Sharon Dijksma, a leading parliamentarian of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) wants to penalise educated stay-at-home women. “A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work – that is destruction of capital,” she said in an interview last week. “If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society’s expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished.”
Hence her proposal to recover part of the cost of their education from highly-educated women who decide not to seek paid work. Between 2001 and 2005 the number of Dutch women aged between 15 and 65 who were out on the labour market rose from 55.9 to 58.7 per cent. Dijksma says she wants to stimulate more women to join the work force. In the municipal elections earlier this month the PvdA became the biggest party in the Netherlands thanks to the Muslim vote. The PvdA is generally expected to win the general elections next year, when the 35 year old Dijksma, who has been an MP since she was 23 and is a leading figure in the party, might become a government minister.
On her weblog Dijksma explains that her proposal is a logical consequence of the Dutch system of subsidizing students. Society finances their studies with government scholarships, hence it is only normal that they pursue a professional career or repay. “If someone chooses not to work, then there should be a substantial repayment,” she said.
Most Dutch women who decide not to seek paid jobs do so in order to care for their children. Consequently the Dutch media refer to Dijksma’s proposal as “the PvdA Mother Plan.” The proposal elicited fierce criticism, some of which was aimed at Dijksma’s person. Twice the politician started a college course, and twice she failed to complete the course: her grades were poor, and anyway, at the age of 23 she was already a well-paid MP. Angry Dutch bloggers demanded that Dijksma pay back the costs of her unfinished studies before going after the mothers. “Let the fat cow repay her own scholarships first, because that was a real waste of public money,” one of the bloggers wrote.
The PvdA website has come to the rescue of the beleaguered politician, repeating the stance that those who study at the taxpayers’ expense and do not join the workforce are guilty of “destruction of capital.” Edith Snoey, the leader of the biggest Dutch trade union, who has made a similar proposal to Dijksma’s, wrote on her weblog that Dijksma had expressed herself somewhat unfortunately by giving the impression that she was only focusing on women, while the sanction should also apply to educated men who do not want to join the workforce. However, Snoey said, Dijksma’s mistake was unintentional. The union leader added that the politician should continue the fight: “Cheer up, Sharon. Let us proceed, because we aim for the same goal: more women in the labour force.”
Since the sixties, socialist feminists like Dijksma and Snoey have refused to accept that women also contribute to the wellbeing of society by investing in children. The time, energy, money, talent, and indeed education invested in the upbringing of children produces greater benefits for society as a whole than the pursuit of individual wealth and satisfaction. Apparently Dijksma’s ideal world is one where educated people spend their lives partying and spending, while the future of society is left to depend on a generation of children raised by poor and uneducated mothers. If all children come from disadvantaged families, the state can step in to “take care” of them.
If Dijksma and Snoey were honest in their materialistic logic they ought at least to deduct a sum equivalent to what the government spends on the average disadvantaged child throughout its education (and possibly its entire life) from the amount that they are demanding back from educated mothers. Perhaps when all is added up they might decide that it would make more sense to penalise women who choose not to have children in order to pursue their careers.
Indeed, as a vital resource of any civilisation is its future generation, refusing to have children is a “destruction of capital.” What use is a market when there is no-one to participate in it? Society should allow educated mothers to raise their own children, rather than punish them.