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Parentalism: Sharing the wealth

Had a great couple of conversations at an event I went to about a week ago and thought I might use it as blog fodder.   As one would expect the presidential election continues a point of interest in most public discussions, but not always appropriate for many settings.   To that end, Em and I were able to quickly divert the conversation to parenting, which is always a good thing since Em is as blue as can be, I’m definitely purple and we live in a red state.   Parenting is something most everyone can get who is over 30.  It also is something I know about which makes it easy to speak to without much of a stretch.  Plus parenting is a topic which we can all synchronize on, like the first time your kid got dreadlocks,

100_0635 by you.

the time when you broke your arm dropping into a bowl with your 7 year olds or the first protest you took your kids to.

photo by you.

So not sure how, but somehow parenting came back to politics, arrghhh.   So Em does a conversation flip from “sharing the wealth” being a political thing to being equally a parental thing.   Premise: All parental wealth is ultimately shared with the kids.

Under that premise, the transition from “democrats suck” to parenting was pretty easy –  the only really enjoyable sharing of the wealth is being a parent.   So I thought I would take it a little further – is it possible that parenting can fuel an economic rebound?  Can free spending entitlement based parenting be a new socio/political/economic model?

Heck yeah! If trickle down economics works as a model, then improving the discretionary income of minors has some validity and who is most able to make this happen?  Yup, parents. Parentalism.

Propping Up the Cell Phone Industry: A Parentalism Use Case

So I started thinking about how being a parent could drive improvements to the economy.  We could do all kinds of things like change curfew hours, enable them to take up a hobby or make a decision of some sort which requires more cash or changes how the kids can spend cash.   The first thing that came to my mind which could have an impact was my decision on a new cell phone.   My continuous denial to buy my two oldest kids a new 3G iPhone is having a negative impact on economy.  Yes, I know – horrible dad, since all the cool kids have them and AT&T could use a little increased share of wallet from me.   My take is that one should be happy at 12 to have a phone, even if it’s not an iPhone since every good parent gets their kids a mobile phone by 12, right?   Well maybe not every 12 year old has a cell phone and that just might be how parentalism could help the telcos, the economy and my dad coolness vibe.  Let’s do a little math:

  • 75M kids in the US under 18
  • Fuzzy math: kids over 12 years old is let’s say 20M
  • Let’s say that 20% have cell phones, so there is a bunch of opportunity here.
  • Let’s say that another 10% could have phones if their parents were just cool enough

So quick math indicates that by just practicing parentalistic spending you could pump $120M/yr into the economy and no one even needs to get an iPhone, but surely the cool kids would.  No really it is not that hard to back into the number: 2M kids @ $10/mo for the extra line, $40 in minutes/overage and $10 in unlimited texting and the $120M doesn’t include ringtones, games or a device purchase.  This could be exciting economic stuff this parentalism.   Think about it — what is more joyful than seeing your kid text message their way through dinner.   Like father/mother, like son/daughter –  a proud day definitely lies ahead with parentalism.  What other parental decisions could be made which would provide stimulus to the economy?

  • Buy a new Minivan?
  • Start a new college or trust fund to fuel transaction fees?
  • Participate in a bake sale?
  • Refuse to do a carpool
  • Invite people you hardly know to your kids birthday party? (no that would be weddingism)
  • Just say yes to that candy in the checkout lane (it also makes life easier for other around you)

Ultimately there is always a spreading of the wealth which occurs by choice, design or accident which we all participate in everyday. The big questions is when, where and how is acceptable spreading of the wealth determined?  Is it determined by the fact that the wage earner makes the decision?  Isn’t a vote a decision? Isn’t where you live a decision? I guess you could move to Canada…errr wait, healthcare is socialized, maybe France then might work.

I liken a tax credit or stimulus check approach  to having the same positive impact as giving your kid a raise in their allowance within a parentalism model.  Think about it, what did you do with your stimulus check, providing you got one?  What impact did it have on the economy?   Not much….  At the end of the day, I’m not sure I would trust my 12 year old twins to more responsibly stimulate the economy than the government.  I’m not sure I would trust the average adult either.

Well there may be some upside to giving the twins more money, it may improve the skateboard, apparel and video game industry, I guess you have to start somewhere.  On second thought, it might be cool to take a high speed train ride across the country on summer vacation while stopping at several national parks and breathing clean air.  This should be my last political post, probably.

QUESTION TO SELF: I wonder if this is what mommy bloggers feel like after they write a post?

Out of the picture

You may be quite sure you know where you’re going
But sooner or later you’re out of the picture
Too many lost names, too many rules to the game
Better find a focus or you’re out of the picture

Somewhere along the way the clock runs out
Somewhere along the way it all stands still

Firemen save a millionaire’s mansion
But when it’s done, they sleep on the side of the road
You may be lost, you’ll find
Just another paradigm
Just a stop frame in time
And then you’re out of the picture

Somewhere along the way the clock runs out
Somewhere along the way it all stands still

Take away this Columbus Day
No more bones on display
Blackhawk never had a say
Just taken out of the picture

Somewhere along the way the clock runs out
Somewhere along the way it all stands still

Son Volt/Jay Farrar

What are you focused on in life? There are so many distractions on a daily basis that it is sometimes difficult to prioritize your efforts and try to align them to something meaningful. It’s been an interesting couple of days to say the least and hopefully an opportunity for me to make the next year just a little better for the folks around me.

This past weekend I rolled into my 36th year in the game, along with my twin Jay, and with fathers day I was ready for MY weekend. The last year has been great for many reasons – a new son and other milestones which I was lucky enough to hit, but unfortunately, I’ve not been thinking about about me but a dear friend who passed on a couple of weeks ago, Michael D. Foster at 59 years old. You know the type of friend, who I’m talking about someone who you would spend hours with just goofing and then somehow you lose touch. With a single phone call from a friend on my birthday to wish me well yesterday, I was reminded of the fragility of all of this with a single sentence “So I got bad news too — Foster’s dead, not sure you knew”.

Foster was just one of those guys who are one of life’s examples that people are often much more than what they appear on the surface. An unfortunate example of this is the recent death of Tim Russert, he wasn’t just a great political mind, but apparently he was Superman. Foster had a little bit of Superman in him too, he may not have been the godfather to 3 kids or famous on air personality, but he had the same type of unknown side by most. His day job was a way to a means, but family, friends and trying to do something better was his focus. He’s that unlikely sage who you random into at college house, that weird old guy who just happens to show up everywhere and then one day you just connect.

When I heard about Mike’s death yesterday, I immediately pictured him cackling/laughing, thought of his loyalty and his life long passion to do good for those around him. Mike wasn’t the type of guy who you see and say “I bet he’s a good guy”, in fact a good deal of folks would take a couple of steps the other way – he was disheveled to say the least and normally covered in paint, which is a good reason to step away. The guy ruined a couch of mine, got paint on my newly finished banister and tripped and broke a window at my house – kind of trainwreck actually, but part of the unpolished charm.

Mike was a proud father of two, Bob and Joe were central to at least 50% of the stories he would tell, sometime 20 times over – each time just a little more embellished, most of which both denied being something that actually happened, like most of us when our Dad’s tell stories out of school. He befriended probably 1000’s of people who met him during college and most of which drifted away every four years during the his nearly 30 years in and around Washtenaw county, I’m glad to say I met him. I’m glad I was able to learn from him, his lesson’s, his maxims and the crazy “music” he played on his numerous guitars which were never tuned. As his landlord, I had to try and respect the other renters, but secretly I didn’t give a shit – it was Foster, he had carte blanche as far as I was concerned, rent paid or not – mostly not.

So on this Fathers Day and with my slide in to the back half of the average life expectancy of a male, I’m just a little more focused on how to better understand where I’m going and how to not forget too many names. As a son, a father of 4 and a friend of couple of folks, I will challenge myself over the coming year to engage people just a little more and share my personal side with the folks I interact with. Perhaps I can be just a little more Dopp-esque and acknowledge those intersects with people and better prioritize things so that those intersections so they can happen just a little more than they do today.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going….

While I thought this might be a weekend where it was all about me, a mistake we ALL too often make, it’s become more about the people I know and thinking about what they are doing today. I’m glad I got the opportunity to catch up with Mike in May when I was in town, just one of those random schedule and geographic intersections.

Who are you going to catch up with Today? What are you going to prioritize a little higher over the next year?

Clock’s ticking and somewhere along the way it will run out and then you’re out of the picture…

Michael D. Foster