December 16, 2013

Add one more to the long list of legislation that’s not going to pass through both houses of Congress, writes E.J. Dionne. Two congresswomen are putting forth a bill that would create nationwide paid parental/family leave, but politicians who call themselves pro-family are likely to be against it. Dionne thinks this is weird. The word “value” is right there in family values!

Globally, though, it is weird. Though PostScript isn’t sold on this Wikipedia chart (Albania starts giving time off a year before the birth?), it is breathtaking to even contemplate everyone in every job — even part-time, low-wage work — getting that much paid time off just for having a family with needs. Seriously, how does that work?

But the rest of the world looks at the United States and says the same thing, probably in English. Dionne wonders why exactly we are so stubborn and sure different rules apply to us. Although we certainly have made monolingualism work out for us.

LisaWhite1 has an example for when beefing up maternity leave makes economic sense:

At least a few companies understand that keeping new parents happy makes more sense than replacing them, which generally costs somewhere between 50 and 200 percent of a worker’s salary. For example, when Google lengthened its maternity leave from three months to five and made it fully paid, new-mom attrition fell by half.

PostScript promises this exchange will get more interesting. It starts out with sweeping, unproveable pronouncements:

cub4vt

Radical liberalism discourages healthy monogamous relationships.

Catological

Healthy monogamy is an oxymoron.

Wow. Okay. But CoreyinSavannah pokes at cub4vt’s sweeping, unproveable pronouncement and says something meaningful:

Actually it is free access to credit, courts, healthcare and jobs for women that [discourage healthy monogamous relationships.] Men always underestimate the numbers of women who married them because they had to.

Now that stings, for everyone. It seems logical that financial dependence would create a stable relationship, anyway, though an incredibly lopsided power dynamic. PostScript couldn’t find any direct research on this, but it’s interesting, isn’t it? The United States isn’t about to outlaw women getting credit cards in their own names, but this dynamic underlies a lot of assumptions people make about financial independence. Such as that financially independent women are more likely to be single or to choose to be single.

VaStrong, for example, makes the leap that parental leave will equal more fatherless households. It seems theoretically just as likely more fathers will get married in order to get some of that sweet paid family leave:

When you subsidize fatherless households, poverty, and joblessness, just like anything else, you get more of it.

joydivision doesn’t see the benefit for workers without needy families:

So the proposal is a tax on all employers and all employees, whether they have kids or not.

Just as Social Security is a tax on everyone’s wages, even if you don’t live to see retirement.

dtrew says besides rewarding procreation, easing financial stress for people with newborns, say, helps strengthen families. This would seem to be the opposite of the argument that financial dependence = strong relationships, so chew on that:

Actually studies have shown that income greatly affects family stability and it appears that low income people are less likely to get married than high income. This would mean that the solution to family stability is again policies that help the poor.

This family values stuff is tricky. Why can’t we legislate some love in this country? Though it would be easier and more remunerative just to write a pop song called “Legislate Some Love.”