The Problem of Labor — David Pascoe
My vantage point these days is an oddly (Oddly?) curious one. A sleep-deprived and writing-deprived one. Perhaps this accounts for the difficulty I have in comprehending how some … people think. Or don’t think. So there I was, minding my own business, which mostly involves me minding Wee Dave’s … business, and monumental foolishness flashed across my feed.
I’m pretty certain (don’t laugh; I might cry) time spent socially networking is proving the bane (one of: shorter aside (nested asides inside nested parentheses! cats and dogs, living together!) being I’m working hard to cut myself slack when it comes to my careers as a father and as a writer. I’ll be attending Superstars this week, paying VERY close attention, and there’ll be an AAR when I’m done and it’s done and the doneness is rare/medium rare or so. That said, this may be my big thing this year. I simply may not have it in me, and in my family, to do a lot else. Except LibertyCon. I have reliable sources that suggest her BbES Princessness will cut me out of the inheritance-by-adoption should I fail to deliver the Young Master to that particular shindig, and I just can’t be having with that. All of which is to say that I’ll be giving up all of the booking of faces, the twits, and as much of the online-y-ness as I can safely manage come the day after Soul Cake Tuesday or whenever that happens. I need the time, and I need the emotional energy to actually make fiction. The news, such as it is, is far, far too unpleasant for me to dwell upon when I have a not-quite-nine-month-old psychic vampire sucking my will to
power *cough* live. And as Mrs. Dave recently pointed out to me, I tend to have difficulty asking for help. If you see me online, mucking about with silliness that doesn’t further any of the priorities of great priority-ness, please drop me a line telling me to get back to work. Thank you.
So, back to monumental foolishness. This link takes you to Twitchy, purveyor of delightful silliness perpetrated by ostensibly responsible adults throughout these great internets. Should you deign, feel free to follow the links therein to the origin of the idiocy, one of those Great Minds which Think Alike (and Right, and Truth and probably Beauty) over at that Edifice of Rightness, the NYT. Yeah, them again.
Apparently, El Presidente Numero Uno has proposed a tax credit for working
mothers parents that should help to offset the costs of childcare. The GOP has predictably (I have as yet to ascertain whether it is also wisely) criticized this as unfair to stay-at-homes. The writer, in all his Received Wisdom, mocks this opposition as wrong headed, evil and all the usual epithets directed at those filthy others Not In the Club.
But the money quote is this one:
The tax code is already hugely distorted in favor of stay-at-home parenting: Labor outside the home is taxed; household work, such as stay-at-home parenting, is not.
So, apparently, I’ve fallen through some red-tinged rabbit-hole into a world where the IRS taxes my labor. Funny, I only remember reporting my income. Is there a block on my 1099 where my employer (slave-driver, I tell you. I never get a day off, and no sick days. On the upside, I can come to work in my pajamas, or even a kilt.) should have tallied said labor? What is the unit of measurement for this work? Is it man-hours? Is there a dollar value attached? I thought that whole calculation was considered extraneous, but what do I know: I’m just a stay-at-home parent, bilking the government and the American People (in that order, of course) out of the untaxed labor I’m putting in while not getting paid. Again, presumably by Daddy Government and the American People. (Seriously, when do I start getting a paycheck for raising an American? Strike that.)
If the logic makes your head spin, well, it should. Keep in mind that you (and I, and apparently all our stuff and all our time) belong to the government, and you’ll start to understand what’s going on here. Also, just why somebody might make that claim. This is really part and parcel of what Cedar wrote about last week.
You see, if you
ladies parents decide that you really want to be the ones to instruct your children on life, the universe, etc. and one parent will remain in the house to do so, you’re wrong. You see, you don’t get to have an opinion on that, unless you want to be evil, and you don’t want that, do you? If you stay home, Mom Parent, you’ll be robbing society of the value of your work outside of the home, in a career that actually means something. How can you do that to the generations of feminists who fought for (the mandatory exercise of) your right to hire a nanny, or pay a childcare service, so you can slog the daily nine-to-five like your husband does? Wait, you have a husband? You’re voluntarily buying into the patriarchal notion of marriage? You know that’s just a tool to prevent you from becoming empowered, right? Oh dear, oh dear: I see we have a lot of work yet to do brainwashing education you toward your eventual enlightenment to your rightful place. Look, sweetheart, don’t worry your pretty, little head about it: just know that we’re working for your betterment, and sacrifices will have to be made.
*sough* Sorry, don’t know what came over me. So this is straight out of the Leftymost playbook. Nothing we think we own is actually ours. Not even the unpaid and untaxed (gah) labor we spend raising children the government doesn’t pay us for. Now truly, I don’t want a check from Uncle Sam for being a parent. I understand that’s called Welfare, and if they give you money for a thing, then they will sure as heckfire start requiring you to meet their standards on how you perform same. With mandates in schools requiring specifics on lunches, on curriculum, on nearly everything, how comfortable to start requiring specifics on out of school times and activities?
Look, all of this aside, there are plenty of people out there, Americans (at least legally so) who think you do not own your own labor. Not simply the fruits of the labor, but the work itself. My mother-in-law raises goats, and enjoys the milk they produce. She doesn’t sell this milk, so she doesn’t earn a goat-based income and doesn’t pay taxes on it, but I guarantee she labors. Should the government get a slice of that? Well, do they really want fresh goat milk, or would they like some of the energy she burns caring for her goats? Nevermind. The point is, we’re dealing – again, still, forever – with a group of people who don’t understand logic, and wouldn’t apply it even if they could. And they’ll continue, despite all evidence to the contrary, to try to force us down the path they’re compelled to follow.
I’m not worried about this, at least personally. Yes, the idiots will continue to idiot as hard as they possibly can, but I’ve got plenty of weapons to hand. I’ve got disruptive technology, and a community of like-minded iconoclasts (well, not precisely, but what do you call us Odds, exactly?) at my back. Between us, we’re putting out the word: we’re not alone in this fight.