How the Dual Income Destroys the Lower Classes
It is oftentimes complained, partially unfairly, that the American lower classes are getting poorer and poorer. But enough has been written, by practically every conservative think-tank, about how the welfare state and anti-discrimination legislation destroy neighborhoods and promote the business interests of those with poor moral constitutions (leftists, primarily) by providing layabouts with an arsenal of unreasonable lawsuits. This article, recognizing the above socioeconomic maxims, will seek instead to show how two-income households have played an equal, if not greater role in impoverishing American lower classes. This aspect of American poverty has not been adequately addressed -- perhaps, considering how feminism pushes women into the workplace, because it is now culturally offensive to do so.
When Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, he noted that although the wages of the lowest classes were oftentimes determined by the lowest their employers could pay, humankind's present population acknowledges that at large, even with an imbalance of wealth, employers could not sustainably pay their workers less than would maintain a family of four (Book I, chapter VIII). If employers were to seek to pay less, then populations would shrink until competition over labor would force the wages of even the lowest classes higher. And since the population of the world is now greater than in past years, especially considering that Western societies are generally monogamous in terms of marital structure, then the poorest working classes must have been able, even without minimum wage regulations, to afford families of five and greater. If this was not the case, then wealthy families would have been primarily responsible for the present population -- a highly unlikely scenario, considering even Smith acknowledged that wealthier women were less inclined toward childbearing.
But there was a circumstance in which Smith noted that wages could fall below this natural floor. Assuming that a household were to have a second source of income, the worker was likely to compete for employment at a lower price than his neighbors, bringing wages below standards of maintenance. Today, that second income is provided either when welfare payments are received from the state or when two breadwinners exist in the same home. And the natural result of either circumstance is that the once-sustainable wages of the single employment are compromised, and though two breadwinners now occupy one household, their wealth is not greatly augmented.
The U.S. Census Bureau confirms this hypothesis with its 2010 study on household income demographics. The lowest classes, those most likely to be touted by left-wing organizations as oppressed, are the least likely to be dual-income families, while those in wealthier middle-class categories are a minimum of close to four times more likely to have dual incomes. Compared with the bracket with the highest percentage of dual income households, the lowest quintile is somewhere around eleven times less likely to have a second income. If this is the case, then poverty and the number of incomes are absolutely correlated.
The dual income, of course, has an equally disastrous effect upon housing affordability. In past generations, a man could buy a small home with his own savings. Today, not only has the housing market become radically inflated through government-sponsored usury, but since home prices are essentially monopoly prices, selling for the maximum amount the market will bear, having two breadwinners in a majority of homes can only make a landed lower class even less possible. According to the same Census Bureau report above, the quintile most likely to have only one income (the poorest quintile) constitutes one third of all renters.
Americans do not often consider that such a trend toward dual full-time incomes -- and subsequently, toward the impracticability of properly raising a traditional family with two children -- has already harmed this country substantially. Conservatives complain of the unfathered children of the most criminal classes, yet they often neglect to propose that a missing mother could harm the family as well. They complain about a public school system's advocacy for increasingly bankrupt leftist causes, but they will not encourage mothers to fulfill their duty to raise their children. They complain of the incredible burden associated with an aging population without wondering whether it is actually affordable anymore for traditional families to properly raise more than one to two children. Simply put, the economic (and thus reproductive) power of the individual household is vital to a host of conservative causes, and yet, for reasons neither logical nor moral, the sacred cow of feminism takes precedence over all of them.
It may perhaps be complained that the woman's worth is not realized when she remains at home, that she is disempowered in her motherly duty. But the wise know -- not just with their minds, but also with their hearts -- that a mother's value is not reflected solely in the peace of the home and in the stability of nations. On the contrary, if a society of women arise to their honorable calling, they are amply rewarded in the fortified paychecks of their husbands, and in the affordability of their homes. This was yesterday's America, steeped in the honor which accompanies the dutiful. Yet today, the husband depends upon his wife to sustain a wealth they once had without her leaving the home -- a deteriorating financial and reproductive state of the American household for which leftists, of course, propose "remedies."
Toward such a solution, leftists remove capital from the American economy, destroying the growth of industry -- a growth which Adam Smith recognized alone as the poor man's insurance of equitable pay -- only to distribute that money in welfare programs well-known by all studious men to destroy the household further. This, as well-documented, results in more illegitimate childbirth, more crime, and perhaps most offensively, more cries for more government programs to further the cycle of plunder.
The second "remedy" proposes to open American borders, either officially or effectively, thereby replacing the missing American children with desperate foreigners from even the most ideologically opposite states. But this endeavor not only greatly immerse Americans in a crime wave of epic proportions, but, combined with leftist refusal to assimilate newcomers, it destroys the very fabric of identity which gives Americans a reason to live together. Certainly, some leftists and libertarians argue that such importation cannot take too many jobs from Americans, as an open border guarantees that the same people who come in search of employment may easily leave when they cannot find it. But if foreigners are forced to leave because employment cannot be found, that can only mean that the native working class has already reached its most pathetic state, incapable of bargaining any lower for the jobs which would at one time have fed a family equitably. There is perhaps no greater guarantee for an impoverished lower class than the combination of a feminized household and a completely open border, calling every unemployed person across the entire globe to compete in a finite market.
The wise know another method of restoring household stability, and it is a restoration of the traditional, biblical nuclear family. It will do little good to have both parents live in the same home if they refuse to subscribe to the natural roles provided by the God of nature. How the husband and wife manage themselves -- the man laboring as the breadwinner and the giver of law, the woman laboring with equal nobility to raise her children and ensure the propagation of heritage -- is as important as marriage itself. This is not to say that women should never seek maximum productivity, as even the Bible praises the woman who, above and beyond her duty to her household, operates a business from her home. But her income must remain in most cases a responsibility secondary to both the care of her children and the economic liberty of the family. This structure is intended by God. And if mankind is not wise enough to heed His call, as shown above, it will be enforced by the iron hand of nature.
Jeremy Egerer is a recent convert to Christian conservatism from radical liberalism and the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.