This seems like a good time to announce that I’m starting a Patreon to support my political cartoons. Please check it out (and tell me if you spot any typos!).
This cartoon was a collaboration with my friend Becky Hawkins. I did the writing and lettering with Becky’s help, Becky did the drawing with me helping on layouts, and I did the gray tones.
A woman in a collared shirt and black pants is talking to a businessman in a fancy suit.
WOMAN: Businesses oppose paid maternity leave because you put money above women’s health!
BUSINESSMAN: We care deeply about women! We’re against paid leave because it’s bad for women!
The businessman has pulled a mother, holding a crying newborn, into the panel.
WOMAN: Women need time off to recover after giving birth.
BUSINESSMAN: Nonsense! Just look at Tiana here… She can’t wait to get back to work. It’s patronizing of you to say otherwise!
TIANA: So tired….
BUSINESSMAN: Paid maternity leave makes hiring women more expensive – and that means companies will discriminate against hiring them! Have a heart!
The businessman violently shoves Tiana off-panel.
WOMAN: So we’ll give paid leave to new mothers AND new fathers!
BUSINESSMAN: But that would cost MONEY!
So I think I’m the first to support your Patreon, which means that there’s this interesting thing, where Patreon has a little “People who support Barry Deutsch also support: [Insert Cthulhu-Based Role-Playing Game]” message that pops up, because right now, it’s basing the ‘if you like X, you’ll like Y’ entirely on my tastes.
Quite validating, I’ll say.
For the first 30 years of my life I was told to “keep yer LAWS off MY Body” – that reproductive decisions were private, private, private – soooooooo private that even the impregnating male had no say in the outcome – and the larger community had to keep its mouth shut about morality and other aspects of the decision.
So please explain why a (private!) business has to pick up the tab for your private, private, oh-so *private* decision to reproduce.
I’m not sure why you expect anyone to answer your questions or requests for explanation, since you regularly refuse to do so when you apparently find it inconvenient. (Here, for example.)
Ben David @2:
They don’t have to (and I hope it stays that way), but many do if they want to attract talent. My wife is currently on 15 weeks of leave. She works for a BIG company that offers good perks to its employees.
My boss is an asshole, so we get bupkis. But, we are a small company and I can’t pay people not to work. And, if I take paternity leave, suddenly we don’t have enough money to pay the staff. So, I squeeze a few hours out here and there and a day here and there. But, if I took 15 weeks off, our revenues drop by 20% and I probably have to lay off 2 people (and/or not pay myself).
So, my complaint about this cartoon is that it starts out with a strawman of an argument and a sort of false dichotomy.
Well, then, if you don’t want to respond to Ben David, I’ll ask the question. Why should the burden be on a private employer to pay for the reproductive decisions of it’s female employees? It is (as Ben notes) an intensively private and legally protected decision. It may appear to us to serve the employer’s interests to do so – but that decision is a private one as well.
Just a plug for my preferred solution:
The benefits don’t follow the costs, which is a HUGE motivator to make people find loopholes and fight compliance. All of society benefits from people who have kids, but only some particular randomly-selected employers bear the costs. (Those that find the benefits worthwhile already offer them. Almost by definition, those who don’t offer this benefit don’t get enough from it to balance the costs.) Compare “employers provide paid leave out of their pocket” to “the government provides paid leave out of tax income” and you’ll see the difference.
Seems like every time we tie an expensive benefit to employment status, we end up with a lot of predictable outcomes, whether it’s “hidden discrimination against unusually expensive classes” or “changes to temp employees” or “avoiding growth above some arbitrary cutoff” or what have you.
It would be nice to stop that trend. We should make it a government benefit instead of an employer mandate.
Also, if it was a government benefit then it would actually apply to everyone. And it would be fairer.
My employees aren’t entitled to paid sick leave or maternity leave. I can’t afford to do much of it myself–sure, I’ll pay someone every now and then if they occasionally get a cold or have some emergencies, but that’s just because it seems like a nice thing to do. I can’t commit in advance to an official sick leave policy. And there’s certainly no way that I could afford to pay them for major leave, even if I wanted to. I don’t have that kind of savings: if I get sick or badly hurt, the business closes and we’re all screwed. It’s a bummer that they would have to leave and move somewhere else in order to get benefits.
But I would certainly agree to a minor increase in my personal taxes in order to provide that benefit to everyone. Also, that benefit would probably not be tied to actual job income, so would tend to make things more fair: I can see how a BIGLAW partner might reasonably get 10x more than my paralegal while she is working, but I don’t see why the partner should be entitled to get 10x her salary while she is staying at home.
G&W, how many employees do you have? Although in a couple of states it’s as low as 15 employees before maternity leave applies to an employer, in most of the US the FMLA determines eligibility for maternity leave, so it doesn’t apply to any employer with fewer than 50 employees. There’s no reason to assume it’ll be any different if we get paid maternity leave.
I’d certainly be in favor of making paid maternity leave a government benefit (which would be the better solution), or of bringing in tax incentives to balance things out for employers. I think the latter is probably more politically viable, however.
G&W, you made similar claims about the ADA, which did not stand up to examining the evidence.
In California, the only state with long-term experience with paid maternity and paternity leave, the payments are made out of State Disability Insurance, which is ultimately paid for by employees (it gets deducted out of most employee’s paychecks as part of their state taxes).
Even though the law didn’t call on businesses to pay for the leave themselves, business lobbies still opposed California’s Paid Family Leave program, predicting dire consequences. However, a recent survey finds that those dire consequences haven’t materialized (pdf link):
I should note that, contrary to what I thought when I wrote an earlier comment (and unlike the FMLA), California’s paid leave applies to employers of all sizes.
Here’s a good, readable piece in the New York Times about the economic benefits of paid family leave.
(If the NYTimes doesn’t let you read the article, go to google first and click on the link there.)
Here is the problem I have with that article:
“The three states that offer paid family leave finance it through payroll taxes that pay into the states’ existing temporary disability insurance programs.”
“Eighty-seven percent say it has not increased costs. ”
These two statements can be reconciled and are consistent with the statement:
The take home pay of employees has decreased.
It is important to know how it is funded. If it is a new payroll tax, costs have to increase or wages (take-home pay) go down. If it is a new allocation from existing taxes, I can see how its effect on the employer and employee would be neutral.
Usually 1-3 at the moment.
Right. Which makes sense (if you want to at least attempt to lessen the employer burden) and yet makes no sense (because there’s no cogent reason why my paralegal should not get leave while someone else should.) Removing that distinction would be a sensible step at least for money, which is
Right. The latter solution is more viable because at heart it is more like “spending someone else’s money” or “telling someone else how to run their business.” Business owners are disproportionately powerful but are still a numerically small minority. The former solution is better not only because it is more fair, but because it forces more people to confront what they are willing to pay for.
We may be reading different evidence. Or, at least, different interpretations. And certainly with respect to other employment issues there are a lot of changes–don’t you remember some employers reacting to Obamacare by reducing hours worked? Are you unaware of the instances of employers moving towards temps as a means of avoiding paying benefits in general? Do you know about people whose businesses have to change, or close in responses to increases in the minimum wage?
As for the CEPR report…Well. I’m put off by the decision to combine “positive effect” and “no noticeable effect” in their reporting. That isn’t an unintentional omission, and it’s a strange one.
71.2% of businesses with 100 or more employees said it had “No noticeable effect” or “positive effect” on production. So we can presume that 29.8% of businesses said it had a negative effect on production.
First of all, it’s a bit strange to user the “business fears were unwarranted” card if almost a third of businesses are reporting a negative effect, especially since the program isn’t even fully implemented or used yet.
But more to the point, what does that even mean? I figure a lot of pro-worker folks will read “71.2% of businesses with 100 or more employees said it had “No noticeable effect” or “positive effect” on production” and assume that is good. But for all you know, that’s 61.2% neutral. In which case it would be equally accurate to say “90% of businesses reported a neutral or negative effect.”
Personally, I sort of assume that the positives were outweighed by the neutrals, to a large degree–which would suggest that there were far more negatives than positives in some categories. Mostly that is because the organization clearly has a pro-worker bent, but deliberately chose not to report the data; I figure that if there were a lot of positives they’d probably say so. I’m curious if you agree.
“Literally everything related to childbearing is 100% private and the government should not be involved in any way.”
– No one ever.
I’ll put a vote in for paid parental leave as a federal benefit, boy howdy yes! Except that it would never get through a Republican administration, and Republican governors everywhere would probably turn around and sue the feds just like they have with the ACA, because they just can’t stand the idea of people being pleased with the federal government making their lives better in some way.
“What we have, uniquely in America, is a political class, and an entire political party, devoted to the idea that any money spent on public goods is money misplaced, not because the state goods might not be good but because they would distract us from the larger principle that no ultimate good can be found in the state. Ride a fast train to Washington today and you’ll start thinking about national health insurance tomorrow…. We won’t build a tunnel for trains we obviously need because, if we did, people would use it and then think better of the people who built it.”
Well, speaking of leave, we’re all waiting to see what happens in mass. with the new sick leave law.
-one hour of sick leave for every 30 (or is it 35?) hours worked.
-Paid leave if over a certain threshold of total employees–ten, I think–and unpaid if not.
-Accumulates constantly and rolls over to the next year, but never goes over 5 days total.
-can be taken in one-hour increments without notice for illness, medical appointments (you/spouse/kid/parent/parent-in-law) or domestic violence (you/kid)
-no proof or doctor’s note required until you’re absent three days.
-no discrimination for use.
It will be interesting to see what happens. The employer folks are calling it the “hangover law,” “friday law,” or “long lunch law,” asserting that a lot of people will be conveniently “sick” when it suits them. (And technically, a hangover IS a qualified illness, whether it’s you or your spouse who has it.) The employee folks are happy, but a bit in shock that the law actually passed.
The law is incredibly vague and nobody is precisely sure what it means. (As to why it’s not very well written: it was passed by referendum, so it skipped a lot of the back and forth which usually helps to make these things more clear.)
Should be interesting.
One thing is for sure: it’s nice to test things, and remove a lot of the debate. Economist types can argue about the minimum wage forever, but if you actually raise it to $15 we’ll know a lot in a year. Same with laws like this.