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.