Friday, September 1, 2023

MI: Parental Leave Is Vacation?

The United States is literally the worst industrialized nation in the world when it comes to parental leave, and some folks are determined to keep it that way.

As a society, we make an awful lot of noise about the value of family, and lord knows we have plenty of people making noise about how important babies are and how women who get pregnant should give birth no matter what.

But once the woman has given birth, well, she'd better brush the dust from her sandals and get the hell back to work. Especially if she wants to have the money to deal with her new expenses. 

In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proposed a paid family leave.

Paid leave “helps workers be there for their families,” she said, giving them “breathing room to get better when you're sick, to bond with your baby or care for a family member.

A little bundle of vacation,
or a Chamber of Commerce member?

The pushback came from the usual places. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce said this would just mean more taxes. We'd also love to build population (aka available meat widgets for employment) says the Chamber, but our "economic competitiveness" rests on being open and ready for business, which we can't do if Ethel isn't here because she's home doing some infant care thing, and then costing us money to do it. Also, think of the small businesses (which are somehow more compelling than small human beings). Also, the "Michiganders living paycheck-to-paycheck" and we really care about them, although we can't think of anything that would help them survive on those paychecks that we cut for them. Nope. We are concerned about their struggle with their meager pay, but we can't think of a single solution to that problem.

I'm paraphrasing.

Also, the Michigan GOP has some public words to offer, including tweeting, "Aspiring tyrants never tire of grand plans of telling YOU how to live!!!" Which doesn't actually make sense. I mean, if Ethel doesn't want to take maternity leave, she can always just go back to work right away. Maybe the "telling you how to live" part refers to putting taxpayer money where politician's mouths have been.

But according to The Messenger, the GOP has another plan-- a messaging memo for GOP House members recommends that GOP lawmakers refer to the family leave as a vacation. 

A vacation.

Because as every parent knows, there's nothing so restful as those first few weeks with an infant. Restfully feeding every couple of hours. Restfully catching occasional naps to make up for not sleeping at night. Or maybe you luck out and you get to spend most of the time simply bonding with the new miraculous human life that you just brought into the world. Yes, I can see it now. Thousands of couples saying, "You know, I'd really like a vacation next summer. Let's try to get pregnant." 

Nor does the idea that caring for an ailing family member is some kind of vacation-- 

Never mind. These are not serious people. But I'm bringing all this up in an education blog because if this is the response and attitude of the politicians who are all about family and birth treat the issue of family leave, how could we possibly expect them to be serious about educating those young humans. How do they even say that baloney about how public schools put the interests of adults ahead of the interests of children when they have made it clear that the interests of children rank far below the interests of business owners. 

I can only hope that these people try to run with this talking point and tell all those Michigan parents that they were on some kind of vacation when their children were born, that they're called on it, and that this baloney keeps them from regaining any power in Lansing.

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