Sunday, April 27, 2014

Child care is a matter of economic freedom

Brynna Leslie's April 24th "Universal childcare is an economic issue” is a collection of contradictory statements and economically flawed assumptions.  

She begins reasonably by stating how much she values the care only she, as the mother, could provide to her children, and I completely agree there is no one on Earth more suited to raising her children. When parents plan to have children they must decide how they will handle the time and financial responsibilities of giving birth and two decades of financial support.

A decade later, however, she decides that her children are no longer the top priority and that her job is more important, so third-party child care would be better. The problem is that “affordable” is just a euphemism for using the force of the government so she wants to make someone else pay. This would absolve her of the responsibility she took on voluntarily as a parent, making anyone except her responsible for her choices.

Leslie incorrectly states that parents are often forced to make a choice between family and their careers. This is a clear misuse of the term “force”, which means the initiation or threat of physical harm to another person. If force was defined according to Leslie’s usage, it would mean force is applied in any situation where a human being is required to choose between alternative actions. In this situation Leslie clearly made a completely voluntary choice before having children, knowing that as parents priorities must be set and that you cannot have something just by wishing for it. No one forced her to have a child, much less three of them. Babies do not simply “arrive” as she states, but are planned.

The fact she had very little net take-home pay after working at home and making child care arrangements is a direct consequence of her choice to have three children and wanting to work at the same time. It is also a consequence of the fact that a large portion of her family earnings are taken by force and used to pay for the wishes of others, often on things Leslie’s family would neither want or need, never mind agree to voluntarily. Since almost half her household income is taken in taxes of myriad types, she is prevented, by force, from being able to select from among the various priorities she may have in life, including parenting. She is forced to pay for water and bus monopolies at the municipal level and electricity, education and food monopolies at the provincial level. These are but a few examples of the thousands of interventions by government force that prevent free choice by citizens, prevent costs from being lower and prevent the proper functioning of the economy. Leslie is in this sense partially correct that her choices are restricted (parenting versus employment) but it is the very concept she wishes to use against others that is the cause of the problem. She does not realize it, but she has met the enemy and it is her own ideology.

The worst statement in the column is when she says “we need all working age people to stay in the workforce, to continue to build our economy and pay taxes to support social programs”. The direct implication here is that the purpose of having children and of people living and working is to support the collective, the lives of others, specifically the elderly who are not working. What a demeaning vision of the purpose of human life, to work so that others may enjoy social programs they have not paid for. There is no reason why people who are working cannot choose how to spend their own money on whatever services they wish and save for the time when they do not wish or are unable to work. That is what a free country looks like. It is only when services are run by the use of force that children become slaves to the pensions and benefits of prior generations - generations who have voted to spend on themselves the money their children and grandchildren have not yet earned.

Brynna Leslie’s vision of universal childcare is not proper in a free society. It is a vision suitable for a country run by the ideas of Karl Marx. We have seen such societies and are moving in the direction of becoming one - a society where individual rights are erased and groups struggle for the levers of political power until one of them achieves total power.  

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