Huffington’s Response to Rendell

I'm not usually a huge fan of Arianna Huffington. I check out Huffington Post a couple times a week, but I don't really care what Paul Reiser has to say about 2008 election, so I don't go too far into it. Huffington is a master of the media, and she controls her image very well. I used to poo-poo self-promotion, but now I'm smarter about that stuff.

Here's a clip of Huffington on the Early Show responding to Rendell comment about Janet Napolitano not having a family and therefore able to work 24/7. Huffington's post is very sensible. Nobody, men or women, should work that many hours. The brain needs to recharge. She adds that single people have lives, too. Napolitano plays tennis and rafts.

So, Rendell's comment is sexist, only because he would never have thought to say such a thing about a man. But it is also wrong headed, because working 24/7 is just stupid and counter productive.

5 thoughts on “Huffington’s Response to Rendell

  1. Well, the Kennedy strategy was to hire guys to be substitute fathers while they worked on politics and their wives bore the children. How did it work out? Well, this generation of Kennedy kids – you either like them or you don’t. It’s been years and years since RFK Jr’s heroin bust. And the girl who was paralyzed when thrown from Joe’s jeep driven recklessly on the beach is supported okay by the settlement money. The rape business on William Kennedy Smith is not so easy to like. Your mileage may differ.
    It’s tough being a parent, and to give enough time to your kids. I am inclined to think Rendell is onto something: the way we have configured the top jobs in the society, they need more time than is compatible with doing a good job as a family (wo)man. Huffington – should it be possible to do the job in reasonable hours? The Reagan strategy of being called only when your subordinates haven’t worked it out, getting a good night’s sleep? That didn’t work out all that well in Iran-Contra, I think.
    A friend of mine says the amazingly small number of Red Hats in the Vatican to run the enormous enterprise which is the Roman Catholic Church is because they have all their time from waking up to going to bed to scheme and connive on church business. Think of Napolitano as a cardinal…


  2. “A friend of mine says the amazingly small number of Red Hats in the Vatican to run the enormous enterprise which is the Roman Catholic Church is because they have all their time from waking up to going to bed to scheme and connive on church business. Think of Napolitano as a cardinal…”
    There’s an old story about a pope (John XXIII, I believe) being asked how many people work at the Vatican. “About half,” he is supposed to have said. The whole billion-person Catholic enterprise is a lot more loosely organized and local bishops have a lot more autonomy and security than your friend’s description suggests. Even within dioceses, there are a lot of Catholic entities (religious orders, universities, hospitals, Fr. Pfleger) that pretty much do their own thing.
    If a priest really wants to get a lot done, celibacy really does make it more feasible. Catholic religious of both sexes are often multiply-degreed and Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a shelf-full of mostly academic books before becoming Benedict XVI. At a lower level, our parish priest gets an awful lot done, as well as being very available. When my husband and I first met him officially, we asked him what we could do for the parish. Our pastor’s answer was that we should do a good job bringing up our kids. I really appreciated that answer (which a lot of people would find very retrograde and pre-Vatican II), because it showed that he understood the difference in our respective vocations.


  3. We want our politicians to be married, with children, because that reassures us that they share our values. If you look at the people the politicians choose to fill responsible posts, though, I suspect you’ll see many single, childless, and divorced people.
    To be fair, nowadays we decide to marry and have children. It is not forced upon us. Those who do not have families to care for can devote more time and attention to their jobs. Some people are singleminded, and want to immerse themselves in their work. That is also a choice, and should be honored.
    I’ve seen a few divorces in our circle of acquaintances. Some have filed for divorce because the other spouse was never around, due to work. Some people are much happier at work than at home.


  4. I agree with this sentiment, and I have a longstanding policy with my direct reports at work that they not put in huge hours. I tell them to leave even if they have nothing to do when they go — it’s the only way to keep everyone fresh and to keep it fair to people with large outside commitments.
    The thing is, though, it’s difficult to sustain this approach because of the cold economic reality: as a business, you save a ton of money when you squeeze extra hours out of people. If you push a person’s hours up to 60 a week, you’ve effectively dropped their hourly rate by half (when you include the cost of health insurance, FICA, etc.)
    Businesses are not likely to listen to non-economic arguments for work-life balance, in my experience. Software people like the ones who work for me just start screwing up when they work such long hours. Their bug numbers go up. This has always been my defense for mandating a 45-hour week. The other benefits — low turnover, an IT department that is 40% female — aren’t valued much outside the team.
    I wonder how different life would be if we actually enforced the 40-hour work week for salaried employees as well as hourly?


  5. I am a legal secretary. The firm where I work has policy that everyone deserves to have a life outside the office. Nobody, not even new associates, should be regularly staying after 6 on work days. Rarely should people need to work weekends. If that changes (except for a once-a-year important trial or something similar) they hire more people–attorneys and staff.
    I’ve been here 20 years. They’ve never laid anyone off for lack of work, despite a couple of long slow periods (one lasted most of a year).


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