Thursday, March 20, 2008

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now

Poor Heather Mills. She hasn't got enough money.

No, it must be true - Jennifer Howze says so on The Times' AlphaMummy blog. We poor folk, it seems, just don't understand what it's like:

Former model-campaigner-ex-McCartney muse was awarded £35,000 a year for her daughter Beatrice, with Sir Paul agreeing to pay up to £30,000 for a nanny. And while I know many will scoff, in the scheme of things this is just not that much money.

Now, those of us who earn considerably less than one hundred grand a year might find it hard to sympathise with this contention, the suggestion that servicing the needs of a child will take, by the time you factor in Heather's fifty per cent, is quite so high. Howze attempts to try and make this about how shocking it is that we pay so little for our childcare:
Do we really still think that these are low-skilled jobs or as a society are we just looking to get as much as possible out of the people who provide services for as little as possible?

Hmmm... could capitalism be a system under which people will receive the lowest possible wage for the most possible work? There's a question that will never have troubled an economist before.

What's crushing about the piece is that it's written from such a lofty perspective - without any realisation that the reason why most people don't pay much for childcare is because they don't earn very much to begin with; that for the vast majority of households the very idea of having a paid servant - regardless of the level of reward they receive - is just impossible; and giving more money to Heather Mills isn't going to change a thing. You think child care professionals are underpaid? Campaign to increase their wages, which would make a real difference - don't suggest that an extra few thousand passing from one obscenely rich person to another is going to improve things for anyone else.

Howze ends with a suggestion for Heather:
she could always use that age-old nanny budgeting trick used in our neighbourhood: Give the nanny a generous weekly food shopping budget and let her keep the change.

Can you imagine anything more patronising? Having suggested that childcare workers are underpaid and undervalued, Howze praises a system whereby instead of being properly rewarded for their work, they get the chance to "keep the change"; like children being allowed to buy sweets when they run an errand.

1 comment:

flotsky said...

I'm afraid I'm taken with the idea here of Heather eating value baked beans for a month, whilst her nanny nips off to Fifteen every night to spend "the difference".

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