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June 15, 2009

Obama's Economic War on Marriage, Women in the Workplace

One of the most appallingly dishonest memes spread by prominent progressives is that income inequality is the result of unfair economic policy that allows the selfish rich to prosper at the expense of the deserving poor. I've refuted this afactual argument at length before, but Russell Roberts over at CafeHayek deals the meme a well deserved whack with the clue bat:

Over at Freakonomics (HT: Planet Money), Justin Wolfers cites this graph as proof that the rich have gotten most of the income gains in the last 35 years:


... Starting in 1973, and it's not a coincidence, the divorce rate in the United States began to rise. The number of families increased dramatically simply because of divorce. There was also an increase in the number of families headed by single women with children. The quintile breaks-points changed, not because the economy was growing or shrinking but simply because of changes in the types of families.

The chart is highly misleading. It implies that poor people have done poorly while rich people have thrived. Rich people have thrived. But so have poor people. If you look at longitudinal studies of the same people (the Michigan PSID for example) you get a totally different picture than this one. And that's because this one is designed to fulfill a political agenda. It's a beautiful example of how facts by themselves are not meaningful. There is nothing dishonest about the chart, just its interpretation.

Many other economic studies support his point. A study on the effect of working wives on family economic mobility concluded:

Over the past 30 years, married women in the United States have significantly increased their labor market activity and become an integral factor in their families’ ongoing economic wellbeing. This change raises questions about the economic impact of two-earner families becoming the norm. Do American families now need both a working husband and a working wife to have any hope of getting ahead or to keep from falling behind? How much does a wife’s labor market activity (participation, hours, and earnings) matter in her family’s ability to make income gains, hold its place relative to other families, or avoid losing ground? ; Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this paper focuses on married-couple families during three ten-year periods (1969-79; 1979-89; 1988-98) to see whether favorable family income mobility outcomes are associated with greater wives’ labor market activity and finds that they are. Wives in families that moved ahead or maintained their position had high and rising employment rates, work hours, and pay. Moreover, the annual earnings of wives in upwardly mobile families increased relative to those of their husbands. The popular perception that families needed to work more hours just to hold their own relative to other families is confirmed, and almost all of the increase in work hours came from wives.

There are two important points here:

1. Upwardly mobile families improved their economic status due to the entry of wives into the workforce.

2. Men's earnings were stagnant, but women's annual earnings and total hours worked increased.

A Pew study reported similar results:

The report on the comparative economic mobility of men and women, highlights the fact that the growth in family incomes is largely due to the fact that far more families now have two earners. Male earnings have been stagnant over the past generation. The report found that sons and daughters have approximately the same likelihood of moving up or down the economic ladder. The exception is women whose parents were at the bottom of the income distribution. Partly because they are more likely to be single mothers, nearly half (47 percent) of daughters born to parents at the bottom remain at the bottom, compared to 35 percent of sons.

As I demonstrated a while back, the "unfair" income inequality progressives ranging from Barack Obama to Paul Krugman want so desperately to fix is not the result of unfair tax policy. On the contrary - households in the top two income brackets differ markedly from those in the bottom three in their behavior:

America's most prosperous households do one other thing differently from their poorer neighbors: they are, to an overwhelming degree, married:
One frequently overlooked dimension of the gap between the "rich" and the "poor" is how much it is affected by marital status. As Chart 10 shows, only about 30 percent of all persons in Census's bottom quintile live in married couple families; the rest either live in single-parent families or reside alone as single individuals. In the top quintile, the situation is reversed: Some 90 percent of persons live in married couple families. In this case, equalizing the numbers of persons within the quintiles makes little difference; even after each quintile is adjusted to contain the same number of persons, 85 percent of persons in the top quintile continue to live in married couple families compared with one-third in the bottom.

If you want to know what upwardly mobile families and families at the top 20% of the income distribution do differently, this chart spells it out:

As Walter Williams has pointed out time and time again, there is a strong correlation between certain behaviors and economic prosperity:

For the most part, long-term poverty today is self-inflicted. To see this, let's examine some numbers from the Census Bureau's 2004 Current Population Survey. There's one segment of the black population that suffers only a 9.9 percent poverty rate, and only 13.7 percent of their under-5-year-olds are poor. There's another segment of the black population that suffers a 39.5 percent poverty rate, and 58.1 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor.

Among whites, one population segment suffers a 6 percent poverty rate, and only 9.9 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor. Another segment of the white population suffers a 26.4 percent poverty rate, and 52 percent of its under-5-year-olds are poor.

What do you think distinguishes the high and low poverty populations? The only statistical distinction between both the black and white populations is marriage. There is far less poverty in married-couple families, where presumably at least one of the spouses is employed. Fully 85 percent of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed household.

Poverty is not static for people willing to work. A University of Michigan study shows that only 5 percent of those in the bottom fifth of the income distribution in 1975 remained there in 1991. What happened to them? They moved up to the top three-fifths of the income distribution -- middle class or higher. Moreover, three out of 10 of the lowest income earners in 1975 moved all the way into the top fifth of income earners by 1991.

Poverty is not caused by racism, sexism, or unfair government policy. When individual behavior is taken into account, the supposed effects of racism and sexism disappear. People who make economically efficient decisions, regardless of race or sex, are upwardly mobile. It turns out that it really is that simple. Avoiding poverty requires just a few critical decisions:

1. Finish school.
2. Get a job and work full time.
3. Avoid teenaged pregnancy.
4. Get married and stay married.

To these prescriptions, economic research has added one more:

5. Pool your incomes: two earner household (and particularly married two earner households) account for 90% of the top 20% of the income distribution in this country. When one considers that women, on average, work fewer hours than men and that two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women, it's begins to look as though it is the choices women make rather than sexism that accounts for the disparity between the standard of living experienced by women and that of men.

But rather than level with the American people, rather than tell them the long established facts showing that successful and upwardly mobile families owe their prosperity to a small and well identified set of decisions, the Obama administration has chosen to blame economic inequality on unfair tax policy and selfishness.

If getting married, completing college, working full time, and allowing women to work - the keys to achieving the American dream - -are unfair and selfish, the Obama administration is right to discourage these behaviors with punitive tax policies.

On the other hand, if stable two-parent families and economic freedom for women are things the government wants to encourage, the Obama administration sure has a funny way of showing it.

Posted by Cassandra at June 15, 2009 07:38 AM

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The chart is interesting to me, and not just because of the facts that it shows on its face.

We did earn a lot more money as a family when I was working outside the home, but when added expenses were calculated (additional food money because I was busy, childcare, gas, etc), we ended up doing better while I stayed home.

Of course, that gives me a decent sized gap in my resume...

But it's all a matter of choice. When my kids are older I know that I'll be back in the work force - and I won't expect to be earning what my age peers earn, either. Because I WON'T HAVE EARNED IT. I took a work sabbatical, I didn't put in the hours.

It drives me absolutely insane that so many people complain about the "disparity in pay" when, as you point out with so many other issues, we do it to ourselves.

But that's the point of the Obama Administration, right? Saving us from ourselves? "Understanding" our bad choices and rescuing us from the consequences? It reminds me of one of the prayers the priest makes during communion that has always struck me as silly (and probably not something the historical Jesus would have appreciated)"...protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope..."

Protect us from all anxiety? Sheesh! Anxiety? I can understand protecting us from catastrophes, but anxiety?

Life is not meant to be easy. We need to stop expecting that.

Posted by: airforcewife at June 15, 2009 10:05 AM

We did earn a lot more money as a family when I was working outside the home, but when added expenses were calculated (additional food money because I was busy, childcare, gas, etc), we ended up doing better while I stayed home.

Couldn't agree more.

Another interesting point I inferred from these studies:

Men's wages have stagnated over the past generation, while women entered the work force for the first time

Coincidence? I wonder.

I think there may be two things going on here:

1. A man who has a wife at home FT caring for home and family is freed up to focus his time and attention on his job. He also, as the lone wage earner, has more pressure to succeed.

2. Suddenly flooding the market with workers who don't negotiate for their salaries may well have had a depressing effect on the incomes of men. Let's face it - older workers get fired all the time b/c it's cheaper to hire younger workers and pay them less. Why wouldn't women who won't demand the same salary but often do the same work offer a similar temptation for employers looking to keep labor costs down?

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 10:16 AM

... all of which is not to say women shouldn't be allowed to work.

But there are always tradeoffs to every economic decision.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 10:17 AM

"Why wouldn't women who won't demand the same salary but often do the same work offer a similar temptation for employers looking to keep labor costs down?"

I worked for a place back in the '70's where the owner publicly stated that he loved hiring women because, "they tend to stay put - offer a guy a nickel an hour more somewhere else and he's gone." The lead engineer there was a woman, and she was very good at what she did. But when I left a year later (for considerably more than a nickel) I closed the gap quite a bit, and within another two years I was making substantially more. Not because I was any better than she was, but because she was self limiting. The owner was paying her enough to keep her happy, not what she was worth in the competitive market. I can't blame him - he was running a business. Just remember ladies, it you ask for very little don't be surprised if that's what you get. (That last statement works for relationships as well, although that's another kettle of fish...)

Posted by: Pogue at June 15, 2009 10:55 AM

when I left a year later (for considerably more than a nickel) I closed the gap quite a bit, and within another two years I was making substantially more. Not because I was any better than she was, but because she was self limiting. The owner was paying her enough to keep her happy, not what she was worth in the competitive market.

My husband has told me this about a million times :p

And I agree with you. What I'm not always sure people take into account is that women have different preferences and priorities. I have major issues with women whose choices actually reflect their values (though they may not result in them earning as much or more money then their male counterparts) when they start complaining.

To me, the key is realizing what you're doing and why, then asking, "Will course X get me what I want, even if I sacrifice something I want less?"

If you want to maximize pay, your decisions should reflect that. If you want stability or autonomy, you should realize that sometimes you may have to give up something else (like higher pay).

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 11:01 AM

Men do this too; to a lesser degree for now, but it has also been on the increase.

There's an old saying that behind every successful cowboy is a wife who works in town. The clearest example in modern politics is the Palin family, where the wife has a high-status, high-paying job, and the husband has a reasonably good job but one that is more fun than working in an office. He's happy, she's happy. The cowboy and his wife the teacher make a whole lot less than the Palins, but they may be equally happy.

It's not that you can't make a living doing it -- it's just that it requires you and your partner to each pull part of the weight. Somebody has to provide the stability of insurance and a steady paycheck (even if it isn't a competitive paycheck: stability may be the goal). Someone else gets to do something that may not provide a steady paycheck, but allows the family additional income and may be satisfiying in other ways.

I'm not sure that gets you in the 'top two' brackets, but that's ok too. There's a good part of this country where you can live just fine in bracket #3, and a young couple without children yet can do fine even in #4. It's just not the big expensive cities; but those places rot the soul. ;) I'll gladly accept a place a bracket or two lower than I might have had, if I get to live somewhere green, where I sleep to the sound of the wind in the trees.

Posted by: Grim at June 15, 2009 11:11 AM

FWIW, the point wasn't so much that being in the top two brackets is the goal. It was specifically to refute the idea that people in the top two brackets got there b/c the government creates income inequality.

The data suggest that individual decisions have more to do with unequal household income than government policies. Therefore, the idea that taking money from two income married couples and giving it to folks who've made other choices corrects the forces that cause income inequality is bunk.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 11:22 AM

"The data suggest that individual decisions have more to do with unequal household income than government policies. Therefore, the idea that taking money from two income married couples and giving it to folks who've made other choices corrects the forces that cause income inequality is bunk."
The real tragedy is that this must be explained...

Posted by: bt-the resident-curmudgeon_hun at June 15, 2009 11:33 AM

The mainstream media wouldn’t do it. So we are trying to get your important messages to the American people. 49 This post is a suggested read at, http://aresay.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Aresay at June 15, 2009 12:07 PM

My wife and I have college degrees. She has two Master's Degrees in Education while I have a BA. We paid for her college education by working full time while attending college. I paid for mine by surviving Viet Nam and cashing in on the GI Bill. The first few years of our marriage consisted of notes on the refrigerator door as I went to college in the daytime and worked swing and graveyard. She taught in the daytime and attended graduate school in the evening.

What did we learn? Succeeding in business means teaching in ghetto and middle class schools for her and working 12 hour shifts on weekends and holidays on any shift, depending on the flow of traffic, for me. Being able to write a page of english with no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors helped immensely also since one may assume that most people in the workforce today are semi-literate at best.

My wife retired early because we did a cost analysis on our combined incomes and discovered to our horror that most of our combined income was going to taxes. She quit and we got a large increase in our take-home pay. It also was significant that the education system was in a steep decline as the emphasis switched to entitlement from the the basics.

We also saved money. We paid ourselves first when the bills were due and lived within our means. It was worth the effort, commitment, budget and a little luck. Neither of us ever said, "Not my job" or "Not in my pay grade." We volunteered when asked and travelled as necessary.

It paid off for us and we have been married for going on 39 years. When I teach Junior Achievement, I use the above information as talking points when discussing business and the business of working as a couple with or without children.

Posted by: vet66 at June 15, 2009 01:20 PM

"...and discovered to our horror that most of our combined income was going to taxes."

That's why it's really not been important that my wife work these last few years. Her income is the difference between paying unacceptable taxes and unbelievable taxes.

Posted by: Grim at June 15, 2009 03:12 PM


Our niece was recently laid off. She is now able to raise her own girls instead of paying most of her income to have strangers raise them for her and her working husband. Guess what? They have more money to the bottom line now and Mommy doesn't suffer separation guilt.

I love the difference between 'unacceptable' and 'unbelievable'!

Sad but true!

Posted by: vet66 at June 15, 2009 03:27 PM

Before I went back to school, it didn't really pay most of the time for me to work. When I did, I generally worked from home so I didn't have commuting, day care or wardrobe expenses deducted from my after tax income. So when we had an expense we couldn't pay out of my husband's salary (like private school tuition) I was able to earn just enough to cover it. When that is the difference between going into debt for your child's education and not being able to send them to a decent school, it was worth it for us.

Now that I make a lot more money, it still pays even with the tax hit for me to work. That was true even when I was driving in to the office every day - my earnings put both our sons through college. But with the Obama tax increases, I may well re-consider working. I don't make that much, and at some point you have to consider the inefficiences.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 04:12 PM

About women working for lower pay because they value stability: I think that's pretty common. It also makes a lot of sense to me. It's possible to control a lot of things about your job when your employer has a strong feeling that he's getting a good deal. You may also be able to avoid a good deal of anxiety over interrupting your stream of income, even if you're not maximizing it.

Of course it should be a conscious, informed choice, and no fair complaining later that you were underpaid.

Long, long ago I read "Games Mother Never Taught You," which is an excellent book about how puzzling many women find the work marketplace. Often they were raised to believe that you follow the rules, and then the rewards are bestowed on you according to a rational schedule by some benevolent, orderly, just system. Men more often were raised to believe that you were constantly negotiating with your boss in a bare-fisted contest over what economic goodies you were bringing in the door and how strapped he was going to be if you took them away with you when you left. So a common pattern was that men ask for raises while women do not.

I'd say one of these attitudes is kind of like the union pay-by-seniority mindset, while the other is the red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist system. You'll get richer under the capitalist system, but it also requires thick bark and a lot of appetite for risk, upheaval, and confrontation.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 15, 2009 04:19 PM

"You'll get richer under the capitalist system, but it also requires thick bark and a lot of appetite for risk, upheaval, and confrontation."
And the downside is? =8^}

Posted by: bthun at June 15, 2009 05:10 PM

You know, Texan99, your comment brings to light another interesting factor - it sounds like you see the competitive aspect of advancement as high risk, where I see it as just part of doing business. The risk in asking for a raise is getting told "No." There isn't any risk that I've noticed in looking for another job that improves your situation provided you didn't quit your existing job to do it, indeed, I've seen people who use that as leverage to get a pay increase at their present job. Worst case is you don't find anything that's an improvement, hence "I guess I've got a pretty good deal going here." Women (in my limited experience) seem to be generally more risk adverse than men, but this almost seems like change adverse to me.

Posted by: Pogue at June 15, 2009 05:11 PM

The capitalist system isn't riskier because you might ask for a raise, it's just a little riskier because if you've negotiated the best deal possible, your boss may always be wondering if you're quite worth it when you push the envelope a bit. Accepting lower pay may give you a little more security when you've got to take off time to deal with the sicks kids or whatever. The truly capitalist go-getter is always having to outdo himself and prove himself, whereas someone who's negotiated the union-like sinecure may be able to cut himself a bit more slack. That's the kind of risk I meant.

bthun, it's funny, isn't it, that the idea of upheaval and confrontation has an obviously poor connotation for me but not you. My guess is that the other women on this site are more in my camp for the most part. I see upheaval and confrontation as worthwhile costs, but definitely costs. It wouldn't even occur to me to see them as neutral or positive, even though my political and economic philosophy would lead me to conclude they are.

Poque, I think you're right about the change-averse characteristic being more prevalent in women. Even among some very driven, competitive female friends, I can't think of any who would really relish the idea of changing jobs; I certainly never have relished it. (I did just change jobs last week, but it took a lot to get me moving.) It's almost as if the instinct for loyalty came into play, even in circumstances where loyalty isn't particularly called for. Men seem to get more restless, or to get less confused about when loyalty or constancy is a virtue. I almost can't even imagine what that would be like.

Anyway, hence the need for a book like "Games Mother Never Taught You." These aren't things that were particularly apparent to women of my general age.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 15, 2009 06:07 PM

I've been out of the workforce for, ah, going on five years... That is my excuse for being open to admit that maybe things have changed, or maybe not.

Anywho, in my experience, when a person can cite data points that support their claims of having made a difference in the business, the advancements in position, title and money, be it salary action or one-shots in the way of bonus monies, are forthcoming.

Most businesses recognize and willingly pay to keep performers happy. Then again, it's just my experience, but I've also noticed that the same sort of person who will drive themselves to meet or exceed job/career standards and employer expectations, will know that you have to prepare, document, and be willing to point out your own accomplishments so as to effectively make the case that you're worthy of the expected promotions, salary increase, perks, etc.

But then I'm just an old fellow who never expected to be given a bump without having to prove it was merited. Sometimes via a diplomatic smack upside the head of the boss what's in charge.

All in all working for huge corporations reminds me of the daily fights I had while growing up with my older brothers.

Funny thing is, I really miss it.

Posted by: bt-the resident-curmudgeon_hun at June 15, 2009 06:26 PM

Men tend to want different things from a job: authority, power, respect, money. They will stay at a job they hate if they get those things even if they're miserable.

Women tend to want different things: autonomy, a congenial working environment with people they like and respect, interesting and challenging work, the feeling that they are doing something worthwhile and are appreciated. We will stay at a job we like, even if our employer isn't paying us what we're worth.

When I've quit a job, it has NEVER been because I could earn more money elsewhere. It has ALWAYS been either that I was underutilized/bored, wanted more autonomy, or because something my employer did really pissed me off (and one really has to work to make me that mad). But if the work bores me or I don't like/respect my employer, I'm gone. And I never have worried about 'change'.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 06:29 PM

I think men would like to have a job that includes the things you mention M'lady. In many, if not most instances, the man will make job/career moves if those items are considered to be the most important attributes of his desired work.

Even so, as recently as in my day, many fellows were the sole income for a family where the mom remained home with the kids to perform the CEO/CFO/CIO and Master At Arms duties.

In those situations, the fellow might feel compelled to put his head down and be very methodical in his approach to change while maintaining domestic cash flow continuity. Maybe that's attitude is a bit dated for this century.

But I'd bet that one constant remains true. That being if the CEO/CFO/CIO and Master At Arms ain't happy... nobody happy. =;^}

Posted by: bt-the resident-curmudgeon_hun at June 15, 2009 07:09 PM

Huh. Well, maybe I'm full of it on the "change" thing. But in any case I'd never be nuts enough to say it was all women. Just seemed like a tendency to me. Speaking for myself, I've always just HATED changing jobs, without any obviously good reason for that attitude. That would have translated into an unwillingness to demand a raise (or other job conditions), with the intention of leaving if I didn't get it, if I hadn't sort of forced myself.

Cassandra, I'm trying to imagine being able to up and leave a job without a lot of psycho-drama. Must be nice!

Posted by: Texan99 at June 15, 2009 07:24 PM

Posted by: bt-the resident-curmudgeon_hun at June 15, 2009 07:36 PM

I don't know that you're full of it at all about the change thing.

Maybe it's b/c I've moved all my life and am used to my entire life changing every 2-3 years but change doesn't bother me. I get restless a lot and think about leaving even when I'm happy.

I find people harder to leave than jobs. I've never regretting leaving a job, or missed it. I have missed the people I worked with, and I absolutely do worry about how leaving will affect them. I think that's fairly typical behavior for women.

My current job is the only one in my whole life that I've stayed at for more than 1 year. Everything else, I left. For me, working at home and having autonomy are worth a fair amount of money. I know I could make a lot more somewhere else, but I'd have to do things I'm not prepared to do: travel, commute, go through stupid administrative wickets every time I have an idea.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 15, 2009 07:52 PM

I was saying "huh" to Cassandra, meaning, "Well, what do you know."

Posted by: Texan99 at June 15, 2009 08:10 PM

I really shouldn't chime in here, but I will say that I have been a working mother and a SAHM. Hands down, I prefer being home, as I am sure most mothers would. I am getting my degree because that empty nest is looming; not to mention needing a degree to get a better paying job since it is my turn to add to the family coffers. I am looking forward to this; the Engineer is a better housekeeper and cook than I am. He is thinking of getting his Master's...I am hoping in culinary arts/skills.

Posted by: Cricket at June 15, 2009 09:19 PM

"We will stay at a job we like, even if our employer isn't paying us what we're worth." I'm good with that, but what's wrong with moving to a job you like that pays more money? I'll work anything that pays regardless of whether I like it or not in order to meet my responsibilities. After that's taken care of I see no reason to work in a job I don't like, and with the benefit of a little planning and preparation have always been able step into new jobs I enjoy while making a better salary. I'm plotting a working retirement now where I'll be working something I enjoy that doesn't pay as well (flying) but it along with retirement income will be more than sufficient for our needs. The thing is satisfying, valuable and productive work is not mutually exclusive with good pay and benefits.

Posted by: Pogue at June 15, 2009 11:05 PM

Oh, and to be clear, I understand what you mean about the value of being able to work at home, etc. Those things do have a compensation value that is worth some amount of dollars off the pay check. What I don't understand is why people that aren't happy with their job or compensation don't find something better - sure it takes some effort, but isn't it worth it?

Posted by: Pogue at June 15, 2009 11:14 PM

I'm with you, Poque. My job hasn't been my favorite thing to do, it's been the thing I could build financial security with.

I have friends and family who've been unhappy all their lives with what they can earn. They attribute it to the error of society in undervaluing the things they most enjoy doing. They don't seem willing to do something they like less that would pay more, even though they're capable of learning how and of landing the job. Seems like a choice to me. But as far as I can tell, they want the job they prefer and the income that goes with the job they don't.

I make a fraction of what I used to, but I was miserable then and couldn't be happier now. Would I like my old income, pension, etc., back? Sure, but I'm no longer willing to do what I had to do to get it, like come home at midnight every night and travel and live in a city and swim in a shark tank all the time. As long as I can support my modest household, I get to do what I like -- everything except complain that I should be paid more.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 15, 2009 11:48 PM

After graduating with my BBA back in '92, I got a temp job until I got my first "real job". Worked in the accounting department at a credit union. There was a defined pay scale, depending on the classification of your position. I always got raises when it was time for my reviews. I liked the job when I started it, but then it got to be a chore and I didn't like the working environment anymore (I viewed the man who was running the place, after the original Big Boss retired) as a dishonest man, and when I took my evidence to those who are responsible for policing such things and nothing happened to him, I decided that was not the place for me to be any longer.

Found a job in AR, doing tech support for a proprietary store management software. When I started, there were 4 of us in my position, all hired at different rates of pay. I was hired in at one of the higher rates, it turned out. For quite a while, I enjoyed that job. It was intellectually challenging, and I got to do a bit of travel (since I was still in my twenties and single, this was an attractive aspect of the job). I liked that job for a long time. Then, the woman who hired me retired, there were changes in management, and it was no longer a fun place to work - management talked a good talk about appreciating employees. I always got raises when I had my reviews, but those reviews were pretty much always many months behind schedule, and pay increases were never retroactive to when the review should have been done. Got tired of the BS, started looking for a job that would allow me to move back home to TX. Found that job in November 2004, and moved back to Austin in December. Same kind of work: tech support (without the travel) for a proprietary software. Much different working environment: too quiet, too slow, I was bored out of my mind. Decided to go back to school, so I could become a teacher. Graduated with my M.Ed. in December 2006. I've yet to land that first teaching job. I'm giving it one last try this summer hiring season. Since graduation, I've substitute taught (with the idea that this would get me noticed and help me get a job, but it hasn't worked out that way), adding another school district this past spring, and I also picked up a part-time retail job. The subbing and the part-time retail weren't keeping up with my expenses (pre-back-to-school expenses, plus normal living expenses, plus the added burden of paying back student loans). Both my sisters were working at the same place, and they knew that company was looking for a temp accounting person, and since they (my sisters) were well-liked, they decided to give me an interview and offered me a position. This paid a lot better, and gave me more hours, than the retail job, and it came along at the end of the school year. This employer is well-aware of my desire to teach, so I was able to take off for job interviews last summer, and then when school started up again, for a while, I was able to take off to substitute teach, to include an extended sub for a TA position I also applied for. Didn't get the TA job (even though this was with a school who was ALWAYS calling me to sub, and had asked me to sub for this vacant position until it was filled...), and then my boss at the office job needed me full-time, all the time. That started in November. Then, in February, I was told my position was being offered to another (regular, not temp) employee whose position had been eliminated while she was on medical leave, and that my hours were being cut back. This was actually a good thing, as it allowed me to get back into subbing. Now, it's summer time again, and I've been able to arrange to work full-time this summer, with them knowing I might have to take off if I have an interview (not that that has been an issue so far...).

I'm having to plan ahead, though. What will I do if I don't get a teaching job, this being the third summer hiring season since I earned both my M.Ed. and my teacher certification. The office job is okay, knowing it's just temporary, but if I had to really think about this being my "real job", I know I wouldn't be happy. I wouldn't be fulfilled. It's a large multi-national with all the bureaucracy that goes along with it (and, overhearing conversations of people higher on the totem pole than me, a lot of that has to do with compliance with federal regulations...). I'm having to start giving serious thought to what I want to do if I can't teach (and we won't get into me possibly coming to terms with the fact that I've wasted 4 years of my life and $20k in a failed attempt to become an educator...). I have financial responsibilities, and I'm tired of living in limbo (and with my parents), but I also would like to have a job that I find rewarding (the current temp job doesn't really fall into the "rewarding" category, as it's generally not intellectually challenging, nor do I see it making a large or lasting impact on the world). But, given the current economic climate (even though Texas hasn't been as greatly impacted), will I be able to find a job that fits the bill?

I decided a while back that making the big buck isn't worth some of the trade-offs I would have to make. I don't want to live for the job. I want to still have time for doing non-work things I enjoy (blogging, troop support, spending time with family & friends, other recreational activities), and not spend 10 or more hours a day at the office.

Well, it's past my bedtime again. Meant to go to be more than an hour ago... But, I need to go into that office job in the morning, so I'd best get going...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 16, 2009 01:42 AM

...autonomy, a congenial working environment with people they like and respect, interesting and challenging work, the feeling that they are doing something worthwhile and are appreciated.

Gee, that's *my* job! In fact, aside from the family separation, the blast-furnace heat, General Order Number One, and the granular atmosphere, about the only *down* side is getting shot at -- but I figure vaulting T-barriers is just an interesting way of staying in shape and keeping my reflexes snappy...

Posted by: BillT at June 16, 2009 04:17 AM

Getting shot at is a downside? I thought you guy types were into that stuff. :-)

Posted by: Texan99 at June 16, 2009 09:20 AM

It's a downside when you can't shoot back.

It's an odd kinda job -- our safely-stateside corporate headquarters won't let us carry, but the local Iraqi commander keeps trying to *give* us AKs as personal weapons.

Posted by: BillT at June 16, 2009 10:24 AM

BillT: You know, I could work myself into a pretty good state of being pissed off, thinking of you getting shot at over there and being expected not to shoot back. Stay safe. "Michael to the left of you, Gabriel to the right of you, Uriel behind you, Rafael before you, and God over all."

Posted by: Texan99 at June 16, 2009 11:16 AM

Heh. You'd still be steamed over the ROE we had in RVN, T99. My Guardian Angel's named Carborundum, BTW. Long story -- ask Cassie or Sly.

Posted by: BillT at June 16, 2009 12:16 PM

You'll take the guardian angels I assign ya, bub, and you'll like it.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 16, 2009 12:23 PM

Bill, I think Carborundum will take all the help he can get.

When was the last time you gave him a day off anyway?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 16, 2009 12:35 PM

I told him to take the rest of the day off at 1400, and at 1420, the mortar hit while he was sitting in the break room, doing Rip-It shooters with Ashraf, one of the Iraqi cadets' GAs.

First mortar in three weeks.

It was starting to get pretty dull around here...

Posted by: BillT at June 16, 2009 12:55 PM

This is the type of column that should be viral, published and spread all around for wise and hoping to be wise folks to read. Outstanding work, Cass.

Posted by: KJ at June 16, 2009 05:49 PM

Thank you :)

Coming from you, that means a lot to me.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 16, 2009 05:53 PM

They were just waiting for you to get back, Mr. DeBille. They were using your thong to line up their *crosshairs*....

Posted by: DL Sly at June 16, 2009 06:03 PM

I put it on my facebook....

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at June 16, 2009 08:23 PM

You put Mr. DeBille's thong on your facebook page??
His infamy knows no bounds....


Posted by: DL Sly at June 16, 2009 09:49 PM

His infamy knows no bounds....

My infamy went to public school -- there are a *lot* of things it doesn't know.

Posted by: BillT at June 17, 2009 07:21 AM

"My infamy went to public school..."

We obviously went to different schools together.

Posted by: DL Sly at June 17, 2009 12:58 PM

And at different times, judging by the age of the helicopter jokes.

Posted by: BillT at June 17, 2009 01:02 PM

And there wasn't even a helicopter in mine....

Of course, there *wasn't* one in yours either.

Posted by: DL Sly at June 17, 2009 03:10 PM