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The Reality Of ‘Family-Friendly’ Work Policies

A presidential push for “family-friendly” work. Flex time. Maternity leave. More. We’ll look at flexibility in today’s American workplace.

President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Working Families Monday, June 23, 2014, in Washington. (AP)

President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Working Families Monday, June 23, 2014, in Washington. (AP)

Look at any chart of family-friendly workplace policies in developed countries and the United States looks stunningly out of step. Guaranteed paid maternity leave? Fourteen weeks in Germany. 35 in Norway. 52 in Britain. The US? Zero. Wages paid during maternity leave by law? One hundred percent in New Zealand. In Portugal. In Austria. In Spain. And the US? Again, zero. Then there’s flextime, childcare and all the rest. The White House is now campaigning on the theme. This hour On Point: work, family, and the USA.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Edward-Isaac Dovere, Senior White House reporter for POLITICO.

Danika Davis, CEO of the Northern California Human Resources Association.

Lotte Bailyn, Professor of Management, Emerita at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She studies the relationship between managerial practice and employees’ lives and the dynamics of gender and diversity in business organizations and academia.

Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute, she co-directs their National Study of the Changing Workforce and National Study of Employers. She also co-directs the program, “When Work Works,” a project on workplace flexibility and effectiveness. (@EllenGalinsky)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal (Subscription): Obama Calls for Family-Friendly Workplace Policies – President Barack Obama on Monday called for paid parental leave and other family-friendly policies, part of a broader effort to win more flexibility for workers.

Harvard Business Review: Flextime Is Declining, But “Flex Around the Edges” Is Up – Earlier this year, San Francisco and Vermont passed legislation that allows workers to ask for flexible work schedules without fear of reprisal. Are such “right to request” laws indicators of a rise in flextime? Or do they reflect a fear that flextime programs are being eliminated?

Business Week: Obama Targets ‘Waitress Moms’ Votes With Families Summit – These problems “cannot just be fixed by working harder or being an even better parent,” the president said. “All too often they are the result of outdated policies and old ways of thinking.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • HonestDebate1

    February 24 was the last time On Point addressed the IRS. Since then Lois Lerner has been held in contempt, we have learned her emails were “lost”, so were 6 others. This stinks to high heaven but the President is worried about potty breaks for pregnant women so On Point must do a show.

    • Charles

      Most people are not part of a 501(c)(4) organization. Few ‘regular people’ are affected by the IRS email business, and I’m guessing that many working mothers don’t particularly care. But lots of people raise families, and a little help in the workplace will go a long way.

    • Matt MC

      Pregnant women… they are such whiners! Wanting to pee and such… Get back to work! They probably even want time off to give birth. Just put a bucket under your office chair for goodness sake! Oh, this is so infuriating, and they could be spending their time on important things like the IRS looking into organizations that (sure, they might be entirely hell bent on getting certain officials elected) but they want tax exemption, and you KNOW that the LIBERAL media is just out to take those tax exemptions from them. Hey, Jesus is tax exempt, and they are trying to get people who like Jesus elected, so therefore, they should be tax exempt too. Just absurd. I’m so mad at these pregnant women right now!

      • HonestDebate1

        Yes, that was exactly my point. You nailed it.

    • jefe68

      On Point can do any show they want. It’s funny how somehow you think you have a right to demand this as opposed to making a suggestion. That speaks to the kind of person posting here, using a topic such as work place policies and one has to wonder if when you saw the lede you exploded with indignation. Which seems to be the case judging by the comments use of language.

      Matt MC points out some serious issues in this regarding women in the work place. Amazon has been sited as being one of the worst offenders in work place treatment in their warehouses. The have even beat Walmart in this, which is no easy feat.

      As you are wont to say, it’s not about you, is it.

      • HonestDebate1

        Demand? I demanded nothing. It’s not about me.

        • jefe68

          “On Point must do a show…”
          The word must is synonymous with a demand.

          • HonestDebate1

            “This stinks to high heaven but the President is worried about potty breaks for pregnant women so On Point must do a show.”

            Hence, this show.

            Comprehend much?

      • hennorama

        jefe68 — it’s so interesting when those who claim to treasure freedom of expression and freedom of the press pop off when the press exercises its freedom.

        That’s Dishonest Pontification, and nothing more.

        • HonestDebate1

          Who said nothing about freedom? Who said OP can’t do whatever show they please? I just made an observation.

          You madam are the one with the history of telling OP what not to air not me.

    • MrNutso

      Start your own network.

      • HonestDebate1

        Why, I pay for this one.

        • jefe68

          Hate to tell you this but you have already used up your $1.90′s worth if tax expenditures.

          • 1Brett1

            Yeah, I wonder why my tax dollars have to fund his daily comments!

    • TFRX

      You’ve already bitched (wrongly) about how your post-menopausal wife had to pay for birth control she didn’t need.

      Now you’re whining about more stuff you don’t get which families need.

      Go away, troll.

      • HonestDebate1

        Nope, I bitched about her (and I) having to have maternity coverage. Where do you get this stuff?

        • TFRX

          Keep JAQing it.

        • keltcrusader

          Everyone who has insurance pays for things they don’t need because the cost for services, medicines, procedures,etc is spread out over all the policyholders to make costs more manageable for all covered under the plan. So I can’t get prostrate cancer, but my premiums cover the men on the plan for that issues. What part of that is so hard for you to understand? Don’t want to be covered under a group insurance policy, go ahead and pay as you go and see how expensive that becomes for you.

          • 1Brett1

            And this is the way insurance works. It has always been and always will be how insurance works; it is inherent in the nature of how insurers fund the costs of services provided. Of course, listening to HD1, one would have to believe this is something new created by the ACA.

          • HonestDebate1

            You need to study up on the ACA.

          • 1Brett1

            It’s not about me.

            Are you saying that insurance doesn’t work the way keltcrusader suggests? Because that is your implication.

            You do know that your gall bladder removal (I’m guessing, saying this hypothetically, of course, as you probably still have your gall bladder) gets covered by someone else’s premium, and you pay for someone else’s asthma treatment, and so on, right? …Everyone pays for everyone else. You also must know that the insured pay for the uninsured, and the uninsured (those who pay out-of-pocket) also pay for the insured; and, of course, the indigent get covered by the hospital (and in many cases pay some portion of the cost themselves), which then eats the bill (or some portion), then it passes the costs on to everyone else who pay (either through insurance or by out-of-pocket) for such shortages. And, generally, the insurance companies make money off everybody.

            The only things that have changed are the idea of 1) the mandate (which also is a choice if one wishes to pay a fine…BTW, I know lots of people who don’t have insurance and are not going to be charged a fine this first year, but I don’t know what’s up with that) and 2) the idea of a minimum standard of coverage.

            Oh, and there are NO death panels, contrary to what you, Fox News, and Sarah Palin maintain…by that, I mean that insurers have always “rationed,” making decisions based on cost effectiveness/reasonable risk.

            Doctors have always weighed risk factors, too. Generally, a 95 year-old man in fragile health never did get a heart transplant (unless he is insanely rich and willing to pay an unscrupulous doctor out-of-pocket); this hasn’t changed either. Insurance companies have always weighed risk factors, even (in the past) denied coverage based on risk factors. Ah, so, in a sense, this is also different; there is a number 3 in my aforementioned changes: now, insurance companies can’t drop people or deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

            As far as end-of-life counseling goes, folks have always been able to receive end-of-life counseling; however, it was not covered under insurance plans/Medicare. Now it is covered. People get the same end-of-life counseling they always have; they just don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for it.

            If you believe that doctors have now fundamentally changed the way they explain options to patients or have changed how they counsel people in end-of-life decisions, you are wrong.

          • HonestDebate1

            You need to study up on Obamacare.

          • Human2013

            You won’t find any info in the Old Testament on risk management, so excuse his ignorance of modern day dilemmas.

          • HonestDebate1

            Huh?

          • HonestDebate1

            There was a day when I could taylor my policy to what I chose to pay for. What a bizarre concept that was.

      • 1Brett1

        Come on, TFRX, the President called Tom Ashbrook and said, “look, Tom, I’m worried about getting pregnant women potty breaks; you need to do a show, ASAP!” Tom Ashbrook replied, “yes, sir, Mr. President, I’ll do a show right away!” Then Obama said, “thanks, Tom, and I’ll call you about when to do a show on women needing free, government-funded condoms so they can have sex as much as any working street walker!” Tom, again, replied, “yes, sir, we’ll stay on the alert for your call!”

  • James

    For better or worse, we live in a nation where working long and hard is highly valued. It is seen as a way that anyone can get ahead and a way we can control our own destiny.

    • TFRX

      I’ll take the idea of “working harder” as a bit oversold in your statement.

      Productivity is the measurement of the economy which experts look to, not “how many hours did we chain our workers to their desks without overtime”.

      • James

        Of course the flip side of that is, if productivity is king, why don’t companies give more time off if they think it will increase productivity? Productivity is the sum of several factors including technology, education, and hours work among others.

        • HonestDebate1

          Some companies do just that. The problem is with government mandating how companies operate. Forcing them to pay people not to work is the last thing business or this economy needs.

          • TFRX

            Forcing them to pay people not to work is the last thing business or this economy needs.

            Submitted with comment.

        • TFRX

          Because the idea of controlling and commanding employees, the power trip, is valued among CEOs.

    • jefe68

      And yet other nations such as Germany and Denmark work less and are more productive. Working more hours does not equate with more productivity.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17155304

  • Human2013

    My co-worker and close friend is eight and a half months pregnant. In her last few weeks of pregnancy, she’s in serious discomfort. She waddles around, her nose is swollen, her feet and back hurt, but she finds no comfort from her employer. She’s asked her manager multiple time when he will start to decrease her workload, but has had no response. Our jobs are very stressful; we handle large workloads, have never ending voicemails and get into heated arguments at least three times a day.

    What I have come to realize is that we just don’t value human life. Human life and dignity become the nemesis of American Capitalism. They’re diametrically opposed and inharmonious.

    A question for my libertarian and conservative friends:

    If the free market exists for the sole purpose of returning money to investors, how can we value life in the womb that isn’t ready to sell cheap labor?

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    Not sure why people who choose not to have children should be on the losing end of these policies: why can’t I have a 52-week paid sabbatical to engage in whatever I want to do that doesn’t involve having kids? If companies want to offer paid leave as a benefit to their employees and pay for it themselves, that’s fine by me; but I question whether the government should be engaged in this kind of social engineering or discrimination.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    330M+ residents in the USA.* And we need to subsidize families and rampant breeding.. why, exactly? The focus on the word “exactly.”

    * Includes illegals, foreign students, work permit types, wealthy property owners from elsewhere, et al.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Barack Hussein Obama, another faith-based president.*

    * Faith through speech-making removes physical action as an active verb.

  • Markus6

    Anybody care how much this costs? Is there any indication that this president has any idea of what the financial impact of these things are?

    • Coastghost

      Noting “family-friendly policy” contributions to actual gains in productivity or efficiency might be welcome, too.

  • BOBinRSI

    I’m an American living in France and working for a Dutch organization. I need to spend about half the year traveling but when not on assignment I can work from home (36 hrs./week) and get 6 plus weeks of vacation time per year. My wife is about to finish 2 years of maternity leave. How can I go back to the US

    • Human2013

      I don’t recommend you return….you can get your daily dose of American culture on the internet.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    I wanted a car, I paid for it myself. I needed a job, I looked for it myself. I wanted a college degree, I put in my own sweat-equity (no grants, subsidies, federal aid}. I wanted a secure country, I served in the armed forces myself.*

    You want a kid? Work it out for yourself.

    * Not in the lazy officer corps or the do-nothing, hide from the war National Guard of the Vietnam era.

    • Red

      So basically you hate everyone then. Got it.

      • jefe68

        The word misanthrope seems appropriate.

        • HonestDebate1

          What a sick projection.

  • Human2013

    If conservatives were serious about “family values,” than this show would be unnecessary. You can’t love “family values” and lobby for big business. You can’t love “family values” and oppose minimum wage. You can’t love “family values” and oppose health insurance for all. Most importantly, you can’t love “family values,” if the family only resembles the eery Romney brood. Seriously, were they cloned?

    • pete18

      If you actually understood conservative positions and accepted the notion that there are honest disagreements
      over these issues, your post would be unnecessary. You can support “family values and oppose minimum wage if you think that policy will be a contributor to less jobs in the economy. You can oppose ill-conceived health care policies that are draped in idealistic prose, if they raise the cost of insurance coverage, restrict consumer choice, and do nothing to deliver on the promises they were sold on. And you can support big business if you think that support will create more jobs.

      What you can’t do is say that you are a party that stands for inclusiveness and doesn’t believe in judging people by their class or appearance and make the inane comment about the Romney’s that you just posted.

      • Human2013

        What you CAN’T do is pretend that there is any evidence that supports a raise in min wage or the ACA will destroy jobs. Please don’t cite the CBO

        What you CAN do is wake up to the destructive consequences of government by corporation and realize that the “Corporation” is no substitute for government.

        With the inclusion of the little brown baby, the Romney Family looks so much better – like a REAL American family.

        • pete18

          “What you CAN’T do is pretend that there is any evidence that supports a raise in min wage or the ACA will destroy jobs. Please don’t cite the CBO”

          Sure there is, but that isn’t even the point. Many people honestly believe that to be true. You were knocking people’s consistency and motivation for supporting polices that you disagree with. People are against the minimum wage because they think it will hurt jobs not because they think it will hurt workers.

          “What you CAN do is wake up to the destructive consequences of government by corporation and realize that the “Corporation” is no substitute for government.”

          I’m not even sure what you mean by that but I’m sure you believe it to be true. You haven’t a clue as to what the basic attitude is that conservatives have towards the free market and government.

          “With the inclusion of the little brown baby, the Romney Family looks so much better – like a REAL American family.”

          Your first comment was ugly and indefensible and this one is even worse. If you actually believed in the tenants of liberal philosophy you’d never say it. You’d argue against Romney’s policies not his looks, class, or make snide remarks about
          his black granddaughter. But obviously your beliefs are purely partisan ones.

  • X Y & Z
    • Charles

      Hooray!
      Good thing we gave the President ability to abort any baby he wanted!
      It goes perfectly well with his ability to hire people.

    • hennorama

      X Y & Z — further nonsense, and unrelated to the topic.

      In other words, your usual BS.

      • X Y & Z

        Due to the fact that on Point discourages bloggers on this site from “Feeding the Trolls”, I am precluded from responding to you.

        Adios Troll.

        • hennorama

          X Y & Z — more nonsense from the Cowardly Lyin’, again proving your complete lack of reasoning.

          Well done.

          • HonestDebate1

            If your comments are not the actions of a troll, I don’t know what is.

          • keltcrusader

            omg, look in the mirror buddy!

          • jimino

            Gosh, 2 of your most dishonest posts in the past 2 days. You’re on a roll.

          • HonestDebate1

            She’s a stalker too.

    • jimino

      Obama’s record on job creation is better than any other president in the 21st century. So what’s your point?

      • X Y & Z

        One Million People Dropped Out Of Labor Force In April:
        Participation Rate Plummets To Lowest Since 1978

        http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-05-02/one-million-people-dropped-out-labor-force-april-participation-rate-plummets-lowest-

        • hennorama

          X Y & Z — how many dropped out due to giving birth and/or raising a family? How many retired? How many went back to school? How many, exactly?

          In addition, please explain:

          You claim that “Virtually everything that comes out of this incompetent Administration is a lie”

          Your treasured source used reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is part of “this incompetent Administration”

          Why are you repeating these “lies”?

        • Ray in VT

          Why do you ignore the May numbers, where people joined the labor force, or the 2013 numbers as a whole, where the number of people in the labor force has grown?

      • twenty_niner

        Yes, if you’re over 50 and work at McDonalds.

    • Human2013

      I wonder why….

      Could it be that the Conservative party continues to diminish a women’s ability to raise a child while trying to pretend they’re for “family values.”

    • Ray in VT

      So is Obama personally aborting these pregnancies, or has he done something to greatly increase the numbers of abortions in America? Care to give us the abortion to jobs created numbers for his predecessor? I’m sure that Mr. Bauer has also compiled those numbers so that we can compare the two.

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — in addition, the rate of aborted pregnancies continues to decline, which is of course, conveniently omitted.

        • HonestDebate1

          What’s that say about Obama’s job creation policies?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Kids are an expense, like a new roof. Not a social good or something that needs to be insured. Since kids don’t produce an income.

    • DeJay79

      they may have costs associated with them but they are not an expense they are an investment. Big difference.

      • jefe68

        If this guy believes what he posted, lets think about the kind of person who posts this kind of screed. If he’s going for the Ebenezer Scrooge award, well he’s on the short list.

    • Elizabeth_in_RI

      Wake up! Just who do you think will be paying your Social Security benefits when you retire?? The amount of money you put in will used very quickly then you are relying on the younger workers – those kids you think of as merely an expense. And who do you think is responsible directly and indirectly for a huge portion of our retail economy?? Without kids our nation will cease to exist after a generation

      • twenty_niner

        “Just who do you think will be paying your Social Security benefits when you retire”

        Pretty sure that will be me.

    • jefe68

      Do you really believe this nonsense you post?
      Or is it just a kind of sport for you?

  • Coastghost

    How many of these nifty-keen policies are being urged by and, largely, only on behalf of the elites themselves, only in leading and top-tier industries?
    These are policies fit for the poorly educated, poorly trained workforce that public education has given us?

  • AC

    pardon me, but this has to happen for congestion reasons alone! i’m glad i work for a company that doesn’t care what/when/where you work as long as you make deadlines or meetings. i always try to work around peak traffic hours and try to work from home as often as i can. ps – i have no kids, just a dog

    • Steve__T

      Just a dog, wow no name? is it friendly, barkey, What breed is it? have you taught it tricks?

      • AC

        listen, i try not to alarm people by how much i am crazy about my dog. even thinking about her makes me want to go right home. i miss her more than my husband while away on long trips….i was trying to sound normal….

  • http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com/ Dee

    Read: “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play when No One has the Time” by Brigid Schulte. She nails it.

    • StilllHere

      Who’s got time to read something we already know?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    A grant or a subsidy is an economic issue, not a social improvement one. Family policies where government* gets involved should be treated the same way environmental concerns and energy delivery systems are: what are the $ benefits and the $ costs. If you can’t or won’t quantify them, then it’s an issue for coffee chats, White House happy sessions, & PTA agendas, not a line item expenditure in someone’s budgeting process. Especially one compelled by law.

    * With the power to compel and to tax.

  • Human2013

    Can the American labor Party please stand up……

  • Human2013

    This is what happens when your transfer power from the populace to the corporation…

    Sadly, this trend will not reverse.

  • Emily4HL

    Friend of mine wasn’t at her job long enough for FMLA. She’s trying to go back to work 3 weeks after giving birth. It’s not pretty.

  • Human2013

    Hellooooo, Fellow Americans….We ARE a third world country.

    • AC

      i understand your worry, but i promise you, we are no where near as bad – yet….

      • HonestDebate1

        Key word, “yet”.

      • Human2013

        I don’t know….at least they still have a village raising the children

        • AC

          that’s not so great when your child is at risk of being raped, enslaved/over-worked or dying from dysentery in the water…..i’m telling you. it’s all i can do to not want to explode with rage…

  • Coastghost

    Would having had a business economist as a guest here today to counter the party line contributed greatly or poorly to further consideration of this complex issue?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    It’ll help us to lead. –Barack Obama

    Why? We can get anything we want through imports. We even import “undocumented” families we can’t afford to house, feed, educate, sustain. If we subsidy everything, everyone will be here to “share” in our prosperity. Lucky us.

  • levigirl

    What a shame. This country has some improving to do.

    • Human2013

      Shame is understated…..I call it grotesque.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The Chinese ship their families to every country on earth in order to increase the wealth and prosperity of the Middle Kingdom. In essence, China is creating hundreds of mini-Chinas all over the planet.

    Why don’t we ship our own families overseas, likewise? Not everyone has to live in the Emerald City of Oz.

  • J__o__h__n

    She should have answered the question first before “turning the question around.”

  • Dab200

    America is lagging behind because we don’t have respective laws. Congress is there to protect corporations not the little person. All other countries have Legal Rules for Employee. America is waking up, American are traveling more, internet opens eyes so we started the conversation. Businesses that are unable to offer basic rights like that should not be in business!

  • Mari Potter

    I am a dual citizen of Brazil and the US, and in Brazil, all employees have the right to enjoy 30 paid days off after one year of employment and the paid maternity leave is quite generous. I feel like families are much better supported and certainly when people feel as they are taking good care of their children, they can focus on their jobs and be more productive when at work. I couldn’t believe when I first moved here that I would have virtually NO family benefits when I decide to have a child. Most countries in the world offer family friendly benefits and they did not go “broke” because of that. It is time for us to review our laws.

    • Human2013

      It’s not about going “broke.” The execs don’t want million dollars salaries, they want billion dollar salaries.

    • twenty_niner

      Then why are Brazilians actively trying to emigrate to the US?

      • jimino

        Maybe to replace the workers who are “aggressively trying to emigrate from the US”.

    • HonestDebate1

      Do you think it’s a right to force other to pay you not to work? What about the employer’s rights?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The sole proprietor in the US, like me, gets no days off each year save for the ones he wants to pay for out of his own pocket. The independent businessman and businesswoman is the foundation of our nation’s soul and prosperity.

    Are we going to get family leave bennies from Uncle Sugar? If so, where does the line start?

    • hennorama

      HLB — do you have any employees?

      • AC

        he must, how else would he have time to be on here so often…?

    • Pleiades

      Your comment would indicate that you are not a solid manager of your business or people. Any sole proprietor would ensure the people enriching him (or her) including himself (or herself) would be given time to be refreshed from busines/work activities. I would advise you to re-evaluate what is important ot you.

    • jefe68

      If you’re the boss you can take time off. If you don’t, that’s more about control issues or that you employ people you don’t trust. Both are bad ways to run a business. If you run a one person shop and don’t take time off, well that’s your problem.

  • Yar

    I want the person who makes my salad to have access to paid sick leave. Since I know they don’t I am hesitant to eat out. What is the cost of not having sick leave in the food service industry? Cruise ship disease outbreaks give a pretty clear picture.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Which is why I tip very generously. Even supplying what I can when others, usually with baby strollers, don’t. Hoober Doober

    • twenty_niner

      I usually make my own salad.

      • Human2013

        Do you take that salad with or without pesticides?

        • twenty_niner

          Who knows? It’s made from greens I buy at the store, which I’ve been eating for years. I’m still alive and best case, I now repel flies.

    • Human2013

      Great point.

  • skelly74

    The U.S. is a gigantic country based on capitalism. Stop comparing the U.S. with every other country in the world…there is no comparison.

    • Coastghost

      Really: e. g., Norway and Iceland together don’t have the population of a large US city.

  • Charles

    I think part of the problem in getting people to take leave is ideologically driven. The ” ‘Merican” work ethic, and all that. I’ve got some friends who just had their second baby, and I asked how long Mom was going to take off for leave under FMLA. The reply was “2 weeks”, and I said, “Why? You’re entitled to 3 months!”.
    The answer? “We’re not ‘those’ kind of people.”
    It almost felt like they were sacrificing their child’s development to prove a political point. Sad.

  • DrJohn

    The problem is in how we define fairness. Raising the next generation is essential, valuable, and not easy work. Having a baby is not a failure to work hard and contribute to the economy. If you draw a circle around paid work at a ‘job’ and say that is all that matters in determining if you are making a fair contribution, you get a system like the ours. Fairness is an integral, not a point function. Furthermore, we have a labor excess. We can produce everything we need and more, and we still have unemployment. So yes, we can well afford to reduce the mean per capita labor level.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Should we means-test family leave benefits?

  • twenty_niner

    With workers aggressively trying to emigrate from the US, we’ll definitely need to do something to maintain our workforce.

    • gala1

      OMG do I want to go live in Europe!
      Especially after reading the comment below from a guy who is living in Europe.

    • jimino

      What do you have in mind?

      • twenty_niner

        Let me see if I can help:

        Irony: the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning

  • DeJay79

    NO Tom don’t read HLB comments you’ll only encourage him!!!!

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Too late. I use these sessions for writing practice. HD

      • DeJay79

        lol

      • jimino

        Your syntax is a lot better than your insight, so practice is apparently doing you some good.

    • Human2013

      Tom likes to highlight nonsensical comments…did you hear the tone in Tom’s voice?

  • Human2013

    There is no other fate that should be expected from a country founded on indentured servitude and slavery….it’s in our DNA

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    When Florida is totally underwater*, do the family leave benefits transfer to dry land?

    * Sea level rise due to Global Heating: a bigger threat to humanity than even the Republican party!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    With rising human population levels devastating our planet, I’m more than happy to pay for family leave benefits to couples who don’t have any children. Snip and cauterize the tubes and the check is in the mail.

    Courtesy of Barack Obama’s Realty-Based Initiatives program.

  • Chicken lady

    I’ve worked for several state governments and non-profits and have yet to have temporary help hired to replace the person on maternity leave. When the same person is growing their family and takes off for months (under family medical leave act for example), the rest of the co-workers left behind end up exasperated, overworked, and somewhat resentful since they have to do their jobs and their colleague who is on maternity leave. How would having paid maternity leave address this problem which is prevalent?

    • jefe68

      How about hiring someone to temp. You answered the question. What happens if you have medical issue that requires some time off? If you have elderly parents this will happen.

      • Chicken lady

        That’s exactly the point. With state govn’t for example, administrators pretty far up the food chain cannot hire temps if the person at the top of the pyramid does not support the act (and concept). Long term medical and elder care are the same…No one seems to be addressing the lack of administrative accountability. Hiring a temp is easy if you’re self-employed and can make the final decision or if you’re working for a company that is trying to do something other than pinch pennies.

        My point is that making a mandatory leave policy/law work has two parts that must be addressed for it to work without affecting productivity and morale in a negative way. The leave must be available AND the businesses must have a way to plug someone into the ‘missing person’s’ place while they’re gone. I think the second part of this equation is and will continue to be the weak part of this initiative.

        • jefe68

          No, the point is you’re blaming the people who use maternity leave. It’s about making leave fair and equitable. RI has a paid family leave law and Massachusetts and New York have bills pending in this regard.

          You should be able to take a leave to take care of a sick family member, it’s basic common decency.

          • Chicken lady

            I suggest you re-read my post. I am not blaming the person who needs the time off – I am stating what occurs when no one is plugged into the absent worker’s role. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and resolved for the leave concept to work. I believe you’re reading something into my post that is not there.

          • jefe68

            I apologize for misunderstanding you.

            I agree with your point about having a better system to help with the work load, how this is done is an interesting problem.
            I think it could be done if it was thought out well. They do it in Germany, Denmark Ireland, France, Norway and Finland.
            Maybe we need to look at those nations for some answers.

    • http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com/ Dee

      And it’s exactly the same when someone has to take time off to take care of an older parent. Or for health reasons (heart attack, major surgery, etc.). What is your point? We all need this sort thing from time to time. Other countries recognize that we are humans and not machines.

  • jefe68

    The information in this article is a few years old, but it’s clear that the amount of hours worked do not equal productivity.

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/dec/08/europe-working-hours

    • TFRX

      Bbbbbut if we learned anything from Black Beauty, it’s that every employee’s 110% of yesterday is only 100% effort today.

      • jefe68

        The ironic thing is in the article the Greeks work the most hours and are the least productive.
        One must add, this the graphs were done before their economy collapsed.

  • Lindsay Hartsook

    Can your HR caller comment about the cost of employing people before you even get to their salary like Worker’s Compensation, Health Insurance, Disability Insurance, Fed Unemployment, State Unemployment, etc. Also the cost of having an filled position with no work getting done.

    • Human2013

      Oh, Lindsay..tell me you’re not an American women.

      We like to take of our workers…

      • Lindsay

        Fortunately I am both. I wanted to bring into the conversation that a lot more goes into affording an employee than just their salary. Taking all that into effect can really limit how long an employer can afford for an employee to not be producing. Not saying any one of these things should go away, just wanted a well rounded conversation from experts who might have a good solution. Especially since I plan to have a child soon, and all the paid leave in world won’t do me any good if my company goes under while paying me to not work.

        • Human2013

          I can appreciate your concerns.

    • jefe68

      Then don’t go into business then, it’s that simple.

      • Arkuy The Great

        Or hire robots to do the jobs instead of people.

        • jefe68

          Which a lot of companies do and is the future in manufacturing. You still need people to run those robots and keep them running.

          • Arkuy The Great

            Not nearly as many. A handful of control room operators and maintenance/repair guys can keep tabs on a “lights out” operation replacing hundreds of line workers.

      • Lindsay

        I feel you’re purposely missing the point about asking for a comment. I was hoping to broaden the discussion about the true cost of having employees who aren’t working & get ideas about different solutions. I work for a small company in accounting & am trying to think of how I can have a baby myself without bankrupting my company while I’m on maternity leave.
        Are you a business owner? Have you ever worked for a small business? Do you know how thin the line is between red and black?

    • StilllHere

      Excellent questions.

  • gala1

    I say level the playing field.
    Why do we work 5 days and “rest” 2 days?
    To balance things out – we work 4 days and “rest” 3 days.

    People will get to spend more time with their families, friends, traveling, etc
    Most people spend more on the weekend, so having more time off would improve the economy.

    But keep the pay the same.
    So if you’re getting 400/week working 40 hrs, you would still get 400/week working 32 hours.

    People will be happier, less anxious, and I would bet the “productivity” would not drop.

    • Arkuy The Great

      Wasn’t that tried in France some years back? I am pretty sure the outcome was not so rosy as regards productivity.

      • AC

        i think Germany uses work share. they are extremely successful…

  • gala1

    There seems to be 2 camps here.
    One that is bitching about ME-ME-ME and MY-SMALL-BUSINESS and I-NEVER-GET-A-BREAK!!!!

    and
    others who are thinking about the benefit to everyone and others.

    Believe you me – people in the first camp will never be happy.
    They are not happy now, and they won’t be when and if things change.
    So …

  • ian berry

    That “me too” attitude is what’s the problem with the country today. What is better for our future than investing in our kids?

    • ian berry

      Especially if you dont have kids-

    • Human2013

      Capitalism destroys vision and foresight….you can only think in the present..gotta get that dollar!

  • gala1

    We need to look at this from the goal we are trying to achieve – the end result:

    Are we trying to maximize profit
    or
    Are we trying to make sure people are treated humanely and are happy

    • Chicken lady

      The two do not have to be mutually exclusive I think. But it will take thorough and thoughtful consideration of all the issues to make it work. I believe it can be a win-win situation but the execution of the practice will have to be based on nuanced reasoning instead of emotion.

      • JGC

        Hey, great minds think alike! : )

    • JGC

      The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

      • HonestDebate1

        Bingo.

    • jimino

      It’s against the law for a corporation to care about its employees beyond their role in making a profit.

  • hennorama

    Those workers with children who need child care are “job creators”!

    Where’s the love from the conservatives/Republicans/TEA Shindiggers?

    • Ray in VT

      My boss, a conservative, occasionally like to observe that the party that bills itself as being about “family values” doesn’t seem to want to do much, if anything, when it comes to taking steps to actually undertake measures that will allow families to do better for themselves, such as via some of the issues addressed today.

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — I was also thinking about the OP show earlier this month, titled Republican Party Makes Plans For A Bigger Tent.

        The self-proclaimed “Young Guns” wrote a manifesto titled Room to Grow: Conservative Reform for Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class, in which they essentially promoted bearing and raising more children.

        One section of the Republican manifesto, titled TAX REFORM TO STRENGTHEN THE ECONOMY AND LIGHTEN THE BURDENS FAMILIES BEAR, by Robert Stein, is a tacit encouragement of bearing and raising children, via ideas to “LIGHTEN THE [so-called] BURDENS FAMILIES [supposedly] BEAR” under the present Federal tax code.

        It also contains this truly hilarious quote, proving that some Republicans have a real gift for comedy:

        …. Social Security and Medicare have “crowded out” the traditional incentive to raise children as a protection against poverty in old age.

        Given these ideas, one might expect significant support for employment policies that promote child rearing, but that seems to not be the case.

  • AC

    i think this is starting to parallel my argument that sick people will be persecuted in the future…..
    for those of you who really believe in jesus, do you think he is proud?

    • harverdphd

      You must have been reading the parish announcements during the Gospel reading last Sunday.

      Jesus said to the twelve disciples,

      “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

      “For I have come to set a man against his father,
      and a daughter against her mother,
      and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
      and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

      • jimino

        I never knew that was the Christian message. It does make more sense of how the whole religious thing works in this world though.

        • harverdphd

          Just admit you don’t get it and are unwilling to try.

          • jimino

            I am very willing to try. Please explain it, but without quoting the Bible.

      • Human2013

        I can’t make sense of the good book

        • harverdphd

          I’m not surprised.

  • Adrian_from_RI

    Dear Mister President; enough already. Please, leave us alone. Have not you done enough harm already? Despite all your proclamation to the contrary, there still is no such thing as a free lunch.

    • jefe68

      You know, we have elections and the policies of the administrations are part of that. If you don’t like it try to get a candidate in who does agrees with your agenda.

      • Arkuy The Great

        Elections are about getting the “right” people in office. Afterwards the challenge is getting the “wrong” people to do the right things. Big difference.

        • jefe68

          That’s true. It does seem however that your comment alluded to not being very into Obama from the get go.

          I never thought Obama would be more than he has been, which speaks more to my belief that special interest are the order of the day and the rhetoric of the campaign trail are just that, rhetoric.

          • Arkuy The Great

            You will notice my quotes above. Of course the guy I support is always the “right” one and his opponent is “wrong”. Still, if the latter wins I will have to consider him my representative/President/dog catcher and afford him the respect due his office.

            And I think your response speaks to your general cynicism of what our political process is capable of producing. NTTAWWT!

          • jefe68

            I’m basing my opinions on what is a reality. If you really think your Senator is doing your bidding and not that of whatever special interest are funding their campaign you are a tad naive.

            What do you think TARP was all about if not special interest?

          • Arkuy The Great

            Given how TARP started as a 3 page bill in the House and ballooned to over 400 by final passage it is pretty clear its primary role was to be a huge pork sausage filled with earmarks. “Troubled Assets” were, at best, a distant afterthought.

    • Human2013

      Oh, Adrian from RI. I’m no science major, but I think that’s an atom. The human brain is a beautiful organ, please try to use it.

    • Ray in VT

      Yeah, if any of this stuff was a problem, then the free market would have taken care of it long ago. Who cares if many people don’t have paid sick time or maternity leave, as is customary in every other decent country. This is ‘Merica.

  • gala1

    US is the ONLY 1st world country in the world without paid maternity leave.

    There are states without paid sick leave.

    If a mother can get let go from her job because she chose to stay home with her sick child 3 days in a row – there is something wrong with our country and the laws.

  • Coastghost

    Can hardly wait to see how the dispute between the City of Seattle and Seattle franchise business owners plays out over the minimum wage fiat.
    Can hardly wait to see how many Starbucks baristas earn degrees from online universities (can also hardly wait to see in which subjects these academically-challenging, lucrative, career-enhancing degrees are earned).

    • jefe68

      Franchises are not the best models to judge if paying people decent wages will be a make or break a business.
      Some are better than others, but most are losing propositions with a 90% failure rate.

      • Coastghost

        I cited the example only because it came up after Seattle issued its minimum-wage fiat. (For that matter: I wonder how Starbucks’ compliance with the minimum-wage fiat there in Seattle will impact the corporate decision to sponsor online university degrees for baristas.)

    • Ray in VT

      I’m sure that they’ll be regretting it when they have to pay $20 for a Big Mac.

      • Coastghost

        If public health officials do no better at keeping bovine spongiform encephalopathy out of the domestic beef supply, I imagine Big Macs will lose all imputed nutritive appeal sooner rather than later.

        • Ray in VT

          I know. Just look at how widespread ole Mad Cow is. Good job, Obama.

          • Coastghost

            Look at how widespread anthrax is in labs operated by the (Federal) Centers for Dissemination of Coronaviruses, too.

    • Godzilla the Intellectual

      I know there are justifiable economic reasons why one may think $15 minimum wage is bad idea.

      It puts undue strain on small businesses. Period.

      But the big multi-nationals, like Mcdonalds and Starbucks and APPLE computer, can AFFORD it.

      There should be TWO separate minimum wages. One for business with market capitalizations above a certain level, and one for businesses considered “small”.(small in this case would need to be defined quite clearly.) They should be correlated, so whatever the small businesses have to pay in minimum wage, the big companies have to pay 33% MORE per hour.

      Economists would argue this would not work.

      But they are wrong. People work for small businesses for non economic reasons. They do so because they “believe” in the local business ethic or they are an extended family member, or they are learning about entrepreneurship, or they need a particular internship.

      There are many wage discrepancies. Some social workers could have been pro baseball players but were never interested.

  • JGC

    This is the Quebec government site for information on parental benefits for wage earners, just as an example, found bordering the US.

    http://www.rqap.gouv.qc.ca/travailleur_salarie/choix_en.asp

    • JGC

      Just to add to the Quebec experience, there is also $7/day universal daycare (universal: contingent on finding a government-subsidized space; otherwise, there are private daycares that charge around $22-25/day, and the parent can get a $7 reimbursement).

      And full-day kindergarten was introduced in 1997.

      • hennorama

        JGC — either way, that’s super-low pricing for child care.

      • Arkuy The Great

        QC residents also face the largest overall tax burden (as a % of the economy) of anyplace in North America. All those “free” benefits are not free.

        • JGC

          True, that. We (Quebec) also have the largest budget deficit in Canada. The new provincial Liberal government is going to try to make a stab at rationalization of taxes and benefits. “Hard choices”, as Hillary might say. But when I think of the trillions(s) of $ spent and to-be-spent on our (US) Iraq/Afghanistan obligations, I think maybe priorities here are not so bad, after all.

          • Arkuy The Great

            Don’t forget the nearly $8 billion in revenue transfers, heavily coming from the oil-producing provinces out west. If the climate-change hawks ever succeed in keeping fossil fuels in the ground then the QC government is seriously hosed!

          • Human2013

            It’s guns or butter, folks……

    • Coastghost

      The Canadian province with the population size comparable to that of a major US city?

      • Ray in VT

        Also a province with a population greater than that of 38 American states.

        • Coastghost

          That, too, only makes me wonder whether diseconomies of scale are cited just as often as diseconomies of scale afflict data subject to translation or invoked for comparison.

          • Ray in VT

            So we must criticize Quebec’s example because it’s only has the same number of people as a major American city, but yet also because it has so many people?

          • Coastghost

            Not only in terms of relative size, no: relative cultural and demographic homogeneity probably count for something, too, but those factors are commonly cited no more often than is the criterion of diseconomy of scale when such comparisons are invoked.

          • Ray in VT

            “relative cultural and demographic homogeneity”? You don’t know much about Quebec, do you?

          • Coastghost

            Probably no more and perhaps a good deal less than Canadians (Quebecois or no) know about the US. (I appreciate, that is, that Quebec is not as demographically homogeneous as, say, Vermont.)

          • Ray in VT

            There are some pretty deeply seated and long standing differences in language and culture between French and English speaking Quebecers, and some of the feelings on both sides range well into hostility or contempt for the other. There are, of course, other groups as well, such as Native American groups, and there are at least neighborhoods in Montreal where the business signs are mostly in Arabic.

          • HonestDebate1

            Word is, unlike Vermont, Canada has black people.

  • WayneBNorris

    The notion that employers deliberately fire employees who ask for flex time, and thus hurt their own companies, sounds odd. I wonder if many of these firings may actually have been layoffs in disguise. Recall that the economy has been crashing, and “micro-automation” has been hollowing out many middle class jobs. I suspect many of these positions may not be re-filled.

  • Laney S.

    I wanted to weigh in on the issue of part-time work. I was in a similar position to an earlier caller–I asked for part-time work after my son was born. I was informed that they couldn’t accommodate me for “head count” reasons–if they allowed my position to become part-time, it would never be considering full-time again. Is this really true? I have found that part-time flexibility is much more difficult to find than women are led to believe.

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    Is Obama wearing Lululemon pants?

  • tbphkm33

    It is hard to introduce family-friendly workplace policies when 90% of the workforce are indentured servants to the finance economy. Most slave owners are not interested in the welfare of their slaves. In the U.S., corporations to small companies mostly see their workforce as expendable. Even within the white collar ranks. You don’t like it, there’s another 100+ highly qualified individuals ready to apply for your job this very afternoon.

    • Arkuy The Great

      Really? Where were those “100+ highly qualified individuals” when I had an open position to fill and it took over a month to find an adequate fit?

      • tbphkm33

        All dependent upon where the position was, what type of position it was, and how you define “adequate fit”?

        Finding a brain surgeon in Bozeman, Montana is a lot different than filling an sales rep position in a major city.

        • Arkuy The Great

          So you admit your generalizations above fall short in the truthiness department. I agree.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            tbphkm33 has a point, actually.

            What we need are cooperative corporations, like Mondragon, where the employees are the owners.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            Cooperative corporations would lack hierarchy, which would fail to attract the ambitious ladder-climber, which would guarantee , almost, that cooperative corporations remain small, local neighborhood operations. Truly cooperative corporations would have to be anti-growth.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            Your statement is ignorant, my friend.

            I mentioned Mondragon, a multi-national cooperative.

            Cooperatives are characterized by similar shares of stock being owned by practically ALL employees. But the hierarchy of the company still exists.

            A CEO gets paid a CEO salary and a janitor gets paid a janitor salary. But they are all practically equal partners, so the share of profits only differs marginally (maybe the CEO owns 1.5% of stock and the janitor owns .8 % of stock, for example.)

            So the income from salary will vary GREATLY, but the income from profit will vary only MARGINALLY.

            These are just examples, to illustrate the point.

          • harverdphd

            Good job..one for you

      • Pallykin

        Applicant tracking systems, in use in the US by most but the smallest employers, filter OUT qualified employees.

        What is your company’s reputation? Are the qualified candidates out there learning that your company is not employee friendly, and choosing to look elsewhere?

    • Coastghost

      Never realized c. 130 million US workers today are indentured servants.
      Did you pull your figure from a Bureau of Labor Statistics website?

      • HonestDebate1

        I think he pulled it from the Bureau of Statistics. The acronym gives clue to the location.

    • HonestDebate1

      Are you an employer? It doesn’t sound like it.

      • tbphkm33

        Actually, yes – we have six people on staff. Although, that is completely irrelevant to my point above.

        • HonestDebate1

          I asked because in my experience good employees are not at all expendable. Are your employees indentured servants?

    • Pallykin

      Except there aren’t 100+ people waiting to fill a slot, not if you want college educated staff. The unemployment rate for folks with a bachelor’s degree or higher is 3.4%.

  • HonestDebate1

    Imagine the injustice if this were to come to pass and then equal pay for women was mandated as well!

  • JGC

    After reading your and Laney S. ‘s comments, the human resources departments need to create greater flexibility to get the work performed, and stop equating a “slot” to mean the same headcount status, whether full time or part time.

    • Jeni

      or maybe the person who wants to work part-time should just go get a part-time job.

  • harverdphd

    Not sure about that, but I’m sure there’s a correlation with the declining crime rates and incarceration rates.

  • jefe68

    I assume the coworker was payed for the hours they worked. So she did find a part time job. This is not on the coworker, it’s on management who decided not to hire someone to make up for the lost hours. Did you ever think about that?

  • Daria

    I wanted to address the whole “family-friendly” aspect as someone who is female and doesn’t have, and is not sure that she wants children in the near future. While I understand that children require an immense amount of nurturing and time, I shouldn’t have to be scrutinized for saying that this is something that should have been taken into consideration BEFORE you had children. I think that maternity and paternity leaves are already benefits that have been put in place by many companies that cater to the working parent. Not to mention that many still give you leave for other reasons that don’t necessarily have to be emergency, or unexpected occurrences. However, when that parent takes this time off, that work does not stop, nor does the pay increase for those expected to fill that slot. I hate to appear as cold about this topic, because let’s face it, when Junior is sick, it does create an impactful change that their parent has to accommodate. However, unless that parent has the ability to do things like work from home, (which is still an unfair benefit that I could see being abused) it will be the fill-ins that are expected to take on that person’s work, in addition to their own, with no increase in pay, or no accommodations for such a load.

    I came in late to the game for the broadcast, so I’m not sure what went on before they started taking calls. But I came in near the end when a gentleman expressed his feelings about having to fill in for a situation that is similar. Men are not the only beings affected by it, nor are children the only reasons people request extended time away from work. If something like this is to be done, then it should be as accommodating and understanding to many different scenarios that are very plausible reasons for asking for time off. I’m just sick of hearing the “mommy” and “daddy” excuse because at the end of the day, you had to decide that this was what you wanted. The planning around how you were going to go about it should have been taken into consideration before the little feet touched the ground.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      The mommy and daddy excuses wouldn’t be a problem if most workplaces these days didn’t operate on a bare bones staffing level with little to no spare capacity. High productivity means that one person not showing up means that normal operations are severely compromised in some cases. The general gist that I get in your post is that you are insinuating that one can plan for career that has family-friendly hours . That’s very hard to do because the business world has never been family friendly to begin with. The employers who offer living-wages tend to be employers that want 110 percent of one’s time and energy.

      It’s easy to see children as some kind of self indulgence as a college credentialed white collar worker in a developed country who is most likely oblivious as to the practical reasons why many people have children: Children are seen as caretakers for elderly family members. Unless you plan on dying by the time you get too old to work, you will, one way or the other, will be supported by other people’s children, especially if you plan to live off of things like social security or stocks or any kind of collective system, so lay off the self righteousness, a bit, eh?

      • Daria

        I can tell you’re someone who probably has kids, and that’s fine. Sadly, children do demonstrate a greater need for advancement, yes as they are the future. However, none of the reasons for children that you mentioned do anything to not put you out there to sound just as self-righteous as myself. I need children to support me when I get old? No, that is what I’m paying for with my current job. My future. I’m not going to spawn a kid so that I have someone to “take care of me” as you put it. If I’ve done what I need to, I will have the means necessary to do that after I’m old. Having a child is no guarantee that you will have someone there to look out for you when you’re old. They are human, so they can succumb to things like, you know, death, disability, pure hatred for your lack of parenting skills. So don’t go standing on a pedestal with that kind of answer please. I’m going to need you to bring more fire than “my kid will take care of me when I get old.”

        Also, I did mention that there are other reasons why people could use long term leave. Let’s address those too. You only proved my point of why I’m tired of people making such a big deal about being a parent. The reality is, it’s a choice. Just like I’ve chosen not to have any. Your argument only defends what I said about kids. “Family-friendly” does not always equate to “children-friendly.” There are people already taking care of their parents. That’s a big problem apparently too.

        • Godzilla the Intellectual

          He was speaking culturally, for example China, where children are expected to take care of elderly parents.

          But, even if you have saved and invested carefully so you have a nest egg for retirement, those people who are taking care of you for money are SOMEONE’s children.

          Just saying.

          • Daria

            Ok, so that’s China. And that can make sense for anywhere if you are fortunate to be someone who has the opportunity to make it to having a child to take care of you. There is no “guarantee” that having children or even planning to take care of yourself will work so far in the future. Governments collapse, people die. Yes, I was a child, someone obviously had me. In years to come (hopefully), I’ll be able to take care of them if I’m still able to be financially capable. If you’re going to broaden the subject to that far of a reach, no point in commenting. No one is guaranteed anything, so then why even worry about any of it? Parenting can be seen as a luxury as well, or as a life choice you make. It’s like me buying a house I can’t afford, then becoming upset because the variable interest I locked into, suddenly became higher. And no one “made” me take a step back and reconsider.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            You’ve invalidated all your statements with this statement. “No one is guaranteed anything, so then why even worry about any of it” Weren’t you scolding people for “not planning” in that post earlier If you’re going to adhere to a point of view, have the decency to be consistent.

            FYI, you’re easy to fool. I don’t have children nor do I want any. But a sliver more empathy more than you do.

            Or perhaps I realize that Objectivist individualism, while appealing, has limited applications in the real world.

          • Daria

            I can see where this is going. It’s like jumping into a controversial conversation about anything that sparks a “my opinion is what I base my validity on.” You have a sliver more empathy? And the best excuse you could come up with to defend your comrades was that children could care for you when you’re old. TYes, I was scolding people for not planning. To be honest, that’s what’s wrong with the situation in it’s entirety to begin with. Improper planning. And if the best you can do is come up with an insult to prove your point, then you’re not helping your situation. Individualism being the problem is the whole point. Individuals with children think that everything everyone does should revolve around them and their inability to handle the responsibility they brought upon themselves, i.e. children. The point was to make obvious that I do realize children are a big responsibility, hence the reason more people decide not to have any. But those that do shouldn’t get such an elaborately ridiculous benefit such as so much more time off. But i won’t waste more time arguing with you. Now you’re belittling because you can’t get around your own opinion and provide a better argument. Not a debate, an argument. FYI, Google can provide you with the proper definitions and distinctions of each.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            I agree with you.

            Yet such a large segment of the population has had children without planning, perhaps it is a cultural and educational problem.

            Perhaps “parenting” class should be required in high school, so all adults understand the sheer magnitude of the responsibility. (with a curriculum not determined by the state.)

          • The poster formerly known as t

            Sure thing, “Emily”

        • Sandstone3

          Not sure where you work, Daria, but I work in an environment similar to poster formerly known as t – the staff has been cut PAST the bone. One staff outage is painful.

    • Godzilla the Intellectual

      You are confusing two separate issues.

      1. YES I agree having children OUGHT TO be discussed FAR IN ADVANCE to it actually happening.

      2. Personal leave, paid time off, and Work / Life Balance Programs.

      Those two issues, while related, are separate.
      If everyone was honest and had integrity and a sense of personal honor, duty, and classical philosophical virtues, taking personal leave and having an individualized work schedule would be no problem, regardless of the reason.

      What is missing is required Philosophy and Secular Ethics education in ALL Education programs, so that adults have a moral compass…

      • Daria

        While I understand that it’s all practiced as two separate things, the point I was trying to make was that because child-rearing is a choice YOU make, shouldn’t mean that it should get it’s own category. That’s not fair, I don’t care how you read it. What I’m asking for, is instead of labeling and separating it as you so put it into separate categories (Because let’s face it, you want to be fair?) How about the “sick grandmother” leave? Or the “my dog recently passed” leave? I think they are relevant reasons for extended time. Everyone grieves differently. Everyone has different circumstances. if we are going to “separate” them according to what you think is important, I could leave because it’s a nice day outside and I don’t want to be at work. I think that’s important, and it’s definitely an impactful decision. Put them all under an umbrella that focuses on it being a “legitimate” time off, no one has to know beside those necessary what you left for. And then maybe, just maybe, you won’t have the Daria’s of the world at your neck about how it is I have to pull your shift for the past 10 years every time you leave because you decided to have 3 kids. The war on this problem could be won if it were a matter of, everyone needs time so we can be human, and not have our lives dependent so completely on work. To focus on kids solely as a reason, or as the “most important” reason, for time off, so much so that it gets it’s own category, is still selfish.

        • Godzilla the Intellectual

          I agree. Those are all relevant reasons. Let’s say you met a kid who was in foster care, and they were awesome, and they had a special skill like piano or computer coding, and they promised to focus on school and get ahead.

          Would you adopt?

          • Guest

            Would Ayn Rand adopt?

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            Ironic that philosophical selfishness prevents the experience of the pure joy of generosity.

            Also ironic that industrial supermen always claim to have built Rome or the Pyramids all by themselves, yet there is a hell of a lot of slave labor that went into both endeavors.

            Also ironic that ego is the one thing that must be sacrificed in order to get into heaven.

            Yet I concede humanity has thus far not been smart enough to mandate cooperative corporations…

          • Daria

            Yeah, we’re already on one truly controversial topic. For all you know, I’m not Christian, so getting into Heaven is not something I wish to achieve. I do wish to achieve a better understanding that creating this environment around one group of people’s ideals in the work environment won’t get you what you want. No one is berating anyone for having children, though funny how those with them, or entertaining the idea of having them are only focusing on that particular portion of what’s been brought to the table. Egoistic? Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black,

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            I wasn’t making personal remarks. Just ruminating.

        • Alexa_Segovia

          Read the bill.

          It does not apply only to children.

          Haven’t heard all of this podcast, but flabbergasted that these people didn’t make that clear.

          Again, it’s definitely not “free.”

          They can have it.

          • Alexa_Segovia

            Wow! Just heard the question from a male caller asking about cost, and it appeared that no one cared to address the payment mechanism.

            So, again, for those of you who want to know the costs, it is addressed in both Rep DeLauro’s and Senator Gillibrand’s bills.

            Or check it out at Thomas.gov.

            The IRS will handle the automatic payroll deduction much like FICA and Social Security.

            Again, from what I read of the House bill–there is no opt-out.

            If anyone finds anything more on this (contradictory), please let me know.

            Thanks.

  • Carla

    Anyone have stats on jobless rate in all these countries just named – Germany, Australia – that have more “family-friendly” policies? I’m sure the jobless rate is higher in those countries. I believe there is a correlation. No job is not family-friendly.
    I worked at corporate HQ for a large company (50000 employees in US) based in Boston and was able to negotiate from full time to three days a week, one of those from home. I negotiated this during my 13 week maternity leave when I realized I didn’t want to return full-time with a newborn. It went swimmingly and my supervisor and manger were lovely. Of course, at that point I could do the job I was originally hired for in three work days per week, not five. Let’s hear some more good stories about employees negotiating to create the life they want.

    • HonestDebate1

      I just deleted the comment I was writing to reply to you as it was right on cue. We have an employee who has had 2 kids in the last 4 years. We worked out maternity leave without having to be mandated to do so. Mr. Ashbrook asked why we were so far behind other countries and did specify that it was regarding law and policy. I think there is an assumption unless there is a law, employers are inflexible. That’s not true but it does depend on the value you bring to the table… as it should.

      • Carla

        I agree completely, employers care more about their employees than the government in almost all cases, despite these sad stories featured on the show that I hope are the exception. Yes, it depends on the value you bring to the table, which is good news for hard workers. I recently saw a yard sign, “Obama’s economic policy: reward failure, punish success”

        • Godzilla the Intellectual

          Not that I disagree, but I would be surprised if the statistics weren’t more evenly distributed. Considering there are infinite variables and near infinite moral perspectives.

          Some employers care a lot. Some do a little. Some don’t at all.

          more of a spectrum.

          • Carla

            ok, yes, I agree with that. I guess I should say the government certainly rarely cares more about employees than their employer. And how valuable a worker you make yourself will affect how much your employer cares, so some of it is in your control.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        What line of work are you involved in, btw?

        • HonestDebate1

          What I am referring to above is our Equestrian Center. The employee referred to is a riding instructor. Summer camps are going on right now and she is worth her weight in gold.

          I have been an employer or in a position of authority in many other venues.

          My primary focus and achievements have been in the music industry.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

          • HonestDebate1

            Gee wiz, you are the second one in the last hour trying to run from replies to me.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            I simply said “cool” and then subsequently decided against making personal remarks.

            I don’t run from anything. Ever.

          • HonestDebate1

            Okay, sorry. I over-reacted.

    • Pallykin

      Germany unemployment 6.7%, labor participation rate, 77.1%

      Australia unemployment 5.8%, labor participation rate, 63.6%

      UK unemployment 6.6 %, labor participation rate
      , 72.7%

      US unemployment 6.3%, labor participation rate
      , 62.8%

      The jobless rate is not higher in employee friendly countries. The labor participation rate is much higher in places like Germany and the UK. They are not being dragged down by these policies.

      • Carla

        ok, how about France. Interestingly, many fewer mothers work in Germany than in France, I still haven’t figured out why, although I suspect that better salaries in Germany mean mothers don’t have to work for a few years if they don’t want to (or fathers if they want to be the stay-home parent). So many families in France have two working spouses because they can’t afford otherwise, not because they both want to work. They do have a lot of vacation, though. I like to generalize that Americans have a lot of money but no time, and the French have a lot of time but no money. Neither is really worse off, there are trade-offs, but for me I’d rather have the US economy with all the freedom more income and a better retirement fund provide.

        The term “employee friendly” should be re-visited. Many more Australians, Germans and French come to work in the US than vice versa, partly because in the US you are rewarded and can advance if you work hard.

        I do believe they are dragged down by these policies. I don’t believe government can solve this with a top-down policy as every company is different, every job type is different, every employee’s needs are different ! won’t bother to dig out the statistics, but look at average GDP per capita. etc. The US economy is stronger than any of these, even Germany, the engine of Europe.

        • Godzilla the Intellectual

          Big difference between Germany and France.

        • Pallykin

          German mothers get a year off paid for maternity lave, and also free daycare which is called “kindergarten”.

          Educated Europeans are multi lingual and most speak English, many of them speak it well. Educated Americans tend not to speak foreign languages, so working overseas is a challenge, even in the context of working in a multinational company that does business in English.

          France has one of the best healthcare systems in the developed world; the US has one of the worst. Americans can be ruined by an accident or the misfortune of disease. They rest of the civilized world takes care of its people.

          The US immigration system is one of the most difficult to access. Even educate people who can “tick all the boxes” would need to apply nearly a year ahead to come to the US.

          Overall, Europe has some things figured out that the US does not. If they had avoided the austerity measures as they were starting to come out of the recession, the EU economy would be roaring now.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            I think it’s best not to pay attention to this “Carla” character. She subscribes to an Objectivist point of view.

          • Pallykin

            You may be right.

          • Carla

            I guess you are packing your bags for the Old World?
            I meant German mothers stay home beyond the year maternity leave at higher rates than French mothers. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon and often spoken about over there. (French mothers get one year for the first child, more for the children following, or something like that.) But that’s a side point anyway.
            The free daycare is great – if you are lucky enough to get a spot! Otherwise you are stuck paying out of pocket.
            If the business world speaks English, then no big deal for an American to go work in Europe, no?
            Do you think it’s because of the UK and its fabulous economy, healthcare and work policies that the world learns English in order to succeed? Certainly not, even if Europeans are learning English English rather than American.
            And don’t even get me started on Europe’s austerity measures as the reason for their continued slump. Let’s just say we’ll agree to disagree, otherwise it will never end

        • Alexa_Segovia

          It’s not free!

          Actually, if you would read the bill, you would find that the primary motivator is not to help the employee, but to increase the US work participation rates.

          Says it right in the bill.

          And participation should not be “mandatory.” Without a doubt, it will be yet another economic strain on many families.

          $25.00 per month is a lot for a minimum wage worker.

          Imagine how hard it will be for a part-time minimum wage workers to pay 2% of their income, when many can barely eat.

          It will cost us a heck of a lot more, and we will now lost our 100% employer paid STD benefit.

          Fine, if people who want/need this benefit participate.

          But VERY MUCH against another “mandate.”

          Please leave the rest of us alone!

    • Godzilla the Intellectual

      Are you a botanist and former computer coder?

      • Carla

        no! Maybe Carla is just a pseudo! :)

        • Godzilla the Intellectual

          Maybe?

    • hennorama

      Carla — you are wrong about the unemployment rates, despite your being “sure.”

      Your anecdotal story is interesting, but statistically meaningless. It’s also not a surprise that a major employer would be able to fairly easily accomodate the maternal desires of a single employee.

      • Carla

        They were happy to work with my “maternal desires” – they were paying 3/5 of what they paid before for the same level of work! And I was happy too – maybe not earning more per day worked or advancing as much, but spending more time with my child. Win win

        • hennorama

          Carla — thank you for your response.

          As you wrote, it was a “win win,” for you, and an accomodating employer.

          Your anecdote does not speak to the issue, except that you were indeed fortunate, unlike many others with neither an accomodating employer, nor the means or ability to “negotiate.”

          Thanks again for your response.

    • Kevin Burber

      Be careful when trying to look at this data. People often try to compare by using the wrong statistics. Different countries measure unemployment different – some include what we in the US would consider children. Others only include urban areas and as you know, It is much, much harder to find a job when you live in a less densely populated area. The best international comparison is done by the UN.

      It can be found here: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/socind/

      -last link on the page (Adult Unemployment). Here are some comparisons from that data:

      Unemployment Rate:

      US 9.4 (Men) 8.5 (Women)
      Norway 3.4 (Men) 3.1 (Women)
      Germany 6.2 (Men) 5.6 (Women)
      France 8.8 (Men) 9.7 (Women)
      Sweeden 7.6 (Men) 7.5 (Women)
      UK 8.4 (Men) 7.1 (Women)
      Canada 7.8 (Men) 7.0 (Women)

      Hope that helps.

      Shannon

      • Carla

        These UN stats make me laugh

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    It seems she DID find a part time job!!! LOL

  • HonestDebate1

    Sorry but it seems to me this is all nothing but a desperate attempt by Obama to change the narrative from disasters at the boarder, the IRS and the VA (among others). He is going back to his tried and true practice of offering up free stuff. His other attempts (Bergdahl, Khattala) backfired.

    The press dutifully cooperates.

    • Godzilla the Intellectual

      The dude abides.

    • Guest

      The only thing desperate here is you. Are you a real person or someone hired by a conservative think tank to spam this websites? You have way too much time on your hands.

      • HonestDebate1

        The Koch Brothers pay me for every reply I get. Thank you for your support.

  • Pallykin

    I would prefer that these policies be “employee friendly”, rather than “family friendly”, and that they be designed with considerations for ALL employees, not just those of child bearing age.

    A good point was made that all of us at least started out with parents, who will age and eventually get sick. We should be able to agree that policies that support all of us with taking care of the elders in our lives should be a high priority.

    • Alexa_Segovia

      This leave will cover that.

      Bear in mind, “you” will be paying an insurance premium–it is mandatory for all working Americans.

      Which is ridiculous since many people (particularly single professionals with little or not family), may easily “self-insure” three months of pay, but yet are forced to be out money, whether they want, or need, this so-called insurance.

      It should be paid “entirely” by employers.

      Obviously, I don’t have any problem with anyone who “wants” the insurance. That’s their business.

      But that won’t happen, since it’s actually another “give-away” to business.

      Why else would a Goldman-Sachs executive be there?

      • Alexa_Segovia

        It’s interesting that their are no dissenting voices on the panel, when we know that Republicans will not likely pass this.

        Democrats surely know this.

        Don’t think that it’s any accident that this insurance plan is being presented mid-summer, just before an election cycle in November.

        Even the Politico reporter said that the Democrats are pandering to women by presenting this program in an election year.

        Yes, Ms Galinsky–fully paid leave SHOULD BE mandated!

        Don’t punish hardworking Americans with yet another “mandate.”

        • Alexa_Segovia

          That should be a fully paid “employer” benefit–sorry!
          ;-)

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    In 2011, it was revealed that Ayn Rand had spent the last eight years of her life receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at $500,000 (around $1.2 million in today’s money), suggesting her decision was motivated less by rationality than by the sort of parasitic greed she’d always claimed to despise.

    • HonestDebate1

      Hypocrisy doesn’t bother me much.

      • jefe68

        Why does that not surprise me.

        • HonestDebate1

          Because you are not a deep thinker.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            Hypocrisy is not repugnant in and of itself.

            It destroys credibility, mainly because it indicates one’s theories, opinions or beliefs are not highly developed, or were not modified after undergoing testing.

            If one tests one’s own theories and either oneself or the theory fails, one must necessarily ask oneself if one is lacking in will power, or if the theory is suspect, and adjust accordingly.

            If one insists the theory is correct, after failure, one loses credibility.

          • HonestDebate1

            I agree but those are personal failings that have little relevance outside of the personal bubble. 100 years ago I knew a drug counselor who spent his weekends shooting up coke. A bigger hypocrite never existed but he was a great counselor and received many accolades for his work. He helped many people straighten out their lives.

            I just don’t like assuming what people think. I’d rather judge them by their actions especially if those actions are beneficial to society.

            So while hypocrisy does bother me, in context it doesn’t bother me much.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            That is a great example. Point taken.

          • jefe68

            Actually it’s not a good example.
            Besides the hypocrisy issue there are also legal/liability issues. One gathers this is before people were drug tested for these positions. That said, this person actions could have undermined funding, and the legal status of whatever institution he worked or volunteered for.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            Nothing you just said made ANY sense…
            It was a string of logical fallacies.

          • HonestDebate1

            Law breaking does bother me, hypocrisy, not so much.

          • John Cedar

            You never cease to amaze me with your ability to take on a small army here and soundly defeat them with your superior logic.

            But I am not seeing what hypocrisy has to do with Rand collecting what is due her. Was she supposed to spend all of her holdings before she collected the insurance she paid in to? If not, how much was she supposed to spend before she could be labeled as not parasitically greedy?

          • HonestDebate1

            Thanks John Cedar but it’s really not much of a challenge.

            I steered my comment away from Rand but I agree with you.

          • jefe68

            That’s hilarious coming from someone who has the mental depth of thin ice.

    • hennorama

      Godzilla the Intellectual — that is completely unsurprising, as is the reply from [Debates?NotHe], below, who is not much bothered by hypocrisy.

      • Godzilla the Intellectual

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    I am absolutely fine with maternity leave IF and ONLY if PATERNITY leave is given equal status.

    If not, NO MATERNITY LEAVE…

    • HonestDebate1

      I can’t click like because I don’t believe it is prudent to pay people to not work but I agree with your sentiment.

    • Kevin Burber

      I am absolutely fine with paternity leave IF and ONLY if men start giving birth to children.

    • jefe68

      In most European nations this how it’s done.
      In Denmark both parents can take paternity leave.
      This enables the child to have one parent at home all the time for the first 18 months to two years, which is very important to development.

  • Godzilla the Intellectual

    Economically disadvantaged parents should not be rewarded financially for having more children. When you have ten kids and you are on welfare, there is a problem.

    • Arkuy The Great

      Chris Rock made a similar observation in Bring The Pain. Too vulgar to link here but it is easily searchable. And viciously trenchant!

    • John Cedar

      Careful, you sound like a Tea Party guy there.

      • Godzilla the Intellectual

        If you are literally hearing voices then someone is either in your vicinity speaking (and it is NOT me), or there is a radio or television on that you are not aware of, or angels are communicating with you, or you may be having a more serious mental breakdown, and potentially ought to seek professional mental health care immediately.

        • Salty

          Don’t worry – that is not an insult.

          Standing for common sense and liberty is not often understood but is something to be proud of.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            Listen, I like tea, so a tea party sounds lovely. But if you are referring to a political ideology you may be disappointed.

            I am staunchly Left-Libertarian.

            Go look it up.

          • Salty

            I don’t care how you categorize it but liberty, self determination and common sense is something to be proud of and is often criticized.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            Sorry, WRONG.

            Liberty is a DIRECT reference to emancipation, which can only be bestowed by a king, and thus it refers to a PRIVILEGE, as opposed to a sovereign birth RIGHT.

            Liberty is a complete farce.

            I prefer SELF-SOVEREIGNTY.

            Self-determination I agree with.
            Common Sense does not exist.

          • Salty

            Feel free to use your own title, call it what you want… Self determination and self responsibility is key… we take it away at our peril…

        • John Cedar

          I think I understand why you are confused. You see, (and I don’t mean that literally), “Sounds like”, is not a literal reference to hearing something, it is an idiomatic expression.

          • Godzilla the Intellectual

            …No sh!t !?!?

          • John Cedar

            Eye scat ewe knot.

    • Salty

      Makes sense.

  • http://www.google.com Big Brother

    if we can make our military look like a laughing stock and have no comprehensive military policy that enables the US to act overseas, we can start to cut their funding and stop the last 60 years of military build up. Then we can finally have the idyllic, socialist, European Chum Gang that Obama wants.

    No guns, no jobs, just cafés, museums, and artists.

  • John Cedar

    We already have the FMLA
    We already have maternity leave. Get knocked up and you get to go on disability at some point and stay on it once the birthin’s done, for some time after.

    As always, you will see the strongest proponents of these type socialist policies, are the ones who never hired anyone or fired anyone. Guys who cannot put a website together for a billion dollars have all kinds of theories on how a business ought to be run and what their minimum wage should be.

    • Arkuy The Great

      I am shocked that after 300+ comments into this subject this is the only mention of SLD and maternity leave. Two women in my office did exactly this when they gave birth and stayed home for 6 months each. It is a viable option for those who need it and it works perfectly well.

    • KnickKnack1980

      As always, you will always see the strongest opponents of these type of socialist policies, are the ones who never gave birth. America stands virtually alone by itself in the ENTIRE WORLD in offering no paid leave for mothers or fathers.

      Furthermore, America is the only country in the developed world not legally obliged to offer any paid vacation. Oh, you’re also the most medicated, mentally ill and physically obese nation in the entire world. But of course someone with such simple world views as yourself wouldn’t understand the connections to be made with any of this.

      • John Cedar

        Perhaps someone with such sophisticated world views as yourself would explain the connections to be made. The US’s lack of paid maternity leave causes obesity, mental illness and associated needs for medication? Umm oh kay.

        While it is true that I have never given birth, in my defense, I am not biologically capable of doing so. But that should not be important because I’m not the one advocating for any new burdensome job killing laws to be saddled on anyone, including the maternal.

        You OTOH are capable of employing someone. Not likely the reality, but at least in theory you are capable. And yet you are the one taking the moral low ground and advocating that employers should have to do something you are unwilling to do.

        There is a reason or two why every other country wants to be America and why so many of our forefathers left Europe.

        • The poster formerly known as t

          Your forefathers left Europe because Europe was overpopulated. They didn’t come here for “freedom”, otherwise they wouldn’t resort to forcibly trying to enslave the native population of the Americas or going to great efforts to import African slaves.

          Going to an area for selfish material gain (much of which is unsustainable. No economy can grow forever and there’s no land can remain prosperous and produce increasing amounts of resources for civilization forever, which is why several large successful businesses started moving operations out of America in the 1970s. ) and “freedom” are not the same thing.

      • Carla

        Not sure about the medications or mental part. Obesity, yes, but that’s not due to lack of government mandated vacation. Start with government interfering in corn wheat and soy pricing many years ago. Our culture of individualism means strict meal rules are set aside. Our culture of niceness means you don’t blame people for becoming obese- it’s in their genes, not their fault. You have to take the bad with the good in a culture and obesity is the bad side of our culture. There is a lot that is good. But this is off topic

  • Alexis

    Is it a coincidence that America is the country that has mental health tragedies on a regular basis and that we are ranked last in allowing new mothers to stay at home with their newborns? MAYBE the country should reevaluate/research the effects of the lack of time a mother and a new born spend together

    • Godzilla the Intellectual

      Absolutely, as long as men get the same amount of paternity leave.

  • Salty

    Raising a family is NOT a shared responsibility. It is the responsibility of the family, the parents. If an employers wants to provide support and assistance, good for them. Employers should be free to chose for themselves if they want to provide this support or not. Workers should have the choice to sell their labor to an employer or not. This is a simple issue.

    • KnickKnack1980

      Great, except no other developed countries agree with you, and you’re the only country in the developed world that doesn’t provide this protection for it’s workers. It’s exactly your kind of blinkered view that keeps it this way.

      • Salty

        I am fine that no other country sees it my / our way. I haven’t heard of anyone clamoring to achieve the “European Dream”. America is the destination of choice of the impoverished and destitute… How many American cab drivers or corner-shop keepers do we have in Dhaka, Lahore, Abuja or Managua? How many Americans are working on Mexican road crews or Panamanian landscaping companies?

        • KnickKnack1980

          American Exceptionalism at it’s most naive. You’re comparing the likes of Bangaladesh and Pakistan, why not compare it to European countries which study after study shows has much higher upward mobility than the US. People are sold a myth that the United States is the best country to find a good quality of life when it’s apparent to anyone who has lived abroad or can look at any studies or gini index that it’s simply not true. Our high obesity rate, the incarceration rate, the extortionate and broken healthcare costs, the fact that we are overmedicated, over worked, underpaid and lack even the most basic laws pertaining to paid vacation shows that anyone looking for a better life here isn’t going to find it as a cab driver or corner shop keeper.

          • Salty

            I come at this from perspective of having lived in Europe from 1990 – 2004. …and the European dream is what, exactly?

            We can make it here. We are only limited by our resolve. Starting as a child of poverty, succeeding, living in Europe from the ages of 24 – 38, returning to a changed America and despite the changes, continuing to succeed. I am a product of that dream. I can honestly say I had few if any friends in Europe, mainly Brits, who did not admire what we have here on not want more of it ‘there’ if not wanting to emigrate.

          • KnickKnack1980

            I’m from the UK originally, so my perspective is having been born in Europe. The European dream? I can’t speak for the rest of Europe, but in the UK, it was the idea that everyone deserved to have their basic needs met, we have so many more safety nets in the UK to help protect the most vulnerable, and I include members of my family in that. Both my parents would be dead by now if it wasn’t for the health service that was provided to them free at the point of use. Neither of them would have been protected in the USA as they were too young for Medicare and my mother was a care-worker and my dad owned his own business. Neither of them made enough money that would have afforded them the kind of care and medicine they received in the US when my mother got cancer and my father had a heart-attack.

            I’m not sure which Brits you had as friends, but none of my friends admire ANY of the systems we have over here in the US. Our Government is bought by Corporations, our healthcare system is all about massive profits while millions die because they’re uninsured or can’t afford treatments, our gun problem is off the charts, this American Dream you refer to is a myth, it doesn’t exist for all but a few people.

          • Guest

            I am sorry for the experiences that lead you to this opinion. … More to follow…

          • Salty

            I am sorry for your experiences. My 14 years in the UK and family still there – including two doctors, left me with a different experience. Of all of my relationships in the UK only three friends hold negative connotations of the US. two of them worked in the US and felt they were asked to work too much so they moved back to the UK. The third feels that it is not fare if some have more than others in the area of health care. She actually feels that there should only be one type of “walker / zimmer frame” or one type of prosthetic, that everyone should have exactly the same and that there should not be any type of market in health care.

            I personally experienced the health care rationing based on location. Some areas in the UK have good service, others have very poor service. I had good service where I lived, my family in another part of the country had very poor service. I have never heard of anyone not getting care in the US. You will be cared for if you can’t pay – it’s the law.

            The American dream is alive and well. I started in poverty with a single mom, and am very successful. My brother – the same. We both started on free lunch at school but now have significant assets and salaries. The dream is there for the taking. It will not be given to you.

          • Carla

            Millions die because they are uninsured???? Are you sure. That would be breaking news the leftist media would loveto report but I haven’t heard about it. We don’t leave the uninsured to die on the streets, contrary to popular European myth

          • Carla

            The only people who think European social and economic policies are superior are those who never spent more than a month in Eurooe, I wager. With you completely, married to Frenchman and lived a few years in Germany

          • John Cedar

            Pfft…my girlfriend watches House Hunters International. We see what the rest of the world considers middle class and its worse than being impoverished in the US. Better to be on the bottom of the US GinI than the middle of France’s Gini.

          • Carla

            Hah! As I was saying , spend some time in Europe and you will see Americans have a lot more money (economic freedom) and upward mobility. Now I’m not sure that makes ours a better culture – the French do live well – but it is completely false that we are worse off economically because we don’t have these social programs

          • Carla

            Our culture has lots if problems but it is much more upwardly mobile than any other country’s culture. You have probably seen very little of Europe to think otherwise

        • http://balloune.tk/ Claude Balloune

          BS. America is 42nd in life-expectancy, Strangely, America is third in health expenditures, behind Liberia and Sierra Leone. Why?
          But, hey!
          You’re 14th in Obesity. Shouldn’t be hard to catch up to those 13 above you- they’re basically little islands in the Pacific whose natives eat nothing but sugar and starch, sold to them by American companies.
          The source? Why, the CWSS (Cuban World Statistic Society.)
          Just kidding, folks – It’s from your own American CIA. You’ve heard of them haven’t you? One of that muslim socialist Kenyan POTUS’s tools to subjugate the US citizenery.

          Here’s a happiness map-
          See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Planet_Index
          The highest-ranked countries are bright green; the lowest are brown.

          • Salty

            If America is so bad why are people literally dying to get here? Even Europeans are are huge waiting lists to to emigrate. I know of no such list of Americans dying to get into Honduras or waiting a lifetime to be allowed to emigrate to Belgium. Success and prosperity is available in American for ANYONE who is willing to work for it, ANYONE who is willing to work.

          • http://balloune.tk/ Claude Balloune

            Hello-, 1921 just called, and they would like you to return their statistics.
            Who told you “everyone is dying to get into America”? Hollywood?
            It might have been true 100 years ago, but not any longer.
            In fact, Canada has an illegal immigration problem with Mexicans and Central Americans coming in from the US.

            From Forbes Magazine-
            (according to a 2009 Gallup Poll). Gallup’s “potential net migration index” (PNMI) subtracts the number of adults who would move out of a country from the number of adults who would choose to move to that same country, and presents it as a percentage of the total adult population.
            The U.S. has a PNMI of 60%, less than a quarter of top-ranked Singapore’s 260%. Other countries that rank higher than the U.S. include-
            New Zealand (175%), Canada, (170%), Australia (145%), France (70%) and the U.K. (65%).

            And read this article (if you dare)-
            http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/americas-emigration-problem/309410/

          • Salty

            I know from my experience living abroad – I never met anyone desperate to emigrate to Belgium or Norway. We all want the Belgian dream don’t we? America was from 1990 – 2004 (my time in Europe) the shining city on a hill that was a beacon for so many. I met many wanting to emigrate to the US and very few wanting a new life anywhere else. (Caveat: There was one family wanting to move to Australia and another to Canada however.)

            The countries you mentioned above have relatively small populations (France and the UK – about 60 million and Canada, about 30 million), thus high PNMIs. To keep this simple – mathematically it is easy for smaller countries to have larger PNMIs.

            But hey, the way things are going in the US, I may be wrong in the future. We are becoming less salty, less distinct, more like everyone else. The reason you use a spice is for the contrast. If America continues its move to emulate everyone else, the contrast would be lost and the dream snuffed. Perhaps that’s the plan. “American exceptionalism” seems unfair to some and makes others nervous. Many, both in America and abroad, want it to become a thing of the past.

          • http://balloune.tk/ Claude Balloune

            Salty? I’m pissed and it’s passed midnite- I’ll hafta rpond more coherently later.
            So far your response deserves a sober response. Take care.
            Czech (sic) my reply in a day or so.
            Oh,, that World Cup! Germany RULES! But you have no idea of what I’m talkin’ about.

          • Salty

            Actually, I was born in Bermany, Bremerhaven to be exact. I have also lived in Greece as well as Britain. MY wife is English and my kids have dual nationality. I have a broad and well thought perspective.

            Why assume I didn’t know about the WC? I bet more Americans play soccer / football than any other sport and I bet there are more American kids playing soccer than there are Europeans or kids from any other nation. Americans just aren’t keen on the professional/ national version.

            I look forward to your reply. I am enjoying the back and forth.

            Oh, bye the way, being called an American unexceptionalist is a complement. I will proudly wear that label. It is like calling one a sophisticated Brit, a well dressed Italian or a cultured Frenchman.

          • Salty

            Oh – I read the article. We should allow the retirees to use medicare in Chile. Some people want to retire to countries that are cheap and have nice climates, Mexicans don’t emigrate as much if they can’t find work… and your point is, what, exactly?

      • http://balloune.tk/ Claude Balloune

        Blinkered indeed. He’s a tough one- still lives in 1955 with Archie Bunker.

  • Salty

    …an employer should have the option to NOT pay someone if they are NOT working. An employee should have the option NOT to work for a company that doesn’t offer the perks or benefits they are looking for.

    Goodness… this is an easy one.

  • Salty

    How many American cab drivers or corner-shop keepers do we have in Dhaka, Lahore, Abuja or Managua? How many Americans are working on Mexican road crews or Panamanian landscaping companies?

  • Kenneth Doane

    I have now listened to On Point for two years and find it to be one of the best programs of its kind available from any source. Tom Ashbrook is simply one of the best interviewers in today’s very crowded field of radio and TV journalism. I commend WBUR for selecting him for this program and hope to enjoy him for years to come.

  • http://www.ecoevolution.org/ Ian G

    Isn’t it just plain willful ignorance on the part of the show not to include guests from any of the other developed nations to explain how these policies work and how to implement them?

    A lot of silly head scratching going on during this show when we clearly have many examples of not only how to improve but what the outcomes are.

  • Aaron Ladd

    I bet that most people in a union have paid maternity leave, if not
    unpaid. WITH the protection of keeping your job. I’m surprised that not
    one of the guest or any callers brought this up. The destruction of
    unions in this country leads to the government having to step in and
    protect workers rights, which flies in the face of a lot of anti-union
    groups(smaller government folks). FYI, Most industrialized countries
    have many unions for their workers, that might be why we are lagging
    behind in these issues.

ONPOINT
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Jul 23, 2014
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Jul 23, 2014
Actor Wallace Shawn attends special screening of "Turks and Caicos" hosted by Vogue and The Cinema Society at the Crosby Street Hotel on Monday, April 7, 2014 in New York.  (AP)

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