The Statesman reports today that Rep. Steve Thayn and the Idaho House of Representatives' Family Task Force are trying to figure out ways to keep mothers home with the kids. They acknowledge they using a 1950s family as a baseline, and apparently want to recreate that model.
Well, okay. Mothers staying home, voluntarily, to raise children while the father "brings home the bacon" is something that many people would support. The problem is, given our economic situation few families can afford to do this.
There are only 4 ways to resolve this. Increase wages, lower prices, subsidize the families, or reduce consumption. I'm pretty sure Thayn doesn't support raising the minimum wage. Initiatives to bring high paying jobs to Idaho seldom succeed on any scale, especially since one of the attractions to business here is the overall low prevailing wages.
Lowering prices just isn't going to happen. If the legislature ponied up some incentives to get an oil refinery built here it could perhaps lower gasoline prices, but that's almost silly to contemplate. In a national and global economy there just isn't much Idaho can to to lower prices enough to allow a mother to forgo an income.
Families could cut back on cable TV, cell phones, internet access, up to date computers, and other non-essentials to save money, and live like people did in the 1950s. This actually can work. Unfortunately, few people want to return to that life. Cars in the '50s had metal dashboards and no seat belts, but cost around $1,000. Cars now can save your life in a wreck, but cost $20,000. Which would you choose for your kids, mom? And again, how does government convince people to live, by today's standards, such a Spartan lifestyle?
Last, subsidies. Rep. Thayn, did you support Bill Sali's vote to defeat the S-CHIP bill? Would you support expanding the food stamp program? About about Aid to Families with Dependant Children? Did you support Gov Risch's property tax relief and the matching 1 cent sale tax increase the negated it? Given the political philosophy of Idaho Republicans, subsidies are right out.
As the Bard might have commented:
[Thayn's] but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.