Avatar of admin


State vs. Parent: The Crowding Out of Choice

March 23, 2013 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner When welfarism fails most spectacularly, it is usually because it attempts to treat a perceived social or economic problem without understanding — let alone undoing — its cause. Often, this treatment of symptom only serves to mask the cause, establishing it more firmly in society, typically distorting incentives and having unintended consequences that often do more harm than good.

The British government (a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) seems determined to prove this point in one of the most disturbing ways seen in recent times.

Many British families face the difficulty of extremely expensive childcare, which, for many, has become a necessity rather than a choice, as parents find themselves unable to bring up their children on only one income. This was not true for our grandparents’ generation.

Rather than make any attempt to address the economic causes of the loss of this fundamental option for British parents, and then to do something about them (which would almost certainly involve a reduction in the public spending that transfers wealth away from private individuals, either through corresponding taxation or dilution of the buying power of private individuals), the British State has recently announced that it will treat the symptom by providing parents with a benefit in the form of vouchers of up to GBP 1200 (almost $2000) a year for childcare — but only if both parents are working.

When did such a policy become even thinkable — let alone acceptable?

Let us be clear what this policy is and what it is not. It is absolutely not an incentive to have children or to facilitate parenting. (In the UK, these already exist in the form of tax breaks for dependents and universal credits for all parents, regardless of their employment status).

Rather, this “childcare voucher scheme” is the State’s economically incentivizing absentee parenting: It is to make the remarkable statement, through the allocation of public resources, that the State has an interest in having both parents away from their young child for most if its waking hours. And perhaps it does, if it calculates its interest only in the amount of tax collected, but such a calculation is to mistake the well-being of people with the weight of the Treasury’s coffers — a mistake that denies the very raison d’etre of the State …read more

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.