The Republican Party is phenomenon that Tony Soprano would have recognized instantly: a bust-out operation, by individuals (looking at you, Bob Corker), and collectively, as the tool by which the hyper-wealthy secure yet more at the expense of everyone else, including the merely rich.
I think this crowd of jackals understands, but it hasn’t yet fully penetrated even that part of the media that does, more or less, get what’s going on, that the tax heist is merely the most obvious of scams. Everything the GOP does, every policy choice and hidden little adminstrative manouver is another swing of the pick in the most American of extractive industries — the one that treats most Americans as ore to be mined.
This, on the coming elder crisis, is what brought this notion to the fore for me:
Why did women’s rush into the work force stop? …
Caring for children is, to be sure, a formidable barrier to women’s work. In developed countries where parental leave is guaranteed by law and governments ensure free child care, women work at a much higher rate than in the United States.
Still, the consensus is incomplete. It misses perhaps the most significant impediment to women’s continued engagement in the labor market, one that is getting tougher with each passing year: aging. Focused laserlike on child care, we haven’t noticed that the United States is walking into an elder-care crisis.
What are the consequences of this combination of demography and a gendered burden of care?
About a quarter of women 45 to 64 years old and one in seven of those 35 to 44 are caring for an older relative, according to the American Time Use Survey.
A 2015 survey by the insurer Genworth Financial found that caregivers spend about 20 hours a week providing care — about half what a full-time worker would spend at work. Almost four in five said they had missed work, and about one in 10 lost a job. One in six reported losing around one-third of income because of caring responsibilities.
Sean Fahle of the State University of New York at Buffalo and Kathleen McGarry of the University of California, Los Angeles, tracked women in their early 50s to their early 60s for 20 years. Those who provided care, they found, were 8 percent less likely to work. Those at work cut their hours and had lower wage growth. Over time, Professor McGarry told me, caregivers risked lower incomes and a higher risk of poverty in old age.
And the kicker:
Older Americans may be healthier than ever. Still, as they age, they will inevitably develop disabilities and chronic conditions like dementia. “If you are superwealthy and can afford all sorts of things, this is not an issue,” noted Lawrence F. Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard. “But if you are middle class, this tends to end with your relatives’ losing all of their assets and relying on Medicaid or family care.”
Which is to say: the combination of improvements in what medicine can do, the lack of a basic and humane social insurance system and safety net in the United States, and persistent gender roles means that women face disproportionate costs and constraints on their lives; are more likely to be poor as they age; and face the loss of their parents’ assets and ultimately their own to the extractive industry known as elder care.
This is the nub of Republican governing philosophy. Those of us who are not oligarchs both pay more in our lifetimes and must leave our children and grandchildren with less cash, and hence chance, to make their own lives better.
It’s a system based on the continued extraction of capital from the bottom and middle to the top. The Republican Party’s stock in trade is immiseration, and it will continue to be as long as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of a small handful of those on top for whom the rest of us resemble nothing so much as West Virginia mountain tops.
Mere election annihilation is too good for them. I’d take it though, though.
Thomas Cole, The Voyage of Life: Old Age, 1839-40.