Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Want the lifestyle? Do the job.

I am a Primary school teacher by profession. Over the years, if I had received a dollar for every comment from someone wishing they could have the cruisy teacher's life of the 9-3 hours and the 12 weeks of holiday a year I, well, wouldn't have to teach anymore.

I used to bite - seriously justify the realities of teaching, tell them why they had the wrong ideas about hours - until I realised that most people just wanted that reaction. It was then I started replying very simply: Want my holidays? Do my job! That got very interesting responses, usually along the path of hating children/days ending in bloodshed/not being able to cope...

Hey, that is fine, there are loads of jobs out there that I couldn't do, even with a great lifestyle promise I wouldn't love the work side enough to make it work for me.

With the recent exposure of the amount of money 2 women receive on the DPB, there is a lot of people blustering at the huge amount of money it is. Now you can argue the reasons behind their entitlements till you are blue in the face - the fact that a case worker doesn't look at a woman and say 'oh, you look like you like buying nice shoes, let's give you a bit extra than that other woman over there', the fact that there are strict formulas to entitlements that are applied, and the fact that we do not know what exactly makes up the money those women receive - and it still won't get through to people.

So what I now say to people who start talking about this wondrous amount of money these women get - want their lifestyle? Do their job. If it such a great sounding way of life, if you really think that it would be a great 'money for nothing' job, there is nothing stopping you from doing it yourself.

Personally, there is no way I would swap the support of my partner for 'free money'. I like having someone there to support me in raising my child, to have someone to moan to in the evenings when you have had 'one of those days', to have someone there to take turns getting up to the poos and spews of an ill child, to have someone to worry about things with me, to have someone to give me time out when I need to remember who I am as a person. I like having my partner's family there to lean on too (granted not all in law relationships are as rosy, but more hands on deck!) I like that I am not the only person making life long decisions that will effect how my child grows and develops. I like that should something happen and I do end up having to sole care for my child/ren, I am fortunate enough to already have the skills and qualifications that mean that I do not have to worry about where the money for living would come from.

Nothing in the world could make me swap that for a life on the DPB sole caring for my child, having to guide my child/ren through the trauma of a break up (no matter how amicable it is, children still have to process it), being the end of the line, often having absentee non-custodial parents... I could write a thousand reasons why I don't want that job. Most people in that job don't want it, it is something that happens for many complex reasons, not a career choice.

I read a comment from someone elsewhere saying that while privacy should have been maintained, they were taken aback to find that one received over $700 a week, while they, who had a degree received the same amount for a 40 hour a week job.

My response to that is that these women probably would LOVE the chance to get that degree and earn that money in a job - that is what they are arguing for. The support to progress in to a career that creates a better life for them and for their children and the generations that come after.


Anonymous said...

They may love the chance to get a job but there is absolutely NO incentive to do so. Not when you can "earn" more by not doing it.

There are people out there who don't want to work or get qualifications - so why allow them the luxury to sit on their butts?

stargazer said...

rubbish anon, you don't "earn" more by not working at all. refer to my post on working for families tax credits.

raising children is not "sitting on your butt". i'm guessing you either don't have children or don't participate in their upbringing.

Boganette said...

I second Stargazer.

Dude, seriously. What you're saying makes NO sense. None.

Undomestic Goddess said...

I am, for most of the time, a SAHM. I no more sit on my butt than most solo parents do.

And, going by your logic, why take away the incentive to study if that is *all* that makes people want to stop sitting on their butts?

SimonD said...

Oh, come on - this benefit didn't exist before the mid 70's. If you had a "whoops" moment you had to look on your family for support.

The DPB has loosened the family networks that use to be in place and has encouraged the development of single parent families.

The country can no longer afford this level of welfarism, in particular the DPB is far too generous, has too many negative consequences and it needs to go.

Anna said...

What's the solution, SimonD? Forced abstinence, forced abortion or forced marriage?

SimonD said...

Stop the DPB immediately for new cases.

For those already claiming, keep the DPB in place, once the youngest child reaches the age of 5 move the DPB recipient to the dole.

Yes, this will be painful but overtime society will adjust back to where we were pre 1970's.

stargazer said...

yes, it will be painful for women and children (in the main), but not so painful for men, no? you get to pressure women to stay in abusive relationships because the women know they can't afford to leave. and if your partner walks out on you because they've found someone else and leaves you with the kids and no means of support, well simon, you'd be happy to see these families starve, right? because the it's the one's who have been abandoned that deserve to suffer, right?

it seems to me that what you really hate about the DPB is that it gives women choices, and you don't want them to have any choices. you want them to stay in their subservient place, and the removing the DPB will certainly help with that.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


stargazer said...

thanx for the kind words karina, and for visiting our blog! it's great to get positive feedback.

SimonD said...

ugly straw man, it misses the point and is overly emotive.

"It gives women choices" - fine - I'm prepared to concede that in abusive relationships there needs to be an escape route out. But we need to ensure that Norman Kirk's good intentions aren't corrupted. A time limit of six - 12 months would do the trick. This would give people a life raft but would avoid trapping people in the system.

stargazer said...

so what happens after 12 months. mother shouldn't be allowed to stay at home to look after her kids, but has to get a job? and what if it's at miminum wage & only barely covers her childcare costs, leaving no money to live on. should they all starve? or are you happy for the financial pressures to push her back into the abusive relationship?

also, you don't mention what should happen in the case of abandonment. you're happy for these families to starve because the earning partner chose to leave?

what happens in the other cases? are you advocating forced abortion or forced adoption in the case of mothers who fall pregnant?

SimonD said...

Again you miss the point - welfare isn't a lifestyle choice. It should provide an opportunity to get back on one's feet; no more and no less.

The country can't afford it any more and I say this from both a financial and social perspective.

stargazer said...

wrong, welfare is not a lifestyle choice, it's a support system for those in need. and if economics is all you care about, then it's much cheaper than putting people in prison because they fell off the rails as a result of a deprived childhood. it's much cheaper than on-going mental and physical health care for illnesses arising from a deprived childhood.

but me, i'm more into the moral arguments than the economic one. i believe we all have a duty to help those in need, regardless of how they came to be in that position. that's a basic part of humanity, as far as i'm concerned.

SimonD said...

"..wrong, welfare is not a lifestyle choice, it's a support system for those in need.."

Well at least we agree on that point then. It's a pity too many people use it as a lifestyle choice.

"..i believe we all have a duty to help those in need, regardless of how they came to be in that position.."

See we agree on more than you might think. It's too easy for society to throw people onto welfare and then forget about them. It's much more humane to sort this out (although much harder) and offer people some hope by allowing them the dignity and respect to look after themselves.

I think it's time to put this argument to bed. Clearly you're happy with the status quo whereas I'm clearly not.

I think that the political consensus about welfare in NZ may change over the next few years. Time will tell.

stargazer said...

i think we also differ in thinking people make welfare a "lifestyle choice". i'm pretty sure almost all solo-parents would much rather be in a healthy relationship, would much rather not have the stigma of being a welfare beneficiary. and i'm not sure if you've tried living on a benefit long-term - it's not very much money at all. and it's very hard to get - you have to have depleted all your cash assets, financial worries pretty much consume your mind every day of the week, any unexpected expenditure leads to a major crisis. i've heard first-hand from women on the DPB who are struggling just to feed their kids, and no, these aren't women who drink, smoke or gamble (in case those things matter to you). i don't believe anyone on the unemployment benefit wouldn't much rather have a job that pays more.

see, i think it's wrong to look down your nose at beneficiaries, because the vast majority of these people have an extremely difficult life and would not be in that position if they had options. so i think you and i have very different ways of seeing the world. i certainly don't see these people as bludgers; i don't see welfare as charity but as a necessity, and a duty on the more well-off. i don't resent paying my taxes, and i don't resent part of those taxes going towards benefits, and i don't resent the people who receive the benefits.