Opportunity Cost and the Stay-At-Home-Mom

Opportunity cost 1There has been a lot of flap … and I mean more than the usual amount of flap over a comment Pres. Obama made last week regarding working moms and stay-at-home moms, and the meaning behind what he said. I have mostly stayed out of the flap, but after reading thru a comment thread on facebook about this topic, which only involved men, I wanted to say my bit.

Here is what Obama said, “”Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

Some people have felt it was a slam on stay-at-home-moms, some have defended the statement by saying that it was intended to help women who work outside of the home. I will tell you what I think and why.

Before I do that, however, I want to establish baseline so you can understand where I am coming from. In my former life, I taught high school social studies. My favorite subject to teach was economics (I know my three, yes three, BYU Econ 110 professors are laughing at that now, but anyway …)

The first thing I would always explain to my students was, opportunity cost. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines this as: “The added cost of using resources (as for production or speculative investment) that is the difference between the actual value resulting from such use and that of an alternative (as another use of the same resources or an investment of equal risk but greater return).” In every economics textbook I ever learned from or taught from they always used the examples of guns and butter to explain this concept. I know, because those two things totally go together, right? But the example explained that you have a certain number or amount of resources. You have to decide how many guns, or how much butter you are going to make from your resources.

Really, though, in plain English what opportunity cost means is, you can’t do it all, or have it all, or buy it all, because you have finite resources which will not cover everything. Those resources might be time, money, talent, or a number of other things. But the fact remains, we all make choices every day, all day, in which we sacrifice one thing for another. Guns or butter, you decide. Continue reading

Religion Courses at BYU: embrace the change!

The Mormon blog sphere (I’ve decided there’s no real “Bloggernacle” anymore, it’s too divided and Balkanized to have such a unifying name anymore) has been abuzz about the recent changes at BYU for the religious class requirements. Generally, the consensus has been that this is a bad thing – even those not totally shocked have only offered a very qualified “wait and see” approach.

I, however, think the changes are (probably, likely) a good thing.

For those who came in late: Continue reading

The Day of the Dead


As today is fast sunday, I wasn’t in a hurry to rush home when services let out this afternoon. So on a whim, I drove my car to the nearby cemetery where family members rest in peace.

It was a gorgeous fall day, bright and brisk. For me this cemetery is a place of happiness, a location we used to visit frequently as children, chasing the geese around the green lawns or feeding the black swan that lived near the central pond. My baby sister had been interred there in the late sixties, and so visiting the cemetery was something my mother did rather frequently.

In the nineties I had a child diagnosed in utero with a severe heart defect. Given the high probability of death, it was natural to contact this same cemetery to be the resting place for my son’s remains, were he to pass. After the brief, hopeful week following his birth, his heart gave out. So we laid him to rest in the same area where my sister was buried decades earlier, a heart-shaped corner of the cemetery known as BabyLand. Continue reading

Harry Reid’s most embarrassing moments

As many of us at M* have been writing for years, Harry Reid is a good latter-day Saint who is an embarrassment as a politician.

With any luck, Bro. Reid will soon be just another senator from Nevada and not the majority leader, and his many gaffes will be confined to the Nevada press, rather than the national scene. And we can all hope that in 2016 he will retire and do something more productive (perhaps become a senior missionary?). Most pundits are predicting the Senate will soon be taken back by the Republicans.

But in case Bro. Reid is inclined to think he still has a reason to be involved in the dirty world of politics, I would like to remind him of his worst gaffes, and I would ask M* readers to chime in.

Bro. Reid’s single most horrifying gaffe, in my opinion, is his completely unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney did not pay any taxes for 10 years. This ridiculous claim, in the middle of the 2012 contest, was part of a coordinated and incredibly slimy campaign by the Democrats against any honorable man (and a very flawed candidate, as I wrote here). I predict that Bro. Reid will repent about this very low moment in his life, either in the coming years or in the afterlife.

But this is not all. Bro. Reid went on to say that Mitt Romney, a former bishop and stake president, had “sullied” Mormonism. This coming from the man who once said Barack Obama could be elected because he is “light skinned” with “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Continue reading