Road blocks to family life

Is helping middle class families social engineering?

James Pethokoukis asks the question and provides his answer:

One frequently mentioned criticism of the plan in “Room to Grow” to dramatically expand the child tax credit* is that it’s somehow “social engineering.” But as Bob Stein, the author of that chapter, has patiently pointed out, the expansion would actually help offset the anti-family “social engineering” of current government policy and make Americans less dependent on government.

Anyway, all this talk of “social engineering” reminded me of a passage in “Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II” by George Weigel (bold is mine):

Perhaps the hardest-fought battle between Church and [Poland’s] regime involved family life, for the communists understood that men and women secure in the love of their families were a danger. Housing, work schedules, and school hours were all organized by the state to separate parents from their children as frequently as possible. Apartments were constructed to accommodate only small families, so that children would be regarded as a problem. Work was organized in four shifts and families were rarely together. The workday began at 6 or 7 a.m., so children had to be consigned to state-run child-care centers before school. The schools themselves were consolidated, and children were moved out of their local communities for schooling.

Now that’s social engineering. I guess my point here is that policy reformers should think carefully about the roadblocks government inadvertently puts up to Americans conducting a healthy family life. Maybe that’s tax policy. Maybe it’s welfare policy. . . .

I am not a fan of Working for Families when it is given to people earning well above the average wage.

However, I do accept it has a place at the lower end of the wage scale to ensure families are better off with a parent in work than on welfare.

Anecdotal evidence says it discourages  a second parent from seeking work because what’s earned is cancelled out by what’s lost in steep abatements from WFF.

If financial reward was a major consideration in the parent seeking work that could be the case.

Another issue which impacts on family life is the push for urban development which promotes infill-housing and going up rather than out.

Going up results in apartment blocks and in-fill housing – both usually have hardly any outside areas for relaxation and play which families need.

That is the norm in many other countries and isn’t a problem if there are plenty of public recreation areas which isn’t always the case.

The concern people have over the ageing population is not just a function of the post-war baby-boom. It’s a function of people having fewer or no children since then.

How many children people have, or if they have any at all, is entirely their business.

However, governments can influence that by policies which are or aren’t family friendly.

WFF is family friendly although it gives support to some who might not need it.

Sole parent benefits do support families in need, but they can also sabotage family relationships if the state is a better bread-winner than the absent parent.

3 Responses to Road blocks to family life

  1. Andrei says:

    Housing, work schedules, and school hours were all organized by the state to separate parents from their children as frequently as possible. Apartments were constructed to accommodate only small families, so that children would be regarded as a problem. Work was organized in four shifts and families were rarely together. The workday began at 6 or 7 a.m., so children had to be consigned to state-run child-care centers before school. The schools themselves were consolidated, and children were moved out of their local communities for schooling.

    You know what that sounds like?

    New Zealand circa 2014 – it is not that different. Don’t you yourself call for shopping on 365 days a year

    We have seen the introduction of Marxism by stealth and as a result the West is dying.

    And don’t kid yourself it isn’t dying – we live in a cultural wasteland and fill our empty lives with expensive ephemeral baubles like iPhones that are made in China, now the Nation with the biggest GDP,

    And we do this instead of investing in the future and passing our values, culture and heritage on to our children, who we don’t bother raising

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  2. Southern says:

    your wrong Andrei, values are being passed on, culture is being passed on, heritage is being passed on – it is just not what us oldies consider worthy of bearing these titles.
    Young children are having young children, and their culture is the skate park, it is hanging round the TV, it is base on social media, value is placed on the smartphone and the size of ones TV and as for heritage, mums on the benefit, dads on the benefit, I’m going on the benefit. What a heritage.

    I earn a decent wicket and my wife and our kids still qualify for benefits, absolutely ridiculous. Don’t give me working for families, just tax me less thanks.

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  3. TraceyS says:

    “New Zealand circa 2014 – it is not that different”

    This is true enough on the surface. There are lots of opportunities and pressures for families to be apart. For some people this is largely a choice and for others it is more of a necessity. On the whole it is more of a choice. And by having policies such as 20-hours free daycare the Government is encouraging (but not forcing) parents to spend time away from their children. Those of us who have some choices are free to not go along with that encouragement.

    I’m not entirely comfortable with that policy myself. I have seen children dropped off at daycare while their mothers, who are on benefits, spend their days together socializing – the State paying them to cruise and paying also to look after their kids at the same time. It doesn’t seem right. Not family friendly at all.

    On the family friendly side we have laws covering matrimonial property, for example, which keep families together so as to avoid dividing up and diluting the family silver. But there, of course, has to be something worth not dividing. Many families spend big chunks of their day apart (eg. both parents working, kids in school, daycare, and outside school programmes) in order to build up a base which then reinforces them staying together.

    So I think building capital is a very family friendly thing for a family to do – even if it means some sacrifices along the way (which it inevitably does). Unfortunately many people just don’t get to that stage of owning something worth owning.

    I agree with the comments regarding infill housing being unfriendly for families. However, greater urban spread also means more cost because services have to be stretched out to reach the homes. Again prosperity and ability to pay are critical because these things don’t come cheap. So a family has to spend more time apart and working to afford the house on the quarter-acre section than it would for the city apartment. A means-to-an-end which can still be family friendly but also has the risk of coming crashing down if the pressures exceed the family’s ability to cope.

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