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Who Pays For Your Kids?

duckie.jpg

Who should pay the cost of your kids? You? Your boss? Your coworkers? A random taxpayer you pass on the street? There's a story in New York Times Magazine called "Family-Leave Values," about who should bear the cost of time off from the workplace for childcare and other family issues. Eyal Press writes:

(UCSF law prof Joan C.) Williams argued that the growing tension between work and family was not simply a product of economic necessity. It stemmed, rather, from a marketplace structured around an increasingly outdated masculine norm: the “ideal worker” who can work full time for an entire career while enjoying “immunity from family work.” At a time when both adults in most families had come to participate in the labor force, Williams argued that this standard was unrealistic, especially for women, who remained the primary caregivers in most households.

At a Starbucks after the E.E.O.C. hearing, as she sipped tea and picked haphazardly at a brownie, Williams told me she wasn’t sure when she wrote the book what the best remedy was. One possibility was legislation — subsidized child care, generous parental-leave policies — of the sort many European countries have. Another was for employees to take legal action, an idea she described in the book’s most provocative chapter. To show how discrimination can harm caregivers, Williams told the story of a lawyer with sterling performance reviews who was passed over for a promotion because she was a mother; management had assumed she wouldn’t be interested and promoted an unmarried woman instead. Even though the position was not given to a man, a court agreed the firm’s action might constitute sex discrimination, not least because numerous fathers had received such promotions. Negative assumptions about the capabilities of women with children pervade the marketplace, Williams averred, and can violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act even when employers insist their actions are not motivated by sexism.

...Some employers, lawyers say, may be tolerant, even welcoming, of an employee who bears one child, only to balk when discovering she has become pregnant again. Attorneys who handle such cases refer to this as “the second-baby syndrome.” Other times, tension may arise when another factor — say, a disability — enters the picture. This is what Lucia Kanter believes happened to her. An attorney from San Francisco, Kanter started working several years ago at the Administrative Office of the Courts, the policy-making body of the California judicial system. She loved the job and, she says, was well regarded by her superiors. She also thought she would finish her career there, in part because it seemed like an accommodating place for working parents. After the birth of her first son, Julian, in January 2004, Kanter was given a generous (albeit unpaid) 11-month leave. She was then allowed to return on a four-day-a-week, 80 percent schedule. A year and a half later, she had a second son, Thanael, and this time was given six months off.

Shortly after Thanael was born, however, tests confirmed something that Kanter and her husband had begun to suspect: Julian, their older child, was autistic. They now faced the daunting challenge of raising a child with a disability. When Kanter learned this, she says she wrote to her manager to ask whether she might return, at least initially, either on a 60 percent schedule or an 80 percent schedule with a rotating day off, so she could attend Julian’s therapy sessions. Her request, she says, was denied. Then she asked for an extended leave of absence but again was turned down. Finally, she says, she suggested resuming her prior schedule, but with some additional time off so she could hire a second nanny. She figured the agency would at least be open to discussing this, but it said no.

Instead, she says, she received a termination letter.

She was stunned. “If my jaw could have dropped to the floor, it would have,” she told me when I visited her recently at her home in San Francisco. Now, invoking both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act, she is suing her former employer for discrimination, a decision she said she agonized over: “I have a child with 14 therapists, and another young child — I don’t need this headache.”

Of course, her colleagues at the Administrative Office of the Courts may have had reason to worry about that very fact, and to wonder whether her hands might be too full to handle an ordinary workload. (The agency would not address the specifics of the case, but in court papers and in a statement it denied all wrongdoing alleged by Kanter.) In non-F.M.L.A. cases, if employers can show an adverse action was taken for legitimate business reasons — if a worker’s presence in the office is essential to a company’s operations, say — they often can persuade a judge or jury to spare them liability, particularly if they can point to a positive track record toward the protected class of employees. Kanter acknowledged there were worse places for women with children to work, though she also recalled how, at an office baby shower, she overheard a high-ranking superior tell a female attorney: “So this is it, right? There aren’t going to be any more pregnant women after this?”

There are so many questions -- in a time when people have become very transient, and sometimes "family" are people who act like family rather than blood relatives, how come you you can't get time off to care for an extremely sick friend if everybody else is getting time off to care for grandpa?

If we're going to have a Family and Medical Leave Act, why not a Friends Medical Leave Act? Where does it end? If you get rights to care for who you care about, why should who I care about go uncared for simply because they weren't born related to me? Or what if your partner is gay or lesbian and can't marry you?

And then, if you choose to have kids, why should others in your workplace be expected to pay the price. Be honest: It's definitely a shifting of priorities. Single Childless Advice Goddess and Single Gay Boy, like Lena, are likely to put in many more hours and be much more committed to their jobs than people who've spawned, and especially, mothers.

Sure, there are dads who are primary childcare givers like Glenn Sacks, but that sort of thing is rare. And regardless of sex, when your coworkers start leaving early to take the kids to soccer -- whether they're mothers or fathers -- shouldn't they accordingly make less dough? And yes, the same should go for parents who have autistic or other medically challenged kids. It's tough, and if your workplace values you enough and can make accomodations for you, maybe they will. But, should it really be the law that the workplace picks up the cost of your bad roll of the dice in the procreation game?

As for the hew and cry to have women equally populating the workplace...um...why? If we're truly in favor of equal rights, shouldn't the question simply be who can put in the best work and the requisite amount of work? Versus those who disappear because they have different priorities? As I've said when people talk about how thrilling it would be to have a woman president, thanks, I'll choose my president based on their qualifications for the job, not on whether they happen to have labia.

But, back to this issue, why do so many people seem to expect equal pay for rather or very unequal work? And, finally, as I've said before, let's untie health benefits from the workplace. You pay your own way, and that of your family, so it doesn't come out of a pool at the workplace -- which means single people aren't subsidizing married people with families of five. In other words, yes, I'm very much in favor of the Bush health care plan:

*Under The President's Proposal, Families With Health Insurance Will Not Pay Income Or Payroll Taxes On The First $15,000 In Compensation And Singles Will Not Pay Income Or Payroll Taxes On The First $7,500.
o At the same time, health insurance would be considered taxable income. This is a change for those who now have health insurance through their jobs.
o The President's proposal will result in lower taxes for about 80 percent of employer-provided policies.
o Those with more generous policies (20 percent) will have the option to adjust their compensation to have lower premiums and higher wages to offset the tax change.

...The Tax Code Now Penalizes People Who Do Not Get Health Insurance Through Their Employers. Those who buy insurance on their own pay higher taxes for insurance than those who can get it through their job. The self-employed pay no income taxes on their premiums, but because they still owe payroll taxes, they are also disadvantaged compared to those who get health insurance from their employer. No one should have to pay higher taxes just because they do not work for an employer that provides health insurance. Under the current system, those without employer-provided health insurance – including the unemployed, retirees without retiree coverage, and workers at companies that do not offer health insurance (most of which are small businesses) – may have to pay substantially more for health insurance than those with employer-provided plans, a cost which many cannot afford.

Posted by aalkon at July 31, 2007 11:08 AM

Comments

Who Pays For Your Kids?

The title of this piece has a misconception (no pun intended) or at least an over simplification. It's wrong to say "your" kids as if they were a piece of property. Today's kids are tomorrow's soldiers, nurses, teachers, criminals, etc ... trite but true. Childcare is at least as much about the ongoing maintenance of society as it is personal aggrandisement of parents. In fact, the more it is of the former, the better the parenting, in my opinion.

Allowances are made for people who have to take time off work at short notice for social purposes: in my town, that means firemen and lifeboat crew. There's an argument for some of the same allowance to be made for anyone who is caring for another. I have to take a lot of time off as a result of my wife's ill-health, but I make it up by working late - otherwise I would count it as holiday allowance.

Posted by: Norman at July 31, 2007 4:59 AM

My neighbors have children. The wife is taking time off while they're young to be a fulltime mom (with stints here and there for freelance architecture work [design stuff she can do on the computer at home]). Her husband is a professor working fulltime. They make many financial sacrifices for their kids (they haven't eaten out in a nice restaurant in the better part of a decade, they forgo luxuries) but they don't expect others to do so. As for children being part of the ongoing maintenence of society, we all have a part in that, but I don't get subsidies because I help people with problems be productive again in their jobs with my solutions -- nor should I. My choice to do what I do/your choice to have kids if you wish. As for firemen, obviously, we all need firemen. I really could do without somebody's loud bratty kid on a plane and in other public places.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 5:14 AM

If we're truly in favor of equal rights, shouldn't the question simply be who can put in the best work and the requisite amount of work? Versus those who disappear because they have different priorities?

Shitty employees, both single and married, will always be with us.

Responsible parents need to keep their jobs to pay for their kids - which is a huge motivation for giving their employers good value.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 5:15 AM

I think that's naive. I think it's often motivation for appearing to give their employers good value while coasting on the coattails (and late nights at the office) of single coworkers.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 5:24 AM

"I think it's often motivation for appearing to give their employers good value while coasting on the coattails (and late nights at the office) of single coworkers."

Amy,

That's adorably elaborate.

So now we have the canny employer looking for suspicious signs of competence in the employee who is a parent -because it's all a sneaky smokescreen, obviously!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 5:34 AM

Personally I think every boy and girl born should be implanted with contraception devices, this way there is no way in hell anyone could ever have a kid unless ''BOTH'' parents planned for it

Posted by: lujlp at July 31, 2007 5:39 AM

I think it's often motivation for appearing to give their employers good value while coasting on the coattails (and late nights at the office) of single coworkers.

So my one data point, is that there is a worker, who is a friend of mine, not me of course, that keeps pictures of his kids above his desk. The reason is not just that this person loves his kids, but so during those times that the job is unbelievable drudge and the urge to flee overwhelming, this worker can look at these pictures, remember all this shit that's going to fall on him if he is in the next layoff, and get back to work.

And regardless of sex, when your coworkers start leaving early to take the kids to soccer -- whether they're mothers or fathers

I will make the gross assumption and say there are two types of jobs these days. Work in which you are absolutely required to be present during certain hours: assembly lines, customer support, surgery, and work in which you are only required to be in good communication with others at any time. Software, technical writing, architecture(?), engineering, .... For many of the latter jobs, the work to be done is a result of joint negotiation between employee and supervisor, or even between employee, other members of the team, and supervisor. Many of these jobs are also classified as "Professional Salaried" and not subject to overtime pay.

In those cases, those leaving early to attend the soccer game may a) already have completed their jointly negotiated tasks, and b) may be working late from home.

(Up until the 90s, it looked like America wanted to move from the first type of job to the second type. With free trade, it seems we are moving from the second kind of job back to the first kind.)

Or what if your partner is gay or lesbian and can't marry you? Well, there is an obvious cure for that.

I have a small problem with this If we're truly in favor of equal rights, shouldn't the question simply be who can put in the best work and the requisite amount of work?. I think that with free trade globalization, that worker job insecurity is such that many many employees are already working many unpaid hours in our own prisoner's dilemna. If we don't get our work done and more, we'll be on the layoff list and jobs in our neck of the woods (5th largest city in the US) are pretty damn rare. I appreciate that you wrote the "requisite amount of work", but I don't think that is how people will be measured. More easily and likely to be measured is "most amount of work." That second type of job I think, is particularly susceptible to this sort of thing. We already are asked for unpaid overtime....

Posted by: jerry at July 31, 2007 5:57 AM

As the image of duckee.jpg slowly painted itself on my screen, what I saw was that someone had buried a dagger up to its haft into the head of what seemed to be a rubber duck's head. Pretty threatening stuff.

Posted by: jerry at July 31, 2007 5:59 AM

"Personally I think every boy and girl born should be implanted with contraception devices, this way there is no way in hell anyone could ever have a kid unless ''BOTH'' parents planned for it."

A neat job for your company's Human Resources department, then!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 6:13 AM

Amy might just be a wee bit irrational about kids...

It is certainly not the employer's job to subsidize children, unless the employer really finds that this provides actual payback, perhaps in the form of employee loyalty. The woman in the article hasn't a leg to stand on, but apparently feels that the world owes her.

On the other hand, a viable society requires children - else in a (missing) generation or two, their will be no society. As such, I find it entirely appropriate for governments to encourage - subsidize - children, especially those born to "productive" parents.

Posted by: bradley13 at July 31, 2007 6:27 AM

So now we have the canny employer looking for suspicious signs of competence in the employee who is a parent -because it's all a sneaky smokescreen, obviously!

Jody, I guess I need to make this clear -- I'm talking about parents who fake their way through their work and let their coworkers pick up the slack. Happened to me when I worked at a big company. I was the slack picker-upper as a single woman.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 6:35 AM

ie, working unpaid overtime to make up for the lady who often left at 4pm.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 6:35 AM

And Amy, again I'm going to make the argument that your should blame bad management, not parents for that workplace situation. I manage a very large department with parents and non-parents, and almost everyone is hourly (and have to clock in and out). In our office, if someone wants to take off early for a soccer game for example has to clear it with management first, and the time either comes out of their vacation time or it's unpaid. My experience is that the employees with the most attendance problems tend to be young single men, not working moms/dads. We allow some shifting of schedules for classes, childcare, and commute schedules among other reasons.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 31, 2007 6:51 AM

And if any of our staff are going to be out on leave or disability for an extended period of time, we bring in temps to cover.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 31, 2007 6:55 AM

OK, Amy, then what about this scenario:
I (mom of 2) go to work every day at 8 a.m. I don't leave until 5 p.m., the regular working hours for this facility. My co-workers all trot in the door between 8:45 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., take 45 minute to 1 hour long lunches, and then leave anywhere from 4:15 p.m. onward. Most of these women are either single, or married with no children. I'm picking up the slack here! Me, the single mom with 2 kids. I pay for my kids, no one else! These other women who don't have kids, but have husbands or boyfriends that they have to leave their jobs early to meet at the bar for happy hour are the ones who aren't doing their jobs! And who is doing their jobs? Me, that's who! And if I have to leave early to take my girls to the dentist or the dr, which rarely happens because I have reasonable health care people who know I work and will schedule appointments later in the day, who screams the loudest? Take a guess.

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 6:56 AM

"I was the slack picker-upper as a single woman."

With the greatest respect, Amy, so what?

Sure, slackers make it infuriating for everyone.

And the most egregious slacker I know happens to be a single woman with no kids and (effectively) job tenure...to which you also might fairly respond "so what?".

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 6:57 AM

I don't know Amy, I have not found that people who are slackers is highly correlated with them being married. I pick up significantly more slack for my 23 year old subordinate as I do my married and pregnant again coworker. (Actually the pregnant again coworker is probably the hardest working member of our group.)

I would argue that you don't have to be a parent to be a worthless waste of space who does nothing all day and then leaves early. It just happens that a lot of people become parents. They may or may not have already been worthless wastes of space before that. These people might have found other reasons to leave early besides their kids, y'know, any reason, at all, because work sucks.

I think it would be really interesting to measure productivity of employees before and after major events, marriage, birth of a child, loss of a family member, divorce etc. I think the work suffering may actually be a perception issue, and not a fact.

Posted by: Shinobi at July 31, 2007 7:01 AM

Yes, there are slackers of every stripe, but I think it's taboo to come down on those who leave early or slack off because they have kids.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 7:05 AM

That might have been true at one time, but I honestly don't see that now. Where I work, job performance is job performance, and when it comes to attendance and productivity, everyone has to play by the same rules.

Posted by: deja pseu at July 31, 2007 7:14 AM

Yes, there are slackers of every stripe, but I think it's taboo to come down on those who leave early or slack off because they have kids.

And why should that be? I got called on the carpet once for leaving early, at which time I explained that 1) I had made everyone aware that I had to leave early that day at least 3 weeks in advance; and 2)I had already gotten permission from my superior. If I hadn't done either of those things, I deserved being called on it. But everyone knew ahead of time. And my work for the day was completed, no one had to pick up my slack, because there wasn't any. If I can do it, why can't other parents? That should be automatic, IMHO. But then again, perhaps I have more at stake. I don't want to lose my job, because, hey, I've got to feed my kids!

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 7:15 AM

"but I think it's taboo to come down on those who leave early or slack off because they have kids."

..which conveniently ignores the millions of women who accept low-paid, part time care, cleaning and cooking jobs that benefit the employer because they have kids.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 7:22 AM

Yes, there are slackers of every stripe, but I think it's taboo to come down on those who leave early or slack off because they have kids.

I think that is a management issue. If a manager has problems coming down on someone for not doing their job, because that person has kids, then that manager should also get in trouble. No corporation wants people to work for them who aren't doing their jobs, regardless of why, it just doesn't make good business sense.

(However it is important to note that most managers are morons. So, that's a problem.)

Posted by: Shinobi at July 31, 2007 7:23 AM

..which conveniently ignores the millions of women who accept low-paid, part time care, cleaning and cooking jobs that benefit the employer because they have kids.

Uh, their choice to have kids. Who it benefits is immaterial.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 7:37 AM

"On the other hand, a viable society requires children - else in a (missing) generation or two, their will be no society."

Well, so what? If no one on earth wanted to have kids, and the entire human race died out due to a complete, humanity-wide lack of interest in reproduction, so what? The planet wouldn't care. People should still be free to have or not have kids as they choose, and no one should be subsidizing anyone else's choices. Forcing me to breed is nearly the equivalent of forcing me to pay others to breed. Leave the damn government out of it.

"As such, I find it entirely appropriate for governments to encourage - subsidize - children, especially those born to "productive" parents."

"Governments" do not subsidize anything. They forcibly confiscate wealth from some people and hand it over to others, after keeping a big chunk for themselves.

Amy is not being the least bit irrational.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 31, 2007 7:41 AM

"Who it benefits is immaterial."

Not really, since part of your argument is about the low benefit to employer of the so-called slacker parent-employee.

Actually, it also goes back to your very first question: "Who should pay the cost of your kids?"

Millions of women evidently think they should pay for their kids - by fitting in low paid jobs around their brats.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 7:47 AM

"On the other hand, a viable society requires children - else in a (missing) generation or two, their will be no society."

Well, so what? If no one on earth wanted to have kids, and the entire human race died out due to a complete, humanity-wide lack of interest in reproduction, so what? The planet wouldn't care.

Pirate Jo,

Actually, I care that you've just changed the word "society" to "planet" in your response:)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 7:51 AM

Millions women may feel a sense of personal responsibility -- or they may simply be unable to fool employers. Millions of women are unqualified for high wage jobs because they take the easy way out -- low-wage, not very demanding jobs in P.R. and other fields that don't pay well, just until they can land a husband.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 7:51 AM

I don't think we'll be seeing a end to the human race caused by a lack of pregnancies anytime soon. If anything, it's the heavy number of pregnancies by women who are ruled by men who would like to see the rest of us under Sharia law.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 7:53 AM

You know, I really believe that some of you people HATE kids. Honestly. I really believe that you get a perverse sense of satisfation when you see news stories like this one http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,291524,00.html Hell, there are fewer kids, therefore you are closer to your perfect world. Don't forget that with fewer nasty little kids there are fewer chances of having some of those natsy disease ridden Christians around. Hurray! Golly gee, isn't life great!?

Posted by: Lizabeth at July 31, 2007 7:53 AM

And no, I don't think the answer is attempting to out-procreate them. Western women simply aren't going to be willing to have litters of children.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 7:54 AM

We try to traffic in the facts here, Lizabeth. While Christians (and any god believers are irrational), I don't think they're disproportionately "diseased."

Perhaps the nonthink promoted by religion has contributed to your inability to argue points on the topic, leaving you to assume that all the people posting above (save Pirate Jo and me), are what, phony child/mommy/parenting relief promoters?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 7:56 AM

Well, stories like the one Lizabeth linked to certainly don't do much to advance the idea that parenthood makes you a better person. Who cares if I hate kids? I don't have kids, so even if I did hate them it wouldn't affect anyone else. What's tragic is the number of people who hate kids and have them anyway! Children are at far greater risk from their own parents than they are from eeeeevil childfree kid-haters.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 31, 2007 8:14 AM

Who cares if I hate kids? I don't have kids, so even if I did hate them it wouldn't affect anyone else. What's tragic is the number of people who hate kids and have them anyway!

Great point.

Actually, the fewer kids who are brought up to think like Lizbeth, the better the world will be.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 8:18 AM

I never said that being a parent makes you a batter person. If you're a sick twisted individual before, you'll still be one after. All I said is, that based on the comments made in these blogs, that I sincerely believe that some of you people get a sense of joy from stories like that. You are one step closer to your perfect world. Fewer nasty kids, fewer possible nasty Christians. Not only that, but its one less person whose kids you have to pay for! Yay for you!

Posted by: Lizabeth at July 31, 2007 8:21 AM

The fewer kids that are brought up to think like me, the better the world will be? Lets see. I work (full time). I pay my bills. I follow the law (not even a traffic ticket, thank you ver much). I make sure my child has everything he NEEDS. I teach him manners. I don't mooch off of the government. I (usually) try to be an all around nice person. (yeah, yeah. Give me a ribbon.) Yeah. I'm a real downer for society.

Posted by: Lizabeth at July 31, 2007 8:24 AM

Millions women may feel a sense of personal responsibility -- or they may simply be unable to fool employers. Millions of women are unqualified for high wage jobs because they take the easy way out -- low-wage, not very demanding jobs in P.R. and other fields that don't pay well, just until they can land a husband.

Actually, Amy, I'm paid very well, thanks. BF and I aren't in a rush to get married, either. We're talking about it, but there's no hurry. (And if he wanted to trade me in for a younger model, he could go for it. I'd still be able to pay the mortgage and the bills, take care of my girls, and even take vacations, too. I don't need his money. That he shares is a bonus!)

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 8:28 AM

"Children are at far greater risk from their own parents than they are from eeeeevil childfree kid-haters."

So?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 8:29 AM

Amy-

(I've addressed this question to Amy but it could be to many others in this thread.) Do you see any upside to having children? Or is it all costs and no benefits?

Posted by: Norman at July 31, 2007 8:42 AM

All I said is, that based on the comments made in these blogs, that I sincerely believe that some of you people get a sense of joy from stories like that.

Lizabeth, I don't get it, though you've said it twice. Must be me. Sorry.

Now, the story you are referring to is about two little children found dead in trash bags under the sink. I think it would be pretty heartless/sick/mental/sadistic/etc. of anyone to get a "sense of joy" from a story like that. I have been following Amy's blog for a couple of years, but I can't seem to remember any comment that comes even close to suggesting your assumption. Since you even "sincerely believe" this: Could you point me to a single comment on this blog that fits your description?

Any comment at all?

Posted by: Rainer at July 31, 2007 8:52 AM

Yes, it's great to have free labor to harvest the crops.

Actually, they're just not for me, but if you want to have them, and you have a uterus or an adoption agency working for you, have at it. Just see to it that you can pay their way so the rest of us don't have to. And if you can't afford two, have one. If you can't afford one, have none, and work to get yourself to the place where you can afford one.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 8:54 AM

Amy-

That's not a reasoned answer up to your usual standard.

Posted by: Norman at July 31, 2007 9:01 AM

Norman, I was speaking personally. I could talk about hypothetical benefits, or benefits to people who do have children (providing parents or siblings stem cells in case of disease, doing housework, providing you with entertainment in between the times they're...not, etc.) I'm actually on deadline, so I'll let other people do that for now.

P.S. I do have friends who are children, and I'm quite generous with them, same as I am with my friends who are not children.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 9:15 AM

"That's not a reasoned answer up to your usual standard."

Norman,
You can only bust Amy for discrete lapses in logic on this one.
Otherwise, she's totally, proudly incorrigible.

(But I figure you already know that.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at July 31, 2007 9:20 AM

Do you see any upside to having children? Or is it all costs and no benefits?

Well sure it's a lot of costs. But I love having their love. Snuggling with them while watching TV. Sharing vacations with them, especially when they were little and the world was new to them, seeing it with their eyes, and now when they're older and can do more and appreciate things more. Teaching them life skills, because, you know, "I won't always be here and you have to be able to take care of yourself!" Watching them grow into sane, sensible people, who have great senses of humor, kindness, empathy, caring. Learning (and relearning, sometimes) with them. Watching their sense of accomplishment and achievement, and yes, damnit, being proud of them. Not as little extensions of me, but as their own selves. Watching them grow into beautiful young ladies, hopefully the kind of adults who will be a benefit to the world one way or another.
C'mon Amy, even you were a child once. Was it really that bad?

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 10:07 AM

"C'mon Amy, even you were a child once. Was it really that bad?"

What a snide dig! As though anyone who doesn't want children must have had a bad childhood. You'd probably be the first to complain if I said you just had kids because you were following a script, couldn't think of anything better to do with your life, or were looking for an acceptable escape route from career problems. So enough with the snotty stereotypes.

As to "Do you see any upside to having children? Or is it all costs and no benefits?" I can only speak for myself personally. I just read through your list of the joys, and while I fully grasp that these are significant sources of enjoyment in YOUR life, I simply don't care about doing any of that stuff - nothing wrong with it, I'm just not interested.

My childhood was fine, although I don't think I cared much for kids even when I was one myself. I had fun as a kid, but always thought being an independent adult would be better. My very loving parents have never bugged me to have kids - they always said it was strictly my decision. They are too busy having fun and enjoying their own lives to care whether they get grandkids or not.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 31, 2007 10:39 AM

PJ, I didn't mean it to come out as snide, but now that you point it out, yeah, it did, and for that, I'm sorry.

A couple of posts back (40 reasons not to have children?) I posted that it was each individual's decision, and it truly is. What works for one won't work for someone else. Mea culpa.

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 10:47 AM

Alright, alright ... then in that case I didn't mean to totally go off on you. I have always known I didn't want kids, which my mom found amusing, coming from my little 8-year-old self. She shared the info with a couple of ladies she knew, and one of the ladies said to my mom, "Well what did you DO to her?" Now, *I* can pick on my mom, but snobby ladies down at the post office are not allowed! So I am sensitive to the implication that people who don't want kids are "damaged goods" in some way, because it's like saying my parents were bad people. You can pick on me, and I can pick on my parents, but YOU can't pick on my parents.

;-)

It is interesting that this topic came up on the heels of the "40 Reasons Not to Have Kids" thread. Aside from Chuck, most people were pretty non-judgmental and happy to say to each his own, or everyone can decide for themselves, and we should all mind our business. This is true of my personal life, as well. I don't get too many people nowadays who so much as raise an eyebrow that I don't want kids - it is simply too common a thing nowadays. Most of my friends don't have kids either.

The rubber hits the road when you start talking about yanking government-type subsidies and changing public policies, though.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at July 31, 2007 11:21 AM

"And regardless of sex, when your coworkers start leaving early to take the kids to soccer -- whether they're mothers or fathers -- shouldn't they accordingly make less dough?"

Usually, they do. First because they often take time off without pay. Secondly, because they begin to be seen as slackers - or choose to take cuts in hours and/or assignements and stop getting the good assignments, promotions and raises that the non-slackers get. Now, if we could just get them to see that it's their choice, the world would be a better place! Is this a function of the ME-ME-ME generation?

This has somehow turned into a brawl about whether or not we should have kids. I really don't care what anyone else chooses to do in that regard. I also have no idea what drove me to have my own children. It wasn't a ticking clock. Somehow, as bad as this sounds, I think I just figured it was what I was supposed to do...finish college, get a job, meet mr. perfect, get married, have a baby. Stupid, oh yeah! Not sure I would have made the same decision if I had been given a few extra years to simmer into maturity. I respect childless people who have made the decision to remain childless. But I have also always paid for my kids and tried hard to make them civilized members of this society. I wish I could say the same for most parents. You sure see a lot of permissiveness these days (or am I just getting old and intolerant?) Nah... I visited a cousin who followed his two year old around with a bowl of cereal trying to get him to eat. What's wrong with making the kid sit down and eat?? What's UP with that???

Bottom line: live and let live, and pay your own way while you're at it.

Posted by: Laurie at July 31, 2007 11:35 AM

The rubber hits the road when you start talking about yanking government-type subsidies and changing public policies, though.

Heh, ain't that the truth! o_O

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 11:36 AM

My children are now 19 and 23 years old. The 19 year old has just finished 1st year at university, and is having such a great time it's like watching a flower bloom: a delight to every sense and every comprehension. The 23 year old is still seeking a way forward in life, and my heart is heavy for the child. There's so little that anyone else can do: everyone must find their own way. But when that happens, it's amazing to see. 23 is still quite young, if my memory serves me right.

The pleasure comes not just because these two are my flesh & blood, but because they are individuals whose lives I know in great detail (or did know - they have left home now). So I share their triumphs and their sorrows. We have never "owned' them - we just looked after them until they could look after themselves.

But now the boys next door - aged about 12 - have sort of lost their dad, and I have been spending time with them. The younger one is like Tom Sawyer, and it's great fun to take him out & let him climb trees and fall in the river or whatever. With a dog. I think the key is companionship: sharing experiences, taking joy in another's joy, hanging on through hard times.

Posted by: Norman at July 31, 2007 12:14 PM

Amy-

I'm actually on deadline

You go, girl!

Posted by: Norman at July 31, 2007 12:17 PM

I think the key is companionship: sharing experiences, taking joy in another's joy, hanging on through hard times.

Yeah, I think that's it, too. Thanks, Norman. :)

Posted by: Flynne at July 31, 2007 12:29 PM

Don't forget the business trips to unattractive locales... who always gets those? The single person, because it's is "too hard" on those with families.

Posted by: Nasty, Brutish and Short at July 31, 2007 1:06 PM

One should classify the knee jerk joys of parenting response similar to the religious: Credo quia absurdum. Thank you, Tertullian.

Personal parenting stories do not justify the future infrastructure problems waiting to happen in the next century or two if 'adults' keep having children without a forethought of the consequences.

Two words about childbirth and the future of the planet. I suggest getting familiar with these terms:

-Reprogenetics: the merging of reproductive and genetic technologies expected to happen in the near future as techniques like germinal choice technology become more available.

-Procreative Beneficence: moral obligation of parents to have the healthiest children through all natural and artificial means available.

These two polices could either be voluntary through some form of incentive or coercive through some form of a government edict. The future will be less kids or a downsized population with longer life spans.

Posted by: Joe at July 31, 2007 2:01 PM

Perhaps a bit of a twist to the perspective about slackers....

When I was childless I worked long, long hours building my skills, knowledge and value to the company. After 11 years, along came baby and yes, my time at the office had to decrease, but I was willing to accept less in exchange and pay our own way, which I made clear to the company. It was management who maintained my level and offerred flexibility (work from home, less hours) that may look and feel like slacking to anyone who's putting in those 14+ hour days. I can see how someone who doesn't know my background or the private arrangement I have with my employer might find it unfair to work so long when I don't. But like the parent who feels they aren't treated "equally", isn't the solution just to leave and look elsewhere? (Of course, we're in a job environment where we can't find anyone to do anything!!)

As an aside...I wonder if getting asked repeatedly why you don't have any kids is more annoying that being asked why you only have one? The presumption that I'll have another with my new partner is just as rude and intruding. If they pursue this beyond my "No way" response, I like to detail the various surgeries we've had to prevent it....usually shuts them up.

Posted by: moreta at July 31, 2007 2:08 PM

Pirate Jo: It is interesting that this topic came up on the heels of the "40 Reasons Not to Have Kids" thread. Aside from Chuck, most people were pretty non-judgmental and happy to say to each his own, or everyone can decide for themselves, and we should all mind our business. This is true of my personal life, as well. I don't get too many people nowadays who so much as raise an eyebrow that I don't want kids - it is simply too common a thing nowadays. Most of my friends don't have kids either.

Pirate Jo: The rubber hits the road when you start talking about yanking government-type subsidies and changing public policies, though.

Indeed. Once people get used to a benefit - whether or not it's reasonable, deserved, realistic, whatever - they squawk like hell if it looks like they might lose it. And THAT is what this is all about. The people with children are suddenly seeing that they - or the people they identify with - might lose the perks. That gets the defenses up, and all the rationalizing begins.

I'm childfree (aside: had a terrific childhood, great parents, etc). So yes, as such it's natural that I should be a bit miffed about subsidizing people who make a different choice, and then act as if they're doing me a favor. (Note, that's not everyone, and it's not directed at someone specific here). Parroting someone Pirate Jo might know once said, I think of children as a private expensive hobby. I don't think I should subsidize or be required to appreciate that hobby.

And my parents agree with me, for what it's worth.

Posted by: Laurin at July 31, 2007 2:21 PM

Did the thread on the '40 Reasons' get that bad? I stopped reading after my last post, because I had to catch a flight.

Posted by: Joe at July 31, 2007 2:29 PM

Watching them grow into beautiful young ladies, hopefully the kind of adults who will be a benefit to the world one way or another.

I can appreciate that you find this rewarding to do through your children. Personally, I prefer to cut out the middlemen.

As for government subsidies, and as I wrote when I posted this, if you're going to have socialism for one group, you've really got to have socialism for all. Personally, I'm for voluntary measures rather than government measures, and for people not having children until they have the funds to pay their way entirely. Can't afford it? Don't believe in abortion? Squeeze it out and hand it to one of those nice couples in line at the fertility clinic.

And Joe, those issues are very interesting, and, I imagine, will be quite troubling to people, especially those who favor the naturalistic fallacy (the notion that because something is "natural" it is good).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 31, 2007 9:43 PM

> moral obligation of parents
> to have the healthiest
> children

I gotta ask: How will you know? And even then, what's the point? The problem with this planet is not that people are too sick, or even that they're too stupid.

The problem is they're too evil. This is why everyone agrees the "second-hand smoke" people are assholes. California is rightly ridiculed for its taxation to fight this 'scourge' as her inner cities burn and maim. (The conflation of health and decency had seemed successfully undermined by the sarcastic, drug-addled comics of the 70's... Apparently there's more work to be done.)

Every time someone talks about how some fabulous-yet-delicate lab technique will let lesbians make babies or whatever, I'm inclined to wonder what that's supposed to mean to some hillbilly in
Africa whose sister died of AIDS because they couldn't keep the medicine cold or get her the injections or whatever. I think the world and all of GM crops --if they're OK with Norman Borlaug, they're OK with me-- and believe that science and literacy in the general sense are going to be fundamental components of what strengthens humanity in the next generations.

But for the past two centuries or so, or at least the last few dozen World's Fairs, scientists (or their press agents) have promised that this or that technology (Flying cars! Wristwatch phones! Elevated freeways!) will enable the poorest of the poor to live lives of comfort and dignity. These tales often have more to do with the Lone Ranger fantasies of the scientist ("We didn't even get a chance to thank 'im!") --or their financial aspirations-- than with actually making things better.
Salk appeared on a telethon or two, put on a golf shirt, and called it a life.

Am I wrong? All you need to do is bring it. Looking forward. Let me know when it's OK to peek.

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 1:20 AM

> These two polices could either
> be voluntary through some form
> of incentive or coercive through
> some form of a government edict.
> The future will be less kids or
> a downsized population with longer
> life spans.

Or, "these two policies could" be rejected out of hand. The more I look at those lines the more I'm convinced you're a fascist. You're so certain you know what's best, and that it comes from living long, rather than well... For all your storied travels, you seem not to have lived.

Surviving organisms push.

(Pardon me.)

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 1:30 AM

I am excessively with Crid on this, Joe. (And word to your Salk comment, Crid).

Joe, you mentioned (on a recent thread) something about your potential for snaffling a lucrative patent to solve some food crisis - as if it was merely a matter of finding the time to push through the paperwork.

This seemed strange to me - it sounded like the lab bench equivalent of bar talk.

Also: "Procreative Beneficence: moral obligation of parents to have the healthiest children through all natural and artificial means available."

What's this? Winding the clock back to the start of the 20th century and the eugenics fruitcakery of Charles Davenport and chums?

It sounds like very old stuff in new bottles, with "genetic technologies" laser-typed on the label.

Tell me I'm getting you wrong, Joe (because I've just watched "The Americanization of Emily" in a screaming fit of bliss. Even tho' I get alarmed when Julie Andrews plays a tramp!)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 5:34 AM

> laser-typed on the label.

Yeah. We're always told it's for our own good.

> alarmed when Julie Andrews plays


I feel about Andrews as Hitchens feels about Kissinger: "Will we never
be free of the malign effect of this little gargoyle?"

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 7:04 AM

Crid,

I find your Mike Royko-esqe comments charming, but not a substitute for a viable counter argument.

Its more along the lines of self preservation through the struggle for existence. Like I've said many times in the past about terrorism isn't on my list of global priorities, but global epidemics. I will use Kurt Vonnegut's expression that epidemics are the planet's immune system. Well, It may be true, but it isn’t going to stop us weasely technocratic types who work in lab coats. My microscope is bigger than yours. Nah, nah, nah. It even has a remote control.

Fascist? One of Aldous Huxley's last interviews stated that a ‘Brave New World’ reality was inevitable. The main question Huxley centered on was it going to be one similar to the novel or one based on compassion? I'm in favor of the latter, Crid. Also, those terms of reprogentics and procreative beneficence are based on writings by libertarians who hold against the coercion principle and if you haven't guessed, I am a fellow traveler. So I recommend you drop the 20th Century 'eugenics' fears, but alas you are a stubborn sort. I recommend reading "The Remaking of Eden" by Lee M. Silver of Princeton University on the viability of reprogenetics.

It goes back to a question that many biologists have been asking since the 1970s. Can a species (even humans) have descendents forever? It goes back to my original comment on the ’40 Reasons’ post on controlling the direction of the evolutionary process and our physical universe.

Also, my past posts on the Vegas Bookie analogy. You take all the past and present animal species and compare them to humans. Which species are you going place your money on for the struggle for existence? If humans survive, so do many other flourishing species.

So pass the Soma and pray to Ford.

Posted by: Joe at August 1, 2007 7:25 AM

Actually, humans have fucked up the built-in quality control of the species with superior medical care, so few babies have to die anymore. So, we have parents caring for kids who are enormous, life-sucking burdens who, not long enough, would have been toast from the start or not long afterward.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 7:38 AM

Here's Borlaug on GM foods:

http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/borlaug.html

ActionBioscience.org: Studies have shown that some genetically modified (GM) food crops carry toxins and allergens. Aren't these foods a health risk to humans?

Borlaug: There is no good evidence of toxicity in these foods but I am aware that allergenic properties may exist. Allergies caused by natural foods have been with us for a long time, so why wouldn't they happen with GM crops? Researchers are constantly monitoring crops for allergens and should be able to modify seeds to lessen the risks. There is a report by scientists at University of California at Berkeley who analyzed foods, including some that humans have eaten since the dawn of agriculture. The report shows that there are natural foods that contain trace amounts of natural chemicals that are toxic or carcinogenic. These foods don't seem to harm us.

If you're a theoretical scientist, you can philosophize about this but I've been in the field for a long time and I believe genetically modified food crops will stop world hunger. I recognize the value of crops created by traditional plant breeding but I also see the viability of crops that carry an herbicide-resistant gene or whatever gene is incorporated by biotechnology.

ActionBioscience.org: What about risks to the environment?

Borlaug: Biotechnology helps farmers produce higher yields on less land. This is a very environmentally favorable benefit. For example, the world's grain output in 1950 was 692 million tons. Forty years or so later, the world's farmers used about the same amount of acreage but they harvested 1.9 billion tons -- a 170% increase! We would have needed an additional 1.8 billion hectares of land, instead of the 600 million used, had the global cereal harvest of 1950 prevailed in 1999 using the same conventional farming methods.

If we had continued practicing conventional farming, we would have cut down millions of acres of forest, thereby destroying wildlife habitat, in order to increase cropland to produce enough food for an escalating population. And we would have to use more herbicides in more fields, which would damage the environment even more. Technology allows us to have less impact on soil erosion, biodiversity, wildlife, forests, and grasslands.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 7:40 AM

"Also, those terms of reprogentics and procreative beneficence are based on writings by libertarians who hold against the coercion principle..."

Oh really, Joe!

They "hold against the coercion principle"!

Big whoop.

Unfortunately, politicians don't. Insurers don't. And - guess what - history teaches us your next door neighbors don't either.

(Nor am I entirely sure that Huxley's views on his own novel's prescience are objectively useful.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 7:49 AM

"Also, those terms of reprogentics and procreative beneficence are based on writings by libertarians who hold against the coercion principle..."

Oh really, Joe!

They "hold against the coercion principle"!

Big whoop.

Unfortunately, politicians don't. Insurers don't. And - guess what - history teaches us your next door neighbors don't either.

(Nor am I entirely sure that Huxley's views on his own novel's prescience are objectively useful.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 7:50 AM

Great crimes of computer spellcheck, #498: "hew and cry". Eek!!

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 1, 2007 7:53 AM

Amy,
Cutting and pasting like mad to avoid this stupid glitch - really sorry!

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 7:54 AM

Amy- genetically modified food crops will stop world hunger.

Pardon me for being a tad skeptical about this claim. We could already stop world hunger (until Malthus caught up) but we don't. We already have GM food but we still have hunger. So it must be something else that's stopping us. I think this is a typical idealist's claim, nothing more.

A big problem with GM is the intellectual property rights, and the fact that the purveyors of GM refuse to liable for any damage it might cause. Saying it won't cause any damage is not an acceptable answer.

As far as eating the stuff goes, I don't see why not. Roll on, Chicken Little (an old SF story whose name & author I don't remember, about an amorphous lump of chicken protein).

Posted by: Norman at August 1, 2007 7:59 AM

Jody,

I will answer your question with one statement. We are in essence Africans in our origins. So I don't accept the concept of race, gender or sexual identity in political movements, but as individual rights. For others reading this post... I will pursue the public cliché that my family has been racial integrated and add a few gays and lesbians thrown into the mix too. Which is quite true and try to overlook my sarcastic sense of humor and focus on the content.

Did you like the scene on tea time with the eccentric English mother in the movie? I just love how Chayefsky kept to the novel in that particular scene and avoided the typical Hollywood cliché of past movies. The sad thing is that there are plenty of American mothers and wives who are going through the same situation. I just wish there were real 'Charlie Madisons' in their lives. So in essence the “support our troops” car magnets only support the manufacturer of those yellow ribbon magnets.

Didn't Julie Andrews show off her breasts in a movie? S.O.B. (1981) Of course her husband was the director.

Posted by: Joe at August 1, 2007 8:24 AM

> I find your Mike Royko-
> esqe comments charming

And I think you're just adorable!

> Its more along the lines
> of self preservation through
> the struggle for existence.

What's more along the lines of self preservation through the struggle for existence? Isn't that a tautology anyway? Aren't those the same thing? Where's Lena, our chief officer for logic & medical ethics, while all this is going on? (Oh, right... Over in Paris, "bumping into millions of Americans.")

> I will use Kurt Vonnegut's
> expression that epidemics
> are the planet's immune
> system.

I always thought KV was overrated. Like the Trinitron-saturating clothes of a 70's sitcom character, he was druggy for people who couldn't actually face using drugs. Besides, he wasn't a scientist.

> one based on compassion?
> I'm in favor

You're not in favor of compassion, you're in favor of control.

> alas you are a stubborn
> sort

Aw, you don't have to thank me. When John Q. Public hears a little more about how...

> The future will be less
> kids or a downsized population
> with longer life spans.

...he'll ask exactly where you get off telling him how many kids he can have and how many years you demand that they live, and that'll be that.

> Huxley's last interviews
> stated that a ‘Brave New
> World’ reality was
> inevitable.

Maybe he was wrong.

> Which species are you
> going place your money
> on for the struggle for
> existence?

Thanks for asking! Nobody ever does.

1. Beetles
2. Ants
3. Keith Richards
4. Paramecia
5. Etc.

There's a reason nobody asks for our wager. People should be gentle about carving their way through the forests and extinguishing species, but let's not pretend there's going to be a Central Office somewhere that tells us how things should be done.

> If humans survive, so do
> many other flourishing
> species.

By definition, flourishing species survive. And there will be many of those when we're gone anyway. At what point will you say humans have "survived"? Would another 30,000 generations get the job done for you? 250,000? Golly Joe, we're all really grateful to you for thinking about the Big Picture, but your comments lately have had this cataclysmic tone (If humans survive...). I'm just not sure you need to worry your paperback little head so feverishly. And I'm certain that even though you do, we need not finance your alarmist wagers. This ain't Vegas.

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 8:38 AM

> humans have fucked up the
> built-in quality control
> of the species with
> superior medical care

I know what your getting at --there's been some of that in the family in recent years, on both the baby and senior ends. But two points need to be made.

1. Medical care of the statically disruptive kind your talking about is nowhere near universal. Afghanistan doesn't have flush toilets. Nature will always be with us. We don't have to fear that we've overwhelmed it.

2. The backhanded rhetoric is so powerful that it makes people like Al Gore look sensible to those without an ear for irony (eg, "An Inconvenient Truth")

These two complaints may be the same thing, it's too early in the day and there hasn't been enough coffee to say for sure.

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 8:48 AM

> We could already stop
> world hunger (until
> Malthus caught up) but
> we don't

Right/wrong/right. Abject starvations and famines almost always happen because someone wants them to. But Malthus is like tomorrow: He's always coming but never here. Meanwhile, if GM crops can reduce the devastation of forests, I'm for it.

> Of course her husband
> was the director.

Jesus Christ, this blog's on a three-year

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 8:59 AM

...
loop

(sorry. I blame Jody's cut & paste)

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 9:02 AM

"Did you like the scene on tea time with the eccentric English mother in the movie?"

Stunningly audacious scene, Joe. Ballsy - and nimble. (I didn't mind the movie's creaky bits in the least - the script had such a sharp comic nerve.) I think Americans have a genius for muscular satire that avoids archness, somehow. Maybe that's Julie Andrews' problem - along with the sex thing?

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 9:06 AM

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 9:46 AM

Jody,

Well, it was one of those rare movies where the script directs the film. Also, it was a rare demonstration of the power of the screenwriter. Originally, William Wyler was suppose to direct it, but had problems with Chayefsky's script and wanted drastic changes. The producer sided with the screenwriter over the director’s objections. Wyler left and the typical journeyman director Arthur Hiller of “Love Story” fame ‘directed’ the movie.

The screenplay never really explains what is meant by the term Americanization. The novel uses "Americanized" to refer to a woman who accepts a normal condition of wartime, the exchange of her sexual favors for gifts of rare wartime luxuries. Thus, in reply to the question "has Pat been Americanized," a character answers:

"Thoroughly. She carries a diaphragm in her kitbag. She has seen the ceilings of half the rooms in the Dorchester Hotel. She asks that it be after dinner: she doesn't like it on an empty stomach. She admits she's better after steak than after fish. She requires that it be in a bed, and that the bed be in Claridge's, the Savoy, or the Dorchester."

This theme runs throughout the novel. Another character says "We operate just like a whorehouse... except we don't sell it for cash. We swap it for Camels and nylons and steak and eggs and lipstick... this dress... came from Saks Fifth Avenue in the diplomatic pouch." Emily asks Jimmy "am I behaving like a whore?" Jimmy's reply is: "Whoring is a peacetime activity."

There were flaws with Huie’s novel and Chayefsky made turned it into a little gem just prior to the Vietnam buildup. It is one of those cases where a paperback with potential becomes a classic through the correct handling of a talented screen writer.

People forget it was Chayefsky who put Vanessa Redgrave in her place at the Academy Awards for her anti-Israel screed after winning for Julia. Here is his statement to the audience:

“there's a little matter I'd like to tidy up…at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning. I would like to say that I'm sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation and a simple ‘Thank you' would have sufficed.”

This is where a member of an enduring theatrical dynasties of the U.K. meet the writer from the Bronx, USA. I just love those moments.

Posted by: Joe at August 1, 2007 10:17 AM

Thanks, Crid.

(Charles Grodin once told me Marty Short was the greatest living comic genius in his opinion. He waxed quite emotional on the subject, actually.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 10:27 AM

Julie Andrews indeed rips off her top in S.O.B. As somebody said about her at the Walter Mirisch tribute at LACMA - something along these lines, anyway - "She's dirtier than you'd think."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 10:47 AM

Brilliant, Joe. Thank you.

"The screenplay never really explains what is meant by the term Americanization."

Also [the above] is a really great point. Though one thinks it's been articulated in the film...I think. Even so the word "americanization" is ambiguous in itself - suggesting something mechanical or slick, not wholly desirable - but cheerfully self-knowing. (Better to be americanized than a prig, I say!)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 10:57 AM

3. Keith Richards

I'm not sure if he counts as being alive. I'm assuming that he's reached a semi-embalmed state arising from all of the chemicals he has consumed over the years.

Posted by: justin case at August 1, 2007 1:31 PM

No problem, Jody.

I used the content between the novel and script mainly for the others reading our comments.

So if anyone is interested, but cannot tolerate black and white movies can view the 10 minute tea with mother scene on YouTube:

http://tinyurl.com/2d8pvn

Anyone with a basic knowledge of biology would understand that killing is just nature's way of reducing the numbers along with other methods. The difference between the memo warrior and myself during the original debate was that I will never glorify it. Only sociopaths or misguided fools both in the military and political leadership. That is why no one will ever find any real 'philosophical' warriors. Just members who belong to the 2 categories reciting quotes from dead glorified warriors. I wonder which category tmw falls into?

The problem is virtue in valor or found in faith towards a religious system and plenty of other examples. Our sense of what constitutes proper virtue needs to be re-examined for a post-theist world that respects individual rights, major scientific-technological breakthroughs and desperately tries to avoid the tragedies of the 20th Century.

Now can you see that I’m not of the typical ‘eugenics’ stereotype? I’ve had my ‘Madison’ moment in the guise of that AIDs hospice in Thailand. Not even the problems of the Middle East even comes close. Why? The so called virtue found in faith and the sociopaths/fools who blindly follow their leaders’ wishes. Diseases are different and I cannot accept the ’its nature’ excuse without a fight. There are plenty of ’things’ that I do not like about natural selection, but that is not going to stop me from my vain attempt at trying to help people while wearing a lab coat and stare into an expensive microscope. I’m not without my flaws and if anyone has the time,… I’m sure my family, friends and ex girlfriends would take the time to lecture any volunteers on those particular faults.

Nietzsche summed it up best in The Gay Science:

“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.”

I guess that separates me from Crid’s view of nature and my paperback mentality.

Posted by: Joe at August 1, 2007 1:33 PM

> he's reached a semi-embalmed
> state arising from all of
> the chemicals

What are you, anti-science?!?!?

> some day I wish to be
> only a Yes-sayer

...But in the present hour, I need to be the kind of Sayer who Says you how many kids you can have. Don't you see? It's for your own good. And if you can't promise that your daughter will live to be at least 80, well then gosh darn it, we all feel bad for you. But we're trying to fight nature here! We gotta do what we gotta do!

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 2:01 PM

What are you, anti-science?!?!?

No, I'm pro-science. I want to know if it's replicable.

Posted by: justin case at August 1, 2007 2:24 PM

You're a brother. You hit the high side, I'll tackle the low, and we'll knock this coast to the place it needs to be.

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 2:28 PM

"I'll tackle the low, and we'll knock this coast to the place it needs to be."

Crap. You didn't rise to the Grodin tweak.
I'll aim lower, my liege.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 1, 2007 3:49 PM

Don't know anything about Grodin! He always seemed like an indeterminate showbiz white guy of almost vanishingly neutral utility. I'm sure he's a conscientious taxpayer, defensive driver and a fine dancer... He probably gives generously to the United Way through payroll deductions...

Posted by: Crid at August 1, 2007 4:25 PM

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