Episode 104 – Focus on the Family with June Carbone

Recently our friend Bill Black introduced us to June Carbone. He suggested she could tell us how the job guarantee fits into cutting edge research on the family. June holds the Robina Chair in Law, Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota Law School and writes about the intersection of family, the economy, and politics.

In this episode, June takes Steve through the evolution of the American family as it transitioned to meet the economic needs of modern society. She says what excites her is not so much what things are, but why they change. When the US was founded, it was an agricultural society. The foundation of the colonial era family was the farm, owned and controlled by men and primarily a self-contained unit.

Industrialization and urbanization disrupted the system. The entire economy became dramatically more insecure, with boom-bust economic cycles. Women are no longer helping in the fields.

They are the moral centers of the family. What’s their job? Well, we think of it as sparkling kitchen floors from the 50s. But the real job of the women in the separate spheres is the creation of a new upper-middle class. It is to have the girls prevent the boys from getting them pregnant. Why? Because if the girls get pregnant too early, the boys have to marry them and that derails the whole enterprise. You’ve got to keep the boys in school. They’ve got to get the job. They’ve got to get through the first couple of years when they’re working their way up, and then they can afford a wife.

June talks to Steve about the changing economic conditions through the 19th and 20th centuries, and their effect on demographics and family behavioral trends. Race and class distinctions were sharp. Patterns of migration during WW II and the postwar period have had long-term effects, especially on African Americans. She explains how trends like divorce rates and single parenting reflect economic precarity. The Reagan years saw massive increases in both instability and inequality.

By today’s unrealistic model of the urban middle class family, young people have cycled through the first three or four jobs, and have settled on a career. They’re able to marry and have children with the financial security to weather a downturn or allow the spouse to go back to school. As June points out, the majority of the population cannot get there.

Well, start thinking of what it would mean to empower workers the way we empower employers. The corporate world wants flexibility, the ability to move plants abroad, to a different state, to automate, to sell one unit and buy another unit, to reinvent the iPhone. They have the iPhone replace the PC. We build in disruption in the corporate model. What would it mean to provide stability and security for people?

Steve and June go through much of the interview without mentioning the job guarantee, yet there’s no doubt June is constructing the case for it. Our listeners may never have heard it approached from these angles. It will give you a whole new perspective.

June Carbone holds the Robina Chair of Law, Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota School of Law. She is coauthor of RED FAMILIES V. BLUE FAMILIES: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford, 2010) and MARRIAGE MARKETS: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family (Oxford 2014)

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Recently our friend Bill Black introduced us to June Carbone. He suggested she could tell us how the job guarantee fits into cutting edge research on the family. June holds the Robina Chair in Law, Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota Law School and writes about the intersection of family, the economy, and politics.

In this episode, June takes Steve through the evolution of the American family as it transitioned to meet the economic needs of modern society. She says what excites her is not so much what things are, but why they change. When the US was founded, it was an agricultural society. The foundation of the colonial era family was the farm, owned and controlled by men and primarily a self-contained unit.

Industrialization and urbanization disrupted the system. The entire economy became dramatically more insecure, with boom-bust economic cycles. Women are no longer helping in the fields.

They are the moral centers of the family. What’s their job? Well, we think of it as sparkling kitchen floors from the 50s. But the real job of the women in the separate spheres is the creation of a new upper-middle class. It is to have the girls prevent the boys from getting them pregnant. Why? Because if the girls get pregnant too early, the boys have to marry them and that derails the whole enterprise. You’ve got to keep the boys in school. They’ve got to get the job. They’ve got to get through the first couple of years when they’re working their way up, and then they can afford a wife.

June talks to Steve about the changing economic conditions through the 19th and 20th centuries, and their effect on demographics and family behavioral trends. Race and class distinctions were sharp. Patterns of migration during WW II and the postwar period have had long-term effects, especially on African Americans. She explains how trends like divorce rates and single parenting reflect economic precarity. The Reagan years saw massive increases in both instability and inequality.

By today’s unrealistic model of the urban middle class family, young people have cycled through the first three or four jobs, and have settled on a career. They’re able to marry and have children with the financial security to weather a downturn or allow the spouse to go back to school. As June points out, the majority of the population cannot get there.

Well, start thinking of what it would mean to empower workers the way we empower employers. The corporate world wants flexibility, the ability to move plants abroad, to a different state, to automate, to sell one unit and buy another unit, to reinvent the iPhone. They have the iPhone replace the PC. We build in disruption in the corporate model. What would it mean to provide stability and security for people?

Steve and June go through much of the interview without mentioning the job guarantee, yet there’s no doubt June is constructing the case for it. Our listeners may never have heard it approached from these angles. It will give you a whole new perspective.

June Carbone holds the Robina Chair of Law, Science and Technology at the University of Minnesota School of Law. She is coauthor of RED FAMILIES V. BLUE FAMILIES: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford, 2010) and MARRIAGE MARKETS: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family (Oxford 2014)

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