To all those who might ever have dreamed of dropping out of their jobs and becoming full-time freelance writers: unless you are truly great or have a very lucky break, you'll have to live on a tiny and irregular amount of money. It will come from ten or fifteen or twenty different places, all with their own special paperwork, and when it comes to getting money out of them, their fingers will usually have to be pried apart and twisted. Be prepared, at any given time, to be owed anything between two and ten thousand dollars for work that was done and dusted months before.
None of which I mind, since I'm living the life I always wanted unless you count the rusting gutter and the ancient stove. But when the government starts paying already well-off women to stay at home and look after the bubs because $250,000 or more just isn't enough to make ends meet otherwise, I start to gibber and froth more than this government has ever made me do before. I bumped my bank balance back down to three figures yesterday in order to pay the taxation department money that is going to go to women with marble bathrooms.
Howard is invoking the nonsense rhetoric of 'choice', just as he does when defending the funding of private schools so they can build an extra velodrome next to the mock-Elizabethan school theatre. Yes, families on $250,000 ought to be able to choose to be even richer than they already are, providing the women, sorry, wives, stay at home.
I remember listening to the radio in the car one day back in the early 1990s when I still had a real job. Howard had just taken over as Liberal leader in the wake of the Hewson debacle, and he was banging on about the importance of The Family in a way that left his real, unspoken meaning in no doubt: Back in the kitchen, you upstart women, where you belong. Kinder, Kirche, Kuche and no mucking about. I felt strangely energised by this moment. He had shown his colours and identified himself as the person who was to be fought tooth and nail.
Well, we've lost. His government has been white-anting women's rights and women's freedoms in this country ever since they got in. Bit by bit, the rights of women to live their lives as they see fit have been eroded here and dismantled there, usually by stealth. Give the Health portfolio to a conservative Catholic; make it financially absurd for mothers to go to work; fork out one-off bonuses for women to pop out more little white babies to outnumber the ravening illegal hordes; downgrade all structures and provisions for women's affairs that have previously been put in place; talk up The Family, by which you mean the patriarchal family.
And now we have, well, what we have. Here you are, Tiffany, here's my quarterly tax. You should be able to buy a couple of gold-plated taps with it. Sorry about the blood.