Thursday, 19 February 2009

Single parents, socialist feminism and the right to equal work

‘There will be no true liberation of women until we get rid of the assumption that it will always be women who do housework and look after children’ - Ellen Malos

It’s official: single parents are scroungers, and their time has come. Don’t listen to me, listen to the DWP, which plans to start compelling single parents (by which they mean, in 9 out of 10 cases, single mothers) back to work by the time their children are one year old. Our favourite DWP spokesmonkey declared before the Welfare Reform Bill’s first reading that ‘when the national effort is about a global downturn, we cannot afford to waste taxpayers' money on those who play the system’, repeating the patchwork fantasy that ‘work is the best way out of poverty’. Ahem. Not where I live, it’s not.

A report published only this week by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation attests to the spectacular hypocrisy of New Labour’s plan to ‘make work pay’ for the poorest and neediest whilst failing to take a stand over tax fraud committed by the super-rich. However much Purnell may claim that this is all for their own good, however much he may spit out the mantra that‘work is the best way out of poverty’ for single mothers and their families, he is belied by the fact that that the majority of children in poverty have at least one parent who works.

So there it is, in shiny think-tank black and white: without a decent living wage system, getting single mothers back into paid work will not increase quality of life for the poorest families, nor will it do anything for the nation’s children other than ensuring that they receive less primary care. Even those mothers who are lucky enough to find work - in a downturn where women are being made redundant at twice the rate of men - may find, like the distressed young woman who I met at Saturday’s Gender, Race and Class conference, that the only work available to them does not even cover the cost of childcare.

Let’s make one thing spectacularly, sparklingly clear: being the primary carer of a small child is work – hard work, unending work, work that can last an entire lifetime, work that defines the term ‘labour of love’. It’s work whether a man or a woman does it, although it continues to fall into the historic category of work that women contribute to the economy for free, ‘women’s work’, work undeserving of pay or professional respect. The fact that childcare isn’t recognised as work doesn’t make it any less valid as labour. But, not content with giving single parents with no other means of support a minimum of basic care rather than a liveable salary, the Welfare Reform Bill seeks to force single parents into extra, paid work, work that will not even raise their standard of living above the poverty threshold. That’s extra, paid work that isn’t actually available at the moment, in case you’d forgotten.

This system has already been tested out in the United States. ‘Workfare’ was implemented across the pond in the boomtimes – and even in conditions of high employment, as speakers at Saturday’s conference confirmed, it has contributed to a staggering increase in child poverty and in general poverty, creating what history will doubtless term the new American underclass. But that won’t stop wee Jimmy from trying to shoehorn a similar scheme into policy over here, not even when – as reported on this blog last week – many of the friends he was planning to give Workfare contracts to are already muttering their dissent.

There are, in fact, plenty of jobs available in the UK right now– it’s just that a great deal of them don’t earn any money, for no reason other than the fact that they never have before. The wisdom that we’ve all received is that if a job isn’t paid it must not contribute to the economy – but hold on a second. Since when did the raising of children not contribute to the economy? In Capital, Marx himself comments on the attitude of capitalism to the unpaid work of sustainance and reproduction done mostly by women:

‘The maintenance and reproduction of the working class is, and must ever be, a necessary condition to the reproduction of capital. But the capitalist may safely leave its fulfilment to the labourer’s instincts of self-preservation and propagation. All the capitalist cares for is to reduce the labourer’s individual consumption as far as possible to what is necessary.’

A hundred and fifty years after those words were written, the British government is setting out to reduce the individual consumption of domestic labourers to almost nothing, by withdrawing automatic benefits entitlement after their children are one year old. Domestic labour, since it does not turn over an immediately bankable profit, and since it is done overwhelmingly by mothers, is not considered real work – domestic labourers must therefore take on a second job to support themselves. If they refuse to do so for any reason, they are ‘playing the system’ and must be punished.

This state affairs was commonplace two hundred years ago, when single, unsupported mothers also faced destitution if they did not or could not take on extra work. The difference now is the level of public hatred reserved for single mothers on benefits. Stories of young mothers 'playing the system' in order to be housed in mysteriously palatial council accommodation have been stock red-top fodder for years, but the bile directed at single parents who receive state support has never been more vocal than it is now - just look at the hatred directed at Karen Matthews, not for the real crime of false imprisonment, but for the social transgression of daring to live in poverty as a single mother with no paid employment. This manufactured public hatred directly serves the interest of a capitalist society predicated on women's unpaid work, and yes, these are socialist knickers I have on today, what of it?

The domestic labourers (and I shall personally stamp on the shrivelled gonads of the next person who even whispers the hateful word 'housewife', which Greer rightly equates with the term ‘yard-nigger’) who will be affected by this new law, of course, will only be the poorest. Women who do not work outside the home, but who do not need government support because they are independently rich or because they have a partner who works, are not considered to be ‘playing the system’, not by the DWP and certainly not by the Evening Standard group– even though the only difference between these women and single mothers on benefits is the good fortune to be born with money or to marry it. If the world were a late-night tube carriage, the social hypocrisy of the British state would be fumblingly revealing itself in the corner.

In this hyper-capitalist world, power and respect are afforded to those who earn wages – are distributed, in fact, in the form of wages. By paying a decent, liveable salary to those women and men who have primary responsibility for a child – a wage which they can spend on maintaining themselves out of paid work, or on decent childcare whilst they perform alternative work - we might well fix not only the nation’s soaring unemployment crisis, but go some way towards erasing the breathtaking poverty and hypocrisy of our socially bankrupt self-organisation. Hey, I’m 22, so I’m bloody well allowed to dream about social justice in vivid technicolour. But if the idea of radical reform sticks in your throat, there are other solutions. As columnist Deborah Orr noted in The Independent today:

The Rowntree Foundation does not make radical demands in its report…although it does warn that in the long-term only improved job quality and sustainability will solve the problem. It merely suggests that a larger sum than the Government has already ear-marked must be made available if the catastrophe of yet another generation born and raised in poverty is to be avoided. That sum is £4.2bn a year in benefits and tax credits above its present plans, and is needless to say a fraction of the money that has been spent so far on bailing out the banks.

Call me Captain State The Obvious, but we live in a society which prioritises the interests of the rich over the general good of the labouring classes, a system which, not incidentally, relies on the unpaid labour of women to sustain itself. Because we’ve grown up with it, it seems normal, even justified – and for this reason, a government which feels justified in requiring single parents to work twice as hard as anybody else merely to qualify for the minimum level of benefits merits only sustained criticism rather than rioting in the streets - although watch this space for news on that front. To get you started, Gingerbread, the lone parents' forum, have organised an online write-to-your-MP skiffle, and you don't even need to be a member of the SWP to join. Because, fundamentally, this isn't just about socialism. It isn't even about feminism. It's about human decency, and it's about justice.

33 comments:

  1. Plus, there is absolutely no consideration given to the children. What does a single parent do with a one year old when they are at work? Give it a key and tell it not to use the stove? There are currently not enough state nursery places for the children who want them (despite promises) and most do not take children under two. In fact, childcare for under twos is hard to get and expensive in general. No minimum wage job pays for private childcare, which is estimated at £159 a week per child in England, versus a minimum wage income of £223.

    Do we really want to go back to an era where children are placed in orphanages and industrial schools by single parents until they were old enough to earn? [And who's paying for that?] Because clearly children do better raised in institutions as our fabulous care statistics demonstrate. Or, would we like to see infants care for infants in their parent's absence?

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  2. The measure you have outlined vis-a-vis a concerted attack on single parents is so extreme that even the Conservative Party have no taste for it. (And I don't remember the Conservatives being warmly disposed towards single parents previously do you?) Tory Cameronistas have actually pledged to oppose inclusion of this measure in the final draft of the welfare bill in both houses of parliament. Since Purnell will almost certainly need to rely on Tory support to proceed with this disgusting and disingenuous piece of legislation the chance that this particularly poisonous element of the white paper will become law is about as likely as a Labour victory at the next general election.

    What has happened to the Labour Party that allows such a measure to be considered at all let alone be adopted as official government policy?

    You're on the inside track, Ms. Red. What do you think will become of the Labour Party post-general election next year?

    Does any hope remain?

    Or will the Tories inherit the earth?

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  3. Purdita Purnellita20 February 2009 at 10:46

    What's your beef with James Purnell?

    I think he's adorable!

    A dinky ducky little darling!

    Just look at that spongy little "cabbage patch kid" face. Awww. Check out the crocodilian sardonically mocking supercilious little half-smile. Awww. Don't the juices flow inside you when you clap your eyes upon those sexy faux-Victorian sideburns? Pwhoar.

    Oh, James!

    I want to knit you a cardigan!

    James has one single fault as far as I can see, namely, he's only potent when sodomising the unemployed, sick and single parents.

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  4. When I read about this (a couple of months ago) I didn't see anything about having to find work when a child was one year old - but when the youngest child was 12 (dropping to 7 by 2010). Here's the latest reference I can find:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009/jan/28/childcare-reforms-cost

    1 year old would be an appalling requirement, 7 years old really isn't, particularly as parents wouldn't need to seek full time work, just part time. The 1 year figure was for a parent to start making rough plans for a return to work later.

    I really don't see why a parent shouldn't go out and find work once their youngest child is in full time education if they want to keep their benefits.

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  5. To John, if they have work wouldn't they have less of a need for those benefits?
    I can see the next years headlines now "Greedy parent playing the system: tacking handouts while earning hand over fist!"

    What are people's problem with single parents getting benefits anyway?!
    It's all a distraction.
    The governments acts tough by reducing the tiny piss weak drop that goes into benefits so we'll be distracted from the bloody great stain on the rug.

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  6. "It's about human decency, and it's about justice."

    No. Not any more. New Labour policy initiatives are directed amorally towards "what works" rather than "what is right". Brown and Purnell would doubtless consider this kind of behaviour as statesmanlike and pragmatic; I consider it grubby and expedient in the extreme.

    Is "what works" always the best thing as far as a society goes? After all the trains ran on time in Mussolini's fascist Italy and Germany was never more productive than it was when under the jackboot of Hitler's Nazi regime.

    Leaving aside all moral issues which doubtless would please James Purnell, where are all these jobs supposed to come from during a recession and miraculously distributed like loaves and fishes to a needy and grateful populace? What body will have the responsibility to provide childcare? Who pays? What about transport and other issues that will be different in every part of the country and for every person affected by the "plan"?

    I really have a sick feeling that this programme will be implemented in such a half-arsed manner as to be a disaster and cause awful suffering to many tens of thousands of helpless and vulnerable people.

    Purnell really is an awful little creature. Why can't he go back to live in the cottage in the wood with his other six friends and Snow White?

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  7. John said: I really don't see why a parent shouldn't go out and find work once their youngest child is in full time education if they want to keep their benefits.

    The thing is, what sort of work? If my child (and let's say I just have one, or that I have two at the same school - which can't always be achieved) needs to be at school at 8.45 and needs picking up at 3.30 - if my kid's only 7, they're probably not going to be walking alone or on the bus - what sort of work can I do so I can be around for both those times? If I can find any, it's going to pretty poorly paid. No wonder some people supposedly prefer to stay on benefits.

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  8. The following motto appeared above the gates of several Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, during the second world war:

    "Arbeit macht frei"

    i.e., work shall make you free.

    It wasn't true then.

    It isn't true now.

    But doesn't it sound disturbingly familiar?

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  9. What does that even mean?

    What, just because the Nazis used a slogan which, despite being a totally different concept, had some of the same words in it, the whole notion of the right to equal work distributed fairly between the genders is, what...Nazi?

    Or are you just a moron?

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  10. Well, I do fluctuate between moronicity and enlightenment like most human beings, Ms. Red.

    Don't you?

    My clumsy analogy had nothing to do with gender issues. I was actually tying to take a pop at the cross party notion to replace the UK's Keynesian welfare state with a Schumpeterian workfare state, which does seem kind of Nazi-like to me.

    For the record I disapprove of the state attempting to force mothers into work or preparation for work when their child is barely weaned. I hate the idea of sick, disadvantaged or disabled men and women being continually harassed and bullied into part-time or poorly paid work against their wishes and their will. To me it is wrong to make the long term unemployed work full time for less than the minimum wage, under threat of homelessness and destitution if they do not toe the line.

    I was actually trying to protest about welfare reform. I don't imagine that arguing semantics with you will convince you that I meant no harm. All I can do is not to comment any further on your blog and apologise if I have offended you.

    Toodles.

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  11. Christ Penny you've really gone off the deep end today -- even for me.

    This is nonsense. You're just picking a side here. This is a typical Hayekian dilemma. What about the people who decide not to have kids?

    My partner and I make a concerted choice not to have kids. A. because she doesn't want them. And B. Cos we both know full well we can't afford them. Even if both of us were in full time employment.

    So essentially what you're saying here is that I and everyone else who decides not to have kids should pay those who do? If you want unfair then that is unfair. If you decide to have a kid they're your responsibility. No one else's.

    Also what on earth does this mean?

    "work is the best way out of poverty’. Ahem. Not where I live, it’s not."

    If this isn't, then what is? Again are you asking me to pay for other people? I'm already supporting my partner. And the reason I can do this is because I've spent the last 3 years of my life learning every web coding language and graphic design tool I can.

    What's fair about me handing over money I work hard for when I already have someone of my own to support. I love my partner and I accept the responsibilities that go with this.

    I don't ask others to take responsibility for my life. So why should I take responsibility for anyone else's?

    And before you ask. No we haven't taken a penny off the state.

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  12. Mahasamatman - sorry for misinterpreting! *flails*. I think I just read completely the wrong thing into it there - it's got to the stage where I bristle if I even ANTICIPATE the 'feminazi' reaction , and this time I got it wrong.

    My apologies.

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  13. 'So essentially what you're saying here is that I and everyone else who decides not to have kids should pay those who do? If you want unfair then that is unfair. If you decide to have a kid they're your responsibility. No one else's.'

    TBR, this is a pretty short-sighted view to take. You already pay for everyone else's kids - we all do. A lot of our taxes go towards educating and, in many cases, feeding and housing and treating, other people's children.

    Children are not solely their parent's responsibility, although the decision to have children can only ever be an individual choice which must be respected. What seems to be forgotten here is that raising the next generation is a public good from which everyone benefits, economically, socially and materially. We NEED kids, even if they're not our own. That's pretty sodding simple.

    So yes, I think that you and me, the taxpayer, should pay for other people to have kids - in fact, we already do. All I'm arguing is that the job of raising children should be recognised as work - so that, just for example, if your partner ever did decide to have kids with you, she or yourself would have the option of being that child's full-time carer until it was able to go to school alone, or of paying for someone else to provide the same care. Not so hard, is it?

    And the reason that work isn't the best way out of poverty is - there are plenty of jobs which pay a poverty wage. Plenty of jobs which leave people no better off than they would be on benefits, plus a lot more knackered and ill. Plenty of people live below the poverty line whilst still working. You've got a nice, clean IT job, but we can't all work in IT - the world doesn't work like that.

    The reason you should pay for other people is that you can't live without other people. Your society has a responsibility to you, as you do to it. Say that the unthinkable happened - you were hit by a car tomorrow and paralysed from the neck down. No more IT job for you, you have to go on incapacity benefit or DLA unless you happen to have parents rich enough to pay for your keep for the rest of your life. You will also need a full time carer - and if your partner chooses to provide this care, she will need some means of support, too.

    Of course, you could take a chance on nothing of the kind ever happening. You could take a chance on never ever needing to use any of the benefits and services you enjoy from the state for free.

    But I suggest you get into the habit of looking both ways before you cross the road.

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  14. Potentially dangerous. If you make a job of child rearing, you lose the right to raise your child in the way which you wish. If i`m going to be paying for other people to bring up their children, I`m going to insist that they`re doing a good job. The obvious problem is that nobody is going to agree on what good parenting is. There is also the matter of love. Do technocrats have the right or expertese to interfere in families, to decide whether or not we should have children? I would argue not.
    If we give money to parents without any demand for appropriate parenting, then the system will be abused and TBR *will* be unfairly paying for children who will almost certainly not contribute to his life, or share common morality with him.
    And, regarding your 'worker ant' argument, if we need children and it doesn`t matter who they are, why not buy them in Africa? They`re cheaper there. In fact, often they come willingly and even *pay* us for the privilege of entering the country! Fancy that! Though I`m beginning to suspect that there something about your brand of socialism which requires that the most expensive and time consuming method always be used...

    "Your society has a responsibility to you, as you do to it."

    What is society and what are our responsibilities?
    Seems to me that TBR lives in a communal society of 2. Communalism works best on a small level.

    "Of course, you could take a chance on nothing of the kind ever happening. You could take a chance on never ever needing to use any of the benefits and services you enjoy from the state for free."

    Actually, Penny dear, you can`t. That`s rather the problem.

    "But I suggest you get into the habit of looking both ways before you cross the road."

    Leaving aside the mafia-esque undertones - paying for the feckless and refusing to punish those who aren`t appropriately cautious is exactly what you are suggesting. So, please do allow us to look both ways before we cross the road and stop with the lollypop lady routine...

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  15. "Is "what works" always the best thing as far as a society goes? After all the trains ran on time in Mussolini's fascist Italy and Germany was never more productive than it was when under the jackboot of Hitler's Nazi regime."

    What works is the most important measure of any system, it`s just that train time tables and arms manufacturing aren`t the best way to measure the effectiveness of a society.
    How far did the Nazi jackboot improve productivity?

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  16. "Children are not solely their parent's responsibility, although the decision to have children can only ever be an individual choice which must be respected. What seems to be forgotten here is that raising the next generation is a public good from which everyone benefits, economically, socially and materially. We NEED kids, even if they're not our own. That's pretty sodding simple."

    Penny you have no way of quantifying this. And if I didn't pay for other people's kids you have no proof that people wouldn't be capable of raising kids. In fact, I would argue that it would make them more responsible for themselves and their children.

    "And the reason that work isn't the best way out of poverty is - there are plenty of jobs which pay a poverty wage. Plenty of jobs which leave people no better off than they would be on benefits, plus a lot more knackered and ill. Plenty of people live below the poverty line whilst still working. You've got a nice, clean IT job, but we can't all work in IT - the world doesn't work like that."

    This doesn't make any sense. If everyone refuses to work for less than £10 an hour – for example -- we're going to have a lot of unemployed people. And there's no way the state can support that many people -- we'd go bankrupt.

    Also do you not think I've worked some shitty jobs in my time? Christ I ran a kitchen by myself for 6 months for less than £5 an hour. That's one of the hardest things I've ever done. I've also worked night shifts and plenty of 9 in the morning until midnight shifts. And done your dreaded call centre work.

    During that period of my life I wasn't poor because I kept my costs to a minimum. I rented a tiny room off someone and didn't spend my money on anything extravagant.

    I also know we can't all work in nice IT jobs. The reason I can though is I've sat down and taught myself. I've probably spent hundreds of hours training myself. Are you saying that sacrifice should be taken away from me?

    "Say that the unthinkable happened - you were hit by a car tomorrow and paralysed from the neck down."

    You’re argument here is pretty much that if we didn’t have the NHS no one would have any health cover. This is ridiculous. If we didn't have it I would most probably have private health insurance. And if I didn't have that well that would be my risk to take.

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  17. What works is the most important measure of any system, it`s just that train time tables and arms manufacturing aren`t the best way to measure the effectiveness of a society.
    How far did the Nazi jackboot improve productivity?


    About a decade, which is pretty much to par for this kind of thing.

    For once you and I are entirely in agreement: in fact, my first content post on my blog made precisely that argument in more detail. The world we are building since the start of the information revolution is categorically different from the world of the muscle-powered and steam-powered ages. These ways are quantifiable, and for a good start on that kind of philosophical hypothesis, have a look at the works of Ken McLeod, Peter F. Hamilton and Roger Zelasny.

    The main thrust of my argument was that the problem is to do with arbitrarily assigned values. We, as a society carrying the heritage of the long haul up by our own bootstraps, currently define social contribution by metrics which have been flawed for a couple of centuries, but have been actively counter-productive for the last thirty years or so. What is the true economic contribution of a school teacher? To be adequately calculated it would have to fold in a formulaic percentage of the total lifetime GDP contribution of every single child that teacher taught. That would be a number very considerably higher than 24kpa.

    As Penny says, the same applies to childrearing. We already have a mushroom demographic on our horizon. Much of the economic dropout rate in our culture of people between 15 and 30 is due in whole or in part to the fact that the kids' parents spent the 90s at work trying to earn a living. Both of them. It is possible to argue that primary childcare is the single largest contribution to our total economy, since if that system breaks down you only need to wait about 20 years and you don't have an economy at all.

    You also raise a necessary point about not seeing it as a job, because of the attempts by people such as yourself to exercise entirely inappropriate oversight. What it needs to be seen as is an economic contribution, and rewarded that way. Many of our social problems stem from the fact that people try to make 'job', a concept with a number of specific connotations, equivalent to 'economic contribution', which needs none of them.

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  18. Hi John, I was the one who commented pretty extensively upon that post and I`m afraid i`m going to have to continue to disagree with you.
    Firstly, I still believe that any kind of command economy is likely to result in values which are more arbitrary than those determined by a market. I don`t think that the example of teaching is a particuarly good one for your argument, since most countries have a public education system. If we had more choice regarding education (and a free market), good teachers would almost certainly be paid more for their work.

    Precisely because GNP alone is pretty meaningless, proposing to solve the worlds problems by replacing love with money, is, as far as i`m concerned, a fairly preposterous idea with extremely nasty potential side effects.

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  19. It’s official: single parents are scroungers, and their time has come. Don’t listen to me, listen to the DWP, which plans to compel single parents (by which they mean, in 9 out of 10 cases, single mothers) back to work by the time their children are one year old.

    I don't think that's true. My understanding is that parents will be expected to find a job by the time that their child is 7 (a change from 16, the Tories claim credit for this idea).

    One year old is the age at which you are expected to start "looking for" work. Parliamentarians don't seem to be clear on what that exactly means. But I don't think parents will have to take a job or lose benefits (until their child is 7).

    The debate is pretty interesting:
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2009-01-27a.181.0

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  20. Actually at one year you don't even have to be looking for work - just 'preparing' for it - i.e the odd course here and there - I don't think this is an unreasonable expectation - they are giving you 7 years to get prepared for working.

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  21. I was also under the impression that the age was to eventually be 7, but I still think this is an appalling policy.

    First, this puts poor single mothers in the position of not being able to choose to home educate their children if they decide that is the best option. Whether you agree with home education or not, the law states that the education of children is the responsibility of parents. The fact is, most people choose to let the State do it for them, whether they are aware that they have options or not. Electing to do otherwise is a right, and I don't think the feasibility of exercising rights should be tied to how much wealth a person has.

    Taking off my home-educator hat..

    Someone mentioned the difficulty in finding work during the school day. Having been in this position, I think they are absolutely right. There aren't enough jobs at the moment for people already looking for work between the hours of 10am and 2 pm. It would certainly be more costly for the government to conjur up work where it doesn't exist than to provide meager benefits. The government's response to this of course will be prodding people into using wraparound care, which no doubt will not be adequately in place.

    It bothers me that people are so happy to hand over their children to institutional care for more hours in a day than many grownups work. It bothers me more that there is such vitriol flung at people who think it would be a healthier choice to raise children in their own home, with the people that love them the most.

    Government services should be resources for the people to choose to take advantage of. It's very dangerous to make them compulsory for a specific segment of the population. If providing benefits to poorer people such that the ability people have to exercise their rights is leveled somewhat, then so be it. Such is the price of living in a just society.

    btw Ms. Red, I've quoted and linked yo in my blog, I hope that's ok.
    http://head-desk.net/2009/02/25/tuesday-links-liberty/

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  22. "These ways are quantifiable, and for a good start on that kind of philosophical hypothesis, have a look at the works of Ken McLeod, Peter F. Hamilton and Roger Zelasny."

    Erm.

    Aren't Ken McLeod, Peter F. Hamilton and Roger Zelazny all science FICTION authors, Mr. Publican.

    Hm.

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  23. My dear, Ms. Red.

    Your lesson to me is:

    Express your thoughts as clearly and unambiguously as possible.

    My lesson to you should be:

    Not all feminists have vaginas!

    Your irascibility is quite charming. Don't let the establishment cut your claws.

    TTFN.

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  24. Cassiel: well, clearly. I'm not convinced I understand your point? Your use of the strong tag indicates that you believe the fact they write fiction to be a problem.

    My first question to you is: who else in our intellectual establishment is engaged in long-term thinking?

    My second is: do you understand how the process of hypothetical modeling works?

    My third is: do you believe we have nothing to learn from a good story?

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  25. Mark.

    "What works is the most important measure of any system..."

    Well, being completely cold-blooded, euthanasia works.

    (Why bother with the elderly, disabled or the sick if they become so handicapped as to become unproductive?)

    Unregulated industry works.

    (Why make companies less competitive by curbing their capacity to pollute and harm?)

    Private health care and private education work.

    (For those rich enough to be able to afford them.).

    I could go on and on ad infinitum.

    In my experience human being are better than that. I begin to wonder what kind of people you have been personally associated with. Did your parents lock you in a dark cupboard as punishment for your naughtiness when you were a boy? Did you go to boarding school and suffer caning and buggery on a regular basis? What bent you out of shape I wonder?

    Oh, Mark. Your carpet chewing adherence to red tooth and claw lassaix-faire free market capitalism, especially in the current economic environment - haven't you noticed businesses and banks toppling all around you like skittles? - is making you look inordinately dick-like.

    Give it a rest my little chum.

    Stop grinding that poor old axe.

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  26. Mr. Publican.

    I have no objection to anyone speculating about the future, long-term or short-term. This often happens both in fiction and non-fiction. In point of fact science fiction writers have sometimes advised politicians and the military, e.g., Jerry Pournelle and the Reagan regime in America.

    Well, I have to confess that I do understand "mathematical modelling" and "hypothesis testing" pretty well I think but have no idea what "hypothetical modelling" is or how it works? Could it be something to do with ditzy young women positing careers for themselves on the catwalk circuit, if only their exercise programme and diet sheet could make them thin enough to do so?

    Yes! I’m being facetious!.

    Actually, I love science fiction and I agree that it can be spookily predictive particularly when the author is a good writer well versed in history, politics, science and philosophy; this is obvious when you look at recent history from the nineteenth century onwards.

    However you failed to mention one of the greatest ever writers in the field in your list of futurologists, i.e, Philip Kendrick Dick.

    I would enjoy disagreeing with you more but I can't.

    Fiddlesticks!

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  27. Sky - yes - involuntary euthanasia only works if you take a cold blooded view of the world.

    I'm not sure what I said to make you think i'm some kind of monster, but, uh... i'm not. I do believe that most people have love in their hearts and want the best for themselves and their families.
    Infact, inhuman attempts to increase efficiency at all costs are more likely to result from state control than the interactions of free people - I don't know what history you've been reading, but that certainly seems to me to be an important lesson of the 20th century.

    As for businesses toppling - I consider it rather more dickish to reward mistakes and continue the production of unwanted things than to accept the failure and move on.

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  28. Red, I agree with what you are saying.Most people are under some sort of delusion about the poverty single parents and their children live in. Funny how the chain-smoking, Jerry Springer addicted,slobbed-out single mum is THE stereotype shoved down our throats every day.You rarely hear of all the mums doing exceptional juggling of life and the contributions made by them cos raising kids and the million positive exhausting, endless jobs mums do is ignored, devalued and obsolete in the minds of most people whereas making money is the most important thing to them, thats why they get moralistic, they think they are better and the unfair tax system helps to promote that feeling.The system as we know is not based on everybody getting the chance at a decent life, no matter how hard you toil.I do see the attitude towards 'welfare mums' from the govt.,the media and society as very backwards and hateful, very misogynist actually, seperate from classism.Quite witchhunt in it's essence. Absentee fathers, of course, are far less easy to 'pull into line', their irresponsability and lack of care towards the kids they help produce imo a huge factor in all this.I have not seen a huge push to get those benefit 'scroungers' back into work.How hard would that be lol? We still blame women for the whole show.Most of the fathers are on incapacity( extra cash)for being on drink and drugs-fact.They will not work cos they are too lazy and may have to contribute to their kids, big no-no for a lot of them.It's so obvous women are still being controlled and manipulated to do as much unpaid work as poss.But lone parents are obviously not fulfilling their obligations to this twisted society so lets punish those that don't abandon their kids.The reality of the new changes are that there are not enough jobs to go around, lack of skills etc and no real introduction of help at attaining those skills,it's just crap the advisors talk, nothing concrete,example of tip by lone-parent advisor, herself a parent of one-switch everything off at 9pm, pay someone else to raise your child and become a lone-parent advisor, tax credits ae leaving women and children worse off as the system grinds through the claims, shame and guilt poured upon stressed, over-worked mums,you WILL find a way to raise kids single-handed AND do a paid job too no matter what the employment and economic reality is never mind domestic arrangements,the distraction manifested through hatred of poor women and their kids is handy to deflect from capitalisms goals, many have no other support due to the breakdown of the nuclear family due largely to anti-family policies, offices muck up claims through either incompetence or personal choice, dividing and destroying the family, even the trad, nuclear family never mind all the 'dysfunctional units' and alternative set-ups is high on govt. priorities whilst the church and 'family values' puppets do their bit at systematically destroying each and every family unless you are wealthy enough to escape it. Punishing women and kids for being poor will not sort out the flawed system in place that keeps the rich rich and poor grovelling in the gutter.If the govt. wanted to help people get decent jobs with living wages a stroke of a pen is all it would take to actually decide on better living and working conditions, that is not going to happen, that is not the plan at all.You seriously would need to experience being an impoverished single mum to fully comprehend the lengths that are gone to to keep us down.It actually destroys your health as you struggle to uptake the work of 2 adults and the 'it takes a village to raise to child' mentality is long gone as community is destroyed by policy and isolation and poverty is now the norm.Substance abuse and addiction also a by-product of our caring, workable policies. Vile and extremely workable for the fascists.

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  29. I worked out that if as a single parent I went back to work and as it would likely be on the minimum wage for at at least 16-20 hours a week(around school hours) I would only be about £40 a week better off-if I have to pay to get to work out of this and for day care in the school holidays and for breakfast club and school lunches etc I would not be any better off really.I would rather go fend for myself and my son while living in a tent in the middle of a feild somewhere then to be forced to miss out on bringing my child up properly with morals,love and self confidence etc. If I do what the govenment wants, my son will be without his mother for much of the time when he is not in school,as well as without his father and we will not be any the better off finacially for it. I have raised my son on my own for his whole life and he is eight now ,it is the hardest work i've ever done! And personally I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it the way I do it-he is my son , I am the one who should be there for him in school holidays and evenings and weekends ,not some stranger who might have 20 or 30 other kids to watch and might not be particularly good at what they do!It really makes me angry the way single parents get treated ! Meanwhile absent fathers are off making babies and abondoning them and not getting as much mentioning! The whole system stinks - I have done voluntary work in the past and I think maybe a couple of hours here and there during term time would be a good way for single parents to give something back to society should they wish to ,but I don't think a single parent should live with threats haning over them that they won't have any money should they feel that they can't commit to a 16 plus hours a week job when their kids are not really old enough to be at home on there own etc
    emma2050

    ReplyDelete
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