July 2, 2006

My exposure to Time Magazine is typically limited to those times at doctor’s or dentist’s offices when I have the time to leaf through past issues to kill time before appointments. Unfortunately, thanks to Tracey not being able to say no to a telephone solicitor, we now have Time (and Newsweek, for God’s sake!) delivered to us as part of one of those “introductory trial offers!” .

Both these magazines are part of the mainstream dino-media, so it’s always entertaining when they provide a glimpse into just how the “liberal media” mind works. In Time’s case, its June 26th issue features two articles that illustrate just how much it despises good old-fashioned Western capitalism in all of its forms.

Today’s post has to do with case #1 – an article by Kathleen Kingsbury about a bill before the Massachusetts state legislature that would mandate every employer provide every employee 12 weeks of paid medical leave (100% of their pay up to $750 a week), with a guarantee to hold their jobs for that period every year. And who is Kingsbury’s poster-child for this proposed bill? One Shannon Thomas, 21, a pre-school teacher at the Boys and Girls Club of Taunton, who is pregnant, and who says she had to quit her job and go on welfare because her employer only offered to hold her job for six weeks without paying any maternity leave.

“My rent, food, the hospital – these costs are not going away”, Thomas says, so she quit her $500-a-week job three weeks ago and applied for state welfare assistance. “I’d rather work”, she says. “But I had to get whatever help I could.”

Further down in the article, Kingsbury tries to bolster her argument by providing a glimpse into Thomas’ own future plans:

Having quit her job, Thomas won’t be eligible for paid leave if the Massachusetts bill passes. Thomas is disappointed but says she hopes to take advantage of it with her second child. “For me, it would have made all the difference.” (my emphasis)

This is actually pretty sad and pathetic, as there are enough holes in the logic of this story to drive a Mack truck through. I’m amazed that Kingsbury couldn’t find a better candidate to illustrate whatever perceived benefits such an ill-conceived piece of legislation could offer, because, as someone with elderly parents, I could imagine a couple-two-three better cases where its advantages – no matter how much I might disagree with it – could be argued.

First of all, Thomas is obviously a single mother (there’s no mention whatsoever of any father, family, or alternate support system in the story), since she feels the only alternative to the job she just quit was to go on welfare. Second of all, statistics have proven that being a single mother at 21 and on welfare (and planning to have a second child to boot!) is basically a death sentence for anyone hoping to improve her socio-economic standing through viable, permanent employment in the future. But does Kingsbury put the blame squarely on Shannon Thomas? Oh no, it’s the mean employer and insensitive system that refuses to pay for Thomas’ extended maternity leave and guarantee her job that is at fault, even when it’s clear that, under the proposed legislation, they would have to do it all over again when Thomas has her second child, as she plans.

Only a dyed-in-the-wool “blue state” like Massachusetts – already losing businesses and population due to its aging population and traditionally high cost of living – could concoct such a ill-conceived and poorly-devised piece of legislation. I know of no greater incentive for employers to leave the state than to mandate such a ridiculous piece of legislation. Look, one can make the argument that some form of mandatory paid leave can be a good thing – for employers and employees – if it is applied sensibly and not mandated across the board, but things like this are best left to the marketplace, where employers wishing to retain valued employees as a way to maintain their competitiveness will provide those employees with whatever necessary incentives they require in order to remain at that employer.

To me, legislation like this is nothing more than “creeping socialism” like you see all across Europe, where employers are increasingly forced to pay employees for no work in return. How does that benefit anyone, except those who desire to get more benefits for less work? And, what incentive does that give to entrepreneurs wishing to start their own businesses and create valuable jobs? The answer is, it doesn’t. While, as Kingsbury points out, Massachusetts employers themselves would not be the ones having to foot the bill for the mandatory leaves – that is being funded by a (surprise, surprise!) $2 increase payroll tax increase – it would create havoc for any employer trying to strategically plan and maintain order and consistency of operations. If such legislation were allowed to be enacted, what employer would want to remain in Massachusetts? My guess is few – who would want the additional hassle?

There is however, a more systemic concern I have to legislation of this type, which is its potential impact on the capitalism/marketplace engine that drives our nation’s economy and makes it the envy of other Western enconomies. For it is legislative efforts such as this that would undercut the very thing that makes the U.S. unique in the world, which is, the idea that you can be anything and everything you wish to be if you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard enough to achieve it. Without getting all schmaltzy about it, that’s the American way. Remove the incentive of good pay and a more affluent lifestyle in return for hard work, and all you do is deprive capitalism and the marketplace of a key ingredient to what makes it work so well.

What society SHOULD be doing is encouraging and providing incentives to the Shannon Thomas’ of the world not to become a single mother, not to quit her job, and not to go on welfare. What it SHOULDN’T be doing is making employers responsible for the bad choices of its employees, regardless of the value that employee has or has not brought to it. Let employers reward valued employees with the necessary perks that benefit both parties as they see fit, but for God’s sake, let’s not mandate such practices across the board. Shannon Thomas has already made her mistake; society shouldn’t be encouraging others to follow her lead through legislative means.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 14:16 | Comment (1)
1 Comment
  1. […] Following up on my previous post, in Time Magazine’s June 26th issue we see yet another example of the dino-media’s mindset – in this case, that time-honored, revered progressive/liberal cause known as the minimum wage. Nothing makes a blue-state progressive/liberal’s heart beat so fast as the prospect of attempting yet another minimum wage increase in their misguided attempt to turn what is currently considered a basic (and necessary) wage for those entering the nation’s job market into some form of “minimum compensation” needed for people to make a “comfortable” living. […]

    Pingback by GoodBoys Nation - Archives » Time Magazine Hates Capitalism - II — July 5, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

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