04 April 2012

The unlikely enemy of traditional families: Conservatives

I am a stay-at-home Mom, married to a civil servant. I am Mad. No, I am goddamn good and furious. The Theocons love love love to make things easier for traditional families. They give us $100/month for childcare, whether we need it, use it, or not. The undertone from most of them (and it's overt in many) is "If you can't afford for the Mom to stay home, don't have kids." It's sexist bullshit. Some are "generous" enough to say "parent" instead of Mom. Most aren't. Regardless, they live in a non-existent utopian past where Mom stayed home, baked cookies and cleaned the house wearing a dress and heels. I'm living it about as closely as it gets. I stay home, gave up my career, homeschool the kids (except the teenager - I'd kill her, or she'd kill me. Hard to say who'd snap first), take them to church. If I voted Conservative, wore a dress, and stopped swearing like a sailor who just dropped an anchor on his foot, I'd be the perfect StepCon Wife.

So why am I mad? Because see the second sentence. My husband is a civil servant. The only thing that allows me to have the lifestyle I have is his job. And the HarperCons just cut 19,200 of those jobs. The Cons crow about the cushy jobs, with high pay, and good benefits that are just leeching off the taxpayer. We're screwing them, dontcha know? "Get a job and work hard like the rest of us!" "No one else gets these benefits". RIGHT. They don't. Because the private sector cares only about profit for the owners. The government is supposed to rule for the benefit of the people. I mean, seriously? You want me to stay home and be the Mom, but I'm supposed to do it with my husband working at the mercy of a corporation, with measly benefits? How does that work?

And you know what else? I'm not living high on the hog. I have a modest 3 bedroom townhouse (for 5 ppl) that I'm paying off. A huge student loan debt that we rolled into our mortgage (and it's still cheaper than rent here - I checked). We have one vehicle, a 6 year old, secondhand minivan (Halen the Loser Cruiser). I shop at thrift stores, and cruise clearance racks. I buy furniture on UsedVictoria. I haven't bought a book since I left university 8 years ago. I donate money to charity. And the vast majority of the rest goes to gluten free food, bill,s and the kids health and therapy. I budget $35/wk to frivolity. For the whole family. That's $7/day spread over 5 people. I'm not kidding. And I'm not complaining. I like how I live. I like my little house, my Loser Cruiser, my thrift store clothes. I'm happy with my life.

We cannot afford for me to stay home if Tony loses his job. We cannot afford for me to stay home if he has to take a pay cut by moving to the private sector. We cannot afford for him to lose his benefits. If we lose insurance benefits for speech language pathologists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, naturopaths (and yes, they do good work. but you have to make sure you have someone who has an ND degree, not just someone claiming to be a holistic medicine naturopath), prescription drugs... OMG. That didn't even hit me until now. Losing the prescription drug coverage alone would be catastrophic. The rest I could make do without, but it would lower my son's quality of life considerably. The prescriptions? Holy shit... I just got cold shivers.

And I can't work now. Crackle can't go to school, and the kind of job I could get at this point (7 years out of the field, I can forget getting back in) wouldn't pay for the kind of care he needs. I don't have family in the area, and having been Mom to special needs kids so long, I have no friends either. There is no one to look after them but me, or a paid professional in our home. And we'll never afford that.

The high paying union jobs protect families choices. They allow for one parent to stay home and do the childcare if that is right for the family. They allow parents to get better healthcare for their kids than they might otherwise afford. And no, that's not fair. But when one kid has nice clothes because his parents gave them to him, and the neighbour's kid is in rags because his parents would rather buy a new table for the dining room, you don't take the nice clothes off the first kid because it's not fair. You kick the neighbour's ass and make him provide for his kid! (not a perfect analogy, but you get the point). Employers have the obligation to provide a reasonable living to their employees. And by reasonable, I mean, "One person can provide for a reasonably frugal family".

Look, you can't have it both ways. You can't expect for someone to stay home with the kids, and then not provide a way for them to do that. The private sector doesn't provide many of those jobs. Hardly any at all. Unions try to protect those jobs, and the theocons, who so strongly push this way of life, fight them every step of the way.

We are not "leeches". We are not "sucking at the government teat". My husband goes to work and works hard at what he does. He provides a service for the money he gets. Yes, there is some dead weight. The unions are not perfect. By protecting all their workers, they sometimes protect those who milk the system. But those people aren't as common as the screaming masses seem to think. Like Welfare Queens. Sure, there's a few. But they're not the vast majority. I would frelling love it if the cuts that are coming would be directed at those people. That won't happen and that's a problem. But you know, baby... bathwater... Good heavens, there are a million ways they could save millions of dollars. Shit, just hire me as a consultant for 1/4 of what they paid the last guy. I can make a budget go a LONG way. I think I'll make that another post. This one's getting long.

So next time you think about "government cuts" remember, it's people. It's people with families. It's families with kids. Kids with disabilities, kids who play hockey (HOLY CRAP EXPENSIVE) Families with elderly parents who need live in help, or need to live in a care facility. Families with diabetics who rely on benefits to pay for test strips. Families with health problems. These people suffer when they're not protected by union jobs. It's hard enough doing it with the support of a good job. I shudder to think what it might be like without it. I guess I'll find out if Tony loses his job when the cuts come down. I pray I don't. And I pray that somehow those who do will muddle through.