CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Our Family-Friendly (Not) Labor Government

Apr 18, 2008

Three recent Labor Government activities and announcements have shown that the interests of the family are really pretty low on the priority list. Sure, plenty of lip service is being paid to families, but the reality is quite different from the rhetoric.

The first is this weekend’s 2020 Summit to be held at the nation’s capital. Ten groups of experts will discuss important issues of the day. Consider one of the groupings at the Summit, the Strengthening Communities, Supporting Families and Social Inclusion group. Of the 80-plus people taking part in this group, there is not one clear representative from the pro-family movement.

Instead we have all the usual suspects: bureaucrats, feminists and special interest group lobbyists. Thus we have arch feminist and former Labor MP Joan Kirner, and Kathleen Swinbourne, head of the Sole Parent’s Union lobby group, and spokesperson for the Women’s Electoral Lobby. But not one of the many pro-family experts is included.

Indeed, for nearly four decades now a number of important pro-family organisations have operated in Australia, and there are many researchers, analysts, thinkers, and policy experts from these groups that could have made some valuable contributions to this working group. But they instead were all ignored, or censored out.

So much for getting to hear what all Australians really think. Let’s just rope in the usual progressive leftists who can rubber stamp a Labor government agenda. The conference motto, “Thinking Big” should more rightly be changed to “Thinking PC”.

Indeed, consider the background discussion paper to the Family group. In it we find the absolutely standard PC pap: “No family structure is ‘typical’.” It tries to prove this by claiming that “Only 40% of families are ‘traditional’ nuclear families”. The idea is families come in all shapes and sizes, and no one type is any better than another.

Of course four decades of social science research have decidedly put that myth to rest. Family structure very much matters, especially in terms of the well-being of children. And the 40 per cent figure is of course grossly misleading. The truth is, families with two-parents and children still happen to be the norm. It is only by too tightly defining the notion of “nuclear” family that they can get away with such sleight-of-hand remarks.

The truth is, two-parent households with a biological mother and father are the best structure for children. But that will not be the line taken at this Summit it seems. Instead we will hear of the need for “inclusion” and “tolerance”. Expect to see resolutions for same-sex marriage and adoption rights to emerge out of this group.

The second recent indication of how families are faring under the new Government concerns the announcement made yesterday by the Prime Minister that affordable childcare should be available to all children under five by 2020. This uncosted and relatively radical proposal may be good news for some working parents, but it is not good news for small children.

The truth is, the research is again readily available: long periods of separation of toddlers from their parents, especially their mothers, can have a range of negative effects on the children. And many working parents have said they would prefer to be at home with their young children, but cannot because of economic constraints.

Thus we have more and more families with both parents at work, and kids are being left to the care of strangers. Some parents prefer this arrangement, but many would rather have one parent – usually the mother – home during the first few years of the child’s life. But economic pressures are making this more and more difficult.

The obvious solution – which pro-family groups have been arguing for decades – would be to look at why it is that it increasingly takes two incomes to make ends meet. Why can’t this Summit look at various options – including tax-breaks, family unit taxation, child credits, and so on, to ease the pressure on working families?

There are many possible proposals worth looking at. But that would mean dealing with the needs of all families, including single-income families, and families which believe that the interests of children should be put first. But this Summit and these proposals are all about looking after working parents, especially working mums. Nothing wrong with that, but we should not neglect the many other types of parents out there, who do not think dumping kids into institutionalised care is the best thing for them.

But feminism has long claimed that the only good woman is the career woman, and that homemaking and motherhood are basically indications of second class status. So the feminist vision reigns supreme here, and is deeply reflected in these Labor Government initiatives.

Third, and related to this, is yesterday’s announcement by Maxine McKew that she wants schools to remain open during holidays for what she is calling “vacation care”. This is simply more of the same. She wants – yet again – working parents to be able to dump their kids in care so they can spend more time in the workplace. Again, to parents who choose to work this way, and do not mind farming out their kids to strangers, this might be more good news. But to the many parents who think at least one parent should be around to look after the kids – especially at important times like the holidays – this is just another slap in the face.

The whole agenda here – as seen in these three examples – is the feminist agenda. It is not about real choice for all families. It is about the feminist vision to get all women into the paid workplace, and to minimise or downplay homemaking and motherhood.

And it is not just some staid family groups that are concerned about all this. Writing in today’s Australian, social researchers Peter Saunders and Jessica Brown had an incisive article entitled “Rudd’s baby farms not great for kids”. In it they argue that these are really Politically Correct centres, and will have some very real social downsides:

“The new PC centres will destroy social capital (something the Rudd Government claims it wants to strengthen). At the moment, most of these services are already available to parents, but they are scattered rather than concentrated in one place, and they are uncoordinated rather than being organised according to a single centralised formula. People get help from neighbours, family members, community clinics, churches, local play schools, and when they use these local resources it strengthens the social ties that create strong communities. Concentrating services in government centres may be more efficient, but it will erode local relationship networks.”

They also make some of the same points I have just been making. For example, they too warn of the negative outcomes associated with long-term child care of young children:

“The core business of these centres will be long hours child care, but despite what McKew and the Community Child Care Association claim, it isn’t true that this is necessarily good for children. McKew suggests parents’ stress levels can be reduced by long hours care, but she ignores evidence that cortisol (stress hormone) levels among young children spending long periods in institutional care are often disturbingly high, and this is surely what should concern us more. It is true that older children from very disadvantaged backgrounds can benefit from good quality formal care, but this is because the care they get at home is so appalling. Most very young children are better off raised by their parents, and the Government should look seriously at the evidence on this before spending billions of dollars herding them into government institutions.”

I have written elsewhere about the wealth of documentation available concerning lengthy periods in day care for toddlers. Yet all three of the above examples are about one thing: more day care for more young children for longer periods. This is not family-friendly policy. This is really anti-child policy. Yet the Labor government has so been captured by the feminists and the bureaucrats, that it cannot seem to see – or does not want to see – that when we mess with our children, we are messing with the next generation, and the future of our society.

If this Summit is meant to “think big” then that should mean thinking through the long-term social consequences of policies that simply dump kids in the care of strangers, and further separate them from the ones they most need: their own mothers and fathers.

This is really a “think small” Summit and a “think PC” Government. It is talking heaps about families, but its ideas and policies are all about the destruction of families, and ignoring the needs of our children.

www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23557032-7583,00.html

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26 Responses to Our Family-Friendly (Not) Labor Government

  • Further to the obvious harm caused to children, Rudd’s government run mega childcare centre proposal is just another example of socalist big spending and big taxing government.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Bill wrote:”So much for getting to hear what all Australians really think. Let’s just rope in the usual progressive leftists who can rubber stamp a Labor government agenda.”

    I agree. It’s designed so that Rudd can say that the public wants the agenda Labor wants. I hope the Coalition wins the next election and throws Rudd’s findings out the window.

    Rudd can go on and on about 2020, but will Labor be in power then? Should he planning to do things which he cannot possibly promise to do as he may not even be in politics by then?

    There are a lot of issues with this summit and if you’ve got nothing better to do this weekend than watch the summit, you can watch it all on ABC2 (ABC’s 2nd Standard Definition Digital Channel). 15 and a half hours is a long time.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  • I suspect the ‘baby farming’ / childcare boom is the natural result of our societies idolisation of economic progress and individual hedonism.

    This mindset seems to define prosperity by every person to have paid employment, and they in turn must pay someone else (child care) to do the important but unpaid work they were doing before ’employment’ (parenting).

    Such an attitude to economic ‘progress’ crosses political party lines and is part of the political correctness of the conservatives as well as the ‘new’ left.

    My point is that this is an issue which is not only “Labor is bad”, but a societal trend that we must resist.

    Dale Flannery

  • If Maxine wants to introduce vacation care at schools she will need to find the staff to run it, as it won’t be teachers. And if they wish to pay pathetic childcare wages to these people, they have no chance whatsoever.
    Teresa Binder

  • How can it be changed? I can’t see how. We’ve had a pro-abortion, pro-gambling, pro-prostitution government in Queensland for over a decade. It’s had problems with electricity, water, health, police and is having strikes now with teachers and electrical workers but it doesn’t look like changing, ever. We had the most economically sound, pro-family, pro-values government in federally and it gets kicked out. Sometimes I think the only way it will change is after more decades when the pain gets worse.
    Tas Walker

  • Beware Australia when your government changes the name of the state Departments of Education to the Departments of Children Schools and Families as has happened in the UK. You might well ask, what’s in a name? It will mean that the state is not longer in old fashioned education but has taken control from the parents and will only use them when they need to find scapegoats. What will also happen is that if you want a job in the Department of Children Schools and Families you will have to sign up to secular, atheist, Marxist beliefs. You will not be able to use the words like “mother” or “father“, “right” or” wrong“- in fact any word that denotes a category and creation order that has universally been recognised, almost since history began.
    My hunch is that you will see a great number of schools and charitable concerns shut down, individuals loosing their jobs, simply because they refuse to sign up to Marxist legislation.
    David Skinner, UK

  • Wow! I can’t believe you can be so negative and demeaning to people who don’t have the blessing of a stable family life. Don’t bother trying to help a single mother. Just point out that her life will never be as good as yours.

    The previous conservative govt that you obviously support without qualification, was the one who gave us the family where both parents work. They continued to drive up interest rates until parents were forced out of their home. But I guess we should not be surprised as John Howard (when he was treasurer) presided over the highest interest rates in our countries history.

    I guess when the Rudd government forces employers to offer maternity leave so mums can stay at home, you will twist that around as well.

    We need to show grace to those who are not blessed with a stable relationship. Why attack them why Jesus has given us a much more appropriate choice? Rudd is far from a saint, but I believe his heart is in the right place. He has a real compassion for social justice and this resonates with may Christians.

    You need to understand that many Christians changed their vote at the last election and are very happy with our new Govt. The only way this govt is going to change is by becoming out of touch and arrogant. The same fate that ended the previous governments record run.

    Isaac Smith

  • Thanks Isaac

    But your logic is fairly difficult to follow here. Just how is one being negative and demeaning in pointing out what is simply a matter of fact: that children in long term childcare from an early age experience many negative consequences?

    And I happen to have worked for an organisation that defended the ideal of the two-parent family, but also carried out extensive ministry to single-parent households. Why do you see the two as being mutually exclusive?

    And just where in this post or this blog have I given unqualified support for the former government? Any government that puts economic concerns as the ultimate good, at the expense of families, is of concern to me.

    As to paid maternity leave, I have written about this elsewhere. In short, it is usually just a bribe. Mums are offered so many weeks off, but only under the condition that they return to the paid work force. Then the kids are back in the hands of strangers. While it is good that newborn babies can be with mum for ten or twenty weeks, they do not suddenly change at 11 or 21 weeks. Many child experts believe that children should be home with a parent – usually mum – for the first year at least, if not the first three. But these maternity schemes are all about getting mums back into the workforce as soon as possible. It is the same old feminist agenda.

    And what does arguing for the wellbeing of children have to do with somehow not showing grace and attacking other types of relationships? I fail to see the logic here as well.

    I am glad you think that Rudd’s heart is in the right place, whatever that means. But intentions are not enough. We must judge a tree by its fruit. I am concerned about his actual actions and policies – they will make or break people, not where his heart might be.

    The government can talk all it wants of compassion and social justice, but if this simply translates into more political correctness, statism, feminism and anti-family policies, then I for one am not impressed.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Maybe the general populations willingness to be duped by statistical sleight of hand is an indictment of our school system, where unless you did a subject like economics, you were never asked to critically analyse dubious claims like “only 40% of families are traditional nuclear families” etc. Here and overseas “statistics” like these hide the reality that most current parents and spouses, legal or defacto, grew up in families founded on the marriage of their mum and dad. Large numbers of older people in “non-traditional family structures” are actually empty nesters and perhaps widowed or divorced. They too, by and large were reared in families founded on marriage between their mum and dad. Many young in And why is it that we should label a long term, fairly strongly committed couple with children as “nontraditional”. In fact, such couples are often in reality in a defacto marriage. Sure, entering into marriage formally and consciously is a hugely protective step and provides a bulwark against times of strife. We must remember that marriage is a natural institution, fundamental to the most and the least sophisticated societies throughout time. Formal marriage registers and requirements for witnesses were only implemented to protect the young and naive form cads and bounders. (Read Don Quixote for a humorous look at what can go wrong with young love and secret marriages before these reforms).
    As for the many living in post divorce family arrangements, perhaps we should start thinking of them as 2 household families because even after the divorce the family connections of mother-child, father-child, father of my child, mother of my child, my spouse, who I no longer live with, but with whom I made love and made our children. If we fall into the trap of wishing we had never married our spouse (ex or current) then we slip into the lunacy of wishing our children out of existence. This is real flesh and blood stuff and the sooner we start factoring this into our understanding of modern family life the better. There are non-traditional aspects of modern family life. The serial polygamy under unilateral divorce laws is non-traditional in western and most other traditions. In the past step-parent and blended families were a fact of life because of lower life expectancy and perhaps some good studies of how these family structures were handled or supported in the past compared to now would be fruitful. Today too, perhaps primarily because of economic circumstances, perhaps because of social acceptance, we have seen a large increase in unstable cohabitations in which children contend with sharing an unstable home with a series of mum’s partners. In such circumstances, social scientists have generally found an array of dysfunction’s impacting on child wellbeing. This phenomenom has been witnessed at other times of major social and economic upheaval with most well documented being the “lumpen-proletariat” of the industrial revolution. Obviously, there are a range of strategies focused on better psychological and physical health care, education and economic empowerment to alleviate this dysfunction but research also keeps turning marriage up as a protective, enabling and empowering factor in the lives of the socio-economically disadvantaged. Interesting too, is Australia’s experience with dirt poor migrants and refugees who managed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps within a generation. In most of these stories there is a strong cultural tradition of traditional, monogamous marriage.
    Angela Conway

  • Good article Bill, I get the impression this type of summit is just another way out for PM Kevin Rudd and his government who are not sure how to govern. Don’t we have elected members to run the country so that they are accountable? My gut feeling is it is very easy to bring in new laws through this summit by people who weren’t elected to do so.Then Kevin Rudd and government can do a Pontius Pilate, wash there hands of a dirty mess and say I didn’t make any bad decisions. I always thought good strong leaders were those who made the hard decisions and never passed the buck. I wonder if the buck will ever stop at Kevin Rudd’s office?
    Michael Bourke

  • On another note, the Rudd Government’s direction on family and work policy is not looking at all promising. McKew’s suggestion about school holidays adds to the impression.
    The role of parents in forming and nurturing their children, young and old, of building solid and lasting relationships for a lifetime of family connection is increasingly downplayed. In fact one continues to get the impression that parental input is unworthy of government respect. One of the major problems with the growth of 2 income households is the loss of the wonderful down time and family time of school holidays. This was a good time for family relationship building and also for kids to switch off and take time out to explore themselves and their interests. Harrying them into school programs is so mean to kids. I suppose that kids lingering in a half life at home alone is also not good but economic and social policy should look at how families can be facilitated to spend more not less time together.
    With child care or vacation care, the beneficiaries, will be neither families or children. It is interesting to note that the advocates of this policy are now actively avoiding any discussion of research findings on the dose related harms of even high quality child care for under 3s. Neither is there any mention or the growing body of research on the value of physically present, attentive, responsive parents for adolescents’ well being and future life prospects.
    House price rises and credit growth promotion have worked to soak up any income gains of the 2 income household so far. It may be that the financial and development sector may see opportunities to squeeze more from house prices with policies to increase workforce participation of young and older mothers by numbers and hours.
    Certainly, both the government and the corporate lobby will be keen to implement policies to keep downward pressure on wage growth in conditions of high employment. The last thing any labor Government wants is a wages blowout and higher inflation. One very obvious solution is to push, persuade and cajole mothers’ workforce participation, through propaganda and fiscal policy.
    There are a range of feminist approaches to mothering, children and work. The most vocal and influential are those with the ear of government (“who is using who?” is an obvious question). There are other much more nuanced and fruitful approaches to women’s varying desire to enjoy motherhood, care for and love their children and spouse, or their homes and perhaps also participate in creative work or service beyond the family. We know from research that the father’s role in the formation and nurture of their children, beyond breadwinning, is very important. Traditionally, it was fathers who took the lead role in educating their children formally and informally in the home and the workplace. Fathers as skilled artisans, dedicated farmers, artists, even hardworking labourers or factory hands etc could take tremendous satisfaction from their work and its value in the community in addition to the value placed on their fathering. For many mothers the balance might look a little different but many have skills and interests that they would like to use without harming the interests if their families. Many women do want to experience some economic agency, in partnership with husbands or alone, without harming their family life. Anne Manne provides the best and most insightful exploration of these issues in Australia and possibly internationally. Her latest ‘Love and Money the Family and the Free Market’ (in Quarterly Essay 29 2008) is a vital contribution to the debate. Whether she or other thoughtful contributors are able to have any impact will depend on whether the Rudd Government is fair dinkum about its family rhetoric..
    Angela Conway

  • Rudd’s PC family policy supported by his hand picked advisors tells us that child abuse in Oz is greater than ever before. His idea that all children 5 and under ought to be given child care (abuse) proves the point. How stupid it is to suggest that strangers are better placed than mothers to nurture children. Why, many are still` being breast fed up till age 5, a known and most beneficial bonding measure, apart from being healthy. But apart from this Rudd and Labor are cynics in relation to the family. Others governments may be only less so. What this country needs are policies than allow ALL women who do not want to work outside the home, to stay at home and raise their own children. Child care centres have come to be accepted as the preferred place for child nurture – a ridiculous idea. It is time for governments to address the economics which will allow families to exist on one income. Government funding directed to that rather than bureaucratic child care centres, would be better economically, socially, healthily and morally. It is time this option was asserted until enough had the sense to cry out for it.
    Dallas Clarnette

  • Commentators and those in positions of responsibility and influence who are still capable of discerning that something is going dreadfully wrong with the next generation are beginning to ask questions: Is the solution for our children better education, citizenship lessons, smaller class sizes, more nursery care, compulsory and state directed parenting lessons, better housing, increased welfare, recreational facilities, redistribution of wealth, better apprenticeship schemes and even more state intervention? But what those in positions of power and influence refuse to acknowledge is that children need something that none of the above can supply. None of these can be legislated for or supplied by any state funded agency; they can only be supplied in the home. A strong country is not one regulated by legislation that automatically assumes no one can be trusted, or that in order to control its population it needs an oppressive police force. It is one where children are reared in a family made up of mother and father that children learn simple things like courtesy, community, trust, loyalty, self-control and the ability to put the needs of others in front of one’s own – no where else. A heterosexual, monogamous and enduring marriage has always been the prerequisite for raising healthy, sane, balanced, caring, respectful and responsible citizens. Is no one in government willing to see the correlation between the disappearance of such marriages and the present nihilistic behaviour of our children?
    David Skinner, UK

  • In Indonesia under the Old Order of Suharto there was an attitude which I would like Australia to accept. Basically, that it is a parent’s duty to raise up good citizens. Good citizens care for the country, for each other, and work together for the country. Raising up children like this is the primary job of the family unit – especially the mother. Although it may sound like ‘big brother’, and government interference, it gave mothers a state–appointed and sanctioned role. By looking after their children, they were building up the nation!
    Catharine Carpenter

  • What can we do? (Other than grumble!)

    Dale Flannery

  • What can we do, Dale ? None of our problems are unique to our age. We need to start turning our churches into houses of prayer, rather than places to sing endless ditties and get a quick fix for the rest of the week. We need to teach our children, especially in our Sunday Schools, the difference between what they see as being presented as “families coming in all shapes and sizes” and what the Bible says (it just so happens that I am teaching the story of Ruth, in a few hours time. This story has all kinds of layers of meaning but it also gives a model for courtship and marriage which is light years away from our present age). We need to get involved politically rather just talk amongst ourselves. We need to find people in the church, like retired people, who have a long memory, time on their hands and a heart for the honour, justice and righteousness of God, to devote time and energy and set them aside to act as watchmen on the wall. Christian parents need to find out what schools are teaching their children. We need to expose evil for what it is, starting in the church. Be prepared for persecution.
    David Skinner, UK

  • Dear Bill, Thank you for the informative articles which I can always trust and believe in and the above in particular which I would like to comment on. Quite frankly I feel very angry and horrified that the some of the so called ‘brightest and best’ Australians can wish such dreadful things on defenceless children. I had no faith in Kevin Rudd’s talkfest from the beginning and have even less now if that were possible. The Rudd government must think we are stupid because it is obvious the real reason the ‘summit’ was called was to put the Republican issue back on the agenda under the cover of wanting to know what Australians think about other issues but that is beside the point I want to make here. My point is that any young mother in Australia especially those who are being economically driven into the work place knows in her heart and soul that the best care their baby can have is the one she can give them if only she had a real choice. This is for the simple reason that no one can love her child like she does. It is as simple as that! After all didn’t she carry her child for nine months in her womb and give birth to him/her? The child care worker as much as she loves working with children and is kind to them didn’t have that privilege. It means everything! If it doesn’t why do we hear about so many women who are still grieving years after their abortions or for the babies they had to relinquish? There simply is no substitute for a mother’s love! It is the most precious thing in the world! In all honesty what would female journalists and polititians hardened by having had to claw their way to the top of their professions in what is widely acknowledged to be a tough man’s world know, remember or care about the special relationship which has to be given plenty of precious time to blossom and develop between a mother and her child ? These women think they have brains but they have hearts of stone and little common sense. How can it possibly be good for a tender little child to be herded, along with others, into long day care. Maxine McKew should be ashamed of herself for suggesting such a thing! Yours Sincerely,

    Patricia Halligan

  • Absolutely right…other than “grumbling” what can we do…Well as David suggested…get on our knees and pray…And then we need to be more pro-active..let our voices be heard. Whatever response we get does not matter…at least we have done our part. One other thing, I do not see all the above comments, including Bill’s article, as “grumbling”. They are merely expressing concerns for the next generation and the state of our society which is sadly but truly decaying…. we need to be aware of the issues surrounding us, yet unfortunately, not all of us are…(speaking for myself too), therefore once again I want to thank Bill for raising our awareness. Thank you Bill.
    Marion Teh

  • Well Bill, with the 2020 back patting and PC greetings over, can we expect anything else if the balance is lop sided, and when did the family no longer be the Core of Society? I personally don’t believe that it has ever shifted, but only in the minds of those who don’t care or that they are just to self-obsessed to want to care. Its a shame to see a man like Kevin Rudd who appears to have such a repore with the Australian community be part of such a Governing party whom don’t seem to share his likeminded principles: i.e. Good living family man etc etc. I might be tempted to suggest that if Australia were ready (?) for a Woman PM then would anyone be surprised if there was a takeover?
    There is one thing though that I am concerned with: How is it that a women in Fed Govt who belongs to the “Emily’s List”, be allowed to Govern, taking into account that the ideals of Emily’s list are very firmly entrenched in their own agenda. It SEEMS (emphasis added) that they are using a Fed Govt position to further their ideals at the expense of the communities they are supposed to be serving, e.g. Pro Abortion to name just one issue, is this at the expense of the desires of those living in their electorate? I would suggest so, keeping in mind that not every Women Fed member is on the “E” list, taking into account according to their website that there are 152 Labor women in parliament of which 113 are Emily’s List members. Please don’t get me wrong, I think Women have created the best balance at meeting the personal needs of our Australian community, that’s because they have that “inbuilt” sensor that sees things that most men only dream about, that’s the balance of why a women is a women, and why a man is a man. With this in mind Bill, It is a pity that there wasn’t a balance in representation from the community, but a lot of personal views from personalities that are not really in a good position to evaluate, i.e. those who work at the bottom of the cliff face where a great deal of the less fortunate in our communities end up.
    Bruce Bennett

  • I agree with many of the comments made in the above article. I began my ‘motherhood career’ at 37 after many years in the corporate world and I can honestly say that after 4 years full time at home I have achieved a core sense of contentment that I have never known before.

    This has meant we have had one income to live on and we have been willing to do this because:
    a) It has retained a balance in our lives and relationship which we feel is essential to our marriage and family life
    b) It is our conviction that our children are benefiting immensely from having a stay-at-home parent, including emotinal resilience, intelligence, curiosity about the world and a desire to be an active and productive participant in the world
    c) The intimacy that can be achieved when young children have a primary care giver at home will lead to them being able to form lasting and cohesive relationships as adults
    d) From a content and happy childhood, surely a content and happy adult will grow?

    While I agree that where the home environment is less than helathy institutionalised child care may in fact be better I do not agree with the erosion of motherhood as a vital, vibrant and worthwhile career choice for women.

    I have received no income, superannuation or social benefits since September 2003. I doubt that I exist in any of the statistics regarding paid employemnt/unemployemnt and I don’t believe I rank in any ‘economic viablity’ study.

    I do however rank very hghly in the eyes and hearts of my husband and three children and I beleive that family needs to be seen above ‘economics’ as the value of a loving and functional family lies in it’s on-going creation of human beings who carry forth in their thoughts and ultimately their actions: self-respect, respect for others, belonging, community, loyalty and trust. Surely that is what makes a sustainable society?

    “How we treat the child, the child will treat the world.”

    Elizabeth Marcus

  • How Kiwis will sacrificially save the world:

    Let’s use cooling off period to check our facts
    Terry Dunleavy
    New Zealand Herald
    6 May 2008

    The rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 has been about 1.5 parts per million (ppm) per year over the past 15 years. New Zealand produces about 0.2 per cent of the world’s man-made production of CO2. Even if NZ totally eliminated CO2 emissions, the difference would be to reduce the annual rate of increase in the atmosphere by 0.2 per cent of 1.5ppm, equalling 0.003ppm which equals 3 parts per billion. This of course is a far lower amount than can even be detected.

    Are we seriously going to shatter our economy, restrict ourselves to a fragile electricity system, cost every family in the land $1000 to $1500 per year in electricity expenses alone, seriously damage our agriculture industry, etc. by trying to reduce New Zealand’s minuscule CO2 contribution?

    But it’s worse than that. The Government’s stated goal is to reduce our CO2 emissions by 20 per cent . So if we were to succeed in this, and thereby reduce New Zealand’s 3 parts per billion contribution to 20 per cent of this figure, the reduction in global CO2 arising from our action would amount to 0.6 parts per billion per year.

    And all the while the actual world increase is 1.5 parts CO2 per million annually, which is 2500 times greater than the reduction in CO2 emission which would cripple New Zealand.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Great article, Bill.
    Numbers have asked: “What can we do?” Some have given some answers. My answer is be salt and light. Here a little there a little. eg My wife drives a school bus. The children were talking about how the moon came to be. Their teacher told them that something crashed into the earth and the moon broke off. My wife said that that could not be possible. The earth is round without a hole in it. The children asked how it came into being. She replied that the Bible has the answer: That God created the moon and all the heavenly bodies. End of discussion.

    Another initiative in which I am involved is 08.08.08, a prayer and teaching gathering over the days 07.08.08 – 11.08.08 which will link teaching, prayer and celebration over most of the isssues raised by 2020 Summit. This gathering has its origins in part in Summit Ministries conferences held in Australia over the last four years.

    Greg Brien

  • Further on Tas Walker’s comment. We need to pray and work that the three old political parties are removed from the grip of those who deny the original tenets of the parties.
    Greg Brien

  • This article and in fact, all the articles I’ve read so far on the childcare section of your website are very encouraging. I chose to be a stay at home mum, but if I’d known then what I know now, I would have been more confident about my role when asked the usual question……so what do you do? My perceptions have changed since then though, particularly this year after spending hours and hours reading and learning from your articles. I think they’re actually changing my life.

    Annette Nestor, Perth

  • Thanks Annette

    Good to know this site is having a bit of an impact.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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