I read an article recently, published in May, discussing the successes of a basic income on unemployed people in Finland. It was a two year study in which “it boost[ed] recipients’ mental and financial well-being, as well as modestly improving employment“. This is not the first study to explore the effects of a minimum income, and nearly all of them, or possibly all of them (I’ll admit that I haven’t read every study), show an upward trend in mental and physical health, an upward trend in employment, and a downward trend in things like drug abuse and alcoholism. While I could go on about this for a while, and may actually do so in a future post, I have realized that this would be a really nice option for those of us who have to forgo career and money making opportunities during the pandemic to care for our children.
Yesterday I nearly quit grad school. I don’t want to quit grad school, I am extremely proud of myself for making the decision to continue my education and right now, through this pandemic, it’s one of the few things actually keeping me sane. I seriously contemplated quitting, and even went so far as to send one of professors a “freak out” email, because I am having a very hard time juggling NTI with four kids, three of whom are in elementary school, and my own grad school, and doing any sort of housework. I haven’t put laundry away in two weeks. People just keep grabbing clothes out of the clean clothes basket and I keep washing them. I don’t have the time, I don’t have the energy, and I don’t have the mental capacity. Yesterday I finally cleaned the bathroom because my mom was coming over to watch the kids while I was in class. I was so frazzled from trying to get their homework sorted before class started that my brain couldn’t comprehend anything they were saying. Also our internet wouldn’t let me connect properly so I only heard half of what people were saying (See my previous post “Internet and Farmland“).
Thankfully my professor talked me down, and commiserated with me on how hard it is to juggle everything right now. It got me to thinking, America needs to handle this situation better. We are lucky enough to still be able to pay our bills (barely, but we still do) while all of this is happening, but what about the people who can’t? What are they supposed to do? It’s not a shock that women are going to end up taking the brunt of this either. Books like Prosperity Without Growth and Invisible Women both discuss the need to incorporate unpaid care labor into the GDP in order to account for gross discrepancies worldwide in women’s labor. Just google “woman and the pandemic” and you will find countless articles on how women’s careers are going to be the ones disproportionately affected by the need for childcare right now, as we put them aside to care for our children and make sure they complete their schoolwork.
As one male professor on Twitter commented the other day “I am definitely putting this on my CV”. That’s a great idea. While we weren’t working or publishing papers, or writing books, or doing research, we were stuck at home caring for our children, who were given enough work to justify being “in class” from 8-3 everyday. We were teachers, therapists, nurses, and we are tired. So I circle back to my initial thought. While many of us have left our jobs, or severely cut back on what we can offer to the jobs we have, (even though it wont compensate for the loss in career development), having some sort of basic income to fall back on would be extremely nice, especially for those of us who have to currently budget for that bottle of wine we will inevitable cry into.
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