Thursday, June 28, 2012

About Having It All

FLG finally got around to reading the Anne-Marie Slaughter piece.  He doesn't get all the hubbub.

Slaughter, as far as FLG can tell, seem to be living in some intellectual/ideological fantasy world.  Maybe it's because FLG studied economics or maybe he's just a cynical fuck, not that those are mutually exclusive by any means, but every person on this planet has limited resources and infinite wants.  Every choice we make necessarily involves a tradeoff somewhere.  Even the Bill Gates faces a limited resource -- time.

The simple fact of the matter is that we all face choices.  For vast majority of women, the ones who face job opportunities with less flexibility and remuneration than Slaughter, this means a more constrained set of choices.  But nobody has the luxury of no constraints.

But the thing that astonished FLG most was the bullshit about the gender composition of government:
The best hope for improving the lot of all women, and for closing what Wolfers and Stevenson call a “new gender gap”—measured by well-being rather than wages—is to close the leadership gap: to elect a woman president and 50 women senators; to ensure that women are equally represented in the ranks of corporate executives and judicial leaders. Only when women wield power in sufficient numbers will we create a society that genuinely works for all women. That will be a society that works for everyone.

FLG is sorry, but this is nonsense.   No amount of flex-work, tele-work parental leave, child care, etc legislation is going to change the basic fact that a person who is willing to put work above personal life is going to get ahead faster than an equally talented person who does not.  Moreover, the highest levels of corporate and government jobs will always require inordinate amounts of time.  It's not like the President, cabinet members, or CEOs can delay responding to some major issue because of her kid's recital.  And at that level major issues happen a lot.

If more men than women make the choice to put work over family, then so be it.  Women are, by definition, fully-grown adults responsible for their decisions.  If they decide with full insight into the consequences of their decisions to place more emphasis on their personal lives, for whatever reasons they have, then what exactly is the problem? 

Again, consider two equally talented people, one male and one female who start at the same company at the same time.  Both begin working 60-80 hours a week.  After two years, the female decides to takes a one year leave of absence and then comes back at at 40 hour work week.  The male continues at the 60-80 throughout.  Who do you think is going to get ahead?  Who deserves it?  What if instead of the female leaving to have a baby, the man took the leave of absence to travel the world to find himself and upon finding himself reprioritizes his life and only wants to work 40 hours a week?  How is that different from reprioritizing one's life after having a child?

Finally, FLG thinks that the privilege line of criticism almost entirely misses the point because what Slaughter is ultimately saying is that no matter how much money or support a person has they still are faced with limited time and face tradeoffs.  Now, it appears she hasn't thought this entirely through given the stupidity of her recommendations because, again, even if you expanded the work-related privileges afforded Slaughter as a premier academic, you still end up facing choices based on limited time, which is a resource no public policy can redistribute or increase.


Anonymous said...

Do you want our response to the Norks guided by someone who goes home at 5? Didn't think so. Neither do I. Hotshit policy analysts should marry (if at all) with first grade teachers or SAHMs/Ds. dave.s.

The Ancient said...

The Policy Planning Office at State isn't the Situation Room or its equivalents elsewhere. And bad judgment is bad judgment, regardless of the hours it consumes.

Could our policies regarding North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, etc. possibly be more ineffective than they already are?

(Maybe, but it probably wouldn't be the result of the hours put into them.)

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