There Is No Crisis

Not any more of one than there always has been for working mothers without six names who don’t get featured in the New York Times Magazine:

Now, I’m just as jealous of the
yoga-pants-at-9-a.m.-on-Monday-morning crowd as the next frazzled
working mom. But, I’m sorry to say, however delicious charting the
downfall of the wealthy at-home mom may be, we do have to stop for a
little reality check. While the rich, bathed in our attention, are
turning necessity into a hand-wringing sociological event, most women
in this country are just going about their business, much as they
always have.

We — journalists and readers both — simply must, for once, resist
the temptation to let what may or may not be happening to the top 5
percent (or 1 percent) of our country’s families set the story line for
what women’s lives are becoming in this recession.

Because, the fact is, the story’s not about them.

Seriously. One more trend story about how manicures are too expensive these days and I’m gonna scream. And it’s interesting that this is more prevalent at the big-city papers than it is in the smaller ones, wherechronicling the day-to-day lives of people struggling has always been the mission:

Hall said a lot of male teachers take such summer jobs as painting,
roofing and carpentry, while female teachers often work retail sales,
office work and waiting tables.

The
school district was a major employer itself, hiring many teachers for
the summer school program that helped slower learning students, Lacey
said.

But that
program was cut from 24 days to nine last summer after voters rejected
school levies. The district is deciding how extensive the program will
be this year.

The most gifted teacher I ever knew, the man who taught me about the power of words and whose love of learning and debate made all his students fearless in their arguments, worked construction in the summers to pay the mortgage, and this was in the early 90s, when times were supposedly so good. There has always been a struggle to pay the bills in middle-class America. It’s just that until the prices of manicures start soaring, the punditry doesn’t really notice all that much, and it’s really only a problem when they say it is, right?

A.

6 thoughts on “There Is No Crisis

  1. Don’t get me started.
    Seriously. Don’t get me started.
    I’ll never stop.

  2. I imagine it’s getting harder and harder for a lot of teachers to even have summer jobs, now that the continuing-ed requirements are getting tougher and tougher. Sure, in some jurisdictions, you can rebate that cost back, but you still have to pay for it up front.
    (FWIW, I have a lot of names and I’m not wealthy; my parents had a name picked out for me and then a relative died, and we’d had a family tradition of having someone in the family with that name somewhere since about 1700, so I got it as well as the name the folks were planning on giving me. My sister has an extra name because I do.)

  3. Possibly crazy contrarian argument: more absurd NYT stories about how rich people are forgoing the necessities of their lives is a good thing, because it demonstrates how disconnected the larger media institutions are from daily life.
    Just for example, here in Chicago there’s a “recession blog” at the Trib in which the reporter who maintains the blog laments not being able to afford a vacation home.
    Now, I doubt he makes *that* much money, dude’s just a reporter, and his wife’s a minister, so I’m not like grabbing my pitchfork. But whenever I see these things I’m made aware of the levels of disconnect, and I include myself in this as someone who, according to US median income, is exactly middle-class.

  4. As always A, right on the point.
    May I add that we watch Entertainment tonight to see the Divas of entertainment. We live and die by their lives.
    Thus the sickness, death or success of a star is what we live to vicariously give meaning to our lives.
    Then I look at Jerry Springer and see a midieval morality play.

  5. Nothing, nothing at all taught me the true meaning, and extent, of classism in America until I lived in NY for the better part of a decade. Probably because, dim and unchallenged as I had been up to that time, I’d never felt it, acutely felt it, because I’d never been reminded on a daily basis of my own place on the socioeconomic continuum.

  6. Insane-but-true stories like these are why tramps like alla us will never live in Manhattan, and, if we do, we won;t live there comfortably.

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