Saturday, January 18, 2014

Child allowance benefits and parental responsibility

This is something I've been wanting to write about for a while, but somehow never got around to. I mean the reduced child allowance the Israeli government has implemented. Some economists have hailed this reform as a sign of a new era, some frazzled parents bemoaned it and said it will lead their families into a financial crisis, and others have said that no one is really in the loss, because most of the money saved by reducing child allowance will be channeled into government-funded daycare and preschool, after-school programs, dental care for children, etc. 

I am no economist and so perhaps what I'm going to say is too simplistic, but as far as I'm concerned, I would prefer a reduced income tax to an increased child allowance. Let us keep more of our own money, and we will be able to take far better care of ourselves! 

Another point is that this new policy makes a statement which, at least to me, is quite plain: We used to give you money to help you raise your children, but now we no longer trust you to make good use of that money. We will therefore take it away and instead give you what WE think your child needs. 

The government wants us all to be working as much as possible, so that we pay more income tax, and so we buy more, thus "boosting the economy". 

The government wants our children to be in daycare at as young an age as possible, and it wants our school-aged children to spend as many hours as possible in school. It is interested in "working women", not mothers who keep their young children at home with them. 

* Don't forget that the elite of Israel's founders were kibbutznik communists, and some of them still speak of kibbutz communal child rearing with nostalgia. Don't forget that Israel is, as far as I know, the only country in the world which enforces compulsory military service for women. A victory of equality or a national disgrace?

The government isn't interested in frugal housewives who save their families money by being economically savvy. It doesn't want us to save, it wants us to earn and spend. 

This, together with the lowering of compulsory education age in Israel to 3 years, makes a worrying trend of government interference with our children's upbringing and education. Thankfully, we can follow the famous slogan and "Just Say No" to manipulations from up above which are supposed to dictate to us how we must live our lives.

My personal bit of financial advice is, try to avoid relying on any government benefits if you possibly can - you never know it, a revolutionary minister of finances might pop up any time and take these benefits away from you, to replace with something you need like a fish needs a bicycle (free daycare for babies who stay at home, free dental care for children who don't need any, etc). In our case, child benefits go into an account which is solely used for savings. We don't even know exactly how much we get each month, and we never see it in our "everyday use" account so we don't come to rely on it. 


Lady Anne said...

compulsory education at three years?! Good heavens! Some children aren't even dry by that time.

Now here's a question; I used cloth diapers on my girls and they were trained by 18 months. A lot of Americans use disposable diapers and it takes for-bloody-ever to potty train a child wearing these things. I've heard they are hard to get in Europe. Are they available in Israel? (Don't get them; they're a trap.)

Anyway, I think your idea of saving whatever money you get for your children is much wiser than spending it, if you can afford to do so. As you said, you never know when it's going to stop, so it's best not to become dependent on it.

I'm not in favor of compulsory military service for any one, but Americans are also sending women volunteers into the line of fire. Of course, we are not in the constant danger Israel is, and that makes a big difference, but I'm not in favor of it. Most people go into the military right after high school, either as enlisted personnel or officer trainees. We are sending *children* off to war! Some one once wrote a humorous article about only sending men over 65. They've lived their lives and raised their kids, they have nothing to lose, and they are smart enough to know you can't outrun a bullet. Might have something there...

Joluise said...

I read you piece with interest unfortunately the economy of any country hinges on the residents of that country spending money. When you buy food from the supermarket, not only are you employing those that work there, but the farmers who produce the food, those that transport the food, the manufacturers etc.. People going out to eat keeps restaurants open, the more shoes we buy and more clothes we buy keep those businesses in business and keeps people employed. If everyone were as frugal as you, the economy would almost grind to a halt and unemployment would increase. As to employment, the higher the employment in a country the stronger the economy becomes to pay for things like roads, hospitals, schools, care for the elderly etc... One hopes that the government spends the money they collect wisely, many don't.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Lady Anne, I did use disposable diapers, but though Shira was potty-trained rather late (because there was a new baby and, frankly, I neglected this process a bit), Tehilla was out of diapers, at least during the day, by 18 months - and in the night too, well before she turned 3. I believe you CAN potty-train early even using disposables, but because they are so convenient many moms just don't bother. On the other hand, using cloth is a chore, so moms have more motivation to train their kid earlier.

About army: there are/were many countries who need a collective draft, and somehow, all of them manage with drafting MEN. Women go on a VOLUNTEER basis. In Israel, meanwhile, all 16-year-old boys and girls receive notice to present themselves at the recruiting base, where they are registered and placed, and by the time they are out of highschool they go straight into the army, unless they are Yeshiva students, or religiously observant girls, or their service is delayed because of professional specialization (in which case they go into the army later and serve longer).

Israel does not need to recruit women by default. The proof of it is that, after the girls have been drafted into the army and taught to crawl in the mud and use a gun, many many MANY of them spend their time of service (2 years!!) doing some silly desk job which only utilizes 1/3 of their capacity.

No, Israel does not call women into the army because our situation is worse than that of any other country in the world. Women are made to go into the army because this country was founded by communists on principles of false equality, and there's a myth of the "people's army" which no one is ready to bust.