Should working wives get the sack?
PERHAPS it was just as well that the NALGO conference didn't support the resolution from South Wales that, if redundancy arose, married women earning pin-money should be sacked before fathers with families to support.
The intentions behind the move were excellent, but, in a society whose economic wellbeing is increasingly based on married women going out to work, it would be unworkable in practice. One could only decide which married women were earning bread and butter and which jam and caviar by inquisitorial methods repugnant to the people of this country.
What the episode brings out. thinks a leading member of the Catholic Social Guild, is the extent to which the prevailing economic system is cockeyed. "It pays no regard to the family situation as far as wage-rates are concerned." he says.
What has happened is that an economic system has grown up that reflects a society which has rejected the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. The wage-earner is regarded predominantly as an individual with no responsibilities except to himself.
"The reform that is needed is a reform of the system, and nobody knows what exactly to do about that," says my C.S.G. informant, rather despondently.
Of course, various schemes are available: for example. Colin Clark's "Welfare and Taxation" which would mean such a major overhaul of the existing structure of the Welfare State as to rule it out of practical politics.
The point is that the three major parties are all firmly committed to the idea of the Welfare State and maintaining its present structure. if not extending its scope.
Another point, thinks my informant. is that "Catholics have dodged doing fundamental thinking on important issues". There is plenty of excellent thinking-out of basic theories going on, but all this needs to be brought down to the here and now. to be worked out in practical terms by practical men.
And finally. the biggest obstacle of all to a clear-cut Catholic lead on this question. there arc almost as many different views on the practical implications of social justice as there are Catholics.