A Modest Proposal
Can all of our children spend the first weeks of life without their mothers and fathers having to deal with unnecessary financial or employment-related stress? Surely in America they can. We have the resources to make this possible. In fact, there is wide support for paid family leave for new parents. Sadly, the support is also shallow. But we can deepen it.
The employer-based status quo is inequitable. Yes, government workers now have paid family leave. That’s a decent start. But we cannot, and should not, all be working for Uncle Sam. So what about the rest of us? The high income earners of large companies fare markedly better than do the lower income workers in smaller companies. We know what this means, don’t we? The parents who are likely to have the greatest need are likely to have the least support. But all families matter, and all newborns share the same basic needs.
What’s to be done? Aspirations aren’t enough. Crafting family leave policies calls for recognizing political priorities. Real world legislation must win bipartisan support. To achieve this support, we’d better keep four goals in mind. First, sound policy making requires simple and efficient administrative procedures. Anything wrapped in red tape fails badly. Second, sound policy isn’t partisan or patchwork. Third, we need to stay focused on parents themselves. Finally, without neglecting fathers, sound policy acknowledges the unique place of mothers and the special demands made on them.
With these goals in mind, we need to bring to center stage—and keep it there—a federal policy that offers short term federal support for all new mothers who will benefit from it. The support will, of course, be limited. At the same time, it needs to be generous enough to make a real difference.
Generosity, to be sure, isn’t a given. Companies have an obvious incentive to help finance abortions, and so many of them hypocritically do. Adults without children, and determined not to have any, are predictably less interested in helping pay for family leave time.
But without generosity the whole enterprise of building a decent and caring public order can’t flourish. There’s a logic at work that we’d best not forget: virtue, over the long haul, brings its own reward. In contrast, vice is a poison that, sooner than we might suppose, proves lethal.
Generosity, as a kind of social capital, should be balanced and sustainable. The specifics of the federal policy that we need call for open debate, statistical analysis, and smart politics. Current politics require more finger pointing and shouting than cooperative policy making. While we work to fix this, look, instead, to the platform of the American Solidarity Party. We do our homework. One useful source for the debate and analysis is the Institute for Family Studies. And here’s another that’s even better: an open and ongoing conversation with new moms and dads. It’s a greasy uphill roll, but we can do this. Join the movement, and write in Shane Hoffman for U.S. Senate on November 08. Are you ready? Dr. James Hanink, two time gubernatorial candidate with ASP California