Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Always the Whip, Never the Carrot: On Mothers, Teachers and Going Galt

My earlier deep-questions post refers to the nastiness of public advice-giving when it comes to motherhood and the processes which build up maternal guilt to humongous levels in this culture, and I ask in that context why nobody appears to have wondered if this has any effect on women's willingness to become mothers.

Because it should have some effect, when analyzed logically. I understand that the desire to have a child is not something one can erase via social conditioning. Still, how very odd that the sport of mother-bashing (and mummy wars) is never considered as possibly one of the reasons why someone might not wish to become a mother.

Another example of the nothing-but-the-whip culture is the recent treatment of teachers by various conservative state congresses and by the Republican politicians. I keep reading proposals to subject teachers to stricter tests, more restrictions, longer working days and so on. A recent proposal would have abolished teacher tenure in Wyoming (though it failed to pass). It's all whip, all the time.

Now compare that to the conservative reaction when there was a threat for higher taxation of the rich. Various right-wing blogs immediately called for the solution of "going Galt", essentially a refusal to play if the rules are changed to a more "punitive" direction:
The use of John Galt as a symbol in the context of political or social protest has taken root in some places. The phrase "going John Galt" or simply "going Galt" has been used[15] to refer to productive members of society cutting back on work in response to the projected increase in U.S. marginal tax rates, increased limits on tax deductions, and the use of tax revenues for causes they regard as immoral.[16] Some people who are "going John Galt" discussed their reasons on a PJTV program in March 2009.[17] "Who is John Galt?" signs were seen at Tea Party protests held in the United States and at banking protests in London in April 2009.[18]

Here's the essential difference in those cases: We expect no negative reaction to the whipping from mothers or teachers. For instance, we expect the same number of people to decide to become teachers, even though the job is being made more unpleasant! Even if the pay is cut or made dependent on risky factors the teacher cannot control or even if the fringe benefits are decreased!

This is weird given the free-markets framework of many conservatives. They should realize that whenever the monetary and non-monetary benefits of a particular occupation are decreased fewer applicants will be interested in that job. But that realization is absent when it comes to teachers and mothers. Of course teachers are predominantly female, too.