One of the most wonderful things about presidential campaigns is their capacity to concentrate public awareness of an issue in such an acute manner, that unique opportunities for significant progress can be achieved on a national scale.
Such a moment may have arrived this week in the form of the current controversy engendered by Hilary Rosen’s pithy comment on the employment status, or alleged lack thereof, of the spouse of Milt Romney, the Republican Party’s presumptive candidate to take on President Obama in the upcoming November election.
Ms. Rosen, a prominent Democratic Party strategist, surmised, on television no less, that Mrs. Romney has never worked a day in her life. Mrs. Romney promptly took to the airwaves and asserted that being a housewife, and raising five children, is indeed a job.
This flap between the two distinguished ladies engendered an immediate and intense firestorm of criticism of Ms. Rosen by prominent Democrats and Republicans, including President Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama.
For the record, I want to add my modest thoughts on the controversy because it has the potential to ignite a spark that provides a once in a lifetime wonderful opportunity to get this fundamentally important matter right. Thus, I want to note that however much sexists, knaves, cads, idiots, and crude political operatives attack Hilary Rosen, her critique of Mrs. Romney’s labor history is essentially accurate.
Raising kids is an arduous chore (been there, done that), but doing so does not require paying Social Security installments from each paycheck. Moreover, if Conservatives really believe raising children is a “job,” they can prove it by joining Liberals via support for legislation requiring that every housewife in the nation be provided a monthly paycheck.
The wonderful opportunity inherent in this moment is the agreement across the political spectrum, for obvious political reasons, that being a housewife is an unquestioned, and uncontested, mode of employment.
Given that, those engaged in such labor should be provided the same work-related rights as other employees, and that includes equal pay for comparable work. Legislation making this a reality is long overdue. Moreover, the courts will need to help resolve issues pertinent to back pay, lost wages, divorced and unmarried women, and retributions for past neglect and abuse.
Those opposing this enlightened advancement will be left with the task of explaining why is could possibly good for any society for more than half of the adult population to be required to labor in a manner that bears, from an economic point of view, many of the characteristics of gentile slavery.
Presidential campaigns. I love them.