Do you know who Janet Reno is?
Of course you do. She was attorney general under Bill Clinton.
Do you know who Zoe Baird is?
Probably not. She was Clinton's first nominee for attorney general. But she was withdrawn from consideration because she hired an illegal immigrant to be her nanny and did not pay taxes on them. "Her husband filed sponsorship papers at the time and sought the advice of counsel on paying taxes. She paid $2,900 in fines for the infractions."
Do you know who Kimba Wood is?
She was Clinton's second nominee for attorney general. Who also ended up having hired an illegal immigrant to be her nanny. Finally, Janet Reno, who was childless, got the job.
Maybe Baird and Wood were really immoral people. Or maybe this is just something that a LOT of women do.
After all, nanny's are very very expensive. Far out of a lot of working women's price range. Immigrants make the impossible affordable. And the taxes are a baffling ordeal that the government makes as confusing as humanly possible and only adds to the exorbitant cost.
As I've mentioned before, I paid 40K for daycare last year. It's pretty messed up that you have to earn well over 40K after taxes to make working financially worth it. I think we should examine that system before we vilify women who use alternative pathways to try to make it work.
I don't believe we can compare the women you named to the average women who are just "trying to make it work". These were women of great importance and were to enforce the laws at the highest level. And I doubt they would have had trouble paying the taxes/daycare fees.ReplyDelete
Do we know that for a fact? Someone could and would say the same thing about us "rich doctors". When in reality, many of us are deep in debt and earning nowhere near enough to compensate.Delete
Zoe Baird made $500,000 in the early 1990s, previously being a partner at a DC lawfirm as well as senior VP of Aetna.Delete
Smolowe, Jill; Carlson, Margaret; Johnson, Julie; Shannon, Elaine (February 1, 1993). "The Zoe Baird Debacle: How It Happened". Time.
Kimba Wood was a US district court judge in the 1980s and 1990s, salary ranging 80-130k during her time (180-215k in 2012 terms accounting for inflation).
Wood's situation is slightly more complex. She had paid all of the required taxes on her employee and the Immigration Reform and Control Act wasn't passed until late in 1986; Wood had hired her West Indian nanny earlier that year. In 1987, the nanny obtained legal immigrant status and worked for Wood until her she was nominated by Clinton.
While the guise of "hiring an illegal immigrant" may be what some remember, during her Senate confirmation, Wood was specifically asked if she had a Zoe Baird problem, to which she denied. Semantics aside, this was an obvious reference to employing illegal immigrants. It was felt that she knowingly lied to gain confirmation as USAG.
Additionally, while in London in the 1960s, Wood had employment as a Playboy bunny (albeit for a short time). Given that every youthful indiscretion and childhood decision that our political figures make is highly scrutinized by the publc, this was obviously a redflag. (Remember the uproar because G.W. Bush may have been arrested for cocaine in the 1970s?)
Forgot to mention, Baird and her husband were worth $2.5 million at the time.Delete
Frankly, these women broke the rules and lied and faced the consequence.
I think it's a cop-out and highly misleading to say that these women were vilified for using "alternative pathways to try to make it work". If you think childcare is too expensive, fine, but choose better examples.
I echo Cape Cod Step-Mom. Kimba Wood, prior to her nomination, was a very successful attorney who had a degree from Harvard Law school. Zoe Baird, prior to her nomination, was a very successful attorney who had a law degree from UC Berkeley. Both spent many years in private practice at some pretty prestigious (and well paying) law firms.ReplyDelete
So if those women needed to do this, what chance do the rest of us have?Delete
The point is that they DIDN'T need to do it. I'm not arguing that childcare is expensive. I'm saying pick better and more sympathetic examples if you want to make a statement about it.Delete
So what was their reason for doing it, do you think? Lack of morality? Pure evil?Delete
Or is it that finding and financing childcare is hard for *everyone*, regardless of what your financial situation *appears* to be?
Absolutely not....I think the did it was because it's the way it was done...and was generally acceptable. However, when you are trying to obtain certain positions one needs to be above reproach.Delete
Well, Bill Clinton admitted he smoked pot, which was illegal. While Kimba Wood actually broke no laws. Double standard?Delete
Agree. Just hoping "you'll get away with it" is not enough if you think you may run for public office. We have a friend here with a green card and he is terrified of anything illegal and they got a lawyer and figured out their nanny tax stuff. So...it can be done, it takes a little legwork but not enough for an intelligent successful woman to figure it out.Delete
Now the issue of how ridiculously unaffordable good childcare is...that is a different and quite valid issue.
"Or is it that finding and financing childcare is hard for *everyone*, regardless of what your financial situation *appears* to be?"Delete
Are you kidding me? Do you know what Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood's financial situation was back in 1993? Assuming they had a hard time affording daycare is a pretty big assumption. I admit that I also don't know what their exact financial situation was, either, but in looking at they jobs they held prior to their respective nominations, the odds are very, very high that they didn't need to sweat the cost of daycare, and that if they did, it's because they weren't capable of managing their money very well.
I agree child care is expensive. I agree it's hard for many people to afford it. But for god's sake, stop pointing to Baird and Wood to make your point. On top of the fact that they don't represent the average person, their behavior was also illegal in one case, and immoral in both cases.
I think some people's definition of "morality" may differ from mine. I think cheating on taxes so that the person you employ, who is likely poor and may have her own children to feed, keeps more money may be illegal but the morality is debatable. I definitely don't know why Wood legally employing a nanny is immoral. Why is that more immoral than Bill Clinton illegally taking drugs?Delete
A lot of wealthy people treat their "help" like crap and... wait for it.... don't pay them much! After all, that's why they won't put their kids in day care in the first place - if it costs were close, we wouldn't be having this discussion, right?Delete
Read this and tell me if this type of abuse is anything other than immoral. This type of abuse is quite common and unconscionable.
And for the record, I think cheating on your taxes for any reason is inappropriate, because you are in turn everyone else around you pay more, and I think we pay plenty already, thank you very much. If you want to help people who are down on their luck, there are other ways to do it.
"A lot of wealthy people treat their "help" like crap and... wait for it.... don't pay them much!"Delete
Are you basing this on The Nanny Diaries? Most women I know who have nannies or au pairs treat them like one of the family. You're a fool if you mistreat the person caring for your child. You may be right about house cleaners.
"After all, that's why they won't put their kids in day care in the first place - if it costs were close, we wouldn't be having this discussion, right?"
No. Having a nanny works for some people for various reasons. Someone may choose to pay more for extra convenience, needing more flexible hours, one on one care, etc. It's pretty clear you've never had to make this choice.
I agree with you. As a teacher, making 30k a year, I cannot afford childcare at a daycare center in my town for my two children. Thankfully, we have family in town that watch our children; otherwise, hiring a nanny and paying under the table would be our only option.ReplyDelete
I think the big issue with your examples is that they were denied Atty General because what they did was illegal, especially since they were applying for the position of the nation's top cop.ReplyDelete
Kimba Wood's was done prior to the 1986 act that made it illegal to employ aliens and she did pay her taxes on her nanny. But yeah, it's a little nuts that you have to have 40K in CASH after taxes for childcare. Even if you're a top 5% earner this is nuts.ReplyDelete
Childcare is expensive and that topic needs to be addressed. Anyone who is filling top law enforcement positions in the government should be expected to follow those laws regardless. It shouldn't be a "do as I say, not as I do" position.ReplyDelete
Apparently, the present administration is the exception.
What are they doing that makes them an exception?Delete
An example of "do as I say and not as I do" would be how many of the administration in the beginning were found to have not paid taxes. It was interesting because I remember how they stated paying taxes was a patriotic duty and were calling for higher taxes, yet many had back taxes due. Unpatriotic I guess.Delete
Agree with you 100% that daycare should not cost what it does. But I have to echo what cape cod step-mom and others said about your examples. Neither woman should have been able to plead poverty as an excuse. But are you really surprised by the "do as I say..." mentality of law enforcement? Is hiring an illegal as a nanny any more egregious than what pretty much every landscaping firm, big-time farmer, construction contractor, etc., does? Would you really be surprised to find that most of their employees are illegal? The whole system is broken.ReplyDelete
So breaking the law is okay if you're poor?Delete
We only know about these women *because* they are wealthier and more powerful. I'd guess probably more than half of home childcare is paid under the table. It just doesn't come into public view because it's so common and flies under the radar.
Poor people don't hire nannies. Having a nanny is one of those prerogatives of the rich. And if the "don't hire illegal immigrants" laws were enforced on everybody in America, prices would shoot sky-high because producers would be forced to actually pay minimum wage to people and America would then be forced to actually look at the problem due to personal inconvenience. But we choose not to do that, and ignore it except in high-profile cases. Yes, it actually *is* really common in America, but that doesn't make it okay.Delete
Also, being willing to hire illegal immigrants is one step away from supporting human trafficking into America, since a huge chunk of our illegal immigrants get here that way and are actually held as slaves under the guise of the accepted "hiring the illegals."
"Poor people don't hire nannies."Delete
So what do poor people do with their kids? Let the infants roam the streets?
Have siblings watch them, stay at home by themselves, get family to watch them, hire the middle school aged babysitter down the street for $5 an hour. No one I knew had a nanny or used one unless they were from my perspective upper middle class. Everyone else just figured out a way to make it work without one.Delete
So my six year old should watch my 2 year old? Or my parents should uproot themselves to babysit all day? Or some middle school kid should bring them to school with her while I work all day?Delete
No. If I didn't earn enough money, I simply couldn't afford to work. The poorer people I know are SAHMs.
Do sliding-scale child care subsidies not exist in the US? They are commonplace here in Canada.Delete
We live in an area where child care is fairly cheap, relative to yours, but where wages are also low. Full time care for my daughter and after school for my son costs us $195 a week. The subsidy can be anywhere from 100% (income below about $25k/yr) to where it phases out around $45k, which is a pretty decent income here.
We've been pretty poor before, though we've never used a subsidy ourselves. My husband and I worked alternate shifts. He worked overnight, I worked days.
I come from a poor, single parent family. My mom took a night job so she could afford childcare for me (a teen down the street). Most of my school friends stayed after school in an after school program that was inexpensive.Delete
The lady on the corner of my house used to keep smaller kids (I'm not sure how much she charged, but she had a makeshift kind of daycare. I doubt she was licensed or anything). I know some welfare moms who are SAHMs and watch other people's kids for them to make some extra cash.
I seriously doubt anyone in my old neighborhood ever thought about going to a real day care or hiring a nanny. This was an area where sometimes kids stayed after school on the playground for hours because their mom's didn't get off work in time. It sucks, but it's reality for so many people.
Fizzy, while I think that some of your posts are absolutely hilarious, I also find your arguments in the face of valid points lack substance.Delete
What do "poor" people do? I can guarantee you that poor people are not stay at home moms. I grew up in an low income, immigrant area of Toronto, Canada, and not one of my friends had the luxury of a stay at home mom. Because that's what it is - a luxury that your household can sustain itself on a single person's salary. Most people either alternated shifts (in a two person household), relied on elderly family to look after the children, had local community members who ran daycares out of their homes or had the children to look after each other. For example, at 8 years old, I began to take care of my 1 year old sister while my parents were at work. There is no way that anyone in my area would even consider hiring a nanny.
So in this situation, I can see how people who struggle to put food on the table regularly can get angry about a person who has the ability to earn 6 figures, and CHOOSES to evade taxes by hiring illegally. If childcare was such a cost to these women, why not seek out other options such as daycare facilities which would no doubt be cheaper than hiring a full-time nanny?
Perhaps child care is just one reason welfare is attractive? When I went to elementary school in San Diego in the 60's we were taught that the Communists took the children from the mothers at a young age. Those dirty communists sent the kids to indoctrination centers and then made mothers go to work. But then in the 60's most mothers stayed home. I guess we learned from the communists who are now receiving foreign aid from US.ReplyDelete
You're right Fizzy, 80% of people at least pay their childcare providers under the table. And quite frankly, in addition to being a felony, it's immoral as well in my opinion. And if you're applying for a position where part of your job is to uphold the laws of the land, I think it's pretty problematic if you've committed a felony yourself.ReplyDelete
It especially irks me when people talk to me like I'm some poor sucker when I describe how much childcare would cost for us if we had a full time babysitter, because of course, only a fool would pay taxes on the person who cares for their child.
It's not THAT hard to pay your taxes Fizzy, you just don't want to be bothered.
"It's not THAT hard to pay your taxes Fizzy, you just don't want to be bothered."Delete
I don't even have a nanny. Maybe you meant the general "you".
You have had one in the past, no? Perhaps I recall incorrectly, but I believe we've had this conversation before.Delete
so when you pay the kid down the done the street to babysit for a few hours you withold and give to the IRS and provide the kid at 1099 each year? IT IS HARD TO PAY TAXES THE RIGHT WAYDelete
No, you pay taxes when you have a household employee who you pay more than $1700 per year. If you are paying your babysitter down the street that much, then you have way better of a social life than I do.Delete
So, according to MD girl's statement, if you hire a 16 year old high school babysitter for 2 times a week, for $20 a night, to play with toddlers, watch TV, and then sit around while they sleep and eat your food (because that is what I did when I babysat), you should have to report that to the IRS and pay taxes on that. Insane! And entirely impractical to expect people to obey.Delete
Hildy mentioned that childcare shouldn't cost what it does. Here's my question, though. How much are the childcare providers earning? (Per hour? Benefits? Retirement?) How much does the space for childcare cost (a daycare center, someone's home, whatever space is used)?ReplyDelete
The folks I know who have less money tend to put together amazing groups of shared students who take care of kids at varying times for a couple of families together. (The arrangements vary, and get easier as kids get into school age.) They all pay per hour decently (compared to other unskilled labor in the area for students), but there are no benefits at all. None. They all assume that the students have health insurance through parents and don't need paid sick leave or whatever. That may be feasible if you're giving students 5-10 hours a week of work, but not if you're expecting someone to do it as a full-time job, right?
I'm a nanny. I work approximately 35 hours a week. My employers pay me above minimum wage to take care of two children, one of which is in school during the day. They pay for half of the taxes taken out of my check. So just a little bit for SS, etc. The rest falls on me. While I love the job, I have no benefits, and my income mostly goes to pay for my student loans. Their cost-benefit analysis was in favor of a nanny. One benefit of being "on the books" was so that they could have the child care tax credit and the like.ReplyDelete
As far as nannies only being for "the rich," I have to say that this is mostly true. If you or your family is poor, you likely have not relocated far away from relatives. I see quite a few young grandmas on public assistance who take care of multiple grandchildren. Those children who are old enough go into Head Start programs or something similar.
It's true that people who are not rich are either going to have one parent stay at home or try to live near family to use them for childcare.Delete
My daycare is on the cheaper side considering the hours it offers. If I worked shorter hours, I could use a cheaper daycare but then I'd also likely make less money.
Our sitter/nanny (a college student) is only part-time but we opted to do all the taxes above-board because she'll clear the $1800 threshold. It's a hassle. But I am one of those people who is paranoid of being caught, and also in order to get the tax benefit you have to do everything correctly. I am dubious that there is much in the way of benefit to the nanny on this, other than having reported income through Social Security that might add 50 cents to her Social Security check if it doesn't collapse before she is of retirement age. We hired an accountant to do our taxes this year and asked him to also do the payroll stuff, and even he made a mistake (had us submit unemployment withholding when we/she were actually under the threshold for it)... what hope do mere mortals have? We are probably going to switch to center-based care soon for unrelated reasons, and I won't miss this hassle. -ElaineReplyDelete
To Bardiac: I'm told that the cost of liability insurance for daycare centers is the largest contributing factor in the price. Apparently doctors aren't the only ones who have to be indemnified out the wazoo. I'm told the workers themselves often make minimum and in many cases can be considered part-time so no benefits. (Don't you love the idea that a worker will come to work sick because she can't afford to stay home, thus infecting all your children?)ReplyDelete
What I find interesting is that no one was interested in nannies until women started getting the high powered jobs. They probably didn't even look into who the nannies, gardeners, maids etc were when men were nominated for these positions. It's like men have no responsibility for their children or households, and how dare those women have political aspirations! Now they're looking into it, because they realize the sexism of only looking at women nominees, but before Clinton nominated women to these positions, do you think they bothered with looking at who was taking care of these male nominees children?ReplyDelete
Actually, that was sort of the point I was trying to make.Delete
Actually, there was a potential Bush appointee (a man -- I don't remember his name, but I think it may have been for the head of homeland security position), who was rejected because he paid his nanny under the table. So yes, it does happen to male appointees too. I don't think this is even remotely a feminist issue. It's a felony issue.Delete
Actually, I think it's sexist more because most men in high power careers don't need nannies... they have their wives. Probably the majority of women in high power jobs need nannies at some point. And add that to an environment where it's challenging to find good childcare.Delete
Huh? I'd imagine he had a nanny because his wife worked. I don't understand how that is sexist at all.Delete
Right but I'd say close to 100% of high power women have needed a nanny, whereas this issue affects much fewer high power men because their (often) stay at home wives pick up the childcare responsibilities. This targets an issue that obviously *could* affect a man but is far far more likely to affect a woman.Delete
Yes, as I said, they are checking the men now, because it would be sexist to only check women nominees. Right? But before Clinton did they bother checking men's household employees? I doubt it...even if their wives worked, even if they did have nannies, maids, gardeners, etc. I do believe it started because of sexism as a way of looking more carefully at a woman's background to keep her out of those high powered political positions and basically say, "You belong at home taking care of your kids and home, instead of hiring illegals!" Know your place, ladies!ReplyDelete
I think in general, the opposing side has a great incentive to dig up dirt on candidates, regardless of gender. The nanny issue does affect women disproportionately, but the fact is, tax evasion is a felony. And it's a felony if you evade your taxes by not paying your nanny OR your taxes on your earnings from your business.Delete