Follow me closely on this one because it takes some explaining, but I’ll try to make this as clear and as simple as possible so you see my point.
In order for something to be taxed there must be some kind of transaction. You get a paycheck, you sell some stock, you buy gas, you sell a house, etc. etc. That transaction is recorded not just in company or government records, but at banks, so if you were ever to get audited, there would be some kind of proof a transaction did indeed occur. There are only two ways to avoid this taxation:
1. That transaction is done in cash (and therefore no banking or electronic proof that transaction occurred).
2. You barter for services or goods (again, no electronic record of any transaction).
Now, that being said, the IRS still requires you to report any cash or bartering transactions so you can pay taxes on it, but they’re relying on the honor system in these cases. Naturally, there’s an incentive to make transactions via cash or barter, resulting in an US underground economy estimated to be anywhere from $500 billion to even $3 trillion.
When you think “underground economy” you usually think drugs, weapons, maybe contractors doing favors for one another, but you rarely think of housework as part of the underground economy. Basic house maintenance, upkeep and cleaning is viewed more as a chore and even the most ardent of IRS agents I doubt would advocate somehow requiring homemakers reporting whether or not they vacuumed that year or mowed the lawn.
However, they don’t really have to. Feminism has already done that for them.
Again, before I continue on, let me get the disclaimers out here so we can blunt the knee-jerk reactions from the non-thinking reactionaries. Let me state that I for one never viewed house work as “beneath” anybody. I never viewed what could be considered traditional “women’s work” beneath traditional “men’s work” and to this day still am looking for proof where society placed less value on traditional women’s roles than they did traditional male’s roles. Truthfully, I believe having “men’s” work and “women’s” work categorized was really more of a symbiotically beneficial division of labor allowing both groups to produce more than had they tried to do both jobs, but that is for another debate at another point in time. For purposes of our discussion now, I view traditional “women’s work” just as vital as traditional “men’s work,” while at the same time agreeing there are instances where the traditional roles could be reversed that would also be beneficial.
But getting back to my original point, feminism has indeed brought a lot of the unspoken labor involved in house work, house maintenance and traditional “women’s work” out of the world of barter and into the official (and now taxable) economy.
Well consider this.
1950’s home maker Sue spends her day cleaning and taking care of the house. Washing dishes, doing laundry, cooking meals, and (more importantly) taking care of the kids. All of this has vital value to the continuing function of the household and thus the economy and thus the country, but because she is not paid to do it, there is no way to put a market value on it and therefore no way to tax it.
But today, many thanks to feminism, women are no longer “shackled” to the doldrums of the 1950’s housewife. She can go and pursue her own education, her own career, have kids, have a home, have a car, pursue her hobbies, run for president, fly to the moon and cure cancer. She can do it all and she can have it all because she has moxie and grrrrrl power (TM). And so, in 2012, Amy is “having it all” as she works as a lawyer in a prestigious DT law firm, with her 3 children, her house payments and car payments, as she participates in the local wine club, and goes out and partays as she is single because her ex-husband was a jerk.
The question is, naturally, if Amy is out doing all these things, how does she take care of her house and her children?
Simple, she doesn’t. She pays somebody else to do it. She outsources all these things.
“Did you say, “outsource,” Captain?”
Yes, yes I did. And you know what that means. That was a transaction. A transaction that is recordable and now, thusly, taxable.
In short, by kicking the homemaker (whether it was male or female, it doesn’t matter) out of the house and into the working world you no longer have a willing and amiable spouse to stay at home and do all that work for “free.” You have to pay somebody, and NOW you get to pay taxes on it.
How much? Well, shucks howdy, a cool $67 billion every year ladies and gentlemen.
How did I come about that figure? With my patented “Super Awesome Economic Genius,” of course!
If you go to the NIPA accounts and look at personal consumption expenditures and add up all the various “household services,” “day care,” “cleaning services,” and other things that would have been done by a traditional housewife, you get $169.3 billion spent on everything. But in the 1950’s, that wouldn’t have been a transacted number. That would have been a theoretical value applied to the barter. But since $169.3 billion has actually been transacted, you need to apply the roughly 40% tax rate to that amount, which results in the $67 billion tax bill I estimated above.
Now who pays this tax?
Men were already working in the official economy and therefore paying income taxes. It’s not like male labor force participation jumped since the 1950’s. But to pay for the outsourcing of house maintenance, home keeping, child-rearing, etc., this bill fell on women who were now on their way to having it all. Women were now not just working and paying regular income taxes, they were now paying that extra $67 billion in taxes to essentially free them up from those horribly oppressive traditional roles so they could pursue their careers.
However, this brings up a funny “chicken or the egg” observation.
Often times I will hear people (not just women, but men too) say,
“Well, you need a two-person income to support a family today. It’s impossible to have a stay at home parent.”
Is it that you need to work two jobs to pay for everything, or is it that “everything” costs so much because it was cheaper for one parent to stay home instead of paying $22,000 a year for day care, $10,000 a year for a cleaner, and an extra $12,000 a year for eating out at restaurants because nobody has time to shop for groceries let alone turn them into meals?
Sadly, today the point is moot. Society, in voting in a bevy of social programs, has made the option of a parent staying home nearly impossible. Too many government programs exist today to accommodate the two-working-parent model that if you decide one of you will stay home to rear children and take care of the house, you’re stabbed on property taxes, sales taxes, and other non-income tax related levies. You are also forfeiting “free” government programs that have taken over some of these traditional housewife duties.
However, the fact there are so many government programs brings up two last, but wickedly ironic points.
Point 1 – Cleaning the house, doing the dishes, etc., etc., is one thing. But the most expensive item that was bartered for back in the olden days was rearing children. Society, in all of its wisdom, has effectively outsourced that to the government. You have day care, pre-school, early childhood development programs, high school care for teenage moms’ children. You could even argue elementary school is largely a baby sitting operation. And with the early-morning school programs and after-school programs, you can hardly argue it isn’t. You can pretty much just go and have a child and after a bit of maternity leave, drop the kid off at some school, institution or daycare and the government will either subsidize it or outright pay for it. Thank god, you don’t have to deal with that icky, yucky, gross child of yours, let alone RAISE that darn thing! Whew! Onto your masters degree.
But who then raises your child?
And here is the wicked part.
Point 2 – Though not always, predominantly other women take care of your kid. Amy the lawyer or Kelly the engineer would be one thing in that the economic argument could be made that in outsourcing their traditional housewife duties, they COULD make more as an engineer, pay somebody else to maintain the home, pay the extra “feminist tax” on those transactions and STILL come out ahead. They and their husbands could make bookoo coin, fly around the world, gallivant and drink wine, and heck yes, more power to you, AS LONG AS YOU DON’T HAVE CHILDREN. However, that is not the case in the majority of working women. The majority of working women are not only NOT engineers, the majority of women DO want children.
So what ends up happening?
Women, in droves, disproportionately major in “early childhood development,” “education,” “child psychology,” “sociology,” “social work,” and a bevy of other worthless degrees to do what????
Take care of other womens’ children.
Not only do you NOT get to take care of your own children, you get to work to pay the taxes to pay other women to take care of yours (and the taxes needed to employ this veritable army of social workers is infinitely more than $67 billion).
Of course, this is all good. We’re all empowered. We’re all “having it all.” We’re all happy. I’m sure the government does a much better job at child rearing than actual mothers (or stay at home fathers) do. Thank god we abandoned traditional roles that somehow developed (for no reason whatsoever) over the millinea of human history. Otherwise there may have been some longer-term consequences that would dwarf the mere $67 billion tax bill. And that certainly isn’t possible now, is it?