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Two Ways to Frame an Issue

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As I watch the dialogue and the potential ramp-up of federal spending on lots of programs it is interesting to me how people frame it.  It’s clear there are two Americas today.  We see it in everything.   There will be no reconciliation.

The other day, I was reading a blog that said rising violence in cities comes from the fact people don’t have jobs.  The blogger is very very liberal. We don’t see things eye to eye at all but it is interesting to see the framing.  Their conclusion, “Pour money into a new program that creates a positive outcome.”  Come up with new ideas, not the ones we have spent trillions on since 1965 that haven’t worked.

I tweeted that we might want to spend more time and money encouraging and supporting the nuclear family.  Seemed to work in the past.

Today I saw this article in the WSJ.  The premise is that the mental health crisis in America’s children didn’t start with Covid.  I think they are right.  We can argue about the causes.  I think one cause is that social media magnifies mistakes that you make as a child.  My mistakes and missteps as an awkward teen didn’t have a chance of going viral.

The other thing that has happened in the last thirty years is nuclear families are not only not as prevalent, but they are also derided by mainstream media and especially feminists who seem to think if a woman makes a choice to stay home with the kids they are failures.

We know there is a problem.  What do we do about it?

My opinion would be to figure out ways for businesses to be more flexible about having parents be able to balance the dual role of parent/caregiver and employees. I think here is where we need “new ideas”.  Michael Gibbs, a labor economist from Chicago Booth did a study during Covid on a tech firm.  Here is the abstract:

“Using personnel and analytics data from over 10,000 skilled professionals at a large Asian IT services company, we compare productivity before and during the work from home [WFH] period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Total hours worked increased by roughly 30%, including a rise of 18% in working after normal business hours. The average output did not significantly change. Therefore, productivity fell by about 20%. Time spent on coordination activities and meetings increased, but uninterrupted work hours shrank considerably. Employees also spent less time networking and received less coaching and 1:1 meetings with supervisors. These findings suggest that communication and coordination costs increased substantially during WFH, and constituted an important source of the decline in productivity. Employees with children living at home increased hours worked more than those without children at home, and suffered a bigger decline in productivity than those without children”

Conclusions: WFH has led to 2 more hours of work per day with more meetings and less focus time that is resulting in less individual productivity.

Firms obviously weren’t prepared for Covid.  However in the aftermath, what out of the box ideas might they come up with in order to prepare for another potential pandemic.  Or, can they use the information they gathered from Covid to figure out better ways to employ people allowing them to have a better work/life balance in order to prosper at work and help the company grow, along with raising a great nuclear family?

No one on their deathbed said they were happy that they did a great job at work as they reflected on their life.  Almost everyone finds family meaningful.  I don’t see a lot of Facebook posts memorializing a great job well done.  As I get closer to the end of my life, my time is spent investing in my family, not my work.    Believe me when I tell you if you ever receive a terminal illness diagnosis, the first thing that goes through your mind is not what you are going to do with your job.

The WSJ article says,

As a society we have abandoned the care of children to institutional or group care, we have exposed them to early separation from parents’ physical and emotional presence, and we have prioritized financial success and careers over children. The government has promoted and pushed the importance of economic productivity and working outside the home and devalued nurturing. We have put less emphasis on caring for and being present for children while simultaneously expecting more from them academically, socially and in all of their extracurricular interests.


Here is where the two Americas would differ.  Both would recognize a problem.

Progressive left-wing America would want a government program with millions of dollars spent on it to hire counselors for our nation’s children.  They would feel compassion and emotion for the “poor people”.  They’d say, “We have a crisis and we need to fix it.”  You would be mandated to use them.  The program would have no sunset, have an entire bureaucracy dedicated to it at the federal, state, and local levels.  There would be lots of paperwork.  Of course, we’d just auction off some more debt to pay for it.  They’d also cite Chicago Booth professor James Heckman’s research as a rationale to pull toddlers out of homes and put them into federalized educational daycare.  That twist bastardizes the research Professor Heckman did and in a way, makes it sinister.  It goes without saying that the people in charge of these programs would be indoctrinating kids not treating them in the same way a parent might.

The framing of left-wing America also has another unspoken part about it.  They are intimating that they are smarter than the population they would “give” the programs to.  As if regular people couldn’t figure it out on their own.

Right-wing America would not want a federal program and would abhor the idea of having their toddlers pulled away from them.  They’d want to work it out via their own family dynamic or work with employers to find a way to solve the problem. Businesses that figured out innovative ways would attract higher-quality employees to work for them.

When we look at data, where do people do better?  They do better when they have a nuclear family they can lean on.  We have breakdowns in societies that don’t have nuclear families.  Sure, families have problems.  But, they are far less bad than the alternative.

When you look at the news that is reported differently, see if you can spot the difference in attitude and approach.

The post Two Ways to Frame an Issue first appeared on Points and Figures.


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