

PS .. Again, reading comprehension. I have a job, I have my own home, I pay my own bills, I have my college degree and I work hard. Just because greedy consumerism is exposed for what it is, and you don't care for it that much, gives you no right to judge me or the choices I make in my life. If you can't take the heat, Rockville, stay out of the kitchen (but you can't can you ..because that's where your precious granity counter tops are ha ha).

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 2:53 PM

This would be my very first, non-hand-me- down from family car - but it will both practical and pretentious! (This is about 3 years away, so once I have everything paid off I have a feeling that I will have NO DESIRE to buy anything that expensive or wasteful, but for now....)

And I am the only one who keeps picturing Rockville straddling her granite countertops - big rack and all?

Posted by: car | August 10, 2006 3:01 PM

Ride 'em cowgirl ....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:04 PM

She used to spend more on photography, but she invested in a digital camera now and e-mails photos instead of printing and sending.

See, this is what I mean. She has a digital camera. Hello--these things are not cheap.
This is truly a yuppy hint-- save money by buying a digital camera!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:09 PM

If you want to save for retirement, put whatever you can afford a month in a Roth IRA, even if it's only $10.00 a month. It adds up. But if you don't think you can do it, your probably can't. It all begins in your mindset.

News FLash For Rockville----there are people who cannot afford 'only $10 a month' in an IRA. And it's not because they don't think they can do it.

Posted by: Clue bus | August 10, 2006 3:16 PM

Eat your heart out anonymous. In the end, you know that you lust after digital cameras, nice cars, granite countertops, and most of all, friendship.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:18 PM

If Michelle Singletary's Big Mama could do it, than so can others.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:20 PM

Rockville can't come to her computer right now, she's wiping the drool off her granite countertops.

3:18 ..I've got plenty of friends, we spend many hours drinking cheap beer and swapping tales from the crypt ..I mean the Tyson's Corner Mall ... of you and the rest of the SUV Armada that infests our lives 7 days a week. Like I said, you can't argue, you don't read my posts, so you just name call and fail to defend your position.

After thoroughly wiping the rhetorical floor with all of you, I am going to contact "arlington" and find out about getting me one of them fancy LAW degrees and REALLY sell out ha ha ha ha

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:22 PM

Now that's a witty comeback, anonymous. Running out of cheap shots?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:26 PM

proud to be (and love being!) a lawyer and if you read all of my posts you would get a clue as to who i am and where i come from. everyone hates lawyers until they need one.

as for the digital camera, we bought one for my mother who could not afford to develop all of the pictures she took - something that she loves to do; so actually, buying the camera is MUCH cheaper in the long run than paying to develop the pictures you take if you take a lot of pictures.

Posted by: arlington here | August 10, 2006 3:41 PM

Anon, your points seem to be that (1) consumerism is bad and (2) people who are well off should have nothing to complain about. Your support for this point is that people who make less money have a lot more reasons to complain. Now, I'm going for brevity, not repitiion, so I hope you can agree that those are the bones of your posts.

But pointing out that the things high-income moms complain about are way out of your orbit does not mean they don't exist. I don't have to worry about losing money in stocks, but someone richer than me does! My indifference to their problems does not mean that they don't exist, or that that person doesn't get to complain! Sheesh, if I made the rules NO ONE would be allowed to complain.

And for the record, I can't believe you're complaining about working at a mall being surrounded by wealth. Don't you know that there are people starving in Africa who have never had the opportunity to earn money to support their families? You admire My Two Cents, but she's complaining about her car breaking down! Doesn't she know that there are people in Latin America who have never--and will never--own a car?!?!

Maybe in your book all it takes to "be allowed" to complain is first recognizing how lucky you are and being grateful. And you have no way of knowing if those women you despise wake up every morning and thank the Lord.

And, for the record, all the asides about cheating husbands and misguided sexual desire make me think you watch WAY too much T.V. Life is not the O.C. or Desparate Housewives.

Posted by: Meesh | August 10, 2006 3:49 PM

as for the digital camera, we bought one for my mother who could not afford to develop all of the pictures she took - something that she loves to do; so actually, buying the camera is MUCH cheaper in the long run than paying to develop the pictures you take if you take a lot of pictures.

Watch out here comes another clue bus. Read this very carefully even though it comes from a poor person: Some people cannot afford digital cameras. Some people cannot afford photography PERIOD>

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:51 PM

Well I think that if a person's big worry is losing money in the stock market that that person is pretty well off. There are other people whose biggets worries are how to pay rent and get their car fixed. (Please do not tell them to whip out the owner's manual and fix it themselves.)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 3:54 PM

Anon, you have not used a single rhetorical device in any of your posts. You've used repitition (countertops), but not to prove a point, only to amuse.

And rhetoric is a tool, so the best way to say what you mean is maybe "using my rhetorical broom to wipe the floor", although I don't see where we come in...

Posted by: Meesh | August 10, 2006 3:55 PM

And some people don't have food or clean water to drink, or roofs over their heads, or jobs, or safe countries to live in. Some people can't read, and some people have incurable diseases, or curable diseases but no money to get treatment. Yes, the world can be a god-awful place. But my feeling depressed about that is not going to help any of these people. We all live our lives and have our own concerns. We do what we can to make the world a better place. Maybe buying a digital camera is not a money saving option for you, but it might be for someone else. Why don't you get that there are all kinds of people out there, rich, poor and in between, and that no one is going to make the world a better place by feeling sorry for anyone else. My feeling bad that I have a home and food won't solve the problem of people who don't. People starving in third world countries could also tell you to stop belly aching that you can't afford a digital camera because they don't have clean water to drink. What is your point other than this self-centered pity party where you want everyone to feel bad that you don't have as much as they do? What do you want from others? That they stop shopping at Tysons. Sorry, aint going to happen, and if it did, you would be out of a job. Do you even know what you want, other than to complain?

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 3:56 PM

It was always a priority for my mother, so she figured out a way to afford it (usually by sucking it up and bringing the film in all at the same time which made it worse).

I don't really understand where this chip on anon's shoulder is coming from. I grew up with nothing and luckily, now as an adult, am not in the same financial position as I was. But you know what, even growing up, I was thankful for what I had and always knew that things could be worse. But I never had this horrible attitude that anon had. The worst thing is that I actually agree wiht you on many things (i.e. having no sympathy for someon who could not buy a house until they were over 30), but your argument gets lost in your words.

Posted by: arlington | August 10, 2006 3:58 PM

Oh no! My granite counter got sticky when Buffy spilled her Starbucks Frappachino on it this afternoon.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 3:59 PM

Someone suggested that poor people could save money by buying digital cameras instead of getting film developed. I am poor and I cannot aford photography at all.
Whoever gave this money-saving hint has no idea what it is to be poor.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:01 PM

Money-saving hint: Get rid of your Mercedes and buy a Kia.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:02 PM

Another hint: cancel the country club membership.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:03 PM

There is an imposter on the blog. Plus, we don't go to Starbucks. We like Caribou. We only do Starbucks when we're slumming it in the Hamptons.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 4:03 PM

My Pooky doesn't know I've been sneaking to Starbucks.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 4:05 PM

Another money saving hint
get rid of your Kia and walk.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:06 PM

Another money-ssving hint: Give Snookums a nose job this year and let the boob job go til next year.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:07 PM

Another hint: Eat only every other day.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:08 PM

See anonymous, you really do want to be me. They say imitation is a form of flattery. I knew it all along.

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 4:10 PM

Oh Rockville, you silly goose, I'm sure your maid will clean up those precious counter tops.

Meesh - I don't agree with your attempt to encapsulate my argument. For, oh, the fourth time (repitition is needed when dunder heads who feed their minds with daily doses of Tele Tubbies and Disney movies sometimes can be a little thick) I have no problem with consumerism. What I DO have a problem with is the endless postings and missives of people who have (comparitively) so much yet are so disinclined to appreciate it. Who cares if hubby got called away on a business trip while you were summering in the Hamptons. If THAT is the biggest problem you have, then seriously, you need to zip it. Of course even that infringement on the vacation is made up for with the dulcet croonings of Paul Simon. If you're vacationing somewhere that you can here the real Paul Simon LIVE, you have waaay too much time (and money!) on your hands to even blog/post about any problem in your life.

What you call "complaining" I call calling other people on their s**t. Again, I have a home, a degree, a job and pay my own bills. What I find deplorable is the amount of carping among people who really don't have it that bad. True, even I, lowly retail peon that I am, have it much better than someone living in 90 percent of the rest of the world, but there's a level of consumerism (exhibited by the granite countertop fetish) that I (and many I know) see that we find laughable, shallow and lame.

Finally, Meesh, trust me, just look at this string versus today's "controversial" what can we do about stay at home daddies string BORRRRRING ... you all need a bad guy (or girl in this case) a villain to say, we're not so bad, we can justify our digital cameras, our Hamptons vacations, and not feel bad because we can tag this person as "bitter." 90 percent (if not more) of the posts have been in response to issues I and others of the "low powered" class as the URL for this string calls us, have generated. What we've received in return is dumb name calling and a lot of self-justification for why it's ok to be a greedy American.

Stay Classy Rockville and stay off the counter tops until "DH" gets home from well, whatever he does he he

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:11 PM

There is an impostor on the blog. I am anonymous

Posted by: Rockville | August 10, 2006 4:11 PM

Another hint ..stop having DH buy his mistress Victoria's Secret and make her shop off the racks at JC Penney

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:13 PM

OOhh DH and I will be all over the counters tonight, sweetie.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:17 PM

Walmart is good enough for the mistress.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:18 PM

"Someone suggested that poor people could save money by buying digital cameras instead of getting film developed. I am poor and I cannot aford photography at all.
Whoever gave this money-saving hint has no idea what it is to be poor."


You complain about this, after saying you and your friends get together, drink cheap beers and talk about all the people who have more than you do. Did you ever think maybe to someone else cheap beer isnt a priority, but saving for a $100 digital camera is? EVERYONE has things they can afford and can't afford. And the fact is, if someone wants to afford something, over time, they can. MyTwoCents wants to go to Italy (or was it Ireland? I cant remember now) and because of that is saving up for it. It will take her a few years, but she will do it because she WANTS to. Now, she could use that same 1100 or so to take her car to a mechanic instead of fixing it herself - but thats something I bet she would say she couldn't afford, because she didnt actually WANT to afford it. To you, beer is a priority and photography isnt.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 10, 2006 4:18 PM

Love people use things Rockville, not the other way around. I actually feel sorry for you that you need something as superficial and vacuous as a counter top to make you feel good about yourself and your life. Pretty pathetic actually.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:19 PM

huh, last post was incoherent.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:22 PM

To some people $100 is a lot of money.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:24 PM

Incoherent if you aren't college-educated, perhaps. Love people, use things (not love things, use people).

PS ..to cry me a river (love the song, Justin!) I didn't make the comment about the digital camera, so don't lump me in with other people. Yes, I will cop to spending my meager wages on cheap alcohol to drown out the sorrow of life (actually, the image of Rockville straddling her counter top ..blech!) but alas, we all have our vices ...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:26 PM

As the person who suggested the camera, let me reiterate and follow-up.

My sister is a divorced mother who works hourly at a supermarket floral shop. She makes less than $25K/year and the question came up of tips on how to get by on less than $30K/year. The comment was appropriate and was not just another rich yuppie bragging about how to do something someone else cannot. I'm so glad that you speak for all people who make less than $30K that they cannot afford photography. I happen to know several who do. In her area, she makes about 60% of the median income. Is that enough to qualify for the working poor or does she have make less? Although it will be no consolation from her to be told that she has no idea what it's like to be poor.

My sister bought her camera used on E-Bay for <$50. She borrows her boyfriend's computer. He has a used printer that was given to him by an office he used to work for that was upgrading to a better printer and gave it to him rather than trashing it. It's old...it's slow...and it's cheap. It does what she wants. And she uses it to produce birthday cards and gifts that she can afford. She still lives on <$25K/year.

It's amazing that anything from you about living on a budget has to be Gospel and yet anything anyone else says is merely the high and mighty rich talking down to you.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 10, 2006 4:26 PM

"The point is most of us can't even RELATE to a hamptons vacation."

I've never been to the Hamptons, but with her column I just imagined Paul crooning--

'She's got Diamonds on the Souls of her shoes--

and every one here knows what I'm talking about.

Yes every one her knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about . . ."

. . . while he's helping to raise money for a charity.

So sad if most people can't relate to that, but it isn't Leslie's fault if that's the case. And I personally thank her for sharing her that precious moment.

"And I can say ooo--oo--oo-oooo . . ."

Posted by: capitol Hill mom | August 10, 2006 4:26 PM

There's a thought, anonymous. If you can't afford Prozac, just drink beer. Maybe you as a drunk would be an improvement (can't get much worse than this).

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:26 PM

Rockville wrote: "Oh no! My granite counter got sticky when Buffy spilled her Starbucks Frappachino on it this afternoon."

Oh, the humanity! Not your counter tops too!!! (:-4)

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 10, 2006 4:28 PM

Right, I'll get me a good buzz on, go down to my local welfare office, and get me some good government cheese, walk over to arlington lawyer's house, learn about chasing ambulances and then I can get a big McMansion so I can live next door to DadWannaBe and we can laugh at the tiny little counter tops that Rockville has while we share stock tips and take digital pictures of each other with our fancy cameras.

Maybe we can invite Sam and Lieu over and have an stroller SUV bike race while Buffy keeps the Frapaccino's cool in our Sub Zero refrigerator/freezer.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:28 PM

'repitition' does not equal 'repetition' - please use that degree!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:29 PM

Anonymous,

If you're such a "lowly retail paeon," how is it that you've had the time, space, and privacy to literally dominate this blog for two solid days? Either you've got two days in a row off or you're writing from work. If the former, and you're spending all your time off spewing on this blog, then that's pathetic. If the latter, then you've got a better work deal than most people.

You're losing the sympathy of the few of us who have felt any.

Posted by: pittypat | August 10, 2006 4:33 PM

back when I was eating gov't cheese you didn't get it at the welfare office, so no such picking it up there.

And I have a funny feeling you have never eaten a piece of government cheese in your life.

Posted by: arlington | August 10, 2006 4:35 PM

To no-name angry poster-

You keep mentioning:

1. that you worked hard and put yourself through college

2. that you dislike the customers at your store

So why don't you get a different job where you had less interaction with the consumer public? I don't mean that snarky, I mean it literally. I have a friend who also put herself through college and after many retail jobs came to the conclusion that she was just not meant for the stupid questions and people, which is how she felt about retail-- I on the other hand am a people person, so I loved working retail...except when they threw their money on the counter or talked on cell phones through the whole encounter.

Others have mentioned getting a job using your degree and I too am going to suggest that. If you had a college degree and enjoyed retail I would say, "more power to you if it makes you happy" but you seem to despise it and having a degree gives you a fall back that many retail employees don't have.

Posted by: just sayin' | August 10, 2006 4:37 PM

PP - Retail = 7 days a week of possible work. I'll be slaving away saturday and sunday, don't you worry. I know you all will miss me because really, what good is the story without the foil? I'm going to make a nice govt. cheese sandwich now and maybe wash it down with some cheap beer and prozac.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:38 PM

Sorry - I don't have a stroller, a SUV, or a bike. Or any combination of those things. (What's an SUV stroller? I wondered about that when I saw it in an earlier post). And I enjoy racing about as much as I enjoy shopping.

Posted by: Sam | August 10, 2006 4:39 PM

Anonny,

7 days of possible work isn't the same thing as working 7 days. But my point is, why spend huge chunks of valuable spare time at a computer arguing with people?

Posted by: pittypat | August 10, 2006 4:39 PM

Because his/her life is pathetic. Duh!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:41 PM

Just sayin ....just sayin, that I appreciate your comments and I do spend my limited time (when I'm not being how did you put it Rockville ..being a waste of flesh, bone and blood?) looking for other jobs, but in case some didn't notice, the economy is not that great right now, and instead of being a parasite on society, as some have suggested people who don't make a lot of money are being, I am TRYING to do the right thing by working full-time, paying my bills, etc... I mean, I can't be put in the Catch-22 of being criticized for not moving to Montana to get away from the crass consumerism while also being criticized for providing my own observations about what I see. I don't know what your retail experience was, but I'm in management, so I get to deal with ALL the money-slap-down-on-the-counter types who are already in a snit because the clerk who tried to explain (fill in the blank ..w/o a receipt we can't give you anything but store credit, we don't accept returns that have obviously been used, etc...) the answer has been shushed. Again, could I be that clerk, who only makes $7/hour? Sure ..but then I wouldn't be able to pay my bills, and that's what I'm trying to do. For those of us who rarely get the opportunity to SPEAK UP and SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER about what we see in yuppified DC, I can't think of a better way to have spent my "weekend"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:44 PM

It's funny ..it's more comfortable to label me "pathetic" or to tell me to go on Prozac instead of examining your own lives and how you've allowed your desire for material wealth to consume you. Trust me, poor and happy (and happy to mock you every minute I am standing at my god-forsaken but paying-the-bills job) I will take over eating a crumb of food of your precious counter tops or sipping your overpriced coffee.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:48 PM

Wow, that is pathetic. Maybe you need something stronger than prozac. You should consider a lobotomy.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:49 PM

I'll take the lobotomy suggestion under advisement. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go meet Rockville's DH for a drink ha ha

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 4:54 PM

I worked the lowly end of retail -cafe's, GAP, cd store, video stores, pharmacy, restaurant, hotel clerk. And worked up to manager at 3 of them. So I hear you on getting the already escalated angry customers. But I think the difference between us is that I always thought they were funny and could blow off the inanity of returning used stuff or passed the deadline returns... Those situations really don't faze me and I just think my temperment was suited for working with the public.

From how you have interacted on this blog it seems like you revel in the fight. Maybe if you spent half the energy you have spent on fighting people the last 2 days you might be able to network into a job in your field. You called it luck but I think it all comes down to networking. Everyone I have known who got a good job did it by networking. And staying positive.

Also, you haven't mentioned that I can remember, do you have kids or a spouse to help you?

Posted by: just sayin' | August 10, 2006 4:56 PM

In the interest of full disclosure:

1. I am sorry my grammar has been atrocious, starting sentences with "And" or "But" -- lazy.

2. cafes not cafe's

3. Previously posting as "Pro-Nursing Mama" but can't think of a good moniker, so until I do...

Posted by: just sayin' | August 10, 2006 5:04 PM

Anon can't network into a job. Anyone who knows him hates him.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 5:10 PM

Anon can't network into a job. Anyone who knows him hates him.


So this kind of blows the earlier comments that you just have to work hard to get somewhere, and everyone has opportunities in this country. It really is all about "who you know".

Posted by: 1234 | August 10, 2006 5:16 PM

After reading this blog for a while, I chose to post today in the hopes that maybe some of the things that I tried to live within my means would give someone else ideas. I'll refrain from posting here in the future... I think I will stick to the blogs that are a little less assuming. I would however, like to respond to a few people that made assuming comments about my post.

To Meesh - you wrote, "You admire My Two Cents, but she's complaining about her car breaking down! Doesn't she know that there are people in Latin America who have never--and will never--own a car?!?!"
For the record, I wasn't complaining. If you actually read what I wrote, my first reaction was panic, and then calming down and realizing that I didn't need a car (I could walk to where I needed to go). I was lucky enough to fix it. If I hadn't been able to fix it, I would have done without. I realise that having a car is a complete luxury. I also stated that we are all "haves." Please don't assume that I am not aware of the plights of people that worse off than me in the world. In my first post, I even stated that my child and I were happy and that we didn't need anything, I have two decent jobs, we have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs. In no way was I complaining. I know that I am well off by many standards. I don't have much money to give to various social organizations around the world, but I work soup kitchens often and arrange clothing and food drives at work for a local shelter.

To Cry me a river, you wrote, 'MyTwoCents wants to go to Italy (or was it Ireland? I cant remember now) and because of that is saving up for it. It will take her a few years, but she will do it because she WANTS to. Now, she could use that same 1100 or so to take her car to a mechanic instead of fixing it herself - but thats something I bet she would say she couldn't afford, because she didnt actually WANT to afford it."
It was Italy. Yes, it will take me a few years, longer if I need that money for an emergency. Yes, I could use $1100 to fix my car. It would take me roughly 3 years to save that much though - since I don't have it right now; and despite what you think, fixing a car would come before vacation. I guess the assumption that I didn't WANT to afford to fix my car stabbed a bit. Remember the $50 I used for the starter? That came from my vacation fund. I even said that financially, it equated to a little less than saving $1 a day for two months. I have been "saving" for a vacation, any vacation, for the past 10 years... still haven't gone though because more important things like feeding and clothing my child or taking her to the doctor came up. I am able to save now because I have health insurance and two jobs, but who knows what will happen in the future. Traveling to Italy would be a huge treat for me... saving for it gives me happiness. If I have to use that money on what I consider a neccesity or more important than a trip, I won't (and don't) lose sleep over it.

I am in a much better place today than I was 12 years ago. I didn't complain then and I am not complaining now. By posting today, I was just offering how I balance my life with the means that I have.

I feel drained. I wasn't attacking anyone for their issues, just offering the solutions that worked for me. I wasn't even looking for anyone to response, and I wasn't looking to be judged. I definately wasn't complaining.

To anyone that approached this blog with the hope of getting some ideas, I hope I was able to provide some.

Good luck to all of you on finding balance in your lives. I have mine.

Posted by: My Two Cents | August 10, 2006 5:18 PM

An awful lot of personal attacks here. Does the webmaster remove any?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 5:19 PM

"PP - Retail = 7 days a week of possible work. I'll be slaving away saturday and sunday, don't you worry. I know you all will miss me because really, what good is the story without the foil? I'm going to make a nice govt. cheese sandwich now and maybe wash it down with some cheap beer and prozac."

Out of curiosity, who's computer are you using on your day off, to anonymously post to this blog. I mean, obviously you don't have a computer, so someone is letting you waste your entire day on their computer.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 10, 2006 5:22 PM

To My two cents:

A lot of people on this blog should be ashamed of themselves, but definitely not you. Best of luck to you in the future. The ability to make the best of your situation and still see the reasons for happiness in your life place you head and shoulders above the rest.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 5:25 PM

to My Two Cents-

Your suggestions were good ones and I hope you do make it to Italy sooner rather than later.

You missed cry me a river's sarcastic mocking tone meant for the anonymous poster regarding your car breaking down. She was using your example to further her point and you were caught in the crossfire. I doubt she meant to hurt your feelings or discourage you from coming back.

The point about you "wanted" to pay for Italy but couldn't "afford" the car repair was just semantics but again I doubt the poster meant that you could easily afford anything that was out of your budget. He meant we all make choices about what we deem the "most" important thing to pay for.

You had excellent suggestions that I appreciated. I could only think of two more to add.

1. Do a garden in any yard you have or windowsills (your inside tomatoes are a great idea). Plant basil or tomatoes and you can make pesto pasta or tomato sauce for super super cheap-plus people are impressed when you tell them it is organic and homegrown.

2. Again, if you have a yard or open space inside, hang your laundry to dry instead of running the dryer. I have saved hundreds off our bills by doing this. Takes more time but definitely reduces your bill. I have seen collapsible drying racks at Goodwill.

Posted by: just sayin' | August 10, 2006 5:36 PM

My Two Cents,

Please don't leave. Discussions like this need to have people who are positive and have advice and suggestions to help. It needs someone like you with insight and experience to help contribute to the discussion. What it doesn't need is the negatism and gratuitous insults of "angry anonymous." I truly appreciate and value his/her comments about the snarky, elitist entitled rich jerks who come into his/her shop and insult his/her staff. I would imagine that (s)he treats them professionally and as well as (s)he can and then comes home to take it out on us here on the blog. Interlaced with his/her vitriol were some good comments about attitudes of consumers of retail goods, but (s)he obscured her good points by hiding it in bitter venomous insults.

Don't let someone like that drive you off the blog or basically you're letting someone like that completely kill off any discussion of important topics simply because they can be nastier and chase everyone else away.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | August 10, 2006 5:37 PM

" I guess the assumption that I didn't WANT to afford to fix my car stabbed a bit. Remember the $50 I used for the starter? "

I apologize - I meant that you didn't take it to a mechanic when you could do it yourself and therefore saved that money for something else. Thats all - its all about priorities and figuring what you can and can't do yourself or without when the situation demands.

Posted by: Cry me a river | August 10, 2006 5:42 PM

My two cents,
Please stay. I doubt anyone intended to hurt your feelings. Your contribution was valuable. I think on the whole, most people really appreciated your comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2006 5:43 PM

Anonymous Poster:

You are soooooo not who Susan Nielsen was talking about in her op-ed piece. If you're trying to make yourself out to be the poster-child for the working poor, please just stop already.

Posted by: momof4 | August 10, 2006 6:57 PM

You are a bit abrasive, but not wrong. My guess is that most, if not all, of the people who say they are just scraping by are sacrificing extras, not necessities. Unless you are deciding whether to have food or medicine, light or heat, or which bill you can pay late this month, you don't really know what scraping by is. There is quiet fear and desperation underlying every day life and hoping that nothing unexpected happens. There are many hard-working, honest people who are only 2 missed paychecks away from being hungry or homeless.

Coming home from school and finding a public auction sign on your house and not knowing if you will have a place to live does something to a child. And to the parent who is praying that family and friends can lend some money to save the home, all the time wondering how they will be able to pay back this loan. Being the parent who is doing everything they know how to keep it together on a shoestring is tough. And statements that Big Momma Singletary did it may be true, but it's really not helpful.

My two cents is inspirational because she is sharing the ways that she is managing to keep everything together with dignity.

The suggestion of hang-drying laundry to save money was well intentioned, but the woman is already working two jobs. Aren't there other suggestions that will help make things easier for her without making them harder in another way?

Wish list - castrate men and women who don't take care of their children or throw them in jail or whatever penalty that will be severe enough to deter others from failing to live up to their obligations to their children.

Attorneys and other professionals on this blog who have complained about anon poster - it's obvious you are attorneys because you want to argue everything that is not in your viewpoint - just state your opinion and be done with it - then ignore anon poster if they continue. You lost any respect I had for you when you resorted to name calling, especially Rockville. You really lowered yourself on this blog.

Real-life situations of hardworking people I have known who are living paycheck to paycheck and just not making much money. Things that can panic them that most of you wouldn't even think about.

Buy summer clothes a little big for the kids (thrift store, discount store, etc) in April. Kids have major growth spurt over the summer, return to school in September wearing clothes that are now too small. Hoping for a cool snap so they can wear fall clothes that you have to buy now because they grew so much and nothing fits from last year. Get a letter from the school saying that your daughter can no longer come to school wearing her shorts because they are too short according to the dress code. Really short on money now because the school supply list grows each year.

Receive a county daycare subsidy for low income working people. Get a letter one day that your subsidy is stopping because your home daycare provider didn't get her license renewed (good policy to only subsidize licensed providers). Day care mom never gave you any warning. You are now without daycare faced with having to find a place for your children who don't want to leave because they love the daycare mom. Have to miss work (unpaid leave) in order to care for children until you find someone else and then have to decide if the new provider is really a good fit or if you are just desperate.

Coming home from work in bad weather - couldn't call in because you need the paycheck. Slide on the slippery road and hit a guardrail. Pray that the insurance co will fix the car since you can't afford another if it gets totalled. Pray that the landlord will accept the rent late once again so that you can pay the deductible. Car gets fixed, insurance premium goes up, within a year gas also goes up tremendously. Continue to work hard and hopefully still keep your head above water (barely).

The response to most of these events is similar to two cents worth. Reach down within yourself for whatever reserves you have to keep going on.

Kids clothes too small - Thank God my child is healthy and growing.

Day care problems - A little tougher but still she was grateful she didn't lose her job when she took off a week (unpaid) to make new arrangements.

Car accident - Thank God no one was hurt.

I guess that this post may be considered a rant by some, but I really don't mean for it to be that. I just wish that there was more effort put into trying to figure out solutions and provide helpful suggestions. It seems that most of the effort went into trying to convince other people who was right/wrong.

Everyone should be allowed to complain about things in their life, no matter what their station (we're human after all), but for people who work hard and barely meet their basic needs, it is a little hard to hear that "others have it worse" or "you should work harder/smarter" or my favorite, "network".

I'm the child who came home to the public auction sign on the house. Through the generosity of friends, my mother was able to hang on to the house but we never did much more than scrape by. My lifestyle is much improved over my childhood lifestyle, but I will never forget. And I never think that people who live that way now somehow deserve it because they just haven't done enough.

Posted by: to anon poster | August 10, 2006 10:46 PM

BTW, it was sarcasm, My Two Cents, to make a point. I think you're right on the money and a decent person.

Posted by: Meesh | August 11, 2006 9:07 AM

To 'just sayin':

"3. Previously posting as "Pro-Nursing Mama" but can't think of a good moniker, so until I do..."

-----

Hey, I thought your suggestion of UberBoober was great ! Made me lose my iced tea out my nose....

Posted by: not the same anonymous | August 11, 2006 4:06 PM

Re: UberBoober

Glad to offer some comic relief from the hostility...

Where is the world is Fo4? Doesn't he know we need him for chats like this one?

Posted by: just sayin'--did someone else use this first? | August 11, 2006 10:49 PM

A husband is not "helpful" when he participates in domestic life. It's hard to believe that this construction is appearing again -- perhaps it never left.
It's a core thought about equality.
A husband does the dishes because he lives there. A wife goes to work because she has a job. A husband goes to work because he has a job. A wife changes a diaper because it's dirty.
Don't have husbands being "helpful"--that does not represent partnership, it represents and perpetuates the condescension of power.

Posted by: Language Matters | August 18, 2006 12:31 PM

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