We have a claim here that we must build a caring economy. By which is meant that people don’t in fact care for their own families but that other people, paid for by the government, do the caring of families. Quite why this is an advance in civilisation is left unsaid.
The justification is that caring is good – which it is of course – and that’s where they leave it:
The UK economy needs radical transformation equal to the post-second world war era, including the creation of a universal care service providing free full-time childcare and elderly care, according to a seminal report published by the Women’s Budget Group.
There is the usual ignorance of economics of course:
The service, which would be free at the point of delivery, would create more jobs than equivalent investment in transport and construction and help provide secure work for the thousands of people losing livelihoods in retail and hospitality, according to an 18-monthcommission on a gender equal economy.
Jobs are a cost, not a benefit, so the claim of lots of jobs being created is a declaration of how expensive this is going to be. It’s also true that paying for wiped bottoms – at either end of the age spectrum – isn’t an investment, this is current spending.
The report is here. And the argument just never get beyond “caring is good therefore government should do it and pay for it”.
There is also a certain conceptual problem with this. Some work is done within the household, some work outside it. It’s often true that the work done outside is done more efficiently, this is the division and specialisation of labour. Unless your home life is particularly more exciting than mine then the division and thus specialisation available within the household is between no more than two people. work done outside the household can be divided and specialised with 7 billion and greater efficiency – and thus greater riches from the resultant trade – are thereby achieved.
But this result does depend upon that greater efficiency, productivity, being achieved. If caring is to mean that wiping of bottom s then that’s something that can be done only one by one and personally. Perhaps other forms of care are better done at a size larger than the household. OK, mebbe. But that’s what the logical structure depends upon. We’re only made richer as a society if as a result of moving the activity out into the marketplace we’ve managed to reduce the amount of human labour that must be devoted to that same activity.
And, well, will this be so? If a childminder can look after four kids and the average family is 2 then perhaps. But if it’s 2 and 2 then we get nowhere at all, do we?
Well, there’s the more minor point that men earn more, thus men pay more tax. So moving it from wimmins’ care for their own kids to government does so for all lands the bill on the shoulders of those men who didn’t even gain a shag out of the deal. This might be a valid societal goal, might not be.
But the end reality is quite clear. Large numbers of working class women will be employed to do the caring while those middle class women get to have both the kids’n’parents and also careers. Which doesn’t seem like all that much of an advance really. Sure, it is for the middle class women but that’s balanced on the downside by the workers having to deal with Tarquin and Jemima. And who, really, would wish that upon the backbone of England?
Think on it. All get taxed to produce a large bureaucratic scheme in order that Tracee is employed in childcare so Jocasta can get a job as a diversity adviser to the National Kids’ Service. We don’t seem, not obviously so at least, to have any wealth creation in that plan.