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Income Splitting Is Dragging Us Back to the Past

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The Canadian government has put forth a plan to allow income splitting: "Income-splitting works by allowing families to allocate more of their earned income to a lower tax bracket by sharing the earned income between the spouses when filing taxes."

The policy reduces the tax burden on one-income families making it easier for one parent to stay home. The government has already made it possible for seniors to income split. It seems to me that we should make it easier on our young people, too.

At the present time "the tax system does not recognize the fact that many, even most families, pool their income to pay their household bills. Nor does it recognize that families share together the special expenses of raising their children and planning for the future."

Some experts are saying that the plan as now designed will not help lower income families. Iglika Ivanova of the Canadian Centre for Alternative Policy (CCPA) says the tax plan "is a rather irresponsible way of spending $2.5 billion" because "among families with a stay-at-home parent or a parent working part-time only, the higher the salary of the working parent, the higher the benefit."

If that is the reason CCPA is against the policy I agree with their assessment. If this tax law is to be fair, it must make provisions for lower-income families to keep more of their earnings so that they, too, have the opportunity to choose to have one parent stay home, too.

But the CCPA does not oppose this plan because it is unfair to low-income workers or single parents. Rather, they oppose it because it incentivizes staying home, which they say takes us back in time to the 1950s when women stayed home and men went to work. Apparently that was a terrible time in history. Hmmm. I'm the product of a 1950s family and my children, raised in the 70s and 80s, are the recipients of a mom staying home, too.

I might be too close to this to offer an unbiased opinion, as it is my family, but I'm quite comfortable stating that I turned out alright and my children seem okay. My daughters decided to be just like me. Have a career and put it on hold to have children while young enough and stay home to raise them. They plan to return to work when their children are older. And, yes, they will have to get back on that corporate ladder, but perhaps they won't feel so bad about it because they will have raised their children in the meantime: an important, full-time job to them.

I don't remember the exact date that the gospel of having it all came into being. Nor do I remember when it became engraved in stone that one can have it all, all at the same time. I hope my daughters learned that it's okay to have it all, but perhaps not all at the same time.

Gail Sheehy wrote Passages a long time ago. Might be worth a read, today.

John Stuart Mill famously called for "experiments in living" so that we might learn from one another:

"As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when anyone thinks fit to try them." - On Liberty 1859

We have experimented in family reconstruction since the early 1970s. The attacks on the biological family, mother, father, children, began. The paradigm shifted from the importance of an intact family to the importance of the happiness and self-fulfillment of the parents, the adults. We were told that children are resilient and that it is better for them to live with a happy parent than in a household that was stressful. And if a happy parent meant children being raised by others, so be it.

When you read the polemic from CCPA, it appears the real reason for opposing the bill is based on an ideology that declares that women will not be fulfilled unless they are at work: work as defined by outside the home.

Peggy Drexler wrote in Huffington Post about two women who had stayed home to raise their children. The first mother, Julie, said that just because she could stay home didn't mean she should. "I began to miss the satisfaction that earning, and achieving, gave me," she said. "Of course, raising a child was incredibly satisfying, too. But it didn't satisfy all of me." I don't recall hearing from the children how they felt about having mom home all the time. Do you think they were satisfied?

Here's the story of the second woman: "Sara, a mother of two children under 6, left her job as an editor at a New York publishing house to stay home with the children. She loved her new life, having so much quality time with her children, being their greatest influence. 'Until the day when my older daughter came home from kindergarten with a drawing of what she wanted to be when she grew up,' said Sara. 'And it was me -- a mother. She wanted to be a mom. I wasn't touched -- I was humiliated.'"

Do you think Sara would have been humiliated if she had gone to work and someone else had raised her children and her daughters said they wanted to be nannies? Should I assume she would have preferred that they would want to be editors at New York publishing houses rather than be unfulfilled staying home and raising their own children.

I wonder why these women had children.

I wonder how mothers who want to stay home respond to Sara.

As a society we are not happy with out-sourcing jobs to other countries but we're okay with outsourcing the raising of our children. How and why did we get to a place where parenting full-time became a stigma?

The woman as head of the family comes down to us through the ages from Greek and Roman myths and legends. Hestia was the Greek Goddess of sacred fire. The Romans called her Vesta. She was once known as the Chief of the Goddesses, the first and last. She was the most influential and widely revered of the goddesses.

Hestia/Vesta means the essence, the true nature of things. Hestia was not only psychologically centred; she represented the centre of the home and family, the city and the world. Family was so important in Roman times that at the death of a gladiator his family received his death benefits.

In "The Constitution of Liberty" from 1960, Friedrich Hayek noted that families are the primary transmitters of human capital -- habits, mores, education. Hence families, much more than other social institutions or programs, are determinative of academic and vocational success.

The family is the smallest unit of authority in a society. It is an economic engine. It is the source of morals, values and ethics. If we prioritize encouraging both parents to work outside the home then we are asking others to teach the morals, values and ethics.

Today, there is a push to demean the family with a stay-at-home parent, promoting the idea that staying home is not fair to the mother. She will be prevented from fulfilling herself as if being a full-time parent is not fulfilling, as according to Julie -- or that it shouldn't be fulfilling as stated by Sara.

This paradigm of self-fulfillment and the denigrating of stay-at-home mothers is the real reason that CCPA is against income-splitting.

I wonder what the reaction would be if this bill was meant to incentivize fathers to stay home.

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