The Government Is the Answer (Maybe)

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

In the search for answers to questions of balance, I've spent a lot of time thinking about ways that employers can make life easier as well as plenty of ways that individuals can try to arrange things to their advantage. But I've pretty much given up on the government stepping in to help.

The landmark law in the United States is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was enacted in 1993 and guaranteed leave to (most) workers. But by international standards, the law was late in coming and weak. The U.S. is one of two OECD countries that still don't have paid maternity leave. (Australia is the other, and the lack of paid leave is a political issue there.)

FMLA, meager as it is, has still come under attack from business interests, and advocates for strong leave remain vigilant.

But there is hope, of sorts. I saw in Working Mother magazine last month that Hillary Clinton was involved in some sort of FMLA expansion effort, and I've long been a fan of the "Balancing Act" proposal by Rep. Lynn Woolsey. As it turns out, Clinton has signed onto a bill called the Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

Curious as to whether there is actually a work-life groundswell in Congress, I checked out the number of active bills that contain the phrase "Family and Medical Leave Act." I got 37 exact matches, and while some of them were obviously not balance-oriented, there seems to be a lot more action than I thought. There's a "Paid Family and Medical Leave Act of 2005" bill in the House, as well as a "Family and Medical Leave Protection Act of 2005" and a "Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act of 2005." There's a "Healthy Families Act" (paid sick leave), too.

That's the good news. The bad news is that most of these are going nowhere, championed by the minority party and unlikely to receive much of a hearing in the current political setup. But as some of you may have read, there's an election coming up, and should things get shaken up a bit, perhaps some of these ideas will at least get discussed. And that's a discussion well worth having.

(Or, alternatively, for those who believe Tip O'Neill and the idea that all politics is local, MomsRising & the Progressive States Network have a wonderful catalog of state legislative models for everything from family leave to after-school programs.)

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  November 2, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Childcare , Flexibility , Workplaces
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I think we talk a lot about flexible schedules but it is just not the reality for a lot of people. Currently I work 4 9 hour days and my new supervisor told me in June he wants me to go back full time (5 8hour days. To me there is the issue of part time and then there is an issue of an alternative schedule. (8 9hour days and 1 8 hour day in a pay period-leaving one Friday off every two weeks). To me he is frankly being inflexible. I have worked an alternative schedule for 10 years with no complaints. It is just about control. I can do my job in 9 hours just as well as I can in 8 hours. But management is telling me just ignore him and let him press the issue. Because he probably doesn't have the guts to actually do it. When my kids are both in school, I hope to work 5 7 hour days, so I can be with them after school. Do people honestly think they are getting a lot more work out of a person for one hour a day. I am even willing to take work home and do it in the evening after the kids go to bed. I do think, even the government, has a ways to go to work with people.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 7:16 AM

I'm torn. On the one hand I like my part-time schedule, think it's ridiculous that we don't get paid maternity leave, and think that paid leave for health reasons should be mandated along the same lines as unpaid leave in the current FMLA. But there's a part of me that doesn't want government intervention/mandates. I was kind of incredulous to find out that the government doesn't provide paid maternity leave in addition to accumulated sick and annual leave to its employees, whereas a lot of businesses do. It seems like the businesses who do have concluded that such policies are good for recruitment, employee satisfaction, etc. It would be nice if we were able to reach flexible accomodations through that realization than through government requirements.

Foamgnome, I would stick to your guns, particularly if management (your supervisor's supervisors?) are being supportive. The private sector pays more than government. So government needs to to be flexible to keep good people. Remember, there's always the option of looking elsewhere for work.

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 7:43 AM

I think it's interesting that I myself often see the government as something seperate or in competition for our resources/liberties. Probably that's because our elected representatives seem to operate on a wealthier class level than the majority of those they serve. But in theory, the government is supposed to be of the people and by the people and national issues like maternity leave and healthcare seem like matters requiring more of a federal role. Government is the last thing standing between the interests of citizens and the interests of big business; unfortunately, government and big business are too often in bed together. I believe in hard work and individual effort, but I also believe collective efforts for the good of all have a strong role to play (e.g., paid maternity leave, minimum wage, etc.).

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 8:04 AM

"The private sector pays more than government."

Not quite. In many parts of the country Federal employees are paid well above the regional median salaries, especially in the
Third Branch.

Posted by: DZ | November 2, 2006 8:13 AM

I'm just wondering if maybe it's difficult to enact legislation to cover this contingency because everyone's own situation is so unique and not really comparable to anyone else's. (One person wants to keep hours that help them to avoid commuting during rush hour -- someone else wants to take extra time during the first week of school -- somebody else needs to leave early on Thursdays because of sports or an elderly relative or whatever.) Maybe that's why these arrangements tend to get worked out on an ad-hoc basis to begin with.

I remember wondering how I could keep my job as a foreign service officer while remaining in the same country as my husband and raising children -- and thinking that the State Department should have a program whereby everyone could take five years of unpaid personal leave with the option to re-enter without having to reapply -- or something like that. It seemed like the only workable blanket solution would have to be something really broad, in order to cover almost any existing contingency. I suppose the problem would be, though, that legislation that broad would be more likely to be mis-used/misinterpreted or something.
Just a thought . . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | November 2, 2006 8:20 AM

I'm just wondering if maybe it's difficult to enact legislation to cover this contingency because everyone's own situation is so unique and not really comparable to anyone else's. (One person wants to keep hours that help them to avoid commuting during rush hour -- someone else wants to take extra time during the first week of school -- somebody else needs to leave early on Thursdays because of sports or an elderly relative or whatever.) Maybe that's why these arrangements tend to get worked out on an ad-hoc basis to begin with.

I remember wondering how I could keep my job as a foreign service officer while remaining in the same country as my husband and raising children -- and thinking that the State Department should have a program whereby everyone could take five years of unpaid personal leave with the option to re-enter without having to reapply -- or something like that. It seemed like the only workable blanket solution would have to be something really broad, in order to cover almost any existing contingency. I suppose the problem would be, though, that legislation that broad would be more likely to be mis-used/misinterpreted or something.
Just a thought . . .

Posted by: Armchair Mom | November 2, 2006 8:20 AM

when our last two kids were little, my husband and I worked one day at home with the boys at home too. We had meetings over the phone, met with students and I somehow manage to get tenure (I'm one of those parents who believe kids don't need to be entertained all the time...give them some blocks and away they go). So we had flexibility. I don't like government mandates, but how else can society change so others can also have flexibility enough to also be 'productive' members in the work force? It has been 26 years and I don't see things progressing. It is the same old story I heard back in the early 80s and early 90s.

Posted by: dotted | November 2, 2006 8:26 AM

The Government Is the Answer (Maybe)

I believe that government is rarely the answer.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 2, 2006 8:31 AM

What's the "Third Branch" of Government?

Executive, Judicial, Legislative and...."Third"?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 8:45 AM

Many people refer to the judicial branch as the 3rd branch.

Posted by: branches | November 2, 2006 8:58 AM

The domestic auto industry is bleeding red ink and large companies are outsourcing to India China and elsewhere. Jobs hang by a thread and you want the American workers to demand more benefits? Companies are already reluctantly justifying keeping the current headcount, much less hiring anyone local. I don't want to push my luck or I will be pushed out the door.

I am curious to know what kind of benefits workers in India, China, Philippines get. After all, we are competing against them.

Government can play a minor role in helping the private sector. Don't let them do too much because of immense waste.
For every government benefit, there will be higher overall taxes.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 9:14 AM

Great question!

This made me think of a quote from Toby on "The West Wing" when he said (in an uncharacteristically optimistic manner) "government can be a place where people come together." I think THIS is a place where we could put MINIMAL guidelines into effect that improve the lives of many (not all) Americans. Laws and statutes don't need to be all things to all people. FMLA was a great start - and, at the time, revolutionary. You can no longer fire a woman because she is pregnant (or give her job away while she is on maternity leave). We don't need to be paying women to take a full year off (though I'm sure that would be great if we could!) - we could start at offering both parents who have worked at a company of a certain size (say, 50 employees or larger) for a certain amount of time (at least a year) 6 weeks paid time off (separate from vacation or paid time off). Not a year, but I think 6 weeks for both parents is a good place to start. If we are so focused on values voters - isn't a basic family value that a new family should have time to get to know each other?

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 2, 2006 9:16 AM

"When my kids are both in school, I hope to work 5 7 hour days, so I can be with them after school."

My DD started kindergarten this year, and the above (5 days, 7 hours/day) is exactly what I proposed doing, so that I could be my DD's "after care". I was told emphatically "NO." Then my immediate supervisor told me that, even though she was [very] part-time when her kids were little, that "they" couldn't allow me to work part-time. (I'm still trying to figure out whether 35 hours a week technically constitutes "part-time" under OPM regs... I read something that mentioned that part-time is considered up to 32 hours/week.)

So even though my agency has TONS of part-timers, I am not permitted by my immediate supervisor to work a SLIGHTLY reduced schedule.

Instead, every day I leave work at 3:00, drive to pick up my DD, take her to aftercare, and return to work. However long that takes me each day, I then stay that much longer past 4:00. (I am a flexitour person.)

So... for now, I make my daily circuit... and count the days till I can retire/quit and spend time with my kids.

So much for family friendly govt. employers

Posted by: Shepherd Park | November 2, 2006 9:29 AM

One has to consider where that company is going to find money to pay for 6wks of maternity leave. Some companies might just not hire someone because they may have to pay for this benefit. It has happened and it is hard to prove. You'll have to fund the investigation, compel every company to maintain a trail of paperwork, supervise the hiring process, etc. For every benefit, there is a cost (not just $$$).

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 9:32 AM

For now, most of us are just ignoring him and waiting till he raises this as a problem. Then we will have to go to management. As far as government workers paid less, I think you have to look at it as each job series. For mid level statisticians and entry level statisticians, the Federal Government pays about 10% under industry. But you have to factor in industry expects a lot more then 40 hours a week. Now some statistical jobs are far more flexible in terms of working remotely etc... But I can't raise my children and work 50-60 hours a week. That just is not possible. I feel I can't be the very best Mommy I can be and work that hard. Also the benefits are really different and more secure with the Federal Government. I don't see anything in the private sector matching the government defined benefit. Even with higher levels of 401K matching, I don't think the benefits in the private sector are better across the board. But this is the first supervisor in my experience who is giving us a hard time. He is also, unfortunately for him, choosing to exert it over just the women in our small group. I don't think it is actual gender discrimination. He just has not had this issue arise for the men in his office. Management told me that they have absolutely no problems pulling the gender card out if he goes to press the issue. I would really like it not to go down that road. I hate trying to make the situation about gender when it is really about his need for control over all people and situations. It just sucks to him, he choose to do it to women. He has a few men working for him that have no issues of working full time 5 days a week. I just think it did not occur to these specific men to ask for more flexibility. I think they just like what they do and want to do it as much as possible. I really don't know why they like working full time. Maybe they need the money. So I am just not sure how it is going to go. But I hate all this conflict. I just count the days till he retires. I think he is 5 years from retirement!

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 9:32 AM

Government is the answer, if people would just trust it long enough to get something done.

And for everyone who is loath to see their taxes raised, or to see their rights infringed on, just remember that in the long run spreading the money and flexibility throughout society has maximum total benefit for all in the end.

Posted by: Fo1 | November 2, 2006 9:33 AM

I blame some of it on the fact that Republicans are running the government right now. We have a Republican president and congress--and they're pro big corporations. So, they're not interested in legislation that's going to mandate that companies spend more on employees--meaning programs that would give more leave, paid leave, etc. Hopefully, if we get more democrats in office, things will change.

Posted by: A Democrat | November 2, 2006 9:37 AM

The judiciary may be called the "third branch" because it appears in Article III of the Constitution. Does anyone know for sure? (Sorry for the tangent -- it got me curious.)

Posted by: Constitution? | November 2, 2006 9:45 AM

At the risk of being a kill-joy I some of us are overlooking the big picture.

Whether we agree or not, the current economic philosophy of our elected leaders is that Big Business (not labor) drives the economy. (It's ALWAYS the economy, stupid.) Making anything/everything easier/faster/simpler/more lucrative for Big Business is priority 1.

Any FMLA change that would cause (even a short-term) decrease in corporate profits, sliding the stockmarket market, thereby decreasing the value of your congressman's mutual funds, simply will NOT happen in this political environment.

I honestly am not trying to throw cold water on people's ideas, but how can these ideas be tweaked to include a short-term incentive to businesses? Without that incentive, the idea itself is moot because the lobbyists would kill the idea before the bill(s) even got to the floor of congress.

I am not knocking repubs here. Dems take contributions from big business too.

Posted by: Reality Check | November 2, 2006 9:47 AM

Mr. Honda:

Government plays a MAJOR role in helping the private sector--how do you think the domestic auto industry has survived thus far? Materials and labor are far cheaper overseas (well, Asia and developing nations). All business would simply be a race for the best workers for the cheapest price without government intervention (tariffs, trade agreements, tax incentives, bail outs, subsidies, etc.). Government support is how many American industries survive or are supported (even hi-tech industry is pretty heavily supported by or directly benefits from government funded educational institutions where discoveries and research take place, as well as agencies like NASA).

I entirely respect your desire to remain employed and not be asking for more when times seem tight, but maintaining a decent living for society often means doing things in a more costly way and government is the only one who can ensure this while still making sure your industry (and others) don't simply fire or screw their employees.

It's a bit of a catch-22 regarding maternity leave: in the past perhaps the issue wasn't as big because there were less women in the workforce and/or families lived closer together so grandparents could help out, but as two-incomes are required for many families, requiring that we support childbirth doesn't seem like a ridiculous notion. I always feel like a broken record here, but if we're not working for a new generation, than what really is the point of any of this?

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 9:50 AM

One extreme example of letting government handle everything is communism, socialism. Give everything to big papa and he'll distribute to you whatever he sees fit.
Do you want to keep 70% of what you earn or do you want to give away 70% of what you earn? Do you think the govt can do a better job taking care of you and your family than you can?

I'm not an expert in the various forms of government, I'm just an average Joe. Just my 1 cent (that's all I have left after taxes).

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 9:51 AM

I hit send before I saw the post from "A Democrat". I want a change from our current leadership as well, but we need to be honest that the Democratic leadership takes a heck of a lot of money from Big Business as well.

Posted by: Reality Check | November 2, 2006 9:52 AM

I think in Canada, the paid maternity leave is part of a mandatory insurance. So all workers pay into an insurance plan that allows for unexpected short term leave of employment. I think that is how their unemployment insurance works as well. I think there are some sectors of the work force that are exempt; like private Dentists. But most jobs fall under that umbrella. It is spreading the resources of many to help a few at a time. I think the childfree people do not complain because it is also tied to unemployment insurance. So all workers can some benefit out of it. I could be wrong about this. But that is how I understood it works. I think they get 50% pay for a year!

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 9:55 AM

"Any FMLA change that would cause (even a short-term) decrease in corporate profits, sliding the stockmarket market, thereby decreasing the value of your congressman's mutual funds, simply will NOT happen in this political environment."

Hey - I'm one of those people who was dupped into believing that contributions to my 401(k) PLUS stock market returns would support me in my old age. I really shouldn't say duped, because there never was any choice.

So remember, those stock returns aren't just for Congressmen, there are lots of us with a stake in the market -- and we aren't all capitalist pigs feeding at the public trough.

That said I favor a scheme that depends on something structured similar to unemployment insurance. When you push these costs off onto smaller groups it genuinely makes it hard for them to compete, and would work against women of child-bearing age.

I'm not particularly for government intervention but I think in some instance you need that massive scale to keep costs from knocking out specific industries.

Posted by: RoseG | November 2, 2006 10:02 AM

To foamgnome:
that mandatory insurance sounds a lot like voluntary short-term and long-term disability that some private companies offer. Employees can buy into that benefit, it's a voluntary decision.

We already have a way for women to get 12wks of paid maternity leave. It's called short-term disability insurance and sometimes it pays 70% salary. Women buy that insurance voluntarily.

A little off the topic, but before we "apply" another country's policy to the US, remember that we have a huge illegal immigrant population, its proportion is unmatched by any other industrialized country.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 10:05 AM

Mr. Honda:
I agree with you--communism and socialism didn't exactly pan out for the best, but think of all the things you could be paying for on your own (a standing army, electric/water/gas/transportation infrastructure, postal service, etc., etc.). I'm not a fan of taxes, but seeing what things cost like paid for by an individual last year when my father had a stroke and reached the maximum amount his health insurance would cover was quite an eye opener--we were only able to cover all costs with the help of his church and family (my grandfather died about 8 months later and left some money to my father).

If we could make government more honest and more efficient, would you feel better about where and how your tax money got spent?

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 10:08 AM

I am all for capitolism. I completely agree the guy at the top should get paid more than the guy at the bottom. But how much money do CEOs need? Barry Diller got, depending on your math, either 85 million or 295 million dollars last year. He isn't paying for his corporate jet, his company does. He doesn't pay for high end penthouse suites in hotels around the world, his company does. When was the last time your employer agreed to pay for your transportation and lodging, much less a private jet and luxury suites? Government alone is not the answer. Moral responsibilty would be great, if more people had it. It seems to me that big business could easily pay for things like paid family leave if there was a little less greed at the top. How many of Mr. Diller's employees took family leave in the past year and how much did it cost his company? I highly doubt that it even approached 85 million.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 2, 2006 10:11 AM

I believe Mr. Honda is a college freshman with six weeks of Econ101 under his belt.

Which is not a slam: it's great to start thinking through the logical ramifications of this sort of thing. But please take the wider world into consideration. There ARE options between government-by-private-interest, and communism.

Many European countries are walking a delicate line like this. Good social services, but at the cost of a higher tax burden. (Wait til you get to the "economies of scale" chapter in your textbook. You will see that yes indeed, when it comes to something huge, universally-needed, and expensive like healthcare, the government can indeed take better care of your family than you can. Another good term for your textbook glossary: collective buying power.)

Also, please note that the economies of the highest quality-of-life European countries have transitioned away from manufacturing. We in the U.S. seem determined to hang on to expensive, outdated manufacturing processes, but must eventually concede that it's not tenable in the long term.

I believe that we'll get there. We're in the midst of a painful economic and social transition, but it will be interesting to watch. And at the end of it all, well, maybe our grandsons will be working four day weeks, and using the 5th day to oversee a childcare co-op!

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 10:12 AM

marc, I am sorry to hear about what you went through with your father.

Yes, I agree that govt has a role to play. I think we can agree that everyone disagrees how large that role will be. I'm more of a libertarian. I do believe that govt is tasked to do defense, utility infrastructure, transportation (and more things I can't think of right now). However, we've all experienced the negatives of "big government". I am hesitant to have another sweeping mandate like mandatory short-term disability insurance or universal health care (a big debate for another day) or some huge expansion of FMLA without knowing the details.

Anyway, it's nice to see that 2 men can agree to disagree in a civil way.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 10:15 AM

WDC:
I believe "Mr. Honda" said he was in the domestic automotive industry. He's probably someone incognito from our legislative branch looking to exploit any underage posters on the blog...

Trust no one...

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 10:16 AM

I work a part-time job and was still able to collect about 50 percent of my pay, a woman must work at least 700 hours a year to qualify for maternity leave.

I was able to stay home a full year with my oldest now five, as well as for my second son; I am glad that I live in a country where it is recognized that both mother and father can qualify for long term maternity leave.

Even my husband was able to time off work to be with his new born. We all pay into E.I. which is Employment Insurance.

As well, when one returns to the world of employment you are guaranteed the same job or an equivalent.

Spending that first year with your child is so utterly important and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Consequently most do take the full year off.

Posted by: Mom in Canada | November 2, 2006 10:16 AM

"And for everyone who is loath to see their taxes raised, or to see their rights infringed on, just remember that in the long run spreading the money and flexibility throughout society has maximum total benefit for all in the end. "

If I thought that socialism really did have the maximum total benefit for all in the end, I wouldn't mind paying more taxes for Working Mom A to have a 3 month paid maternity leave.

But since we're not a socialist country, nor do I want to be one, I think this is something that should stay firmly in the private sector. If companies want to offer paid maternity leave or flex time or whatever - great. If not, don't work for them. I think we should work as a society to get companies to recognize the benefit to them personally of having a family-friendly workplace. But a company benefiting is far different from society as a whole benefiting.

This is blunt...but a lot of times I think in the quest to "have it all", I think that women end up with this sense of entitlement that just isn't deserved. I want to work. I want to have children. I want to stay home with them for 6 months after they're born. I want to be paid while I'm home. I want to be treated *exactly* the same when I return to work, even though I may have missed important projects and information. I want to work just the hours I want to and not what my employer needs. I want to be able to leave work for every school event and soccer game. (I want to be paid for the time I'm away at school events and soccer games.)

Now...could you tell me exactly why all of the childless people, the families who have chosen to have a parent at home raising their children, and the people who have already raised their children should pay for this entitlement? It's not the same as public education (where the same argument is made), because there's no concrete proof that two working parent families are better for children.

Posted by: momof4 | November 2, 2006 10:17 AM

I work for a local muni gov and I do NOT have the option of short-term disability when I have a baby. Any time I want to spend with on maternity leave comes directly out of my sick and vacation time. So I have to save up EVERY day of leave for over a year to get 6 weeks off after giving birth. As my pregnancy is high-risk, God forbid if I need bedrest (which is likely).

It's just ridiculously stressful when it shouldn't be.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 10:20 AM

Mr. Honda:
That's one of the best parts about this country--we can have disagreements openly. Personally, I don't like the way most of my taxes are spent. And, I was just being sarcastic with WDC regarding you pretending to be someone you're not. I thought he came down a little hard on you guessing you were a young student.

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 10:20 AM

because there's no concrete proof that two working parent families are better for children.

Who is saying this? I don't think anyone thinks that two working parents are any better or worse society. It is just a reality. Again and again, childless and SAHP families pay into these things because it is a way to keep qualified people in the work force. Whether you think it is beneficial to you or not. Having people who want to work and are qualified to work is good for this country. I am not sure where entitlement comes in. People are redefining work and employment situations. Why is that only targeted at women with children. The other women in my office that wants to keep her alternative schedule is single and child free. It has nothing to do with having or not having children. It is about saying work can be redefined and the product can still come out just as good. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 10:23 AM

"....there's no concrete proof that two working parent families are better for children."

******************
well, I think there is proof that having a home and food is better for children, and often 2 incomes are necessary for that to happen.

Having a baby is a medical event! It requires some level of recovery period. No one doubts that if you have surgery, you should be entitled to a period of recovery. Why is having a baby different?

Posted by: Raia | November 2, 2006 10:23 AM

To Mr. Honda: Not every employer offers long and short term disability insurance. That is the point. The federal government does not offer this benefit. I am not sure how illegal immigrants work into this at all. They would neither pay into or collect this insurance. What people don't get about illegal immigrants is that a lot of them do pay payroll taxes. They use someone elses SSN and actually pay taxes. Given they could file, they would actually get a lot of $ back. But they don't file because of deportation. I think everyone thinks that all illegal immigrants are working under the table. Which is simply not true. Not to mention, no one seems to want to go after the US citizens that work under the table. There are a lot of them too.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 10:26 AM

Responding somewhat to momof4's comments, I wonder if the government mandated paid maternity leave, whether the private sector would be less likely to hire women (obviously, they would have to do this underhandedly and against discrimination laws)...

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 10:28 AM

10:20

"I work for a local muni gov and I do NOT have the option of short-term disability when I have a baby. Any time I want to spend with on maternity leave comes directly out of my sick and vacation time. So I have to save up EVERY day of leave for over a year to get 6 weeks off after giving birth. As my pregnancy is high-risk, God forbid if I need bedrest (which is likely).

It's just ridiculously stressful when it shouldn't be."

You have 6 weeks of sick and vacation time a year??? That's pretty generous. I realize that's not your point but I thought I'd point out that very few people in the private sector have those sorts of benefits.

I agree that it can be stressful to think about "paying for" maternity and/or pregnancy leave. But frankly, it's just part of being a parent. Babies cost money, and not just to buy the fancy stroller and crib, decorate the nursery, and buying formula and diapers. When I was working full time and having my first two children while my husband was a student and not bringing in an income, we did this really novel thing....we SAVED money so that I would be able to take 6 weeks off after their births. If I had needed to go on bedrest or needed more than 6 weeks afterwards to recover, it would have been difficult, but not impossible....because we had a plan and weren't depending on anyone else to pay for our choice to have children.


Posted by: momof4 | November 2, 2006 10:28 AM

Shepherd Park,

The federal gov't defines full-time work as 40 hours per week or 80 hours per 2-week pay period. Part-time work is defined as 16-32 hours per week. The 35-hour weekly work schedule you wanted to use does not fall squarely inside either definition. Paying an employee a full-time salary to work less than 40 hours per week, however, would constitute time card fraud and could land your supervisor in serious trouble.

Did you explore other alternatives with your supervisor? Could you take annual leave or leave without pay one hour per day? Does your agency have a telecommuting policy you could use to work that one hour per day from home? Could you make arrangements to work late one or two days a pay period to earn credit hours and use those to leave early the rest of the pay period?

You probably don't want to hear this, but many people would view your Agency allowing you to leave to take your child to daycare and then return to work as a pretty family friendly policy. Most private sector employers do not provide the same flexibility.

Posted by: MP | November 2, 2006 10:28 AM

WRT the following: "Any FMLA change that would cause (even a short-term) decrease in corporate profits, sliding the stockmarket market, thereby decreasing the value of your congressman's mutual funds, simply will NOT happen in this political environment."

Eh, depends on what part of that statement you feel most strongly about - what constitutes "this" political environment. You could easily change FMLA if you had the right ad guys pushing for it (hello? "death" tax anyone?). Anyway, God only knows why people would go to the mats AGAINST having companies pay for 6 weeks paid parental leave because they think it will decrease shareholder value - the heads of companies do this enough on their own (backdating stock options, etc.). Why don't we save our fury for people who are selfish and decrease shareholder value. The same argument has been made against having a minimum wage law, safety requirements for workers, FMLA when it was passed the first time. We shouldn't be duped by this "decreasing shareholder value" argument now. As a simple aside - the reason why car manufacturers are doing so badly is because the U.S. is transitioning from a production based economy to a knowledge-asset based economy. I hate the new American mentality of "why should I have to pay for _____" For all of us so worried about the car workers, why should I have to pay for someone who wasn't smart enough to realize a change is afoot in our domestic economy and they should be trained for other things?

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 2, 2006 10:34 AM

Paid leave for a self-inflicted disability. Not bad. Can I apply?

Posted by: Steve | November 2, 2006 10:35 AM

Shepherd Park: My agency has no problems with people working between 39-32 1/2 hours reduced schedule. Obviously you get paid less percentage wise and you accrue leave at the same percentage. Also time in service is accrued the same way. So if work 10% less, I earn 10% less leave and I have only 90% of the time accredited to time in service. I don't think anyone would think they should be paid the same, if they are not working the same number of hours. That would be absurd. Contrary to what some might think, when I went to a reduced schedule, I knew that my promotion potential during that time period was nonexistant. I don't think it is realistic to think otherwise. But I wanted to make that sacrifice for my family. Why does everyone think that we are demanding less time, more flexibility, and expect the same rewards. I do on the other hand expect human dignity. I think everyone deserves that.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 10:37 AM

As long time readers of this blog will note, I have often advocated for some kind of governmental invovlement in this issue.

Why? Because I believe that the government should exist to help people and protect people, and this would be protecting the family. Ensuring that the citizens, leaders, thinkers, scientists, atheletes, etc. of tomorrow are well-parented today should be a huge priority for government.

Does this discriminate against people who choose not to have kids? Not in the slightest. The government isn't imposing children on anyone, merely creating opportunity for those who do. The government already creates tax breaks for homeowners, small business owners, etc., so the notion that there is some kind of discrimination, favoribility etc. going on is silly. All government is doing is creating incentives for certain choices. And let's face it, if staying single and childless were so attractive, there would be incentives for that too.

Now, what about business? The idea that such a plan would be detrimental to business is similarly fanciful. Take the current issue of the Clean Air Act regulatioins on emissions. There are some companies that think it will be profitable in the long run, such as Duke Energy in North Carolina, to fight the government and not upgrade their equipment to emit less polutions. And there are others, like Dominion Power in Virginia, who have made the decision that upgrading their equipment is a better strategy.

So, in the end, it all goes to choices and priorities. Given the lip service that politicians of all stripes place on "family", "parents" and other focus-grouped buzzwords, I think it is high time we hold their feet to the fire on this. Three cheers to you Rebeldad, for raising the issue!

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 10:37 AM

"Having a baby is a medical event! It requires some level of recovery period. No one doubts that if you have surgery, you should be entitled to a period of recovery. Why is having a baby different?"

Ummm....I've had four children - I'm aware that it is a medical event and requires recovery. I didn't say that mothers shoudln't be entitled to a period of recovery. But we *have that* - FMLA (even though it's not the intent of FMLA, it does provide for it.) And actually, FMLA is generous as far as the time off it allows for, because even after a c-section, it doesn't take 12 weeks to recover.

"well, I think there is proof that having a home and food is better for children, and often 2 incomes are necessary for that to happen."

'Tis true. But I didn't say that people shouldn't work to support their families as needed - I said that the government shouldn't subsidize the maternity leaves of every working mother in the country. See my post above about planning for and saving for taking several weeks off to recover from the birth of your baby.

Posted by: momof4 | November 2, 2006 10:37 AM

As long time readers of this blog will note, I have often advocated for some kind of governmental invovlement in this issue.

Why? Because I believe that the government should exist to help people and protect people, and this would be protecting the family. Ensuring that the citizens, leaders, thinkers, scientists, atheletes, etc. of tomorrow are well-parented today should be a huge priority for government.

Does this discriminate against people who choose not to have kids? Not in the slightest. The government isn't imposing children on anyone, merely creating opportunity for those who do. The government already creates tax breaks for homeowners, small business owners, etc., so the notion that there is some kind of discrimination, favoribility etc. going on is silly. All government is doing is creating incentives for certain choices. And let's face it, if staying single and childless were so attractive, there would be incentives for that too.

Now, what about business? The idea that such a plan would be detrimental to business is similarly fanciful. Take the current issue of the Clean Air Act regulatioins on emissions. There are some companies that think it will be profitable in the long run, such as Duke Energy in North Carolina, to fight the government and not upgrade their equipment to emit less polutions. And there are others, like Dominion Power in Virginia, who have made the decision that upgrading their equipment is a better strategy.

Business can and should be compelled to think about parenting and whether or not any of thse "family-friendly" companies really are. Further, employees can make choices with their feet and their labor. Quit your job at a family unfirendly company and go work somewhere else. One hopes, perhaps naively, that businesses will gradually see what is happening and make the appropriate changes.

So, in the end, it all goes to choices and priorities. Given the lip service that politicians of all stripes place on "family", "parents" and other focus-grouped buzzwords, I think it is high time we hold their feet to the fire on this. Three cheers to you Rebeldad, for raising the issue!

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 10:39 AM

Whoa, Momof4... I know you didn't mean it that way, but that was a little harsh on the gal who's trying to figure out how to have a baby and keep her job. She said she had to save vacation and sick leave for *over* a year to get six weeks. And I'm guessing that unpaid leave (using savings, like you recommend) is not an option with her employer. They don't have to let you take time off, just cause they're not paying you. The work still needs to be done.

I think this is a good illustration of where a little government intervention would be beneficial, at a low enough cost to keep the communism chicken littles quiet. (You know how in a political debate, the first person to mention nazis automatically loses? I feel the same way about someone who mentions communism in a modern-day practical economic debate.)

FMLA only gives you a limited period of time off before your employer can legally give your job to someone else. It makes sense, from the point of view of the employer. Leaving your position vacant, they're losing productivity. However, like the municipal employee who anticipates some bedrest time, the FMLA allotment isn't always sufficient. How about starting off with a simple medical provision, to the effect of increased allowed leave (still unpaid) in cases of increased medical need? This would be pregnance requiring bedrest, a premature child, or other birth complications. Still not open ended, but a little more human and flexible. It would be an easy second step.

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 10:39 AM

Steve, that was hilarious. Thanks for the levity!

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 10:41 AM

WDC:

I guess I just assumed that since she was talking about using her vacation/sick pay to take 6 weeks off, that the 12 weeks unpaid that FMLA offers would be sufficient as far as actual time off (keeping money out of it.) Maybe her job doesn't fall under FMLA, but I have a hard time believing that any governmental employee in this country would be legally told "sorry, you can't have the time off after your baby is born - see you tomorrow!!"

Posted by: momof4 | November 2, 2006 10:45 AM

If you've been around for a while, you would know that momof4's general message is this:

"I've had 4 children, and therefore I can say that staying home is always easier for the mom than working and it's just the mom's selfishness, no children need schedules and it's just for the mom's case, and no moms would need more than 12 weeks of leave for having a baby."

She's the expert on one-size-fits-all parenting.

Posted by: All hail momof4! | November 2, 2006 10:50 AM

I guess I want to raise this issue and I don't mean to be rude. So I apologize in advance. When ever we talk about flexibile work schedules or maternity benefits, it seems as if a percentage of SAHP families, think we are suggesting entitlement programs. And that working families should just have to own up to their own choices. But on the other hand, what if SSA stopped paying survior benefits to the non working spouse. After all, the non working spouse is getting a benefit that he or she did not pay into. The two working families can not collect the survivor benefit as well as their own benefit. But no one screams entitlement. No one screams subsidies (sp?) and no one screams discrimination. No one screams let the SAHP families live up to their own decision. I think most reasonable people understand that the survivor benefits are in the best interest of this country. No one wants to see a percentage of the elderly population get thrust into poverty. Or people have to make choices between raising the next generation at the expense of old age poverty. So why this double standard?

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 10:50 AM

foamgnome,

It seem like you are making a very specific value judgement on parenting. Just as you think survivor benefits are important, I think the government providing a way for a parent to choose to stay at home is equally important.

You've made your choice, I've made mine. But please don't pretend that you're not.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 10:57 AM

To Mr. Honda---
so we shouldn't advocate for paid parental leave because companies may break the law and discriminate? How about we not have laws against murder because people are going to kill people anyway? That's a bit extreme, but not creating laws because someone will break it is a poor argument. Your cost to companies was a better argument however if you look at executive pay over the last 25 years, you will note that it used to be about 17 times the average worker's pay. It is now thousands of times higher. Companies can redistribute the proceeds in a more rational manner and provide the benefit.

To "Democrat"--
The real reason we need more democrats in congress is to balance the government. Historically, our government works better when the congress and the executive branch is of different parties. That way, they have to work together and compromise on issues. Right now we have a "do-nothing", rubber stamp congress that has let this administration run rampant over our rights. If we had a democrat for president, it would probably be better to have a republican congress. I can't believe I wrote that as a life long democrat, but that's the way it is....

Posted by: politics | November 2, 2006 10:57 AM

Don't pick on Momof4. Pick on that Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 2, 2006 10:58 AM

Short term disability insurance does not pay for maternity leave--not unless there is a medical issue.

And government subsidizing anything is not socialism or communism. You need to look those up. Business is heavily subsidized by the government (farmers, the airline industry and auto industry). When these businesses are badly managed, they are bailed out by the government. So that's ok, but advocating for workers is not?

Posted by: To Mr. Honda | November 2, 2006 11:02 AM

GloverPark, I am not saying that the government shouldn't provide ways for people to stay at home with their children. I am not pretending that I don't have opinions. I think that is what you are saying. What I am saying is that a % of SAHP think the government does not have to intervene and help support the choices that working families make but they think it is fine and dandy for the government to support their choice to stay at home.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 11:02 AM

The government gives nothing it doesn't first take away, who's going to pay for more of the free lunch women somehow feel they are entitled too?

Posted by: mcewen | November 2, 2006 11:02 AM

Short term disability insurance does not pay for maternity leave--not unless there is a medical issue.

And government subsidizing anything is not socialism or communism. You need to look those up. Business is heavily subsidized by the government (farmers, the airline industry and auto industry). When these businesses are badly managed, they are bailed out by the government. So that's ok, but advocating for workers is not?

Posted by: To Mr. Honda | November 2, 2006 11:03 AM

politics:

That was my post about companies not hiring women if they were forced to pay maternity leave and I didn't say a single word about not advocating for paid maternity leave. I feel the complete opposite--I simply said I wonder if such practices would result? This blog often talks about obstacles toward women in the workplace and I was merely conjecturing as to whether such a benefit as paid maternity leave (which would make it easier to have children and be employed) would simulteneously make it harder for women to become employed in the first place. It's something to consider (by which, I mean, efforts would also need to be made to prevent such discriminatory practices).

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 11:07 AM

foamgnome wrote:
"What I am saying is that a % of SAHP think the government does not have to intervene and help support the choices that working families make but they think it is fine and dandy for the government to support their choice to stay at home."

What's wrong with that? The government supports people who start small businesses and people who buy homes. Are people who don't start businesses or buy homes being penalized? Not in the slightest.

The government has made a choice to incentivize certain things, and it can easily choose to incentivize SAHPs if it wants to. I think it should. Should it also incentivize working parents? Absolutley.

At the risk of sounding naive, the government put a person on the moon. If it wants to accoplsih something, it can. We as citizens need to make our voices heard so that our government takes action.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 11:10 AM

Some food for thought from the link Brian provided on the Family & Medical Leave Extension Act:

"According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 3.5 million people who qualified for family and medical leave in the year 2000 were not able to take it. Seventy-eight percent of that group did not take leave because they could not afford to do so. At least 128 countries provide paid and job-protected maternity leave, with an average basic paid leave of sixteen weeks."

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 11:10 AM

Um...how can people say that socialism didn't pan out? Last time I checked, the moderate socialist Scandanavian countries have the highest standard of living in the world. I'm not saying that socialism is the answer for our culture, but people who dismiss it as a failure makes me wonder if they equate it with communisim (which is extreme socialism coupled with corruption) and not really done their homework. I used to live in Denmark and while, yeah, the taxes are bad, you're retirement, education and healthcare are covered. So there is a tradeoff, and it is not all bad. And yes, even though their unemployment is higher than ours...they still have a higher standard of living overall.

Posted by: Socialism | November 2, 2006 11:12 AM

Mcewen: "Free lunch" that's cute. Never would have pegged you as a punner.

Try to think of it this way: every working generation pays for the needs of the previous one, and the upbringing of the future one. That way, when we're all old and unproductive, someone will be looking out for us, as we looked out for them. You can see your part in this dynamic as expressing your gratitude to the generation which made it possible for your parents to raise you.

No society can be complete or successful without a strategy for caring for the young and the old. Ours kinda sucks right now, but with a little good will all around, we'll get there.

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 11:12 AM

foamgnome wrote:
"What I am saying is that a % of SAHP think the government does not have to intervene and help support the choices that working families make but they think it is fine and dandy for the government to support their choice to stay at home."

What's wrong with that? The government supports people who start small businesses and people who buy homes. Are people who don't start businesses or buy homes being penalized? Not in the slightest.

The government has made a choice to incentivize certain things, and it can easily choose to incentivize SAHPs if it wants to. I think it should. Should it also incentivize working parents? Absolutley.

At the risk of sounding naive, the government put a person on the moon. If it wants to accoplsih something, it can. We as citizens need to make our voices heard so that our government takes action.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 11:13 AM

I'm with momof4 on this one. I have 2 children and have never been SAHM. I did take 4 month maternity leaves with each child that were paid because I saved my federal employee sick and annual leave (and borrowed advance sick leave with the second baby). I am not against progress, but mothers today (in the fed workforce at least) have it much better than before FMLA. For many years, fed employers were only required to allow time off for birth for 6-8 weeks for medical reasons, depending on whether or not C-section was needed. After that, you were expected to return to work, regardless of whether or not you still had accumulated leave. Then the rules were relaxed so that you could be off longer with management approval (depending on workloads) but you could only use sick leave for the time you were medically incapacitated - beyond that you had to use annual leave if you wanted to be paid. BTW, I worked for 12 years before I had children and that is the only reason I had enough leave to be paid as long as I was.

It is not impossible to return to work after medical recovery from childbirth. It is not easy, and it may not be the way you want to do it, but it is not impossible. My neighbor returned to work 4 weeks after giving birth to twins because she needed the money.

I am not opposed to better benefits, and I don't feel that people shouldn't have it easier because "I was able to do it" the hard way, but I do think that there should be more personal responsibility. save a little more money and/or leave before starting a family, buy an outside short-term disability policy if your employer doesn't offer one, adjust your budget so that you can afford some unpaid time off.

Posted by: anonfornow | November 2, 2006 11:15 AM

foamgnome

Good points concerning SSA survivor benefits.

When my husband died, our daughter was entitled to SSA survivor benefits based on my husband's contributions.

I made too much income to qualify for benefits, but I could have gone to part-time to qualify for benefits to which I had made no contributions. I know several widows with young children who have done this.

Posted by: DZ | November 2, 2006 11:16 AM

Glover Park: I think your reading into something that I did not say or I did not mean to say. I am not at all saying that the Government should not give incentives to SAHP. I don't know where you got that from. I also don't know what specific value judgement you think I am making about parenting. I don't think I said anything of the sort. I am a parent too. I am just saying that a % of SAHP (not you specifically), do not realize that the government is giving you incentives to SAH with your children. But some SAHP( again not you-I think I was thinking of momof4), do not think the government should help working families. They think it is entitlement. I don't know why you think I am against the government helping all people with flexible schedules and benefits. I have never said anything of the sort. We actually agree on this issue. We think it is in the best interest of society for the government to help all people with their choices. I don't know why you think otherwise. But if you got that impression, I apologize. I never meant to say anything in nonsupport of SAHP. In fact, both Sam and I have said, we wished we could be SAHPs. Sorry for the confusion.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 11:16 AM

I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that unemployment rates in Norway and Sweden had plummeted over the last decade or so. I know that when my brother lived there (early 90s), unemployment was awful, but I believe they've gotten it under control.

And yes, super high quality of life, low crime, etc. The downside is the awful weather and the terrible food. See, it really IS all about balance!

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 11:17 AM

politics 10:57: no, no that's not what I meant. I meant that we need to consider the cost of enforcing that law. every new law has lots of costs, one of which is enforcement. sorry if i did not make myself clear. my education level is not as high as many people here.

11:02: my wife's voluntary short-term disability insurance paid for 12wks at 70% when she had both children. i assumed that all plans had that coverage. apologies if i am wrong.


Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 11:20 AM

Just confirming:
2005 Unemployment rates from the CIA world factbook:
Norway 4.2%
USA 5.1%

And here's a good one. Population living below the poverty line:
Norway "not applicable"
USA 12%

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 11:22 AM

The weather in Norway and Sweden is better than where I live. If you prepare your own food, it need not be terrible.

Posted by: June | November 2, 2006 11:22 AM

Question - seriously, think about this. How many of you would be willing to take a cut in pay so that the company could afford to pay employees for the additional time off? I'm not talking about greedy CEO's and their perceived lack of social responsibility.

If you could work at company A for X$$ with no maternity/paternity benefits or for company B for X$$ minus 5% with maternity/paternity/family (eldercare) benefits for all employees, would you go for the salary or benefits? What if it was your first job? or Not planning on having kids? or Older and beyond childbearing?

Actually, my belief is that the benefits will not be offered unless the company feels like they can't attract the employees they want otherwise.

Posted by: anonfornow | November 2, 2006 11:23 AM

The government makes all kinds of rules to protect employees of private business: mandatory minimum wage, overtime rules, OSHA rules, mandatory time off to vote, etc. Why is mandatory medical leave so much more controversial than those?

And how would this raise your taxes? It's the business that has to eat the cost of this rule, not the government. Certain products and services may increase slightly in price as a result, but not your taxes. (Tax rates are at historical LOWS right now, so I'm not sure why everyone's so worked up about taxes at the moment.)

Personally I'm willing to pay an extra 10 cents for a bottle of shampoo if it means that the employees of the shampoo manufacturer are allowed extended leave to care for their families. It's a small price to pay for a more humane world.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 11:24 AM

I agree with Marc-- there is a middle road between big-business oligarchy and communism. Anytime we start talking about government regulation/benefits, someone gets all histrionic about how this is the slippery slope to socialism. I tell you what makes me hysterical-- corporate welfare and protection. For any CEO that wants to compete in a totally free market without environmental, safety or employment regulation, I say stop asking Washington for bail-outs, protection from lawsuits, tarrifs, subsidies, tax-breaks, free promotion through the commerce department, etc.-- then we can talk about being entirely free from regulation. Repubs have convinced so many people that healthy big business means a healthy society-- but that is simply not the case; business is about maximizing profits, not maximizing social welfare.

To Mr. Honda and others who worry about jobs going overseas, the truth is that as the Chinese economy heats up and labor markets get more competitive, workers are demanding better pay and conditions there too. Rather than responding to international competition by engaging in a race to the bottom (quick, who can pay their workers the least and get away with the most abuse?!) the US and Europe will need to (1) specialize away from manufacturing to industries requiring greater knowledge, skill and innovation and (2) continue increasing external pressure on the Chinese, Indians, etc. re: basic rights for workers.

We all have choices to make. What kind of a society and what kind of a world do we want to live in? Why accept as inevitable that we have to treat workers badly or damage the environment in order to compete in the global economy? If the US chose to lead on these issues rather than allowing government decision making to be completely captured by big business, great progress could be made.

BTW, MomOf4, we disagree on some things but I agree that childbirth should not be seen as a medical event (my crunchy-granola take on it is that it should be seen as a natural, healthy event not an illness). But I do think new moms (and dads!) need time to bond with their babies and get the hang of baby care before being shoved back to the office (or behind the register at McD's).

Posted by: JKR | November 2, 2006 11:25 AM

Wow, socialism in the USA?! I cannot imagine how that will work in this country when there is 300million people and illegal immigrants poring in every day.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 11:25 AM

I guess with the Canadian example, no one is paying you anything extra. You are buying into and paying into a system over your employment history. I also agree I would rather pay 10 cent extra to provide a better world. But I know there are people who are so into get everything for themselves that they won't even give up that dime. Sad world.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 11:27 AM

"Short term disability insurance does not pay for maternity leave"

It pays for 6 weeks. At least, it did in California back when I had my kid.

I think the entire premise of family leave is flawed. Why should the government mandate leave? If the employee is valuable, the employer will grant the leave. Otherwise, no dice.

Why assume that parents are all in agreement about the necessary government response? Becoming a parent doesn't turn everyone into a greedy gimmee case.

Posted by: Cal | November 2, 2006 11:27 AM

So should the government put policies in place to help one parent stay at home? Or put policies in place to help both parents continue working and spend time with their families? Should it do both and, if so, will the two policies be working at cross-purposes with one another? Or just increasing the options for all families? What about families where, even with government help, they can't afford for a parent to stay home? Is it fair that they can't take advantage of whatever policies are put in place to help a parent stay at home (such as a tax break)?

And who will pay for this? Will the government subsidize businesses? Will they pay parents not to work? (I understand there's a program in Montana that pays women on welfare to stay home with their children when the children are younger, as that costs less than subsidizing day care so they can work, and enables them to take care of their family and perhaps pursue a degree). Will businesses be required to both pay an employee to be out of the office for 3 months and keep the job open, and will doing so be the expense of a co-worker who has to pick up the slack during the person's absence? Is it worthwhile to the business to do this anyway rather than to hire someone else and bring him or her up to speed for such a short period of time?

And is it fair to say that we all "choose" to work and therefore shouldn't have our maternity leave paid for? What's wrong wtih viewing that as a benefit like life insurance? And don't forget that the FMLA also applies to taking care of relatives, such as aging parents.

Obviously my questions go both ways and I don't have the answers. Just throwing these out as food for thought. It seems like there are potential inequities across the board.

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 11:28 AM

Anon, I'd take company B.

In fact, in a way, I did. I was offered two really interesting jobs when I moved to Washington: one with a small private company, typical strict two-weeks-a-year vacation, not FMLA eligible, etc. They had to look out for their bottom line, and I get that. The other was a large socially responsible firm, offering 20% less in salary (yes, twenty per cent) but better benefits for me, a great mission, a good environment, and flexibility.

Let's just say, I'm making way less than I could, but I'm happy not to be cash-rich and spirit-poor.

Who's with me? Who else would have made the same decision?

Posted by: WDC | November 2, 2006 11:31 AM

anonfornow said:

"BTW, I worked for 12 years before I had children and that is the only reason I had enough leave to be paid as long as I was."

For me, this is the problem. I started my job as a fed at 26. I don't want to wait until I am 38 to have kids (if I'm even able to have them at that age, given the drop in fertility.) I had my first at 28 (3 month maternity leave, with one month unpaid and 3 weeks advanced sick leave.) I hate that I am debating when to have another one based on how much leave I will have accumulated again. I would HAPPILY pay higher taxes in order for the U.S. to come in line with all of the other industrialized nations (minus Australia) and offer PAID maternity leave. If EVERYONE else is doing it, it can't be THAT difficult. Period.

Posted by: CC | November 2, 2006 11:33 AM

CC: I started with the fed at 26 too. I had my first kid at 33. I took off 18 weeks and first then an additional 2 weeks. I had 12 weeks of sick in the balance and a bunch of annual left. Why do you have so little leave? I am not being critical. I am trying to do the math. Were you sick a lot yourself? I was almost never sick. Now almost three years later, I have 180 hours of sick and I will have 220 hours of annual. So I think you can do it. I have been very fortunate that DD has a really good immune system. But I did space out my planning for kid #2 to get leave. Your right, I will be around 38 when DD #2 arrives.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 11:38 AM

I really have to scratch my head and wonder about all of those who are so adamantly against government policies that benefit children.

Mcewen, where's your outrage over corporate welfare? Speaking of free lunch, check out the subsidies that agri-business receives, then keep in mind this sector is the largest employer of illegal immigrants. As a vegetarian, I'm appalled that my tax dollars are spent to subsidize and promote the beef and poultry industries...not to mention, Sen. Burns of Montana, in promoting the interests of the Cattlemen's Association, slipped back a provision that once again allows for the slaughter of wild mustangs (can't wait to see him lose next Tuesday).

Why is it okay for the government to pay farmers NOT to grow crops, but it's somehow inherently bad to assist with childcare for low-income families (usually headed by single mothers) or for government to provide some sort of incentive for paid maternity leave? When I did a research paper in college as the ABC Child Care Act was being passed (this established block grants to states for subsidized child care for low-income families), I accumulated dozens of horror stories about children left in substandard care or left alone because parents didn't have child care. This often resulted in tragedy. Last year in Phoenix we had an eight-year-old girl die because her apartment caught on fire and both parents were at work. The funding to Arizona for child care subsidies is woefully short (It's much different here than in NoVa, where these grants usually went underspent).

You can dump on the parents about their socioeconomic status, but what about children? Should they die because they are born to poor parents?

Posted by: single western mom | November 2, 2006 11:39 AM

foamgnome,
My apologies. I think I did indeed misread what you were writing. Damn those pesky nouns and verbs, always trying to mix me up!

I think we are on the same side on this one. Again, my mistake.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 11:43 AM

GloverPark: No problem. I think it would be easier for people to dialogue in person. The limitations of cyberspace. But of course if we were all talking in person, people would not have the guts to say some of the stuff that they say on this board. I would also get fired too for being MIA during work time. :)

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 11:46 AM

"At the risk of sounding naive, the government put a person on the moon. If it wants to accoplsih something, it can. We as citizens need to make our voices heard so that our government takes action."

Sorry, Glover Park, that IS naive.

The Government was incentivized to do the moon shot (generic nationalism - space race with USSR among others).

Today the Government is incented to protect short and long term interests of big business - lobbyists literally PAY our congresspeople.

How do we citizens incent the government to do what is in OUR best interests? Vote? That won't do it. For every $50 I could contribute to an election campaign, companies could contribute 1000 times that. So I'm still scratching my head on how "We The People" get this done.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 11:47 AM

If you work for a large employer, recruiting and retention needs require that there generally is a paid-leave policy of some sort available. A government program is not going to impact these employers one bit.

If you work for an employer with fewer than 10 employees, it is unlikely that a government program would apply. Even the dumbest legislator understands that an unfunded mandate such as this would cripple small businesses.

The most recent statistics on point I can find from the U.S. Census Bureau (available on its website) are from 2003. There are 15.9 million employees employed by businesses with fewer than 10 employees. In 2003, there were 5.3 million businesses that fit this profile. There are an additional 18.6 million businesses ("mom and pops") that have no employees. Such nonemployers represent 70% of the businesses in the U.S.

If we enact a government requirement that only applies to businesses with more than 50 employees, it doesn't impact any of these folks, and these are the people who are the most likely not to have any private sector protection.

So some responders are proposing to enact a new benefit that isn't needed by those who work for large employers, and won't be required for those who work for small employers. Who's left? businesses between say 50 and 200 employees who will solve the problem by hiring as few women of child-bearing age as possible. Female applicants will never be able to prove that they were not hired because of their child-bearing capacity, but,frankly, the pricetage of hiring such applicants is so much higher than the cost of hiring the guy with roughly the same credentials, it's a no-brainer for the mid-sized company manager.

A benefit's not very helpful to society if the women to whom it's important can't get hired.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 11:49 AM

CC: I started with the fed at 26 too. I had my first kid at 33. I took off 18 weeks and first then an additional 2 weeks. I had 12 weeks of sick in the balance and a bunch of annual left. Why do you have so little leave? I am not being critical. I am trying to do the math. Were you sick a lot yourself? I was almost never sick. Now almost three years later, I have 180 hours of sick and I will have 220 hours of annual. So I think you can do it. I have been very fortunate that DD has a really good immune system. But I did space out my planning for kid #2 to get leave. Your right, I will be around 38 when DD #2 arrives.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 11:38 AM

Um, maybe you should do the math. I never used an ounce of my sick leave before maternity leave. I said I was 26 when I started and 28 when I gave birth. That's two years. There are 26 pay periods in a year. I earned 4 hours of annual and 4 hours of sick leave each pay period. That works out to about 10 weeks of leave. I did use about a week of leave in the two years before maternity leave, so that left me with 9 weeks of leave. I took 14 weeks off when I had my baby (but kept a week of annual, just in case my baby got sick--ya never know). SO, I used 8 weeks of leave, 3 weeks of advanced sick leave and 3 weeks of LWOP.

Why do you think I should have had so much leave? I don't get it.

Posted by: CC | November 2, 2006 11:49 AM

Good examples single western mom!

Also, I think it's useful to point out that investments in America's workers and children (their education, their health, their happiness) are no less economic investments than government infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. Policies that benefit kids by keeping them safe, healthy, well-tended and well-educated benefit our society as a whole when those kids grown up to be stable, productive citizens. Ditto for the parents. Of course, investments have to be balanced with the expected pay-off. Right now, however, our government seems to be skewed in favor of helping short-term business interests rather than investing in the long-term economic growth and well-being of our country.

Posted by: JKR | November 2, 2006 11:52 AM

So let me get this straight...

Social Security is a retirement fund? So I should just count on paying in and getting a retirement?

I've seen the people living on SSA alone and no thank you.

And FMLA is now in need of being expanded to a paid year off with a newborn baby?

I have three kids, my wife stays at home.

So I must be either making $100s of thousands of dollars or...

Commuting three hours a day, not going on a Caribean cruise each year, not going out to dinner or a movie every week, and since I'm wanting to change jobs not bothering with my companies Tuition reimbursement while I work on my MBA.

I'm not a rich man, but I most certainly believe in self-sufficiency. I don't ask for much, but I do expect my 401k, and real estate investments funded by scraping money together to keep me from sucking off SSA funds that really should go to those who have not been as fortunate as I.

And we (the wife and I) have decided for her not to work while the children are little. She's contemplating where to go after our youngest goes to school in three years, but if she doesn't work and makes it so our kids are taken care of, we avoid expensive nights out by cooking at home, and can help stretch an already tight budget, she can stay at home.

When did we get so worried about "entitlements?" And why can't some people put a small amount of money into term life insurance until their 401k and other investments/savings are able to provide a life above poverty?

Oh, because the government stepped in during the Great depression and we've all become calves sucking off the teat of the government. Sorry, I'm out of line.

I'll get back to work now. The 15 1/2 hours I spent commuting/working/going to school yesterday so I could provide for my family must be talking. And I'm not feeling very sorry for those waiting for a steady diet of Govt. cheese and wishing to live in a Govt. provided van down by the river.

If the truth hurts, change it. But don't rely on others to do it for you.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 2, 2006 11:52 AM

Foamgnome,

I don't think the cost of SSA survivor benefit even approaches the cost of subsidizing an extended leave for every working mother.

About high-risk pregnancy-- I have high risk pregnancies, and can expect to spend a couple months on the couch as a part of each pregnancy. During this period, we put our kids in daycare. Since the pregnancy is planned, and the bedrest is expected, I don't think we have any right to complain about the cost, or expect other people to pay for my children's care. I have known plenty of people who have spent at least as much in order to adopt a child-- should the government pay for that too? Because if the government subsidizes planned, high risk pregnancies, but not adoption, what kind of message does that send?

I can certainly relate to the muni employees concern about the loss of income an extended time out of work causes. However, most government agencies are pretty slow to replace an employee with a legitimate medical excuse-- is she concerned about losing income, or losing her job?

If a family is truly needy, aren't there social services available to help them?

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 2, 2006 11:54 AM

As usual, the little guy in the US is getting screwed. Do you think the people making the decision have to deal with the same issues? No - they can afford to have a spouse stay at home and/or a nanny.

While it would be great to say 'everyone gets xxx leave'; it can effect companies adversely. There needs to be a balance of sorts, and companies will not do that on their own.

Unfortunately, the people in congress think its more important to ban gay marriage, then help out the married, singles, etc, that have kids. They forget, or don't realize, that kids will be the voters of tomorrow.

This congress, more than any other, has hurt the middle class, the lower class, and the idea of family as it is in reality - not in 1958.

Vote Democratic - they seem to actually care about real family values: getting food on the plate, having mom and dad around, and being able to afford to have kids, and not work 2 jobs.

The worst off, naturally, are those at the bottom of the payscale - and this congress has refused to increase minimum wage.

Posted by: Littel Guy | November 2, 2006 11:56 AM

CC: I did not mean to be critical. I think you took it that way. Sorry if you thought I was being critical. But at ages 28-38 that is 10 year span. 10*104 hours of sick + 1(104 hours of annual) + 9*160 hours =2584 hours of combined sick and annual. That is 64.6 weeks earned over a 10 year period. Why do you need to wait till your 38 (10 years) to have another baby? All I was trying to say was if even if you started at age 28 with 0 leave accrued in both sick and annual, you should not have to wait 10 years to have a baby. That is all that I am saying. Please do not get offended. I did not mean to offend you.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 12:01 PM

Mr. Estrogencentral, you have very broad shoulders. You should be applauded for your strength and commitment to providing the best life you can for your family.

A change in the FMLA code, for you, would provide a safety net. One that you could opt not to take advantage of if you object to the "hand-out" or whatever. But why would you deny others the safety net?

You are strong enough to "stand up". But what about the family that "falls down"? Shall we just step over them on our way to work each morning?

Posted by: Wow | November 2, 2006 12:02 PM

I don't think the cost of SSA survivor benefit even approaches the cost of subsidizing an extended leave for every working mother

I don't actually know the numbers on this. But I know a year ago a proposal was in Congress to eliminate the suvivor benefit and dependent benefits from SSA. Those two changes alone, would have solved all the SSA insolvency problems. I also think you need to think at what point we should be subsidizing the maternity leave. I actually am not saying that the maternity leave should be extended as long as others on this board. I actually like the Canadian example, where people are paying over their employment history into the maternity leave. It is not really an issue of the government subsidizing them financially as much as forcing people to pay into it over a lifetime. Do you see the difference. I am not advocating the government taking tax money and paying for everyone's maternity leave. I also think people don't realize how much is paid out in survivor benefits. It is pretty costly to the system.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 12:08 PM

Not worried about losing the job. Worried about not having enough $$. If I end up on bedrest at about month 6-7 (assuming I make it that far, that's what I'm told to expect), then that could be up to 3 months before the baby is born, then would like to take 6 weeks to start learning to be a mom. Up to a quarter of a year -- it's a lot of time unpaid. No option to 'advance' leave, I can only used what I've saved. Dad will get no paid paternity benefits, so he will likely not take any time off. It's just very worrisome as to how to manage. Most of our income goes to student loans and the house payment.

Posted by: Muni Worker Back for a sec | November 2, 2006 12:08 PM

We are in the process of adopting another child. The government does subsidize both domestic and international adoption through a federal tax credit. I believe it is slightly more then 10K and can be used after the adoption is finalized. And also can span costs over a 6 year period. There are income caps. I think full benefit is paid out to families with a modified adjusted gross income of around 150K and phased over AGI of around 190K. So for most middle class and even some upper middle class families who choose to expand their families through adoption, the government most certainly does subsidize the adoption. I don't know a single person who adopts for this reason. Just as people do not run out and give birth to take get a child tax credit. I just thought I would share this. I am ducking as I write this because I have experienced the anti adoption feelings that some have already expressed on this board.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 12:13 PM

Foamgnome,

In my original post, I was not saying that I'm going to wait 10 years to have another baby. That's ridiculous. I was just saying that I hate that I am debating getting pregnant now or a year from now based on my leave situation (since that is really the only thing that is holding me back from having another baby just yet.) My mom was a fed and worked 9 years b4 she had me, so all of her maternity leave (3 months) was covered.

I actually like most of what you say, so I was just baffled when you intimated that I'd squandered my leave. It was anything but. I treated annual leave sacredly and never touched sick, and I still went on LWOP and took advanced leave. I just wanted to point out to everyone that thinks fed workers have such great benefits, that's only the case if you've been a fed for several years (and not everyone wants to wait until they're in their 30s to have kids.)

Posted by: CC | November 2, 2006 12:15 PM

No problem CC. I guess misunderstood when you said age 38. I just couldn't figure out why you thought you needed to wait that long. It is rough. Everyone thinks federal workers get all this great stuff. We don't get any extra paid maternity leave. I think public perception is just different then the reality. Good luck with having your family.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 12:18 PM

single western mom--
I agree with you. It's the children who suffer under this over lobbied government we currently have. This administration talks about "values", but really, they don't care about women's issues and they don't care about families. It's all about money, business, and power.

Someone made a nasty comment about Hillary Clinton earlier--why is she often a target? She's a smart, accomplished woman who is doing a very good job as a senator. I can guess why, but I won't say it because I could be called a feminazi.

Posted by: I agree with single western mom | November 2, 2006 12:24 PM

Does anyone realize that we're talking about CHILDREN here? Can anyone step back from their own selfishness and realize that kids need to see their parents every once in awhile? This has nothing to do with what YOU'LL get if you don't have kids.

Parents aren't leaving to get their hair done or take a nap- they are advocating for more time to PARENT. They will most likely get home early to actually cook a homemade meal instead of relying on take out (too much take out or fast food will cost YOU and everyone in the end if we all become obese. Costly healthcare for heart conditions and diabetes amount to far more than 5 fewer hours/ week at the office)

What about workers that actually use an hour for lunch? I don't- why can't i leave an hour early? A lot of the single people in my office use this place as a social club. I'm not wasting my time making dates, flirting, or planning the next night out. I don't go shopping at lunch. I WORK. What's wrong with working 35 hours/week if it's actual work- no play?

I understand both sides of the coin- I was a stay at home mom until 2 months ago. Money was awfully tight and it still is, thanks to lack of affordable or accessible child care (seriosuly, try getting your kids into daycare or preschool in the city- that alone was a full time job)

This has nothing to do with entitlement- who else is supposed to raise my child?? Is everyone here advocating for nannies and babysitters to raise my kid? I have chosen to have only 1 child because of these issues, yet I still struggle each day with the lack of options available to moms.

This is for the children. Being a parent is incredibly difficult- these kids will be your future employees- wouldn't it be nice if they are well adjusted as adults? Let's help parents out (moms and dads). 35 hours/week shouldn't be a big deal. Let's advocate for no lunch hours instead.

Posted by: SAHM back to work | November 2, 2006 12:26 PM

Those of us who'd like to have kids would like to have them when we want them, live where we want to live, and provide for our kids ourselves. however, back before there was such a thing as paid leave, moms either quit their jobs if there was no family assistance with childcare, or relocated back to the city the mom was from and her mother assisted with newborn care. We can't always expect for other people to subsidize our choices. Maybe the couples need to consider jobs on opposite shifts. I have friends who worked opposite shifts for 5 years because they could not afford childcare expenses. Was it ideal? no. Was it hard on their marriage? yes. Was it what they had to do in order to have children and supply the necessities themselves? yes. While victims of rape or incest have no options, couples who get pregnant deliberately have no excuse for not developing a financial plan that acknowledges the very real possibility that each pregnancy might be high-risk, involve bed rest, etc.

many on this board seems to assume that everyone is entitled to have a child. Does any couple in 2006 ever look at their personal financial situation, including available health coverage and job security, and determine that having a child is not an option at the present time?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 12:27 PM

New bumper sticker with 100 % appeal.

"Run Hillary Run!"

Democrats put it on their rear bumper.
Republicans put it on their front bumper.

Posted by: Hillary Joke | November 2, 2006 12:27 PM

To WOW.

"You are strong enough to "stand up". But what about the family that "falls down"? Shall we just step over them on our way to work each morning?"

Maybe you need to read my post again. The tone was not that there are not legitimate needs for government assistance. My point is too many very capable, bright intelligent, healthy people would much rather the government cover for their decisions than planning for them.

Yes, there are young fathers who die and leave their children and wife in difficult circumstances. As one who used to work giving people financial advice, all too often people want to put off planning for the future. I've seen families who'd rather spend $22,000 for an SUV than buy life insurance to protect future earnings. I've seen a guy making $60K a year refuse to give up any of his three internet accounts, or digital cable to pay off his 401k loan and start investing for the future and buying life insurance to protect against his unfortunate death were it to occur.

Our society is so caught up in keeping up with the Jones family we are spending ourselves and our government into debt to pick up the pieces.

I've been a part of a welfare family in my younger years and vowed never to spend my life relying on the government to take care of me and my family.

So yes there are circumstances, but we'd be much better off if the government had mandatory finance classes in HS than to continue funding a society so hung up on VLIs that they are not worried about putting their own safety net into place.

Tomorrow is yesterday's today. The saying "Tomorrow never comes" is a falsity. A blatant lie. And we only propugate that with getting hung up on govt. safety nets rather than teaching people to walk the tightrope of life without the baggage of an excessive car payment, high credit card debt and bankruptcy every 7-10 years.

Nobody will take the same care we do with ourselves. And we shouldn't expect them to...

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 2, 2006 12:27 PM

Government IS the answer.
Pass laws mandating 6month paid maternity leave for both parents at 75% pay.
Pay for it with a cap on CEO pay: total compensation $3million/yr.

Take from the rich and distribute to the poor.

Need Democrats in office to make this work.

Posted by: Simple solution | November 2, 2006 12:33 PM

Mr. EstrogenCentral: Amen...

I am not looking forward to the day when the millions of overextended Americans finally hit the wall and then expect the gov to help them out. The new addage goes: Want to look for a forthcoming foreclosure? Look for the house with the Hummer in front...

Posted by: Curious | November 2, 2006 12:35 PM

To the annonymous 12:27 poster:

You assume that life can be perfectly planned and managed. You assume that there will always be two parents raising the child(ren). You assume that accidental pregnancies don't occur. Assumptions are a dangerous thing.

And to my earlier point, there is today's headline: "Child Home Alone When Fire Erupts" http://www.nbc6.net/news/10214240/detail.html?subid=10101481

Posted by: single western mom | November 2, 2006 12:36 PM

Estrogen Central,
Let me see if I get this straight: you have made the choice to go back to school, made the choice not to change jobs, and made the choice(along with your wife) for her not to work...Yet we should feel pity, empathy, whatever for you and your individual circumstances, includign pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.

You've made your choices that are best for you and I respect that. But how dare you impose your own values, beliefs, circumstances on anyone else on this board.

I have tried to get people here to feel empathy for me and my graduate school efforts, employment difficulties, etc. It doesn't work.

But a government, especially the current jihadists in the White House, like to trot out family vlaues as a campaignslogan. Well, it's about damn time the rubber hit the road and they did something about it. When this government can "afford" to pay farmers NOT to grown crops, it can damn well afford to pay me or my wife not to work, or to work a modified schedule...or for any of the choices that we have made.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 12:38 PM

To Anonymous at 11:24:
You said "It's the business that has to eat the cost of this rule, not the government. Certain products and services may increase slightly in price as a result, but not your taxes. Personally I'm willing to pay an extra 10 cents for a bottle of shampoo if it means that the employees of the shampoo manufacturer are allowed extended leave to care for their families. It's a small price to pay for a more humane world."
Unfortunately, that's not the way it would work. Most people are not willing to pay higher prices. Witness the number of people who shop at Wal-Mart (especially those who can affort to shop elsewhere) for the low prices in spite of the terrible pay and benefits they offer. So instead of raising prices, companies would end up laying off workers to pay for the cost of the additional benefits. Everything has a cost--and the question of who ends up paying is not necessarily clear.

Posted by: Nocutenamesorry | November 2, 2006 12:39 PM

And before anyone jumps on me about the governemtn paying for my choices, my use of hyperbole was intentional. I pay my taxes and all of that. I just prefer that more of the money went to childcare, etc. than a War of Choice in Iraq.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 12:41 PM

Do you really need the govt to provide you paid maternity leave? Will you experience severe undue hardship without govt assistance? I bet for the majority of the folks here (since they are middle/upper-middle class) the answer is NO.

Life is difficult.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 12:42 PM

How was Mr. Estrogen asking for pity? Why attack him for supporting his family, sticking to his priorities, and taking some pride in it?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 2, 2006 12:44 PM

Please do not use the word "jihadist" for anyone in the White House. Jihadist is an Islamic terrorist that flew a plane into the WTC and murdered 3000 people.

Posted by: To Glover Park | November 2, 2006 12:45 PM

Mr. Honda,

The answer is YES. When companies or persons or any other entity fail to do the right thing, it is incumbent upon governemnt to fix the situation. Or would you prefer to drive around in a Corvair and put your child to bed every night in flamable pajamas in a crib where he/she might get their head stuck during the night, choke and die.

But I guess that's just part of the "difficulties" of life, as you put it, no?

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 12:45 PM

"Let's advocate for no lunch hours instead"

Federal Labor Law requires a 30 minute meal break (unpaid) after 6 hours of continuous work. You may be able to negotiate a shorter lunch hour in order to leave earlier, but you usually cannot negotiate a no lunch period if you work more than 6 continuous hours.

You probably can eat at your desk and use the bathroom at will; a lot of people can't and need to be relieved/released for those purposes.

Posted by: George | November 2, 2006 12:46 PM

Jihadists are anyone who engage in ideological or religious warfare, like the current White House which believes that it's own brand of Christianity and "democracy" is the only way to live.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 12:48 PM

Glover Park, you starting to go off the deep again. Take break, breath, and come back.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | November 2, 2006 12:48 PM

The govt has done such a horribly awful job of most things, I would just rather they stop making more terrible laws and spending my money badly. No more govt regulations. Why do you think cos. And jobs are moving overseas?

Posted by: atlmom | November 2, 2006 12:48 PM

OK, why do people talk about paid maternity leave meaning government subsidy. At least that is not how I see it. If the government mandate employers provide maternity/paternity/unemployment insurance, that is paid for by workers over the life span of their working career, how is that a government subsidy. The government is not paying for the insurance. It is forcing employers to provide the insurance. Not all insurance has employer paid portions either. Lots of employers do provide insurance with constraints. Like we will pay all or part of the workers insurance and nothing to additional dependents. I think the Fed gov't is now offering Vision insurance that they do not pay a dime into. It is paid by the workers. What the government did was take the time to look for a provider. But it is not costing gov't agencies anything. So why is paid maternity leave always viewed as taking tax payers money and giving it to someon else. Also flexibile schedules has nothing to do with costing the employer actual $$s either. As with reduced schedules. I get paid less because I work less. I actually do the same amount of work in a shorter period of time. In reality, the employer actual benefits from that as well.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 12:50 PM

Glover Park: I am talking about govt paying for maternity leave, not Corvairs or flammable pjs. I agree that the govt has a role to play in protecting the consumer against dangerous products. Consumers do not have the resources to test and verify the safety of products, hence it is a role govt rightly plays. That is a different topic, though.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 12:51 PM

For Steven and all the other "I'm-getting-penalized-'cause-I-don't-got-no-kids" whiners. As Hax said on Friday, "Unless you voluntarily decline to collect Social Security, or health care, legal work, or grocery-bagging performed people younger than you are," then zip it!

And Momof4 and all the other "I-did-it-the-harder-way-and-survived" people: guess who else did? Everyone. Why bother trying to facilitate social progress at all? Our ancestors lived more difficult lives that we had and still managed to propogate...but this is a post-Enlightenment society. We are members of the richest nation that has ever existed. We could certainly spend a little to help new parents. Geez.

Oh, and finally, the whole "birth is a natural process and we've been doing it for a zillion years" theory - um, it's "natural" - but until the 1930s, it was the leading cause of death for women. I'll take "unnatural" hospitals any day.

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 2, 2006 12:55 PM

I appreciate the disctinction Honda. I just think a lot of what is being played out here is a discussion of what the role of government should be in our lives, and if there is a role that can be played in improving our lives. I see paid maternity leave as an integral part of improving life and a role that government shold play when no one else seems willing to play that role.

Whether that role is in consumer protection or providing paid materinty leave...to me there is no difference: both are vital and necessary funtions.

Posted by: Glover Park | November 2, 2006 12:56 PM

shoot - I meant procreate not propogate. Sorry. need more caffeine.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 12:58 PM

Foamgnome's point is exactly why it doesn't make sense to me that businesses don't see flexible and part-time schedules as advantageous, and why government intervention is needed. But businesses don't seem to be jumping on the flexibility bandwagon. Except for days like today when I can't focus and spend too much time here, I think I get almost as much work done as if I were full-time, but at less of a cost. I don't think my boss gives me less assignments than the full-time people or, if so, not a full 20% less. But I'm paid less. That being said, the analysis doesn't translate to all jobs. If I worked as a librarian, for example, I would not be available to help patrons my one day a week off, so there would be a one-for-one trade-off in productivity. But with the money saved not paying me that day, the library might be able to hire someone else to fill in and would be no worse off. Except if you start providing us full benefits, which opens another can of worms . . . .

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 1:05 PM

To those who continue to insist that having Democrats in office would necessarily improve the situation, I offer the following:

http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/mojo_400/chart.html

Note that Mother Jones is an extremely liberal blog. About as liberal as you can get.

Now, this table is from the 2000 election cycle, and does show Repubs taking more money from Big Business, but remember 2 things: 1) There were more repub incumbents to split that money among and 2) most of the lawyer/lobby money is (was) going Democrat.

Again, I am definitely a Dem supporter this election season, but what I'm saying is that with all the money flooding into Washington, the people (corporations) who gave those dollars expect to get taken care of, at YOUR expense.

And I don't know what to do about it [wrings hands helplessly].

Posted by: Reality Check | November 2, 2006 1:06 PM

to single western mom,

I'm not making any assumptions about the control folks have other lives. Bad stuff happens, and it happens despite the best planning; however, for those who engage in no planning, bad stuff tends to happen more often. Many people have a tendency to prefer the anonymous government solution that they perceive to have no strings and no unintended consequences than to look first to themselves, their family, their churches, their communities. The original proposal wasn't limited to those in need. Some posters seem to think that all families are entitled, by virtue of their desire to reproduce and at cost to all of us, this benefit.

My sister is a single mom and I have two wonderful adopted nieces. In order to make ends meet and have sick-care, etc. for her girls, it is necessary that she live convenient either to my parents or to my family. She might prefer to live elsewhere, and she might have a better and/or more challenging career elsewhere, but she can't afford to have her girls and live elsewhere. Our family supports her in her decision, in every way we can. Why should other taxpayers be required to subsidize her choice to adopt?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 1:06 PM

Read this study Congress commissioned several years ago after a Congresswoman submitted a bill that promoted maternity leave for Federal employees. Yes, Federal employees do not have maternity leave. They must save up sick leave and annual leave and expend that. There is no disability pay in the Fed gov and I've known those who have had pregnancy complication and had to go leave-without-pay.

http://www.opm.gov/oca/Leave/HTML/ParentalReport.htm

The study says that the only reason the European countries have better leave is because of their low birth rates and that some of those countries force maternity leave on new mothers.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | November 2, 2006 1:13 PM

Does anyone know if FMLA has made it more difficult for women to get hired and/or keep jobs? I ask because FMLA supposedly applies to any employee who needs to take care of a family member, and the proposed expansion would also apply to any employee, male or female. So I guess I'm wondering if the "it will hurt women employees" argument holds water.

Posted by: Just curious | November 2, 2006 1:13 PM

To anonymous 1:06 poster:

Because collectively all American's have an interest in your sister's adopted daughters growing up to be productive members of society and who contribute to the society, rather than being drug addicts, convicts etc... who are a drain on our collective society rather than contributors to it.

Posted by: perhaps for this reason | November 2, 2006 1:14 PM

Why should other taxpayers be required to subsidize her choice to adopt?

I don't know what the taxpayer would be subsidizing except child care in this situation. Is that what your implying. As far as that is concerned, that has nothing to do with adoption. If the government was going to subsidize child care, it would be to families with biological or adopted children. If your talking about the adoption tax credit. Then the answer is simple. Tax payers should support that because children raised in families make infinitely happier healthier adults. That is good for everyone.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 1:14 PM

Read this study Congress commissioned several years ago after a Congresswoman submitted a bill that promoted maternity leave for Federal employees. Yes, Federal employees do not have maternity leave. They must save up sick leave and annual leave and expend that. There is no disability pay in the Fed gov and I've known those who have had pregnancy complication and had to go leave-without-pay.

http://www.opm.gov/oca/Leave/HTML/ParentalReport.htm

The study says that the only reason the European countries have better leave is because of their low birth rates and that some of those countries force maternity leave on new mothers.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | November 2, 2006 1:14 PM

someone said-- "Short term disability insurance does not pay for maternity leave"

It pays for 6 weeks. At least, it did in California back when I had my kid.

That is just in California. california is unique. would you favor making it national?

As regards to whether such a policy would make employers less likely to hire women, it wouldn't because it is offered to both parents and today's father is almost as likely to take parental leave as mothers are if it is paid.

Posted by: CHM | November 2, 2006 1:18 PM

"Yes, Federal employees do not have maternity leave. They must save up sick leave and annual leave and expend that."

Not exactly. Some Federal employees in the judicial branch are granted paid Administrative Leave in addition to accumulated sick leave and annual leave.

Posted by: Diane | November 2, 2006 1:22 PM

An awful lot of pro-socialist arguements here. Do we really want even bigger taxes, more intrusive government? You ask the taxpayers to pay for your maternity leave? Why should they? Ask your parents, friends, church or neighbors if they want to pay for your choices. I imagine not. How about more personal responsibility for our actions and better planning? Less sticking our hands in the public trough. More government, is never the right answer.

Posted by: Jeebie | November 2, 2006 1:22 PM

FMLA CURRENTLY applies to both men and women. Case law recognizes that there is no gender requirement for FMLA

Posted by: to Just curious | November 2, 2006 1:23 PM

FMLA CURRENTLY applies to both men and women. Case law recognizes that there is no gender requirement for FMLA

Posted by: to Just curious | November 2, 2006 1:23 PM

FMLA CURRENTLY applies to both men and women. Case law recognizes that there is no gender requirement for FMLA

Posted by: to Just curious | November 2, 2006 1:23 PM

An awful lot of pro-socialist arguements here. Do we really want even bigger taxes, more intrusive government? You ask the taxpayers to pay for your maternity leave? Why should they? Ask your parents, friends, church or neighbors if they want to pay for your choices. I imagine not. How about more personal responsibility for our actions and better planning? Less sticking our hands in the public trough. More government, is never the right answer.

Posted by: Jeebie | November 2, 2006 1:25 PM

I don't want bigger government. I want the government to expect businesses to behave in a certain manner - they just did with the online gambling bill and aren't allowing banks to forward money to offshore gambling sites. This could decrease shareholder revenue, and I don't hear anyone clamoring for it to be repealed.

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 2, 2006 1:30 PM

you're asking this question to mostly people in DC. of course you will get many "YES" answers!

not representative of the nation.

Posted by: lunchblogger | November 2, 2006 1:34 PM

I don't care if gov't gets bigger or smaller. I just want us as a collective citizenry, through government, to prioritize families and communities above business interests.

The problem is that now we've tipped way toward giving business interests the edge. I think most of us would like to see a little more moderation in the balance.

Let's rechannel some of the excesses of our booming economy into programs that benefit everyone: families, the elderly, single people, the poor...

Posted by: Fo1 | November 2, 2006 1:39 PM

I am childless, but not a whiner....I think it benefits us all as a society to have children educated, healthy and happy. When did this "every man for himself" attitude become so prevalent? If I have to pay a little bit more in taxes, so be it. We have all benefitted from government programs and government spending!!

Posted by: Missicat | November 2, 2006 1:41 PM

Government is PART of the answer here. The way I see it is that mandated family leave policies and financial incentives for companies to offer flex schedules, onsite child care, etc. are a PUBLIC GOOD like sidewalks, schools, fire departments and the police force. Everyone pays a little and most people benefit (a little or a lot, depending on your station in life). The key is to offer these policies to all employees, not just moms and dads, in the interest of fairness.

The corporate sector and other private groups play a free market role, of course. But part of the reason we HAVE government is to represent the interests of a large group (in this case, the 80 million moms in this country) when on an individual basis we don't have enough leverage to bring about change that benefits our society overall.

Posted by: Leslie | November 2, 2006 1:42 PM

Someone pointed out that there are really 2 issues here:
1) Govt having something like Canada's employment insurance where they pay for your maternity leave.
2) Govt mandating a law that *companies* have to pay for your maternity leave.

My wife bought voluntary short-term and long-term disability insurance. When she had a baby, short-term disability paid 70% for 6wks, then long-term disability paid for wks 6 to 12 at 60%. FMLA assured her the same job back after 12wks.

We did not absolutely *need* the income, but it was nice that insurance picked up some of the income.

I'd be in favor of everyone having the same option we had. Completely voluntary, pay the premium yourself. However, I don't know how feasible it is to extend this to everyone.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 1:45 PM

"Many on this board seems to assume that everyone is entitled to have a child"

Yes-- reproduction is a basic human right; though we wish we could license parents, procreation is not a right anyone can restrict in this country (look at China's one child law-- probably best population wise, but it has very inhumane consequences including infanticide, aborting of female fetuses, forced abortions, and people fleeing the country just so they can expand their families). You seem to suggest we should restrict it based on income and class. Scary.


" So instead of raising prices, companies would end up laying off workers to pay for the cost of the additional benefits." That's an old scare tactic businesses love to pull out-- make us "_________" (fill in the blank: improve safety, reduce pollution, treat our workers better, etc.)and jobs will dry up and the economy will tank. There was just a big article in the New York Times about a new study released showing that the job loss reported in earlier analyses does not, in fact, occur when the minimum wage is increased. If all employers are required to guarantee basic paid maternity leave the playing field for businesses will be level because they'll all have to do the same thing-- and businesses can't avoid hiring women because there simply aren't enough men around to do all the work that needs to get done (3 mos. maternity leave is going to make companies start ignoring half the labor pool? I doubt it.) I'm not saying there won't be unintended consequences or that there won't be cost-- I'm saying it's not as dire as the biz interests would have us believe.

"More government, is never the right answer."

No sentence involving the words "never" or "always" can be applied in this context. The answer is that sometimes more government is the right answer, sometimes less government is the right answer. Telecommunications deregulation provided us with a vigorous, vibrant, innovative cell phone market-- less government WAS the answer there. Energy deregulation gave us the California energy crisis... wasn't exactly the answer there. No enviro regulation gave us acid rain, polluted rivers, dirty air-- more government was clearly in order in that case and we all have cleaner air and water because of it. Welfare reform seems to have panned out-- less government/gov reform worked in that case. The point being, there are a zillion examples of success and failure on both sides. Saying "more government is never the answer" is overly simplistic and ignores reality just as much as "more government is always the answer".

Posted by: JKR | November 2, 2006 1:48 PM

- I am childless, but not a whiner....I think it benefits us all as a society to have children educated, healthy and happy. When did this "every man for himself" attitude become so prevalent? If I have to pay a little bit more in taxes, so be it. We have all benefitted from government programs and government spending!!

I am not childless nor a SAHM, and I don't disagree with what you are saying. However, i would rather pay extra taxes for healthcare for all, decent housing for all, and decent education for all than pay extra taxes to allow people with jobs and job security (under FMLA) to have paid non-medical reason maternity/paternity leave.

Posted by: to Missicat | November 2, 2006 1:48 PM

Mr. Honda, being single I also have the additional disability insurance - similar to Aflack (quack). It's not much - $45/month - but will definitely be worth it if something does happen.
Does anyone have the type of insurance that provides for retirement home/nursing home care? Just wondering if that is worth it...of course only if they take my 50 cats (kidding).

Posted by: Missicat | November 2, 2006 1:50 PM

The free market is great, but as any economist would tell you, it just allocates scarce resources efficiently, it does not facilitate the common good. Having children is good for society, no kids and the country's economy begins to shrink - just look at Europe. It is also a fact that parents need to spend a good chunk of time with babies before heading back to work. Of course many families decide one parent (typically the mother) should stay home because they can afford it (fact is if you can save it is because you can afford it), or because the parent makes so little that the effect of him/her going back to work and putting the baby in childcare would be negative financially. Then there are those of us in between - both parents make a decent living in total but having one parent stay home would lower the standard of living significantly. So both parents go to work. There is no incentive for companies to offer benefits to their employees unless they are compelled to - this is where the government is supposed to step in to regulate the free market by requiring maternity/paternity/family leave. This would put us on par with all the other OECD countries which should be the countries we are comparing ourselves to not developing countries with an abundance of low wage workers (as someone said we should not be on a race to the bottom!). It's not a tax and would not cost the government anything. Of course it would cost the companies but it costs companies around the world and a lot of US companies do business around the world and have to comply with the local laws. Maybe it would lead to slightly lower wages - but come on isn't it better to earn a little less and have more free time? And we could make it so that the leave doesn't just cover mothers and fathers but also children caring for their parents (just like the FMLA) so its fair and equitable?

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 2, 2006 1:52 PM

"...reproduction is a basic human right..."

No it's not; it's a priviledge. If you don't believe that, just talk to someone who can't conceive.

Posted by: ilc | November 2, 2006 1:53 PM

the government could encourage business to offer paid maternity leave with tax incentives or some other such credits. does anyone think paid maternity leave is a bad thing in and of itself or are those against it, arguing against the government mandating/paying for it? i'm not for the government paying for it.

as for subsidizing our choices--the government "subsidizes" the choice to be a parent by letting me deduct independents on my personal income taxes as well as education costs. they subsidize the use of my car by upkeeping roadways and continually supporting oil exploration, trade, and acquisition. if you invest your money in a 401K or some such other retirement plan, the government subsidizes this by excluding this income from your current taxes. if i want to support a nonprofit group, the government will subsidize my support by letting me deduct this from my taxes. there are very few individual choices we make that do not impact society at some point. someone with the same income who does not make those choices, pays more taxes than me. i think we underestimate just how much the government already does. yes, it's far from perfect, but in theory at least, it's possible to work toward smarter, more effective government and not bigger government.

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 1:54 PM

"I am not childless nor a SAHM, and I don't disagree with what you are saying. However, i would rather pay extra taxes for healthcare for all, decent housing for all, and decent education for all than pay extra taxes to allow people with jobs and job security (under FMLA) to have paid non-medical reason maternity/paternity leave."


I definitely agree....I did take off to help my mother when my father was dying, and now that she is getting older I am sure she will be needing help also. As it has been pointed out again and again, flexibility will help all of us.

Posted by: Missicat | November 2, 2006 1:55 PM

"It's not a tax and would not cost the government anything."

Who would pay for the leave for the employees of the government? It is my understanding that taxes pay the salaries of the fed employees.

Posted by: me | November 2, 2006 1:55 PM

Missicat - I have it through the federal government. I definitely think it's worth it. I keep meaning to go get a plan through the private sector because I've heard they have better coverage, but have been lazy. And each birthday that goes by, the higher your premiums are going to be.

I don't think it's an exagerration to say that practically everyone in a nursing home is on Medicaid because, in order to pay for one, you have to get rid of everything. In fact, some people know how and what to "spend down" and not "spend down" so they can qualify for Medicaid. These are not people who have spent their lives living close to povery level. Those places are just so expensive, there's no way to pay for it.

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 1:56 PM

Just to clarify, I get my LTC insurance through the government as a government employee. It's not a government spending program available to all!

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 1:57 PM

Okay - my bad I was thinking more of the private sector where I work. Of course the federal government would be responsible for paying for government workers but that would be much lower than if a nationwide scheme was implemented.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 2, 2006 1:59 PM

I hope armchair mom checks in again -- I am curious to find out how she managed her foreign service career and family....I gave up my international career after having children or, rather, it was given up for me.

Hey, A Democrat -- I worked on the Hill for our side of the isle and I met mothers who worked in Republican offices whose members were WAY MORE CHILD and FAMILY FREINDLY than my boss at a time, a Democrat who co-sponsored Lynn Woosley's bill that rebeldad refers to. Actually, when I saw my former Member names as a co-sponsor I started laughing.

I am a Federal employee now and have the same issue with part time/flex time. Emphatic NO from management. FMLA is great but I know that women got fired and jobs taken from them regardless of the act -- it's difficult to prove discimination, esp in this town where reputation and contacts are everything and women are reluctant to pursue this.

Posted by: anon | November 2, 2006 2:01 PM

I would welcome some kind of voluntary insurance that would cover people who take leave under the FMLA. However, I am getting tired of hearing people complain that there isn't a government program to protect them from every bad thing that can happen. Everyone, parents especially should have savings to turn to when something bad happens. I appreciate that there are certainly people who are living as cheaply as they can, and don't have any money left over, and I'm not criticizing them. However if you have money to go to restaurants and buy new clothes (as opposed to what you already have or clothes from a thrift shop), you should have savings, or you can't really afford these things. Raising kids without any savings is as dangerous as failing to use carseats.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | November 2, 2006 2:04 PM

And heaven forbid federal employees should get paid maternity leave . . . .

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 2:05 PM

"...reproduction is a basic human right..."

No it's not; it's a priviledge. If you don't believe that, just talk to someone who can't conceive.""

NO, it's a basic human right. Just b/c someone is unable to conceive doesn't mean their right to try to conceive has been taken away. (Oh, and it's spelled privilege).

Posted by: CC | November 2, 2006 2:06 PM

Dear WDC,

I don't know what history books you have been reading regarding the free lunch, but this country was definately not built on the "free lunch". Historically, those countries, Russian to name a recent collapse,who allowed the free lunch to consume the whole country is an example, quit trying to find someone else to support your lifestyle, take responsibility for your own conduct.

Posted by: mcewen | November 2, 2006 2:06 PM

To the person who replied to me - that's not what I was asking. If you read my post, I was asking if there were any studies showing that FMLA hurts female employment, even though it applies to any employee needing to take care of a family member.

"Any employee" = "not just women."

Question still stands.

Posted by: Just curious | November 2, 2006 2:07 PM

Again to Annonymous Poster:

Your sister is lucky to have a family that cares. I do not. And even if my parents had cared and wanted to be a part of my child's life, they are both living out what is likely to be their final year in the care of others (my emphysema-stricken father's fifth wife is 17 years younger and is caring for him; my brother is caring for my mother). I've not seen either of my parents in more than four years.

One more assumption: that everyone has strong family ties.

My daughter is fortunate enough to have a mother who is able to care for her and doesn't need help (her father is 10,000 miles away and doesn't believe he has any responsibility to his child). Other children are not so fortunate, and without a safety net, they are also in peril, through no fault of their own.

Posted by: single western mom | November 2, 2006 2:09 PM

Which "free lunch" was this country not built on? The theft of the land from the people who lived on it? Or, the theft of marketable labor value from the slaves who bolstered the agricultural economy?

Jeez mcewen, how about some actual thought and less platitudes?

Posted by: Really | November 2, 2006 2:12 PM

Simple Solution: You are going to have the government cap private industry salaries and redistribute it? I can't think of anything more anti-american/democratic then a government grab. Don't we have enough of that already? Don't die with any money to your name - the government takes one last cut.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 2:20 PM

To mcewen

It's difficult to believe you have read many history books because you don't seem to know much about American history.

If you are referring to the former Soviet Union (USSR), please say so.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 2:27 PM

cmac: CEOs and execs are robbing the company when they are raping in $30million/yr compensation packages, $20million severence packages for a job poorly done. The average worker is left begging for crumbs at the master's table, begging for a couple weeks paid maternity leave, flex time for childcare/eldercare, time to bond with a new baby.

How does someone spend $20million? That's just greed and gluttony. Any human being can live very well on $100K/yr. If you can't cap their total compensation, then increase the tax rate so you capture more of their wealth and distribute it to the folks that really need it.

Again, we need democrats in govt to make it work.

Posted by: Simple Solution | November 2, 2006 2:32 PM

"If a family is truly needy, aren't there social services available to help them?"

There were before the Republicans came into power.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 2:36 PM

"Any human being can live very well on $100K/yr."

Not in the DC area. Well, yes, but not very well. (Especially if you didn't buy a house prior to 2002...)

Posted by: CC | November 2, 2006 2:37 PM

marc,

not to be nitpicky, however:

"if you invest your money in a 401K or some such other retirement plan, the government subsidizes this by excluding this income from your current taxes"

This is fallacy.

The govt. delays their interest/taxes in your 401k until you pull the money out. Basically the government still has a % interest in your 401k equal to your tax liability when you pull that money out.

It's just that they could bet 25% of it now or 25% or more of it later when it has grown. Don't think the government doesn't have a very real interest in your 401k. If you want to test that, pull some out to spend (not a loan) before you're 59 1/2 and see what happens.

Other than that, there are things that government it best suited to take care of--police, fire, roads, but IMO personal finances are not Uncle Sam's responsibility. A safety net for those who are disadvantaged through no fault of their own. But wouldn't it be better to live within our means rather than relying on others to bail us out?

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 2, 2006 2:37 PM

Hi fabworkingmom. I mostly agree with your post. Agree, too, that FMLA is a good thing. But I am having second toughts about "having children is good for society". The nation had 150 million when I was born. Then, 200, then 300 million. At what point does overpopulation start to hurt our society? If we want government to help facilitate the common good, who makes that decision as to what is "good"? Perhaps the government should butt out of reproduction issues altogether? No tax deductions, or penalties, for choosing how many children? Mom and Dad taking personal responsibility for the costs and choices of having children? I am not against public education, but would invite debate on whether government should be subsidizing personal choice in reproductive matters. Protecting jobs with FMLA does seem a proper role for government.

Posted by: Jeebie | November 2, 2006 2:43 PM

To Simple Solution: Just how is electing Democrats going to eliminate $20M CEO salaries? Last I checked, Democrats were taking money from business interests, too. Everyone just needs to accept that neither party represents us ordinary people--Dems just market themselves better on this!

Posted by: nocutenamesorry | November 2, 2006 2:46 PM

Jeebie: The rising US population growth is due in large part from immigration, not reproduction. 40% of the growth comes from immigration and 60% reproduction. That 60% is below the replacement level. So it is not a problem that US families are giving birth. Now limiting immigration, is a whole other issue. Also not all families with children get a tax credit. I don't get a tax credit because we make too much money. I am not saying I deserve one. Just pointing out that not all families get a tax credit. All families can claim a deduction for each dependent. But that is true whether your dependent is under 18 or 100 years old. That is not a subsidy for raising a child.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 2:47 PM

"Don't die with any money to your name - the government takes one last cut."

What do I care if I'm dead? You sound as if you think the government takes ALL your money after you die! Even under Clinton, the first $1 million dollars wasn't taxed at all. If your heirs can't handle life without a $1 million tax free handout, you've done something very wrong with their upbringing! If the government takes a tax of whatever I have accumulated over $1 million, I think it is only fair as acknowledgment that I would not have accumulated such a sum if i hadn't lived in a country that fosters such wealth.

Posted by: CHM | November 2, 2006 2:49 PM

I think CEOs are paid way too much, however...

Simple Solution said:

"CEOs and execs are robbing the company when they are raping in $30million/yr compensation packages, $20million severence packages for a job poorly done. The average worker is left begging for crumbs at the master's table, begging for a couple weeks paid maternity leave, flex time for childcare/eldercare, time to bond with a new baby.

How does someone spend $20million? That's just greed and gluttony. Any human being can live very well on $100K/yr. If you can't cap their total compensation, then increase the tax rate so you capture more of their wealth and distribute it to the folks that really need it."

CEOs don't just raise their pay like congress does. They aren't guaranteed a stipend for life like congress. The Board of Director's has a huge say in what a CEO is offered, though it is a good old boys network all too often.

But Congress, now there's where we should get the money from...
Take it from Pedophiles, criminals, Pork Barrellers, those guilty of vehicular manslaugter while DUI-- they make $$$ for paid maternity leave look like a pittance to the raping of the taxpayer they are getting away with.

CEOs take a wage they negotiate, while Congress pretty much can take what they want once they are elected.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 2, 2006 2:50 PM

"How was Mr. Estrogen asking for pity? Why attack him for supporting his family, sticking to his priorities, and taking some pride in it?"

Because he was telling other people how to live.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 2:52 PM

"Please do not use the word "jihadist" for anyone in the White House. Jihadist is an Islamic terrorist that flew a plane into the WTC and murdered 3000 people."

Oh, for crying out loud.

Stop making 9/11 a sacred cow.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 2:54 PM

To CC:

You missed my point entirely, and then you nitpick on my spelling, which is just petty.

I'm saying having kids is not a right because there are people that can't have them no matter what they do, therefore, it becomes a privlige (I purposely spelled it wrong just to see you hyperventilate about it).

Posted by: ilc | November 2, 2006 2:55 PM

Mr. EstrogenCentral:

I entirely agree with you the notion of living within one's means (we began living as if only my salary existed about 6 months prior to our son being born in anticipation of my wife only going back to work part-time or not at all), but I'm not sure I see paid maternity leave as a "bail out" per se. I see it as an investment in the future (it could possibly promote longterm worker retention, a better foundation to the beginning of parenthood, etc.). Also, I'm not advocating that the government pay for it and many of other's arguments today have convinced me I'm not even sure I want government to mandate it, but I think they should encourage it or advance programs for it. I like some of the suggestions I heard about volunteer employee contributions toward some type of insurance. Allowing workers to advance sick/annual leave is a nice option too.

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 3:08 PM

I tied a grasshopper with a thread and put it on the pile of candy by the front door.
when the kids grabbed the treats, the grasshopper jumped on their hands. the shrieks were memorable!

Posted by: halloween | November 2, 2006 3:10 PM

To all the parents who say we make it on our own without government handouts I assume you are sending your children to private school or homeschooling. If not then you are having society help your raise your children, because educating them is part of raising them. Even Mr. Estrogen Central said his wife is planning on going back to work part time once the kids are in school. Having the school take care of them (while also educating them) so his wife is free to work (free parttime day care for children over 5) Yes he pays taxes, but not related to the number of children he has and lets not forget those who don't have children who pay taxes too. We all agree that educating children is in the public good so we share in the expense.

My personal favorite idea is the one that operates as part of unemployment insurance. Like all insurances, not everyone will use it equally (hey you may never get laid off either) however it will be equally borne by all employees/employers so it will not give an advantage to one company or another and by mixing it with unemployment, if any of the expense is borne by the employer it won't work as a disincentive in hiring women of childbearing age as it will be required to be paid for all workers. There can be limits to the amount, just like unemployment.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 2, 2006 3:12 PM

Simple S: Last I knew we lived in a free country - I don't agree with you taking my money because some government calculation determines I don't need any more money. What incentive is there to work then? I'll just lay around and the government can just redistribute to me. Also, it's none of yours business how people spend 20 dollars or 20 millions dollars - it is their money.

CHM: As for the death tax - if you don't care where you money goes after you die that is your problem. I have kids that I want to pass my money along to and if it happens to be more than a million dollars - good for them. Who are you to argue that my kids don't deserve more than a million dollars they inherited - you didn't earn it - I did. The government can keep their greedy hands off of it - they have probably already taxed it twice, once when I actually earned it and again if is is real estate or distributed to me me in some type of retirement account.

I can't believe how many people are willing just to give up more of their money once is reaches some magical level.

Let me propose: If you both make millions please feel free to send into the government the portion you don't "need" or "want" - they will happy to take it. Or send it to me - because I don't need to work anymore under your system and apparently deserve the "extra."

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 3:12 PM

It doesn't matter who "earned" it - you don't "earn" an inheritance. You receive it.
And cmac, if you're so worried about taking an incentive away from people to work, then let's talk about decreasing the capital gains taxes so that layabout children who inherit millions have to pay taxes. Why not decrease payroll/income taxes in favor of increasing capital gains taxes on people who do not work, but just invest money?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 3:18 PM

Mr. Estrogen Central: 401K's - don't forget that you must take a draw on your investments at 70.5 years old, whether you want to or not. The feds compel you to! They want to make sure they squeeze out the extra taxes, heaven forbid it should continue to grow un-taxed.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 3:18 PM

to cmac: Do you really expect that 401K money be tax free? I never understood why investors think investment income should be tax free. It is money they earned. Just not money they worked too hard to get. I clearly remember paying ordinary tax rates for capital gains and divideds. Really people, like someone already said taxes are at a historic low now. The capital gains tax is already frightfully low.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 3:25 PM

As for the estate tax discussion remember on capital gains you don't pay tax on them unless you realize them (ie if your stock has doubled in value you don't pay tax until you sell it) so if my child inheirts my stock - they get the stepped up basis, sell it at face value they have no capital gains and noone has ever paid taxes on the increase.
For those against any inheirtance tax explain why this money should never be taxed.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 2, 2006 3:25 PM

Anonymous poster:

"then let's talk about decreasing the capital gains taxes so that layabout children who inherit millions have to pay taxes. Why not decrease payroll/income taxes in favor of increasing capital gains taxes on people who do not work, but just invest money?" ( I think you mean increasing cap gains??)

This is called social engineering - you want the government to go audit wealthy inheritances and measure how mush they are working to determine taxes? So if my kids get millions (which they won't) Mr.Fed determines how my kids can use the money - particularly if they have enough to never work again. Layabouts? If I have enough money to lay around everyday that is "not fair"? Are you in grade school?

Why do you want to invite more government meddling in your finances?

This whole conversation baffles me.

Good Luck selling that idea - like selling ice to an eskimo.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 3:26 PM

Am I the only one who thinks that all the people who decry taxes are just plain greedy?

I make a few dollars above of the very bottom cut off of a tax bracket, so I'm getting hit pretty hard in relation to what I make.

BUT I don't mind paying taxes because I know they go for good overall ... Not every cent (like the whole DoD allotment), but there's a lot of good my money goes toward.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 3:26 PM

So does anyone think the government does have a role (or already plays a role) in adding balance to our lives?

Personally, via the news they often interject a note of humor or absurdity in my daily life that would otherwise not be there. But I'm also a big fan of public libraries (which, by the way, often have wonderful children's sections and programs at no additional cost beyond your taxes for those looking for a noncommercial, public place to take the kids).

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 3:27 PM

The estate tax is one of the most misunderstood taxes out there. The majority of citizens will never pay a dime in estate taxes. The only reason to defend the elimination of the state tax are 1) you are filthy rich 2) you dream and actually believe you will become filthy rich 3) you don't understand that it never affected you anyway 4) your a small business owner or family farm. I think 3 is why this is such an issue. The majority of small business owners and family farms are the most "middle" class individuals who are faced with paying the estate tax. The simple solution is for the owner to take out life insurance to pay for the tax. But like others pointed out, that people prefer not to take out life insurance and ask for a freebie instead. Not to mention, who said you have a right to inherit a business tax free? Another simple solution for small business owners and family farms to get out of it, is to incorporate, form a partnership, or LLC/LLPs. Leaving your business as a sole prop, leaves you open to all sorts of tax and liability issues.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 3:31 PM

foamgnome: You should not be compelled to take a draw on your 401K at any age. If I live to be 100 why does the gov't get to tell me WHEN to take out my money? When it is w/d it is taxed - but don't make it look like I am "cheating" the fed gov't out of their rightful share because I didn't take a draw early enough.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 3:33 PM

Cmac, can I ask about your logic?

Are you saying that the people who earn more should not have a higher tax burden (not just net, but % too?) Are you against a progressive tax?

Also, are you explicitly saying that you think a tax on estates valued above $1M is unreasonable? At any tax rate? Do you also favor making Bush's "Paris Hilton Tax Cut" permanent?

It is a popular belief among Repubs that the Government should not be in the business of redistributing wealth. Why on earth not? As far as I know, NO religion advocates accumulation of excess wealth or VLIs, so "conservatism" in itself does not explain this obsession. So, please explain it to me, because I don't understand.

I came from nothing, like some others on this board, my combined household income approaches $250k. Yes, I worked hard and earned it. But I also understand the value of it, and if my kids "get stuck" with a lousy million after I die, well they can just struggle through somehow.

The fact that I've worked hard and been blessed means that I can then teach my kids to work hard and even smarter than I have. The "blessing" part is between them and God, but I have my fingers crossed on that point.

I know I'm rambling but I am always put-off by so called conservatives and/or godly people who put ridiculous emphasis on how much money they can pile up. The Government absolutely can take your pile of money away. Ever heard of eminent domain? It can kick your real estate investment right in the pants. How about a Draft? That can take several prime earning years away right there. There are a million and one things the government can legally/rightfully do which would affect your earnings.

If they can and do do those things anyway when they are in the best interest of the country, whats the big deal with helping the meek start to inherit the earth just a bit? Is the American Dream really about a bunch of grown-up children trying to hoard as much for themselves as possible?

Posted by: Wow | November 2, 2006 3:34 PM

Divorced Mom of 1,

Don't put words in my mouth.

My wife is discussing her options after the last child is in school.

They include:

Going back to work part time in cosmetology.

Going to work in the school system.

Volunteering in the school system.

Staying at home and just taking care of all the messes I seem to make. (I'm kidding, I'll be done with my MBA by then so she'll probably be relaxing from all the stress I bring home. She deserves the rest. And I'll be able to help our around the house more since I'll be there more.)

Maybe the government should just reimburse her for all the time she stayed at home with our children since she could have been putting money into a 401k, and helping us get the lavish lifestyle we deserve. (Sarcasm)

I've been poor and can appreciate the government safety nets, but yes, I have little sympathy for people who want to retain 60-70% of their income while they stay at home with a child just so they don't have to skip that Disneyland trip or a trip to the beach house. I'm afraid those who need it most would be in the minority while some freeloaders who "could" plan ahead and make it work keep buying VLIs since they "deserve" them and rely on the govt./big business to help them out.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 2, 2006 3:34 PM

I don't mind paying taxes. It's a pretty good ROI in my opinion--national parks, roads, military, environmental and food safety guidelines (albeit, ones I'd like strengthened), libraries, public schools, museums, grant programs; safety nets for the poor, unemployed, sick; FMLA, social security, etc. But I'm one of those people cmac mocks where there actually is a magical point at which I don't care for any more money (that would be the point that the bills are paid, some money goes into retirement/savings, and my family is taken care of). I certainly don't agree with the way most of my taxes are spent, but that is for me to take up with my elected representatives.

Posted by: marc | November 2, 2006 3:35 PM

I was the poster re: alleged "social engineering." To quote an earlier poster, Child, Please. You said: "I don't agree with you taking my money because some government calculation determines I don't need any more money. What incentive is there to work then? I'll just lay around and the government can just redistribute to me."
WHAT INCENTIVE IS THERE TO WORK THEN, I'LL JUST LAY AROUND AND THE GOVERNMENT CAN JUST REDISTRIBUTE TO ME.
Then in your next post: "Layabouts? If I have enough money to lay around everyday that is "not fair"? Are you in grade school?"
Which angers you, then? Layabouts or a "disincentive" to work? Because in your first post, it sounded as if people who don't have to work because another entity (i.e.-the government) was redistributing wealth and in your second, being a layabout was ok even though another entity (your parents) redistributed wealth.
I always love the "no one is responsible for my success in life but me" theory. As if your success & salary weren't made possible by the fact that your fellow citizens have chipped in to help pay for public schooling, which continues to educate teachers (which you thereby profited from even if you didn't use it unless you were homeschooled your whole life and never went to college), the roads and railways, etc. that help all the people in your life drive you places, medical breakthroughs from the NIH, the CDC, the NCI, etc. that help you live the healtheir life you live.
It isn't social engineering. In your first post, you don't want any alleged disincentives to work to exist and be cultivated by the government. Then, disincentives to work are fine, so long as they come from a family member. Which is it?

Posted by: The original just a thought | November 2, 2006 3:36 PM

The reason the gov't has with drawl restrictions is because the money is growing tax deferred. If you never with draw the money, then are you suggesting your heirs should then pay the final tax bill. If that is what your suggesting, then I agree. But if your theory is they should not make me with draw it, let it continue to grow tax deferred, and then let me pass it on to my heirs tax free is silly. Because then when you are really advocating is that investment income should be tax free. Sorry honey, investment income is just as it is defined:INCOME. Just because you did not have to show up to a place of employment to get it, doesn't make it any less income. BTW, I have been investing for over a decade. Trust me, capital gains and divided taxes are LOW now. Nothing to complain about.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 3:36 PM

"Am I the only one who thinks that all the people who decry taxes are just plain greedy?"

Am I the only one who thinks that all the people who demand paid leave, subsidized day care, health insurance, dental insurance, guaranteed retirement income, and flex-time are just plain greedy?

Or does everyone else think they're greedy AND irresponsible.

Posted by: JMT | November 2, 2006 3:41 PM

Hey JMT,

That is a fair way to look at it I suppose, so correct me here, please.

I think people who hate taxes in effect want to keep all their money for themselves, but people who demand universal health care and retirement insurance view it as something that should be available for everyone in society.

Do you see the difference between I demand this [money] for me, and I demand this social support] for everyone?

Posted by: taxes GOOD! | November 2, 2006 3:50 PM

One final attempt at humor.

One side says:

Keep the govt. out of my womb yet they say, let the govt. pay or force someone else to pay if I get something in my womb.

I am saving in a 401k and hoping to buy more real estate than just my house, but is it so I can be rich? No actually it is to hedge against "unemployment" and allow me to retire and spend time with my wife and kids. It is also a very nice feeling to know I probably won't have to rely on Uncle Sam and his SSA pittance that was never intended to fund my retirement anyway.

There is a balance between public services and handouts to those who were negligent when they had the chance.

Hi, I'm an ant, grasshoppers need not apply.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | November 2, 2006 3:50 PM

JMT I also think they are lazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 3:52 PM

I'm opposed to any additional government-mandated benefits as I do not want to see my job outsourced to China or India. Careful budgeting keeps us living within our means.

Posted by: Rufus | November 2, 2006 3:52 PM

I think we should just let the Canadian government take over control of our country in exchange for more land and better weather. Welcome Canadian overlords!

And once we get that sorted out, then we could annex Mexico and voila! the illegal immigration problem is cut in half and Social Security is saved.

Posted by: Jill C. | November 2, 2006 3:55 PM

Ha! Jill C., I think that is the first time I have really laughed while reading this post today :)
Money is a hard topic for me - there are so many levels of who "deserves" what and why and how and whether things should be fair that I don't know what my two cents even is, so I am just continuing to observe ... but it was nice to find one to smile about!

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 2, 2006 3:59 PM

TO: "taxes GOOD!"

I do not demand my money. I earn it.

The primary service that government ought to provide is protecting my property right to keep the money I've earned. Excessive taxation violates my natural rights.

If you're that interested in the common good, do like I do and contribute directly to the causes you like. Giving more money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenagers. It is inefficient, dangerous, and counterproductive.

Posted by: JMT | November 2, 2006 4:00 PM

Mr. Estrogen Central - sorry you did say contemplating - but you still didn't address the issue that at that point society is supporting that option because the public schools, as part of educating your children, will be providing the day care so she has that option. In other words you think that is an OK line. Instead of worrying about the "freeloaders" and denying the potential to all why not discuss ways to make it more needs/income based?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 2, 2006 4:01 PM

"Keep the govt. out of my womb yet they say, let the govt. pay or force someone else to pay if I get something in my womb."

But isn't the flip side of this that the government only cares about the child while still in the womb?

Posted by: Sam | November 2, 2006 4:01 PM

Many illegal immigrants feel entitled to be here because they are "taking back land that was once theirs". The Mexican govt encourages them to cross the border, even publishing cartoon brochures on crossing safely w/o getting caught. The illegals send back billions of dollars annually, supporting the Mexican economy. Social Security is already propped up by illegals that are paying into the system. However, many will not be taking out of the system.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 4:04 PM

TakomaMom, money is a hard topic for me also. I have learned from participating on and reading these boards that there is a great deal of envy and anger that comes from people who don't have "enough" toward those who they think have "too much". The level of intensity of these negative emotions has stunned me.

Posted by: Mel | November 2, 2006 4:10 PM

To CC:

You missed my point entirely, and then you nitpick on my spelling, which is just petty.

I'm saying having kids is not a right because there are people that can't have them no matter what they do, therefore, it becomes a privlige (I purposely spelled it wrong just to see you hyperventilate about it).

ACTUALLY, I got your point entirely and it doesn't make sense. The person you took issue with stated that procreating was a basic human right. IT IS A BASIC human right. Just because not everyone can procreate naturally (they still have the basic human right to adopt.) It is a basic human right to want to procreate (you can do that naturally, or by adopting, but the point is that no one should be told that they must be sterilized.) Mandated govt sterilization is illegal in this country because procreating is a basic human right. Just because some people are unable to procreate naturally does not make it a "privilege." Get it now?

Posted by: CC | November 2, 2006 4:12 PM

-The primary service that government ought to provide is protecting my property right to keep the money I've earned. Excessive taxation violates my natural rights.-

Personally, I feel differently about taxing money that was earned through work actually done by a person and taxing money that was earned through investing.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 4:17 PM

I agree Mel, but would add that the negative emotions are just as intense going the other direction.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 2, 2006 4:18 PM

All this talk about taxes and the govt taking and taking.... this is a refreshing change:

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Flush with oil profits, President Hugo Chavez handed public workers $3 billion in Christmas bonuses

Posted by: Venezuela! | November 2, 2006 4:21 PM

i know this is a Washington DC paper... but to all the people happily paying taxes to the feds should be disgusted with both parties. The small govt GOP has spent mortgaged the future and dramtically increased the size of govt. A new cabinet post adding another bureaucratic layer? oh great. At least id the Dems had been in poower we'd be going bankrupt on social spending and transfer payments. Makes me sick. The estate tax is double taxation. Earnings were taxed, investments were taxed - lets tax it all again since the person dies? What were they working for except to provide for their family's future?

All I hear out of DC from both sides of the aisle is tax and spend.

All I here from people who want a government program to make their life easier is ignorance since the current safety net is already bankrupt.

If we continue to prosecute this war THIS way, the USA is going to drain us dry just like the world wars destroyed the British.

It is hopeless, a fiscal conservative HAS to vote democrat to get the GOP fakers out.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 2, 2006 4:23 PM

Wow - it is called "personal" wealth for a reason. Your rant on conservatives makes no sense - if I earned it - it is not yours. It doesn't matter is MY money is inherited or earned - it is not your. So now I have to payout to everyone in country because my kids went to public schools? Tips for the help in raising my kids - yipee! It takes village to pillage my personal wealth?

I am not arguing against all taxes - there are some things that need to funded collectively - not redistribution though. I work hard all my life and you benefit? I don't think so.

And yes, the government CAN take my money - but the question is SHOULD the government take my money. The Eminent Domain comparison is weak - it is overused - backed up by a bad Supreme Court decision. Again - it is called personal property for a reason.

As for disincentives - it is two sides. If my parents leave me millions and I want to lay around and eat bon-bons all day - why do you care? If the Feds come in and tell me "you are eating too many bon-bons but not working enough so we are going to redistribute your money" - that is wrong. I think that is consistent.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 4:23 PM

cmac: how do you feel about the European countries that have high taxes but provide better social services and safety nets? That's a form of redistribution too. The poor always benefit more from govt programs. The rich can forego these benefits and find other options.

Posted by: Europa | November 2, 2006 4:28 PM

If someone inherits your 401k or IRA then they have to pay taxes on it when it is withdrawn, regrdless of the rest of the inheritance. Trust me, I've paid it.

Pple who earn the money shouldn' just expect the govt should be abe to take their money away. Our govt is run poorly- so yes, I think individuals can spend their money better. And no, I don't think anyone has the right to tell anyone else how much is too much money.

One reason there is a stepped up basis on inherited stock is that it would be virtually impossible to figure out the actual basis- if u can hardly find anything in your house, think about going thru someone else's stuff.

Posted by: atlmom | November 2, 2006 4:34 PM

I know it was probably unintentional, but I think "poower" describes what BOTH parties have and want more of.

POO-WER to the people! :)

Posted by: jp deaton | November 2, 2006 4:38 PM

"But isn't the flip side of this that the government only cares about the child while still in the womb?"

That's certainly the case with the current govt. The right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 4:40 PM

"Earnings were taxed, investments were taxed - lets tax it all again since the person dies?"

Well, it's not being taxed for the same person. A new entity is receiving the money, so it's being taxed on that basis.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 4:45 PM

I am pretty liberal in many ways, but I don't like the concept of the government redistrbuting wealth either. People who make their money, be it either through work, investment, or inheritance, should not be punished for it. Redistribution of wealth sounds far too communist for me to be comfortable with the concept.

But on the other hand, I also believe that government should tax people and fund certain things for the greater good of society. Social security is a kind of tax, and it's a good idea. Funding public schools is another great idea. I think there are a lot of government subsidies to the rich that we don't know about and don't complain about. For example, government subsidies for agricultural commodities were meant to help family farms, but in reality, the are a lot of very wealth people and companies that reap the benefits of such subdidies. There are a lot of government programs that subsidize the rich at the expense of the poor. For example, tax breaks on housing benefit the rich much more than the poor or middle class.

My point is that the cry that goverment is imposing a "redistribution of wealth" is not really fair, because this redistribution often just takes money from those who have little and gives it to those who have more. It just so happens that the rich have more political clout than the poor, and can influence their government to enact measures that are beneficial to the rich. The poor often have to just suck it up. What we really need is government that is more just. Government could be the answer, but the ordinary working folks have to really hold its feet to the fire if they want results. And frankly, I am not optimistic that such change will happen any time soon.

Posted by: Emily | November 2, 2006 4:47 PM

so let's just come full circle here. There's no reason for me to put in more hours away from my kids if all I'm working for is to pay more taxes so someone else can work less or not at all. What makes my work worth the sacrifice to my family in time away from home is the security it provides to my family. I do not give up those hours with my family so I can pay more taxes. And if I find it disincentivizing, I won't work those hours, and the IRS doesn't get those tax dollars to redistribute . . .

If Leslie proposed that we should all be taxed to provide for gym memberships for all of society so that all Americans could be more physically fit, most of us (not all, based on today's, go ahead and tax us posters) would reject the notion as absurd. Just think -- parents with more epinephrin running through their veins would be better parents and better role models, and would live longer.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 4:49 PM

So you pay taxes on 401K or IRA accounts even if they are inheirted. The complaint on estate taxes is double taxation by definition these accounts have never been taxed so where is the double taxation? And so because you keep poor records (reason for stepped up basis) no taxes. You earned the money you owe it to your children to keep good records after all you would need that information if you sold the stock. I think it has more to do with things like small business, homes, etc where the assest isn't liquid and to pay the tax someone might lose their home, etc. Again why the first million is exempt.

And that is enough of the rant on an issue that only affects the wealthy. Lets get back to issues that affect more of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 4:50 PM

The European Social Model - not for me thanks. Have you ever been there to see how un-vibrant the economies are? How bloated the taxes are? How high the gas taxes are? How (*%(^% lazy and unmotivated workers/managers/bureaucrats are?!?!?

BTW, for the most part investment wealth is off-shore and investment earnings are not taxed. The unemployement rates are incredibly high, and the idle millions are a wasted resource. The VAT (Value added taxes - acts like a sales tax) and income taxes are very high and pay for a huge bloated self-perpetuating government apparatus

Go see for yourself. In my experience, and with my first hand knowledge the US system is far better.

The utter frustration of social immobility in those stratified societies and economies is mind boggling. Even if you get a decent education you can be stifled.

In America, if you are responsible, work hard, and willing to learn - you have the opportunity to build a good life here. If you are iressponsible, lazy and unwilling to learn you can fail here - and the safety net from Big Brother aint much. Freedom and opportunity have a price.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 2, 2006 4:55 PM

"People who make their money, be it either through work, investment, or inheritance, should not be punished for it."

No, but they shouldn't be able to reduce their tax obligation to mere pennies, either.

That's the real issue. The wealthy and the well-to-do in this country have NEVER shouldered their fair share of taxes. Loopholes abound; law are passed that favor them; and high-priced lawyers help them keep their loot. And still they whine that Big Government is unfairly taking their money.

If the wealthy would just accept their fair share of the tax burden, we'd all be better off. But that won't happen, because they're the ones with the $$$ to buy the legislation that protects what they have.

Posted by: pittypat | November 2, 2006 4:57 PM

"And yes, the government CAN take my money - but the question is SHOULD the government take my money."

Jesus said "give unto Caesar that which is Caesar . . . "

seriously man, what would Jesus do?

Posted by: to cmac--WWJD? | November 2, 2006 4:58 PM

I think if higher taxes due to benefits that help families become a disincentive for people to work arduous hours and instead spend more time with their families - that is a good thing. Maybe companies would then need to higher more people thereby reducing the unemployment rate - a win win situation.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 2, 2006 5:00 PM

CMAC - the point about the public schools is that you do recieve some help, just like you use public libraries, parks, etc. Hopefully you will never need the fire department or the police department, but they are there when you need them. Your employer pays unemployment insurance, but you may never need it. The idea that I did it so everyone should is the issue. We are in this together - no I don't want to subsidize someone's gym membership, but finding ways to allow better care for all children is something I am willing to subsidize. There has always been a lot of controversy on this board about whether the best way is for a parent to stay home, and whether to the two income families can truly live on one salary. But to say out of hand that we can't help new parents keep their income/jobs is more of the attitude of tough cookies. Though as a society we don't always suceed we don't say to the elderly, you didn't save for medical expenses so tough luck, we don't say you can't afford to hire private fire fighters so your house can burn down (like in colonial times), we don't say you can't afford school tution (k-12) so your children will be illeriate (like in many developing countries). So why do we say you should earn enough to have saved for a maternity/paternity leave so don't have kids or go back to work. And we haven't even touched on the cost of quality daycare today.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | November 2, 2006 5:06 PM

Fo3 alluded to the point that with more govt safety nets, the workforce can get lazy.

When Katrina hit, we "sponsored" a New Orleans family. She was 45, had a 16yr old son and had been on welfare for over 10yrs. She came with nothing, so we spent over $1200 furnishing her apt, helping with transportation, etc. Boy were we taken! She was not very appreciative and kept asking for more and more things. "I got no money for medicine and got high blood pressure". We took her to the grocery store to use her medicaid card for medicine. She bought a carton of Marlboros right in front of me. She refused to find work because FEMA's still paying her good money. Her son got suspended from school for smoking, twice. Her live-in boyfriend got bumped by a car and she wants a lawyer so she can sue.

So sometimes I wonder whether govt assistance is a good thing. People can get dependent on them and quit shouldering their burden. They can literally forget to take personal responsibility and be "trained" to rely on handouts the rest of their lives.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 2, 2006 5:09 PM

A government that is more just is a government that is restricted and stays out of local government.

All politics in town politics, work with your city council- get involved! That will make it just.

The ever expending federal govt is INCAPABLE of being just as it is just to far removed from main street USA. Unfunded Federal mandates spurred by partisan political positioning are a disaster. NCLB came from a Texas gov who wanted the feds out of education completely. I am a democrat and cannot believe that we now have NCBL.

Dept of Homeland Security. OMIGOD! Lets build a fence between the US and Mexico - what a stupid idea. And how many bureaucrats had to get paid to sit around in DC to think of that abomination? or teh Alaskan bridge to nowhere?

Lobbying groups are not the people - and congress listens to lobbyists and polls. Reacting to lobbyists and opinion polls wont make for a just gov't.

Posted by: Fo3 | November 2, 2006 5:13 PM

pittypat said:
"The wealthy and the well-to-do in this country have NEVER shouldered their fair share of taxes."

Well that wasn't the case in 2004. In that year, the last year for which the IRS has published data, the top 3.4% of income filers (those with AGIs of $200,000 or more) paid 46.8% of all the individual income tax collected. The bottom 74.5% (AGIs below $75,000) only paid 21.9% of all income tax collected.

See columns 34 and 35 of Table 3.3 at http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=96981,00.html

The numbers are remarkably similar for previous years.

High income earners pay plenty of tax. The problem is that the government spends too much and spends poorly.

Posted by: JMT | November 2, 2006 5:15 PM

"to cmac--WWJD?" said:
"Jesus said "give unto Caesar that which is Caesar . . . "

seriously man, what would Jesus do? "

.... so now you're imposing your religion on cmac?

Don't worry, if I find something that belongs to Caesar, I'll mail it to him.

Posted by: El Bloggo | November 2, 2006 5:21 PM

"Well that wasn't the case in 2004. In that year, the last year for which the IRS has published data, the top 3.4% of income filers (those with AGIs of $200,000 or more) paid 46.8% of all the individual income tax collected. The bottom 74.5% (AGIs below $75,000) only paid 21.9% of all income tax collected."

JMT --

Your numbers are meaningless in the context of this debate. OF COURSE the nation's million- and billionaires pay a large percentage of the income tax collected -- even a miniscule percent of millions is hefty change, while 15% of $40K doesn't amount to much in the overall picture.

The important numbers are: What PERCENTAGE OF THEIR ANNUAL INCOME were these wealthy folks paying in taxes? That's where we find out if they're paying their FAIR share or if they're finding ways to avoid doing so.

Go see if you can find the stats on that.

Posted by: pittypat | November 2, 2006 5:38 PM

try to stay calm, pittypat. Its OK to be wrong once in a while.

If you're interested in the percentage of annual income paid in taxes, you can easily find the tax tables on yahoo or elsewhere. Remember, most of the deductions are phased out for high income earners.

Take it easy. I'll be back next week.

Posted by: JMT | November 2, 2006 5:57 PM

'you can easily find the tax tables'

I think it's more important to look at what the wealthy actually pay, not what the tax tables say. The attorneys and accountants lower the percentage of taxes paid of most wealthy people.

Posted by: experienced mom | November 2, 2006 6:08 PM

Right on Fo3! Europe chose their system, fine. Our government was never intended to be a socialist nanny-state. Our government was to be severly limited, with the main/only objective being to secure liberty. Minimal government to guarantee your freedom. After that you were on your own. Freedom works best when government stays out of the picture. Personal responsibility is your duty to yourself and your country. Every intervention by government to redistribute wealth, diminshes freedom. Responsibility for ones own actions, and successes or failures, is the promise and the reward of living free. When you ask the government to guarantee that no one is poor, or hungry, or homeless, or does not get medical leave, you abdicate responsibility for yourself and you surrender your freedoms. Tyranny is created in such fashion. Like someone else's government better? Fine, move out.
Like freedom? You will have to fight for it everyday, because someone always wants to take it from you.

Posted by: Jeebie | November 2, 2006 6:24 PM

Divorced mom of 1 - You don't have to lecture me on roads, schools and libraries. I know all about funding Fire Dept and Police Departments - I am married to a cop. Fire and Police depts are funded largely through local taxes in which the funds are utilized just as poorly as the federal dollars. Do you know how many snarky citizens say to my husband "I pay your salary!" Thankful citizen abound I tell you!

I will stick by my statement that my earnings should not be "shared" - I am taxed enough as it is. My original post was in reponse to Simple Solutions cut off of wages (we can only make 100K) and another poster telling me that I shouldn't care about what happened to my money when I die - that my kids don't need more than a million. Both are silly, silly statements. The discussion on taxes in general ensued.

I haven't even discussed the original topic of funding maternity/paternity leave yet. But for the record, no, the federal government should not be footing the bill. Do we have a collective interest in children? Yes. I wish every child were planned and budgeted for but that is not reality. However personal responsibility plays a huge factor in having and caring for children. I'll be honest - I don't know what the answer is but as a rule I tend to leave the Federal Government out of the equation when it comes to funding these types of care. If we had 400$ hammers, I can't even begin to guess how much federally funded maternity leave would cost us.

As for the Jesus question - it had been a long day and discussing religion and tax policy seems a bit too much right now. What would Jesus do? He would take 2 aspirin, go to be and think about the question in the morning.

Good Night everybody!

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 6:29 PM

Jeebie - I love you, you are gift from heaven.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 6:31 PM

Europa - See what Jeebie said.

Posted by: cmac | November 2, 2006 6:32 PM

"I think it's more important to look at what the wealthy actually pay, not what the tax tables say. The attorneys and accountants lower the percentage of taxes paid of most wealthy people."

Thank you, Experienced Mom. This is my point.

JMT, you said, "High income earners pay plenty of tax. The problem is that the government spends too much and spends poorly."

For someone so reliant on tax tables and statistical data, you can't do any better than "high income earners pay plenty of tax"? "Plenty"? How much is that? Who decides? Give me a break. Your "plenty"
might just be my "meager"; you really need to get your stats in order if you want to argue this one.

As to the second sentence, I actually agree with you there. At least insofar as the current administration is concerned. Yes, they've spent too much (where did that surplus go?) and spent poorly (on a needless, clumsily executed war and a monstrous, new, totally do-nothing cabinet department).

But, hey -- that's just our tax dollars at work, right?

Posted by: pittypat | November 2, 2006 6:32 PM

>

***!)(*$#)(*)#*()*()&#%()@_(+)@#_+*#%!!!!!!

This kind of "everyone but me is lazy and looking for a handout" talk drives me NUTS! Well, if you can't beat 'em...

Yes, you (and possibly a few people you know personally) are the only responsible hardworking person(s) out there-- yes, everyone who ever fell on hard times is entirely to blame for their own situation and should have had the good sense not to have bad luck in the first place-- yes, the children of all those lazy idiots out there should have to suffer twice as much as your children (afterall they were dumb enough to be born to dumb lazy parents-- why should you reward their stupidity by subsidizing their health or education?!)-- yes, entirely through your own brilliant effort and ingenuity (certainly without help from any public institution, program or person!) you too will be rich and powerful enough one day to qualify for all that corporate welfare and tax breaks for the rich and when that day comes no one should interfere with your (and your heirs) god given right to sit on a gold plated toilet if you see fit-- and let's not forget the most important fact of all: all Europeans that have ever lived are lazy, disagreeable communists who have never done a worthwhile thing, ever and we in the good ol' US of A have nothing-nothing-nothing to learn from ANYONE else in the world!

Anyone who suggests the government is good for anything (besides war making) is a communist! Anyone who suggests businesses should not be 100% free to whatever they want, whenever they want, 100% of the time is a whining socialist who hates America and wants to destroy the economy. Everyone should pay 1% taxes, to fund the military, and otherwise spend their money on constructing their home bunker and taking care of their own children (who are the only children worth doing anything for anyway!).

I give up. No one owes anyone anything. Let's live in an anarchic liberterian state and just let the market be the ultimate arbiter of social goods, social welfare and morality. If it destroys the environment, the fabric of society, and the lives millions of poor and middle class people who can't compete in that environment, well-- it must be for the best since it will clearly be the most efficient allocation of resources according to the marketplace. If a CEO gets paid $100 million by a board stocked by his cronies (on whose boards he sits) for utterly failing at his job, then that must be efficient. And the best thing is for him to keep every penny and spend it so the VLI industry can stay afloat. And the wealth should pass untouched to his heirs. What kind of a wretched society would tell an heiress she can't afford to buy a private jet because she has to actually pay taxes and help subsidize all those lazy stupid people's health insurance, maternity leave and public schools? That is so unfair! Apparently we are united in agreeing on this board that that is just no kind of society we want to live in.

Oops. Actually, I think there is a European country that kind of fits that bill: Russia, run by wealthy corrupt oligarchs and an iron fisted president bound on blocking rule of law and dismantling human rights. Hmmm, dare I say it, maybe there is a European country we CAN learn from!

Posted by: JKR | November 2, 2006 6:51 PM

There was supposed to be a 'Warning: Nuclear Rant to Follow' note at the top of my last post but it disappeared inside html <> brackets. Sorry if you read my diatribe without fair warning.

Posted by: JKR | November 2, 2006 6:55 PM

jkr,

Some of your points are good, but your posts are so drama filled that I can't stand to read them. People should want to help other people, but there is no law saying they have to. Are my kids more important than other kids, you bet, they are mine! Does that mean that I don't give to charities or help people? No, it just means that they are my first priority. I surely hope that you also come to this conclusion when your child is born.

The world is not falling down around you. Take a deep breath and relax. Help people when you can, but don't expect everyone to be like you and don't act like people who want to take care of their children are somehow harming the world.


Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 7:05 PM

Ok, what is fundamentally missing in some people's argument for no taxes is that INCOME is what is being taxed. Income is limited to payroll checks. Income is a source of money earned through employment, investments, dividends, shared profits of firms, and yes inheritance. This is where the general public misses the point. Inheritance, under the law, is not an out right gift. There is a limit to what the government allows as a tax free gift yearly. I think it is around 11K now. And as far as inheritance is concerned, the first 1M is considered a tax free gift. Anything above that is defined as income. Just as your not allowed to write off a check from your Daddy for 15K a year and claim it as a "gift." Neither can you claim the excess of a million dollars inheritance as a gift. It is now way double taxation then the extra 4K that Daddy gave you. It is not considered double taxation because the person recieving the inheritance never paid taxes on that money to begin with. At some point all money is taxed by multiple parties. If I am a store clerk and had sales and receipts for 1K lasgt week. I get taxed for my business make 1K. But everyone who purchased items in my store, also paid income taxes on that money that collectively came to 1K. It is the point that money is passing from one individual to another in excess of a certain limit, defines it as INCOME. And income is taxable. As far as investments, you are not taxed twice on the initial investment my friends. You are taxed on the interest or the profit earned from that investment. Again that is income. It is not payroll income but it is income. As far as inheriting a 401K $$, it is taxed by the heirs at all levels because that money was never taxed to begin with. The government is simply collecting tax money it was due from the original owner. You are not then taxed below a million dollars on that 401K inheritance.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 2, 2006 7:39 PM

JKR will you take a pill already?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2006 8:55 PM

foamgnome:

One glaring errror:

"It is not considered double taxation because the person recieving the inheritance never paid taxes on that money to begin with."

It is not WHO pays the tax - it is how many times that lump of money have been taxed. It is a transaction. If my parents had 20K in a savings account that they had accumulated through wages - it has already been taxed. The interest on the 20K is taxed. They give to to me and 10K is a gift, the other 10K is taxed. Triple taxation in this case.

Posted by: cmac | November 3, 2006 7:36 AM

I'm not sure if it's too late to comment on this blog, but this conversation stuck with me last night and I thought over a lot of what people wrote. To Mr. EstrogenCentral, I think you are the success story of welfare. The majority of people on welfare take it for a short time, get through a rough period and never go on it again. Some of my relatives were on welfare and it saved them and then they got on with their life.

We too often think in extremes - the government is taxing EVERYTHING, welfare encourages laziness, etc. People either commute 3 hours, work 60 hours and pay for things honesty or they want to live a live of luxury with SUVs and disneyland vacations AND get government support. Aren't most people somewhere between?

About the estate tax, the limits on that are rising. And, again because I think it can't be said too often, this will never impact the majority (like 97%) of the population simply because we are not dealing with that kind of money and we won't. Furthermore, people who do have that kind of money hire people to help mitigate the impacts of the estate tax. Estate planning is a huge industry for a reason. Lots of people find ways out of the tax or ways to pay the tax and not impact thier kids (like insurance). On the other side, some super rich people like Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, George Soros are actually AGAINST repealing the estate tax. That's right, the ones who will definitely be paying it think it's an appropriate tax. If you are favor of repealing the tax (and remember, this isn't one that you will have to pay) are you in favor of paying maybe $100 more a year in order to cover the lost revenue from that? People don't want subsidies for working parents, but they do for rich kids inheriting money? I don't get it.

Posted by: secondthoughts | November 3, 2006 9:51 AM

Also, and then I swear I will stop, is that there seems to be this undercurrent about the estate tax that sure, you get $1m free, but then the government takes the rest. The rate after the initial amount (which some want raised to 4 or 5 million btw) is somewhere between 33-55%. It's a tax and it adds up to a lot if you have a lot, but you still get a portion of the money. The government doesn't take everything after the first million. And again, why should I care because I know I won't have this problem with my "wealth."

Also, I have lots of European friends and we again slip into an all or nothing "all Europeans are lazy" argument. I think there is a quality of life issue here. To the people who have to commute 3 hours a day to live in affordable housing and good school districts and then never get to spend much time in their nice house or with their kids, is this a win for you? I think Europeans prize family life and have created a society that reflects that reality...with the taxes that support it.

I think as Americans we praise the rugged go it alone mentality, but are we really happy all the time with the results of that? Are you really happy with the compromises you have to make?

Posted by: secondthoughts | November 3, 2006 10:16 AM

To cmac: your wrong here. It is not considered double taxation because in excess of 1M, inheritance is viewed as INCOME not a gift. Therefore it was not taxed to begin with in excess of 1M. What is getting some of you, is that you view inheritance as a gift and think the government should allow limitless gifts. Sorry it doesn't work that way. At some point, the government says money passed from one individual to the next is considered income.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 3, 2006 3:39 PM

foamgnome: I wasn't addressing inheritance - I was adressing gifts and the multiple times it can get taxed.

Inheritance and it's 1M limit is still crazy. Inheritance can take many forms - property, stocks, bonds, cash, real estate. It is probably all treated differently - not up to date on the current tax laws. You can inherit a farm worth over a million dollars - it is not a liquid asset and you end up owing the gov't 200,000$ and have to sell the farm. That is crazy.

Posted by: cmac | November 3, 2006 4:56 PM

CMAC: Gifts under 11K ( I believe is the limit) in not taxable. So if your parents give you a gift of 10K it is not claimed as income on your return. If you claimed it as income, then you did it by mistake or fire your acct. MOney passed from one individual to another over 11K in a CLY is taxable. At some point the government says, you can't just pass money from one to another with out tax consequences. I don't know why people think they should be able to have limitless untaxable gifts. Some countries are much stricter on these rules then the US.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 8, 2006 2:12 PM

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