Hillary Clinton has announced some of her economic policies, and I have to admit that I find them compelling. I’m sure I will write more about it later. But for now, I want to focus on some of her family friendly policies. Yes, of course, we should make it easier for workers to have families. I’ve always found this very interesting that social conservatives don’t get on the liberal economic bandwagon. Instead, they seem to think that family values are something that only the rich should be able to afford. Similarly, they want to outlaw abortion, while both making access to birth control difficult and then not providing for mothers after the children are born. So great: let’s make work better for young mothers.
But Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig has an even better idea, Liberate Women From Full-Time Work. She noted that it would be good if new mothers were not pushed out of the work place. So Clinton’s ideas are certainly welcome. But maybe we should also create a system where new mothers don’t feel that they have to work. Bruenig pointed out that in the very happy Netherlands, 76% of women work only part-time. In the US, it it is more or less reversed: 80% of prime age women work full-time. And that is not what they would prefer.
I find it constantly amazing that the liberty caucus is not the least bit interested in actual liberty. To them, liberty is something that the government takes away from rich people. If a poor woman works 70 hours a week and has to have her children raised by institutions, well that’s not a lack of liberty. That’s just the laws of economics and there is nothing that can be done about that! Of course, that is nonsense. We are at a curious point in social evolution, where we actually have a lot of choices, but we are denied them because the rich are afraid they might lose a couple of pennies.
The great American lie is that things are pretty much the way they must be. And the only way forward is to take more rights away from workers — to make the whole of civilization more like the law of the jungle. Even if that made sense — and it makes absolutely none — in the jungle, everyone is born more or less equal. No chimpanzee is born owner of a whole section of jungle with a police force and judicial system dedicated to protecting those property rights.
We really need to start thinking differently than we have been in the past. We live in a society in which liberty is not a right of all humans. Liberty is a right inherited from one’s parents. The children of the rich have happy childhoods filled with exposure to all the greatest things that humans have accomplished. The children of the poor have unhappy childhoods filled with standardized testing and inconsistent nutrition. When the children of the rich grow up, they do whatever they want. When the children of the poor grow up, they will be lucky to get a soul crushing job and become technologically unemployable by the time they reach 50.
I’m for doing anything that will help. Clinton’s proposals are mostly great. But Bruenig is right: we can do a lot more. The least we can ethically do is make sure that all children have happy childhoods filled with exposure to all the greatest things that humans have accomplished. Doing quite a lot less than that would be to allow mothers to actually raise their children. And the least we could possible do is what we are doing: nothing. Because: liberty!