Article Title:Stop whining about womens wages and privacy!
Category:Comment
Author or Credit:Jim Peron
Published on:23rd June 2004 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:305
Text:News stories and articles on GayNZ.com have noted that some are disturbed that the civil union legislation may have potential penalties for gay and lesbian beneficiaries. What the legalisation would do is merely put them on the same level playing field as all other beneficiaries. Right now a gay beneficiary can receive benefits regardless of how wealthy is their partner. Straight couples don't have that luxury. Jocelyn O'Kane of the 'People's Centre' puts out the old canard: "As a lesbian, there's an argument in there about women's wages still being 80% of men..." and continues, "that women are economically less well off than men, so if two lesbians were in a relationship there is a lot of advantage to keeping their independence rather than being treated as a couple, and I'm all for that." It's a canard because you are comparing apples and oranges. The average of all women is above the old 80% level (mainly due to different choices that women are now making) but what difference there is is not directly related to being male or female. Virtually all the men, except the perpetual beneficiary types, enter the work force and stay there until they retire. Large numbers of women choose to marry and stay home with the children. Most men who enter the work force seek full time employment A goodly number of women seek part-time work to supplement their husband's income. The average male not only has more work experience he, on average, has more schooling as well. Interestingly when studies are done comparing similar groups this ‘gap' disappears. When a study was done comparing the income of men who were never married to women who were never married, of similar ages and similar educational qualifications it turned out that the women did slightly better. What holds the average income for all women down is that some women are married and spend many of their prime working years outside of employment or at the least, outside full-time employment. On average this would be less true for lesbians than for heterosexual women since they would be less likely to marry than the average woman. In addition the comrades at the People's Centre complain that “privacy issues are at stake” since benefit fraud (which I've seen first hand in the gay community as well) requires determining whether or not the couple are in fact a couple or two single people sharing a house. But when people are living off the hard earned wages of others then what right to privacy can they expect? The gay community in particular is heavily taxed, heavier than average due to the fact that most gay people are single which drives gay wages up above the national norm. I struggle to make ends meet as a small business owner and my partner has to send off a huge chunk of his income - money we could use to pay our bills - so that others benefit from our labour. Then the others who are living off of what we pay in taxes are claiming that their “right to privacy” trumps any need to see if they are are legitimately qualified (according to the state) to live off our efforts. Stephen Ruth of the People's Centre whines: “I think the benefit system and tax credit system discriminate against couples full stop, because they say what you're entitled to depends on who you're in a relationship with, not on your particular needs and circumstances.©˜ He wants each individual to be entitled to welfare regardless of the family income. Since most individuals live in heterosexual families he seems to want those women who stay home, who have a partner with a high income, to still be eligible for benefits. Everyone, in his view, has a ‘right' to feed at the government trough. Of course taxes will have to go up even more which will disproportionately impact gay people because of their higher incomes. Let's cover one basic principle here, one which will upset the People's Centre greatly: No one has the divine right to live at the expense of others. Let us recognise what tax supported benefits mean. A tax is money taken from people whether or not they wish it to happen for projects of which they may not approve. And if they squeak too much or try to keep what they've earned then very big men come after them to force them to comply. There is no way to skirt the coercive nature of taxation. And what is your income. We each work - and some work damn hard - for every dollar they earn. Income is merely a means by which the energy exerted in work is turned into a commodity that can be traded for things you need or want. When someone demands a right to your income they are saying that they have the right to force you to work, not for your benefit, but for their own. Mr. Ruth is saying that beneficiaries, because they claim to have needs - God forbid they even have to prove such needs since that violates privacy - means they have the right to force you to work on their behalf. Whether someone forces people to work for them for a few minutes a day or for their entire life is a matter of degree not kind. To the degree that people are put into compulsory labour for the benefit of others they have been enslaved by others. And right now the average working gay man or woman is probably spending half their life working, not for themselves, but for others. I think under those conditions that gay people have the right to demand equality before the law when it comes to their relationships. And if a someone, gay or straight, wants to live off the productive effort of others at the very least they should be required to substantiate that they aren't bludgers. - Jim Peron is a gay man and Executive Director of the Institute for Liberal Values: www.liberalvalues.org.nz Jim Peron - 23rd June 2004    
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