Value: something money can’t buy

10 10 2010

I think it’s a terrible shame that some authors would suggest that society’s way of assigning value to children is by a universal child benefit: “Child benefit [is] a recognition, if you like,  that children are valued..”  (I’m not even going to bother commenting on the “attack on women” notion, save only to say that I don’t think such posts do the left any favours).  While it’s certainly true that in a capitalist and materialist society such as ours to assign a monetary sum to something is to give it value in the eyes of the markets, I would argue that this position, when applied to children, or indeed to any societal value (justice, equality etc) misses the point:

It is not via cash payments that the hearts of minds of society will be persuaded that something is valued.

The fundamental point I wish to make (and will doubtless make again and again) is that, it is on us to instil in people the values that we would aspire to in our society.  Using money as a placeholder for value will, in my view, never traverse the divide between idealism and reality; it is only by investment in culture and education that we can truly enshrine value in society.

To speak more generally about child benefit- let me say first of all that I support child benefit- children should not be forced to go without due to economic misfortune on the part of their parents.  Equally, I appreciate the reasoning behind apportioning this to the mother.  I just think that there is a problem more with the attitude in our society that extends to child bearing as much as televisions- people want what they can’t afford.  I want children, and have done for some time.  I look forward to the day when I feel I’m earning enough to support a family.  That hasn’t happened yet though- so I don’t want kids yet.  I cannot for the life of me understand people who, not by accident, but deliberately would choose to start a family they can’t afford.  I think people should be free to have the families that they desire.  I just think our society as a whole needs to recognise that we can’t have everything we want right here, right now, and that includes children.  They deserve better.







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