After 6 years of Labor (leftist) misrule, Aussies have turned to Liberals (center-right) to lead their government. American news outlets like the Wall Street Journal are treating incoming prime minister Tony Abbot’s victory as a lesson to Republicans in how to win elections. I’m not so sure what we can learn here, other than bad policy makes for good politics. Australian Liberals’ return to power hardly counts as a win for limited government. Reihan Salam writes in National Review:
In praising John Howard’s successful Liberal-National government, Abbott cites the fact that it tripled spending on child care and doubled the number of child-care places available, and its support for more flexible workplace arrangements which contributed to a sharp increase in the labor force participation of women. He also favorably referenced the Howard government’s Baby Bonus, a universal payment to new mothers, which was recently abolished by the Labor government.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Labor has it right! Outsourced motherhood? Government paternalism? That sounds to me like the family-deforming welfare statism that’s ravaged the American lower and middle classes for decades.
Australian Liberals assume higher women’s workforce participation (“equality”) is a good thing, worth subsidizing. But is it?
- If you reject driving children into the arms of government nannies, paid for by men’s taxes that would otherwise go to increasing his ability to provide for his family, then no.
- If women’s instinct to care for her children must be reversed so she can compete against men for jobs and drive down wages to increase corporate profits, then yes.
What Australian Liberal policies do in effect is disrupt the chemical process that creates bonds of love between men and women in which children are born and raised. Taken together, they are a case of big government filling a void in the social contract that it deliberately helped to create. That’s a progressive legacy, not a conservative one.