Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Answer To Juliette

Juliette has been reading the Guardian again. It's bad for her blood pressure - anyway, I was going to comment on her post but apparently my answer is "too long to process". So reproduced below in full.

Firstly, the iniquity of the benefits trap is something even we rabid (libertarian) right wingers have been known to harp on about from time to time. Yes, we need to have a benefits 'floor' - a minimum living income for those who cannot work. Whether that is because there is no work for which they are qualified or because there is something else in their lives that means that they find it difficult to work.

That can be a disability, it could be because they are studying, it could be because they are the carer (normally but not always the mother) of a small child or the carer (normally but not always the wife or daughter) of a dependent adult. That's fine. Caring for small children is an honourable occupation - whether you are related to them or not. Remember that the authoritarian (or 'scumbag') right wing would generally insist (historically at least) that the "stay at home mother" was the ideal model for society. Clearly bollocks of course but ...

Mrs S-E couldn't wait to get back to work after either Miss S-E or young Master S-E. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, has decided that a formal career break (from a very good job, in pay terms, at least) is the way she wants to play things. Personal choices, personal circumstances. Neither are single mums, of course but that doesn't change the fundamental motivation.

So the benefits system needs to cope. It needs not to discourage women who want to work from doing so - that means reasonable marginal tax rates (compared to the headline tax rates). Whether it is a small amount of part-time work, which may be all that is available or it may be that the lass just wants to get away for a few hours a week from washing nappies and watching 'Peppa Pig'. And it needs to realise that, even on a full time job, she may not be bringing in that much more than child-care and transport costs (Mrs S-E has certainly been there.) Some benefits are particularly iniquitous - you mentioned housing benefit. Simplification is the right-wing bastard answer - with a 'Citizens' Basic Income' as the limiting exemplar.

Anyway - single mums. Some mums are single, as you say, because many men are shits (perhaps even most young men. You might 'think' we're an awful blight on society but we are, or from the pov of the aged, were that blight!) Some are single because they had a loving relationship and it didn't last. It happens. Some mums are single because they wanted a child and didn't particularly want the man that is, frankly, only necessary at the conception stage. Some mums - the stereotype, I suppose - are single because they wanted the sex and were too careless, stupid or pissed to take or insist on birth control.

It is going to be impossible to differentiate between the above (of course, with a CBI, you wouldn't need to), even if they were clear cut categories. Which they're not.

Anyway - happy to disagree with you about the Royal Family. Even if the verminous politician who would replace HMQ as Head of State cost nothing. Which they wouldn't. And the Queen didn't say, okay, thanks, I'll have the Crown Estates (2009 income - straight to the Treasury - over 4 times the 2009 Civil List IIRC), the entire Civil List would pay for on the order of 6000 child care places (advertised cost of c childminder near me, from the council site - £3.65 per hour, assuming 45 hours per week, including a minimum amount for travel to work and 'incidents' and a 44 week working year.) Not nothing but, realistically, 'drop in the ocean' stuff compared to the scale of the problem.

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