Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hartog, Bargaining for a Child's Love

"Economic malaise and political sloganeering have contributed to the increasingly loud conversation about the coming crisis of old-age care: the depletion of the Social Security trust fund, the ever rising cost of Medicare, the end of defined-benefit pensions, the stagnation of 401(k)’s," legal historian Dirk Hartog writes in the New York Times, in an op-ed drawn from his new book.
News accounts suggest that overstretched and insufficient public services are driving adult children “back” toward caring for dependent parents.

Such accounts often draw on a deeply sentimental view of the past. Once upon a time, the story line goes, family members cared for one another naturally within households, in an organic and unplanned process. But this portrait is too rosy. If we confront what old-age support once looked like — what actually happened when care was almost fully privatized, when the old depended on their families, without the bureaucratic structures and the (under)paid caregivers we take for granted — a different picture emerges. 
Continue reading here.