Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nixon's Civil Rights 25

I have two items for my write-up today on Dean Kotlowski's Nixon's Civil Rights:

1. On page 246, we read: "During 1971 and 1972, the number of women in supergrade posts tripled, from 36 to 105. Nixon named the first six women to the rank of general in the armed forces, the first female rear admiral, and the first female air force general. Women became sky marshals, air traffic controllers, and narcotics agents, and in 1973, for the first time, three females chaired executive branch agencies."

These were some of President Richard Nixon's accomplishments in the area of women's advancement. But Nixon still had his Democratic critics, such as Senators Birch Bayh and George McGovern. Bayh thought that Nixon wasn't working fast enough, and McGovern pointed out that the percentage of women holding policy-making jobs was still abysmally small under Nixon. But Nixon's secretary, Rose Mary Woods, remarked that it didn't matter whether or not women had high positions, as long as people listened to their opinions and suggestions.

2. Kotlowski narrates how Nixon moved to the right on the issue of child care centers. At first, Nixon believed that federal support for child care centers was an essential part of welfare reform, since mothers needed for someone to care for their children while they were working or pursuing job training. Consequently, that was a part of his Family Assistance Plan (FAP) to elevate poor families (along with a guaranteed minimum income). But Nixon came to the point where he thought that child care centers were too costly, and he believed that women should raise their kids at home and that child care centers undermined the family unit. For such reasons, he decided that, under FAP, job training should be optional for moms who had kids under six years old.

I can see positives and negatives to both sides of this issue. On the one hand, I can sympathize with the right because federal funding for child care centers could become an entitlement that costs lots of money. On the other hand, while it may be ideal for a parent to stay home and raise the kids (and I'm not speaking in absolutes here, because in some cases a child care center might be a more secure place for a child to be), that's not feasible for everybody, such as the working poor. Right-wingers have argued that working mothers can find a friend or relative to take care of their kids while they're working. That may be true, in a number of cases, but not everybody lives near relatives who can help out.

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