Freakanomics: Economist’s Guide to Parenting

In the 1980’s the average young college educated mother spent 13 hrs per week on child care.  After declining for decades, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s the amount of time invested by parents has skyrocketed.  Now, the average is 22 hours per week.

But does it matter?  Is the extra time we are spending with our kids, chauffeuring them to and from activities, really making a huge difference?

In this freakanomics podcast, a group of economists spend the hour trying to figure out how much parents actually matter.

I strongly recommend taking the hour to listen:

What could economists know about parenting?


Settling Nature vs Nurture…


So what really does matter in the life of a kid?  If you had to focus on one thing that could have a huge effect on your child and on yourself as a parent, what would it be?


Seriously – best podcast I’ve heard… maybe ever.

GOP Field Analysis

Last night’s debate was enlightening.  Everyone’s campaign got the memo this week, with Herman Cain’s rise in the polls, that the electorate is very volatile right now, and that this debate would matter.  So everyone came out to try and make an impact.  Most of them just fell all over their own faces trying to do so.

Here’s my analysis of this week’s candidates:

Still in the lead, still making all the right decisions, and still too good to be true for the party is Mitt Romney.  He had a very refreshing response when responding when religion was brought up, and handled it far better than he ever has to date, though in my opinion he went too far in patting Gov Perry on the shoulder telling him his lukewarm apology for Jefferds remarks was “OK”.  I’m not sure if it made him look incredibly magnanimous (almost to the point of push-over) or made him look like he was in too much of a hurry to let Perry off the hook and get back to the economy.  Other than that, solid performance by Romney, and I was particularly impressed that he won every shouting match with another candidate trying to horn in on his reponse time.  I didn’t think Mitt had it in him.

As this week’s insurgent, Herman Cain got much of the focus with everyone decimating his 9-9-9 plan.  I really don’t like it either for all of the reasons that Stallion Cornell outlined yesterday – but mostly because it would be a huge tax increase for me as a citizen, a consumer, and a micro-business owner.  I’m just not sure where he gets off by saying we should look at his people’s scoring and his data.  I went to his website and the data is SKETCHY!  The truth is that the “fair” tax is a huge tax break for the wealthy and a huge tax increase on the poor and middle class.  Period.  End of sentence.

Michelle Bachmann’s best moment was when she trumped everyone else’s fence proposal by pointing out that her fence would be a double fence with a security zone in between.  I thought she was going to go one step further and explain how the security zone would be constantly patrolled by the 82nd airborne.  Hallelujah border security gods!

Sadly, Rick Perry was the only one who made a lick of sense about the border, denying the absurd idea that we need a fence or that a fence would deter illegal immigration.  I say sadly, because he was a hot mess the rest of the night.  He even merited a boo from the audience when he repeatedly called Romney a hypocrite for employing a lawn care company who hired illegals.  He’s trying harder, but not really getting better results.  I’m not sure if it’s because he’s that stupid or because he is surrounded with people who are that stupid.  I’m thinking it’s a bit of both.

Newt Gingrich continues to come out with reasonable ideas – like calling the super committee a stupid idea – but his time is sadly past.  He still subscribes to Reagan-style Republicanism that most of the candidates have abandoned for Tea Party style Republicanism.  (Clearly Reagan’s 11th commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican” was thrown out the window last night)  Newt shows he has the even-keeled-ness to be a good party mover and shaker again, but I dont’ know anyone who really wants him to be their President.

When it comes to talking about things no one wants to talk about, I give the victory to Rick Santorum.  He has found a way to make himself the ‘values’ candidate for the approximately 1% of voters who care about social issues right now.  His most interesting allegation was against Ron Paul, asserting that the family was the center of our society rather than the individual, to which Paul replied something like, “I’ve given birth to thousands of babies and they call come one at a time.”  To which everyone rolled their eyes.   You can always count on Paul to say something completely sensible but that you completely disagree with the more you think about it.

Jon Huntsman did what no GOP candidate would, in their right mind, do at this point in their race: decline to be on TV.  I suppose he thought the high school cafeteria in New Hampshire would be more integral to his presidential bid; and he might be right.  If his strategy is to focus on New Hampshire, threaten to boycott any caucus that occurs before the NH primary, and try to come in 2nd or 3rd in New Hampshire, it’s the right strategy.  It’s really all he has left.  He’s gotta be running low on money and low on will to try and make himself look appealing as a moderate in this crowd of Tea Party panderers.  I know I would be.

After the debate, I watched NBC’s The Sing Off, which I had recorded from the day before.  and pictured all the candidates in an acapella group together…

Very Interesting Weekend for Mitt

It was a very interesting press weekend for Mitt.  First, the NY Times wrote a very interesting (and in my opinion, fair) article on Mitt’s various responsibilities in the LDS Church over the last few decades.  Non-Mormons (and the electorate at large) has no idea that while also building and running a super-successful business, Mitt was also spending whatever “free” time he had overseeing and running multiple congregations of LDS adherents.

As I suspected, the stories in this article represent both sides – both the joy and the difficulty –  of working as an ecclesiastical leader.  The young man’s story of wise counsel setting his life on a better path is just one of thousands that likely occured during Mitt’s tenure as Bishop and Stake President.  Those are the easy ones to talk about.  One the other hand, I would advise the world to reserve judgement about Mitt’s counsel to families making difficult decisions.  Sometimes an ecclesiastical leader will feel moved to counsel two different people about the same issue two different ways.  Though Bishops are instructed not to specifically counsel couples for or against divorce as a resolution to their marital difficulties, I’ve known instances where the leader was relieved by a divorce and instances where they were saddened by a divorce.  Context makes a world of difference, and no newspaper article could ever provide the full context for any such exchange between priest and congregant.

Also, my friend McKay Coppins posted an interesting (but unsurprising) article about leaked emails from the Perry campaign’s religious advisors have reacted and plotted in regards to Mitt’s religion, and their hopes of sinking his candidacy through its marginalization.

It appears that the inseparable siamese twins, religion and politics, are just heating up for the GOP primary.

Do you think it gets worse before it gets better?

Any of my non-LDS readers have a problem with Mitt’s religion or past as a lay leader of the religion?

Growing Up

Our little WEJr is growing up too fast.

This week his new trick is to knee crawl and push himself into a standing position (under the right conditions).  He hasn’t yet learned to pull himself up by things – we can wait longer for that one as far as I’m concerned.  His head has already taken a beating in the last few weeks as he’s learned the harsh reality of losing his balance around the house.



Ode to My Wife’s Bath Towel

I hereby break the silence of this blog with an special poem.

Ode to My Wife’s Bath Towel

Oh fair bath towel,

thou art red in color and plush to the touch.

How oft has thine owner scorned thee;

calling thee dirty when thou wast not,

calling thee smelly when thou was not,

and washing thee when there was no cause.

Thine vibrant red fibers are now

but a distant memory of Target shelves long past,

for they hath faded and dimmed in the heat of the

scorching hot water and blistering dry air of the washer and dryer.

How oft hath thou been blamed.

Blamed for being used as a hand towel.

Blamed for being used as a throw rug.

Blamed for being used in ways other than intended.

When thou was only serving thine absorptive purpose.

When will thou be redeemed from these torrid accusations that beset you,

and fraught not with lies and speculation by your lackluster master,

who seeks only to replace you with towels

not gifted by her in-laws on her wedding day?

O ye towel of destiny,

the time is nigh when thou wilt be taken from thine hanging place

and be relegated to the rag pile of garage towels,

meant for changing of oils and drying of washed autos.

Yet thou wilt not be forgotten by thy man owner.

For thou wert his towel also, through stinky and clean.

Thou wast not cast into the bath tub willy nilly.

Thou wast not judged of him, and wilt not be judged in the many garage uses he will find for thee.

Thou wilt yet live another life, o towel,

free from the suction cup hook of judgement thou dost now endure.

Freedom shall come, in time.