I went to a house yesterday and met a lovely lady who was selling the family home. Her parents bought the land in 1948 for 100 pounds, built the house in 1952 borrowing an extra 100 pounds, then Dad died in 1954 leaving mum to raise 4 children under six years old on her own. Her mother is now 94, and it took her till she was 89 years old to pay off her mortgage at a rate of $40 a month, living on a pension all her life. The house was immaculately maintained because it was built to perfection at the time, and it was on a deep block. The agent is expecting for it to be sold between $1 million and $1.2 million. Her mother is now going into aged-care, and the family are selling the home to pay for the remainder of her years.
Now, my moral dilemma… Whilst the mother spent her early years raising her four children on her own, how is it fair, that she was able to remain a pensioner once her children were adults and have a mortgage for 58 years (not the standard 25-30 years) without earning a dollar in the traditional sense of holding down a job, and then walk away with an asset that makes her a millionaire? Yes, raising children is a job in itself, but not once they are self-sufficient. Yes, she may have been out of the workforce too long to have the skills to re-enter the workforce, but we still have training for those in her position. And yes, she may have lived a very frugal life without travel, cafe lattes, expensive cars and stylish clothes, but still, does it make it right that the Australian tax payers have essentially paid the way for this woman to be a millionaire?
As you all know, I am a single mother who strives to do the right thing by myself, my children and my country. I worked every single day I could, with my children coming to work with me at the ages of 5 days old and 3 days old respectively. I was even working the afternoon after I gave birth to my second son. I work 40-80 hour weeks, depending on my work load, and raise my children on my own. Yet, at almost 42 years old, I make good money, but I don’t have a million dollars. Yes my priorities in life are totally different – I choose to live my life, not sit at home watching television and counting pennies, and that comes at a financial cost, but I work hard to play hard, and teach my children about the moral responsibility of working and providing for the greater good of society (paying taxes!).
Does this 94 year old deserve to walk out of this life holding a million dollar cheque in her hand? Some might think I’m being a little harsh and that she deserves to live her last years in the best comfort available, and the sale of her home, that she and her husband built together, is the reward of that. But as a single working mum, it’s people like this that damages the reputation of other single mums doing the right thing by society.