Monday, January 17, 2011

But what is the end goal?

The UK Government is taking another step toward unisex parenting. At the moment, women get 10 months of paid maternity leave. That's now going to be made transferable, so that fathers can take either some or all of the leave instead.

But the logic of the process is to eventually make the father's share of the leave non-transferable, just as the Scandinavians have done. If the father doesn't use the leave, it will be lost.

The new policy is based on a Demos report written by Jen Lexmond. Jen Lexmond has already made it clear on her blog that although she sees the new policy of transferable leave as a "huge step forward", she "would rather see non-transferable equal parental leave in order to address issues of gender inequality".

That's the end goal of all this: "non-transferable equal parental leave". In other words, the mother and father would have to take an equal amount of leave in the interests of gender equality.

Jen Lexmond has further explained her preference as follows:

I think that more equal parental leave would produce more equal families, where fathers are just as likely as mothers to take on caring responsibilities at home, where children grow up with less gendered expectations about what their role will be in the future, where the pay gap would narrow...

And here:

A society where it was just as likely for a father as for a mother to take a career break during their children's early years would be a society where the pay gap might start to narrow. If there was no way of predicting who was more likely to bow out, there would be no economic incentive to withhold promotion, training, or pay rises from one group over another. The pay gap exists today much more as an expression of risk management on behalf of employers than of explicit discrimination against women.

That's where public policy reform comes in, starting with a move to take it or lose it parental leave that provides equal, and non-transferable, leave for both parents.
Note that in the last quote, Jen Lexmond again reveals that the end goal is "equal, and non-transferable, leave". She hopes that families won't be given a say, but will either have to accept unisex parenting roles or else lose their entitlements.

Note too that the purpose of paternal leave is not to help men or families. It's based on the feminist assumption that what really matters are career and pay outcomes. If it's women who take time off to care for their children, then feminists fear that employers might favour men in the workplace. So feminists like Jen Lexmond want leave to be taken equally by men and women.

And, of course, equal leave also fits in with the larger liberal aim of making gender not matter. There is to be a very neat, uniform, undifferentiated system in which both men and women have the same commitment to paid work, earn the same amount of money, spend the same short amount of time at home performing the same kind of maternal work, before then returning to paid work.

Can the unisex plan succeed? That remains to be seen. It has some advantages for the state. It means that women get drawn into the paid labour force which increases the tax base and labour force and decreases wages. It can also work as a hidden form of protectionism: employers no longer have to pay men working in private industry a living wage, since the state is paying their wives a wage in some kind of state employment (that's how it tends to work in Scandinavia).

On the other hand, it increases taxes at a time that many European countries are already overspending and heavily in debt. It must also over time endanger the male work ethic. If men are no longer providers, and if it's thought progressive for women to earn the money in a family, then some men will be tempted to do just what feminists want them to do, namely to downscale their work commitments.

One final point. Liberalism claims to be extending the realm of human freedom and autonomy. But is it really the case that paid leave achieves this? In the past, families were more self-sufficient. The family itself was an independent unit of society, functioning according to its own principles.

What we are moving toward is a life organised not around the family, but around state and employer. It is the state which decides who is to look after children and for how long. It is the state or the employer that supplies the money to allow parenting to take place at all. Our lives are to be organised increasingly around our employment in the paid labour force, rather than independently of it.

This doesn't strike me as a genuine advance in human freedom. It strikes me rather as just one more "stripping down" of the individual, a further loss of particular qualities and relationships with which the individual acts independently of the state.

19 comments:

  1. Even if men get the leave, they're not always going to take it. Here in the USA a man is "guaranteed" 12 weeks of "family medical leave" (unpaid alas) that he could theoretically take after the birth of a child, but I can assure you from personal experience that bosses strongly discourage you from using it.

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  2. I showed support for Cameron before but I was wrong. Its one thing to make liberal concessions but Cameron is doing so gleefully. The Tory party shouldn't put up with this, they should force a leadership spill and a new election. Cameron is a ridiculous minnow.

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  3. Cameron never professed to be a true social or fiscal conservative.

    But the logic of the process is to eventually make the father's share of the leave non-transferable, just as the Scandinavians have done. If the father doesn't use the leave, it will be lost.

    It's already that way in Germany, too. There are 12 months for the mother, and an additional 2 months for the father. The father can take some or all of the mother's portion, but not vice-versa.

    Men don't like to take it because it hurts their career. Even 2 months is a long time, when you are trying to feed a young family. I became ill, and was hospitalized, during my second pregnancy. My husband took 2 weeks off to care for our oldest, and promptly lost the lead project. It can happen very fast.

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  4. It means that women get drawn into the paid labour force which increases the tax base and labour force and decreases wages.

    Yes on the first two, but the last is an economic fallacy. See Say's law.

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  5. "Yes on the first two, but the last is an economic fallacy. See Say's law."

    Yeh and my wages is matching inflation.

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  6. I think men like me in professional jobs would often rather keep working than take paternal leave, even at 90% of income (never mind pathetic 'statutory pay'). If I had taken my entitled paternity leave when my son was born, I'd have been off work for 8 weeks, but the same work would still be waiting for me when I got back! What's the point?

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  7. My husband doesn't even use all his official vacation days, I think he would go crazy if he had to stay several months at home with the baby.

    But I totally see younger men doing it, they don't seem to be so keen on working. I know some who can't hold any job longer than a couple of months.

    Judging by the Daily Mail commenters the legislation isn't seen as a tremendous victory for gender equality, but another attack on small businesses and free enterprise system.

    In the country where I live paternity leave is 2 weeks and maternity leave is 4.5 months. Many people think it's too long though, and I agree. Why should the employer pay the woman to stay home with her kid, if she doesn't want to leave her infant, she can quit working.

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  8. Like many entitlements granted by the state but not voted for by electors, the costs of paternity leave will be dumped on third parties - i.e. employers. These overheads will be offloaded, where possible, and the cost of living for everyone will be affected.

    Doesn't anyone bother about the economic consequences of harebrained proposals to "equalize" the outcome of every deal between the sexes?

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  9. ""Doesn't anyone bother about the economic consequences of harebrained proposals to "equalize" the outcome of every deal between the sexes?""

    No.

    That's primarily because in the left-liberal mindset all employers are evil bloodsuckers that exploit their employees for profit. In their minds they DESERVE to pay for any crazy social engineering that those who know better by virtue of working for the government think up.

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  10. This is interesting. In Oz the Greens leader is arguing that the Coal industry should pay more to cover the cost of the floods, because the industry warmed the planet which caused the floods etc. So they're not just bloodsuckers but environmental destroyers also. The Green's reaction has been greeted "unfavourably" ie they've been shouted down and told they're knobs. I think the Greens will end up wearing a lot of the approbation for the floods, (refusals to build and extend dams left towns vulnerable to flooding).

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  11. "I think the Greens will end up wearing a lot of the approbation for the floods, "

    Approbation means praise and approval, which is not what those idiots should get.

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  12. Note that wages will be equalized by lowering men's wages and thus, total household income. That's not what families need right now. Tax revenues will be reduced as a side effect. I don't think feminists are thinking this through (or if they have they're just plain evil).

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  13. Randian,

    I think feminists would assume that lowering men's income would be a positive side-effect, not a negative one. Lower men's wages and higher male unemployment encourages female work. We can see that with the economic crises here, which has hit men the hardest and driven mothers back into the workplace.

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  14. Jesse_7 said...

    ""the Greens leader is arguing that the Coal industry should pay more to cover the cost of the floods, because the industry warmed the planet which caused the floods etc. So they're not just bloodsuckers but environmental destroyers also.""

    This is a great example of how the 70s-80s far-left managed to merge into the Green movement in the 90s.

    The same "enemy" is there, all that changed was the focus from trying to organise unions [which by that stage was a clear failure] to trying to organise the upper middle class to attack the same foe: The West, Capitalism and the people that built both [ethnic Europeans].

    ""I think the Greens will end up wearing a lot of the approbation for the floods""

    I think that is hopelessly optimistic, speaking as someone who knew a lot of journalism students who are now copy writers in the supposed "Right wing" Murdoch press all i can say is that their fondness for the Greens is very strong.

    The Greens are the establishment party, yet only get 10% of the vote, this of course is one of the resons democracy is so despised by near every Green I have ever met.

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  15. The greens are only interested in moral issues not practical ones. Therefore they're influential but not really that powerful.

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  16. Alte, randian, the motive is actually quite clear: the feminists want men's pay to be lowered in order to close the mythical "wage gap". They even let the cat out of the bag in the cited article, by admitting that the "wage gap" is not discrimination so much as risk management. Well, by making it equally risky to a business to hire men as it is to hire women, the "wage gap" will be closed.

    Finally, feminists don't care if actual, real families are hurt by their proposals. Come on, these are the people who championed abortion on demand (and got it) and one-sided divorce laws (and got them).

    "Game" practitioners will tell anyone as a first principle, women's words don't matter, it's what they do that counts. This holds true in a wider realm than pick-ups in bars, y'know. Anyone who drones on about 'the children', but who defends late term, partial-birth abortion has made their real intention clear.

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  17. Policies like this hurt the mid-pack families the most -- the folks who are using two incomes to get by. The upper-tier professional types will still tend to have more traditional family patterns -- not all that many CEOs are married to other CEOs, for example, so the impact of this on the so-called "glass ceiling" will be minimal. The reality is that the super-ambitious folks are not going to take all of the leave, just as today they don't take all of their normal vacation leave, either, often, even under "use it or lose it" policies.

    In any case, we knew it would come to this, didn't we? The left likes to criticize the right for wanting to impose values on people through the state (e.g., abortion laws, prohibition on same sex marriage, etc.), but the left wants to do the same thing, just in a different direction -- force people to adopt the values of the left, through state coercion. It's all about power, ultimately -- the raw political power to use the state to force people to do what you want (or strongly coerce them to do so).

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  18. Well, by making it equally risky to a business to hire men as it is to hire women, the "wage gap" will be closed.

    Wow. Good comment. I hadn't even thought that far.

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