From top: left holding the baby; Ane Marie McNally
In the OECD 12% of a family’s income is spent on childcare.
In Ireland that figure is 35%.
Time for a little subsidiarity.
Anne Marie McNally writes:
You’ll have no doubt heard lots of talk this week from both sides of the tax versus spend debate. On the face of it tax cuts sound lovely don’t they? Oh look, an extra few quid back in my pocket, nice.
Then you hit a point in your life where you find you need to access a basic public service. It could be childcare, it could be the health service, and it could be education…whatever.
You suddenly find that the measly few extra quid you got in your pay packet that time the Government wanted to try and bribe your vote out of you suddenly doesn’t look like such a good deal.
Apart from the fact that you find you have to fork out your hard earned cash for the essential service you’re also likely to find that the service you get will be, at best, second rate. An extra 3 quid a week in your pocket is really not going to make much difference if you find yourself or a loved one in need of medical care.
What would make a massive difference is if those cumulative 3 quids had been invested into building a modern, fit for purpose, universally accessible health service that could ensure you get timely treatment and in a dignified manner. That is the concept of subsidiarity and it creates an overall more healthy and happy society. Who doesn’t want that?
But there’s no point in claiming that’s the society you aspire to while at the same time talking about slashing €4-€5 billion euro from the tax base by saying you’ll abolish USC.
In doing so you not only abolish USC you also abolish the possibility of using that €4-€5 billion euro to strategically invest in quality public services that ultimately reduce the cost of living in a very real way on a day to day basis.
Take childcare as an example. In the OECD, on average, 12% of a family’s income is spent on childcare. In Ireland that figure is 35%. Over double the OECD average. Not only are we paying more but we’re getting an inferior service. In many cases parents are paying ridiculously inflated prices for factory type childcare out of necessity rather than desire.
The choice as to whether to work or stay home should always remain just that – a choice. Most parents these days however don’t have that luxury.
Therefore surely it makes eminent sense to invest heavily in creating a State subsidised childcare system, where standards are ensured, early years education is built into the system, and a maximum cap on the amount parents will be asked to pay is assured.
By guaranteeing a full year’s paid parental leave you free up parents to make the choice as to whether they stay home during the vitally important first year of a child’s life rather than forcing them back to work against their will in many circumstances and jeopardising the ideal development scenario for the children.
Now you may be past the years of child rearing, you may never want to face the horror/joy of it and you may be thinking sure none of that affects me. Actually, it does and in a very real way.
Back to subsidiarity here folks. The children of today are the adults of tomorrow when you and I are in our more senior years.
They are the ones who’ll be tasked with building and safe-guarding society as we pass the mantle over to the generation below us. Doesn’t it make sense to put in place systems that ensure the best outcomes for society as a whole rather than a generation of young adults dealing with the consequences of stressed out parents, poor early years education and overall societal malaise?
The same points can be made about investment in so many other services. Stop thinking about things as individuals and look to the collective and I can guarantee you we all benefit in a far more substantial and real way in both the short and long term.
Anne-Marie McNally is a political and media strategist working with Catherine Murphy TD and is a candidate for the Social Democrats in the Dublin West constituency in the forthcoming General Election. Follow Anne-Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally