Happy Easter and thanks again and again for your prayers and thank God…

April 16, 2017

Well happy Easter to all. I’m not doing much. Did not attend a sunrise service or go to church.

Oh, well of course I didn’t. I’m not religious. However, I am not anti-religious, and if I were I would certainly be a Christian, and I guess that is because that is part of the wider culture I was brought up in.

I tend to steer clear of addressing religion directly because it can be such a sensitive subject.

I respect the primary religions as long as I feel people are actually trying to follow the guidance of God or some supreme being or concept of one with the intent of good will toward all. I do not respect religion when it is used as a device to divide people and to intimidate people as it is in too many places.

The best education I ever got on religion was a short course I took at a Methodist church when I was maybe 13. The father of one of my friends was a Methodist minister. But he did not teach the class. A man named Bob Singh taught it. He was of the Sikh religion of India (often pronounced seek instead of sick because it sounds better in English). He wore a turban. These days many of them who wear the turbans (not all do) are confused by some as being of the Islamic faith and then in turn some people who are quick to hate further confuse them with being of that radical sect that seems to want to kill us all. Not true, the Sikhs are some of the most peace-loving and friendly and gracious people I have known. But what I got out of the class is that of the major religions all believe in pretty much the same thing and even share the same characters in their histories. So what is the problem? I often wonder. I think it’s man.

And a little bit more about my attitude toward religion. I was brought up in a non-religious household. My parents were not religious but they were moral and hardworking. It could be said that their ideas of morality came out of the tenets of Christianity. At least one of my siblings is a devout Christian and I respect that.

Enough about my own family.

I used to take on a sardonic attitude toward people who in a crisis turned to religion. But then came my own crisis several years ago when I was diagnosed with incurable but treatable and so far survivable cancer (if that makes sense). Then for a time I talked of attending church, which one I was not sure. I never did.

Have I prayed to God? Yes, at various times in my life I have, mostly on the behalf of others. I guess I was praying to some supreme force or being but I called this force God in my mind.

A little aside from this: I would think that despite what the Bible says, that man was made in God’s image, this God or supreme being would not likely resemble anything we know. I just think that. And what about this question? one I have never heard anyone ask, although many must have:

If God created us, who created God?

But there is comfort in religion. And it is natural, I think, to look to something bigger than ourselves for guidance and help and hope.

I know that when I was going through cancer treatment and it was not known if I would make it many, many people from more than one church — good Christians all — prayed on my behalf. And I feel somewhat like an ingrate by not accepting their religion with all my heart.

But of course being good Christians they will forgive that shortcoming on my part.

However, in all sincerity if you are one of them, one who prayed for me, thank you, and thank God.

Actually I think I previously offered my thanks or actually in some way I say thanks every day.

I should leave off there, but I will add, I’ll keep an open mind and who knows? I may finally accept the almighty into my heart.


In my day a ‘play date’ would be a pretend outing with a girl…

April 15, 2017

Just another old guy story, and I don’t even feel like an old guy, or another in-my-day story.

And I’m the baby of my family. One of my two brothers is 20 years older than I. But I’m a ’49er (1949 that is).

Anyway: until maybe ten or twenty years ago I never heard of the term “play date”. I first heard my daughter use it. She was taking one of her kids to a play date. She has three kids. One is an adult now. Another is closing in on adulthood, but the third is in second grade — she still drives him to the houses of little friends for “play dates”.

If I heard the term “play date” when I was a kid I would have thought it had something to do with that little girl next door who always wanted to play house or with those teenagers that hung out at the local drive-in.

It’s just the way things are nowadays. Parents, with good reason, don’t feel it safe to simply let their children loose to roam the streets (well for the most part or in most places).

But my sister and I were noting how different it was in our day (she’s a 1941er). “Mom had it easy; she just opened the door and let us out”, she noted.

I was always roaming around on my own, often on my bicycle. Except for my first three and 3/4 years of life living in San Francisco, I grew up in a series of three small Central Valley towns of California.

Were there dangers? I’m sure there were, but I suppose not nearly as much as today.

Once one of my cousins and his family visited us. He lived on a farm. While I am sure he, being an adventuresome type, explored every inch of that farm, he may not at his age gone much beyond. We left the house and walked a little around the neighborhood, sometimes taking alleyways. I think those alleys fascinated him, for sometime after we returned to my house he, unbeknownst to me or anyone else, took off again. At some point my aunt realized her youngest child was nowhere around.

I recall concern. I don’t recall any panic. Finally we got a call from the police. The found a little boy wandering out by the county hospital on the edge of town. I can tell you that was quite a little distance from our place — not a long, long ways I guess, but a pretty fair piece.

I rode along with my aunt and my uncle to go retrieve him.

He did not appear to be a bit scared.

I think the only danger might have been he could have been bitten by a dog. I say that because at some later date I was while riding a bicycle in that same area. Ouch! some pretty big teeth marks in my leg. Fortunately the animal control was able to capture the dog and determine it did not have rabies. The people whom I thought it belonged to claimed it was not their dog but a stray. Maybe, but how come it came back to them when they called it?

But back to the idea of free roaming. One thing in our favor when I was young was that in the small towns things were fairly close by. And most of my friends lived just down the street. And we had sidewalks and not many busy streets, although we actually lived on a busy street — a main thoroughfare and state highway. In fact, I got hit by a school bus on that street right in front of our house when I was in first grade. There is always danger. I was supposed to have used the crossing in front of the school where one of our teachers would serve as a crossing guard. Kids do not always do what they are supposed to. I was not too seriously injured. Maybe the bus had a dent in it — I don’t know.

And you know? there was another incident I doubt I even told my folks about. I walked along a seldom-used spur line of a railroad out of the city limits to what they called the gravel pits. I had been there with my brother before. But on this day I was alone. A kid a little older than I came up to me and pointed what appeared to be a handgun at me. Actually I think it was a pellet gun (still very dangerous of course). At first he was menacing, but then he relented and walked off.

And of course there are always neighborhood bullies. That’s part of childhood.

Also once I began hanging around the railroad station to watch the trains come in. Every time I heard the train whistle I would hop on my bike and dash off the several blocks to the old downtown station. Most were freight trains, still pulled by old oil-burning locomotives that looked like the old steam ones, but there were also passenger trains pulled by the more modern-looking locomotives. There was a nearby park. And there was an old man with a beard there who looked like Abraham Lincoln. He said he used to work on the railroad back east. I often talked to him. At some point I told my parents about my acquaintance. I was surprised to see concern on their faces. They advised me to avoid him. My parents were that way, that is they seemed to avoid outright prohibitions in most cases in favor of advisories, you might say.

These days “don’t talk to strangers” is a pretty standard rule for children — and for good reason of course. Way back then I don’t think I was in any danger. But one never knows.

My oldest brother spent much or at least several years of his growing up in San Francisco. Right off hand I don’t know at what ages. It was before my time. But I know from hearing my folks talk that he was always out of the house on his own when he could be.

Oh, and this transporting children all over the place in a car for play dates — and heck, what about the fact that at any elementary school you will see a long line of cars lined up to drop off kids in the morning and another to pick them up in the afternoon? All that would have been impossible when I was a kid because for one thing a lot of families only had one car and it was parked outside of a workplace somewhere.

I remember when I was in one town my schoolmates were jealous of me because I lived so near the school — just a few blocks away. They had to walk many, many long blocks. Although they often walked in groups, sometimes kids walked alone. I don’t recall of anything serious happening — no kidnappings or worse. But of course it could have happened.

(I had mentioned a school bus. In my time school buses were only for my classmates who lived beyond the city limits — country kids we called them.)

And more than the not getting car rides here and there, we as children spent so much time outside. And we did not have to have sophisticated toys. We used our imagination. My best friend and I often played cowboys like we saw on the TV westerns. We both had toy gun belts and hats and so on, but often we just dispensed with the costume, even the toy guns, and used our imagination.

We often did something like a reenactment of the OK Corral at a real set of old corrals next to that old rail spur line I mentioned.

I think all that outside exercise was good for our health. And I think our imagination was healthy for the budgets of our parents who did not feel obligated to make major purchases for our entertainment.

But all that is not to say parents in that time did not give expensive gifts to their children, and some really over indulged them.

It has been an ongoing evolution.

But I think we’ve lost something. We’ve lost a lot of the fun of childhood. We’ve lost our innocence. We’ve lost our security.

And of course it was far different for those who came before me I know. Somewhat better but somewhat worse.

Modern conveniences and advances in science and medicine have certainly made things better.

But not everything.


The good news is that Trump seems to be able to think out of the box, but we still must worry about an itchy nuclear trigger finger…

April 14, 2017

In a college political science class I took at Chico State University, Chico, Ca. — how ’bout a shout out for Chico State! — the professor noted that the downside of “ideologies” is that they can be confining. They can put you in a straitjacket and not allow one to broaden his or her horizons and think out of the box (those are my words but his message).

And more of my take on it all: so, if you were elected, say president of the United States, and you won espousing some particular ideology, say über nationalism, populism, and America first over international involvement but you found out there were things you did not realize or events happened to change your mind, you could be locked into a set pattern over rigid adherence to ideology.

But what if you really did not have an ideology of your own, except that you should be president because you were so wonderful and that if you were elected everything would be great, that America would start winning again, in fact so much so, the people would almost tire of such success?

Oh, have I just described Donald Trump, president of the United States?

I have never seen any evidence so far that Trump has any ideology, except that I am fairly certain he is patriotic, that he believes deeply in the United States of America, albeit his belief in his country probably plays second fiddle to his belief in his own greatness.

I should add, I also think he might have a screw loose. Oh, and to put it mildly, he has bad manners and is not terribly articulate for an educated man.

But he is not tied down to ideology and that apparently makes him extremely flexible. And as much as I think it is a disaster and an embarrassment to have The Donald — star of the tabloids and reality TV — as leader of the free world, his malleability does seem to have some advantages.

Just read an opinion piece in Politico that says that with some exceptions, he’s become Hillary Clinton, especially in foreign policy.

Also, I am reading that the simple-minded America first, Xenophobic, racist and bigoted, anti-intellectual, lower white working class base, along with some of the opportunistic far-right radio talkers, who got him elected, are turning against Trump because they think he is betraying them.

(When I say simple-minded white working class I don’t mean to demean anyone who is a working class person on the lower end of the scale or unemployed or under employed, just the simple-minded ones who are simple-minded by choice.)

I don’t listen to Fox News per se, but I did hear one of its political commenters suggest that Trump played his base for fools, using a well-worn negotiating maneuver from his business dealings.

While Trump seems now to be taking the more conventional internationalist approach in foreign affairs and has switched to being a supporter of NATO (and let’s give a shout out to NATO — I was connected to it 1968 to 1971 in Germany), I read that he is moving ahead with some of his anti-immigration and deportation promises (at least trying to) and he is supposedly still trying to kill Obamacare. In fact he has threatened to withhold government subsidy payments to Medicaid which could cause Obamacare insurers to drop out. In other words, kill Obamacare by making it not work. But he has indicated that his threat is leverage to get Democrats to strike a deal with the Republicans on some replacement for Obamacare.

(And I still scratch my head trying to figure out how all the rest of the free and democratic nations of the world manage to provide health care to their citizenry via their respective governments — sometimes with private enterprise help — but we cannot figure that out. But maybe the answer is — insurance lobby.)

Well not much more to say on all of this, except it would not be as scary as it is to have Trump as president if we did not have to worry that his volatility and unpredictability might cause him to push the nuclear end-of-the-world button if he felt cornered or felt his manhood was challenged. I worry he might have an itchy trigger finger.

My prediction is that unless the economy sky rockets and jobs come back for the masses Trump will be a one-term president. And it is entirely possible that some scandal will come up and there will be enough displeasure within his own party that he will be impeached and convicted and thrown from office.

But right now we have a flexible president who seems more open-minded that once thought.

p.s.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I am deeply concerned about Trump’s anti-environment stance which threatens to dismantle the EPA and the clean water and clean air and conservation efforts of our government — but maybe he will change on that too.

… And I used the term “anti-immigration”. I realize one can be against illegal immigration but not against legal immigration, but with the issue of political refugees and people simply desperate for jobs it can be a confusing issue. As far as people coming over our southern border — well if we did not hire them, many would not come. But apparently we need them, so why do we worry so much? I am not against control of our borders, though. Let’s keep that up. Maybe we just need to make legal immigration easier.

 


The hapless passenger might have used bad judgment but United Airlines was horrid in its violent action; we need better, safer police procedures…

April 13, 2017

I’m not a frequent flier but for the past three years I have taken vacations via the airways and plan to take another one this year. I now have a heads up on which airline NOT to use — United Airlines.

And of course I am referring to that horrific video of a passenger being dragged off a plane and bloodied and injured in the process (including a broken nose and loss of two teeth) for failing to give up his seat for United employees. A story said he will be getting some “reconstructive surgery”.

The victim is Dr. David Dao, 69, originally of Vietnam, but living in the U.S. for decades. He was trying to take a flight from Chicago to Louisville in order to get back to his home.

So anyone reading this has likely seen the video that went viral on social media.

And of course there is always more to the story — some of it true and some not and often we never get the full story or never even try.

Sometimes I think videos with their limited-in-time view and tunnel vision are unfair and inaccurate even if they are a live shot of an incident. But in this case I don’t think one needs to know more, that is none of us general observers.

Airlines routinely as a business practice over-book their flights to try to ensure they have a full (and profitable) load and when they wind up short of seats bump passengers off. In this case the airline apparently needed to move some of its crew members and bumped paying passengers off with some type of incentives — free flying miles, whatever.

But the incentive it finally offered Dr. Dao, who refused to leave on his own, was violence.

The airline was way wrong in how it approached the matter. But maybe so was the passenger. I can certainly almost feel his frustration myself. But I kind of see it like that whole Black Lives Matter thing (and I don’t mean to make light of that). On the one hand, you have over-zealous police (or worse I know) and on the other hand, you have someone with the poor judgment to challenge police (airport police in this case). I mean if the victim is in the right, better to play it cool and fight it later. Stay alive and/or uninjured and live to fight another day.

And yet, even if the airline was within its rights it is incredible it would have such poor judgment or such a poor attitude as to commit such an affront to public decency and customer relations.

There just had to be a better way to handle things, even if it would take time. A calm negotiation by airline officials (they would not have needed to call police probably), it would seem, would have worked far better. The reports I read indicate that the airline had upped the ante in inducing others on the flight to give up their seats. So pay this guy more and save face, save the ultra-bad publicity of manhandling and seriously injuring a paying passenger and the falling stock prices (that resulted) and the untold loss of future potential customers who see that the skies of United are not at all friendly.

In one story, an expert on such matters said that among the mistakes the airline made were that it should have bumped the customers out of their seats before they got on the plane and that by calling in the airport police, a third party over which it ceded all control, let the whole thing get out of hand.

I was not there and did not see exactly how it went down even though I watched the video or videos. But one passenger said that while the uniformed police were calm and polite at first another man in plain clothes but with a badge came in and simply told the passenger to get off and then grabbed him — not at all diplomatic.

And then there was a story that contained some hint of character assassination of the victim, that he allegedly had been in trouble with authorities in the past. Well first of all that may not be true and second of all I don’t think it pertains here. As far as I know he was a paying customer and had not done anything to warrant being removed from the flight. Instead the airline decided it was more convenient for it to yank him off so it could get some crew members to where they needed to be.

Apparently this process of bumping passengers for the airline’s convenience is not unusual and most fliers are aware of it. The man would have used better judgment to comply as other passengers did for his own sake.

But the violence inflicted on an airline passenger by United is unforgivable and unacceptable.

The CEO of United initially refused to apologize and in fact lauded his people for acting correctly. But under pressure he relented and offered what some called nothing more than a forced apology after the public outcry.

Yeah, I won’t be flying United.

p.s.

Maybe in using the Black Lives Matter thing I was conflating one problem with another but I just meant two wrongs don’t make a right. It is generally in one’s best interest to comply with lawful authority and hash the rights and wrongs out later (realizing in racial incidents that has not always been possible). There have been some accusations of race in the United incident because the victim was Asian. But a lawyer he has hired said he did not see a race aspect here.

….And more. I thought about self-censoring myself and deleting the reference to Black Lives Matter because just after posting this I saw another viral video of a white police officer in Sacramento earlier this week accosting a black man for jaywalking. I watched the video, and as a I stated earlier, in videos you usually just see a limited vision in time and space as to what went down. The way it was presented it seemed a cop admonished a black guy for jaywalking and then for some unknown reason pushed the black man to the ground and began beating him. I think, I only think mind you, what basically happened is that the officer seeing the guy jaywalking in traffic saw the danger he posed to himself and others. And then the black guy might have made some comment (but I did not hear or see) and then the officer felt challenged and ordered the man down on the ground. Would you expect to be told to lie down on the ground for jaywalking? It’s too much for me to sort out but I am perplexed why all this is happening. In the meantime, when a cop orders you to do something I think the best judgment at the time is to comply. But we need to straighten all this out. I’ll confuse the issue more. A follow-up story said the victim in the incident I just mentioned had similar encounters with police elsewhere. Still, we need to get this all worked out. So anyway, I left the reference to Black Lives Matter in. I think all of our lives are threatened when lawful authority becomes the adversary to the citizenry as a whole, no matter what our color.

 

 


Foreign policy: keep them guessing has its merits but the American people have a need to know…

April 12, 2017

I was surprised to hear that after the Syria missile strike ordered by President Trump on a Syrian airfield from which airplanes that dropped chemical weapons operated that the base was still operable and that in fact planes took off and some reports said bombed places where victims of chemical attacks were being treated.

Billions of dollars worth of Tomahawk missiles and the base was not destroyed? What is up with all that? I guess the idea is that it was just a message. An awful expensive message.

But it was a message, as is the fact that a U.S. naval task force is steaming toward another troublesome area, the waters off North Korea. Trump is trying to send a message to Kim Jong-un, the nutcase in charge there, too.

All of this is dangerous maneuvering and many wonder if the president really has a plan.  Actually I think most of us fairly well know he has none — he just does stuff off the cuff, on a whim, maybe by intuition (gut instinct).

The bad side of no plan is that things can go terribly wrong and just get worse from there. But the good side right now I think is that it is keeping our adversaries off balance.

But there does need to be a plan, a method to all this madness.

And then there is a the question as to whether Trump should have gotten congressional approval for the strike on Syria.

It seems like the technical answer is yes. And further moves would certainly seem to need congressional approval. But President Obama found that congress, especially the opposing Republican party, was good at criticizing him for not acting but was unwilling to back him when he proposed to do so. Actually Obama claimed that he would not need approval, he just preferred it.

So waiting for congress to act — good luck. They don’t want to be blamed for anything, just complain.

Most of our recent actions in the Middle East are working off the George W. Bush war on terror resolution that congress approved (a catchall for perpetual war). But since Trump was not striking at ISIS or other terror groups but the Assad regime of Syria, it would seem that it would not apply.

But in my adult life congress has seemed to abrogate its constitutional duty to be the one to declare war, deferring to the president.

I would have to do some good research to really address that issue. And I have not at this time.

Make no mistake, with Trump at the helm we are in a precarious position.

If there are more actions in Syria it could easily lead to more reactions and then things could really get out of hand.

The same and more so with North Korea.

I do see some hint in the news that a new tougher stance by the U.S. is being welcomed by the world that, whether it admits it or not, depends upon our lead or protection from the forces of tyranny and evil. Whether we are worthy or up to it, sometimes seems in question. But they are looking to us.

””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

And after originally posting this I read now that China is warning North Korea not to do more nuclear tests and that the Chinese leader has spoken by telephone to President Trump. At the same time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is visiting Moscow and the Russians are telling him not to make them choose between the Assad government in Syria and Washington. And they are needling him a little about the apparent confusion or mystery inside the Trump administration as to what the U.S. foreign policy should be. I guess in other worlds before you tell us what to do make up your own mind as to what you want to do.

I am of course on the side of the U.S. but I can see what we have here diplomacy wise at the moment is experience (Russian government) vs. inexperience (Trump administration that has turned its back on the diplomacy establishment). But what is, what is, and I’d advise our people to calmly stand their ground. In my lifetime when pushed, the Russians have blinked — but it can be an unnerving experience in a crisis (what the with the capability of mutual destruction via nuclear bombs).

”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

But the president and congress need to work together and the American people, who will pay in blood and money, need to be informed as to what our policy is. And if the public does not approve, well its feelings should be reflected through congress, and the president should be strong but not a dictator.

 

 

 

 

 


Syria, North Korea: our actions may put us in peril, but inaction has already…

April 9, 2017

Is the United States the world’s policeman? That question or proposition is often put forward and certainly President Trump’s Syria strike brings this issue up.

My thought is: yes and no or sometimes.

I think we are almost forced to be at times because we are the world’s super power, and as tough as the responsibilities come with that position I don’t think we would want to lose that position. Like I always say, if nothing else, we have too many enemies who would do us harm if we lost our power.

It is not or should not be up to the U.S. to run other nations or meddle in their affairs in general, but there are times…

President Bashar Assad of Syria was warned many times not to defy world norms and use poison gas (on his own citizens no less), after having done so more than once. He even supposedly took the U.S. and Russia up on a deal to get rid of all of his poison gas stockpiles. He reneged. Or more accurately, he lied. He played a con game and did not get rid of it all. And he used it again against his own people a few days ago.

(While some claimed others did it and the Syrian government is being framed, the general agreement seems to be that the evidence is clear it was the Assad government.)

And President Trump, who had just said he wanted to work with the Assad government and not entangle the U.S. further in Syria’s civil war, apparently saw Assad’s treachery as a game changer, something he could not ignore. Cynics (and sometimes I am one) might argue that Trump just saw an opportunity to wag the dog and change the subject on various pieces of bad publicity plaguing his new administration. I think both suppositions might have merit.

But one dependable liberal pundit I often listen to claimed that with the strike against Syria, and the meeting with China’s leader, as well as other world leaders, Trump in the last several days has in his words: “become president”. I don’t think he meant Trump is necessarily correct in his actions, just that he has been faced with the pressures and is dealing with them and has sent a message.

And one high-level player I listened to observed that diplomacy is preferable but sometimes you have to back it up with power. Trump did that.

We now have a naval task force steaming toward the waters off North Korea.

This is where the danger to the U.S. really lies I would think (although it is in Syria too).

The crazy man with the nukes in North Korea, Kim Jong-un, must be held at bay (or deposed of). How to do it? I don’t know.

Maybe, just maybe, he has gotten the message from the Syria strike. Most speculators doubt it, though.

Doing something could put us in peril. But doing nothing all these years has kept us in peril.

Oh, one more thing, a caller into a talk show said that the world is in danger because of three crazy men: Assad of Syria, Jong-un of North Korea, and Trump of the U.S.

While I tend to see his point, all I can say is that for now Trump is our crazy man.

p.s.

I intend to write more on this within the next day after I do more reading and see more points of view. All of this was based on my own immediate thoughts and what I heard on NPR and some other sources.

 

 


Maybe there ought to be tax incentives for stay-at-home parents…

April 3, 2017

Just read a story whose headline suggested millennials may be more amenable to the now old-fashioned concept of women staying home and taking care of the children. There were a lot of survey statistics and those always confuse me because sometimes they don’t seem to paint a clear picture in my mind, but that is not really important to what I want to say.

I think the story was basically trying to say that maybe some of the younger generation (younger than I) are seeing the problems of raising a family with two people occupied with work outside the home and that in some cases young men have grown up to see their fathers struggle with the fact that men have lost their dominance in the work place and often their role as main bread winner.

And I think there was a statistic that said couples without kids on the whole enjoy life better than ones with kids, that is if they both work.

In a little more than a hundred years we have gone from the extreme of women almost being forced by custom and law to stay home and rear the kids and in many cases having no right to own property to near equal footing in the workplace (except still maybe not in pay — and that is a hard one to figure), or maybe in many cases women are surpassing men in the workplace. It often seems easier for women to get a job than unemployed men.

I don’t personally make surveys, and like I said, stories that throw a bunch of statistics at me, especially ones that in some cases seem to contradict each other, muddle my mind. But I do know what I have seen in my life (1949 to present).

In my lifetime my own mother mostly stayed at home. However, she was older than most mothers by the time she had me. She had worked out of the house from time to time when she was younger, even after she had her first child. But that was seasonal work, such as working in a fruit cannery.

(And actually, when I was in high school mom returned to seasonal work. She worked in a peach cannery and then a prune processing plant.)

But in my childhood it was more like the old sit-com Leave it to Beaver.

Mom prepared three meals a day, mostly from scratch — a lot of baking and frying and boiling on the stove. She nursed us when we were sick. She read stories to me,  made Kool-Aid and cookies for me and my friends, was a Cub Scout den mother — oh yeah, she fed and cared for the family dog, supervising its periodic bath in the backyard. Mom did all the grocery shopping. And sometimes the family car was not available. As a toddler I recall riding my trike next to her while she carried two bags of groceries under her arms several blocks.

Did mom like the arrangement?

Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe not all the time.

I know she wanted to be able to work outside the house, partly for variety but mainly to add more income to the family budget. She envied women who had jobs — she envied two-income families.

As far as I can recall (and I would have never known for sure), most of the mothers of my classmates did not work outside the home — this was in the 1950s.

Of course the biggest difference between then and now is that almost all of my classmates had a mother and father at home. By the time my own daughters went through school they were an oddity in that they had both mother and father at home.

We live in a far different world now than when I grew up. For most households it seems people have found having both mom and dad work is a necessity in order to provide a roof over the head and food on the table. Now that might not be true for high-paid professionals but then they want to keep up with their peers in lifestyle.

Of course what I said about having both mom and dad work obviously does not apply if it is a single-parent household and there are so many now. And there are so many single mothers, the result I would say of a breakdown in society.

I don’t think we want to or even can go back to a time when most women stayed at home to rear the kids, society has moved on, but certainly there are advantages.

It of course does not have to be mom who stays at home. There are cases when dad stays at home. But whoever it is, if that person can cook, and especially if that person can go beyond opening cans or microwaving frozen dinners, oh what a savings in money and if balanced meals — including fresh fruits and vegetables — are served, oh what a possible boon to health. But even if the stay-at-home person primarily warms up prepared meals that would still be a major savings over fast food or restaurants or delis.

And of course having one spouse able to stay at home and do all the other chores on the home front, cleaning and watching the kids and so on, is both a savings and a relief from the stress of the work world  and would seem to promote a happier household.

We need paid maternity and family leave and probably tax incentives to allow one spouse to stay at home. In some cases, I don’t know, spouses might trade off.

I have to say, in the past it seemed rather natural that women took care of the house and kids — it’s kind of a biological thing, wouldn’t you say? But modern conveniences have lessened some of the workload around the house. And our society has liberated women from the slavery of the past — and no one, man or woman, should want to return to that.

So all I was really trying to say is that there can be major advantages to having a stay-at-home mom or, for that matter, a stay-at-home dad. I had not really thought about the tax incentive thing previously, but now that I did — yeah why not? I think it would be good for individuals and society as a whole.

P.s.

While I in no way want to criticize single mothers, I don’t think we should encourage this situation. It takes two to tango and we need to find ways to encourage living up to responsibilities.