Monday, March 3, 2008

taking a stand

On the back cover of last week's New Yorker is an ad for Allstate. Here's the surprising headline for it: "The average woman spends 11 years out of the workforce taking care of family. Leaving her without enough retirement money to take care of herself." Another paragraph in, they cite that most women will give up 650 k as a result of those years out of the paid workforce.
Wow, I thought when I read that. They're going to advocate for some changes to our nation's social policies/workplace expectations as a way of changing that, and leveling the playing field for caregivers.
Man, was I naive.
Their prescription?
1. Women shoudl make sure they participate in their employer's retirement plan.
2. Women should make sure they invest while they're out of the workforce.
3. Women should make sure they get education so they're motivated to save.
Am I missing something here?
Okay, granted, we all must take responsibility for our futures. We're all participants in this process. But is that really the only part of the solution? Women: take care of everyone! And then, work a little harder, so you don't get screwed! It's all on you already--and now, even more so!
Their tagline: "Let's save retirement by saving for retirement. That's Allstate's stand."
Translation: "Let's transfer responsibility for our ridiculously thin social services in the US to you, the consumer, leaving absurd workplace expectations, and bad politicians off the hook, so we don't have to pay more corporate taxes! America, you're on your own."
What really struck me about this ad was that it's purpose was to make Allstate seem all generous and interested in womens' welfare.
Why did they bother?

How about this for a prescription?
1. Both men and women should get more workplace flexibility to care for their families. They shouldn't be penalized because they're human. They shouldn't be penalized in their careers--by passing up promotions or raises--and they shoudln't be penalized financially--when part-time work is paid a pittance, with no benefits.
2. We should have some state-supported daycare for those parents that would like to keep their jobs, or re-start their jobs when their kids are small. So that people can actually bring home a paycheck, rather than paying for the privilege of working.
3. We should reform social security and the tax laws so that women aren't penalized for providing our society with a) future paid workers b) home care for the sick or elderly that our country is probably not willing to pay for.
4. Talking about realistic taxes to provide healthcare for everyone, so people are slaves to a corporation, just because they need to provide doctors visits for their children.
Let's actually save retirement. And childcare. And healthcare. That's my stand.


Melissa said...

Crazy notions, indeed.

Have you read Ann Crittenden's The Price of Motherhood or Miriam Peskowitz's The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars? You'd enjoy them. And be even more fired up. As if you needed help there.

Dyami said...

ah, yes, you give me too much credit for independent thinking :) yes, read them and (obviously) liked them.