Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

21 May 2008

Feminist Economics

I have a some-what secret obsession...economics.

I've only taken one economics course and I HAD to take it for my master's degree. I dreaded it like nothing I've ever taken before - Yes, even Organic Chemistry was less of a dread. My freshman year of college, my roommate's (not the hubby!) dad was a well-known economist. He had held positions in I think the Bush I administration and kept bugging me to take economics. "You're a smart girl and I think you'd like it." GAG! Economics? Learning about the market forces that I knew were keeping poor people poor?

Well, yes...I really did need to know about that.

That said, during my econ course, I swear I must have made the instructor so upset that he wanted to kill me. This was microecon I...total intro to econ course, thus reality was to be left at the door. Except that NO ONE told me that!

I vividly recall one night where he was talking market forces, supply & demand, and why local entities shouldn't tax businesses because there will always be a town down the road that will lower their taxes for the right business. He then went to make the case that we as employees were the same. That health care packages were like tax breaks. If we were unsatisfied with our health care package, we can always go find another job.

WTF!?

My arm shot up and I argued. "Um, not everyone has the luxury to go and find another job." We argued for quite some time until I realized that I wasn't going to win and he wasn't going to stray from the party line.

That's why I was PSYCHED to read that Allison from Shameless has a feminist economics blog! It's called Economic Woman and you should must check it out. Don't worry, as much as I am a nrrd, I'm not Alex P. Keaton...I need my economics translated into human talk as much as the next grrl.

There's also this piece from Beacon Broadside on how my generation is failing to do even just as good as our parents. Err...well in a general sense anyway. My parents & the hubby's parents really struggled to do half the things we can do for our daughter today. Yet, despite us making more money than I believe all three of our parents make together, we still aren't living la vida loca the way were to told growing up. As poor Latin@ kids we were told that if we just worked hard enough we could go to college and get good jobs and not worry about money. Of course student loans and a craptastic economy wasn't in that scenario. Nan Mooney brings us these fantabulous statistics:

  • Consider these statistics: College tuitions have gone up 35 percent in the past five years. The average college graduate today carries close to $20,000 in student loan debt. For those who also attend graduate school, the average debt rises to $46,000.

  • In the late 80s, 56 percent of major corporations still believed that “employees who are loyal to the company and further its business goals deserve an assurance of continued employment.” By the late 90s, that number dropped to just 6 percent.

  • Health care premiums have increased at five times the rate of inflation since 2000. 46.6 million Americans lack health insurance, almost twice as many as in 1980.

  • Between 1992 and 2005 CEO pay — including wages, bonuses and stock options — rose a staggering 186 percent, while the average worker experienced an income gain of just 7 percent.

  • The United States is one of only two industrialized countries in the world that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave to its citizens. In an international survey compiled by the Project on Global Working Families, out of over 168 countries studied, 96 guarantee paid annual leave, 45 also guarantee some form of paid paternal leave for fathers, and 37 mandate paid leave specifically designated for caring for sick children. The U.S. is not among them.

  • The net worth of black and Latino college graduates is similar to the net worth of white high school graduates.

  • In 1949, mortgages were equal to 19.7 percent of disposable income; in 2000, they had risen to 66 percent; in 2005, they reached 96 percent of disposable income.

  • The wealthiest 400 tax payers in the country now pay the same percentage of their earnings in income, Social Security and Medicare taxes as families earning $50,000 to $75,000 a year, those at the heart of the middle class.

  • 2005 was the first year since the Great Depression in which Americans spent more than they earned.

So if you're still in college and have access to an econ class...take it. It'll pay off in you being able to use fancy economic words when people shrug and say, "It's market forces!"

Technorati tags: feminism, economics

4 comments:

Coming in from NaComLeavMo . . .
Those statistics are horrible. I definitely don't have a very good understanding of economics, but the way things are right now is just depressing. (Especially with gas prices that keep going up and up. Grrr.)

Great post, thanks! I remember thinking econ was B-O-R-I-N-G until I took it (as a highschool class) and caught a glimpse of how all these seemingly vague forces affect our lives and shape our society. Kind of scary really! Also interesting how you can follow the money to see trends in society like racism.

I hope to check out those links when I'm not madly doing NacomLeavMo!

Another new blog about feminist perspectives on economics is now up. Check out www.economics-she-wrote.org

Blogger Susan Feiner, Professor of Economics and Director of Women's & Gender Studies (at University of Southern Maine)is writing about economics from a feminist perspective. She is keen to answer questions from sisters around the world.

Hope to hear from you soon! Best, Susan

Another Evergreener! OMG, that might have to rank as my #1 mistake - not going there. *sigh* Life turned out pretty darn good anyway. ;)

Thanks for the link Susan. I'll certainly will check out your blog and add it to my reader. I see you're a newbie, so if I can be of ANY help blogging wise, please let me know. I love helping new feminist bloggers!