Tuesday, February 8, 2011

stick it to the (wo)man

So, in brief lots and lots of words:
  1. the Government explicitly wants to get more beneficiaries in work. Don't get me wrong: this is a laudable aim. Most people who subsist on state benefits would like to have more money, and most of them would like to get it through paid employment.
  2. the Government wants to cut funding to education, including early childhood education. To some extent, I do sympathise with the view that early childhood education is basically daycare by another name. But whatever it's called, it's the place where a lot of kids go when their parents or guardians are at paid work, and where some kids go when their parents or guardians aren't at paid work.
  3. cutting funding to early childhood education will have the direct result of increasing the amount of money parents and guardians pay in hand to the centres. This is because the cost of running the centre doesn't suddenly decrease just because their income from one source has fallen.
  4. this will in turn decrease the marginal income of working parents and guardians. That is, the sum of "net income" minus "costs associated with working" will be a smaller figure.
  5. costs associated with working aren't, of course, limited to childcare. Other costs include transport, work-appropriate attire, and any work equipment. And I think these costs are reasonable enough, just as I think that parents paying part of the cost of their small children's daycare needs is fair enough.
  6. but childcare is a really, really high cost for a lot of people. Not everyone is in a position to rely on other family members to take on childcare so that they can enter paid employment. Not everyone has family. Not everyone has family in the same city. Not everyone has family who are appropriate carers for small children.
  7. and children are a social good. I mean, obviously they are also people -- and perhaps someday I will write about why I think people owe each other some care -- but they're an investment (trite, I know) into what this society will be able to support in 25 years.
  8. so the idea that parents should bear sole responsibility for raising and providing for their children doesn't really work for me. I'm going to personally benefit from there being qualified doctors in 40 years, so I should bear some responsibility for making sure that there are children to get there.*
  9. getting back to where I was going with this: it is contradictory to have an explicit policy to encourage people back into work and then create stumbling blocks that you know full well will make employment difficult in some cases and impossible in others.

*As an aside: if your policy, personal or political, ever relies on people not fucking in situations where it is likely that people will want to fuck, your policy is stupid.

For this reason, the statement that people should not have children they cannot afford, aside from being an utterly disgusting statement of privilege and assumption, is just so mind-bogglingly stupid it blows my mind. Children are a logical consequence of sex, and if it ever gets to a point where heterosexual sex, sans totally effective contraception, does not reliably, across the species, result in offspring -- we are so totally -- I'm trying to think of an adjective here...

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