Sunday, August 18, 2013

Neither party supports the traditional family

There's an election campaign on in Australia. It's difficult to get too excited about it as both parties have similar policies.

The leader of the more right-wing of the two parties, the Liberal Party, is Tony Abbott. His family policy is to tax 3000 large companies to raise $6.5 billion in order to fund an exceptionally generous paid maternity scheme. A woman on $150,000 per annum will get 6 months on full pay (i.e. $75,000) plus 2 per cent superannuation.

It's another step along the way to undermining the male provider role. Once upon a time the role of the husband was important in supporting his wife financially during her pregnancy and whilst she stayed at home to look after her children.

In the new system a woman will provide for herself through her career and then be supported by the state during the period of time she is allotted to stay with her infant child.

Abbott has given up on the model of the male provider family:
'It proves that the Coalition gets it when it comes to the reality of the contemporary woman and contemporary families.

'The fact is very few families these days can survive on a single income ... So if we are serious about allowing women to have kids and a career we've got to have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme.'

The political elite, whether of the left or right, have accepted the idea that what matters in life is a professional career. Therefore it is a matter of justice for them that a woman's life centre on her career and be structured around her career rather than on and around family. Similarly equality means for them the idea that women be as little obstructed in career and earnings as men. The desired outcome is that sex distinctions between men and women in these public roles be made not to matter.

For traditionalists there is a different logic at play. For us it is important that we be able to fulfil our distinct natures as men and women. For most men, career is not in itself the fulfilling thing in life - it is mundane work that often leaves you tired and stressed by the end of the week. If there is a higher meaning to it, it is that it opens up a protected space for our wives to raise our children and to create a home. It is this higher meaning to male work that current social trends, supported by both parties, are undermining.

I do understand that high property prices have made it difficult for many people to survive on a single wage. I understand too that there are women who have a strong wish to pursue a career. And I certainly understand that families are not going to turn down such a financial windfall as the one being offered by Tony Abbott.

But if we are aiming to establish a trad community in the future, we have to make an effort to defend the male provider role. That doesn't by any means exclude women from paid work. There are a lot of ways to be flexible when it comes to this. But the minimum standard ought to be that in the average home the husband is the main breadwinner over the course of the marriage and that his efforts are significant in allowing his wife to have the opportunity to have children and to create a home for her family.

By the way, I don't mean for posts like this to demoralise younger men from seeking work. My advice is to stay the course. Most women with kids only want to work part-time at most, so you are still likely to end up as the main breadwinner. And if the government ever attempts to equalise the part-time earnings of women with the full-time earnings of men then it's time for all hell to break loose.


  1. "if the government ever attempts to equalise the part-time earnings of women with the full-time earnings of men then it's time for all hell to break loose."

    The government is already doing that. That was the point of the post "It is now a "human right" in Australia for women to be paid more than men". You said it yourself:

    "So the principle of "equal pay for equal work" is now officially dead in Australia. That principle was never the real goal anyway. What liberalism wants is for sex distinctions not to matter. Therefore, if women end up getting less money because they spend less time at work, the liberal mind concludes that women must get paid more to make up the difference."

    So it's time for all hell to break loose, right?

  2. J,

    Yes, they've already given the green light for a private company to pay women more than men.

    I don't think it's enough yet to really light a fire.

    The principle of equal pay is dead, we have to see now how this is put into policy.

    I suspect as a first step the government will extend the super rule to other workplaces and industries, seeing what the reaction is. I would hope that the more militant blue collar men wouldn't accept it too easily - but we'll have to see.

  3. Wow! It must be pretty bad down under if a family can't even "survive" on a single income. I suppose the young children die first, then the weaker adult . . . while hungry dingos pace round the doomed family in the dark.

    I'm the breadwinner (male) in a family that is surviving on a single income. What would be different if my wife worked? I suppose I might drive a car in which the air conditioner worked, our neighborhood would be a little more upscale, we would eat out more frequently. But a big chunk of what she earned would be spent on child care, domestic help, and a professional wardrobe.

    You mention the high cost of housing. It should be remembered that, at least so far as the most desirable housing is concerned, dual-income couples are one of the reasons for the high cost. The cost would be less if couples with cash to burn were not bidding up the price.

  4. JMSmith,

    Agreed that one reason for the high cost of housing is the shift to dual income families. Other reasons include certain taxation laws, foreign investment and high levels of immigration.

    The housing market here is extraordinary. The median house price in Melbourne is $532,000. In Sydney it is $652,000. In Las Vegas, in comparison, it is $166,000. In Los Angeles it is $401,000.

  5. A major reason to pay premium home prices in the USA is so you don't have to live near violent, stupid minorities (and your kids don't have to go to school with them). If you don't pay that price you either have a horrendous commute or you live among the scum.

    What's the downside in Oz? Where do the people who can't afford those prices live?

  6. Where do the people who can't afford those prices live?

    The poorest families get social housing. The others might live in lower socio-economic areas further out and commute or live in a smaller apartment rather than a house. But some really struggle with any of these options and find it difficult to get into the housing market at all - they just have to find somewhere with a low enough rent.

  7. I also wish there was a party to vote for that did not agree with this.

  8. I'm interested, what public policy solution would you favour that would support the traditional family?

    One option is to create a transferrable income tax allowance for parents with children under a certain age (say 5), so a stay-at-home mum could gift her allowance to her husband.

    I don't know if we have this in Australia, but it's what some members of the Conservative Party in Britain are pushing for.

  9. One option is to create a transferrable income tax allowance for parents with children under a certain age (say 5), so a stay-at-home mum could gift her allowance to her husband.

    That's a very good policy. Instead of men going out to work, being taxed, and the tax dollars being spent by the state (with the state then getting the credit for work that men have done), the tax concession policy effectively allows men to keep more of the money they have earned to spend on their families.

    I don't think there's a better policy than the one you've suggested, though I'm open to ideas.

  10. Isn't it also the case that the housing market in Australia is so cramped up because of the reality that the population is highly concentrated in a handful of metros?

    In the US it varies widely, but the population is very spread out everywhere, which tends to lead to lower prices in general outside of prime areas in prime markets.

    Canada appears to have a similar issue, although less pronounced than Australia does, because of its similar concentration (which is much more than in the US, but less than in Australia). Vancouver also seems to have the same impact of immigration on the housing market as a few of the Australian cities do as well.

  11. Brendan that could certainly be a factor.

    In a sense there is less choice as most people want to live in one of the capital cities.

  12. Mark Richardson said @ Monday, 19 August 2013 19:52:00

    Any policy where the politicians will not have the power to redistribute income will never be implemented. I don't see the political class giving this up easily.

    Brendan said @ Friday, 23 August 2013 00:49:00

    While people in Australia do live in the capital cities due to the social infrastructure being available, the housing pricing has grown due to immigration and misallocation of capital. While people come to Australia to work menial jobs, these jobs will never generate enough tax revenue to support this infrastructure. You can see this unfolding in Europe and US already.