Parenting Versus Jobs -- Social Insanity


Subject: Parenting Versus Jobs -- Social Insanity
Date: Mon Oct 23, 1995 3:02 pm EST
From: Conference
The People
October 28, 1995
Vol. 105 No. 13



THE PLAIN DEALER of Cleveland recently printed an article that offered some advice to working-class parents trying to hang onto their jobs and survive inside the capitalist world of "business." The headline of this article read, "Don't Let Parenting Rust Your Job Skills."

The reader with a sarcastic bent of mind might respond with the thought: "Of course. We must not let insignificant little matters like tending to the needs of our children interfere with our ability to perform well for our capitalist masters!"

But the sarcasm that frames and clarifies one truth can also obscure another. The advice given is good. In truth, this is the attitude you must take if you want to survive under capitalism. In this system, the minority that controls the entire economy fully believes that we as workers must not allow anything to interrupt our service to them. We must not spend too much time with our children on the telephone at work, and we certainly must not spend a lot of time with them at home. We must not spend much time with our mates. We should spend as little time as possible taking care of ourselves, and we really shouldn't lose work time because we are sick!

We must remember all these things because OUR MAIN REASON FOR EXISTENCE is to produce goods and services that our capitalist employers can sell for profit.

These are the rules of the game. If we break the rules to take care of (or even spend time with) ourselves, our children, our loved ones -- we most likely will have a more difficult time surviving.

The typical "white-collar" worker in Cleveland who brings home enough in wages to enjoy even a modest amount of security spends little time relating to his or her spouse (who may also have very little time), stays at the office for at least 10 hours a day, breaks for only 10 minutes for lunch and takes no other breaks -- and then takes work home three or four times a week. It is not surprising that a large portion of these people have no children.

We are familiar with the plight of workers who feel they cannot have children because they bring in too little money to meet their own needs, let alone those of a child. Here we have a demonstration of a new twist to the same problem. The white- collar workers described above are paid enough to support two or sometimes three people, but their employers are taking so much out of them they don't have the time and energy to start a family. Or, if they do manage to have children, they have almost no time to spend with them.

Why are things this way? It is because of the very nature of capitalism. Capitalists control the entire economy, and capitalists care about nothing except what is profitable to them. They care about the well-being of their workers only if this well-being leads to production and profits. They care about the nurture of working-class children only as new workers to replace a spent generation in the years ahead. Today, however, capitalists are caught up in the current "downsizing" phase, and apparently care very little whether the workers reproduce themselves. As automation and productivity rise, the number of workers needed to produce a certain amount of goods diminishes, and the number of available replacement workers increases. Thus, individual workers become disposable because it is so easy to replace them. It is not necessary to keep an employee who is less than satisfactory in any way because another worker can be employed instead. And it certainly is not necessary to support a worker who is spending time and energy on a family, because that worker is easy to replace with a worker who will spend this time and energy on the job.

The whole system is quite insane. It is not even meeting the basic needs of people. In a sane society, things would be different. Production schedules would be determined by needs, not by profits. Workers would no longer have to support these parasites that make up the capitalist class, and so plenty of material goods would be available for all workers and their families as well. The necessary work would be shared by everybody, spread among a large number of workers. The workload would be lighter and the workweek would be shorter. All workers would have time to spend with their families.

Sane and sensible social relations and economic conditions do not exist under capitalism, and they never will. That day will not come until the working class wakes up to these facts and organizes its political and economic power to take over control of production and reorganize the economy on socialist principles. The first step is for those who already understand this to act on their knowledge by coming forward to help spread the SLP's message and to fill the party's ranks.