Friday, March 11, 2011

Debt and Marriage

I've a piece in today's Canberra Times, 'Families are slaves to an age of debt'.

I'm discussing what families value - and how domestic value can be strikingly different to economic value.  A sample:
what frequently limits change, blinds us to alternatives, and justifies mercenary relationships is debt: being shackled to repayments that last an adult lifetime. It’s what keeps many in the workforce for longer hours, in jobs they despise. It’s what justifies time away from children, wasted talents, frayed relationships. This is exacerbated by the property market, and the great dream of the family home. This is why so many Australians are experiencing so-called ‘mortgage stress’: their domestic lives are chained to this enormous debt burden, which fluctuates with international markets. The home is supposed to give families certainty, but instead they get monotony in labour, and insecurity in the hip pocket.

There’s no easy way out of this. But the first step is to recognise that many of the petty squabbles over housework and the office aren’t simply caused by personal failings. They’re built into the framework of indebted life, and the stress and sacrifices it demands.
(Photo: Martin Kingsley)


rino breebaart said...

Good stuff. The question may be momentarily aired in the form of "work/life balance" but quickly subsumed again. Also, in many of the families I know both parents have to work to stay afloat. So kids are in daycare; daycare is expensive; a compromise on time is made, and the daycare has to be paid for, so more hours worked. I do look at all the people with big houses and big cars and big financial commitments and wonder: yes, but does it make for quality time? Is it all on credit - financial and temporal debt? Do you really need that 3d television as well?

Society is held together by its shared interests - but it makes you wonder when banks are the biggest profiteers from all this familial stress and difficult living.

It makes for a push to alternatives: the slow movement, learning to live with less, making people aware there's always choices. And filtering out all that lifestyle propaganda.


Damon Young said...

Yes, that's the point of my columns like this: reminders that we can do things differently.

And don't get me started on banks...