Family Leave: Back on Congress' Radar?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

The United States is so backwards when it comes to family leave that I am prepared to celebrate any successes. The fact that our world-lagging Family and Medical Leave Act hasn't yet been gutted is, in a certain twisted way, good news, and this month has brought additional reasons for optimism.

As Stephen Barr noted a couple of weeks ago, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), champion of the federal employee (and of the tortured, not-quite-right Internet-related metaphor), is pushing for a bill that would give federal employees paid leave -- eight weeks for moms, five days for dads.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why this is hardly the ideal policy or the ideal time to push it. Naturally, I would have been a lot happier if Stevens had introduced the bill a decade ago, when his party was in power, a Dem was in the White House and there was plenty of money still sloshing around the budget to pay for this sort of thing. Extending the law to all employees, and not just federal workers, would also be a good start. It would be nice if mothers could get paid leave for a full 12 weeks -- the amount of time off guaranteed under FMLA -- just like they do in Stevens's office. And, given my passion for gender-neutrality and the fact that paid leave quite literally changed my life, I would much rather have seen a bill that offered fathers more than just a token paid leave.

But beggars can't be choosers, and advocates for more enlightened leave policies in the U.S. tend to be beggars. Stevens' proposal may be the best we can do for now. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing more of these issues reach the light of day. As I noted back in November, there have been a number of really interesting and thoughtful pro-balance bills introduced to absolute silence.

Of course, I've lived here long enough that I have no expectation that we'll see actual legislation passed anytime soon, but I've also learned that good things happen when issues retain a certain level of visibility for long enough. And there's a part of me that hopes against hope that when the current crop of early-announcing presidential candidates goes looking for a warm-and-fuzzy policy stance that will unite all of the media-created voting demographics (NASCAR dads, soccer moms, etc.), they'll stumble across this one. After all, nothing is more American than supporting motherhood (or fatherhood) and apple pie, right?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  January 25, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Flexibility
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Comments

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Ha ha first.

"eight weeks for moms, five days for dads"

A little discriminatory, don't you think?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 7:11 AM

"And there's a part of me that hopes against hope that when the current crop of early-announcing presidential candidates goes looking for a warm-and-fuzzy policy stance that will unite all of the media-created voting demographics (NASCAR dads, soccer moms, etc.), they'll stumble across this one."

I, for one, am looking for a candidate with more then "warm and fuzzy" policy ideas. Sorry Brian, this may not be the year (or election cycle) to hang your hopes on paid family leave. We have some big issues on our country's collective plate and so-called soccer moms, NASCAR dads or whatever new name pollsters come up hopefully will be more worried about the war in Iraq, terrorism, and illegal immigration - as I am. I am looking for some real answers or even direction from the sad crop of candidates (from both parties) that have announced their intentions, otherwise we won't have time to worry about paid family leave or anything else "warm and fuzzy."

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 7:40 AM

Unfortunately, I don't think anything will change until more dads demand it. Sad to say, but it's similar to the way companies view women who need to leave early for the kids' soccer game -- not dedicated enough to their work. If dads now leave work early for the kids' soccer game, they're great dads and committed to their families. Yet another double standard.

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | January 25, 2007 7:48 AM

MORE MORE MORE - More flex time, more paid time to do what I want to, more tax deductions for day care. We are parents, we are noble, but we don't want to sacrifice - WE WANT IT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 7:58 AM

"After all, nothing is more American than supporting motherhood (or fatherhood) and apple pie, right?"

Obviously not, Brian! Similar legislation has been proposed previously and didn't get very far. Really, you should check the facts before you write something.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 7:59 AM

PunditMom, if that's happening in your workplace, you're working in the wrong place. All of the places I've worked at have tended to view "leaving early for the softball game" (sorry, soccer still isn't a first love even after playing it while growing up in Germany)the same for both genders. I've worked in places where it's definitely frowned on; you're just not dedicated to the job. I've left those places quickly for places where it's "is your work done properly, to the best of your ability? Is the customer happy? Then there's no problem here, is there?"

Re: 8 weeks vs 5 days: the difference is probably justified as "physical recuperation". Federal standards - at least when my wife, a Fed at the time, was giving birth to our four - were that a normal delivery with no complications required six weeks of physical recuperation, so that was the amount of sick leave that would be automatically approved. So 8 weeks vs 5 days could be justified as either it now takes 8 weeks to physically recuperate, or "two weeks for Mom bonding vs. 1 week for Dad".

Posted by: Army Brat | January 25, 2007 8:00 AM

To cmac: Yes, the '08 election cycle should be a debate about all manner of staggeringly important things. But if history is any guide, every candidate will no doubt end up spending a little bit of time on a pet non-war, non-economy, non-health care issue. Why not this one?

To punditmom: I'm doing my part to demand it. Hope the other male OB readers are doing the same.

Posted by: Brian Reid | January 25, 2007 8:19 AM

cmac what war, what terrorism, and we have illegal immigration? Just kidding. I think today's topic is a nice thought, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

I think it would also be fair to people without children if the same benefit was applied when they had to take care of a sick parent, spouse, or sibling.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 8:21 AM

As much as I would hope this would be enacted without delay, I think it's just another suggestion that will go nowhere. Especially the part where fathers get paid leave as well.
This country is so completely backwards when it comes to supporting the institutions it claims to: Family, marriage, etc.
If you want good, paid family leave, become a teacher and plan all of your children to be born at the end of the school year. It's really the only way to get 3 months off and a full paycheck.

Posted by: preggers | January 25, 2007 8:24 AM

There's nothing more "fun" than living in Europe where, as an American who is friends with European women from many countries, I always being grilled over our barbaric maternity-leave laws (or lack thereof).

I was one of the "lucky ones" meaning my non-federal employer allowed me to have 12 weeks off, 8 of them were fully paid, and I used vacation time to get two more paid so I only missed one paycheck and got the "privilege" of returning to my same job. Joy. Hope I'm not sounding too sarcastic - I really honestly was thrilled, since many/most of my friends had much less generous offers and situations (6 weeks leave, unpaid?!) but it still is a bitter pill to swallow in comparison to my friends here who were only just starting to return to their jobs (full time or part time, their choice) as their children were turning 18 months old.

Posted by: Vienna mom | January 25, 2007 8:25 AM

So if the mother gets 8 weeks off to "recuperate and bond" and the father only 5 days (basically one week), who's helping the mother during those five other weeks she's still recovering from the birthing process?

Personally, when my wife delivers, I intend to use my sick leave for as long as she wants me to stay at home with her. I've got over six months' sick leave saved up and 30 days' vacation, and since I work for a state government office, there's little they can do about it.

Posted by: John | January 25, 2007 8:33 AM

Brian - I think my larger point is we look to candidates that have great "warm and fuzzy" ideas, however the security concern of the country should overshadow them. This topic has been debated numerous times on this blog - however the twist you added today was pinning your hopes on new candidates and the chances of paid leaving being highlighted by one of them.

Why not this one? Generally I am against the nanny state. I understand the concerns of new parents, taking care of elderly parents and sick childen or family members. We had legislation passed by the Clinton administration to protect our jobs (FLA), however the fundamental question is do we expect the fed govt to pick up the tab everytime we have a family addition or crisis? It is not on the top of my list. Obviously you and others have different opinions.

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 8:33 AM

Here's the problem:

It took years for the Republicans to even agree with the shabby benefits offered by today's Family Leave Act.

As for the Democrats, they already get the vote of the environmental groups that loath human population growth and consider children the enemy of the planet. Offering monetary incentives to new parents will have these types cringing.

Also, many view the bennifits package offered to federal employees as already bloated as it is right now.

One last thing... Define the "Dad". The sperm donor? The current live-in boyfriend? The guy she's married to? What about the lesbian lover? What a can of worms!

Sorry Brian, just ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 25, 2007 8:50 AM

Am I missing something here, or how is the FLMA going to give 8 weeks of paid leave to the 'mom' when she's taking care of HER mom and not a baby? Do you know what I mean? I always thought FLMA was for taking time off for any 'family thing,' such as a sick parent, spouse, etc. And if that's the case, where did this 8 weeks paid leave come from? Or is maturnity leave a part of FLMA?

I guess I need to hit the coffee machine again.

Posted by: ilc | January 25, 2007 9:02 AM

As somebody who has benefited from the "generous" FMLA twice (8 weeks paid plus all the annual leave resulting in paid 3 months maternity leave), I consider myself very lucky compared to most of my friends. I agree with Vienna mom that this is a joke compared to some European countries but we already had this debate. The only other place I know where you can get paid maternity leave is in the Federal gov't using all your saved sick leave. It works primarily for women who have been in the gov't for a long time and have kids later. This law is certainly not a panacea. However, I know of many instances where FMLA was violated after maternity leave was completed. I would rather see some kind of reinforcement of this law to protect job security. I also agree with other posters that there are pressing national security issues and as a parent I certainly agree that they must be dealt with.

Posted by: another working mom | January 25, 2007 9:06 AM

I would welcome some mandate for paid leave, for any FMLA eligible occurance.

My husband and I have been scrimping and saving for over a year to be able to have me take the full 12 week unpaid leave when we start a family. I must go back to work after that to help "pay the bills".

Our biggest concern is the cost of child care. I live 500 miles from the nearest family member and we are expecting to pay more than half my salary to child care - just to get that extra cash to fulfill a bare bones budget (we do not drive nice cars or live in an expensive community).

Don't get me wrong, I'm willing to sacrifice. But one spike in oil prices could drive our heating bill through the roof, and us into debt once we have kids. That doesn't sound like the American Dream to me.

Two experienced professionals with masters degrees should be able to provide for more than this.

Posted by: MomToBe | January 25, 2007 9:09 AM

While it is tons of fun to play, change, feed and stare at babies and you only get to do it twice (once with your kids, once with your grandkids), I'm not convinced that the father's presence is absolutely essential in the infant stage. Certainly, a helping hand with all the details is very welcome but I think a new Mom needs time to adjust and get her space in order too. Most men would be in the way, big time.

No, for me, having the Dad around during the 7 to 14 year old stage is much better in terms of raising a wholesome well-grounded human being. So, looking at it in those terms, parental leave for Dads might be more useful later in the child's life. Since that is a pipe dream, I advocate the following different life style choices.

Discontinue all affiliation with travel teams, play local community athletics, only. Believe me, if your kid is a great athlete, you will know it without the aggravation and you will have nice long stretches of weekend free to do stuff.

Unplug and remove anything resembling video games.

Limit the cell phone and IM use to certain hours of the day only.

Take each kid out to lunch one on one, wherever they prefer, as long as it is sit down and face-to-face, on a regular basis.

Sit and read or listen to music in the living room. Or, better yet, play card games or Chinese checkers. We played Uno with the kids for years (a four year old can play, though not particularly well, but who cares?) and still do. Let the TV collect dust.

Posted by: Dave | January 25, 2007 9:12 AM

Yeah, I'm a little fuzzy on this too. Aren't maternity leave and FML two different benefits?

Posted by: Meesh | January 25, 2007 9:13 AM

Move away from DC.

Posted by: tomomtobe | January 25, 2007 9:14 AM

um, guys, am I the only one that has a problem with giving federal employees more of MY money (we are actually paying their salaries)?

Posted by: jan | January 25, 2007 9:16 AM

"Extending the law to all employees, and not just federal workers, would also be a good start. It would be nice if mothers could get paid leave for a full 12 weeks . . ."

This could very well happen, now that the Democratic Party is in charge. Remember that the slogan of the Democratic Party was first put forth in 1839 by the Frenchman, Louis Blanc, in an essay on "L'organization du travail" ("The organization of work"). M. Blanc wrote,

"à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés," which is often translated as "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

By "extending the law to all employees, and not just federal workers," the Democratic Congress would be assuming that every employer -- even the corner pizza-shop owner -- has the "abilities" to pay an employee for twelve weeks during which the employee is doing no work for the pizza shop. And certainly, a mother who has just given birth has her needs to stay home and care for her newborn baby, rather than go to work and put anchovies onto pizzas.

It's as simple as that. Major premise: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Minor premise: "The need is SO great!" Conclusion: Twelve weeks of paid maternitiy leave for all employees.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 9:18 AM

"Define the Dad"

Daniel Boone hadn't been home for about 2 years when he returned to find tiny baby Jemima in her cradle. Daniel had been presumed dead and his wife Rebecca had a relationship with Daniel's brother Ned. Daniel, who had been no angel during his absence, accepted and raised Jemima as his own daughter.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 9:24 AM

"Extending the law to all employees, and not just federal workers, would also be a good start. It would be nice if mothers could get paid leave for a full 12 weeks -- the amount of time off guaranteed under FMLA -- just like they do in Stevens's office."

How would that work for my cousin? She is a self-employed attorney in the D. C. area. Which of her clients is going to pay her for staying home for twelve weeks to care for a newborn baby? Leslie, would *you* pay your attorney for doing nothing for you, just because she just gave birth?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 9:25 AM

---Also, many view the bennifits package offered to federal employees as already bloated as it is right now.---

Absolutely, Father of 4. From my experience, federally-employed fathers of new babies hardly need our sympathy. My husband was a federal employee when our first child was born. He was in his 20's and a relatively new federal employee yet was allowed to take over two weeks of paid sick leave when the baby came. Given that fathers' bodies don't have to recover medically from childbirth, that was very generous. Plus, he had four weeks of vacation (in addition to all of the federal holidays) to use whenever. My husband ended up taking one week off when the baby was born and saving the rest of his leave for future needs, which turned out to be very wise. There were more than a couple days when I needed a helping hand with (or a break from) our charming, extremely high-maintenance child.

Posted by: Allison | January 25, 2007 9:26 AM

This is so my issue. I feel the most strongly about paid maternity leave (can't believe fed doesn't have it.) I took a month of LWOP for my last maternity leave (that's leave without pay for those nonfeds out there.) Sen Christopher Dodd (a democrat) is also in favor of this. I hope it passes.

I would like to address something that I see people saying here though. Father of 4 said:

"Also, many view the bennifits package offered to federal employees as already bloated as it is right now."

and someone else said:

"um, guys, am I the only one that has a problem with giving federal employees more of MY money (we are actually paying their salaries)?"

If feds get 8 weeks paid maternity, all it really means is that we won't be getting advanced sick leave anymore. It's not really that big of a difference. For me, it just means that I won't have to go into negative sick leave status that takes forever to pay back. Right now, they advance it to you anyway, so what is the big deal if they just grant sick leave?

And it's ridiculous that jan thinks that this is taking "her money." We ALL pay taxes. By your logic, I guess I work for free since I pay taxes and I work for the federal govt. How ridiculous.

Most companies and nonprofits have better benefit packages than the federal govt(with the exception of health insurance choice--we have TONS to choose from, whereas most companies don't.) This is especially true when it comes to maternity leave. The fed govt has NO MATERNITY LEAVE. Nada, nothing. I get the same amount of leave if I am going in for surgery or having a baby. No difference.

Posted by: Emmy | January 25, 2007 9:31 AM

Since everyone is citing Europe for comparison purposes, I thought I'd hit a little closer to home. I worked for a Toronto-based company for three years a while ago. In Canada situations like family leave are covered on a province-by-province basis (you didn't really think that British Columbians would let Quebecer's tell them what to do). Here's Ontario's

Parental Leave

As a new parent (e.g., birth parent, adopting parent, person in a relationship with a parent of a child and plans to treat the child as their own) you have the right to take job-protected, unpaid time off work when a child is born or first comes into your care.

You are entitled to take Parental Leave whether you are a full-time, part-time, permanent or contract employee. To qualify, you must have been hired at least 13 weeks before the start of the leave.

Employees who take Pregnancy Leave are entitled to take up to 35 weeks of Parental Leave, usually beginning right after their Pregnancy Leave ends. Those who don't take Pregnancy Leave and all other new parents can take up to 37 weeks of Parental Leave, beginning no later than 52 weeks after the date the child was born or first came into their care. Parents do not have to take their leave at the same time.

(See http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/brochures/br_leaves.html for more details)

So, assuming the mother takes preganancy leave, she gets 35 weeks of parental leave, and the father gets up to 37 weeks - which can start any time in the first year. And yes, I knew several coworkers who staggered it so that the mother took her 35 weeks, then the father took his 37, and they didn't have to both be back at work until the child was over a year old.

Yes, this is unpaid leave, but there are other provisions in the law for some financial remuneration, and a number of companies in the high-tech world (like my former employer) paid an employee two-thirds salary during the entirety of the parental leave as long as the employee was willing to sign a contract that he/she would work for the company for three years after the leave. (If you quit before the three years, you had to pay back the money.)

And I normally ignore Fo4's comments, but I couldn't resist: notice who's defined as an eligible "parent" above:

birth parent, adopting parent, person in a relationship with a parent of a child and plans to treat the child as their own

Posted by: Army Brat | January 25, 2007 9:31 AM

"um, guys, am I the only one that has a problem with giving federal employees more of MY money (we are actually paying their salaries)?"

I have no problem with this. The federal govt does not pay a competitive salary compared to the private sector, and offering benefits like this might entice bright young college grads to consider this as a career (lord knows we need smarter people in all areas of government, especially with so many older employees retiring in the next few yrs)

Posted by: fedguy | January 25, 2007 9:31 AM

Since everyone is citing Europe for comparison purposes, I thought I'd hit a little closer to home. I worked for a Toronto-based company for three years a while ago. In Canada situations like family leave are covered on a province-by-province basis (you didn't really think that British Columbians would let Quebecer's tell them what to do). Here's Ontario's

Parental Leave

As a new parent (e.g., birth parent, adopting parent, person in a relationship with a parent of a child and plans to treat the child as their own) you have the right to take job-protected, unpaid time off work when a child is born or first comes into your care.

You are entitled to take Parental Leave whether you are a full-time, part-time, permanent or contract employee. To qualify, you must have been hired at least 13 weeks before the start of the leave.

Employees who take Pregnancy Leave are entitled to take up to 35 weeks of Parental Leave, usually beginning right after their Pregnancy Leave ends. Those who don't take Pregnancy Leave and all other new parents can take up to 37 weeks of Parental Leave, beginning no later than 52 weeks after the date the child was born or first came into their care. Parents do not have to take their leave at the same time.

(See http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/brochures/br_leaves.html for more details)

So, assuming the mother takes preganancy leave, she gets 35 weeks of parental leave, and the father gets up to 37 weeks - which can start any time in the first year. And yes, I knew several coworkers who staggered it so that the mother took her 35 weeks, then the father took his 37, and they didn't have to both be back at work until the child was over a year old.

Yes, this is unpaid leave, but there are other provisions in the law for some financial remuneration, and a number of companies in the high-tech world (like my former employer) paid an employee two-thirds salary during the entirety of the parental leave as long as the employee was willing to sign a contract that he/she would work for the company for three years after the leave. (If you quit before the three years, you had to pay back the money.)

And I normally ignore Fo4's comments, but I couldn't resist: notice who's defined as an eligible "parent" above:

birth parent, adopting parent, person in a relationship with a parent of a child and plans to treat the child as their own

Posted by: Army Brat | January 25, 2007 9:33 AM

"do we expect the fed govt to pick up the tab everytime we have a family addition or crisis?"

Why not? We are currently picking up the tab for the smokers, boozers, drug addicts, and fat people in this country.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 9:37 AM

quit comparing us to Europe - please, there is a reason that we are the only super power and it isn't because we give people 2 months off a year, pay over 50% of pay in taxes and nap for 3 hours every day. You can't have it both ways people.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 9:40 AM

1. I have no problem paying for federal workers to have paid leave. As a previous poster noted, it might attract some competent folks into the field from the private sector.
2. Matt in Aberdeen - weren't you talking about the importance of "ad serviam" or something the other day? We should serve others.....or is that just within the privacy of your own home?

Posted by: SMF | January 25, 2007 9:44 AM

I don't think it's a negative thing to compare the differences in quality of life between the U.S. and other countries. Even a slight uptick in quality of life would likely increase our productivity (the true measure).

Posted by: Comparing to Europe | January 25, 2007 9:44 AM

John - I think as some have mentioned, that saving your leave for the future is a good idea.

If you wife returns to work she'll be out of leave. Babies keep pediatricians in business so you're more than likely to have many opportunities to burn your leave then, letting her build her leave back up so you can have #2.

One of my great shocks was how much time I spent carting children to the doctor. Those well baby visits are just the tip of the iceberg. I'd also mention that babysitters sometimes want days off as well. So don't burn all your leave at the birth, you'll have many more opportunities to do it later.

Posted by: RoseG | January 25, 2007 9:45 AM

I would like the right to take any kind of family leave, paid or unpaid, to take care of my never-married, never-had-any-kids sister, and still have job security. FMLA defines "family" as parent-spouse-child; siblings don't count.

Posted by: destinysmom | January 25, 2007 9:45 AM

"quit comparing us to Europe - please, there is a reason that we are the only super power and it isn't because we give people 2 months off a year, pay over 50% of pay in taxes and nap for 3 hours every day. You can't have it both ways people"

yes - we are a so-called super power and what benefits does that give Americans? Universal healthcare? No. Good family leave policies? No. Better pay? Sometimes, but the cost of living is also higher. So really - enough with the "super power" mantra. This is a generalization (based on my own personal experience - I live in Europe), but people in Europe seem to be happier and have a better quality of life. So why not the comparison?

Posted by: londonmom | January 25, 2007 9:46 AM

as a nice diversion, check out this very funny and very timely article (as the cold & flu season stretches on and on and on...)

http://www.slate.com/id/2158216?nav=wp

Posted by: becky | January 25, 2007 9:51 AM

Glad you are happier with Madonna and your tiny houses, paying $8 to drive into London and waiting 8 wks to see the doctor all the while paying taxes out the nose. Enjoy - sounds ab fab. Thanks for Ricky Gervais tho.

Posted by: to londonmom | January 25, 2007 9:51 AM

Let's also be realistic. How much of the federal budget is dedicated to (or would be dedicated to) paying for this extended leave?

Versus the billion/month (or more) spending going on in Iraq? Where's the righteous indignation over that? (And our soldiers still don't have enough body armor!)

Take a look at the big picture! This is one small potato to the government, cost-wise.

Posted by: Rebecca | January 25, 2007 9:52 AM

"à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés," which is often translated as "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

Ummm, this is the mantra of Communists and Socialists since 1840, originally penned by Louis Blanc however used by none other than Karl Marx. Workers of the world unite, anyone?

Matt - are you endorsing Marx?

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 9:53 AM

Gee...you summed up London entirely (note the sarcasm).

First, not everybody needs to live in a McMansion to be happy. Second, most people don't need cars in London b/c they have fantastic public transportation. Third, it doesn't take 8 weeks to see a doctor (usually less than a week), but even if it did - just ask the 20+ million Americans who don't have health insurance which they'd prefer. And finally, who cares where Madonna lives?

Posted by: to 9:51 am | January 25, 2007 9:57 AM

"While it is tons of fun to play, change, feed and stare at babies . . . , I'm not convinced that the father's presence is absolutely essential in the infant stage. Certainly, a helping hand with all the details is very welcome but I think a new Mom needs time to adjust and get her space in order too. Most men would be in the way, big time."

This truly is a neanderthal viewpoint of fatherhood. I'm glad I married a guy who didn't consider being a dad to be limited to offering a "helping hand". We were raising kids. From scratch. I know many dads who were not only not in the way, but were being, well, dads". I'm very sorry for you that you thought your contribution was limited to helping out and of no importance than a piece of furniture. Boy, did you miss out, John.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 9:57 AM

Gee...you summed up London entirely (note the sarcasm).

First, not everybody needs to live in a McMansion to be happy. Second, most people don't need cars in London b/c they have fantastic public transportation. Third, it doesn't take 8 weeks to see a doctor (usually less than a week), but even if it did - just ask the 20+ million Americans who don't have health insurance which they'd prefer. And finally, who cares where Madonna lives?

Posted by: to 9:51 am | January 25, 2007 9:58 AM

"quit comparing us to Europe - please, there is a reason that we are the only super power and it isn't because we give people 2 months off a year, pay over 50% of pay in taxes and nap for 3 hours every day. You can't have it both ways people."

Come on! Talk about facts, not fantasy. What European country, exactly, gives people 2 months off/year (and who would these "people" be?), and who in what country do you think naps dor 3 hours every day?

Also, how would you define "super power"? Annual growth rate? Military might? Productivity? How does living in a "superpower" country affect your quality of life, by the way?

It's comments like yours that fuel European hostility toward U.S. Americans.

Posted by: Ajax | January 25, 2007 9:59 AM

Europe is so hostile to America all the while buying our stuff, consuming our popular culture and waiting for the US to take care of their sphere of influence. Where were they when Yugoslavia exploded, where were they in Rawanda. You may ask how living in a super power affects my life, but the world certainly needs one because we can't count on the EU to do anything.

By the way, the Germans and Swedes get 2 months off and most of Italy and Spain are closed from 1-4.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:06 AM

You are stoopid!

Posted by: US | January 25, 2007 10:09 AM

No, YOU are stupid!

Posted by: Europe | January 25, 2007 10:10 AM

Wow, this is a mature group today!!

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 10:12 AM

Both of you be quiet before I sick I ran on you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:13 AM

I think you need to read and/or get out more. The US, along with many other countries, did not lift a finger re: Rwanda; Germans get 6 weeks off, not 2 months, KFOR in ex-Yugoslavia is a MULTINATIONAL force (that, by the way, includes Swedes)...

Do you feel inferior as an American and does it make you feel better to badmouth others?

Posted by: to: January 25, 2007 10:06 AM | January 25, 2007 10:15 AM

and some wonder why we'd rather discuss luggage and the distribution and nature of household tasks. Sheesh.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 10:15 AM

Excuse me, I'm not the man who said that a father should get out of the way of a new mother so she can "get her space in order". I believe that was Matt with his "neanderthal" comment.

RoseG, I doubt I'll use all six months of my leave once we have a child. Probably a couple of weeks, then if my wife has recovered enough, gradually go back to work. She intends to work part-time after the baby's born, but doesn't have to due to an inheritance she got. If I need to use my sick leave to get the baby to the dr, I certainly and gladly will, though!

Posted by: John | January 25, 2007 10:16 AM

I know some European women myself and I see how much they pay in taxes. There was also an article in the New York Time a couple months ago talking about how European women couldn't go back to work full time because full time jobs weren't available. They were forced into part-time work without any other options. I would rather choose what to do with my money, when and if I go back to work, if I want to go full or part time.

Posted by: mom2b | January 25, 2007 10:16 AM

Don't feel at all inferior as an American just pointing out that Europe is not some utopian society where everyone picks flowers and loves their families all day. I like Europe as much as the next guy, in fact, just spent two weeks there - doesn't mean I have to like everything.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:17 AM

The most happy people:
http://www.peterhorn.dk/ExecutiveMagazine/Stoppress/061031_world_map_of_happiness_denmark_on_top.asp

The 20 happiest nations in the World are:

1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada
11. Ireland
12. Luxembourg
13. Costa Rica
14. Malta
15. The Netherlands
16. Antigua and Barbuda
17. Malaysia
18. New Zealand
19. Norway
20. The Seychelles

Other notable results include:

23. USA
35. Germany
41. UK
62. France
82. China
90. Japan
125. India
167. Russia

The three least happy countries were:

176. Democratic Republic of the Congo
177. Zimbabwe
178. Burundi

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:20 AM

John, are you and your wife expecting yet?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:20 AM

Re: Happy people survey results:

How does one measure Happiness? Perhaps as Charles Schultz said "Happiness is a warm Puppy" (insert picture of Snoopy here) so I am going with that.

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 10:25 AM

What exactly did Americans do in Rwanda? I thought it was only the UN that got involved in peacekeeping in Rwanda? Or perhaps the UN security forces in Rwanda were made up only of Americans?

I know so little about the genocide in Rwanda that I am thrilled this is an anonymous forum.

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 10:28 AM

John, I was gone for a few weeks. Did you make a happy announcement in the meantime?

Posted by: WDC | January 25, 2007 10:30 AM

I didn't think the US did peace keeping missions and I think the idea of the US being the only superpower is changing. There are definitely other countries that are on the way to gaining that title.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:35 AM

Furthermore, more recently, what exactly has the superpower done in Darfur? Granted, there are many American non-profit organizations that are helping there, but as a Superpower, USA is pretty weak.

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 10:35 AM

My husband had started a new job a few months before I had our daughter, so when I had her he could only take a day off. I had her on Saturday and he went back to work on Tuesday.

He just didn't have the vacation to stay with me. Me and the kid made it just fine. I think most newborns sleep a lot; at least mine did, so I would also advise you to save some vacation for the colds, ear infections, flus that are going to hit you in the first year. So I agree with Rose, I wouldn't burn everything you have all at once.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 10:35 AM

"Where were they when Yugoslavia exploded, where were they in Rawanda. You may ask how living in a super power affects my life, but the world certainly needs one because we can't count on the EU to do anything."

Where was the US in Rawanda? Where is the US in Darfur? Exactly how have we been using out "super power" status to help the world?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:35 AM

"Re: Happy people survey results:

How does one measure Happiness? Perhaps as Charles Schultz said "Happiness is a warm Puppy" (insert picture of Snoopy here) so I am going with that."

Having access to clean drinking water and not worrying about contracting malaria in your sleep sounds like a good starting point to me.

Posted by: shass | January 25, 2007 10:36 AM

"Where were they when Yugoslavia exploded, where were they in Rawanda. You may ask how living in a super power affects my life, but the world certainly needs one because we can't count on the EU to do anything."

Where was the US in Rawanda? Where is the US in Darfur? Exactly how have we been using out "super power" status to help the world?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:37 AM

John, I apologize for casting aspersions on your character. Please accept my apologies for the misdirected neanderthal reference -- it's Dave (not Matt) who needs to consider joining us in the 21st century.

Posted by: from anon at 9:57 | January 25, 2007 10:39 AM

Where was the US in Rawanda? Where is the US in Darfur? Exactly how have we been using out "super power" status to help the world?

ummm, I don't think we can because we are so over extended already you know saving Iraq and all.

.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:39 AM


Every time Leslie raises this topic, it degenerates into a political discussion comparing Europe to the U.S., and comparing the relative values of large government vs. small government, with the usual anonymous suspects touting their usual anonymous preferences. Does anyone have an alternative topic to offer so we can get away from being the politics blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:43 AM

it would be nice if American and European posters got their facts straight before pointing accusing fingers at each other. With respect to Yugoslavia, not the finest moment for the EU and Europe. Only after US got involved and got NATO involved we had Dayton accord (not perfect, I know, BUT better than war). On Rwanda, I think both US and Europe is to blame. Darfur -- embarrased by Rwanda everybody trying to do something but through the UN and we all know how long THAT takes.........

For the record, I think that Americans and Europeans somehow resort to stereotypes when they try to argue about the quality of life. Clearly, US is a much more dynamic society overall, but in Europe one can live the "middle class lifestyle" on much less than in the US. I can go on and on.

Posted by: another working mom | January 25, 2007 10:51 AM

The only thing I have to offer on this topic is the recommendation that dads wait until after all the new baby brouhaha (sp?) has died down to take their leave. Right after baby is born often mom and mil come help out and the baby essentially eats and sleeps. My dh usually waited until about 6 wks to take his week, by then the novelty was lessened, I was exhausted and everyone was gone so we could enjoy our babies ourselves. It does NOT take 3 adults to care for a newborn.

Father of 4 did you catch my post late last night re: seatbelts?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 25, 2007 11:01 AM

I think that it is important to note that Yugoslavia and Africa are part of the European sphere of influence. They truly should be taking the lead on these conflicts. I also might point out that a great deal of the problems in Africa are the result of colonialism brought upon them by the Europeans. They need to clean up their own yard.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:04 AM

I think that it is important to note that Yugoslavia and Africa are part of the European sphere of influence. They truly should be taking the lead on these conflicts. I also might point out that a great deal of the problems in Africa are the result of colonialism brought upon them by the Europeans. They need to clean up their own yard.

Very true, I guess they have short memories.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:06 AM

John, are you and your wife expecting yet?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:08 AM

wow...lots of strange talk today.

the UVA game was more fun to watch than the second half of the UNC game. UVA played solid. oh wait..maybe there is a reason for the difference in games?

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 11:09 AM

Unfortunately no, I've made no "announcements" yet. We're still trying, and staying hopeful that we'll be blessed soon.

Posted by: John | January 25, 2007 11:10 AM

Be careful what you wish for -- for many small businesses the hit of an additional person on payroll for 12 weeks [or more] would be enough to discourage them from hiring young women likely to get pregnant.

You may end up with the benefit but not the jobs that accompany it.

Posted by: A Business Owner | January 25, 2007 11:12 AM

dotted, some nights I wish for good games. Most nights I wish for one-sided games in favor of my favorites :>) I was glad for both of us.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 11:20 AM

Just as a counter-point to Leslie:

Most of our current government programs that attempt to provide economic assistance to parents include an income-based component. For example, I have three children but do not receive any benefit from the existing child tax credit due to our family income. Most people would probably agree that this is 'fair' -- that individuals making significantly less than me should not be subsidizing me simply because I have three children.

With respect to paid leave, one question should be 'paid at what level'. Should a Wall Street analyst making $250K / year be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave at that level, while the janitor cleaning her office gets 12 weeks of paid leave at minimum wage? Most people would argue that this doesn't represent a 'fair' situation.

The concept of paid maternity leave, as presently constituted, represents a signficant subsidy to middle and upper-class families. Since there is no 'free lunch' this subsidy is evntually paid through higher costs of services by lower income families.

A more equitable approach to this problem -- and it is a problem that we as a country should address -- is to create an expanded child care credit for the first year of the child's life [with the credit being phased out at high incomes and being paid directly to the parents at the low incomes]. Coupled with the protections of the existing law [so that the job is still available], this would focus the aid on the lower and middle income level parents -- precisely where it should be focused.

Posted by: A Dad | January 25, 2007 11:22 AM

A "business owner" has a good point. As a young woman i think paid parental leave is great, but it has to be gender equal. The inequality in European countries regarding maternal-- paternal leave DOES have a deleterious affect on the hired of women-- whereas in Canada, the gender neutral policy has had no negative impact on women compared to men. Canada should be the model, not Europe for that reason alone.

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 11:27 AM

Where I live, we have a year paid leave (combination of maternity and parental leave; the parental portion can be split between parents). The leave is at 40% of your gross earnings up to a limit (which I can't remember right now). You have to work 650 hours to have access to this benefit. Some companies will top up your paid leave (i.e., they will pay up to the 60% difference) but this is at their discretion. I know there are pros and cons to this in the big picture but I have to say that I wouldn't change that time with my son for anything. It really was an amazing time/opportunity.

Posted by: s | January 25, 2007 11:32 AM

How about someone paying me for the income we gave up when I stayed home with my children? People who "work" and send their kids to the same pre-school as mine get a tax deduction while I just get a hit in the lost income - how is that supportive of families?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:35 AM

One of the thoughts I have about maternity leave and its costs is that is intrinically discriminates against a woman in the hiring stage. Being an employer faced with two candidates of equal qualifications one male and the other female. Knowing that I would have to pay 12 weeks maternity leave for no work in exchange perhaps every 3 years (if the person is with me for 6 years that is 8 months). I would probably pick the guy (being the devels advocate) because it is more cost effective in that I get more work for my investment. If all things were equal perhaps not. As women I am not sure if we really think through the fact that the rights were are fighting so hard for actually discriminate us (and make us more expensive) in the work place. Though, from what I have read last, we make $.80 to every $1 and man makes so this may make up for it.

I work with projects in developing countries and they have some very generoud leave laws such as;
- 87 days full paid maternity leave avery 3 years
- 63 days sick leave with Dr.s note every year
- one day off per month for mothers

Posted by: single mom | January 25, 2007 11:36 AM

I live in a European country (my husband's country.) By law I had to leave my job 2 months before baby's birth and be out for 2 months afterwards-- I received my full paycheck and acrued vacation time just as if I had been at work.

I think this time was good for me, good for my employer, and good for my family and society. With a big pregnant tummy it ws simply harder to perform my job tasks (I don't have a desk job) and it takes time to physically recover from giving birth, adjusting to breastfeeding, etc.

Then I received funds (every mom gets the same amount-- even friends of mine who did not work before the baby's birth got this-- they had to be legal residents here) until my child turned 2. My employer was required by law to give me a job back at that time.

My husband also got 6 months of leave, then I got an additional 6 months based on the fact that m husband had taken leave as well. Sadly few men take advantage of the leave-- partly because women here tend to have lower-paying jobs.

I miss living in America very much but I see friends my age (mid-late 20s) who would like to have families and are struggling with the issue of maternity leave. As someone who would like to have a second child, I question whether moving back home would be a smart move.

However, there are drawbacks. Many employers here discriminate against women of childbearing age-- because they know about all of the benefits women get when they are pregnant and then become mothers-- and employers are legally allowed to ask you about all of this.

Posted by: American mom abroad | January 25, 2007 11:37 AM

How about someone paying me for the income we gave up when I stayed home with my children? People who "work" and send their kids to the same pre-school as mine get a tax deduction while I just get a hit in the lost income - how is that supportive of families?

You can get one too if you work?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:43 AM

How about someone paying me for the income we gave up when I stayed home with my children? People who "work" and send their kids to the same pre-school as mine get a tax deduction while I just get a hit in the lost income - how is that supportive of families?

Go back to work if your kid is in preschool if you want the tax break!!!! Why should anyone subsidize you for staying home and eating bon bons while he kid is in school? That makes no sense!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:45 AM

"How about someone paying me for the income we gave up when I stayed home with my children? People who "work" and send their kids to the same pre-school as mine get a tax deduction while I just get a hit in the lost income - how is that supportive of families?

You can get one too if you work?"

Yes - you get to stay home all day with your child, while we work for our deduction... I think that is supportive enough. Also, your spouse can get the $5000 dependant care deduction, which would be the same total per child than if you were working so in essence you are getting the double deduction. Staing at home and getting a full tax discount on child care...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:47 AM

to Ajax-- In Austria, you get a legal minimum of 25 vacation days/year, plus holidays (and there are a lot of them, two extra even if you are registered as a Protestant.)

Posted by: American mom abroad | January 25, 2007 11:49 AM

why is work in quotations?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:49 AM

"People who "work" and send their kids to the same pre-school as mine get a tax deduction while I just get a hit in the lost income - how is that supportive of families?"

You can afford to stay at home AND send your children to pre-school and still you whine? God bless America.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 11:50 AM

OK, let's see what happens if we give a new mother twelve weeks' paid maternity leave. Let's say she holds a job that pays $52,000 a year -- that's $1,000 a week. Her non-parent colleague in that job continues to get $1,000 a week for 52 weeks of work. The new mother gets $52,000 for 40 weeks of work -- that's $1,300 a week.

But who says that her family's needs return to the $1,000-a-week level as soon as the year that she gives birth ends? No one who has ever had children will say that. Certainly, the U. S. Military does not say that. Consider what the military calls the "Basic Allowance for Housing" (BAH) which is paid to service members who live in civilian housing off base.

Let's look at the numbers, from the Web site

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/housingallowance/a/07avbahenl.htm

2007 Average BAH Rates for Enlisted Members

Rank Without With
---- Dependents Dependents
E-9 1341.80 1628.34
E-8 1281.98 1519.10
E-7 1158.02 1429.05
E-6 1084.91 1388.51
E-5 1020.79 1239.16
E-4 910.66 1151.24
E-3 930.01 1148.48
E-2 881.46 1087.24
E-1 876.93 1064.40

An E-5 is an Army or Marine Sergeant, a Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, or an Air Force Staff Sergeant. The E-5 with dependents gets $218.37 a month more than the E-5 without dependents. As Louis Blanc said, "à chacun selon ses besoins" -- "to each according to his/her needs."

How can we use this information to make paid maternity leave fair to everyone? Well, since the U. S. Military is allowed to pay people with dependents more than people without dependents, we could allow ordinary private employers to do the same thing without fear of prosecution for violating laws prohibiting discrimination based on family status. And in fact, according to

http://www.workplacefairness.org/maritalstatus?agree=yes

"Parental status discrimination is *not* covered by the federal laws that generally prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability for private employers."

Since the new mother needs $1,300 a week to support herself and her new baby, that means she is entitled ("according to her needs") to $67,600 a year. The employer could set things up so that her twelve weeks of pay for staying home are considered an "advance" on her future, needs-based salary of $67,600.

It's true that her non-parent colleague doing the same work will continue to earn $52,000 a year, but hey -- do we want to help out parents, or don't we? Do we believe in "to each according to her needs," or don't we?

We could do the same calculations for a new father, but given that he is entitled to only five days' paid paternity leave, we would not see so dramatic an increase in deserved pay. However, it is known that the earnings of married men with children are, on average, considerably higher than the earnings of people without dependents. So the new father can do what so many of his fellow fathers do, viz., work much harder and longer hours and maybe get promoted so that he can help his wife support their new baby.

I'm assuming that readers and posters here at "On Balance" agree that new mothers deserve extra consideration. For another view, check out Elinor Burkett's book, "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless" (Free Press, 2002, ISBN: 0743242645).

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 11:52 AM

"Go back to work if your kid is in preschool if you want the tax break!!!! Why should anyone subsidize you for staying home and eating bon bons while he kid is in school? That makes no sense!!!"

Ignoring the vitriolic aspect -- the fundamental question becomes 'what is it that we as a society wish to subsidize'? As each first-year economics major is taught, we should expect more of that which we subsidize and less of that which we tax. So, is the goal to subsidize parents of young children, or is the goal to subsidize employed parents of young children?

Should the couple surviving on a single $30K a year income with a stay-at-home parent be required to subsidize pre-school for the child of a couple making $125K a year in which both parents are employed? Is that the intent?

If the goal is to help all parents increase the ability to raise their children, to what extent should we put in place programs designed to subsidize the decision for new parents to be employed vice stay at home? To what extent should lower-income families be required to subsidize the lifestyles of those families better-off financially?

Posted by: A Dad | January 25, 2007 11:55 AM

Moxiemom, I read your post. My wife uses the threat of taking our 4 year old to jail when he misbehaves and it brings him to tears, but it rarely results in the desired behavior. My conclusion is that at some point and times it is impossible for a child to behave until after their tantrum has concluded.

If we actually took our 4 year old to the station and made good on the threat though, hmmm, the thought deserves merit.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 25, 2007 12:00 PM

Should the couple surviving on a single $30K a year income with a stay-at-home parent be required to subsidize pre-school for the child of a couple making $125K a year in which both parents are employed? Is that the intent?

Don't the people who make 125 pay taxes too? Probably more than the ones making 30 and they probably get less back at refund time. They also, through their taxes and day care tuition, make it possible for the really less fortunate (not the lazy) to allow their kids to go to pre-school.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:01 PM

There's free bused pre-school (with free breakfast & lunch) provided by the public schools where I live, so it's not an issue in my community.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:01 PM

I don't know about paying people "according to their needs." Granted, it would definitely assist parents and others with dependents (for instance, those who support aged parents). However, the whole point of paid employment is to be monetarily compensated for the work you do, not for the circumstances you're in. That's why there are tax breaks and other measures for people with children, etc. In a way, it almost seems like we're punishing those employees who do not have children, for whatever reason. They do the same amount of work (sometimes more, like when a colleague is on maternity leave). Also, if we pay those with children more than those without, do people with more kids get even more pay? Do you pay an employee with three or four kids more than those with one or two? I doubt anyone would argue that it costs more to raise four kids than three, two, or one. If we use the equation of paying each "according to their needs" then those with multiple children should be paid more than the person with one child.

Posted by: 215 | January 25, 2007 12:02 PM

"Should the couple surviving on a single $30K a year income with a stay-at-home parent be required to subsidize pre-school for the child of a couple making $125K a year in which both parents are employed? Is that the intent?"

Maybe I'm missing something, but how is a $30K a year couple subsidizing pre-school for the $125K family? I thought pre-school cost the same for all pupils at the school.

Are you saying that pre-school should cost more for the dual income $125K a year couple? That is just ridiculous. Should a loaf a bread cost more for the $125K/year couple too?

Posted by: londonmom | January 25, 2007 12:03 PM

For another view, check out Elinor Burkett's book, "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless" (Free Press, 2002, ISBN: 0743242645)

Isn't Elinor Burkett the same person who did a flattering documentary on Ann Coulter?

Posted by: to Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 12:04 PM

cmac writes:

"'à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés," which is often translated as "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.'"

"Ummm, this is the mantra of Communists and Socialists since 1840, originally penned by Louis Blanc however used by none other than Karl Marx. Workers of the world unite, anyone?

"Matt - are you endorsing Marx?"

No. I'm claming that to the extent the Democratic Party's platform proposes programs that take from those who have and redistribute to those who don't have, the Democrats are endorsing the same thing that Marx endorsed.

Of course, neither Blanc nor Marx originated the idea of a societal duty to care for the needy. Check out the Holy Bible, Chapter 22 of the Book of Exodus:

"Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 12:07 PM

Fear (as a marketing tool not so sure about parenting) is not an effective long term strategy to change behavior.

As for subsidies and taxes, perhaps there should be a cut of for income tax breaks/subsidies for child care/dependant care write offs. I don't know maybe up to $80K enough to live off of, and and amount that is feasible for one person to make while the other stays home. The poor would not exceed it, and the "rich" cannot take advantage of it. What is the cut off where you reach a different tax bracket?

Posted by: single mom | January 25, 2007 12:08 PM

"Don't the people who make 125 pay taxes too? Probably more than the ones making 30 and they probably get less back at refund time. They also, through their taxes and day care tuition, make it possible for the really less fortunate (not the lazy) to allow their kids to go to pre-school."

Of course -- we have a progressive income tax system so that those who earn more pay more both in terms of actual dollars and effective rates.

That said, we have decided to as a society to skew this progressive system when individuals do things that we as a society believe to be good. For example, if you spend your money on charity rather than personal consumption, we will lower your taxes through deductions. If you decide to buy a home, we will lower your taxes.

With respect to children, there are programs in place that are agnostic with respect to the decision to work or stay-at-home fulltime -- the most obvious being the child tax credit. There are other programs that specifically subsidize the decision to work outside the home as a parent -- the childcare credit referenced above.

If as a society we believe that parents should not stay-at-home fulltime after having children, then the subsidies in place make perfect sense.

If as a society we assign equal weight to both the decision by parents to work outside the home and the decision to stay at home fulltime, the current policies do not make sense -- and the addition of paid family leave would based on employment would only add to this disparity.

Posted by: A Dad | January 25, 2007 12:08 PM

"Maybe I'm missing something, but how is a $30K a year couple subsidizing pre-school for the $125K family? I thought pre-school cost the same for all pupils at the school."

The couple making $125K gets to deduct the pre-school from their taxes if they are both employed, the couple making $30K with a stay-at-home parent does not get to deduct the pres-school expense.

In order to provide a tax subsidy to one element of the population, the remainder of the population effectively pays a higher rate.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:11 PM

"For example, if you spend your money on charity rather than personal consumption, we will lower your taxes through deductions."

this only kicks in though if you exceed the standard decuction and can itemized your contributions - that is about $5K/year in charity (about 12% of my income)...

Posted by: single mom | January 25, 2007 12:12 PM

"I'm assuming that readers and posters here at "On Balance" agree that new mothers deserve extra consideration."

No, Matt, some of us consider that people should be compensated based on a combination of expertise, education, work performance, productivity, and hard-to-find skillsets, and that reproduction in and of itself doesn't merit extra cash in the workplace. We used to have a system where parents were compensated more highly than non-parents. It was called the Fifties and each prior decade in the U.S. A married guy with 2 kids was automatically compensated more than a single woman under the She's Only Supporting Herself Theory. The idea that compensation somehow should be tied to what the prospective employee needs and wants rather than the position's value to the organization paying that compensation is heretical to one or two of us.

If paid maternity/paternity leave becomes an issue over which women and men will accept an offer of employment from a competitor, or choose an offer of employment from a competitor and identify this as the reason, then employers will begin to feel pressure to offer this benefit. As long as prospective and current employees view paid paternity leave as nice, but not essential, employers won't offer it. Vote with your feet, employees, if you think this matters, and tell the recruiting managers that the reason you are accepting or declining an employment offer, or the reason you're taking that job with a competitor, is the availability of paid paternity leave as a benefit. Until you're willing to do that, quit complaining.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:15 PM

"Well, since the U. S. Military is allowed to pay people with dependents more than people without dependents, we could allow ordinary private employers to do the same thing without fear of prosecution for violating laws prohibiting discrimination based on family status." We can hardly base our legal definitions on the ones the military uses. They discriminate based on gender (marines, navy seals), but that is illegal for the rest of the free and the brave.

I can not argue, however, with your quote from the workplace fairness site. We have seen that borne out many time in the workplace.

215 has it right, though. We as employees are not compensated based on what we need (again, unlike in the military). The federal government can do all it wants to provide kick-backs for parents, but I doubt that a business would do that.

Posted by: Meesh | January 25, 2007 12:16 PM

John writes:

"Excuse me, I'm not the man who said that a father should get out of the way of a new mother so she can 'get her space in order'. I believe that was Matt with his 'neanderthal' comment."

No, it was not Matt. It was Dave, posting at 9:12 AM.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 12:17 PM

I think we should encourage people to go back to work after having children - thus child care subsidies are fine with me, and we should eliminate (by phasing out) Social Security collections by stay at home spouses who have not paid enough in to receive their own. By living in a 2 income household (with children), our household is already subsidizing a stay-at-home household consumption of: NIH medical research, paying for public schooling, infrastructure upkeep, paying for the military, etc. etc. etc. I can't believe people whine about "subsidizing" a child care deduction when their household is being subsidized for all of the aforementioned things by two income households.

Posted by: Elle | January 25, 2007 12:21 PM

The couple making $125K gets to deduct the pre-school from their taxes if they are both employed, the couple making $30K with a stay-at-home parent does not get to deduct the pres-school expense.

In order to provide a tax subsidy to one element of the population, the remainder of the population effectively pays a higher rate.


Only if they take it out pre-taxed from a flexable spending account right?

Also, say the SAH person has two or three kids to my one, don't they get more of a tax break.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:24 PM

A Dad,
I have really appreciated your comments today. Are you an economist?
Haven't resolved how I feel about this issue, so information (preferable unbiased!) is good. I remember in college getting a lot more financial aid than my friends, and a lot bigger tax return. They thought it was unfair until I pointed out how much I paid for daycare ... so I don't know that I think of extra benefits for parents as a "punishment" for the childless. I find economics confusing, and I am horrified by how attached people are to money ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 25, 2007 12:24 PM

"Fear (as a marketing tool not so sure about parenting) is not an effective long term strategy to change behavior."

It's hard to believe this. How about the scare tactics used in the news and other popular media? People today are terrified of bacteria, terrorists, disease, and child abductions. In terms of marketing, people are buying antibacterial soap, watching the news to find out "what household product can kill your baby," buying duct tape and plastic wrap, and checking the internet to find out if there have been any abductions in the neighborhood where they want to buy a house. That's serioud behavior change based on the last couple decades.

Some people may see this a "which came first" argument, like are we reacting to the world becoming more dangerous, are are we reacting to the media telling us that the world is more dangerous? The bottom line is that fear sells.

Posted by: Meesh | January 25, 2007 12:25 PM

"I'm assuming that readers and posters here at "On Balance" agree that new mothers deserve extra consideration."

No they don't "deserve" anything extra!! Where is that coming from?

And I'm sick and tired of being told that I must be "supportive" and give "special treatment" to "single moms"!!! Why should I give a damn if a mother (or father) is single or not?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:26 PM

"The couple making $125K gets to deduct the pre-school from their taxes if they are both employed, the couple making $30K with a stay-at-home parent does not get to deduct the pres-school expense."

No, the couple making $125K does not get to deduct the cost of the pre-school from their taxes. The deduction is phased out beginning around $75K, if I recall correctly. At $125K, a couple is either down to zip or approx. $750 worth of a deduction, at best.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:27 PM

Fear definitely sells. How else do you explain the success of the horror/thriller genre.

Posted by: s | January 25, 2007 12:27 PM

No they don't "deserve" anything extra!! Where is that coming from?

And I'm sick and tired of being told that I must be "supportive" and give "special treatment" to "single moms"!!! Why should I give a damn if a mother (or father) is single or not?

I think it is called empathy and it doesn't have to equal money.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:28 PM

No, the couple making $125K does not get to deduct the cost of the pre-school from their taxes. The deduction is phased out beginning around $75K, if I recall correctly. At $125K, a couple is either down to zip or approx. $750 worth of a deduction, at best.

yep, people are taxed for success.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:29 PM

off topic, but these comments always intrigue me:

"um, guys, am I the only one that has a problem with giving federal employees more of MY money (we are actually paying their salaries)?"

I have no problem with this. The federal govt does not pay a competitive salary compared to the private sector, and offering benefits like this might entice bright young college grads to consider this as a career (lord knows we need smarter people in all areas of government, especially with so many older employees retiring in the next few yrs)

Posted by: fedguy | January 25, 2007 09:31 AM

hi! plenty of bright, young, college grads do want careers in the federal government! but without special skills (engineering, languages, etc) it is really hard to get a job with the federal government, even GS-5. it's just frustrating to hear people talk about luring young people to the federal work force, yet it is still impossibly competitive to get a position. (It should be competitive, but it's not like young people are passing over fed jobs, plenty are already applying!)

And back on topic--maybe it shouldn't be the employer's responsibility to respond to events in a person's life, but we have a complex set up of work-govt-personal responsbility. Take healthcare, when it's primarily employer provided that makes the employer an active participant with their employee's health.

Also, liberal leave policies would be great. Maybe I can't quantify how one employer paying someone to take a leave of absence write a book or get started with their own business 100% compensates that employer for the time off, but that book could really help someone else and make them more productive at their company! But, I also think it's ridiculous to equate a leave of absence to maternity/paternity leave. Different people have different needs and though someone missing for a few months does impact their coworkers, that coworker may need to leave, with pay, for a funeral. Or for their own illness. Or maybe they will never get sick or know anyone who dies and just accrue endless sick time they never get compensated for. I just don't see how that situation is unfair to the person. The same leave was available to them, but they never needed it. Ok? (I understand *choosing* to need the leave is part of the equation, but hell, maybe someone CHOSE to marry someone with cancer or CHOSE to eat a dozen eggs everyday and has to cash in endless sick time. Any need can be traced back to a choice.)

Posted by: eaopmk | January 25, 2007 12:34 PM

"We used to have a system where parents were compensated more highly than non-parents. It was called the Fifties and each prior decade in the U.S. A married guy with 2 kids was automatically compensated more than a single woman under the She's Only Supporting Herself Theory. . . ."

Does anyone think that the employers of the Fifties used the stockholders' money to pay parents more than non-parents out of the goodness of their hearts?

"If paid maternity/paternity leave becomes an issue over which women and men will accept an offer of employment from a competitor, or choose an offer of employment from a competitor and identify this as the reason, then employers will begin to feel pressure to offer this benefit. As long as prospective and current employees view paid paternity leave as nice, but not essential, employers won't offer it. Vote with your feet, employees, if you think this matters, . . ."

By the same token, if higher pay for parents becomes an issue over which women and men will accept an offer of employment from a competitor, or choose an offer of employment from a competitor and identify this as the reason, then employers will begin to feel pressure to pay parents more than non-parents. And we'll get the Fifties back again -- unless Government steps in to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the marketplace.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 12:34 PM


You're already paying much less in taxes than those who get the childcare break, as you're not paying tax on your forgone income.

Say couple A and couple B have the same wage profiles and taxes before having a child (each spouse in each couple earns $40K; and they pay an average tax rate of 20%, or $16K for each couple). 3 years later, both kids are now in (part-time) preschool at $3000 per year. Wife A decided to SAH so couple A now earns only $40K per year, and being lower-income their tax rate has dropped as well --- let's say they now pay an average tax rate of 10%. So they now pay $4k in taxes --- $12K less than before child. Couple B pays, in addition to preschool fees, child care for their child during the rest of the workweek. Let's say all told this comes to $12K (that's a really lowball estimate, I've always paid closer to double that for combinations adding up to fulltime childcare). Of that $12K expense, the couple can deduct $5K (note that they don't even use that preschool tuition, since their expense is so much greater than the $5K flex account limit!) So couple B, with their childcare expense break, pays $15K in tax (20% of $75K), $1K less than before kids. Of course, to pay that $1K less, they're also paying $12K in real, bill-must-be-paid expenses.

So, from the same starting point, SAH couple A now pays $4K in taxes, and WOH couple B pays $15K, and childcare expenses to boot. Exactly how is couple B being subsidized more?

>How about someone paying me for the income we gave >up when I stayed home with my children? People who >"work" and send their kids to the same pre-school >as mine get a tax deduction while I just get a hit >in the lost income - how is that supportive of >families?

Posted by: KB | January 25, 2007 12:34 PM

"Fear (as a marketing tool not so sure about parenting) is not an effective long term strategy to change behavior."

I second this comment. While people may enjoy reading thrillers, and may worry about having enough duct tape for a nanosecond, the point is that it, on average, fear does not cause people to make long-term bevahioral changes. This is why many PSA campaigns that try to scare you into quitting smoking, exercising more, eating more healthy, having three-months worth of your salary in savings, being adequately insured, and having a month's worth of canned goods and bottled water are unsuccessful. Is everyone ready for that next hurricane? Heck, no, and we all feel really bad about that. In the time it takes to convert fear into action, the emotion dissipates along with whatever momentum it generated.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:35 PM

"Of course, neither Blanc nor Marx originated the idea of a societal duty to care for the needy"

Matt - I think it is up for debate as to whether Karl Marx was truly advocating care for the needy. Marx's words and what is commonly referred to as Marxism today have their differences and I am not a scholar in either. Without getting into a debate on class struggles and the history of Marxism the common theme is the elimination of capitalism and a socialist society. The result is that those that work the hardest are not rewarded and their "wealth" is indeed redistributed.

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 12:40 PM

I would characterize the result of Marxism as a society in which no one is incentivized to work hard because there is no reward. As a result GNP decreases and everyone suffers equally.

The reason to work hard is to provide for the betterment of ones'self and one's family. If that's not an available reward, there's no point in slogging one's way to the end of the rainbow. The easiest thing in the world is to put one's feet up on the coffeetable and let others support you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:54 PM


An afterthought on my tax example --- I didn't include social security/medicare taxes. Before child, both couples were paying $6K per year in ss/medicare, for a total tax burden of $22K per year. After child, the SAH couple A has halved their SS/medicare tax to $3K, while the WOH couple B continues to pay $6K. So, counting both income and SS tax, couple A now pays a total federal tax burden of $7K per year; couple B $21K.

And what I just don't get is that everytime the topic comes up here, some SAH couple A's complain that they're the ones subsidizing WOH couple B's, just because a small deduction exists for child care!

Posted by: KB | January 25, 2007 12:56 PM

"The easiest thing in the world is to put one's feet up on the coffeetable and let others support you."

Right, that's what the SAHMs are doing - the easiest thing!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 12:59 PM

KB, One or two parents have attended way too many seminars talking about the marriage penalty, the childcare deduction and how they're getting screwed for making the supreme moral personal sacrifice to raise their children themselves (except for those 6.5 hours a day the kids are in school) so that those valueless working parents can outsource their childcare. The upside is, it's only one or two parents and not the majority. There are obnoxious idiots in both camps.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:07 PM

"The easiest thing in the world is to put one's feet up on the coffeetable and let others support you."

Right, that's what the SAHMs are doing - the easiest thing!

to anon at 12:59 PM - Feeling a wee defensive this afternoon? The post to which you're responding didn't have anything to do with being a stay-at-home parent. It was a comment on marxism vs. capitalism. Take a moment to breathe and wait for an actual insult before jumping down someone's throat.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:10 PM

An Australian organization of professional women called APESMA compiled a list entitled "Maternity Leave around the World -- A Table of Comparisons." You can view it at

http://www.apesma.asn.au/women/maternity_leave_around_the_world.asp


(It looks like Australians are given one year of unpaid leave.)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:11 PM

The effective federal tax rate (excluding SS) for a family making 30K a year is negative. So that family can't possibly susidize the other.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:12 PM

"making the supreme moral personal sacrifice to raise their children themselves (except for those 6.5 hours a day the kids are in school)"

Ha, ha, ha!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:12 PM

to anon at 12:59 PM - Feeling a wee defensive this afternoon? The post to which you're responding didn't have anything to do with being a stay-at-home parent. It was a comment on marxism vs. capitalism. Take a moment to breathe and wait for an actual insult before jumping down someone's throat.

Maybe he isn't talking to you?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:12 PM

Note to self: Don't try to run a business in Australia if you are committed to hiring employees on a gender-blind basis.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 1:13 PM

to anon at 12:59 PM - Feeling a wee defensive this afternoon? The post to which you're responding didn't have anything to do with being a stay-at-home parent. It was a comment on marxism vs. capitalism. Take a moment to breathe and wait for an actual insult before jumping down someone's throat.

Maybe he isn't talking to you?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:13 PM

submit. pause. resubmit identical comment. pause. wish the washington post would fix the delayed submission problem. pause. see my comment posted multiple times. sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:17 PM


To 1:07,

Oh I know it's not all SAH families resentful of the childcare deduction. I really think for those rare but obnoxious few, it's a resentment of any concession, however tiny, to those whose make different choices. But I think it gets echoed and amplified uncritically by others, in a grass is always greener effect: tax deductions always look so enviable til you can actually use them --- then you read the fine print and see how paltry they are (mortgage deduction excluded). . . Hoping that actual numbers might make some rethink about whether they really are being so wronged for SAH, after all . . .

I think SAH families are actually the ones more subsidized in this country, and I value child-rearing and have no problem with that subsidy. I'd like to see the childcare deduction increased to more accurately reflect real-world childcare expenses, to better mitigate the costs that WOH parents bear, too. I think raising children is a societal good well worth subsidizing, whether parents choose SAH or WOH.

Posted by: KB | January 25, 2007 1:23 PM

What about that idea of sabbaticals that some companies are implementing? I think they're a great idea because they eliminate some of the "but I'm being punished for not having children" feeling. Not statutory, I know, but if I could have 3 months paid leave off every 3 years, I'd be a happier worker, and if I were pregnant, I'd take the leave to care for my kid.

Posted by: Rita | January 25, 2007 1:32 PM

Slightly off-topic but since we veered into tax credits/deductions. Is anyone a bit concerned about the fine print on the proposed new health insurance deduction? Employer paid health insurance would be reclassified as income and the first $7500 for singles and $15000 for couples/families would be deductible. The personal finance columnist at WSJ is a family of 3 covered under her husband's policy at a cost of $12K per year. Right now the proposal would generate a small tax savings for her individual situation, but she asks a good question - are they planning to inflation index the deduction? When will this start costing all of us. The other supposition is that this will drive lower income families into the insurance market (because of the deduction) - I am not sure I believe this...

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 25, 2007 1:33 PM

KB writes:

"I think SAH families are actually the ones more subsidized in this country, and I value child-rearing and have no problem with that subsidy."

I agree. It doesn't matter whether the couples having children consist of two working parents or of one working and one stay-at-home parent. What matters is that enough couples have children to preserve our society. Because if not enough couples do this, we will wind up traveling the path that Europe and Japan are now traveling. Oh me, oh my!

"I'd like to see the childcare deduction increased to more accurately reflect real-world childcare expenses, to better mitigate the costs that WOH parents bear, too. I think raising children is a societal good well worth subsidizing, whether parents choose SAH or WOH."

I, too, would like to see the child care deduction increased. However, what a deduction does is let earners keep more of what they have earned. I do not call this a "subsidy." When govenment takes what they earn and redistributes it to others "according to their needs" (or according to the power of their pressure groups and lobbyists) -- THAT'S a subsidy.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 1:34 PM

let me get this straight - SAHMs are lazy, but being home with your newborn is REALLY important, so important that you should be paid to do it but then after that it is less important that someone be home and about being happy so you can be a better parent.

There is an outcry about the lack of affordable child care in this country but those who choose to stay at home and care for their children are considered to be lazy and not doing anything.

Everyone says that we should be more like the Europeans and slow down and enjoy life and family - unless you are a SAHM and you are chastised for supposedly eating bon bons.

Some pretty contradictory stuff out there methinks.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:35 PM

Okay folks -- here's a bit of reality. Paid leave sounds great. But in reality here is how FMLA works. You have about 10% of the work population that files for all their FMLA everytime the 12 months is up. These are the same folks that file workers' comp claims and game the system. It's not fair to those that actually need the leave or workers' compensation. And it's not fair to the companies or taxpayers that have to support this practice. I'll support paid leave so long as companies and government has the ability to punish those to continuously abuse the privalige. Give us that and I'll support it.

Posted by: woobie468 | January 25, 2007 1:38 PM

Matt

What does
"What matters is that enough couples have children to preserve our society." mean?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:44 PM

This is a rerun of our once-per-month paid leave discussion. New faces. Same assertions.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:50 PM

This is a rerun of our once-per-month paid leave discussion. New faces. Same assertions.

yes and it is boring, someone think of a new topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 1:51 PM

product of a working mother - The proposed health insurance deducations/reclassifications are horrible. My husband's employer pays 80% of our healthcare costs and when I do the math we are already over the 15K annually. In essence we will be paying an additional penalty because we have good insurance. I call BS on that and Bush should be ashamed of himself for proposing this scheme. Even the Democrats hate it - for different reasons - but thankfully it has little chance of passing.

As for inflation indexes and adjustments - the Federal gov't already does a poor job of this for everything in the budget, so why expect that it would get better?

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 1:54 PM

whats important to me is that whatever the federal government provides it is EQUAL for both genders. I think we should as society slow down more and i enjoyed two years as a stay at home mom, but I would have loved to have come back to work after a year, leave the toddler with the husband for a year and then put the kid in daycare until school starts. I cannot get on board to support any program that gives more benefits to women than men-- even though I KNOW just how exhausting childbirth and nursing, etc. can be and these are things that just cannot be done by the father instead to make things equal! So . . . life isn't equal or fair-- but our federal leave policies should be just as a matter of principle (and to avoid gender discrimination).

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 1:59 PM

I'm kind of backing up to marxist stuff... SAHM, shiftless, lazy people aside, what about taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves due to disability, physical illness, mental illness. Do we put them in the same arena as those who should work hard to take care of themselves. What if they just can't?

Posted by: s | January 25, 2007 2:02 PM

I would have loved to have come back to work after a year, leave the toddler with the husband for a year and then put the kid in daycare until school starts

That's really sweet "Put THE KID in daycare until school starts" - kinda like put the boat in storage until the spring. heartwarming.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:02 PM

"I KNOW just how exhausting childbirth and nursing, etc. can be and these are things that just cannot be done by the father instead to make things equal!"

Cal Girl; Childbirth? gotcha. That's 1 - 23 hours.

but Nursing? Use a breast pump. Whatever. Dads can feed their children, and you are not essential to the process. Nursing is no excuse for inequitable benefits programs.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:06 PM

"That's really sweet "Put THE KID in daycare until school starts" - kinda like put the boat in storage until the spring. heartwarming"

who ARE you?

Posted by: Arlinigton Dad | January 25, 2007 2:12 PM

OK anonymous poster at 2:06 (come up with an alias so we don't confuse you with another anonymous poster). Not to start the breast feeding vs. formula debate, but if you breast feed it requires energy from your body. Breast pumps take time and go back to some of the other discussions to see the hassles with that. And the actual labor may just be 1-23 hours, but recovery can be longer and what about C-sections, etc.

On principle I agree leave for having children should be gender neutral, but the actual process is not.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | January 25, 2007 2:14 PM

Good question, Arlington Dad. I was wondering the same thing.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 2:15 PM

ProductofWorkingMom - I agree with you and others that the health tax thing is no good.

It hits older people and those in high cost states, i.e. Democrats!

We are 50. We have coverage with Kaiser Permanente, it's $1,300 a month. That's more than $15K. Do I consider this gold-plated insurance????? According to the Posts editoral supporting Bushs' plan I have excessive coverage -access to specialists without a referral(not!) and duplicative tests(tests, what tests?). Ha!

I have 'advice' nurses telling me to wait awhile and see if my problems don't go away by themselves.

The Bush proposal is designed to fail. Then he can say he proposed something but Congress didn't go for it.

Posted by: RoseG | January 25, 2007 2:20 PM

"That's really sweet "Put THE KID in daycare until school starts" - kinda like put the boat in storage until the spring. heartwarming"

OUch!! It just got really cold in here, maybe we'll finally get some snow.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 25, 2007 2:25 PM

RoseG - I also have Kaiser. I think their motto should be "it's better than nothing!".

Posted by: Missicat | January 25, 2007 2:27 PM

It hits older people and those in high cost states, i.e. Democrats!

Dems only live in DC,CA, and NY?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:32 PM

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/travellog/

Childless people unite! Looks like you have won a small battle.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:37 PM

roseG, they pay my wife a lot of money to give you that advice.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 25, 2007 2:37 PM

"what about C-sections"

Right, what about the women who have
C-sections for the sole purpose of avoiding pain?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:42 PM

"Right, what about the women who have
C-sections for the sole purpose of avoiding pain?"

We must have found a real special rock for this anonymous poster to crawl out from under.

Damn women. Why don't they just take childbirth like a man? shoot. Now I remember.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:44 PM

Right, what about the women who have
C-sections for the sole purpose of avoiding pain?

I don't really understand why anyone would have a planned c section. Anyone ever had one.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 2:44 PM

I haven't had C-sections but would guess the pain (post-op, that is) is much worse than that during vaginal birth. Not to mention the risks inherent in major surgery.

What a stupid thing to say.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:45 PM

Version 1 of SOTU:

"We can save on social programs by putting all the poor, elderly and infirmed in cheap housing by using abandoned stadiums and armories in neighborhoods where the real estate is worth less than $1/sq. ft./per month. Your family can live there for free if you enlist.

With all this savings from the social programs we can contract for more tanks and mercenaries from Northrop, Lockheed and Blackwater and we will all be safer! Done deal!"

Version 2: "Those of you with good healthcare should pay high tax on it."

We wound up going with version 2.

Posted by: D. Cheney, Wash DC | January 25, 2007 2:46 PM

I haven't had C-sections but would guess the pain (post-op, that is) is much worse than that during vaginal birth. Not to mention the risks inherent in major surgery.

What a stupid thing to say.


Why is it stupid? I had very little pain after I had my daughter. However, my sister had a c-section and she quite a bit of pain from the incision.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 2:48 PM

Scarry

Since you are such a People magazine fan, you should know that Britney the nitwit and other celebrity mothers have admitted to having C-sections cause they're "scared of pain."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:50 PM

"You have about 10% of the work population that files for all their FMLA everytime the 12 months is up."

Prove it woobie. Site a reputable study and/or government statistic.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:51 PM

Yes, I know this to be true because I do read the rag mags, but I geuss I just can't imagine anyone being that scared that they would have one. I geuss I am just in shock that people do it!

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 2:53 PM

For a federal employee: Do you pay social security taxes, or does some portion of your salary go into another pension system for federal employees that only you can access.

Does that affect FMLA for federal workers? Which box of funding does that come out of?

Anyone know?

Posted by: question | January 25, 2007 2:53 PM

Scarry, If my ob/gyns had permitted it (rather than scoffing and lecturing), I'd have had a planned c-section for both deliveries. I'd like to have had the doctor I wanted delivering at least one of my children. In each instance, the doctor on call that night was my least favorite (and less skilled) of the 4 (in one practice) and 5 (of the other practice) physicians in the practice. I'd like to have known when our delivery was going to occur and not walk around for the last couple of weeks waiting for lightening to strike. I'd like to have taken the pressure of the lightening-bolt event off of my husband and have had both of us emotionally prepared and as rested as possible. I've read all the statistics and have concluded that a planned c-section is far lower risk for the baby.

I can understand why those who believe the only mark of femininity is a vaginal birth oppose scheduled deliveries, but they make more sense to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 2:54 PM

Scarry, our 4th was a planned c-section and if you ask my wife, the easiest with less pain. There are added benefits too, like getting nails done, makeup, hair cut to look good for the pictures.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 25, 2007 2:55 PM

"Right, what about the women who have
C-sections for the sole purpose of avoiding pain?

I don't really understand why anyone would have a planned c section. Anyone ever had one"

Yes I have - there is a longer recovery time for C-Sections because they are more painful, take more time to heal - to avoid the pain is BS - taking an epidural is to avoid the pain. That is why you spend extra time in the hospital, cannot climb stairs, cannot drive, and cannot lift anything heavier than your baby for some time. How many natural births do you hear have the same restrictions?

Posted by: single mom | January 25, 2007 2:56 PM

I guess that came across as more flippant than I intended. Howabout "place the child in a loving, supportive alternative care provider situation during the hours when myself and my husband are back at work earning the funds to pau for the fabulous program our child is placed in"? A bit wordy and not as snappy as the original but it is in fact much closer to the truth of what parents who use daycare actually do that your proposed "boat in storage" analogy. It's shocking that just because I fail to go on and on about what a great daycare I used in the past and plan to use again in the future it is assumed that I don't care about my child's welfare! Ya'll are too cynical for my taste.

to the person who commented on breast pump-- i think you need to reread what i wrote. I said very clearly that I was AGAINST any federal leave policy that WAS NOT gender equal. ANd yes, pumps can be fine, but it is still EXHAUSTING for some women to actually produce the milk that is pumped in the first place. Plus it is expensive and not every workplace is can adapt to the whole-- "need to leave every so often to take a 30 minute break so that I can express milk and leave in refrigerator to take home to baby." so the REALITY of life is that the actual process of becoming a parent is FAR more exhausting for the mother than the father. AND I said that even though this is true, federal law should still treat both genders the same both-- even if you think it doesn't need to be that way just based on principle, I really should be because otherwise businesses will discriminate against women of child bearing age.

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 2:57 PM

scarry, I re-read my accidentally anon post at 2:54 and realized it was possible to interpret the last sentence as somehow being directed at you. That was not my intent at all.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 2:57 PM

Do you pay social security taxes, or does some portion of your salary go into another pension system for federal employees that only you can access.

Does that affect FMLA for federal workers? Which box of funding does that come out of?

Yes, feds pay social security taxes just like everyone else.
There is no "pension system" only feds can access.

FMLA leave is UNPAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how many times we have to go over this. All FMLA does is give you time off and the guarantee that you won't be fired. I don't have any idea what a "box" of funding is that all of our magical leave comes out of.

Posted by: a federal employee | January 25, 2007 2:59 PM

A poster at 01:44 PM asks:

"What does 'What matters is that enough couples have children to preserve our society.' mean?"

Let me begin by saying what it does *not* mean. It does not mean that any particular couple has some sort of "duty" to have any children at all, any more than an "élite" woman with a graduate or professional Ivy League degree whose wedding appeared in the New York Times "Sunday Styles" section has some sort of duty to follow the Hirshman rule: "Have a baby. Just don't have two."

What "enough" has to do with is the fact that if we live long enough, we are going to become too old to work. In the words of the old union song,

"Who's going to take care of you?
How'll you get by,
When you're too old to work
And too young to die?"

We are going to need goods and services that we will no longer be able to produce for ourselves. No matter how much money we have stored up in our IRA, it will not be able to buy us those goods and services unless there are enough people who are young enough to produce them. That's why I consider Europe and Japan and say, "Oh me, oh my!"

Here is what Michael Freund wrote in the January 9 edition of the Jerusalem Post:

"According to a recent report by the Rand Corporation, 'Across Europe, birth rates are falling and family sizes are shrinking. The total fertility rate is now less than two children per woman in every member nation in the European Union.'

"Needless to say, demographers consider a birthrate of 2.1 children per family to be the replacement level at which a society's population size remains stable. Barring large-scale immigration, anything less means decline and dissolution.

"A research study published last year in the International Journal of Andrology found a similar trend, concluding that, 'Fertility rates have fallen and are now below replacement level in all European Union (EU) Member States. In the 20-year period since 1982,' it noted, 'most EU Member State countries have had total fertility rates continuously below replacement level.'

"At the bottom of the list are Spain, Italy and Greece, where birthrates hover around just 1.3 per couple, leading some forecasters to suggest, for example, that Italy's population could shrink by one-third by the middle of the century.
Others, such as Germany's 1.37, the UK's 1.74 and Sweden's 1.75, aren't all much better.

"The figures are so bad that in many European countries, the total number of deaths each year has actually begun to exceed the number of births.

"Indeed, the Council of Europe's 2004 Demographic Yearbook warned that, 'for Europe as a whole, more people died in 2003 than were born.' In 1990, said the yearbook, 'three countries -- Germany, Bulgaria and Hungary -- had negative natural growth for the first time. By 2002, it was negative in fifteen countries.'"

So, thank the couples who are using their time and treasure to raise the children who will be taking care of us when we are too old to work and too young to die.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 3:00 PM

I didn't mean to sound judgmental; I just thought that c-sections would mean longer healing time, more pain, and that it might be harder on the baby, so if you were doing it to avoid pain it might not be the best option. Plus, I have a high tolerance for pain, but am very afraid of any kind of surgery.

I prepared for one though when I was pregnant because my sister had such a hard time, but I got my mom's genes and didn't need one.

Really I didn't mean to stir up any bad feelings for anyone, I was really just curious and if the baby is healthy who cares how you had it.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 3:01 PM

Scarry -- my very tough wife has delivered both ways -- she said recovering from the c-section was much harder.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 25, 2007 3:02 PM

I don't really understand why anyone would have a planned c section. Anyone ever had one.

Scarry, I had a planned c-section because my son was breach and nearly 10 lbs. It has its pros and cons. One of the pros was that the delivery was easy. No pain, no stress, very fast. I felt that things were under control. The drawback is that of course, you have this postoperative incision that hurts for a few days afterwards. I was bedridden for the next 15 hours or so (I think it was that long) and getting out of bed to walk the first time was really painful. After that, it got better. All in all, I would not say that the post operative pain was the same as the pain of natural childbirth (but I don't really know since I never actually went into labor). I just know it was kinda bad at first, but certainly bearable (with percocet).

When I went home, I did not feel like I could move around as easily and pretty much had to take it easy for a couple of weeks. Which in the end was a pro because my husband and mother waited on me hand and foot (because of the surgery).

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:03 PM

No problem NY lawyer, I wasn't offended. I just wanted to make sure that I hadn't offended anyone else.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 3:04 PM

So are there real doctors out there (not the kind delivery Brittany's babies) who will go ahead and schedule a c-section just because the mom wanted it to avoid pain?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 25, 2007 3:06 PM

scarry, only when you think I'm from NY :>)

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 3:07 PM

I hope that the people who criticize those who [may] have had a planned c-section because of alleged fear of pain refused any sort of pain medications in their own trials of labor, lest they engage in hypocrisy. I also hope they encourage any friends who are undergoing surgery to turn down pain mediciation. Jeez, pregnancy and childbirth are hard and scary enough without the "take childbirth like a man, no pain medication" schpiel (shpiel?).

Posted by: Erin | January 25, 2007 3:08 PM

Sorry, I don't have my glasses on :)

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 3:09 PM

Anybody else out there do this?
when asked by a doctor/ER, "what is your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 right now?", say...well, 10 was having a baby so I guess my current pain is x, where x < 10...

???

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 3:09 PM

NC lawyer: I did notice scarry id'd you as NYC lawyer yesterday so I do notice some things.

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 3:11 PM

Matt in Aberdeen: You are bringing out your same old "have kids to take care of you when you are old" argument. If you look at nursing homes and see how many elderly who have children who don't visit you would know that argument doesn't hold a drop of water. Not to mention the continued insult to those of us who don't have children for whatever reason.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 25, 2007 3:11 PM

A friend of mine had all her children by
C-section because her hips were too narrow and she would have died giving birth. She said once the procedure began the anesthetics kicked in and she felt little pain; of course there was a longer recuperative time and she did feel pain afterwards, but the babies were all fine.

Posted by: John | January 25, 2007 3:11 PM

I had a planned C. For me, it was great - I understand why women don't go this route, but I didn't have a tough recovery, etc., which my dr. said was because when people talk about C-section recovery, most C-section patients have been in (often very difficult) labor for an extended period of time and THEN get the C. When you schedule it and your body hasn't labored, it recovers much faster. Let the flaming begin.

Posted by: FMA | January 25, 2007 3:12 PM

I think most planned c-sections (the ones that are covered by insurance, anyway) actually have some medical reason behind it (breach baby, previous c-section, other health condition that makes it appropriate). I have read that a lot of celebrity moms opt for C sections for cosmetic reasons. Apparently, your hips are wider after a vaginal birth, but if you do a c-section, you don't widen your hips out. I guess to some women, this is really important (but I doubt insurance covers these choices).

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:13 PM

Hey dotted,
I was asked that question b4 having my baby, but I would always answer with a relatively high #. (Gets you seen A LOT faster...)

Posted by: Emmy | January 25, 2007 3:13 PM

"birthrate of 2.1 children per family to be the replacement level at which a society's population size remains stable"

What is a family? As related to marriages, serial marriages and out of wedlock births?

"Barring large-scale immigration, anything less means decline and dissolution."

Isn't the U.S in a position to accept large-scale immigration as a solution, if necessary?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:15 PM

Did Britney have C-Sections?

Posted by: single mom | January 25, 2007 3:15 PM

dotted, you notice all the stuff that matters, lol. I just had this vision that scarry might think I'm flying first class out of laguardia to paris, and dining on bon bons as I drop the KID off at daycare for 12 hours a day. not that there's anything wrong with that.

c-sections is a vast improvement over the original topic, don't you think?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 3:15 PM

"Matt in Aberdeen: You are bringing out your same old "have kids to take care of you when you are old" argument. If you look at nursing homes and see how many elderly who have children who don't visit you would know that argument doesn't hold a drop of water."

But what if you don't have enough population replacement to even staff nursing homes, hospitals, and the myriad other businesses that are required for society to function? Then it becomes a problem for those that do and those that don't have children.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:15 PM

Yes, I know this to be true because I do read the rag mags, but I geuss I just can't imagine anyone being that scared that they would have one. I geuss I am just in shock that people do it!

This sounded bad, but I didn't mean it that way. Like I said, I am a sissy when it comes to anything with a needle or any kind of surgery, so my shock was more the shock of thinking that other women are not afraid of having a c section. Plus, I have never personally known anyone who had one electively, so it seemed like a hollywood trend and not something real people do.

I had an epidural and would never begrudge anyone there pain medication or how they had their baby.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:17 PM

I'd have a planned c-section again in a heartbeat. And my insurance would cover it because I already had one.

I'm sorry, I find nothing attractive about long labor, contractions, episiotomies, vaginal tearing, and hemorrhoids. But I understand that many women really want to have the birthing experience. I just don't.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:21 PM

Just to chime in, I had a scheduled induction, which to me was the best of both worlds. I didn't worry about pain (epidural when I asked for it) and I didn't have the extra recoup time of a c-section. I would choose this way everytime, but then I read a recent study that found scheduled induction carry a greater risk of the mother dying (something about amniotic fluid getting into the blood stream causing shock and then death very quickly.) Yikes!

Posted by: Emmy | January 25, 2007 3:23 PM

Before we all get condescending about Britney Spears professed fear of pain, and she's given us lots of good fodder for laughter, none of us had to worry that when we showed up at the hospital at 2 a.m. after our water broke that the waiting area would be full of cameras hoping to snap a shot of our makeupless, fat, fearful selves. A schedule C-section permits the celebrity and the hospital to control the chaos wrought by having the celebrity arrive, control access to the celebrity mom and baby, and permit the doctor to do his/her job with some semblance of normalcy.

Maybe she was just scared. Maybe she wanted to make sure she got to have her baby out of the public eye. Who can blame her or any celeb mom for that?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:24 PM

...maybe they tucked her tummy and fixed her breasts too. Who can blame her or any celeb mom for that?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:25 PM

"question" asks:

"For a federal employee: Do you pay social security taxes, or does some portion of your salary go into another pension system for federal employees that only you can access."

And a federal employee answers:

"Yes, feds pay social security taxes just like everyone else.
There is no "pension system" only feds can access."

Congress made sure of this when it passed a law in 1983 reforming the retirement system for federal employees. The law established the "Federal Employee Retirement System" (FERS) to replace the previous "Civil Service Retirement System" (CSRS).

Under CSRS, federal employees paid 7% of their gross income into a special pension fund that only they could access. They did not have to pay into Social Security.

Congress noted two things: (1) The CSRS was a fantastic rip-off of the taxpayers for the benefit of civil servants whose pay and benefits have already been termed "bloated" by posters to this "On Balance" column. (2) Social Security, like any Ponzi scheme, needed to vacuum up more and more bodies to keep itself going.

Under FERS, federal employees pay into Social Security. There are also 402(k) type pension plans that they can contribute to, with matching contributions by their employer (i.e., the taxpayers).

What about those who were employed by the federal government before 1983? Well, they have had the option of switching from CSRS to FERS, foregoing their sure-thing, defined-benefit ripoff of the taxpayers to take their chance joining the Social Security Ponzi scheme with its defined-contribution sweetener. But if they do this, they can never, never switch back to CSRS.

Those who opted to remain with CSRS can still access the special "fund" (actually, like Social Security, this "fund" consists of a government promise to pay) that is accessible only to pre-1983 federal employees.

"Does that affect FMLA for federal workers? Which box of funding does that come out of?

"Anyone know?"

Family and Medical Leave is paid by whatever particular federal agency employs the worker. It has nothing to do with the Civil Service Retirement System's special pension fund that outsiders cannot access.

Needless to say, the rich CSRS retirement benefits -- up to 80% of pay after 42 years of service, with annual cost-of-living increases assured by federal-retiree pressure groups -- are subject to the whims of some future Congress that may choose to blow the whistle to halt the gravy train. But given that no new bodies have joined CSRS since 1983, there is a natural limit to how much the taxpayers are going to have to subsidize the pre-1983 "legacy" workers when they retire.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 3:26 PM

"hemorrhoids"

I got these while pregant, so you are just lucky.

Posted by: to emily | January 25, 2007 3:26 PM

Yeah I got them too. But I also heard that pushing can give you a really bad case of those bad boys, and believe me, I wanted to avoid them as much as possible.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:30 PM

On c-sections - I had one and they definetly have their draw backs as far as getting your shape back. I don't know if a vaginal birth widens your hips, mine didn't widen, but I do know that a c-sections cut across the abdominal wall and all the muscles and nerve endings have to heal. It is not pleasant and can take up to a year. Having had both deliveries I would rather have the vaginal delivery. My stomach has not been the same since the c-section and this is what I hear most of the time from mothers who have had c's.

Posted by: cmac | January 25, 2007 3:30 PM

Emily, I still have them and the doctor said it is better to leave them alone. I was like, this is modern medicine?

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 3:33 PM

" . . . long labor, contractions, episiotomies, vaginal tearing, and hemorrhoids."

Add a higher risk of urinary and fecal incontinence to the laundry list of problems associated with vaginal delivery and best avoided.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:34 PM

Mine thankfully went away after pregnancy. My best advice is to eat your veggies and make sure you get enough fiber and water. Prune juice, anyone? I think it's the pregnancy constipation that brings them on in so many women.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:36 PM

Matt

I'm FERS and I'm looking at my paystub. I pay into something called the "Federal Employee Retirement System'. Isn't this a special fund, as well?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:37 PM

"'Barring large-scale immigration, anything less means decline and dissolution.'"

"Isn't the U.S in a position to accept large-scale immigration as a solution, if necessary?"

It is the large-scale immigration, together with Americans' higher fertility rates, that have kept the U. S. population growing while the population of European Union countries declines. In effect, we are outsourcing the laborious tasks of child-bearing and child-raising to other countries.

But what happens when couples in these other countries start having 1.2 or 1.3 children per woman?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 3:38 PM

"In effect, we are outsourcing the laborious tasks of child-bearing and child-raising to other countries."

matt, what the heck does this mean?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:39 PM

Who do you think does your work while you're on your paid leave, regardless of the reason and length? Think about those people picking up your slack.

Posted by: Working | January 25, 2007 3:40 PM

Urinary and fecal incontinence after vaginal birth? Really? Yikes.

I did find that after my son was born, I just wasn't able to hold my pee for as long as I could before he was born. And I didn't even have a vaginal birth.

I do think that childbearing is hard on women's bodies.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:41 PM

definitely a better subject, as I seem to have heard the same facts a few times over the past few months.

Emily-I'm trying your method next time.

all mine were natural, not even pain killers. Call me stupid or just a peasant..though actually it was just because they progressed so fast, the nurse couldn't keep up and believe me, since I called her a pusher privately after the fact, she really wanted to give that pain killer. Not sure why though. Speed can be both a friend and an enemy (think of a massive roller coaster).

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 3:41 PM

" . . . long labor, contractions, episiotomies, vaginal tearing, and hemorrhoids."

:Add a higher risk of urinary and fecal incontinence to the laundry list of problems associated with vaginal delivery and best avoided."


WHY, OH WHY, WASN'T I TOLD THIS X YEARS AGO??

Add vaginal stretching to the above laundry list.

Posted by: DZ | January 25, 2007 3:42 PM

THANK YOU for your detailed response. I knew there was something special about federal employees that was lurking in the recesses of my increasingly senior brain. Now I understand.

Posted by: to Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 3:42 PM

offtopic alert:
anybody else trying to score a wii?

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 3:43 PM

So the reason I was attacked here wasn't because I failed to disclose the fabulousness of the on-my-jobsite daycare available to my children-- it's the fact that I said "kid" rather than "child"? Do I have that right?

So "dropping my child off at daycare" is fine, but "dropping my kid off at daycare" indicates that i am a direlect parent who has as much concern for her offspring as she has for a boat during the off-season?

When did "kid" become such a negative term? Guess I missed that memo . . .

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 3:43 PM

"I did find that after my son was born, I just wasn't able to hold my pee for as long as I could before he was born. And I didn't even have a vaginal birth."

WOW, thank you SO much for sharing!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:44 PM

"Matt

"I'm FERS and I'm looking at my paystub. I pay into something called the "Federal Employee Retirement System'. Isn't this a special fund, as well?"

That's a pension fund, like any employer's pension fund. It's over and above your Social Security. I'm not sure what the benefits are when you retire. They probably depend on which FERS investment option you choose. If your investment fund grows faster than the CSRS cost-of-living increases, you may well wind up doing better than the legacy employees. If not, you may wind up doing worse. The main thing is that the risk is on you, not on future taxpayers. The effect of FERS was to apply to federal employees the same great "risk shift" that has been going on in the private sector, from "defined-benefit" plans where the risk was on the employer, to "defined-contribution" plans (e.g, 402(k)) where the risk of market decline falls on the employee.

Good luck.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 3:46 PM

Cal Girl, take a deep breath. Don't let the turkeys get you down.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:47 PM

WOW, thank you SO much for sharing!

You're welcome. Glad to do it.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:48 PM

When did "kid" become such a negative term? Guess I missed that memo .

I think the issue was THE kid not my kid big difference. People tend to say THE dog and THE cat too - sounds detached.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:49 PM

Other vaginal birth horrors to avoid: prolapsed uterus. Google it if you're unsure....

Posted by: FMA | January 25, 2007 3:49 PM

"'In effect, we are outsourcing the laborious tasks of child-bearing and child-raising to other countries.'"

"matt, what the heck does this mean?"

In plain English, it means that immigrants, by definition, were born in other countries. Non-American women bore them and raised them until they immigrated to America. When an immigrant comes here and contributes to our society, we get the benefit of his mother's child-bearing and child-raising activities.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 25, 2007 3:50 PM

Cal Girl -- on-the-jobsite-daycare -- count your blessings!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 25, 2007 3:51 PM

"the issue was THE kid not my kid big difference"

Are you kidding? That's the issue? Not that this discussion is that important or earth shattering, but couldn't you find a bigger or at least more interesting issue to bicker about?

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 3:52 PM

Cal Girl, I guess I'm even more offensive than you are. This has been my story today, "That new one peed in my eye this morning."

Posted by: Arington Dad | January 25, 2007 3:53 PM

WOW, thank you SO much for sharing!

Really, they should expect that much by now and it is good to share information.

We should have a whole blog dedicated to balancing your life while pregnant. We could give each other tips and our male counterparts could ask questions and tell everyone the nice things they did for their wife while pregnant, etc.

By the way, I am trying to get pregnant again and after reading this blog, think I might just not fear a c-section to much.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 3:54 PM

I use "the kid" and do not think that it is offensive.. semantics.

Posted by: single mom | January 25, 2007 3:56 PM

Referring to one's child as "the kid" -

I've seen a lot of references by parents to "the boy" and/or "the girl" on this blog. I found them bizarre, but I figured it was a regional thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:57 PM

I find the, er, openness on this blog amusing. The things you can find out when the posters are unknown to you! :-)

Posted by: MIssicat | January 25, 2007 3:58 PM

To change the context, what would you think of a guy that referred to his spouse as, "The Wife"? Not, is he good or bad or do I think he's enlightened enough to keep company with. What impression do you have of their marriage? Archie and Edith or Jackie and Alice? There are typos and then there's "the kid".

words mean things.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 3:58 PM

hey, "words mean things" person -- do you have kids?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 25, 2007 4:00 PM


to "What is a family? As related to marriages, serial marriages and out of wedlock births?"

replacement birthrate is actually 2.1 children per 1 woman. nothing to do with family

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:00 PM

Arlington Dad, Yes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:00 PM

words mean things

Sure they do. But they don't mean the same thing to all people.

I know a guy who regularly refers to his wife as "the wife." I don't think of him as Archie Bunker or some other character who doesn't respect women. To me, he's just a funny, quirky guy (why btw loves his wife a lot).

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 4:02 PM

Words mean whatever the user/receiver wants them to. What is offensive to you may not be offensive to anyone else and vice versus. There are universal meanings that we can assume that by growing up in America are offensive to everyone, like telling someone to f-off or any other vulgarity, but as far as using "the kid, the wife, the dog, the cat" that is only offensive to someone who finds it as such.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:02 PM

My MIL doesn't like it when I refer to my children as "kids," since the term properly belongs to baby goats. But what's the problem? Goats are cute.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 25, 2007 4:03 PM

People, please educate yourselves, to act like a c-section is a casual affair is a mistake. While clearly clinically indicated for many women, it carries a greater degree of risk than one might think. Seconldy, ACOG has indicated that the risk of urinary incontinence is NOT correlated with vaginal birth. Please talk with your health care providers.

Cesarean birth is major surgery, and, as with other surgical procedures, risks are involved. The estimated risk of a woman dying after a cesarean birth is less than one in 2,500 (the risk of death after a vaginal birth is less than one in 10,000). These are estimated risks for a large population of women. Individual medical conditions such as some heart problems may make the risk of vaginal birth higher than cesarean birth.

Other risks for the mother include the following:

Infection. The uterus or nearby pelvic organs such as the bladder or kidneys can become infected.
Increased blood loss. Blood loss on the average is about twice as much with cesarean birth as with vaginal birth. However, blood transfusions are rarely needed during a cesarean.
Decreased bowel function. The bowel sometimes slows down for several days after surgery, resulting in distention, bloating and discomfort.
Respiratory complications. General anesthesia can sometimes lead to pneumonia.
Longer hospital stay and recovery time. Three to five days in the hospital is the common length of stay, whereas it is less than one to three days for a vaginal birth.
Reactions to anesthesia. The mother's health could be endangered by unexpected responses (such as blood pressure that drops quickly) to anesthesia or other medications during the surgery.
Risk of additional surgeries. For example, hysterectomy, bladder repair, etc.

In cesarean birth, the possible risks to the baby include the following:


Premature birth. If the due date was not accurately calculated, the baby could be delivered too early.
Breathing problems. Babies born by cesarean are more likely to develop breathing problems such as transient tachypnea (abnormally fast breathing during the first few days after birth).
Low Apgar scores. Babies born by cesarean sometimes have low Apgar scores. The low score can be an effect of the anesthesia and cesarean birth, or the baby may have been in distress to begin with. Or perhaps the baby was not stimulated as he or she would have been by vaginal birth.
Fetal injury. Although rare, the surgeon can accidentally nick the baby while making the uterine incision.

Vaginal Birth Not Associated With Incontinence Later in Life


ACOG -- Contrary to the belief held by some, vaginal birth does not appear to be associated with incontinence later in life, a new study has found. The study, published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that incontinence was more strongly related with family history

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:04 PM

"I've seen a lot of references by parents to "the boy" and/or "the girl" on this blog. I found them bizarre, but I figured it was a regional thing."

My grandfather referred to my dad as The Boy up until the day he died. I refer to my husband as The Boy, or sometimes just Boy. Both of us grew up in New England. When a southern colleague found out about this, he was horrified and accused me of referring to my husband the way I'd refer to a slave. Uh, no, guy. Not everyone has that baggage.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 25, 2007 4:05 PM

Forgot to sign my post. That is my theory/linguistic opinion of words mean things.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 4:05 PM

My mother regularly (and with great affection) referred to her kids as the "little monsters" when they were young. I regularly greet my son by saying, "Hey kid!! How was your day?" He loves it.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 4:06 PM

Words means things -- how do you refer to them? Kids, children, sons & daughter, the "Family Name"s. Just curious, since you raise the point.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | January 25, 2007 4:07 PM

"But what happens when couples in these other countries start having 1.2 or 1.3 children per woman?"

Have you seen Children of Men yet? Something like that.

Posted by: bonzo | January 25, 2007 4:08 PM

Vaginal Birth Not Associated With Incontinence Later in Life

I don't have this but the OBGYN did tell me that "the girl" pushed my bladder down while I was delivering her. I am a little afraid of what "a boy" could do!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:08 PM

Thanks-- I really had no idea the word "the" was so offensive in that context. I'll be more careful in the future. Since NC lawyer had "kid" in all caps, i figured that was the offensive word.

And yes, on the job daycare was wonderful and was in fact the reason that I took the job where I did. I have subsequently been recruited (guess they managed to look past reckless use of the word "the") by other firms and I stated I wouldn't be interested unless there was on-site child care. Didn't care how much more money was involved. I hope little acts like this will make a difference. I indeed not only count my blesings, I try to get those blessing out to others.

(Well gee, aren't I just Little Miss Goodie-Two-Shoes, speading goodness and love to all around? I guess this is what happens to Cal Girl when she is put on defense. yuck. I think this could be instructive regarding others-- personally attack someone by implying they don't provide adequate care for their kids and you are likely to cause that person to go on and on about who fabulous the daycare really is and what a great person they actually are. ewww. Just don't do it. Not just because it's not nice, but also because the indirect ramifications are just too ugly.)

Posted by: Cal Girl | January 25, 2007 4:11 PM

I refer to my offspring as my precious sainted children that God has blessed me with.

Posted by: Words mean things | January 25, 2007 4:13 PM

I don't think anyone here mentioned Csections are casual.
Also, a few things. You said, "Seconldy, ACOG has indicated that the risk of urinary incontinence is NOT correlated with vaginal birth." - Actually, the ACOG has said LONG-TERM UI is not linked to vaginal birth (that is, UI after the age of 50 or 55), but that it may be in the short term. Also, I believe the University of North Carolina (the institution is slipping my mind right now, but I'll look for the citation) has surveyed uro-gynecologists about whether they would have a planned c-section themselves if they are a woman, or, alternatively, if they are a man, believe it is ethically ok to have a planned c-section, and a majority of both groups responded positively. That means more to me if a group of women whose job it is in life is to fix UI or rectal incontinence problems would chose this procedure for themselves than an ACOG study that says "later in life" it probably makes no difference. I'm with the uro-gynecologists!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:14 PM

I am one of eight children - my father referred to all of us as "hey, you!"

Posted by: Missicat | January 25, 2007 4:17 PM

but could your mom pee okay missicat, that is the real question.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:19 PM

Wow, one of eight. I've often seen (okay, I'm starting to do it) that once there are a few kids, parents do "roll call"

"Jimmy, eh Katie, er Bob, er Emily, JOHN, do your homework!"

Posted by: Arilington Dad | January 25, 2007 4:20 PM

"but could your mom pee okay missicat, that is the real question"

Ya know, somehow that has never actually come up in conversation...imagine that!!

Posted by: Missicat | January 25, 2007 4:21 PM

They have signifcantly lower C-section rates in Europe than we do - should we copy them on that too?

There is a big difference between a planned c-section for true clinical indicators and a planned c-section for convenience or wanting to avoid a vaginal birth.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:21 PM

Arlington Dad, I generally refer to our children either as kids or by name. I tend not to use articles, but understand that many do.

to 4:02 anonymous:
"Words mean whatever the user/receiver wants them to". When a poster talks about language and ends his comment with a preposition, he merely broadcasts his lack of contribution to the topic. The purpose of language is to communicate. I can decide that I will use the word "dog" interchangeably with the word "kitchen" but that doesn't change the meaning of "dog".

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:22 PM

It wasn't bad if my mother called me by my sister's name or even my brother's but when she called me the dog's name that was tough.

I know a guy who has been happily married for 17 years - he still jokingly introduces his wife as his "first wife".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 25, 2007 4:23 PM

I think its important to note that each woman's pregnancy and birth experience are different. I had great pregnancies each time and reasonably easy delivery although both kids were too early. I've heard stories from others who had the most miserable pregnancies every and childbirth stories to make your skin crawl (both vaginal and c's). The best thing to remember is that you can't control everything and every outcome - good prep for parenting.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 25, 2007 4:25 PM

Arl Dad - sometimes my dad would do the "roll call"...I think he found the "hey you" much easier. :-) He was definitely the absent minded professor type.

Posted by: Missicat | January 25, 2007 4:25 PM

"There is no "pension system" only feds can access."

Pretty sure that elected officials (e.g., House Reps) have sweeeet pensions. Not you though. Why should you have the stuff they get for themselves?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:26 PM

All of my children were born via vaginal birth. For whatever reason, I started experiencing urinary incontinence in my late 40's.

I am not a happy camper when I am wearing Depends!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:29 PM

"All of my children were born via vaginal birth. For whatever reason, I started experiencing urinary incontinence in my late 40's.

I am not a happy camper when I am wearing Depends!"

Thank you so much for sharing, part deux.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:32 PM

"""Words mean whatever the user/receiver wants them to". When a poster talks about language and ends his comment with a preposition, he merely broadcasts his lack of contribution to the topic. The purpose of language is to communicate. I can decide that I will use the word "dog" interchangeably with the word "kitchen" but that doesn't change the meaning of "dog". "

So what part of "Words mean whatever the user/receiver wants them to" did you NOT understand? It seems to me that the challenge to communicate is wholly yours, since you only understand formalese rather the colloquial language that the rest of us have no trouble getting. I have found that people who lose the substance of an argument are quick to point out small typos or grammatical mistakes as a way of trying to salvage their losing game.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 4:33 PM

Actually Mr. Anonymous poster I know a lot about the subject and do not prescribe to ridged rules of grammar, but by all means argue with me over the placement of a preposition and call your kids whatever you want. My main point was that just because you don't like "the Kid" doesn't mean that everyone shares you opinion and that is can mean something different to someone else.

I didn't say that you could use the word dog interchangeable with kitchen; maybe you should re-read my post. Just because everyone does not think that there is an issue with someone saying "the kid" does not mean that they don't know a lot about the English language. There is more than one way to write a sentence, and yes, some of them end in prepositions. I hope that my college doesn't see your anonymous post and kick me out of grad school where I am studying ENGLISH or even take back my ENGLISH degree.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 4:34 PM

'Yes, feds pay social security taxes just like everyone else'

Not true, feds under FERS (Federal employee retirement system) pay fica , but those hired before 1983 or so who elected to stay in the older Civil Service retirement System (CSRS)do not pay fica. However, FERS employees get a match on TSP (govt 401K), but CSRS get no match. Two distinct and different retirement systems with different eligibilities and benefits to each.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:34 PM

4:22pm, big shocker on who posted that ironic comment you responded to.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:37 PM

"...to which you responded."

I love this game. Lets play scrabble next.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:39 PM

Sic 'em Scarry.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 4:39 PM

Really Emily sometimes I have to wonder why people come to this blog at all.

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 4:42 PM

"Lets play scrabble next"

Remember that apostrophe in Let's. Otherwise, someone might assume that you are some uneducated peasant who does not know the English language or the meaning of "Let's".

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 4:43 PM

They come to chat with us, of course.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 4:43 PM

4:22pm, big shocker on who posted that ironic comment you responded to.

Here we go again with the scarry/stalker crap. Don't you have a life?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:44 PM

They come to chat with us, of course

More like mess with us, but oh well, I am off to do boring chores. Have a nice night!

Posted by: scarry | January 25, 2007 4:45 PM

Did I hear Scrabble? Scrabble, anyone? Maybe a beer would help.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 4:47 PM

No, I meant "lets" the other way, like in marketing a contract.

I was suggesting we hire some subcontractors to play scrabble. How dare you not understand?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:48 PM

"prescribe to ridged rules of grammar"

Subscribe, maybe.

Lays potato chips and grammar? shocking!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 4:49 PM

I know I come here to chat with you and, rather often, actually learn something during downtimes.

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 4:50 PM

I call my neice a "little turd" and when I stopped because I thought she was too old for it, she asked my why I stopped and that she missed being my "little turd". Kids... go figure...

Posted by: s | January 25, 2007 4:51 PM

As long as I didn't hear my full first-middle-last name from my parents, I was happy.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 4:54 PM

NC lawyer, your parents did that too? I would nearly p** myself when I heard my dad yell out my full name. That was when I really knew I was in for it. Funny, I usually giggled when I heard my yell out my siblings full name. he he he

Posted by: dotted | January 25, 2007 5:00 PM

Just goes to show that much of the meaning of what we say lies not just in the words, but also in the context, tone, inflection, and even body language of the person who is speaking, not to mention the cultural baggage that all parties bring to the communication. Has anybody ever read Deborah Tannen's books. Now there's someone who knows a lot about communication,

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 5:03 PM

Stalker? How about commenting on a pattern?

"Hey, look the sun came up again."

"Why are you stalking the sun? Go get a life!!"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 5:03 PM

Wow, what a nice analogy. I agree that Scarry is just like the sun. The blog just lights up when she's here.

I guess we agree about the important stuff.

Posted by: Emily | January 25, 2007 5:06 PM

" People, please educate yourselves, to act like a c-section is a casual affair is a mistake. "

oh, and by the way, anon at 4:04, it's a mistake to assume that everyone who disagrees with your favorite sources of information is uneducated on the topic. Vaginal births carry a greater risk than one might think, as well. A c-section is no more or less casual an undertaking than a vaginal delivery. Birthing babies is a serious business, as Hattie McDaniel might have said. Please don't underestimate either the knowledge or the seriousness of those who might on a particular day be less than reverent about the gift of pregnancy and childbirth.

Healthcare providers often have an ax to grind as well, and we don't always have sufficient information to identify those biases on our initial pregnancy confirmation visit. Our best move is to educate ourselves from a variety of sources and make the best choices based on our assessment of the available information.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 5:14 PM

A previous post: "The federal govt does not pay a competitive salary compared to the private sector, and offering benefits like this might entice bright young college grads to consider this as a career (lord knows we need smarter people in all areas of government, especially with so many older employees retiring in the next few yrs)"

THis is just more urban legend. I have no problem with federal employees. They do a good job, at some incredibly boring jobs. That's the real trade off for bright young people -- not more money. It's the regulations on everything. With full health care, lots of holidays, now FERS (with a match!!! what a bonus!) and the near impossibility of being fired, the tradeoff is this: you have so many restrictions on what you can do, how you can do it, and when, and in what order, and so many FARS, and DFARS, and EFARS, and NASA FARS for procurement, it must truly drive you mad.

I'll take the modestly paying non-profite sector where I can use my creativity and energy any day of the week. If I want a death sentence, I'll go work for the Feds.

Posted by: No feds for me | January 25, 2007 5:15 PM

I don't think Google is a truly credible source of medical information. I'm all for people educating themselves I just think you need to careful about your sources.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 5:20 PM

well, anon, at 5:20, I completely agree with you and wouldn't have suggested that it was, other than as a convenient source for reviewing published medical journal articles on incontinence for yourself (not just the abstracts).

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 25, 2007 5:33 PM

I have a friend that refers to his wife -first and only wife- as "my current wife." He finds this hilarious, as do I. The first time he said this, I asked "oh, were you married previously?" He responded "no" and then looked at me like I was stupid.

I guess you have to know his sense of humor -which she has as well- to appreciate how amusing this is.

Overall, I think people need to lighten up.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 6:26 PM

I've read a few of these blogs on parental leave and haven't seen this simple fact pointed out anywhere: Many people work at jobs were they get NO paid leave of any sort.

"Paid leave holidays were available to 76 percent of employees and paid vacations were available to 77 percent." (See Bureau of Labor Statistics report on private-secotr benefits online at http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0004.pdf.)

Just over half of private-sector workers (57 percent) get paid sick leave. (See table 19 of report.) If you want to demand paid leave as a benefit, here is the place to start. Parental leave is a luxury unthinkable to those who don't get paid if they are sick.

Posted by: EconGirl | January 25, 2007 6:29 PM

Paid sick leave is indeed rare for part-timers, but the percentages for full-time employees are significantly higher on the basis of the same Bureau of Labor chart. Of the full-time employees, 68% had paid sickleave and 90% had paid vacations, and 42% had personal leave. One problem with the chart is that it doesn't indicate into what category it places employers, like many now, who offer a certain number of days to F/T employees to be used for sick, vacation, or holidays, in the discretion of the employee, i.e., here are your days, use 'em as you choose. I suspect they are counted under "personal leave" rather than "sick leave", but they may be used to cover sick leave, if desired by the employee. I have several friends working under arrangements like this now, which gives more control to the employees over exactly how they use paid leave. While it may not fit the traditional mold, such employees are, in fact, compensated when they are out of the office for whatever reason.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 7:03 PM

Last!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 8:29 PM

you are not last, I am!

Posted by: experienced mom | January 25, 2007 10:55 PM

No, I am last!

Posted by: Last Comment | January 26, 2007 7:08 AM

"Also, many view the [benefits] package offered to federal employees as already bloated as it is right now."

Unfortunately, so many people think this is the case. The Federal government is struggling to recruit and keep younger employees. Yes, paid vacation and paid sick leave are part of the package, but other benefits are lacking. Health insurance through the .gov was more expensive than what I have now with a private corporation (not a government contractor).

Women are expected to save their sick leave for when they want maternity leave. That's all good and well unless you've only been with the government for a short while or you have a chronic illness that requires frequent time off for doctor's appointments etc.

Up until 1994, the Federal government provided no support to new mothers. At least now, the leave banks cover maternity leave, but you have to use all of your leave first.

I for one, think this is a step in the right direction for the government to get quality employees.

Posted by: FormerFed | January 26, 2007 12:34 PM

Last!

Yes,I am the twin sister of First Comment.

Posted by: last comment | January 26, 2007 5:31 PM

Robin Givhan is in the paper for blood sport. I ignore her as much as possible.

Posted by: Gary Masters | January 29, 2007 10:31 AM

Let's see, 12 paid weeks to take care of a newborn. No problem, but FMLA is the most abused benefit in this country. I dont' know where you all work, but I'm sick of having to do the jobs of those who have FMLA. The list of reasons to be off on FMLA are a mile long. I work for a local government where new employuees start out with 12 sick days per year and are eligible for FMLA after the first year. Care to guess how many ask for it and receive it? Usually, after their probationary period is over, they suddenly develop an illness that makes them unable to work "every time they earn a sick day." And then at 12 months they get FMLA, hmmm migraines, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, overweight, kid sick, mother sick, father sick, etc. But, these issues never cause them to use up more than their alloted sick leave and vacation time. Give them another 12 weeks off and see how much gets done. Small companies will go bankrupt and the Feds may as well shut down.

Posted by: Debbie | January 29, 2007 1:26 PM

valium
http://www.mail-archive.com/phpxmlrpc@usefulinc.com/msg00525.html

Posted by: gralindon | February 10, 2007 4:44 PM

valium
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-mode/2004-February/000106.html

Posted by: velentino | February 17, 2007 8:09 AM

xanax
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2003-November/040407.html

Posted by: francinita | February 21, 2007 9:23 AM

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