Friday, July 20, 2007

'Mumsnet' founder demands tax-support for working mothers

Briefing: Notice the extraordinary reasoning here, which is typical of much of the debate. Many mothers have decided to opt out of the work place and look after their children full time. With a nod at the notion that this is ok because it is their 'choice', the rest of the article proceeds on the assumption that actually it a terribly bad thing, and something must be done about it. The proposal then is not to support mothers in their 'choice', by restoring the 'married person's tax allowance', for example, but to tax everyone, including single-income families, in order to provide more goodies for double-income families. Please, Justine Roberts, how is this supposed to make sense? Having two incomes is supposed to make you better off. You say that full-time mothers make a financial sacrifice. So why it is working mothers who need to be subsidised?

Hat-tip to Full Time Mothers.

From the Telegraph (in part): Unlike lots of our European neighbours who have adopted more family-friendly flexible working practices, in Britain most decent jobs still require 120 per cent from the people who do them, not the 50 per cent that is all that might be available.

Which is why, of course, there are lots of mums on Mumsnet who've chosen to lower their living standards and opt out of the workplace altogether.

Of course they wanted to, and recognised the importance of spending some time with their children and when the choice is either a 70-hour working week and a shedload of "bad mother"-related guilt, or being sidelined by their boss, they chose to spend even more time with their children than they originally bargained for.

But if the option to work part-time is the Holy Grail for mothers, and flexible part-time work is the Holy Grail with knobs on, we need to recognise that we must change the workplace culture to elevate the work-life balance at the expense of just work, and so that part-timers don't get sidelined.

And to do that we need to encourage dads to be involved, too, because, until they do, I strongly suspect it will be nigh on impossible to make that cultural shift.

So how do we go about changing the culture? The same league table that puts us at the bottom for child-rearing has the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland at the top.

These are places where the state supports the commitment of both parents to playing a hands-on role in their children's lives.

We could start by aping their commitment to parental, particularly paternal, leave. And we could also go some way to relieving the financial imperative for excessive working hours by building cheaper houses and making childcare more affordable - tax deductible would be the obvious place to start.

Yes, it would all cost a bit - maybe we'd be a bit less well off - but maybe the benefits in terms of happiness (for parents and children alike) would have a beneficial economic effect in the long term. Who knows?

For the full article see here.
For our previous post on this issue, see here. For the problem of nursery care see here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are they joking?

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen