[FoRK] New Benefits of Marriage Study Actually Hints at the Horrors of Middle Age

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Fri Jan 23 03:29:01 PST 2015

There is a mechanism that (effectively) deducts child care costs from
your earned income -- the flexible spending account. Not a direct way
to do this and it requires that at least one parent work for a
business large enough to administer the FSA.

It's been more than a decade since we could use this, but IIRC the
deduction was limited by the earnings of both parents as well as a
yearly cap.  That is, the plan would be funded by regular deductions
from one spouse's salary, and that amount would not be counted as
income if it did not exceed the other spouse's earnings.  A single
parens, I believe, had the "advantage" that his/her deduction was
based on his/her own salary.

Ken Meltsner

On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 9:42 PM, Lucas Gonze <lucas.gonze at gmail.com> wrote:
> I don’t get the emphasis on parental leave. A birth only happens once per child. No matter how much leave you get it doesn’t matter. And it’s a huge burden on a company which gets somebody on a long leave.
> OTOH it could be possible to deduct child care when it’s a business expense. If hiring a sitter is necessary to go generate cash, why isn’t that deductible against the revenues you generate?
> Today I spent $214 on a sitter so I could bring in $800 in consulting revenue. Why do I owe taxes on $800 instead of $586?
> On January 22, 2015 at 1:45:07 PM, Gregory Alan Bolcer (greg at bolcer.org) wrote:
> What's with all the excessive ink?
> Greg
> On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 1:36 PM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> Ah yes, thanks. I mixed that up with a story about Swedish Kitchens, both
>> tiny sizes from a certain era and this:
>> https://sweden.se/collection/welcome-to-the-swedish-kitchen/
>>> Welcome to the Swedish kitchen. It is not a sanctuary for a chef but
>>> rather a family room where people combine cooking with socialising, eating
>>> and drinking.
>> https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svensk_k%C3%B6ksstandard
>> sdw
>> On 1/22/15 10:43 AM, geege schuman wrote:
>>> This? (Denmark not Sweden, but I can see why you went there.)
>>> http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/01/can-boomers-
>>> make-cohousing-mainstream/384624/
>>> On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 1:03 PM, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>>> On 1/22/15 8:38 AM, Tom Higgins wrote:
>>>> So maybe I am not the best person to be commenting on marriage having
>>>>> been
>>>>> thru one from beginning to end...but...
>>>>> Legislating social machinations ...two words... Gaius Octavius ...and
>>>>> begin.....
>>>>> -tom(Livia Did It)higgins
>>>>> Yes, legislating social machinations would be bad. Glad we don't do
>>>> that. Oh, wait, in some key ways we do:
>>>> http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201006/
>>>> can-you-name-the-1138-federal-hat-tips-marriage-guest-post-onely
>>>> http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-353R
>>>> our research identified a total of 1,138 federal statutory provisions
>>>>> classified to the United States Code in which marital status is a
>>>>> factor in
>>>>> determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges.
>>>>> Not to mention laws regulating sex, only recently overruled by SCOTUS
>>>> so
>>>> that many millions of Americans are no longer committing technically
>>>> illegal acts. (For instance, oral sex was illegal in many states.) If
>>>> you
>>>> believe that state and local laws have any validity once overruled, it
>>>> still is. A number of states have refused to change their laws even
>>>> though
>>>> they have been ruled unconstitutional.
>>>> On 1/22/15 7:00 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
>>>> Maya Dusenbery must be an alias.
>>>>> Whatever agency that spends money on encouraging or discouraging
>>>>> marriage
>>>>> through that federal marriage promotion program should be defunded and
>>>>> cut
>>>>> immediately as completely outside the scope of what government should be
>>>>> spending taxpayer dollars on.
>>>>> Agreed.
>>>> http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/gops-dead-
>>>> end-marriage-program
>>>> take a hard look at a federal program pushed by a host of top GOPers
>>>>> during the Bush-era and reauthorized in late 2010, as the Republican
>>>>> deficit craze took hold. Originally championed by Republican lawmakers
>>>>> including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick
>>>>> Santorum,
>>>>> and current Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a federal initiative to promote
>>>>> marriage <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/09/do-taxpayers-
>>>>> need-marriage-workshops> as a cure for poverty dumped hundreds of
>>>>> millions of dollars into programs that either had no impact or a
>>>>> negative
>>>>> effect on the relationships of the couples who took part, according to
>>>>> recent research by the Department of Health and Human Services <
>>>>> http://www.hhs.gov/> (HHS).
>>>>> Launched during the Bush administration at the behest of evangelical
>>>>> Christian activists and with the aid of congressional Republicans, the
>>>>> federal Healthy Marriage Initiative <http://www.motherjones.com/
>>>>> politics/2005/01/richer-or-poorer> was designed to help low-income
>>>>> couples put a little sizzle in their marriages and urge poor unmarried
>>>>> parents to tie the knot, in the hopes that marriage would enhance their
>>>>> finances and get them off the federal dole. Starting in 2006, millions
>>>>> of
>>>>> dollars were hastily distributed to grantees to further this poverty
>>>>> reduction strategy. The money went to such enterprises as "Laugh Your
>>>>> Way
>>>>> America," <http://www.laughyourway.com/> a program run by a non-Spanish
>>>>> speaking Wisconsin minister who used federal dollars to offer "Laugh
>>>>> Your
>>>>> Way to a Better Marriage" seminars to Latinos. It funded Rabbi Stephen
>>>>> Baars, a British rabbi who'd been giving his trademarked "Bliss"
>>>>> marriage
>>>>> seminars <http://www.getbliss.com/index.php?option=com_content&
>>>>> task=view&id=1&Itemid=2> to upper-middle-class Jews in Montgomery
>>>>> County, Maryland, for years. With the help of the federal government, he
>>>>> brought his program to inner-city DC for the benefit of African American
>>>>> single moms.
>>>>> The marriage money was diverted from the Temporary Assistance for Needy
>>>>> Families program (formerly known as welfare), and much of it went to
>>>>> religious groups that went to work trying to combat the divorce rate in
>>>>> their communities by sponsoring date nights and romance workshops. In
>>>>> some
>>>>> cities, the local grantees used their federal funds to recruit
>>>>> professional
>>>>> athletes to make public service announcements touting the benefits of
>>>>> marriage. Women's groups were especially critical of the marriage
>>>>> initiative, largely because it was the baby of Wade Horn <
>>>>> http://www.publiceye.org/pushedtothealtar/index.html>, a controversial
>>>>> figure who Bush installed at HHS as the head of the Administration for
>>>>> Children and Families and the administration's official "marriage czar."
>>>>> Greg:
>>>> Second, she wants the government to tell her boss that she can take more
>>>>> sick days to take care of her family? It's called unpaid leave. After
>>>>> you
>>>>> use up all your sick days, that's what you do. The idea that the
>>>>> government
>>>>> would tell her boss that they have to pay her to do her parental duty
>>>>> too
>>>>> is crazy. That just tells me she was unprepared for parenthood. We
>>>>> truly
>>>>> do live in an entitlement society.
>>>>> This is not so simple. Children need to be raised and both parents
>>>> should
>>>> be able to get educated, have a career, and work productively. To some
>>>> extent, having to struggle for a certain segment isn't terrible, but it
>>>> is
>>>> probably not optimal either. For other segments, the struggle leads to
>>>> various disasters. Anything that consistently leads to poorly raised and
>>>> educated children is bad. Anything that significantly produces life-long
>>>> limits on half the population is bad. It doesn't take full government
>>>> management to fix this. Perhaps it doesn't take any government
>>>> participation at all. I would likely only consider some minor tweaks
>>>> that
>>>> might have a major impact. Perhaps solving liability and responsibility
>>>> issues with cooperative parenting arrangements or something along those
>>>> lines. The entitlements we have for people who more or less fail out of
>>>> the perfect career & family track do tend to discourage further coupling
>>>> up. I see this all the time: A couple has children, then splits up. If
>>>> they are less than upper middle class, and especially if the children
>>>> have
>>>> any problems, eventually this may lead to some disability, welfare, or
>>>> similar. Once this becomes a thing, and goes on for a while, it becomes
>>>> less and less likely that that parent will do more than date. The
>>>> responsibility gap that someone would have to close is large, leading to
>>>> endless instability.
>>>> The conservatives were right in seeing this as an insidious dynamic, but
>>>> they seem mostly off track in their approach to solving it. By only
>>>> concentrating on keeping people from divorcing and those on the edge to
>>>> commit, they seem to be assuming that those already divorced and in or
>>>> heading to bad situations are a lost cause.
>>>> A really great book I'm reading right now (Firestar - Michael Flynn) has
>>>> this dynamic in play at a certain point:
>>>> Pods of 4 single parents work together so that one parent raises all of
>>>> the children while the others train, work, and pay part of their salary
>>>> to
>>>> the first.
>>>> Simply supporting something like this so it is a respectable thing, can
>>>> get off the ground, and be successful for a while would be a huge win.
>>>> At
>>>> some point, it would be a cultural motif and probably happen without any
>>>> support. Maybe this would just need creative use of power of attorney,
>>>> or
>>>> probably a slight legislative tweak to allow parent-like power in such a
>>>> situation better than current power of attorney. Perhaps private
>>>> organizations would provide backing for a few areas to get it off the
>>>> ground.
>>>> I can't seem to google it, but there was a segment I saw recently about
>>>> almost-communal living in Sweden. An apartment complex like group vote
>>>> residents in, had group dinners with rotating cooking responsibility,
>>>> co-parenting, etc. Hard to get right, and all kinds of ways of failing,
>>>> but not bad to try. Some extended families operate this way to various
>>>> degrees, sometimes to an extreme. It's not an option for most now, but
>>>> intentionally constructing such an arrangement is not necessarily the
>>>> same
>>>> as socialism or communism, especially if not imposed by the government.
>>>> Different arrangements are optimal for different people at different
>>>> times.
>>>> Greg
>>>>> sdw
>>>> On 1/20/2015 8:05 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>>>>> Teaming up is important. I always wonder why so many are single.
>>>>>> Perhaps we need some social construct between "roommate" and "mate".
>>>>>> http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/new-benefits-
>>>>>> marriage-study-actually-hints-horrors-middle-age-98353/
>>>>>> New Benefits of Marriage Study Actually Hints at the Horrors of Middle
>>>>>> Age
>>>>>> By Maya Dusenbery • January 16, 2015 • 12:00 PM
>>>>>> Doomed? (Photo: nathancongleton/Flickr
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> --
> greg at bolcer.org, http://bolcer.org, c: +1.714.928.5476
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