Opinion

A labor of love

Photo of Robert Morrison
Robert Morrison
Senior Fellow, Family Research Council

As we mark Labor Day, I’d like to salute those women who keep our economy productive by their labors in the home.

Scripture refers to the first time that God said that something was not good. “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’” (Gen. 2:18). By “an help meet,” the Elizabethan writers of the King James Bible meant someone who is able to help a man work. Even in paradise, there is much work to be done. Naming and exercising authority over the plants and animals, making the garden fruitful — these are labors of the first order. Thus, we see marriage between man and woman as part of the natural order. In thus creating and honoring marriage, God also dignified labor.

It may be no coincidence that we use the word labor in two senses. Daily work is labor, as is childbirth. My wife, the beloved mother of our two children, and who is now a grandmother, is my helpmeet. I thank her for her labors, too.

Millions of working women deserve special honor this Labor Day. When organized labor began in this country, Samuel Gompers, the head of the American Federation of Labor, famously rejected revolutionary schemes and socialist utopias. What did labor want, he was asked repeatedly. “More” was his succinct answer. More pay, more benefits, more safety on the job and off. Labor unions claim credit for being “the folks who brought you the American weekend.”

That’s largely true. But today, organized labor also brings us America the weakened. That’s because liberal labor union leaders have too often ignored their members’ values as they’ve pressed for abortion-on-demand and the ending of marriage. Whenever labor union members get to vote on these matters, they line up with supporters of traditional family values.

Education researcher David Armour was an early skeptic of the No Child Left Behind proposals of a decade ago. His 40 years of work on early childhood development had shown him that it would require $100,000 per child per year to make up for the education deprivation that too many of America’s children experience when they report for kindergarten. Think about that: Half a million dollars per child to get them ready for school. No society has ever been able to afford that. Even America, the richest nation in the history of the world, cannot afford that.

So this Labor Day, I want to pay my tribute to organized labor. That is, the labor organized in millions of homes by millions of married couples. Those mothers’ labors — labor in childbirth, in making homes, in training children — are indispensable. James Carville famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Political philosopher that he is, Carville may have stumbled upon a truth: The Greek root of the word “economy” translates as “management of the household.”

The federal government will spend billions this year futilely trying to remedy the causes of education deprivation. They say it’s all about equipping young people for jobs and ending poverty. But according to the Heritage Foundation’s respected senior analyst Robert Rector, since the 1960s the federal government has spent $13 trillion in a vain attempt to eradicate poverty. The problem is that the government can’t replace mothers and fathers in the home. Let’s honor those mothers in the home and their unstinting labor of love.

Robert Morrison served in the Department of Education under President Ronald Reagan. He is now a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council in Washington.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Icis-Bokonon/100002578907868 Icis Bokonon

    Let me count the ways that you are an idiot.

    1.  Your interpretation of the verse could apply to a maid as well as a wife, and could (and did) apply to multiple wives.  In fact it was often cited as a justification for women in slaveholding homes to have help in the kitchen.  The same culture that advanced that quaint notion also routinely sold their daughters to pay off debts.  Did the editor of this “news organization” drop the paragraphs that reconciled that history with the modern application of this scripture to your sadly-not-so-peculiar right-wing ideas? I didn’t think so.

    2.  The federal government may have spent that 13 trillion as you say it did, which is by the way not what the respected Heritage Foundation fellow said.  (Don’t expect respect, or a fellowship, anytime soon.)  But what of the many trillions of dollars spent by the wealthy of this and other nations while children starved?  What of the money greedily withheld by the wealthy while American children go about with toothaches and hookworm?  What of the prospective money greedily withheld by rightwing American Christians because they feel a calling to fight ‘Obamacare’, which by the way will not cost but will save money and will help to bring healthcare equity to the US?  What of the money retained by the wealthy because they are paying the lowest taxes in a generation?  What of the roads and bridges and parks and flood-control projects and airports and all those other community assets paid for by your parents and grandparents in the form of higher taxes that you and yours are now using up and failing to renew just so you can quadruple or maybe quintuple the average home’s square-footage-per-person over that which was just fine for those grandparents and parents?  What kind of an as shole would Jesus call somebody who argues that Jesus doesn’t want children to be educated  (Consult your King James if you think Jesus said that)–but fails to note or act on the fact that Jesus did want you to split your tunics with the poor, that Jesus thought that capital was secondary to labor (Jesus said it, and the Pope also said it, just today), that Jesus said over and over again, in complicated language and in plain, that we should not begrudge the poor our fruit, our money, our homes?  The nerve to cite scripture to smugly serve your own greed.  The nerve.

    3.  Your citation of the Armour number is deeply dishonest. (ditto, respect; ditto, fellow).  Head Start dollars return (conservative estimate) 9 to 1– but I’m pretty sure you’re too venal and stupid to understand such a point, so let’s just leave it this way: half the cost of the Iraq war, the signal grotesquerie of the past decade of violence-soaked, bigoted Christian hypocrisies, would have covered the wildest-dreams budget of all your enemies.  Consult the Bible to learn what happens when you help the poor, feed the hungry, and so on. Hint:  they aren’t cured.  But don’t look too closely unless you can toleate another active repudiation of your most basic religio-political fantasies.

    4.  Thanks but no thanks for the obstetrical puns and observations.  Someone so grossly unconcerned for the future has no business lecturing people about children and futures, much less education (which you apparently disdain in practice as much as you impeach in the abstract.)  We don’t need to imagine a retrospective historian’s conclusions to see how badly you and yours have screwed the pooch–we have a sequence of catastrophes and a pattern of blithe repetition stretching back to 1937 as our guide, wobbling wildly through new extremes of wasteful, puritannical self-delusion each cycle.  Should Perry or Bachmann take office with a compliant Congress of tea-party creatures even the nauseating accomplishments of the Bush administration will likely be dwarfed, as Bush’s sanctimonious Monte game dwarfed the bumbling supply-side bunko of Reagan.  And since any position approaching pragmatism, caution, investment, or common sense earns a rebuke from the Christine O’Donnell wing of the Republican Party, we ensure that those poor uneducated children, born by labor, will have to labor and sacrifice and adapt in an attempt to undo the damage that is unspooling in front of our eyes, clapped on gleefully by the smiling wealthy folk who would pitchfork a muslim baby onto a tire-fire if they thought it might injure Barack Obama.  These people are your people, and you embrace them.  Check with Jesus, he’d agree:  if you disagree with a man, crush him with deceit; get ignorant bigots to vote against education; let the least of these suck air; scrape the world clean and discard it.  It’s right there by the verses that say the wealthy get it all and the poor can crap in their hat.

    Tired.

    ice

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Icis-Bokonon/100002578907868 Icis Bokonon

    Let me count the ways that you are an idiot.

    1.  Your interpretation of the verse could apply to a maid as well as a wife, and could (and did) apply to multiple wives.  In fact it was often cited as a justification for women in slaveholding homes to have help in the kitchen.  The same culture that advanced that quaint notion also routinely sold their daughters to pay off debts.  Did the editor of this “news organization” drop the paragraphs that reconciled that history with the modern application of this scripture to your sadly-not-so-peculiar right-wing ideas? I didn’t think so.

    2.  The federal government may have spent that 13 trillion as you say it did, which is by the way not what the respected Heritage Foundation fellow said.  (Don’t expect respect, or a fellowship, anytime soon.)  But what of the many trillions of dollars spent by the wealthy of this and other nations while children starved?  What of the money greedily withheld by the wealthy while American children go about with toothaches and hookworm?  What of the prospective money greedily withheld by rightwing American Christians because they feel a calling to fight ‘Obamacare’, which by the way will not cost but will save money and will help to bring healthcare equity to the US?  What of the money retained by the wealthy because they are paying the lowest taxes in a generation?  What of the roads and bridges and parks and flood-control projects and airports and all those other community assets paid for by your parents and grandparents in the form of higher taxes that you and yours are now using up and failing to renew just so you can quadruple or maybe quintuple the average home’s square-footage-per-person over that which was just fine for those grandparents and parents?  What kind of an as shole would Jesus call somebody who argues that Jesus doesn’t want children to be educated  (Consult your King James if you think Jesus said that)–but fails to note or act on the fact that Jesus did want you to split your tunics with the poor, that Jesus thought that capital was secondary to labor (Jesus said it, and the Pope also said it, just today), that Jesus said over and over again, in complicated language and in plain, that we should not begrudge the poor our fruit, our money, our homes?  The nerve to cite scripture to smugly serve your own greed.  The nerve.

    3.  Your citation of the Armour number is deeply dishonest. (ditto, respect; ditto, fellow).  Head Start dollars return (conservative estimate) 9 to 1– but I’m pretty sure you’re too venal and stupid to understand such a point, so let’s just leave it this way: half the cost of the Iraq war, the signal grotesquerie of the past decade of violence-soaked, bigoted Christian hypocrisies, would have covered the wildest-dreams budget of all your enemies.  Consult the Bible to learn what happens when you help the poor, feed the hungry, and so on. Hint:  they aren’t cured.  But don’t look too closely unless you can toleate another active repudiation of your most basic religio-political fantasies.

    4.  Thanks but no thanks for the obstetrical puns and observations.  Someone so grossly unconcerned for the future has no business lecturing people about children and futures, much less education (which you apparently disdain in practice as much as you impeach in the abstract.)  We don’t need to imagine a retrospective historian’s conclusions to see how badly you and yours have screwed the pooch–we have a sequence of catastrophes and a pattern of blithe repetition stretching back to 1937 as our guide, wobbling wildly through new extremes of wasteful, puritannical self-delusion each cycle.  Should Perry or Bachmann take office with a compliant Congress of tea-party creatures even the nauseating accomplishments of the Bush administration will likely be dwarfed, as Bush’s sanctimonious Monte game dwarfed the bumbling supply-side bunko of Reagan.  And since any position approaching pragmatism, caution, investment, or common sense earns a rebuke from the Christine O’Donnell wing of the Republican Party, we ensure that those poor uneducated children, born by labor, will have to labor and sacrifice and adapt in an attempt to undo the damage that is unspooling in front of our eyes, clapped on gleefully by the smiling wealthy folk who would pitchfork a muslim baby onto a tire-fire if they thought it might injure Barack Obama.  These people are your people, and you embrace them.  Check with Jesus, he’d agree:  if you disagree with a man, crush him with deceit; get ignorant bigots to vote against education; let the least of these suck air; scrape the world clean and discard it.  It’s right there by the verses that say the wealthy get it all and the poor can crap in their hat.

    Tired.

    ice

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Icis-Bokonon/100002578907868 Icis Bokonon

    Let me count the ways that you are an idiot.

    1.  Your interpretation of the verse could apply to a maid as well as a wife, and could (and did) apply to multiple wives.  In fact it was often cited as a justification for women in slaveholding homes to have help in the kitchen.  The same culture that advanced that quaint notion also routinely sold their daughters to pay off debts.  Did the editor of this “news organization” drop the paragraphs that reconciled that history with the modern application of this scripture to your sadly-not-so-peculiar right-wing ideas? I didn’t think so.

    2.  The federal government may have spent that 13 trillion as you say it did, which is by the way not what the respected Heritage Foundation fellow said.  (Don’t expect respect, or a fellowship, anytime soon.)  But what of the many trillions of dollars spent by the wealthy of this and other nations while children starved?  What of the money greedily withheld by the wealthy while American children go about with toothaches and hookworm?  What of the prospective money greedily withheld by rightwing American Christians because they feel a calling to fight ‘Obamacare’, which by the way will not cost but will save money and will help to bring healthcare equity to the US?  What of the money retained by the wealthy because they are paying the lowest taxes in a generation?  What of the roads and bridges and parks and flood-control projects and airports and all those other community assets paid for by your parents and grandparents in the form of higher taxes that you and yours are now using up and failing to renew just so you can quadruple or maybe quintuple the average home’s square-footage-per-person over that which was just fine for those grandparents and parents?  What kind of an as shole would Jesus call somebody who argues that Jesus doesn’t want children to be educated  (Consult your King James if you think Jesus said that)–but fails to note or act on the fact that Jesus did want you to split your tunics with the poor, that Jesus thought that capital was secondary to labor (Jesus said it, and the Pope also said it, just today), that Jesus said over and over again, in complicated language and in plain, that we should not begrudge the poor our fruit, our money, our homes?  The nerve to cite scripture to smugly serve your own greed.  The nerve.

    3.  Your citation of the Armour number is deeply dishonest. (ditto, respect; ditto, fellow).  Head Start dollars return (conservative estimate) 9 to 1– but I’m pretty sure you’re too venal and stupid to understand such a point, so let’s just leave it this way: half the cost of the Iraq war, the signal grotesquerie of the past decade of violence-soaked, bigoted Christian hypocrisies, would have covered the wildest-dreams budget of all your enemies.  Consult the Bible to learn what happens when you help the poor, feed the hungry, and so on. Hint:  they aren’t cured.  But don’t look too closely unless you can toleate another active repudiation of your most basic religio-political fantasies.

    4.  Thanks but no thanks for the obstetrical puns and observations.  Someone so grossly unconcerned for the future has no business lecturing people about children and futures, much less education (which you apparently disdain in practice as much as you impeach in the abstract.)  We don’t need to imagine a retrospective historian’s conclusions to see how badly you and yours have screwed the pooch–we have a sequence of catastrophes and a pattern of blithe repetition stretching back to 1937 as our guide, wobbling wildly through new extremes of wasteful, puritannical self-delusion each cycle.  Should Perry or Bachmann take office with a compliant Congress of tea-party creatures even the nauseating accomplishments of the Bush administration will likely be dwarfed, as Bush’s sanctimonious Monte game dwarfed the bumbling supply-side bunko of Reagan.  And since any position approaching pragmatism, caution, investment, or common sense earns a rebuke from the Christine O’Donnell wing of the Republican Party, we ensure that those poor uneducated children, born by labor, will have to labor and sacrifice and adapt in an attempt to undo the damage that is unspooling in front of our eyes, clapped on gleefully by the smiling wealthy folk who would pitchfork a muslim baby onto a tire-fire if they thought it might injure Barack Obama.  These people are your people, and you embrace them.  Check with Jesus, he’d agree:  if you disagree with a man, crush him with deceit; get ignorant bigots to vote against education; let the least of these suck air; scrape the world clean and discard it.  It’s right there by the verses that say the wealthy get it all and the poor can crap in their hat.

    Tired.

    ice