Now that we’re sufficiently distant from the obligatory sentimentality around Mother’s Day, let’s look at Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook posting on the subject:
Being a mother is the most rewarding – and hardest – job many of us will ever have. The day you become a mom, you also become a caregiver, teacher, nurse, and coach. It’s an all-in-one kind of role that comes with no training.
Apparently she and Bill Burr are destined to disagree regarding the difficulty of a job that can be done in pajamas.
For most moms, it’s only one of many jobs we have. Over 40% of mothers are the primary breadwinners for their families – and in many, the only breadwinner. We all have a responsibility to help mothers as well as fathers balance their responsibilities at work and home.
Celebrating the heroism of single mothers is a stock item for politicians so perhaps Sandberg will soon run for office? But can she be right about a significant number of single moms being the only breadwinner? If this is a low-income mating situation, the taxpayer will be providing the single mom and her children with a subsidized (or free) house, free health care, and free food. If this is a high-income mating situation, the child support defendant will be sending a stream of cash into the mother’s checking account.
Companies can do a lot to lead the charge, and I’m proud of the steps Facebook has taken. But not everyone has the opportunity to work for a company that supports working parents. It’s time for our public policies to catch up with what our families deserve and our values demand.
To start, it’s long past time to raise the federal minimum wage. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Raising the wage would reduce pay inequality and help millions of families living in or near poverty.
Sandberg is concerned about “pay inequality.” Her reported net worth is $1.6 billion. Thus we can estimate that she has been paid $2-3 billion pre-tax by Facebook, money (or the stock equivalent) that otherwise could have been paid to employees lower down in the bureaucracy. Why not reduce pay inequality at Facebook before asking for government intervention in the labor market for other employers (let’s assume that Facebook, being in Silicon Valley, is forced by the market to pay well above the minimum wage, so a change to this law will have no effect on Sandberg’s personal wealth).
We need paid leave. The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid family leave – and we’re the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave. That means many moms are forced to return to work right after giving birth to keep their jobs. They deserve more support. So do dads, LGBTQ parents, adoptive parents — families of all kinds.
So those Americans who haven’t been fortunate enough to find a mate or have a child are going to be further disadvantaged by a forcible transfer of income to those who have been blessed with a mate (at least for a few hours) and children?
All of us will have times when we need to take care of ourselves and our relatives. We shouldn’t have to risk losing a job or being able to meet the basic needs of our families to do that.
And we need affordable child care. Child care for two children exceeds the median annual rent in all 50 states. How are parents supposed to work if they don’t have a safe and affordable place to leave their kids?
More wealth transfer from the childless will be required!
On this Mother’s Day, even more than ever, I feel deep gratitude for my amazing mom Adele Sandberg, who has given me her love and strength my whole life and these past two years especially. I am also grateful for the love and support of my mother-in-law Paula Goldberg who dedicates herself not only to her own family, but to families with children with disabilities through the PACER Center. For those for whom this day can be more painful than celebratory, I hope – as Connie Schultz would say – that it lands gently.
This is an emotional day for so many reasons – because we thank the mothers we have and remember the mothers and the children we’ve lost. I hope we can also use this day to commit to do more for all the mothers who have given so much and deserve even more.
Sandberg proposes to hit women who couldn’t find a mate and/or couldn’t have a child with higher tax rates to subsidize their sisters who were fortunate enough to become mothers. But Sandberg offers them some kind words in exchange for their higher tax payments!
- The inquisitive gender studies student and Sheryl Sandberg
- Sheryl Sandberg sweeps away sex discrimination at Facebook
- Sheryl Sandberg: Everyone is stupid compared to me
- Sheryl Sandberg: thinking small
- Sheryl Sandberg, Jane Austen, and the Queen of Versailles
- Lean In
- Lean In: Women can move up the career ladder as soon as men change