Who is 'chopped-liver'? A housewife or a working wife? Who is to be preferred? One-income or two-income marriages? This last forty years, we have promoted working couples while leaving single-income marriages to fend for themselves. It should be the other way around. Single-income marriages deserve support. I propose to replace child allowances with a HOMEMAKER ALLOWANCE. The strengthening of the family. And the restoration of middle-class society.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Case For A Homemaker Allowance
The real value of wages has been cut in half since the Sixties. Where a man's wage supported a family, now two incomes are needed. We went from a system of single-income marriages to working couples with no corresponding rise in the standard of living. When the wife's income was added to the man's for mortgage purposes, the price of housing went through the roof; and the second income became a necessity. Just a mug's game!
Somehow we have to recover that all-important principle of the single-income marriage. We have to choose between breadwinner and homemaker (B&H) marriages and working couples. This last forty years, we have promoted working couples while leaving single-income marriages to fend for themselves. It should be the other way around.
The Australian govt now gives $200 a week to working couples to defray their daycare costs but not to single-income couples. That's nonsense! Single-income couples deserve support. Working couples are a turkey~~ They ain't gonna fly!~~ no matter how much support they are given. If we gave a fraction of the support to B&H couples, we might get off the ground.
Working couples are always the hallmark of a disadvantaged life-style: exploited women, abused children, neglected seniors and marginalised men. Whereas B&H marriages mean a self-respecting middle-class life style.
The problem is, Working couples are good for the economy. Women are cheap labour in the corporate view, undermining the unions. And denied proper homes, two-income marriages spend more on consumer goods. Working couples represent the corporate interest; B&H marriages the public interest. Which is more important? The economy? Or peoples' lives? Working couples assume an arm's length relationship between men and women; B&H marriages assume a close partnership. Different kinds of people living different kinds of lives in different kinds of society. B&H marriages mean worthwhile lives. Working couples are Desperation City: virtual peonage.
One of my last rides when I was driving taxi was an old lady whose ancient mum had suffered a stroke and had to be institutionalised, because the daughter could not care for her financially, which both mother and daughter found devastating. We as a society can find the money for institutional care, $1000+ per day, when we cannot find the money to help a daughter care for her mother. Those are our collective values, or corporate values, or Feminist values, or media values, whichever you prefer.
My preferred solution is a homemaker allowance: not just for the money but for the recognition. It is a little ThankYou to housewives mainly for their contribution. (It used to be called a housewives' allowance, but 'housewife' is now a dirty word.) I envisage an allowance of a few hundred dollars a month for a basic homemaker, with increments for any children and dependents she (or he) may maintain.
So for starters notice, a homemaker allowance is not just another entitlement: It will mainly be existing child benefits repackaged and renamed. But childless B&H couples will receive the allowance, while working couples will receive no public support, even if they have children.
We can't just order love and happiness. That's the problem! The things we value most cannot be legislated. We can't legislate functioning families. People cannot be legally obligated to get along as breadwinners and homemakers. We can't ban working couples even: It would discourage marriage. We want to encourage marriage and family life, but we don't want to encourage working couples. That's how a homemaker allowance fits in.
Given the choice, many women~~possibly a majority~~would prefer to be homemakers with perhaps a part-time job for themselves. So the first function of the allowance is to make homemaking a viable option for the maximum number of women. Only financial necessity drives women to seek full-time work in many cases. And a homemaker allowance sets our priorities straight. It restores the element of choice to many women: whether to seek part-time or full-time work, or be full-time homemakers.
Anything women want, men feel obliged to give to them. If women want equality in the workplace, men bend over backwards to accomodate them. The problem arises when women want contradictory objects, or when they want to give away the farm. Then men must straighten up, and point out that women also want nice homes and strong family relationships: which are incompatible with equality in the workplace. And the mass entry of women into the workforce means the end of the living wage and reduced wages for everyone.
The position of women in the workforce cannot be legislated because it has no object. For men to compete with each other is a general good: The winners get the females and pass on their superior genes. Men work to provide for their women and be attractive as partners; women work so as not to need partners. Employment masculinises: It completes men and straightens out their lives, but represents a dead end for women. It turns a boy into a man but a girl into a 'female eunuch', as Feminists say. A girl in her twenties with a govt job is looking at seventy years of financial security~~ not to be risked having children. That's more a lifetime's frustration than fulfilment.
The fulfilment of the individual is the ultimate goal. Fulfilled alpha males expect to protect and provide for their women; beta males want to be seen with girls. Fulfilled females expect to support their men; beta females want to play with boys. The alphas are empowered as breadwinners and homemakers~~ the betas don't want the alphas empowered. A homemaker allowance is a recipe for decent society~~ the betas don't believe in decent society. They believe in Number One. And a breadwinner and homemaker are not two Number Ones: They seek fulfilment not in themselves but in a relationship with the other. And that is outside the comprehension of regressive types.
The age of full employment is over: Job shortages are the norm. We cannot hope for one good job per person, but we could achieve one good job per family. A homemaker allowance means a policy of good homes; well-raised children; living wages for breadwinners; homemakers steered into part-time work; singles doing 'voluntary' work as a condition of employment; and working couples marginalised, and eliminated from the public sector. Personal completion. Social and economic reform. The restoration of the middle class. And an end to Feminism.
WHENCE THE WHEREWITHAL?
A homemaker allowance is a major entitlement. Where is the money coming from?
* For starters, it is not yet another entitlement: a homemaker allowance will replace existing child and family allowances. At-home wives will receive the allowance whether or not they have children, but not working couples with children.
* Most daycare will be provided by homemakers rather than by expensive professional centres. As noted above, the Australian govt now gives $200 a week to working couples but not to single-income couples. That's favouring the corporate interest over the public interest!
* Most homecare for the elderly and infirm would be provided by homemakers. Instead of institutional care costing $1000+ per day, the going rate, homemakers would be supported in their care for invalids.
* Spousal benefits for working spouses can be rethought: Only homemakers are entitled to survivors' pensions. If women want equality in the workplace, they must lose their husbands' pensions. (Similarly surviving husbands of course, but they're hardly an issue. Women live longer than men, and marry older men with greater incomes, so the net result is a massive transference of funds in favour of working wives.) A homemaker allowance should mean the end to that kind of double-dipping.
So the net cost of the allowance could be positive, depending on how it is implemented. And it could be administered through existing unemployment agencies, with no need for a new bureaucracy. The potential for savings is considerable.
Govt programmes like education, health care and old age pensions define the terms of our existence. So a homemaker allowance says what kind of people we want to be, in what kind of world. It is a blueprint for an empowered middle-class society. We can live in a sustainable society based on B&H marriages and one good job per family~~ Or we can try living on credit in a dysfunctional society based on working couples, low wages and ever-rising house prices. We all know which path we took; and where it has landed us. The question is, How do we get out of the mess!
Updated: January 2012
This essay is now ready for publication
Anyone interested should contact me
- Great Uncle Clive
- The same age, height, weight and initials as Cassius Clay, your favourite great uncle was born a Capricorn in the Year of the Snake. (Am I ever wise!) He has a good honours degree from an ancient British university. If you believe in symbols, kneel! In reality he has a lower second BA in geography from Durham. You may rise! (I don't make the rules!) He dropped out in the late Sixties to write up an insight (because I couldn't take to any work routine) and spent his entire life on the project. It was quite unpublishable. It used the idea of a Dual Brain to hold together the conflict between symbol and reality, right and good. Pounded by the hammers of rejection, we came to conclude the best hope for mankind lay in a homemaker allowance. So blog it!