>Oh State Socialism, what hath thou wrought?

>(REPOST FROM Thursday, April 06, 2006)

The Dutch Labour Party, and its deputy chairperson Sharon Dijksma, have a great idea. They want to penalize educated mothers who choose not to work (http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=1&story_id=28628&name=Penalise%20educated%20stay-at-home%20women%20-%20PvdA).

Their reasoning goes something like this: The state (often confused with “society”) pays to educate these women, so the refusal on the womens’ part to join in the workface is akin to theft. Pay the state back, or be punished.

Some have criticized the proposal as being unfair to women – it should apply to men too. An opinion piece at the Brussels Journal (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/946) includes a reference to Edith Snoey of Holland’s largest trade union, who advocates state recovery of finances lost on men who don’t work as well.

Dijksma and Snoey, mind you, are not conservatives, but advocates of feminism, unionism, and (state) socialism. But their concern with costs and individual penalties for non-compliance could easily be mistaken for conservatism, no? (Of course the European version of “conservatism” includes long established left parties, so this is hardly very surprising.)

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrases “He who pays the piper calls the tune”, or “With sheckles come shackles”. To sum up: When one accepts anything “free” from the state, their are consequences. To seek total security is to seek total enslavement.

Currently reading : Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society By Robert Higgs Release date: By 01 May, 2004


This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the monopoly that many socialist states have on education. There’s no problem requiring somene to pay pack what they took (which it sounds like you are fine with as well), but it kind of sucks if the only way to get an education is to commit to a lifetime of employment. Aside from all this, I would argue that an educated citzenry is a good thing even if they aren’t working. Plus, a parent staying home to care for a child is an excellent use of their time and skills, and if they are educated, so much the better. So beyond issues of socialism and libertarianism, I’d say this policy is pretty small-minded and short-sighted. Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking. I can understand the lure of demagoguery but who thinks picking on mother’s is a good idea? “Those damn mothers! They’re taking all our degrees, and raising their children!” This is a mind-set that you see on this coast very strongly. Instead of being a beneficient older sibling, it becomes a nit-picking nanny. I’m trying to get my driver’s licence here in NY and it’s driving me crazy. It’s like an inane role playing game with dim-witted state workers instead of dragons and hot devil-chicks. The basic assumption is that I’m lying and I have to prove everything, and that wanting whatever certificate is some huge imposition on the state. The strange thing here is that nobody in the city votes Republican, so its really a one-party system. It’s the mayor’s primary that gets all the attention, not the actual race. So I get the feeling that there is an enourmous amount of cronyism and the attendant ineptitude. And really, I can’t help but feel this way about the national democratic party leadership. They really aren’t that bright. I mean, maybe I’m missing something, but I’m just not that impressed by them. DeLay, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are as close to “evil” as it gets, but they’re fucking sharp. The democrats seem like inbred country folk. so that got off topic pretty quick, eh?

-Silicon Lotus

I’m not sure that this example shows the problems of state socialism, or the idea that a state which provides for its citizens has the right to expect something in return. Perhaps there’s an argument to be made against that (oh, I’m sure there is), but I don’t see that here. There is something deeply wrong and problematic about the Dutch Labour Party’s proposal, but I believe it’s actually the result of a sexist understanding of what constitutes “labor”.

The Dutch Labour Party is essentially claiming that being a stay-at-home mother is somehow considered not a real job. The idea that raising children, performing housework, and otherwise running a household is not “real work” is in my opinion, flagrantly anti-feminist. In reality, the devaluing of child-rearing and housework has kept men from taking on more of these responsibilities–as they have “better” things to do. (Do you know that when a man moves in with a female partner, he does less housework than when he lived alone–while she takes on more? Learned that from Harper’s Index.) Additionally, most mothers with full-time jobs do not work 40 hours a week, they work twice that if not more–because as soon as they get off work, they’re cooking dinner and changing diapers. And yet we expect that these women should not feel overwhelmed by these additional burdens, because remember: taking care of a family is not “real work”. (You can blame old patriarchal ideologies for this, but liberal/mainstream feminism is partly to blame as well …)

Anyhow, hat the Dutch Labor Party is actually demanding is that women perform twice as much labor as men to pay back their debt to the state. Socialism is not the primary evil here; it’s sexism, all the way.
Labor is labor, regardless of whether or not it results in an income. Is the problem socialism, or is an ignorance of socialist feminism?

-Hey, Hey, Hey


Yea, the problem is the state monopoly on education. Given that almost all services are scarce, the state buying up teachers, materials and land with which to educate drives up the price of whatever’s remaining. And the relative permanence and inefficiency of state organizations makes education provision rather shitty. But this isn’t the entire story. Ideas, and not just structure, have alot to do with things. Granted, more than a few other countries more statist than ours turn out kids that kick our ass in math and science; I think this has more to do with discipline and encouragment to succeed academically (rather than be the next American Idol).

Beyond issues of socialism, etc., yes, it seems like this could be debated satisfactorily even within a statist framework. Raising children IS work, good for society, etc. The Dutch Labour Party calls a paying gig (official employment) “capital”, thus women opting out of it, and choosing motherhood instead, drains society of its capital.


I see what you mean about these mainstream Euro feminists basically declaring motherhood to be not “real” work, just as many conservatives do. Then again, alot of conservatives readily admit that housework IS work, and a very beneficial kind of work to boot. And you know what they mean by that…

I still hold that this issue is very much an example of the perils of state socialism (in contrast to a voluntary form of socialism). All of the state’s “freebies”, “handouts” and “benefits” come with strings attached. Sometimes it’s explicit, and other times implicit. An example of the former would be the mandatory presence of military recruiters for all colleges that accept federal aid.

It’s true that in many cases there is actually less scrutiny from the state than there would be in the case of a private actor – lending policies for instance. But of course when the state lends money, it’s either lending money that once belonged to someone else – thus not really achieving a welfare enhancement – or it creates money on its own, which is called inflation.



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