Saturday, May 26, 2007

Doing Better Than Dad

Doing better than Dad did is a basic assumption of manhood. I graduated college amidst a recession, and never expected to be able to afford a house (my father supported the household, including two new cars every two or three years, on his salary). Seems to be happening again: Doing Better than Dad Is Getting More Difficult

How can I tie this in to the gender wage gap?

When I was 12, my father made well over $50,000--a tidy sum in today's dollars; that year, he left his fairly secure position with an engineering firm to start his own company (with two partners, who eventually bailed). His salary dropped by half. How is THAT for risk taking? No second incomes, a high salary, and the guy just drops it to strike out on his own. I don't think *I* will be doing that anytime soon. (As an aside--he went from being a millionaire on paper to being a pauper for real...stuff happens; hence my focus on protecting my family from similar occurrences).

Now, on to the "Doing better than Dad, or not" problem. I had better hurry up: my father was 45 when he started his own firm. I have a few years to go, but while my nominal salary is adequate, my real wages do not approach what his were.

Do women think this way? Is there a drive to "do better" than Mom? (Freudians might have something to say: it is unimportant to me, by the way, whether my drive is to kill or usurp my father's position--the competition is simply to "do better." It is one mark of a man, for good or ill).

I would argue that the increasing detachment men have from women/family/society will break that (come to think of it, maybe that is why current workers are doing less well than their fathers--it may be an "equality of outcome" proposition in reverse, i.e., men just don't care anymore...)

BTW, my father made his money without benefit of college education or other credentials and, trust me, even if my income surpasses his, my achievements certainl will not. But that is another story.

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