Monday, February 18, 2013

About that argument for a minimum wage hike

One of the arguments that President Obama made in his push for an increase in the minimum wage is that the single mother of two children earning the minimum wage should not be in poverty.  Now, that seems like a commendable notion, except for the little question of..... does a woman get to be the single mother of two children?  There are of course only three answers; she had them out of wedlock, she was divorced by her husband, or she divorced her husband.  Let's go further; 40% of births today are to unmarried parents (if Mom is below 30, it's close to 60%), and about two thirds of divorces are initiated by the wife these days.  In short, most single mothers get that way by their own choice.  I'd guess that it's well over 80% of the total from the statistics and my own experience.

Now apart from the question of how insane our welfare system is, paying very handsomely for people not to work, let's consider the question again; should we get worked up because women who freely choose to be single parents find themselves in poverty, or should we say "maybe they should have considered this possibility before accepting the sperm donation or divorcing their husband."?

I don't favor letting anyone starve or living in Dickensian penury--and again, our welfare system isn't exactly allowing this--but I do think it would be very appropriate if we did, as a society, allow people to suffer the consequences of their actions just a little bit.  Maybe we could start--look at that graph again--by telling single moms that if they aren't working a job, they don't need full time childcare for their kids. 


pentamom said...

You forgot widowhood, but for the purposes of your point, it's probably statistically insignificant nowadays.

And I'd be careful about using the records of who initiated divorce. I don't really presume to know which party is responsible for most divorces, but initiating the legal proceedings and being the instigator of the breakup are not precisely the same thing, and I wouldn't presume a lot of overlap. Most abusers of either sex don't divorce their victims, they are divorced by them.

That said, your point still holds.

Bike Bubba said...

Points well taken. The data and anecdotes I've seen (alas, way too numerous) suggest that widowhood and divorce for adultery/abuse/abandonment are clearly #4 and #5 on the Pareto. (but the post was getting way too long already! ) :^)