Alison McCulloch has it exactly right: those opposed to extending paid parental leave are pretty much just meanies.
Another side of the argument which always gets me is a pretty simple one: who exactly do the naysayers expect will be funding their superannuation?
Go into any article on paid parental leave and there’ll be screeds of judgemental wankers sounding off about how “if you can’t afford to take unpaid time off your career with no guarantee of being able to retain your job YOU JUST SHOULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN!!!”
If we limit all childbearing to the families who can afford to live permanently on one income … well, all I’m saying is that I hope you douchebags are pro-the immigration which’ll be necessary to keep our population up.
So, Business NZ has chosen to use the recent push for extended paid parental leave as a chance to warn “potential parents” that they might face discrimination in the workplace.
I’d personally like to be the first to welcome Business NZ to “gender pay gap 101″. Now class, I know the rest of us covered this at some point in the 1970s but let’s give the privileged doods some cookies for finally acknowledging that they’re a bunch of discriminating, women-hating bastards.
Oh wait, no, they’re pretending that they totally just came up with this idea and it has nothing to do with historical, often open discrimination against women in the workplace entirely founded on the premise that we’re nothing but walking uteri.*
They’re doing this by claiming that extended paid parental leave – which, as Sue Moroney is probably getting engraved on her forehead right now because she’s tired of saying it, does not extend the total amount of time a person may take for parental leave, just the paid portion of it – will threaten the job prospects of:
women aged anywhere from 15 to 45 and men of any age.
Yes, I’m sure we can all remember the dark days when no man could ever get a job because employers took one look at a male candidate and said “look mate, sure you’ve got the quals, but how do I know you’re not just going to swan off when your partner gets knocked up in order to play an active and meaningful role in your child’s earliest days?”
Here’s the real question.
Business NZ want to claim that:
extending paid parental leave could result in mums and dads having to be retrained because they lose their “sharp edge” by taking more time off work
Yes, mums and dads, shut up you feminists, Business NZ is a staunch supporter of men taking a more equitable role in childrearing.
But here’s the thing. What’s so special about time taken off to raise a baby?
Don’t people who go through illness, or suffer injury, need to be retrained? What about people who take extended holidays? People who are ordered to take extensive holidays because they’re such bloody hard/obsessed workers that they accrue ridiculous amounts of leave? People who take a few months off between jobs? Doesn’t the absenteeism caused by our wonderful Evil Binge Drinking Culture knock the sharp edges off a lot of people, especially young dudes?
Don’t we all need a little bit of retraining after our Christmas breaks? Personally Labour Weekend was enough to take a few sharp edges off me, is all I’m saying.
The answer is simple: babies eat your brains. Probably while you sleep, though I understand scientists are getting close to some really good data on babies’ abilities to literally suck neurons out of nearby adult brains with heretofore undocumented Village of the Damned-esque psychic powers.
The BBC tried to warn us, but did we listen? No. So now Business NZ, on behalf of all the mums AND DADS, SHUTUPFEMINISTS is going to save us from ourselves, by preventing parents (INCLUDING DADS) from having extra paid time at home with their babies which doesn’t actually have any impact on their employers at all because they could still take unpaid leave to make it up to a full year.
It’s the only logical answer. Because otherwise we’d have to believe that the national Voice of New Zealand Business is run by a bunch of reactionary conservatives so far up Milton Friedman’s ass that they literally cannot even understand that happy healthy babies = happy healthy future working units, and happy, relaxed parents = happy healthy present working units.
And that would just be silly.
*Of course, not all women have uteri, not all pregnant people or potentially pregnant people are women, but I have the feeling this concept might blow Business NZ’s collective doodly minds.
The government (at least, the National and Act parts of it) have signalled they’ll veto Sue Moroney’s bill to extend paid parental leave on the grounds that it would cost too much. (May I just say as an aside, GO SUE!)
Zetetic at The Standard has shown that in the first place, compared to such fucking trainwrecks as the “Roads of National Significance” (coming soon to a negative-cost-to-benefit-ratio near you!) extended paid parental leave is fucking chump change.
But I’d like to address a second point: the rightwingers’ basic lack of understanding as to how this stuff works.
One of the arguments for things like paid parental leave (and early childhood education, and early intervention and rehabilitation of youth offenders, etc etc) is that, beyond just being a sign that your society is caring, compassionate, and supportive of not-traditionally-valued non-income-generating work (piff, socialism), it pays itself off. No, not in the current financial year, nor even in the current term of government, but within a generation (no long time if you actually care about things beyond your own net wealth balance sheet).
You pay parents to spend more time with their infants now, you get smarter, more connected, more caring, more “productive” adults later.
But the right don’t get that (and to an extent, I might argue Labour doesn’t get it either, given their usual willingness to fight battles on a right-determined field).
And given the right like to make stupid analogies about governmental budgets being like household budgets (wherein households can print their own money) etc, here’s one back at them:
Refusing to extend paid parental leave, ignoring the longterm benefits, on a household scale, is like crying “But I can’t afford to buy flour, sugar, and butter for $10 now! I have to cut my spending so I can buy a $30 cake on Saturday!”
Of course, to extend the analogy further, on Saturday they’ll no longer be running the household, having fucked off to the Wairarapa for a wine-tasting weekend, so why the fuck do they care if someone else has to buy $30 cake because there’s no ingredients in the cupboard? That $10 now could get them <5L of petrol!