June 24, 2014

On Paid Maternity Leave

I seldom disagree with Mark Levin these days — we constitutionalists have a stable set of documents to appeal to, and so we tend to find a certain intellectual concert — but on his show last evening (which I’m right now listening to) he rebuked Obama’s call for “paid family leave” or paid maternity leave, holding out particular contempt for the President’s willingness to run down the US and suggest we should be more like France.

Now, Obama’s call for paid family leave or paid maternity leave as a governmental mandate to businesses is something I’m obviously vehemently against. But I’m not against the idea of paid family leave or paid maternity leave as a selling point in competitive markets looking to woo the best employees.

Like with medical coverage plans (before ObamaCare) and other bonus structures, paid leave — for family / maternity — is a bargaining chip, a recruiting tool. It is not anyone’s natural right: if you’re hired to work by a company, that company has the right to require you to work if you wish to get paid. It also has the opportunity to try to win over the most productive workers by offering perks like paid leave.

And in fact, many companies do just that.

I believe Levin’s vitriol was aimed more at the Obama suggestion that such demands on businesses be mandated than on the fact of paid leave itself — he did, after all, speak to who subsidizes such things — so in spirit I suspect he’d agree with me on this.

But if we believe in free enterprise, then certainly a company can offer such perks without forcing other companies to match them. This is part and parcel of competition, and competition is at the heart of free market capitalism.

Just as I have no problem with “progressive” companies like Ben & Jerry’s being community owned, I have no problem with companies that allow for generous family leave time as part of its selling point to draw in the best employees. But we cannot — and should not — pretend that it’s okay for the federal government to demand private companies pay for non work, or surrender shares to a community.

Those of us who believe in negative rights understand this. Those who prefer to push positive rights need only find a way to cast whatever their agenda is in the language of civil rights, and suddenly we’re all “deserving” of picking the pocket of someone else — and in the process, further destroying what’s left of the private sector economy.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 12:22pm
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Comments (25)

  1. I have tried to frame things for unmovable liberal friends two ways: “I don’t care what you believe in, follow the constitution (state or federal)” and second “even if you think it is best handled by government solution, isn’t it better handled by the state rather than dictated by Washington with a ‘one size fits all’ solution?”

    They really need to understand the rule of law/constitution thing. It does not matter what personal beliefs a conservative candidate has, if they are committed to constitutional conservatism, they will not be able to (easily) cram their beliefs down your throat.

  2. Ben & Jerry’s sold to food giant Unilever way back in 1999, like good socialists do.

    They shared no profits with the hive.

  3. Maybe Levin’s too cognizant of luxuries becoming necessities, or the progressive mantra of insisting that everyone has it if anyone has it.

  4. Why should you get PAID maternity leave? As someone without children, you would be offering other employees a benefit that would be denied to me. And not only would said employee get a benefit I wouldn’t, I’d have to work harder to cover his/her work while he’s gone. Unless you want to include getting a new puppy/kitten/iguana?

    Okay, I’m joking (sorta). I don’t have a problem with employers offering this as a benefit, but I would oppose it being required. But I believe that when a small group of employers start offering it, the rest will be forced to do so to stay competitive in the hiring market. It has happened with almost every other benefit – at least in the high tech industry.

  5. Any agreement that a private company makes with its employees with regards to their compensation is between the employer and the employees. The government should have absolutely no say in the matter.

  6. But I believe that when a small group of employers start offering it, the rest will be forced to do so to stay competitive in the hiring market.

    That’s how health insurance got screwed up, with ordinary insurers trying to keep up with the HMOs.

  7. No hole-card on knocking any particular somebody up again, is it? Or is it?

  8. Sigh

    Speaking as one who employs people, I can say it’s obvious that those who promote these wonderful, new, enlightened benefits have absolutely no idea how businesses operate. I know to the penny how much my employees cost. Make no mistake. Labor is a cost, appearing on the “expense” side of my monthly income statements. What these geniuses fail to grasp is that I will pay only X dollars for a specific worker to do a job. X consists of salary, benefits and all the various taxes and hidden costs necessitated by regulations and nanny-state mandates. So fine. Mandate that I give expectant mothers 90 days of leave or mandate that I provide free lunches. I don’t care. I’ll just lower the salaries or other benefits to cover the cost or reduce my workforce or reduce paid vacation or whatever. No matter what, I will only pay X dollars for my workforce because that’s the most I am willing to pay.

  9. Scott, cranky and shermlaw all make points I agree with: why you but not me vis a bis govt mandated vs employers bottom line. What chafes me as a middle mgmt dope is why the team I manage gets so worked up about such perceived inequalities , never noting the mote that distorts their vision.

  10. ObamaCare’s unmercifully over-mandated benefits packages already cost employers far too much. As Shermlaw explains, there’s a reckoning for that: employers’ health insurance costs are passed along to the employees directly by higher-cost policies that have higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket minimums before any benefits kick in. And, also passed along, higher costs to the employer’s customers, we the end-level consumers.

    Already-thin profit margins can’t be trimmed or the beleaguered company might as well go out of business. Or, sell out and merge with an already super-sized Corporation that has tendrils from Government running throughout it’s organizational charts.

    These super-sized corporations feed the oligarchs who then pass favorable laws and mandates that nourish these pet, compliant corporations. Cycle that loop with more mandates and laws helping the compliant corporations until there’s no non-compliant businesses left, or any Americans remaining who recall a real two-Party system that featured checks and balances in a three-legged government apparatus that was purposefully limited in it’s powers..just to prevent such feedback loops.

    Non-players like the Kochs will be hounded unmercifully, and target-mandated until the losses catch up with them. All companies and individuals who point out what’s happening? We too are targets. Never let a crisis go to waste when there’s targets to waste, as has been demonstrated repeatedly by reactives with pens and phones. And swat teams with tanks.

  11. Speaking as one who employs people, I can say it’s obvious that those who promote these wonderful, new, enlightened benefits have absolutely no idea how businesses operate

    And when they do, say someone who has been a successful business person before entering politics, if they have the wrong letter after their name then they are running-dog-capitalist-class-exploiters who have a closet full of white spats and monocles.

  12. Shhhhhhh! Darleen, we don’t want them knowing that it’s all true that we go home at night an swan dive into our rooms full of gold coins.

  13. running-dog-capitalist-class-exploiters who have a closet full of white spats and monocles

    That guy takes a bow right at the end of this piece on money vs wealth.

  14. I had the impression that Levin was irked because Obama pointed to France as exemplar, as if that were a legitimate argument for anything.

  15. “So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Anconia. “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

    “When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor–your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?

    “Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions–and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

    “But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made–before it can be looted or mooched–made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.’

    “To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss–the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery–that you must offer them values, not wounds–that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade–with reason, not force, as their final arbiter–it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability–and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

    “But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality–the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

    “Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

    “Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth–the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

    “Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men’s vices or men’s stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you’ll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

    “Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

    “Or did you say it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It’s the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money–and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

    “Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

    “Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another–their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

    “But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich–will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt–and of his life, as he deserves.

    “Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard–the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money–the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law–men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims–then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

    “Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

    “Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, ‘Account overdrawn.’

    “When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, ‘Who is destroying the world? You are.

    “You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it’s crumbling around you, while you’re damning its life-blood–money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men’s history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves–slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody’s mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer, Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers–as industrialists.

    “To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money–and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man’s mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being–the self-made man–the American industrialist.

    “If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity–to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.

    “Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters’ continents. Now the looters’ credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide– as, I think, he will.

    “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns–or dollars. Take your choice–there is no other–and your time is running out.”

    ~~Atlas Shrugged

  16. So you think that money is the root of all evil?

    Why do people misquote this so often? It is “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) (emphasis mine)

    Money is nothing but a symbol – the universal symbol of value received. Whether it is bits of metal, a hunk of salt, some prettily colored rocks, inked pieces of paper or plastic cards with magnetic strips, it is nothing but a medium of exchange, much simpler than barter. A carpenter can hardly offer to do some carpentry work in exchange for his weekly groceries or a tank of gas, so he does carpentry work for someone else, who gives him the money in exchange for the value they received, and he can exchange that money for the bread and meat, and leave the grocer with that same symbol of the value received.

  17. At the rate we’re going, Mr. Carpenter is going to be chopping wood for Mr. Farmer for a bowl of thin gruel.

    Of course, Mr. Carpenter can take his blades and offer to protect Mr. Farmer from other people with blades in exchange for three hots and a cot.

  18. To excerpt:

    “Or did you say it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It’s the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money–and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

    “Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.”

  19. When I think of the biblical quote in question, I’m thinking along the lines of greed and envy as being the root of evil.

  20. Thanks for that invigorating passage from Ayn Rand, Darleen. She does have a talent for leaving one exhausted, but exhilarated.

    [Here it comes-->] But…

    One of the main problems with Ayn’s philosophy is her extreme Utilitarianism. An example: ‘…that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods.’

    No, the common bond among men is a shared Morality, a common Culture. The most beneficial Culture has been the Western one. And The West has at it’s root, it’s seed core, a belief in The One God.

    Ayn rejects God – rather violently – and replaces Him with a System Of Ideas – an Ideology – that is ultimately just as bad for Mankind as the Leftist version, because it permits no dissent. All Ideologies are carefully crafted [and, therefore, fragile] systems developed in the sterile laboratories of the Mind, far away from Reality. Admittedly, the distance Ayn was was not as great as that conceived by the Leftist Thinkers, but it still requires everyone to behave according to a careful plan, a regimented scheme, if it is to work. And Human Beings will never be able to be turned into such robots.

    Man is a Fallen creature. He is easily led into Temptations. He is more complex than any Systems Of Ideas can ever compensate for or deal with.

    The conservative, Classical Liberal, and small ‘l’ libertarian reject Ideology because they know that the Philosophy they believe in is a way of life.

    One might say, somewhat cheekily, that Ayn Rand is ‘Anti-Way-Of-Life’.

    It is Tragic that such a brilliant mind could commit such a fatal error as the ignoring of the Human Soul.

  21. Love of a thing, and not one’s fellow men, is the Root of Evil.

  22. I don’t find my fellow men to be all that loveable.

  23. I can love the life I am able to live because of money. I can love that my wife has things that make her comfortable and pursuits that make her happy because of money. I can love that my neighbors’ prosperity tends to keep them from looking covetously at mine. And I can hate that the lack of money, mine or my neighbors’, could increase my worry about these things.

    Money does not bring evil where the heart of man does not already give it home.

  24. Bob

    You’re correct. You do need to understand why Ayn clung so heavily to Reason as the only Truth — Alisa Rosenbaum born 1905 St Petersburg, Imperial Russia — Jewish, “bourgeoisie”, with republican views coming of age in a time of heavy mysticism and communist revolution.

  25. I do, indeed, understand, Darleen.

    I think it Tragic that she never was able to move beyond that stage.

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