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The Care Crisis > Letters

Web Letter

While I deeply respect Ms Rosen, this article, these heartfelt comments and the dire need to recognize the care crisis in the workplace, I would like to point out that there is going to be no real reform until we start to mention one more component that usually gets overlooked: the professional care provider.

Especially in the field of children's care this is an underpaid, undervalued professional that the working world depends on. The typical working parent expends little effort to bolster the lot of the person they pay to care for their precious children. I don't think that we can lobby for business to support the right for workers to afford quality care for their loved ones without also supporting the caregivers in their quest for respect and fair wages.

I've expounded more on this topic in an article "Be It Ever So Humble" on my website at http://www.joyfulnoisedaycare.com/humble.html

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Christine Bazzett

Traverse City, Mi

Mar 22 2007 - 6:32pm

Web Letter

Wonderful article! But I wished it had talked more about what I see as the major reason Europe has good work-life policies and we don't: Europe bargains its work arrangements collectively, while here in the U.S. we all compete as individuals against each other trying to show we're the "ideal worker."

For the past two years, I've presented a session at the Living Green Expo in the Twin Cities about how our long-hours culture is an environmental issue, a social justice issue, and an issue that affects so many other progressive issues.

In that workshop I've talked at length about how collective action in Europe has brought them shorter workweeks, longer vacations, and better family leave. At the end of last year's workshop, a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties raised her hand in the Q-and-A and said this all made sense to her, but then asked "What can I do as an individual about this?" As an individual. Sigh. I felt like beating my head against the nearest pillar. But I tried to be respectful as I replied that she has lots of company in her generation and that if all of us acted together, we could change things.

Robert Putnam writes in his book Bowling Alone that when it comes to "joining a union," young people may not so much resist the idea of "unions" as the idea of "joining."

Please, if you are a young person who identifies with this article, join something! Find a candidate you can volunteer for or donate to who works on these issues. (They're out there, and they need your support.) Or join Moms Rising (www.momsrising.org). Read Ann Crittenden, Arlie Hochschild, and Joan Williams. Read Ellen Galinsky, Jody Heymann, and Jodie Levin-Epstein. Get informed, get active, and get connected.

The idea that our only avenue for action is as individual consumers is propaganda we've been fed by the right wing since the Reagan years. We can do together what we can't do alone. Indeed, that's the only way we're going to get it done. Treating this as an individual's issue, or an individual family's issue, leads us nowhere.

Anne Nolan

St. Cloud, Minnesota

Mar 10 2007 - 10:35pm

Web Letter

This article validated all the feelings I've had about my own life. I am a lower-middle-class white woman. I have an art degree and have worked since I was 14. At age 33, I still do not feel financially secure enough to start a family because my overall financial situation (employment, health, mortgage, retirement) seems too precarious. Ruth Rosen's assertion that this is not a personal problem, but a national policy problem really resonated. I knew some European countries offered national healthcare to their citizens and mandatory vacation days, but I had no idea just how low the U.S. rated in maternity leave. It's appalling!

My question is: How do we get these Care Crisis issues on the 2008 candidates' platforms? I'm in the process of writing letters to various offices, but don't feel like it's going to accomplish much. The irony of the situatio is that the very people who could benefit from this are too busy to organize!

Knowing my country had policies in place to catch me if I (or a family member) fall would take away some of the risks of starting a family. Otherwise, I don't want to start something I might not be able to uphold.

Jill Hocking

Phoenixville, PA

Mar 9 2007 - 2:03pm

Web Letter

I was very excited to see this cover story. Ruth Rosen does a wonderful job of spelling out the problems, and even though a fair chunk of the issues (caring for elderly parents and children) don't have impact on my own life, enough does to make me angry.

I am 30 years old, single, living in Los Angeles. I have a masters degree--but in film--so naturally, I am working as a bookkeeper. I live month to month, never really able to squirrel away real savings as live in a fairly expensive city, and owe about $55,000 in student loans.

My three older brothers are each married with children, and as such, their lives are richer, better, than mine. Not because of the partner and kids per se, but because they are completely taken care of. They rely on their wives to take care of them and their houses and their children, but I know they don't think of it that way. In addition, extra income from their wives allowed them to pay off their student loans, and invest in property.

Because I am a single woman, working a regular job, I can never aspire to many of the things that my brothers take for granted--home ownership, new cars, my own washer and dryer...

In film school, in my 18-person class, there were only two women, myself and my friend Amy. Many of the men were married, and as such they had a leg up. While we were all expected to work non-stop--on set, in class, in editing bays -- many of the men brought lunches made by their wives, wore clothes laundered by their wives, etc. It's no wonder that Amy, (a heterosexual)once remarked to me that she didn't want a husband, but rather, a wife.

Stacy Horn

Los Angeles, CA

Mar 5 2007 - 3:28pm

Web Letter

I definitely agree with the basic premise of Rosen's article which is that there is an obvious care crisis in America. However, I am surprised that she believes the real solution lies with the Democrats or through electoral campaigns. She says the money is there if we "end tax cuts for the wealthy and reduce expenditures for unncessary wars, space-based weapons and the hundreds of American bases that circle the globe." While all this is true, it is more of a pipe dream and in my opinion, completely unrealistic. Instead of relying and waiting for the the national political agenda to change, we need to start organizing child care alternatives in our own local communities and towns. Start a child care cooperative with friends and neighbors where you take turns watching one another's kids, lobby your company, city or college to provide onsite childcare. Keep up constant complaints to your HMO and change to a different one if possible. This is how real change happens, not, as she says, waiting for large corporations and politicians to finally realize a change is necessary. We'll be waiting a very long time, meanwhile the rent needs to be paid and the children need looking after.

Rachel Aronowitz

Oakland, CA

Mar 4 2007 - 4:22pm

Web Letter

When I first saw this cover I couldn't have felt better that others across the world were reading it; my grandmother and her father had Alzheimer's. Cancer took my brother and my mom, soon my cousin. I am 24 and my office, which was in the World Trade Center, is moving back to Wall Street in a couple months. Mom's older brother and I share the responsibility of my 90 year old grandfather who is sharp as ever but physically, aging.

I know I'm not being paid as much as my male counterparts, but am insured and feel fortunate for that though I don't have much savings. I'm very active with New Jersey, the Rutgers community, America and college campuses in every state. For the last year I worked hard with the director, Dan Lohaus, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Rutgers Film Co-op to arrange the premiere college screening of When I Came Home at Rutgers. Since Presidents' weekend, the film was picked up by The Center for American Progress for a National thirty-campus tour accompanied by American hero Paul Reickhoff.

I keep up a two-bedroom apartment with my significant other and try to maintain a sane head for others in our now much bigger family. I hope that women who read this article are able to use technology to connect and move national action forth for my generations children to be afforded the luxury of slowing down a bit.

Americans are not saving enough and our government continues to borrow what it does not have. This rhetoric between pundits and politicians today is more and more a waste of time and attention. This economic, environmental, and military debacle has to stop. Strong collective human and monetary investment in our communities and our universities could change America if we women communicate effectively.

Rachel Dawn Scharf

Teaneck, New Jersey

Mar 3 2007 - 4:53pm

Web Letter

Wonderful analysis--thank you for tying so many threads together.

I'm a 26-year-old woman, armed with a graduate degree, and practical experience in nonprofits and writing/editing positions. I'm also one of the millions who are uninsured, I live beneath the poverty line, and I owe tens of thousands of dollars in loans. I feel stymied about the expenses of moving, let alone starting a family.

And I can't help but feel resentful that my choices are so limited--my ability to push forward in fields where I have passion and energy are undercut by my need to shape my existance by a dollar sign.

It's comforting (sort of) to know I'm not alone.

Anna Clark

Boston, Massachusetts

Feb 25 2007 - 1:40pm

Web Letter

While I agree that there is an obvious need for more investments in community-based support, the care crisis requires a more radical social change.

As Ruth Rosen points out, market fundamentalism has not, up to this point,provided a solution or changed our attitude about who will care for our elderly and children.

My mother is at the moment trying to establish care for two elderly relatives--a job that as a woman, she is expected to fulfill.

Carter-Ann Mahdavi

Boston/Paris, Massachusetts

Feb 24 2007 - 3:24pm

Web Letter

I see it as an underlying problem with our current economic structures.

We need to abandon the idea of regional retail "hubs" which are bound up in the unsustainable culture of the car. We need to support community investment and regional manufacturing and distribution. We need to fight against retail monopolies and give incentive and investment to smaller, locally owned chains and business. We need money that stays in our communities and enriches our communities so we can have things like Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and Humane Shelters along with such amenities as movie theaters, restaurants and libraries. We need a network of family farms to avoid the nighmare of centralized food and its dangers. We must make it possible for people to stay home.

When I was born my great-aunt Katherine moved in with us in our three bedroom proto-suburban ranch and cared for me and later me and my brother while our parents worked in factories. It was common for extended families to live together with the old caring for the young and the young caring for the old. In Katherine's generation she had a sister who died in childbirth and the other three sisters rallied to raise the child together and Katherine, who was raised on a farm and who worked in factories all her adult life, first rolling cigars and later making television tubes, helped raise my father. He was the unexpected youngest of eight, born when my grandmother was 44. She helped give him a delightful childhood and me a fabulous eight years.

My parents divoreced when I was eight. By then Katherine was showing signs of Alzheimers though no one knew it as that at the time. It took another year of increasingly bizarre behavior before she had to go to a retirement home and then a secure nursing home. My dad took care of it all just like he took care of Katherine's sister Isabelle, childless because a Priest told her it would be a sin to have surgery, and who lived to be 94. He is now taking care of his second wife's mother, who is 100.

I think now we are beginning to see that many of the decisions made over the last 40 years weren't so healthy after all. But the only way to address that is through sustainable economies based around the traditional, pedestrian friendly, market square that can nurture and sustain extended family units.

Laura Wilkerson

Owensboro, Kentucky

Feb 24 2007 - 10:51am

Web Letter

Actually, I see quite a large amount of social sharing getting done on these caregiving issues, but it is done mostly through Church auxiliaries.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

Feb 23 2007 - 1:10am

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