Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sponging off taxpayer

R's oldest sister is now living in a very small local council house, like tiny. She is so happy. She has a place she can call her own. She can live out the rest of her life in security. We are happy for her. If there is trouble with her present husband, she can ask him to leave as the house is in her name.

But excuse me, why didn't she get up at 4am to get to work on time like I have? Why didn't she be out working at 3am on New Year's eve like I did.Why didn't she make sacrifices to buy her own home? Well she did that, but it was lost upon her divorce and has since lived in private rental accommodation.

She has put in some very hard yards over the years. She has brought up a couple of children who seem to almost like her. She has been a carer for nieces and nephew at different times. She had her mother live with her in the last years of her mother's life. Who could begrudge her some security in her old age, remembering too that she still has to pay rent, when she has contributed so much to society and still does.

Mother visited the very expensive female gerontologist, who turned out to be very unhelpful with a parting remark, there is really nothing I can do for you. I think it relevant that the specialist was female, otherwise there was no need for me to mention that it was a she. You decide after reading.

With great incredulity and disbelief, if they aren't the same thing, at the reply, the specialist asked what sort of work she used to do. Mother said she had never done paid work. The specialist was more than surprised. She then asked what had Mother done during her life. Mother's only response was, raised a family. Mother felt that she was being very disapproved of by the specialist and was later a little upset. Actually Mother did work for a year or so after leaving school in a plant nursery.

So, my mother is lazy and been sponging off the taxpayer for years!

In the early 1960s credit squeeze, my father could see no future in building houses. No one could borrow money to have them built, so with money from Mother's father, he bought a dairy farm. Mother was taken from her nice new home with modern appliances to a run down country house, with only one tap with running fresh water at the sink (often with mosquito larvae in the water), no hot water service apart from a chip heater over the bath, a black wood burning stove.

For some years she pumped water from the well into buckets for washing and bathing for us all. The water for clothes washing was heated with an immersion heater into the washing machine tub. While her cooking was of a simple style, to feed a family of 7 or 8 day in day out is something to be recognised. Sometimes my grandparents were there too, even more cooking. Although they tried to help, they really just got in the way.

By the age of 35, while the house had become more modern, Mother was cooking, washing, cleaning, making beds and shopping for and clothing four children, her husband and our Uncle, with often another Uncle resident who later after an accident became disabled and she looked after him too.

Post divorce in her early forties she was resident housekeeper for a man on a farm with two teenage sons. I had left home by then, but she managed another family with my siblings living there too. She had free keep and all her expenses and my siblings paid for. Father paid his obligatory dues for the children, which was really the only cash Mother received.  Occasionally her parents would slip her some extra money. That all came to end when the bloke she was housekeeping for put the hard word on her and after her refusal he subsequently treated my siblings badly and refuse to pay for their expenses. Mother left, taking her three children to her parents two bedroom house. Tradie Brother at about 10 was traumatised and behaved very badly. He does not have the fond memories of his grandparents that I have.

There was nothing for my grandfather to do but buy Mother a house for her and my siblings to live in. While somewhat altered now, she is still there at the age of 81, nearly forty years later.

Yep, my mother may not have ever really been in paid employment and well may the gerontologist raise her eyebrows. My mother worked very hard for many years to bring up a family and care for an extended family. She was lucky in that her father had enough money to buy her a house.

I could go on. In summary, I reckon a male gerontologist might have been more understanding than a career female doctor who also perhaps brought up children while working.

It is a woman's right to work and raise a family, but never ever should a stay at home mum be dismissed because all she has done is raise a family. Goes for men of course too if they take on that role. Long after whatever job, high  flying or not, you have done is forgotten, your children will survive to represent you. Think about that.

This post is a bit raw and probably needs editing and certainly typos corrected, but publish and be damned.

22 comments:

  1. It doesn't need editing at all. When sister's husband left (1st time) we worked two days a week and looked after each other's child, when he left for good I looked after the BOH full time. No child care, no government hand out for a deserted wife, not even Medicare at that stage. She was lucky that Kingston Centre was then a teaching hospital and close to me so you could say we both worked. Anyone who thinks raising kids isn't a hard job obviously is relying on ChildCare.
    Tell me Andrew, would you like to be raising little Jo with the prospect of the 'teen age' to come or would you prefer the a.m. risings?

    And don't get me started on the Grandparents forced, gently or not, into looking after grandchildren. I know too many of them and how it's shortening their lives.
    They should be paid more than a gerontologist.

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    1. Jah Teh, this post was not published at 6.00am as per normal. At 5.30am I pulled it and then later decided to press on and went ahead.

      I know you've done the yards and still do so with care for your mother.

      Actually, scary as it would be, I would like the challenge of a teen daughter. I connected quite well with Hippie Niece when she was a teen. Lordy, I can recall a drunken conversation about cock. Perhaps that shows my ignorance of the real world.

      The grandparent care thing is interesting. Mother refuses to do so now, but used to but generally at he choosing. Great niece's paternal grandmother has refused to care for her at all.

      But these are not situations of economics where there is pressure because of the need of parents to work and get ahead. The grandparents want to help, but they are very put upon at times. Interesting subject.



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  2. Your mum's life sounds a lot like my mum's, never held a paid job, left my dad and was housekeeper to a man with 5 children, plus my two siblings, I stayed with dad, never drove a car, never owned a house etc, I don't consider any of that as "never worked" just because it wasn't paid employment and neither should anyone else in this day and age. Raising kids, keeping house, balancing a budget are all hard work. That gerontologist needs to think twice about what she says and how she says it.

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    1. River, one day you will have to write a post and tell us why you were with your Dad and not your siblings with your mother. PS, I also had you in mind when I wrote about R's sister. I recall being very pleased when you moved into where you are and have secure housing.

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  3. Hi Andrew

    I think that the gerontologist needs to be the subject of a complaint. She's meant to be a specialist. Sounds a bit like the mechanic who can't service your car or the dentist who doesn't know how to fill your tooth. As for the work-ethic disdain, don't you think a gerontologist would know that a woman of your mother's vintage in Australia would most likely have been a stay-at-home mum? Not sure if a male gerontologist would necessarily have been more sensitive. Perhaps they train 'em to guilt-trip the aged.

    A report out today indicates that women are paid less than men in EVERY job category. Take into account that women are often out of the workforce for long periods with caring responsibilities - these still fall overwhelmingly to us - it's not at all surprising that women enter old age with much less in the way of assets than men do. And yes, losing your home in a divorce is a common enough problem. Men will find it much easier to buy another property. What hope has a woman in late middle age of getting a mortgage?

    There have been libraries of books written about the skew in the value we place on the contribution of citizens based on their capacity to generate income. If that were our only measure, Rupert Murdoch and Gina Rinehart would be considered the most valuable of all Australians. Clearly that isn't the case but we still haven't found a way to value work that is done gratuitously, speculatively or altruistically. Where would we be in country Australia without volunteer emergency services workers?

    xxx

    Pants

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    1. Pants, yes I would have thought any gerontologist would be aware of the circumstances of their patients who grew up in a certain time. I expect a male may have chosen his words more carefully, lest he be accused of what perhaps the female failed at. Could it be true that females are harsher judges of females than males are? Especially the pull them up by the bootstraps type.

      I believe the courts do take into account different earning powers when settling a divorce, if it gets go court. I don't know of any answer to the matter of women earning less for the same job. It is clearly wrong. and fortunately does not happen in my workplace.

      At times people who do good works are rewarded with some kind of award for community service. Many more should be, at the expense of those who just do their job yet receive an award.

      Yes, the volunteers are brilliant, but if they were not there, we, the taxpayers would have to pay for what they do. It rather depends on the work. If it is essential, then I think we taxpayers should pay. My nephew works as a firefighter for the government. While I would not want to upset the balance between volunteer and professional, I think in the future things will be more paid labour.

      Our local council has terrific services for older people and R is a volunteer for one such service. Mother uses a similar service but run by a religious org, paid for by council. It is inferior. There could well be an argument that it should be state or federally funded.

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  4. Hello Andrew,

    A society can surely be measured for its effectiveness by how it looks after its most vulnerable citizens. For, there but for the Grace of God go we all since the line between 'success' and 'failure' is a fine one and it can so easily be stepped over due to circumstances beyond one's control.

    It seems very unprofessional to us that your mother should have been treated so unkindly. One never knows the hardships that people have had to endure in their lives, so judge not is our watchword.

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    1. JayLa, at times I get cross about people who really do sponge on society, but do I want them to to starve on the streets? Of course not. Society must look after all its people, in one way or 'tother.

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  5. I have no issue at all with having a decent welfare state. Indeed, I'm much more comfortable living here in the UK with it, than in the USA with it's sink or swim mentality. But our population have become so used to it... as if it's a divine right. Last night we watched a documentary with a feature on a plump 20 year old queen (claws out) who spent most of the day in bed. Didn't want to work, lived with his Mum. Called his Mum on his top of the range phone to see if his washing was done (she was downstairs). Yet he receives roughly £60 per week in job seekers benefit. His Mum received none of it - he spent it on food, phone accessories, clothes (XXL)... you get my drift. This benefit necessitated him to apply for jobs. I wouldn't hire him in a million years. It's the sense of entitlement which drives me crazy. Rant over... I'm sorry to hear about your Mum's treatment. The man is a pillock.

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  6. Craig, yes that is the very point I was making in a comment. What can we do? Leave the unmarried mother of five from five different fathers bring up her children as beggars on the street? There will be people who abuse the system, but it seems that is a cost of caring for those who don't.

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  7. Looove this post Andrew, exactly as it is.. Too many people make judgements without knowing facts.. presumptions and very wrong.

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  8. That’s how the world was. Women slogged their guts out within the family. No gadget or easy-care stuff then, just hard labour, scrubbing, washing in a tub or by hand and endless meals.

    My mum went cleaning offices to pay for my education, perhaps the specialist would have considered that proper employment for poor women?

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    1. Friko, it just occurred to me that my grandmother did it quite hard with having to wash in a copper etc, but her mother did not, with the family labour force numbering 13.

      I hope your mother's efforts for your education were not in vain. You write well, anyway.

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  9. Seems the gerontologist doesn't have the correct bedside manner, the elderly need help at times with encouraging words, as those words go a long way with anyone.
    Your mum sure had tough times compared to my parents who lived very well. Life turns in many twists, and your mother did a wonderful job in raising her children.

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    1. WA, the specialist seems more focused on Mother's brain and believe me, that is still very sharp.

      As a somewhat spoilt only child, as she admits herself, it must have been quite a shock for her.

      Of course she did an absolutely brilliant job raising her children. eg Look at me!

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  10. Raising a family in those post war years - pre 21st century technology and gadgets - was not a leisure past time but real and hard work. Women died young, burnt out from toil. Your mother has no reason to feel guilty for her 'privileged' lifestyle.

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    1. Victor, some farmer's wives did as my mother and helped out on the farms. How they did it, I do not know. Mother was never fast at anything.

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  11. Sounds like many mums I know, they did things the hard way because in those days there was no choice, it was hard work and they are to be admired.
    Merle...........

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    1. Merle, yes, it really was a rough life for many women of that vintage and worse still earlier than that.

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  12. I remember reading somewhere once that after a divorce, a woman is generally worse off financially; a man is generally better off. And the meaning of housework is generally different these days - if I have a 'washing' day, that just means putting a load (or 2 or 3) through the washing machine, then either hanging it out or putting it in the dryer, then ironing the odd few things that need it with an electric iron. One generation back, and 'washing day' meant a full day of work carting & heating water, washing, putting washing through the 'mangle', hanging out, heating up wood stove for iron etc etc etc. We have no idea :D

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    1. Red, I too have read that. Please don't mention to R how easy washing is. I try to convince him what hard work I do when he says I just push a few buttons. Yes, as you describe, it really was a hard slog.

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