Jeremy Hobson has delivered a report on NPR's Marketplace that is simply shoddy and rather offensive to at least this half of a DINK (Dual Income No Kids) couple. It begins by questioning whether or not DINKS (of any orientation) are feeling any financial pain and it ends up giggling about childless gay couples buying expensive drinks in Provincetown. Did Mr. Hobson talk to any of the DINK property owners in Provincetown who would never blow their money on overpriced drinks and drag shows in any economy? After hopping his bus to Provincetown, Mr. Hobson should have taken one to Orlando and questioned some of the non-DINKS about their methods of disposing income on thrill rides for their kids. He should have offered a sensible and balanced conclusion about economic choices being variously made across the board in good financial times and in bad.
He includes the fact that raising a child from birth to college costs parents between $100,000 and $200,000. Although he doesn't explicitly say so, his report strongly implies that the rest of us slosh about in disposable income, touring the globe and spending frivolously on overpriced drinks and diversions.
I want to say a word in defense of those DINKS who, like me, do not behave that way.
I recall being greatly offended by a co-worker who once, while preparing his coffee next to me in the office kitchen, asked me about a recent trip to my second home in Montreal. As he walked away, he said something along the lines of "It must be nice not to have to raise kids and be able to afford all that." I followed him into his office, gave him hell and accepted his apology. By noon, word had spread throughout the staff of two hundred that it is never advisable to voice assumptions about an unmarried man's finances.
I've a message for Mr. Hobson. I save wrapping paper and ribbons from gifts, and I reuse those mylar bags in which arrive bottles of wine. I do not have maid service. I clean that which I make dirty. During my work years, I bought expensive Brooks Brothers shirts because they more than paid for themselves by holding their finish and creases when you wash them at home. I bought a home water filtration system after calculating the amount of money I would save on bottled drinking water. I own a SmartCar. I do my own taxes. I cut my own hair. I buy bulk.
A balanced report about DINKS should have included not just those who are at a vacation destination like Provincetown (Everyone spends more freely while on vacation), but an examination of DINKS at home where current economic woes mean that the floor beneath our feet is worth much less than it was two years ago. Mr. Hobson should have found a way to show how DINKS - like non-DINKS - are of two varieties: the careful who plan long-range, and the less careful whose disposition of income is shorter in range (i.e., bottom of drink glass at bar). My overall problem with this report is that its initial premise is to examine DINK spending but it jumps into a comic jaunt among gay tourists in Provincetown.
And returning to my assertion that we ought never voice assumptions about DINK spending is the unseen expense of caring for parents. This often accrues to the DINK couples because, well, we all know they can afford the time and money. I know several gay DINKS who don't talk about this expense that they willingly shoulder.
I love NPR and Marketplace but I think they botched this one. Something tells me that Jeremy Hobson was just looking for a way to get NPR to send him to Ptown. To do some research among the guys at the Boatslip.