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allen claxton

Have you read "The Two-Income Trap"? I think it makes a pretty strong argument that the one-income household isn't as impossible to have these days as you think, and is in some ways better able to adapt to the challenges that life tosses up.

chris y

You vacuumed two and three times a week because you'd be up to your knees in cookie crumbs by Saturday if you didn't. You mopped the kitchen floor regularly because it was filthy. You did laundry every day.

Also, in the fifties, the default position for most people was that the man did some form of manual work and had to change his clothes when he got home, whereas today the default position is that he sits on his butt in an air conditioned office all day and nobody would really notice if he wore the same socks for a week.

Data point: my mother, who was a housewife in the 50s, cleaned obsessively (and became mildly alcoholic and severely depressed) until some time in her forties she had precisely the epiphany you describe here, stopped dusting and got a life. My father, who was more help in the house than most men of his generation, though less than most of mine, saw no down side to this.

Dave

I think Allen is right to some extent. My wife and I are able to live on just my income, but only due to us not being able to have children. It allows us to live in a small house and we avoid all the costs (and joys) of children. That being said, we are also able to put away very little toward retirement. So you can live on one middling salary, but only just barely and sometimes the future looks um, ... iffy.

Doug K

Allen, I don't think 'The Two-Income Trap' says what you think it does..
The data in that book confirms that two salaries are now necessary (but not sufficient) for the vast majority of middle-class families: exactly Lance's contention.

Elizabeth Warren, in an interview for Mother Jones:
" two-income families today actually have less discretionary money left over than those single-earner families did."
and
"The point is that families today are spending their money no more foolishly than their parents did. And yet they're five times more likely to go bankrupt, and three times more likely to lose their homes. Families are going broke on the basics --housing, health insurance, and education."
and
"having a child is now the single best predictor of bankruptcy."

Lance: "You vacuumed two and three times a week because you'd be up to your knees in cookie crumbs by Saturday if you didn't. You mopped the kitchen floor regularly because it was filthy. You did laundry every day."

Well, in our house, we would be up to our knees in cookie crumbs if we didn't ban eating outside the kitchen. The kitchen floor gets mopped only when the 5-year-old sticks to it so badly that he trips. Laundry doesn't get done every day, instead spend all day on the weekends getting through it..

"What they don't think is, Yep, that was the way the economy allowed folks back then to live"
that's what I keep telling my wife when she compares our mess to her mother's beautiful house. Also, her mother had servants (in Africa, which is another country).

Bianca Reagan

Doug,

Africa is a continent. With many different countries.

I do my laundry on the weekends, too.

Doh

On a related point, Harold Meyerson had an interesting op-ed in the Post about how Republican economic policies are completely at odds with Republican rhetoric about protecting the family (because those policies are driving the decline of the traditional family structure for the non-rich).

Doh

On a related point, Harold Meyerson had an interesting op-ed in the Post about how Republican economic policies are completely at odds with Republican rhetoric about protecting the family (because those policies are driving the decline of the traditional family structure for the non-rich).

Doug K

Bianca: we came from Johannesburg, South Africa. Upon telling this to strangers in the US, I've repeatedly been asked variants of the question "so, I know this guy in Cairo, Abraham Bombastical, did you ever meet him ?"
Africa ? it's all one distant place.. like the past..

Bianca Reagan

"so, I know this guy in Cairo, Abraham Bombastical, did you ever meet him ?"

I know it's like ten years later, but, hee!

With a name like Bombastical, I bet you could track Abraham down, though. :)

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