If there is anything that meets the definition of stupidity with absolute perfection, it is having the Productivity Commission write a report to promote childcare.
Childcare, by its very nature, is inefficient. And a reliance on childcare actually subverts parental care, which is the most productive thing that anyone can do to raise good citizens and build a sustainable society.
However, as logic is not the strongest point of most people walking around Australia today, this fact might not be readily apparent. So I’ll explain why this is the case in two very short, simple sentences.
Efficient, productive parents raise their children. Unproductive parents get someone else to do it.
Or, in case the message has not sunk in, I’ll put it another way.
Getting mothers into the workforce by subsidising someone else to look after their children is simply a drain on society. It’s an exercise in futility. Once you take out taxes, pay for the bureaucracy and wade through the regulations, the mother’s ‘productivity’ has already been used. There is not going to be much leftover to pay for the childcare worker employed to do the mother’s primary job. That means quality is necessarily sacrificed to make ends meet.
And this is exactly what happens with childcare. The child is placed in a situation where they have less attention from the ‘carer’ because her time is split among many more children. And the ‘carer’ does not have the same knowledge of that child’s needs, talents, requirements or personality. The childcare worker might be brilliant and have all best intentions in the world. But she will never be a mother to someone else’s child.
Of course, there is a place for childcare, and nannies, and babysitters and grandparents. They help parents achieve all sorts of things. But state-subsidised childcare does not help society become more productive. In fact, it promotes the most inefficient form of care possible and lumps the bill home to taxpayers. The very fact that the state is now subsidising something that used to be done freely and from the motivation of parental love is a pretty big hint of that.
And yet the Federal government has asked the Productivity Commission to think about all the new ways in which the state can encourage parents to offload their children into someone else’s care.
If you open its draft report, you will see that it’s titled Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.
And the very first words in its Terms of Reference are:
“I, Joseph Benedict Hockey, Treasurer…”
And just a little down the page it goes on:
“The Australian Government is committed to establishing a sustainable future for a more flexible, affordable and accessible child care and early childhood learning market that helps underpin the national economy and supports the community, especially parent’s choices to participate in work and learning and children’s growth, welfare, learning and development.
And right there, you basically have all the reasons why our whole entire society is upside down.
The Federal Government thinks that parents, given the choice, would rather be working than with their children. Families are not seen as the most important and fundamental part of society. Rather, they are simply viewed as cogs to be exploited in order to grow the ‘economy’. And education is not about the development of a person so that they reach their full potential and dignity as a human. Instead, it’s just seen as the means by which someone can make a quick buck. And then pay tax. To Mr Hockey.
That’s why the man in charge of the nation’s treasure sees childcare as nothing more than an economic input. He believes that more childcare is required to ensure that increasing numbers of parents, specifically women, slave away at work. Away from their children. And right down the end of the priority list comes children’s welfare.
At least that’s in there, I suppose. Strengthening family does not even get a mention at all. And there is a good reason for this. More reliance on childcare has nothing to do with strong families and everything to do with weakening them further.
But back to the report. If you read on just a little further, you will find this boast:
“The Australian Government is the largest funder of the [childcare] sector, with outlays exceeding $5 billion a year and growing.”
That’s right. Parents are not the largest funder of this sector. The government is. This makes no sense at all considering that parents are primarily responsible for their children and governments are not.
But anyway, that’s the system we live with.
So how is it going?
Luckily, the Productivity Commission can tell us. It’s not going well at all. The commissioners might have put it bluntly and simply said the system was an expensive failure. But they chose to use these words instead:
“families are struggling to find quality child care and early learning that is flexible and affordable enough to meet their needs and to participate in the workforce”
Remember, this report boasts in the sentence immediately before that damning finding that the government is the biggest funder of this sector and forks out $5 billion a year on it. And yet it is a struggle to find any quality, flexibility or affordability in this system at all.
I guess that’s always bound to happen when the parents of a nation collectively outsource the care of their children to Joseph Benedict Hockey and his bureaucrats simply so they can toil away as cog-like slaves for the unforgiving god known as ‘The Economy’.
It’s also no surprise that an investigation that meets all the definitions of stupidity will contain statements that have gone well past the idiotic.
Like this beauty:
“The use of grandparents raises another issue: older Australians, usually women are leaving the workforce or reducing their working hours to care for children. Productivity is still lost in this scenario although different groups of women are affected.”
Hullo? Is there anybody home?
Did this report just note that caring for children was unproductive because it took women out of the workforce?
Well, yes, it did. It stated that productivity is lost when grandmothers look after their grandchildren. Obviously, it must also then be unproductive if mothers look after their children too. And going by that logic, the most productive state possible would be one in which no one cared for children and all the adults were at work, being ‘productive’. There’s no need for childcare workers at all.
Luckily, the Productivity Commission is so mired in a morass of illogical thought that it has not yet reached the rational dead end of its unsound reasoning. But it is headed in that general direction.
Along the way, it just recommended that taxpayer funded childcare benefits should be extended to grandparents – provided they go to TAFE first and learn how to look after children. I hate to break it to the Productivity Commission, but the fact that someone has become a grandparent is a pretty good indication that they know how to look after children long enough for them not to die on the way to becoming parents themselves.
But bureaucracy is not interested in facts and is more concerned with standards and certificates and insane courses.
There is a bright side to this. The Productivity Commission’s report is a hefty 870 pages long. And that means no one sitting in the federal parliament is actually going to read it.
Hopefully, instead, politicians might read two short simple recommendations that will help all parents.
- Get out of the business of childcare. It’s not the government’s job. Instead, do something useful, like lowering taxes or building dams on our drought-stricken continent.
- If the government is going to insist on interfering in the roles and responsibilities of families, at least treat all families the same. Give equal pay for equal work and pay all mothers a set amount per child. Let them decide how to spend the money on the ‘childcare’ of their choice. If that means mothers keep it because they want to do the job themselves, let them. That’s called flexibility. And they’ll probably do a better job. That’s called quality. And it will make their decision to spend time with their children more financially viable. That’s called affordability. Even the Productivity Commission recognises that the current system is lacking in all these three areas.
It’s that simple.