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How Singles Lost WWII (Guest Post by Scott) October 28, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Guest Bloggers, Singled Out.
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2 comments

Onely likes to post guest pieces by other writers who think about singles’ issues. The views expressed in our guest posts may or may not reflect Onely’s views, but we are always interested to hear from other singles advocates.

Our Copious Reader Scott wrote the following after estimating correctly, in response to this post, that singles spend more than $1 million more than their married counterparts over the course of their lifetimes, thanks to U.S. government policies that privilege people who are married.

How Singles Lost WWII

It’s 1942. The boys are off killing Nazis, and the U.S. industrial war machine is revving up. The resulting labor shortage pushes up wages, making it expensive for the government to procure war materials. Inflation soars over 10%. In response, Congress passes and President Roosevelt signs the Stabilization Act of 1942, implementing price controls to limit wartime wage increases and curtail the inflation. With one swift stoke of the pen, a new era in Marital Privilege is born.

Wait…what? I thought we were fighting Nazis, not singles.

Alas Onelers, it is true. The discrimination against singles begat 70 years ago in this legislation has already cost me something like $100,000 by age 33.

You see, this legislation included a pernicious exception to the limits on increasing employee compensation. It explicitly allowed employers to offer health care packages to employees and their immediate families in lieu of wage increases. As the only practical means left of attracting workers, these plans quickly caught on.

In 1954, the IRS further ensconced this practice by deciding that employer (and only employer) contributions to health insurance purchases are not taxable income. Employers also do not have to shell out payroll taxes on it. All told, they can offer these benefits for about half what they would otherwise cost workers—an enormous incentive to sponsor health benefit plans for employees, their spouses, and their children.

So, here I sit. (more…)

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