The Death of Our Family Wage Culture

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that last year, only one-fifth of married couple homes were supported solely by the employment of the husband. The wife was the only employed member of the household in 7.8 percent of married-couple homes (with 6.2 percent supported by other employment combinations, and 18.5 percent having no employed members). The numbers get even more interesting, and troubling, when they are specified to families with children. In 2013, almost 70 percent of all mothers, married and single, with children under the age of eighteen were participants in the labor force (either as employees or as those actively looking for employment). Notice that the presence of children in the home makes it more likely, rather than less, that women will be driven to seek employment outside of the home.

This makes sense, considering the addition expenses that come with raising children. But perhaps the perceived sensibility of this trend deserves a second look, considering the additional time and effort needed, and hopefully desired, by women with children in order to adequately provide for the nurturing, care, and education of their young. While the added expense of children is significant, it seems that the demands in time, energy, and attentiveness are greater yet.

It must be noted that the age of the children is an important factor in the mother’s ability to seek outside employment (a mother of teenagers in school will clearly have more time available for outside employment than a mother of children below school age), but perhaps the age of the children should not have as much influence on the decision as one might initially think. Homeschooling, for instance, is generally found to be a possible option only for families who can afford to have one parent (usually the mother) stay home full time even after children reach school age. If children attend a school outside of the home, stay at home moms have the opportunity to volunteer, perhaps at their child’s school. And while home economics may not require 40 hours a week, homes still require some significant time from someone to make them homey (hence the term “homemaker”), even if the kids are away during the day and, for some of the more mature ones, take care of themselves for the most part.

An obvious factor in the working status of the mother is the active presence of the father in the home. Sadly, one-third of women with children are not supported by the presence of a spouse in the home. This statistic alone would seem to explain the high rates for employment among all mothers. Surprisingly, though, the labor participation rate for all mothers of children under eighteen drops by only about two percent for those who are married and do have a spouse present in the home (from 69.9 percent to 67.8 percent).  This rate is considerably lower than the rate of labor force participation for mothers with other marital statuses (74.2 percent), but only a 6.5 percent differential between these demographics seems meager.

Especially noteworthy is the predominance of full-time employment among mothers. While many families may find it economically prudent, and not excessively burdensome on her or the rest of the family, to have the mother employed outside of the home on a part-time basis. Statistically, though, women in the workforce are three times more likely to be employed full time than part time, and that statistic varies little based on demographics which consider marital status and motherhood. The ratio of full time to part time employment among women stands at around 3 to 1 for various categories (specifically: 2.95 to 1 for all mothers with children under 18, 2.88 to 1 for mothers who are married with a spouse present, 2.6 to 1 for all women with children under six years of age, 3.23 to 1 for all women with children between the ages of 6 and 17, and 2.78 to 1 for all women with no children under the age of 18). All the statistical data shown above seems to indicate that women tend to be employed outside of the home, and tend to be employed full time, regardless of marital status, the presence of children in their homes, or the ages of those children.

In a society that considers cable television, designer clothes, and smart phones to be necessities, these numbers are not particularly surprising. When you add modern egalitarianism and androgyny to the materialistic cultural mindset, the commonality of dual income households is even more predictable. What is surprising, though, is how incompatible these numbers seem to be with traditional Christian values, namely those espoused by the Catholic Church. In his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno Pius XI states:

Mothers, concentrating on household duties, should work primarily in the home or in its immediate vicinity. It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father’s low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children. Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to meet ordinary family needs adequately (para. 71).

Ironically, the status quo of American family economics, considered to be progress for women by our modern society, was considered to be “intolerable abuse” of them by our Holy Father. It does not seem that most of us, either as employers or as earners and stewards of wages, have made “every effort” to change our situation. Fifty years later, Pope John Paul II elaborated on this ideal. According to his encyclical Laborem Exercens:

Experience confirms that there must be a social re-evaluation of the mother’s role…. It will redound to the credit of society to make it possible for a mother—without inhibiting her freedom, without psychological or practical discrimination, and without penalizing her as compared with other women—to devote herself to taking care of her children and educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age. Having to abandon these tasks in order to take up paid work outside the home is wrong from the point of view of the good of society and of the family when it contradicts or hinders these primary goals of the mission of a mother (para. 19).

John Paul identified the risk for women to lose something of themselves when impelled, either by desire or necessity, to partially fulfill what had traditionally been consider the exclusive male role as material provider for the family. Addressing the trend of mothers entering the workforce, fueled in part by the popular momentum of liberal feminism, in his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem John Paul warned “In the name of liberation from male domination, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine originality. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not reach fulfilment, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness.” Deforming and losing their essential richness, in these words of Pope John Paul, seem to fit the criteria for designation as “intolerable abuse,” in the words of Pope Pius.

The inability of a woman to fulfill her special feminine role can place the family at risk of double injury, according to this insight, considering its negative effect upon the ability of the father to fulfill his masculine role. John Paul points out that the father, though called upon to exercise a position of leadership and authority within his family, does so in part by following the example of the mother. “The man, even with all his sharing in parenthood,” said John Paul, “always remains outside the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own fatherhood from the mother.” In this sense, it is the duty of the father to provide adequately for his family to ensure his wife’s ability to fully express her feminine genius, not just for the sake of her maternity, but also for his own paternity.

If the dominance of dual income families was based solely on greed and the desire for luxury, it would be a simple, if not easy, fix. Unfortunately, several complex factors have led to an economic situation in which even those who would prefer to rely on the support of a single income will likely have considerable difficulty doing so, in part due to the effect of social trends and government policies. In addition to a certain level of frugality, for a family to subsist upon a single income, that income must be sufficient for all to meet all current and future needs of the family. The problem is, employers no longer hold to the traditional “family wage” concept, but instead offer wages in accordance with market conditions. In other words, employers tend to pay only what they need to pay to be competitive with other employers. Theoretically, supply and demand will dictate those wages for any given occupation. The problem is, we are experiencing a supply and demand problem, and have been for quite some time. Three contemporary causes come to mind:

Gender Competition
Historian Allan Carlson links the erosion of the natural family unit with the loss of the “family wage culture” that had made the baby boom of the 1950s possible. Carlson suggests that the movement towards a family wage economy had been initiated in the 1840s by social reformers and Catholic theorists, whose “proudest achievement was the liberation of married women from toil in the factories, so that they might care for the home and children and so prevent the full industrialization of human life.” In order to achieve this sort of culture, Carlson notes, wage discrimination against women was required. Working women were paid an “individual wage,” with the assumption that they were not supporting dependents and were merely supplementing their husband’s wages. This family wage culture was able to thrive even after 1942 wartime regulations prohibited wage discrimination against women. According to Carlson, “equal pay for equal work was basically achieved by 1945. But for another 25 years, job segregation by gender more than compensated for this. Women workers crowded into ‘women’s jobs’ that invariably paid less than ‘men’s jobs,’ and the so-called wage gap between men and women actually grew.” This system, which had a direct effect on higher marriage and birth rates, would finally collapse in the wake of further policy changes. Carlson asserts “the addition, as an afterthought, of the word sex to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, became by 1970 the chief tool in eliminating job segregation by gender, so ending the nation’s informal family wage system.”

Delayed Retirement
Another cause of our supply/demand problem is that too many wage earning jobs, which are needed by some (particularly the young and/or those who possess lesser skills/qualifications) are currently held by those who, ideally, would no longer need them. The stock market decline of 2007, which caused many previously solid pension plans to appear less than sufficient, and widespread layoffs of near-retirement (but not yet retirement-ready) workers caused by economic recession (not to mention corporate greed), have caused many to remain in the workforce, either holding on to wage earning jobs or looking for them.

This signifies the existence not only of the specific issues already mentioned, but also some larger issues when it comes to the way we pursue our income. In their Capitalist Manifesto, Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler point out that a family wage system will become unsustainable in an industrial economy when households fail to keep pace with the widening gap between the value of labor and the value of creative capital (intellectual and material). According to them, “As the methods by which an economy produces its wealth call for proportionately more capital and less labor, the opportunities to participate in the production of wealth increasingly rest on individual ownership of capital and decreasingly on individual ownership of labor.” Ideally, they suggest, “men will from the very beginning of their lives prepare themselves for eventually turning to humanly better forms of employment; and as they gradually acquire capital estates, they will also gradually shift their interests from one form of employment to another. When at last their capital estates become large enough to provide a viable family income, it is to be hoped that they will hasten the day when they turn all their energies and talents to the performance of the liberal tasks of leisure.” In other words, in order for a family wage culture to survive, families must move from wage earning to capital earning (which can come from ownership of property or other investments). If this process is carried out as they suggest, more suitable jobs will be available for those who need them and families, as well as society, will be enriched.

While this is a multifaceted and difficult subject to approach from the perspective of morality and social justice, it has clearly observable implications in the economic sphere. Recent reports suggest that immigration rates have resulted in considerable wage reduction in the U.S., particularly in lower-skilled professions. In his article “On Immigration: It’s Time to Defend Americans,” Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) cites data “showing that since 2000 all of the net gain in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants,” and claims this surplus of labor is partly responsible for the reduction of the median U.S. household income by almost $6,000 from 2007 to 2012. While there were certainly other factors at work during these years, Sessions asserts that immigration played no small role.

Perhaps the modern confusion about the definition of marriage, the essence of family, the responsible role of government in the economy, and even the nature of happiness in general, have all contributed to our contemporary views on household economics. In our attempt to provide everybody with what they think they want, be it a career of a certain sort or just a convenience of a certain sort, perhaps we have deprived one another of what we truly desire. In What’s Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “I do not deny that women have been wronged and even tortured; but I doubt if they were ever tortured so much as they are tortured now by the absurd modern attempt to make them domestic empresses and competitive clerks at the same time.” In the same vein, John Senior suggested in The Restoration of Christian Culture that “Woman’s place is in the home not because some chauvinist put her there, but because there is a law of gravity in human nature, as there is in physics, by which we seek our happiness at the center.”

Each married couple must discern for themselves the most prudent and proper way to provide for their families; financially, spiritually, socially, and emotionally. Many families may very well be best suited by having both parents work outside of the home. But something tells me that many more families will be even better suited by making the difficult choices and efforts required to live, and even thrive, with only one parent engaged in outside employment. The job of our policymakers and employers, then, is to encourage and provide the opportunity for a society made up of cooperative families supported by breadwinners to emerge.

Dusty Gates


Dusty Gates currently serves as the Director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, KS, and as an adjunct Professor of Theology at Newman University in Wichita, KS, where he resides with his wife and three children.

  • Fred

    We have been truly blessed to be in the minority, and with all there is to do to raise a family and run a household I don’t know how others who don’t manage. Some I know have to while others it is a choice. Living in a high cost of living area near big cities I know makes it nearly impossible. As much as progressives would say otherwise, it does extract a toll on the family.

  • The profit motive wins out on this one, sadly.

    • Fred

      I know families that struggle making ends meet while living humble lives and my heart goes out to them who face that decision, I’m sure we all do. It’s easy for me too to say move away from the cities to the country where the cost of living is lower and quality of life is better, but that means either much longer commutes or fewer jobs, at least of the kind to be pursued in cities.

      • I hope that we all do; but the very fact that wages are decided upon market based supply/demand rather than the needs and responsibilities of the laborer within his personal profitability, tends towards suggesting that many people do not agree that families deserve a living wage.

        • Fred

          I do believe that is at what tugs at the heart of our Pope. For whatever reason though he sees it as the evils of capitalism while being disingenuous in not honestly critiquing the worse evils of statism or communism, the practice not the “ideals”. Honestly, when I read yesterday about his statement about communism having stolen the flag from Christianity I about vomited. I am ever thankful that I was not born under Mao, Stalin, Chavez, etc, etc.

          • DE-173

            Despite my misgivings with the word “capitalism”, to the extent that it means a market economy, he seems to think that a market based economy is what he experienced in Argentina, rather than what exists, which is corporatism with strong fascist elements.

            Based on his statements, his understanding of “the dismal science” appears to me to be abysmally naive.

            Our prelates have squandered the rich tradion of the School of Salamanca and in the future, people will regard this intellectual deficiency the way they regard the moral deficiencies of the Borgia Popes.

            I remember having a discussion with a young priest a long time ago. When I discussed that I was pursuing business subjects as an undergraduate, he lamented at the paucity (absence) of his own training in that regard, and his shock at learning in his first assignment how much of the day to day aspect of Parish operations involved paying bills and making decisions about how to spend what people put in the plate.

            • Fred

              I absolutely agree, and it would appear that our Pope’s total life experiences were shaped by his life in Argentina including the corruption in their implementation of a “free market” system (not that any truly are, just some more so). However, one would hope our Pontiff to be a little more worldly educated and aware of the horrors that the practice of communism has brought the world – to say they stole the flag from Christianity is bizarre at best. Maybe some level of study in economic systems should be required rather than elective for all our seminarians.

            • Fred

              Agree, should have substituted market based economies for capitalism.


    That classic picture has always scared the h..l out of me, and still does.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    This assault on the family itself, on gender roles and the very idea of gender – these are grave and vital reasons the bishops have met in a family synod – NOT.

  • Cap America

    I’ve been waiting for some time to see a major political party grab the whole Single Mother issue and run with it! Talk about grabbing up a lot of good votes! I think Republicans and Democrats both can find ways to address this.

    • DE-173

      They have, just not the way you think. The left treats single (in most cases unwed or divorced) mothers as models of heroism because they are deep wells of dependency, which makes their vote easily captured and retained.

  • DE-173

    While I am generally amenable to this essay, we once again have an author with no observable education, training or experience in the dismal science and so a couple important things are being missed.

    The first thing is that what is operative here is the “fallacy of composition”, which is what happens when one implies that what applies to the individual applies to the group. The classic example is the one individual standing up at a baseball game sees better, but if everybody stands up, they do not (and have loss of leg fatigue as well). The same thing applies here. One family with two incomes enjoys an advantage over others (assuming as the foundries of contemporary mores do, that a woman at home produces little of value).

    The second thing that isn’t being discussed is that for a couple decades, boys have been ignored and in many cases, devalued. As a result, they aren’t being acclimated or prepared for the role of family wage earner. College enrollment where there is a 3 to 2 or 2 to 1 female to male enrollment proportion almost guarantees that women will have more mental investment in a “career:”, even if they don’t pursue some fields like engineering (about 20% female enrollment) and IT in any where near they pursue fields like psychology.

    The third thing is the corporate attitude with women, exemplified by this subsidized ignorance of the cycle of life.
    Unfortunately, this isn’t going to change because of some sudden enlightment or papal exhortation. Societies that direct their girls away from motherhood aren’t long for this world, and the ones that direct the best and brightest away from children are guaranteeing dysgenic effects.

    • Alex

      I like the article too, but there are few Catholic writers that understand economics well. The problem is not market wages or Capitalism. Capitalism has produced more prosperity than anything else.

      Capitalism is just the engine in the car, it’s where we drive the car that makes the difference.

      • DE-173

        I don’t believe in the word “capitalism”, and made a decision in the last couple years to avoid its use because the word is a Marxist Construct, generally devoid of meaning, with no use other than as a leftist pejorative.

        On the other hand, I do understand markets. When somebody “steers the car” you don’t have markets.

        • Alex

          In this case “steering the car” refers to the collective moral choices. Capitalism or Free Market economics is neither good nor bad. It’s what we do with it that makes it good or bad. If we collectively use our abundance to drill water wells in Africa, then good. If we collectively use our abundance to buy more personal luxuries, then not so good.

          • DE-173

            “If we collectively use our abundance to drill water wells in Africa, then good. If we collectively use our abundance to buy more personal luxuries, then not so good.”

            How about we train Africans to drill wells in Africa, instead of making them dependent on us-you know teaching them how to fish?

            Thinking economically always involves asking “at what cost” (and by that I mean opportunity cost) and “then what”.

            Words like “collectively” “abundance” and “luxuries” are so abstract and subjective as to be devoid of meaning.

            • Alex

              I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. Are you seeking a dispute?

              I’ll try one more time. Capitalism is neither good nor bad. It’s what people do with it that’s good or bad.

              • LarryCicero

                If capitalism is neither good nor bad, can you say the same of other economic systems?

              • DE-173

                No, I’m not seeking a dispute, but I won’t walk away.

                If you are saying that morality attaches to individual actions rather than a system of exchange, I’m generally in agreement, except for one thing-the system that is the most productive has a certain moral superiority.

                I didn’t say those words are confusing, I said they were subjective and devoid of meaning.

            • musicacre

              Who is “we” when you refer to training people to drill in Africa? Who is going to do this? I’ve always agreed with that trite quote, of how we should teach people to fish instead of giving them fish, and…a big leap…teach them to drill wells. Now that I know some one who DOES drill wells- he did ours and everyone in this valley for the past 40 years- I realize how outrageous that is. First of all, the reason this family has done it for two generations,( and are the only company around) and now the third is being trained, is because A) It’s a skill that is very hard to learn and takes a long long time of on-the-job-training, B) the equipment is incredibly expensive. These people have donated their time every year practically, to drill for water in Africa, on their OWN dime on their OWN time, so now we should criiticize that, we who have done nothing towards these people getting water, and say to this private company that donates way more than your average company, you should actually do more. Usually I agree with all your posts but I think your ideas on this one are merely in the abstract, “if it were a perfect world” scenario…..

              • DE-173

                “Who is “we” when you refer to training people to drill in Africa?”
                I think I buried an adjunct point to far to be as obvious as it needed to be. I agree with your post, that’s kind of what I wanted people
                I was trying to point out exactly what you observe-that is-when somebody like Alex gets themselves incensed as says “we” should do something, such as use our “abundance” to “drill wells in Africa”, such a statement is loaded with vacancies (who is we?) and how do we get a limited number of people with these skills to Africa-compulsion? How do we get the expensive equipment there? How do we avoid the various issues-wildlife, war, lack of defined property rights, disease, etc. Are there even aquifers with recoverable we they are most needed?
                The fact that your friends manage to overcome all that to bring their unique skills there is wonderful, but “we” need to acknowledge there is no “we” involved. There’s no army of people who can be summoned to rescue Africa from the desert and drought that is simply part of that continent. Whatever they do involves incredible effort and personal sacrifice-I sure as heck couldn’t do it, nor could Alex.
                That having been said I was trying to make the point was that these are unique and limited skills-like everything else, scarce-and the idea that “we” have “abundance” that translates to a helicopter drop of well drillers or well drilling education is nonsense. However there is a class of people that always think about delivery of finished goods, and never think about developing necessary skills in these far away places.
                I hope this gets to the point better,but I’m not sure I’m sufficiently caffeinated to make my point with adequate clarity.

                • musicacre

                  I think there’s clarity, but caffeine always helps…it’s the same people who often imply that before you say abortion is wrong you have to save the rest of the world first.

                  • DE-173

                    Gotcha.. no caffeine at this hour though…

          • LarryCicero

            We “collectively use our abundance to buy” public education.

            • Alex

              No, I am not referring to government programs. If we, meaning the people, use our prosperity for good purposes, then Capitalism serves as a force of good in the world.

              • DE-173

                And when the government programs prove to be dysgenic and counterproductive?

                • Alex

                  Did you read the first sentence of my post?

                  It says “I am not referring to government programs.”

          • Trazymarch

            Are you implying that “Free Market” is something morally neutral? And “Capitalism”? Capitalism in form of Laisses Faire certainly isn’t neutral. Free market sometimes clashes with Christianity too. Vide: Banishing of merchants by Christ in the Temple.

    • Fred

      I was formulating similar thoughts, but … I couldn’t have said it any better. I would add (though it ties together) under the devalued statement that they aren’t being prepared to be fathers either.

    • LarryCicero

      My 6th grade son came home from public school yesterday complaining about his ELA (English-Language Arts) class where they are being instructed about “Girl Power.” The teacher had them watch a video of President Obama make the case that women receive only 77% of what men are paid. The use of statistics for political purposes is nothing new. The stat applies to the overall average pay, not to specific jobs, and the unequal pay has been debunked in many articles that can be easily found. Society/public school perpetuates the myth that males control the culture that discriminates against women and continue to direct girls away from motherhood in the name of equality. Do more mothers need to work because working mothers increase the labor supply, driving down wages? (A very unpopular question, I’m sure.)

      • DE-173

        I’d be down that school in a minute. I know it’s common core, but that teacher sounds like a common wh*re, abusing the scope of her subject to engage in political indoctrination.

        Ironically, although I’m decades away from grade school, I had a teacher at about that age that used to do the same thing in of course a Catholic School, she also had a similarly-minded pet. Yes, Miss Reese.

        • LarryCicero

          I helped him write his paper, that he had to turn in today, asking if girls and boys, or men and women were treated equally. We started out pointing out that girls and boys play differently- like last weekend he played by chopping wood. Then I equipped him with some statistics that are available on-line. At his school Mr. History makes 63% of Ms. English and Ms.Superintendent makes about four times as Mr. History. Ms. International flight attendant makes on an hourly basis three times as much as her husband carpenter. There are many fun-filled examples of statistics illustrating the absurdity of the 77% figure. We ended with the Obama Administration that pays women 88%. I can’t wait to see how she reacts and what grade he’ll get- no matter we had a great time putting it together and he learned that not treating people as “equal” is not discrimination.

          • DE-173

            “I can’t wait to see how she reacts”
            I’m guessing she will treat it as “causus belli”.

            • LarryCicero

              If it is anything like my old sociology teacher there will be red ink all over it. :>)

      • Fred

        Even funnier (perversely). In HS several years ago my son had a history teacher who was a madly progressive. He wrote a paper on FDR criticizing his economic policies and pointed out harm done and the long recovery. Despite the subject it was outstandingly written – well, know how that story ended.

        • LarryCicero

          I had a sociology teacher at a Jesuit University…. need I say more?

          • DE-173

            No, and we wish you relief in seeking treatment from PTSD.

  • Ladasha Smithson

    It gets worse if you want to provide Catholic education to your children. In my area the local catholic elementary school is over 5k per child per year. The catholic high school is around 20k per child per year. These are schools supported by local parishes and tithing! The average salary in my town is ~30k. Unless both parents work they simply can’t afford it. And there is a ton of peer pressure to do so. Catholics with more than two children are left to the curb.

    Then after high school, catholic colleges are always way more expensive than public and even other private colleges. If parents want their children to go there, but don’t want them to end up with 6 figures of debt, then both parents need to have started saving from the time their children were babies.

    We Catholics can’t claim to be supporters of families as long as this continues.

    • Joe

      I whole-heartedly agree. See my post above.

    • Fred

      It gets even worse than that. Though there are many that refuse, many have capitulated in accepting the government’s education program which indoctrinate our kids with progressive nonsense while eliminating classical learning. When it comes to Catholic universities, I don’t even know why they claim any religious affiliation. I know it’s available on campus, but most sail through without ever seeing the inside of church and many are exposed to purely anti-Catholic views.
      When I was in GA I was affiliated with a Baptist Church (Scout Leader) and was impressed with their large and well run home school program. It is expensive to maintain brick and mortar facilities and that problem isn’t going to change anytime soon unfortunately, of affordability. It’s time we discuss ideas to prevent this further erosion and try and stem the tide of future lost generations.

    • BXVI

      I have experienced the same thing. I will have spent ~$300,000 to put 3 children through Catholic school, grades K-12. And then there’s college. Catholic colleges, of course, are private and so cost of attendance generally falls in a range between $40,000 to $60,000 per year. Almost no one can afford that. Sure, most will be offered student loans but then they will be saddled with massive, undischargeable debt. This is an absolute scandal. Every Catholic family that wants to send their children to Catholic schools should be able to do so, at a cost the family is able to sustain without taking on debt. But this would require a lot of people to give a lot of money. It would help if we still had brothers & sisters to run the schools and teach but now we pay market rate for teachers. Catholic schools have become focused more on academic elitism than transmitting the faith anyway.

    • LarryCicero

      How much is the cost of public school per child? Not tuition, but the cost.

      • aquinasadmirer

        His soul.

    • Martha

      I agree that our system has failed our families, but people need to re-prioritize and find a way. Generally a way can be found.

      There is no better Catholic school than the homeschool, for example, and it is amazingly cheap to do so. Once textbooks are bought for the first child (and that comes nowhere near the 5k mark), all subsequent children use them. 6 of my 8 are old enough for schooling, and my total cost this year was a few hundred dollars.

      My husband farms, and that occupation isn’t very lucrative (it can vary greatly depending on prices that year, so budgeting is nearly impossible). Many of my homeschooling friends (who all have 7+ kids) live very frugally, but they all manage to have the mother at home full time.

      My point is, as the article pointed out, one needs to reevaluate what is a necessity, and what one can do without. Homemade meals, for example, or having a garden and preserving your own food, things like that go a long way.

      I say rethink your life, examine your priorities, really think outside the box, and find a way. I’d be willing to bet that in many if not most cases, an ideal life (Catholically speaking) is possible.

      • Joe

        Yes, homeschooling is great for many families that feel called to that life. However, for those who don’t feel they can adequately home school, then the problem of outrageously expensive Catholic education persists. Which begs the question, why should Catholics, whether through parish tithing or otherwise, support Catholic schools at all if they are not a viable option for the faithful? It is about priorities.

        • musicacre

          In these unreliable times where Catholic schools aren’t necessarily Catholic, (usually you find out 10 years after the fact) homeschooling could be for everyone. Think about it. It’s not exceptional people that sign up for it, but people in the know who have realized the dangers to their young child at a formational time in their life. We struggled on one income for the past 24 years homeschooing 6 and it is amazing how God provides. We trust that what we are doing is important for our treasure (our children) and so many good things followed, every year. With that good foundation, 4 went through university for their professions and the fifth has just begun engineering this fall. The sixth is still at home, with all sorts of creative ideas about her future. I once saw a prof from a Seattle university speak at a homeschooling conference many years ago and (his wife was homeschooling) he said he thought his child would do better than his peers even if his child just played cards all day with his Mom.

          • LarryCicero

            I pulled my boys out of Catholic school because it really wasn’t that Catholic. I put them in public school, where they will learn to “swim upstream.”

            • musicacre

              Great. Well I don’t believe in testing the faith of young unformed children who have the stress of trying to fit in with the people they’re with all day, every day. When they’re formed and mature, then let them sink or swim. Mine joined the “public” university when they were finished with high school (at home) and all have strongly kept their faith ..and even helped some classmates to understand the faith better. Why feed them to the wolves when they aren’t mature enough to integrate (what they know so far of…) the faith into all their actions.

              • LarryCicero

                I respect your view. I don’t see it as feeding them to the wolves. They are still being formed. True. College will be a test as well. I hope to send them to Catholic ones.

                • musicacre

                  In the end, they have to make their decisions as adults, but hopefully some seeds planted in their youth will influence that. On the other hand there are many seeds from the secular culture screaming at them to pay attention. Everything from music (if you could call it that..) to styles of clothing, etc. It will be a daily battle and parents have to show up on the frontline and debrief every day if they hope to have some influence. Hard to argue about style when all the girls wearing dicey styles and lots of makeup seem to be popular. Not hard for a boy, but very hard to talk a girl out of that glamour…I know, I have one. She’s almost finished homeschooling but works part time in a large busy deli in a major grocery chain. A lot of the local public school girls work there and she became friends with some of them. (Part of the problem is our local homeschooling group, which I actually started, has become insular and the girls her age won’t even talk to her at church…) It definitely has influenced her.

                  • LarryCicero

                    “won’t even talk to her at church…” Well at least they’re there….

  • Joe

    From my point of view, this situation has gotten considerably worse since my father was a child about 50 years ago. My grandma raised my dad and aunt by herself on her salary alone (after her husband left her without child support or alimony). She took no government assistance and sent both kids to Catholic school, though she herself never went to mass, as she was divorced (though never remarried). At the same time, she was able to own a modest bungalow, which she was able to sell for a retirement nest egg. She was also supported by her parents and neighbors, who looked after the kids while she worked. Though neither my father nor aunt completed college, both went on to have respectable jobs.
    Today, my wife does stay home to raise our two children. Fortunately, my salary is sufficient to support us, though I have a college degree that came with decent earning potential. However, it has come with considerable costs. Both my wife and I have left our hometowns to move to an area with better job opportunities, however, the housing costs are substantially higher than where we grew up. We are now at least 300 miles away from our closest family. We can only pay off our home (which is by any standard modest) with a 30 year mortgage, instead of 15 which contributes to reduced financial security. Catholic school tuition is about 8,000 per child at our parish and I don’t believe there is a meaningful discount for multiple children.

    • Joe

      Continued… Right now we are planning on sending our kids to public grade schools in order to save money for Catholic high school, which is far more necessary than Catholic grade school. At 12-15,000 a year, it’s hard to see how we’ll be able to do that and save money for college without my wife going back to work full time at some point. No, kids are not entitled to fancy, expensive private schools, but if Catholics can’t afford to send their children to Catholic schools and universities, why even have them?
      I’ve long felt that the decline of Catholic schools has contributed to the decline in the Catholic family. There’s no question that 12 or 16 years of Catholic education makes a person fundamentally different. The immersion in faith is what drives vocations to the priesthood. It helps encourage families to have more children than they otherwise would. The Church needs to do more to support Catholic schools, and when it does, it will find larger families, more faithful families, and more vocations to the religious life.

      • It’s unfortunate you’re forced to choose. Why do you think that Catholic high school education is far more necessary than Catholic grade school?

      • DE-173

        Catholic schools are not a panacea either. My local Catholic High School ‘s principal was on the local news last night. The issue? A brand new football stadium’s lights are summarily extinguishing, so they are cancelling the remainder of the seasons Friday night games.

        I wonder if it’s God’s way of letting them know that he thinks more effort should be put on other things.

      • DE-173

        Now here’s a question.
        Every school has fixed and variable costs. Why don’t the schools not cut a break to the second and subsequent children in a family, the same way a wireless company charges you a fixed account fee, but a smaller amount amount for each device you add to that account?

  • Rupe

    The cost of Catholic education is the only reason I work outside of the home. If you are a Catholic family who embraces the gospel of life, there is a slim chance you can afford to educate your children in a Catholic School.

  • BXVI

    All good points. But, we need to take globablization into account as well. A Chinese worker can now make a driveshaft as well, or nearly as well as, an American worker, but for far less. His hourly wage has quintupled, from $1 per hour to $5. On the other hand, the American’s hourly wage has tumbled from $30 per hour to $15.

    • DE-173

      Outsourcing has limits, like everything else.

      As for this: “the American’s hourly wage has tumbled from $30 per hour to $15.”
      That’s nonsense. An hourly wage of $30/hr translates to annual earnings of $62,400. (52 weeks, 40 hours, paid vacation)

      We have never had HOUSEHOLD earnings of $62K, let alone an average individual earnings at that level.
      The current labor market has been made dysfunctional through dislocation, unemployment but the median earnings have not plunged 50%

      Of course you can’t be against poverty in other countries and “outsourcing” from developed countries to developing countries. Outsouring is how wages are tending

      • JP

        The median income in the US is around 52k. That means that half of the jobs earn more and half earn less. Taking into account inflation, the $52,000 median income today equated to $64,000 in 1989. Additionally, there are far greater temp and part time jobs today than in 1989. In other words, median incomes have actually fallen since 1989.

        • DE-173

          When you see the term REAL in the title, it means already adjusted for inflation. When inflation is unaccounted for, the time series scalar would be depicted with NOMINAL dollars.

          So while it is true that the precipitous drop since 2007 has dropped median HH income to slightly below 1989 levels, it has not dropped by 50% as asserted by the original poster and making $30,000 is still above the norm, and always has been.

          As for the effects of PT jobs, that’s why I searched on HH income, rather than hourly wage rates. If the highest median HH income was 57K, $30/hr wages were never the norm.

          All that having been said, there are a myriad of things disordering the labor market, and we aren’t yet feeling the full force of Obamacare, whose perverse and insidious effects were discussed last night on John Batchelor.

    • JP

      The trend in recent years is to bring low wage contract workers over here on H1B Visas. Large to mediums sized businesses (especially in the tech world) on lobbying for a large increase in the number of temporary work visas. And large staffing firms in Asia (especially from India) are licking their chops at the prospects. Other fields such as accounting engineering, finance, HR, as well as manufacturing and construction are also at risk of this kind of “in sourcing”. The expectations is that this would be rolled into an omnibus amnesty program, and as a result wages for many jobs are already falling.

  • JP

    During the Great Depression, my mother’s father who was a general laborer, was able to buy a bungalow. He told me when I was a child that the house cost $700. He raised 6 children in that house. My other grand father, who was a school teacher, purchased a house for $1100. He and my other grandmother raised 5 children.

    The purchasing power for the Middle Class has taken a beating since then. Yes, they earned far less back then; however, the cost of survival was far less, and consumed much less of a person’s disposable income. As the writer Saul Bellow once wrote, “For a single young man, the Great Depression wasn’t that bad of a time. I survived as a 17 year old in Chicago on $5 a week. That included the cost of 1 room apartment, 2 hot meals a day, and I had enough left over change for my books.”

  • Mike

    This article misses the point entirely. Like most articles on economic problems, this focuses on symptoms and fails to get to the root of the problem.

    The solution to all our economic problems is simple, and it lies with the historical teaching of the church. All interest on loans must become illegal. 

    How come so called conservative Catholics don’t believe in an infallible magisterium when it comes to economic matters? Both Testaments, The church fathers, the popes, and saints and about a dozen church councils unanimously agreed  that all interest on loans without exception was a soul damning sin worthy of excommunication, and for a very good reason. 

    The church fathers understood this well, because they learned form the mistakes of the Roman empire. The same mistakes that will lead to the collapse of the west if this ancient  truth is not restored. Contrary to the secular smear campaign funded by the banks who fear nothing more then a bible based economy, the Catholic Middle Ages was the most prosperous time in European history, where laborers had to work aprox. 15 weeks to provide for their very large families. Compare this to the modern era, where both husband and wife work around the clock to barely provide for their small family. If technology has improved, we should be working LESS, but such is not the case because of usury.  

    Before anyone argues “scarcity” as justification  for our satanic economic order, remember gods promise of a world that can provide. There are more then enough resources to provide for everyone and then some, we just have an issue with distribution. As long as usurers control 99% of the wealth, the world is not sustainable. 

    The issue is not the private sector or the government. The issue is the BANKS. Employers can not pay a living wage as long as they owe money to the banks. The government keeps raising taxes because they owe money to the banks. The welfare state is a product of usury. Without usury, there would be little if any need for a welfare state. 40 percent of all prices are usury passed on by the producer. Imagine if people did not have to pay interest on magisterium, college loans ect and didn’t have to pay high taxes that are a product of the usurious economy? 

    “Economic science” is a scam. It’s just a way for the economic forces that fund our schools to distract people from the real issue, and make people think that things are more complicated then they are. Believing “the market” will correct problems is pure idolatry, as it is a divinization of the satanic forces who control the market. A free market only works if it is accountable to the natural law of god, which calls for usury to be illegal.  

    The entire moral magisterium is useless if the law on usury isn’t adhered to. The overwhelming majority of people can not afford to provide for large families under usury, which leads to abortion, contraception etc.  And those that can usually commit this mortal sin to do so. You can not have a Christian society with out a Christian economy. Period. 

    As St. Paul reminds us us “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10)  The early Christians understood this, most modern “conservatives” don’t.

    • mollysdad

      The way to analyse the morality of interest-taking is this.

      For the same fungible good, equal quantity is by definition equal value. That means the repayment of the principal discharges the contract for the principal.

      For the taking of interest to be licit, some valuable consideration (besides the principal) must be given in return for a promise to pay it. Otherwise, there is no contract for it.

      • Mike

        There are plenty of examples of non-usurious solutions that don’t end up with parasites acquiring all the wealth and destroying the world to further their greed.  No line can be drawn between what is and isn’t “morally just” interest.  I think threat of legal action and loss of the privilege to acquire loans is plenty of incentive to pay the loan.

        Your statements are at odds with the magnisterium  and the greater part of church history which unanimously condemned and fought against all usury, defined strictly as anything above the principal. (see Catechism of trent, chapter on the 7th commandment) The council of Vienne declared that “anyone who tries to argue that usury is not sinful is a heretic” 

        No system is perfect, but the middle ages, where any usury was prosecuted to the fullest extent of cannon law, created a more prosperous society then we have today, as people worked far less to provide for their needs .  We need to find a way to apply medieval principles to modern economics. (which of course are not at all considered in any of our banker funded “schools of economic thought” 

        Money should be perishable as goods are perishable. One idea is a tax on holding money, creating an incentive for people to lend interest free (or invest in something productive-stimulating the economy) preventing potential usurers from arising.  

        Read what Aristotle and Aquinas said about interest. Money can never be allowed to breed money. If you allow interest on loans in to any extent, it will eventually end up destroying society, as scripture, history and the wisdom of the early church tell us.   Nehimiah  5 is a perfect reflection, where as “little” of an interest rate of 1% led to grave injustice

        Every single one of our economic (and social) problems is do to the bankers acquiring enormous sums of money from this ancient satanic practice and making the rest of humanity wage slaves . The first priority of all Christians (and people of good will everywhere) as far as political matters is concerned should be finding a way to build a usury free economy. 

        Interest free credit unions should be the only legal form of banking. Subsidiarity and solidarity in action. 

        • mollysdad

          It took me the best part of a lifetime to figure this out. Fr Heinrich Pesch SJ defined usury as the appropriation of obvious surplus value in the course of buying and selling. The occasion of usury is a contract where the agreement of the parties is not sufficient to establish equality of exchange values. For a loan contract for any fungible good, the contract is discharged as soon as the amount given is returned in full. There is no title to take interest save on the basis of a separate contract in which something of value is given in exchange for a promise to pay for it.

          On this basis, every moneylending contract is in fact usurious.

          • Mike

            Sounds like a lawyer esque loophole to me.

            The catechism of Trent is straightforward- “Whatever is received above the principal, be it money, or anything else that may be purchased or estimated by money, is usury”

            Any watering down of this divinely revealed truth opens the gate wide open for exploitation. This is exactly what happened. Little by little, banker funded theologians chipped away at the strict medieval canonical ban on usury. Now a days, it isnt even mentioned anymore, and 99% of Catholics don’t even know that the church has a teaching against interest at all. This is despite the fact that the rise of usury is responsible for the downfall of Western civilization and is responsible for every single political problem in society today.

            • mollysdad

              This is a truth of reason, not revelation. In reason, the quantity of a fungible good given and the same quantity returned in kind only are equal, irrespective of the agreement of the parties. The taking of contractual interest over and above this is usury because there is no just title. There is no true contract, Just title can exist only where there is a promise to pay supported by something of value given in return.

              Divine revelation imposes on the Jews a law which prohibits collateral contracts of interest (even though not usurious) as being contrary to public policy.

              See also Encyclical Letter Vix Pervenit.

              • Mike

                Well, if god prohibited collateral interest in the OT as contrary to public policy, if Jesus said in the gospel of Luke “lend and expect noting in return”, and if the early and medieval church ruthlessly combated any and all interest, to the benefit of society and to the disdain of bankers who funded theologians to argue for such loopholes in order to open the gate for corruption, then pheraps this is something that ought to be adhered to . 

                Vix Pervenit contains such fine print, unfortunately. Such loopholes have enabled the church to dodge the commands of scripture and 15 centuries of church history while still clamming to never have changed its teaching, leading to abominations such as the “Vatican Bank”,  in flagrant violation of the decrees of the early and medieval church. 

                If you are afraid of losing your money, then you shouldn’t be lending it in the first place. Money lending is a form of charity to our neighbor. States should encourage free lending through taxes that punish hoarding. People should come to the consciousness that if we created a banking system based on the words of Christ, everyone would benefit in the form of 0% loans on business, mortgages  ect. 

                • mollysdad

                  The ban on usury is based not on divine revelation but on the insights of right reason, and it was discussed by Aristotle. If it were a matter only of divine revelation, then the concept of commutative justice would be reserved to Jews and Christians and commerce would be impossible for the rest of the human race.

                  The occasion of usury is the formation of a contract where the agreement of the parties is not decisive for determining the equality of the exchange and the justice of the contract. In a contract for the loan of any fungible good, the principal given and the principal returned are of equal value regardless of the determination of the contractants.

                  The value of the family wage is determined by the needs of a family assessed according to factors extraneous to the process of bargaining, and so the employer who pays less than the family wage is, without more, a usurer.

                  A non-usurious banking system would allow business profits to be made only by persons sharing in its equity, while mortgages would have to be arranged as part of a shared ownership contract in which you pay rent only on the share of your home that you don’t yet own.

                  • Mike

                    The moral principles outlined in the Old and New Testament apply to everyone. The ban on usury is a matter of both divine revelation and human reason. I am pretty sure that most faith traditions (definitely Islam, not so sure about Eastern religions) are against usury.

                    I think we are arguing semantics at this point. My point is that we need to understand that usury is behind essentially every problem in the modern world, and find ways to apply successful Medieval economic concepts, which resulted in a 15 week workyear in order to provide for ones family, to the modern age. We need laws that ensure that the principals of subsidiarity and solidarity are adhered to, preventing monopolistic capitalism or communism from ever rising again. This should be the primary political concern of Christians and people everywhere.

  • although psychologists, academicians IN ADDITION TO decisions makers may differ on the appropriateness of a aptitude test as a possible evidence with regard to future performance in reviews IN ADDITION TO work, ones GMAT score remains the almost all keys to press criterion regarding selecting the proper candidate among a good group associated with applicants

  • although psychologists, academicians IN ADDITION TO decisions makers may differ on the appropriateness of a aptitude test as a possible evidence with regard to future performance in reviews IN ADDITION TO work, ones GMAT score remains the almost all keys to press criterion regarding selecting the proper candidate among a good group associated with applicants

  • Connie

    I thought it was an interesting article in general. But I felt like it overlooked the fact some women have a vocation outside of the traditional home. I’m just a few months from joining the workforce, and have a number of applications in the various police departments and federal agencies. I’ve felt called for years (about 8) at this point to ‘protect and serve’ and experiences since that first call have only strengthened my resolve to join the “boys’ club”.

    While I’ve mostly drawn towards the single life ( a viable Vocation), I have remained very open to marriage (and religious), but often worry about any conflicts between that and what I know my (little v) vocation to be. I wouldn’t be able take months off of work to give life to a big family – I need to be on the streets doing work. I dated a very nice, very Catholic guy for a while in college, and he wanted me to consider a more traditional (homemaker) future… and I did.. and something told me no. We ended up breaking up, partly because he also couldn’t understand my vocation.

    Also, I have an aunt who works and my uncle stays home and volunteers at their school. Their situation works wonderfully for them, and my uncle dotes on his two little girls. While I agree that 1 parent staying home is ideal (if possible), I don’t see why it should always be the woman.

    I realize I’m an outlier in the grand scheme of things and this article was focused on the traditional, it’s just frustrating this route is rarely considered when discussions come up.
    St. Joan of Arc, pray for us.

    • WSquared

      Career should not be confused with vocation. I get what you’re saying, but I think the spiritual dimension may be helpful to discussions such as these, and which you seem to be aiming at a couple of paragraphs down.

      All women have a vocation to be wives and mothers. But note, however, that the Church understands motherhood spiritually, and not just biologically. Actually, it’s the Church’s reverence and respect for celibacy and virginity that directly challenge any tendency to reduce a woman’s destiny– and motherhood– merely to the biological. Nuns are still wives and mothers in their own right: Christ is their spouse, and they are spiritual mothers to those in their care. Heads of communities of religious women aren’t called “Mother Superior” for nothing. Likewise, priests are husbands and fathers in their own right, also: they stand in persona Christi, and are conformed to Christ the Priest, Christ the Bridegroom, whose spouse is the Church. Those given into their care and stewardship are their spiritual children.

      Likewise, a woman who has a family and who works outside the home fits that work or career into her vocation to motherhood, and not the other way around.

  • Capitad

    This is incredibly sexist. No wonder conservatives have lost the culture war.
    It isn’t “androgyny” for a brilliant woman mathematician, teacher, nurse or physician to work full-time outside the home. God has blessed us with those talents and abilities, too. Hiding them under a bushel would be a sin. By using rather than wasting them, we make crucial contributions not only to the economic survival of our families, but to the society in which we live. And we serve as positive role models for both our daughters and our sons.
    Having Y chromosomes doesn’t automatically qualify somebody to be a leader.
    Celibate bishops and Popes aren’t experts on what’s “fulfilling” for women.
    Trying to enforce ancient gender stereotypes on intelligent 21st century people simply won’t work.

    • WSquared

      …um, it was a precisely a celibate bishop and later Pope who wrote that the Church’s reverence for celibates and virgins is precisely why a woman’s destiny is not reduced to biology. So I would say that “celibate bishops” know a good deal, precisely because they see the spiritual plane that Catholics are meant to see, but which so many lay Catholics clearly do not.

      That “celibate bishop,” later Pope, that I just mentioned is Joseph Ratzinger, otherwise known as Benedict XVI.

      You may wish to google “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration between Men and Women in the Church and in the World.”

      The Church understands motherhood spiritually and theologically, and does not reduce it to biology and matter. She does not teach that a woman’s vocation to being a wife and mother necessarily means she can’t be a brilliant mathematician or doctor. She also does not teach that having a big family would necessarily bar her from using her talents in that way. The point is that a woman’s career, if she has one, is to fit into her vocation as a wife and mother. A mother nurtures, both spiritually and physically. Even the most brilliant professor or physician who is a woman nurtures students and patients when she cares for them. A practicing Catholic wife and mother would know that a career not put before all else but fit into her vocation to be a wife and mother would make her a better wife and mother, just as being a good wife and mother would make her a better professor and a better physician, and that God’s grace can make that balance possible. It’s all connected.

      That grace, by the way, is what the Church’s teaching and the
      Sacraments, together with a strong prayer life, makes possible and

      Saint Gianna Beretta Molla was a physician in the 1940s. She also had four children. Dr. Elizabeth Anscombe was a professor at Cambridge and an authority on Wittgenstein. She had more brilliance than most people, man or woman. She also an academic with seven children. My spiritual director’s mother was a pediatrician until she recently retired: both she and her husband took turns working and raising their two children– both boys, and both priests.

  • A. Reeves

    And not a single reference to Rerum Novarum. In the past, such an omission could be ascribed to malice. Today, it is at least as likely to derive from the average modern Catholic’s overpowering ignorance of his own Church’s dogma.

    • Augustus

      Are you suggesting that Leo opposed in Rerum Novarum the idea of a family wage called for by his successors, suggesting that papal thought is conflicted on this question, or are you fearful that not including Leo in an already long article would hurt his feelings? Leo from Rerum Novarum: “Wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner.”

      • A. Reeves

        I am not suggesting anything of the kind. All I have done is point out the folly of an article on Catholic social teaching which fails to mention RN at all. When I think how important such encyclicals were in weaning Douglas Hyde from his original satanic Marxism to Catholicism (as revealed in his memoir I Believed, I marvel still more at such an omission.