The Liberal Party’s Paid Parental Leave scheme (which has less than unanimous support from the Liberal Party) is a colossal waste of money, and more importantly, a mild form of class warfare by the well-off against those not so well-off.

The scheme is a “gold plated” parental leave system paid for by business (read: costs passed to consumers) which as of the time of writing can provide a ”woman of substance” (not a man?) on a $100K salary $50K 6 months off to have a child. The more the women earns, the greater the government benefitThis could be seen as a subtle form of promotion of breeding among the ‘right’ people but it’s unlikely to be effective; and even if it is, it’s unlikely to benefit the nation.

The first issue is the assumption that a higher income earner is automatically more desirable as a parent. Nationalists do not take this view, especially when the nation is suffering from lowered social mobility and wealth is entrenched among particular groups. Social mobility is the ability for an individual within society to move up (and down) the socio-economic ladder based on their own contributions and ability. A society with high social mobility provides a greater opportunity for a young entrepreneur from a low socio-economic background to rise into a higher social class. High mobility dilutes economic class, and correlates with high standard of living and a robust economy. While it is sadly true that there will always be different socio-economic levels, they must not allowed to be prescribed, as some kind of ‘caste’ system. People must rise and fall based on their virtues, not through cronyism, nepotism or economic traps.

A scheme which assumes that wealth means personal calibre fails to consider that in some economic circumstances, wealth may have more to do with fortune and inheritance than productive contribution. For example, our economy now traps many people into a lifetime of renting and solidifies the position of property investors as a virtual higher caste, although status as an owner or a renter has little ability to predict an individual’s productive contribution to society. This scheme rewards its recipients based on ability to obtain a particular wage (which may have just as much to do with connections, nepotism, bargaining, location or age than any personal qualities. For example, two truck drivers could get paid vastly different sums under the scheme, one being preferred simply because their employer is in the mining industry, while the other is in logistics. Do these two people represent a difference in ability or productivity? If not, why promote the fertility of one over the other? Does salary alone provide justification to favour the fertility of one over the other?

The amount of a person’s salary is due to their services rendered to a particular company, and is not a valuation of the a person, their holistic value to society, or for that matter the quality of their genes. With salaried employees being led more and more to believe that they are bought and owned by a company, rather than being paid for services rendered, it isn’t too far to take the step to the assumption that a person’s worth is determined by their profession.  When people accept that they get paid a fixed amount, regardless of hours worked, it implies an acceptance of a subtle change whereby salary no longer represents effort and value of labour but purchase of rights, with the value of the person to the company being the price of purchase. You would not pay an anaesthetist the same rate if they were working as a bricklayer; they may even get less than a professional bricklayer. You simply don’t pay someone the same rate no matter what job they do, that goes against basic economic principles.

But the PPL scheme promotes this misunderstanding and silliness. It insists that two women, doing the same thing should get paid vastly different rates, because of the rate of pay they get for work which is unrelated to raising a child. If anything, the necessary effort involved in looking after a baby is randomly distrubuted, with some simply being higher maintenance than others. The pay will have no correlation with effort. In short, they are not being paid to look after baby, but to compensate for lack of income, with those who are already in a better financial position getting more compensation. The “women of calibre” can get paid at a rate of $100K per year, while offloading their child rearing duties for $5 an hour to an import nanny from another silly scheme the Liberals have dreamt up.

Will this scheme encourage women to have more children? Possibly, but the long term cost of raising a child, and having a large enough to house a family most likely weighs far more on people’s decision-making . Cheaper housing, which the government could help to provide by removing or significantly scaling back negative gearing would both promote families and save money. Far better policy, if the government is concerned about family size, is to steer the nation and economy in a direction more amenable to families. This means young adults not having to wait until they are in their 30’s before being established in a job and home, and wages and\or living expenses high and low enough respectively to allow a parent to stay at home and make childrearing a viable option. But this goes against our neo-liberal centrist parties’ policies–both Labor and Liberal–which reflect their foremost commitment to servicing the elite interest groups they are beholden to. It does cost the nation in terms of productivity to afford a lifestyle where a couple can remain financially viable while raising their own children, but it is a cost which is worth it, one we can’t afford NOT to pay. 

People who decide to have children must realise that they cannot turn to the nation to fund their cost. Children do come at a cost and are hard work, but the prime motivator for raising children must remain a personal desire and a family enterprise. It is in the nation’s interest to support the infrastructure needed and recognise the contribution that those who have children are making to the nation’s future prosperity, but it is not the taxpayers responsibility to buffer the sacrifices that people must make if they do choose to have children. Sex and reproduction is a popular enough pastime not to require endorsement and bribery from the government.

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One Response to The folly of Abbotts Paid Parental Leave Scheme

  1. The g Factor says:

    Unfortunately if our birthrate declines it will give the government more excuse to flood Third World migrants into Australia. Abbott’s scheme, unlike the baby bonus, will not encourage no-hopers to have children just to get more welfare payments. If we are to succeed as a nation we should encourage the smart, the conscientious, and those with a good work ethic to have more children and the paid parental scheme, will hopefully achieve this.

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