Monday, February 12, 2007

What do we value

I have a candidate least favourite person of the week, it started with a press release from Judith Collins (it's not her - although she's always a good candidate):

Napier businessman and Hell’s Pizza franchisee Richard Stevenson says an employee of his quit her job when a WINZ staff member told her she would earn more on a benefit.
He wasn't paying much more than minimum wage and didn't offer a guarantee of how many hours she was going to work from one week to the next. She had a ten month old baby and this job required her to work nights (where there is very little, if any, subsidised childcare available) and he made no offer to help with childcare). She would be better off on the benefit, and that's not WINZ's fault, it's her employers (You can listen to him on Morning report but I didn't couldn't finish it I hated it that much).

It's not exactly breaking news that I think employers suck. But my real point is why the outrage? Why do we consider making pizza to be a more worthwhile than raising a ten month old baby? I'm not knocking the work involved in making pizza. I know enough about the work-conditions that they work hard. Although I can't eat pizza anymore (I'm severely dairy-intolerant) I appreciated it when I could - and anyone who appreciates any object should value the labour that went into making it. Neither am I saying that looking after a child is the only possible work that a child of a ten month baby could or should be doing.

But looking after a 10 month old baby is work, and it's valuable work. Most of us have eaten pizza, but all of us have been looked after when we're 10 months old (even Judith Collins and Richard Stevenson), and we should appreciate that labour far more than we do. What every person who raised their voice in outrage is saying is that making pizza is a better use of that woman's time than looking after a 10 month old, and I disagree.


  1. Anonymous12:32 pm

    So why did she have the kid, if she couldn't afford it? It's not like she had no choice.

  2. "Neither am I saying that looking"

    You seems to be missing a bit of the post after that half-sentance...

    Oh, and I totally agree, of course.

  3. Anonymous2:31 pm

    You're right. Employers all suck, we should get rid of them all, then we can have.... nothing.

    Ltes think of some countries that don't practice capitalism: Nth Korea a great model for us they need food aid.

    As for what WINZ said, they're being fucking ridiculous she'll still have to find a way through the 13 week stand down for people who quit their jobs then apply for the dole.

  4. Anonymous9:31 pm

    Maia said...
    What every person is that making pizza is a better use of that woman's time than looking after a 10 month old, and I disagree.

    Stand up and take responsibility for your own choice. Do not let the state or the taxpayers support choices made by you which had got nothing to do with them.

  5. Anonymous10:31 pm

    As for what WINZ said, they're being fucking ridiculous she'll still have to find a way through the 13 week stand down for people who quit their jobs then apply for the dole.

    Presumably she'll get the DPB immediately rather than having to apply for the dole.

    Good on the WINZ worker for helping this woman.

    Stand up and take responsibility for your own choice. Do not let the state or the taxpayers support choices made by you which had got nothing to do with them.

    If taxpayers don't fund the DPB, who's going to raise the next generation of poorly paid pizza makers? Or who's going to work for shit wages to clean your arse in an old people's home when you're elderly and dependant? Sorry, but the idea that we're all individuals and not interdependant on each other is ridiclous.

  6. Anonymous2:48 am

    And I assume Weka you say the state should be the one making these choices for us right?

    Phil and Oliver are bang on. She shouldn't of had the child if she was unable to give it a good standard of life.

  7. If anyone values her raising her child then they should pay for her to do that - although some people find it hard enough after paying for themselves and their own children to have to pay for other people's children too.

    Those who buy pizza presumably value pizza over the unknown child of the employee - if the employee wants to be paid for the wonder of having a child, then the employee should ask people to pay for the child. Unfortunately for those making pizza, a lot of people can make pizza - and a lot do, for nothing.

    Presumably you and those who agree with you will pay for the child without the state being involved. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who expect others to pay for their children, and make those who don't pay guilty by claiming that THEY are making the child suffer - rather than those responsible for producing the child in the first place - and I DO mean both parties.

  8. Anonymous3:15 pm

    I like to choose what I do with my money. I could choose to buy a pizza or I could choose not to. Why does she get my tax money to look after a child that I had no choice about? Fair enough to pay tax for roads etc, but if I am going to pay for childern I want to use them!!!

  9. seriously - who can ever afford having a child!? it isn't as simple as that - it never is. i can think of 10 different scenarios right off the top of my head.

    there's an awful lot of judgment about this woman and her choices going down in here. and what about people that think they can afford to have a child and then situations and circumstances change? many here are assuming that this woman had some devious plan when she gave birth to come and steal all of your hard earned tax dollars. i guarantee this isn't likely the case - and it doesn't come close to getting to the root of the problem that so many single moms - and even two parent homes - face.

    we live in a system that doesn't pay people what their work is worth - yet those at the top of the heap are raking in more dough than one person would ever need. there's a massive disjunct. granted, i'm talking about the united states, but i imagine it isn't that different where you all are.

    i'm with you, maia.

  10. Anonymous8:20 pm

    Why did she get the job in the first place? It's clearly not a role suitable for her.

    So she is better off on a benifet, that's fine.

    But it's a bit rich taking a job then placing the expectation on the employer (as you do) that *he* must make it suitable for her. If it wasn't suitable, she should not have taken it. If she regards taking it as a mistake, the it's her mistake. Hey, we all make them. Just don't blame the pizza guy.

    For the record, taking care of a Baby is much more important than making pizza. The fact that no one gets paid to do it shows how valuable it is.

  11. "I'm focussed on the kid."

    Good for you, what are YOU doing about it? I presume you think lobbying for bureaucracies to take more money from people to give to others is caring - but then funnily enough most parents DO look after their children and pay enough taxes to look after other peoples'. Though one rarely hears of those receiving that being grateful that they have been relieved somewhat from their obligation to pay for their children. Employers have obligations to their children too, and often risk their home to BE employers - and people think jobs can be generated by some magic machine.

    "Welcome to the concept of "collective responsibility". If you aren't keen you are free to leave the collective: the USA is thataway"

    Welcome to the concept of individual responsibility - you know, when you can't just expect others to carry the can when you make mistakes in life. If you don't like it, you're free to go to North Korea where there is an official slogan "all for one and one for all". You wont have to put up with people questioning this.

  12. Bad luck, Libertyscott - you live in a society and have obligations to it. Can be bloody annoying at times, but if you find yourself cast adrift on a desert island one day, and everything in your life really does become your individual responsibility, you'll find societies have their uses.

  13. Libertyscott you seem to think that those who have children and aren't on a benefit are receiving no benefit from the taxes they pay, and that others are creaming it off them. This isn't the case - taxes pay for so many things that everyone uses, in particular families. Eg early childhood education (not free, but subsidised by Govt), schools, free healthcare for children, just to name a few.

    But to get back to the case of this particular woman and her child. Often people take on jobs that they hope they will be able to fit to their lives. And when that doesn't happen to be the case people resign. Such is life. But you can hardly blame or judge her for trying, surely?!

  14. Anonymous9:30 pm

    That baby needs her mum. Good on WINZ. And as for all the people who are griping about the choice of a poor woman having a baby well... (can I swear here Maia?), frankly fuck you.

    I know Icehawk says it all rationaly and sensibly but my gut reaction to phil was honestly - fuck you!!

    And I say that as a traditional Catholic woman. This is exactly the kind of misogynistic creepy pressure that makes women feel like they need an abortion.

    Babies are a wonderful and important asset and the mother should have the opportunity to be at home and take care of the wee babe. That's why we pay our taxes. If you don't like it, take a running jump.


  15. "you live in a society and have obligations to it"

    What obligations does society have towards me? To pay for my children? oops they don't do that. To pay for my house and food? oops they don't do that. To pursue criminals that steal from me? oops they don't do that. To leave me alone when I want to do what i want with my own body? oops they don't do that. To let me decide on the education I want for my children and pay for it? oops they don't do that. To pay for the healthcare I need when I need it? oops they only do that in dire emergencies.

    Span - no I don't blame her for trying, fair enough. Do what you can to get what you want short of using force or threatening force. Unfortunately WINZ is a system based on paying people for money extracted by force, no matter how you spin it.

    Anonymous - yes good argument "fuck you" - can really respect that, imagine if those opposing you said that - you'd feel quite vindicated. So nice you think the baby deserves the mother being at home, can you pay for my cousin's wife to be at home too for their two kids instead of being a nurse to pay the mortgage? Can you pay for my best friend to be at home too instead of working part time while having two small children? Oh no, see THEY pay for others because the other partner works 1.5 days a week paying taxes for everyone else (like my bludging cousin who has spent 8 years straight on the DPB refusing jobs that are "beneath" her).

    It would be truly laudable if in all cases at least one parent could be full time with children before school age - the difference is that I think that families should be able to keep enough of their earnings they work for themselves to afford this to happen - others think that it should come for nothing paid for by force by others (including those who choose to have no children).

  16. Like I said - get washed up an uninhabited island, and you'll quickly find out every little thing your society did for you. Obviously it would take that actual, physical event for you to get the point, because you don't show much sign of being able to think beyond contractual obligations.

  17. Thank you Muerk for saying what I was too buttoned up to say!

    Libertyscott, I think you misundertsood what I was saying. I was trying to say that she shouldn't be judged for trying the job out to see if she could get it to work given her childcare needs. Not that we should all push as hard as we can for whatever we want all the time, and go all out to suit ourselves.

  18. Anonymous12:38 am

    Making pizza is not skilled work, so why would it attract high rates of pay?


  19. Anonymous6:22 am

    Phil, Wicket, Scott, and others seem to be thinking the mother is the only one to benefit from this child being raised well. (And maybe they would acknowledge some peripheral value to others, such as friends or relatives, who take a sentimental interest in the mother and child.) I have no children of my own. When I am too old to care for myself, I want to be cared for by young people who have been trained in good nursing and medical schools, and good secondary schools.

    For the people I am going to share a community with, even those who haven't been born yet, I want them to have the basics of a good education, and to be well brought-up. Raising and educating children is tremendously labor-intensive, and that makes it expensive.

  20. The child has no value to me until it starts productive work which offers me a value...until then the state makes it a liability I'm forced to fund.

    "Society" is an abstraction and therefore I have no obligation to doesn't exist.Individual human beings do exist but I only have an obligation to respect their natural rights...nothing else unless I see a value for doing so..

  21. Anonymous5:00 pm

    Mullah Cimoc say too much jack bauer tv show make ameriki so stupid for hate the muslim, loving the torture, bow down for masters in tel aviv.

    this all rupert murdoch tv show man mind control this way.
    This evil doing for usa media , now control so few company. Benjamin Frankling not like this not free press now in usa amerika.

    for please now google: mighty wurlitzer +cia

    then aemriki people know not free press in usa now. just keep the ameriki so stupid for serve the master in tel aviv.

  22. Excellent thinking, James! If I arbitrarily declare gravity to be an abstraction to which I owe no obligation, perhaps I'll be able to fly. I'd love to know though - when a cop tries to pull you over for speeding, or a random breath test, do you stop? Or does your lack of obligation to this abstraction allow you to wave them airily aside and proceed on your way? Do tell...

  23. James said:
    "The child has no value to me until it starts productive work which offers me a value...until then the state makes it a liability I'm forced to fund."

    Tell me James, were you once a child?

    And wouldn't it just be easier if we were all cylons?

  24. The counter to the view of James is to "value" everyone, then surely you are obliged to keep everyone alive.

    Why is this child more valuable than one in Zimbabwe or Belize? Why don't we pay welfare for those children? I want a moral argument not a pragmatic argument like the one economists use.

    Psycho - Gravity is hardly an abstraction. It objectively exists as a form of energy that can be quantified and measured. Society is an abstraction because it artificially collectivises people for the purpose of the person who coins the term. How does society set these obligations? When do you sign up to them and why are they only ones you approve of? Why are the enforced by the use of force?

  25. Anonymous10:16 pm

    The following is not to insult men who love and treat their partners well but is a commentary as to how I see the legal financial aspects of childbearing and who pays.

    Its long past time women were paid for the average 52 hours housework (doing nothing at home) + 24 hour child care they are expected to provide which covers 1-2 young children. Should employers pay. In my mind tax is the way to pay women like all other workers. And its time that women at home with children had legal entitlment to their husbands income. Imagine working often 60-80 hours a week for your family and having no "legal" right to share the income of the family.To have to beg your employer (husband for money) Slavery is still with us and its the reason women like the slaves are often beaten and mistreated. If they are mistreated and leave unlike the slaves they carry the debts of the slavekeeper abuser for years ahead. There is no financial arrangement like marriage in any other sector of society. It is a setup for female poverty and control. And as for getting half the house many families can no longer afford a house so the situation here is getting pretty bad.

    Here in NZ they lecture and shame us, cheat and beat then make us carry all work and debt to keep us from escaping ever. What a farsical financial racket marriage can often be.
    It is societies shame that women become poor slaves in marriage.
    The whole of nature's bounty was intended for the purpose of childbearing. Female animals do not have to ask for anything and human motherhood is in no way mirrored in nature. All the resources have been stolen. Capitalism is bad because it takes womens labour and shames them into having nothing. Our law demands 24 hour care but refuses to pay for that care thus impoverishing women who dare to leave the sanctity (slavery of marriage).