Teaching Law

Saturday, 27 July 2013

'Family' values and the privatisation of welfare

From Father Knows Best
If women have a baby outside a stable relationship, they may break the social security system.
A couple of news items in the weekend papers have piqued my interest in the ongoing conservative putsch to retain the centrality of the family in society. The first of these was a story about the Federal Opposition MP, Kevin Andrews, who has signalled a 'socially conservative change' to welfare policy under a coalition government. (Andrews' views on family are well known.)

The second is a piece in the Weekend Australian by Catholic pro-family conservative writer, Angela Shanahan opining about the importance for women of marrying a stable man. For the children.

These uncritical views rely on a combination of sentimentality and ‘facts’ about how society benefits from this institution. What they fail to reveal is the history of paternal control over women and children central to the effective operation of the family in a patriarchal society. And by family, what they mean is a married heterosexual procreative union.

These views of family implicitly blame single mothers and their children for the breakdown of society. I maintain that it is instead the narrow construction of the institution of ‘family’ that feeds into the moral (conservative) panic of social collapse. What we need instead is a re-imagining of society.

Monday, 15 July 2013

'Invisible substances': Can we trade them? Of course we can...

Today I heard the leader of the federal opposition, Tony Abbott, describe the government's proposed change to an emissions trading scheme, as:

A market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one.

This position is not new, and Mr Abbott has for some years described carbon in terms such as an 'invisible, odourless, weightless, tasteless substance'. Regardless of the science or the economics involved in characterising carbon and the effectiveness of a carbon market per se, what interests me is the problematising of a market in an 'invisible substance'. It also surprises me in light of the law's unambiguous acceptance of intangibles as property, which supports the commodification and therefore marketisation of a host of 'invisible, odourless, weightless, tasteless'...non-substances.