From the department of righteous indignation:

I will depart from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a brief bout of righteous indignation, which, while not technically about law or nursing, affects nurses and lawyers, so here ya go! –Nurse

Have ya seen this? Did ya hear this? Women can’t have it all. 

Anne-Marie Slaughter gets it wrong. Her article is not really about women– it’s about parenting. 

First, she identifies a very real problem: that women are in fewer leadership positions in business and government  that women are paid less, and that this needs to change. But for Slaughter, it needs to change so that these women leaders will let other women spend more time with their children. So she has brought this very real issue of gender inequality back to the desire to spend time with children– implying that women care about this greatly, and men do not. She points to a “maternal imperative felt so deeply that the ‘choice’ is reflexive.” Her argument rests on the fact that she, and some other women, don’t WANT to work long hours in high-powered jobs when they have young children. This situation is, in a way, exactly what she insists that it is not: being less committed to work. It is not, however, a problem just for women. Choosing between work and other pursuits affects everyone. Perhaps, a generation behind Slaughter,  I have view my own options as a woman differently; when I went to college, more women were enrolled than men, birth control was available without hassle, and “alpha-wives” could be married to house-husbands.

 

Slaughter writes that the choice to take time out of the fast-track life to be with children is ultimately damaging to women’s careers. This is true– and it’s ok, when the women in question are the ones who choose to spend more time with their families. The effect is the same on men who do this. Why shouldn’t people (not just women) who would rather spend more time at work than raise families advance faster at work? This IS a choice, and not only for women. What is really damaging to women is when employers take the same position that Slaughter just did– that women feel a deep “maternal imperative” and will always choose family over work. This position creates prejudices against young women. Am I going to disengage and quit my job at any minute that my ovaries start tingling? Are my male counterparts immune from the allure of choosing other things over work? Absolutely not. So while “family friendly” policies and work-life balance are  good ideas for a host of reasons, it’s not about women. So let’s call it what is is.  When Slaughter write of “having it all,” she means having a high-powered career while also having children and spending time with them at home. If that is “all,” I’ll pass.

Insurance?

NurseA recent article in the Atlantic, by David Goldhill, discussed health insurance reform from an angle we haven’t heard a lot of: why do we expect all of our healthcare expenses to be paid for by insurance? Everything from a checkup to our daily prescriptions to our accidents to our catastrophic illness is, in most people’s minds, the provenance of insurance. This, he argues, has the effect of making the insurance companies, rather than the patients, the customers, and it throws the whole free-market dynamic off entirely. He proposes mandatory health savings accounts as another path. Now, there a problems there, too, and I don’t agree with many of his points, but he raises an interesting question. If we own a car, we are required to have car insurance– but that doesn’t cover new tires, oil changes, and the like. It covers accidents, liability, theft, and damages we might not be able to afford without it. Same with insurance on our homes, our lives, our possessions. . . but not our health. Of course, we’ve been in this system for so  long that most of us could not pay out of pocket for the majority of our health expenses, but the author argues, and correctly, I believe, that the cost of health care as billed to insurance companies and the cost of health care as incurred by providers and facilities is astronomical, and much of that cost is due to administrative nonsense and lack of decent competition and incentives to perform. Interesting, no?