Thursday, June 22, 2006

Having a child adds 40 hours a week to the workload of a previously childless woman.

Free the slaves - starting with mum
THEY are the most exploited workers in Australia, they put in a 75-hour week but get paid for just four, they get no penalty rates and they never, ever get annual leave.
. . .
The dreary catalogue of a mother's duties is guaranteed to boost sales of contraceptives and undermine Treasurer Peter Costello's push to get us to produce three of the little blighters.

Tell a prospective mother she's up for an average of 14 hours of housework a week, 11 hours feeding her baby, seven hours settling and soothing the baby, five to six hours preparing family meals, shopping and cleaning kids and only eight hours playing with them, she'd probably be looking seriously at sterilisation.
. . .
A 75-hour week paid at the minimum wage rate means mothers should be getting $47,970 a year.

And that would be if they were on a Howard Government AWA that paid no overtime, no penalties and no holidays.

On a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement, mums would be getting at least $60,000 a year.

It puts the Government's $4000 baby bonus into proper perspective.
Well, at least this article doesn't suggest that they make the combined salaries of several skilled, educated, and experienced professionals. I never know whether the people that suggest mothers deserve, among other things, the salaries of PhD'd psychologists or trained chefs are being purposefully obtuse.

So the salary figure is OK, as is the number $60,000 that the authors conclude would result from overtime, holidays, and other results of union pressure. But it doesn't precisely put "into perspective" the amount the government is actually paying them. First off, a careful read reveals that the numbers are questioned - the figure of 63 composite is also cited. Secondly, the figures appear to include outside work the women are already paid for. Thirdly, since nearly every person does housework without expecting to be paid for it, only the additional housework created by children would truly reflect how much the mother is 'contributing to society'. No one is suggesting paying me for making my own bed.

But ultimately, we are still left with the fact that parenting is not a job - it is a personal obligation that one volunteers for. While compensating poor mothers to allow them to work less could conceivably benefit society overall by reducing, say, jailing expenses later, such a compensation is still highly speculative. Additionally, I would find it hard to believe that compensation would play a major role in the decisions of the well-off (I got the impression all mothers, regardless of income, were entitled to this money) to stay home or to work. Lastly, the idea that a stay at home mom is better is still controversial - there is some rationale to the argument that a woman who is fulfilled can do just as well for her school-aged children as could one who was home alone baking cupcakes for the PTA. They also make good role models (ahem).

Underlying all this rationale is still an undercurrent of fairness. No matter what the arguments on either side, many taxpayers will ultimately feel taken advantage of if their money is funding someone else's choices through the general coffers.

1 comment:

ChrisR said...

Yes, the $4000 (from July 1) is for any woman who gives birth. Last year it was $3000.

"It has now emerged that there were more births on July 1, 2004, than on any other day in the past 30 years. And with the baby bonus slated to rise a further $1000, to $4000, from this July 1, experts are tipping another birth bonanza.",20867,19513731-601,00.html