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Paid Leave For Single People
Some people want to have babies. Other people want to go to Kuala Lumpur. Why should one set of people get paid leave from work and not the other?

There's an article in The New York Times by Lynette Clemetson about adoptive parents being given paid time off plus wads of cash when their baby comes. I'm totally opposed to healthcare tied to one's job (especially because the single person ends up paying for the health care costs of the dude with a wife and five kids). I'm equally opposed to turning the workplace into a game-show-type prize dispenser just because somebody has a kid -- adopted or otherwise.

Here's an excerpt from Clemetson's piece:

KATIE LEDBETTER, who is expecting a baby girl late this year, has delighted in the fawning of baby-obsessed colleagues, the cooing commentary on the joys of parenthood and the feigned laments over the loss of social life and sleep.

But because she is adopting instead of giving birth, Ms. Ledbetter, who works for Standard Register, a document services company based in Ohio, was initially told she was not entitled to the six to eight weeks of paid leave offered to pregnant employees.

Then in January, an ebullient manager told Ms. Ledbetter to check her e-mail. Effective this year, a memo to the company’s 3,500 employees read, Standard Register would offer adoptive parents four weeks of paid leave and up to $4,000 in financial assistance. Ms. Ledbetter, her manager told her, would be the first recipient. “It was like a gift from God,” said Ms. Ledbetter, 45, a customer service specialist in the company’s Charlotte, N.C., office. “When you are in this adoption mode, you just come to expect obstacles. I was so very, very touched to know my company backed us.”

With more than 100,000 Americans adopting each year, adoption benefits are becoming a hot new perk in the panoply of workplace benefits. Whether paid time off, reimbursement for costs or both, the benefits help parents defray hefty adoption fees and afford bonding time with new children. Just as important, recipients say, the assistance sends the message that adoptive families are as valued and worthy of support as biological families are.

I waited to have a dog until I could afford any necessary vet bills (sigh...right off the bat, and no, I'm not joking, a $900 PET scan), and take two months to be home with her to train her. I trained her to go in a litter box, which she does when I go away and the neighbors take care of her. She's also so quiet I can smuggle her into restaurants and, in the days before secondary searches for Evian bottles, I could smuggle her on a plane. All I have to do is say, "Lie down! No noise!" and she'll sleep quietly in my lap under a shawl for 10 hours, if need be.

Nobody paid for that cost but me -- which is how it should be with kids, unless you're very, very poor, in which case, the rest of us will lend you a hand. Oh yeah, and that includes paying for your own kids to be schooled. We'll pay for the very, very poor (because we need an educated populace to have a democracy). You pump 'em out, you fund 'em. You can't fund three? Have two. Or one. Or none.

Posted by aalkon at September 4, 2006 10:04 AM

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Why should you pay when someone else is having a kid? Because they are performing a public good-- far more of a public good than most people do throughout their entire careers.

Frankly, there should be a childless tax=== you don't spend a good portion of your life helping raise the next generation, your social security gets cut in half.

Childless by choice == selfish malingerer.

Warmest Regards,


Posted by: Andrew Berman at September 4, 2006 2:51 PM

Why should you pay when someone else is having a kid? Because they are performing a public good

Oh, hogwash.

I probably do more of a public good, as do a number of my childless friends, who are in some profession where they help people. Seen any well-raised children lately? They're a rarity around these parts -- and other parts I've been to recently as well. Many people have children by accident, or as a lifestyle choice (shit, fucked the career up, better pump a few out) -- and these people do not make great parents, or, in turn, turn out great children.

I do many things that are nice and good, but I don't expect others to pay for them.

And anybody who feels at all sure they're going to get Social Security should be smoking crack to make themselves a little more rational.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 4, 2006 4:02 PM

Societies that don't support having and raising children tend to cease to exist. For example - the Shakers. Or more recently - Western Europe and Japan. I happen to consider the continuation of our civilization to be a vital 'public good'. You could argue that many parents do a piss poor job of it. But that's a valid but different issue.

Posted by: AJackson at September 4, 2006 4:20 PM

Workplace benefits aren't government benefits. Per FMLA, my company has only to save my job for me to return to. Apparently, some companies pay maternity leave- their choice. Maybe that's cost effective in attracting and retaining quality employees. Then again, maybe companies value family and choose to reward parenthood. If people also want leave for dog training, or travel, then perhaps that's something they should attempt to negotiate with their companies. Heck, maybe you can even find work at the type of company where your co workers will throw you a travel or dog shower, or fawn over you daily asking to see your travel photos, or ask how your dog is doing I'll admit being the center of attention is one of the FEW fun parts of pregnancy. Unfortunately, findng support for that sort of benefit might take a bit of revolution in public values, but you're welcome to try. In the meantime, rest assured, your tax money dosen't subsidize my maternity leave, and as for picking up the slack while I'm gone, my boss is hiring a temp, who I'll be training before I leave. So with thowe two concens out of the way, I just don't see what your issue is with maternity pay, other than you don't qualify for it.

Posted by: Allison at September 4, 2006 4:27 PM

Have you ever noticed how many couples who have trouble conceiving appear to be responsible, good people--probably ideal parents?

Then you have the other extreme...piss-poor "parents" who can shit 'em out without even trying.

Posted by: Doobie at September 4, 2006 6:03 PM

What is so special about having kids? No brains are required to 'reproduce'. Bunnies do it more proficently.

Who should pay for kids? The parents! Period. No arguments. They alone should pay for whatever they spawn. Not an employer, not the government, or any other sudsidizer.

But it doesn't end here...

Next, the parents dump their little kids into the public school system where they benefit from extraordinary school taxes extorted from all tax payers regardless of their parental status.

As a childless widower, I have paid untold taxes for the education of other people's children, and I take no pleasure in their children's accomplishments.

Is this a just system of taxation?

Posted by: Inkpad at September 4, 2006 8:58 PM

If you can train a child to go in a litter box, and remain quiet for 10 hours when you say "Lie down! No noise!", you have a guaranteed best-seller in you.

And, of course, the thanks of a grateful nation.

Posted by: Todd Everett at September 4, 2006 10:28 PM

> take no pleasure in their
> children's accomplishments.

Of course you do. Some of those kids turn in air grocers, pharmacists and traffic controllers. Give us a call when you're starving and aching with 737 landing on your roof.

Seriously, consider yourself armed next time some simpering fuckwad says "You don't know what it's like, because you don't have kids!" You're an investor, so you get a piece of the say-so.

Posted by: Crid at September 4, 2006 10:40 PM

"Of course you do. Some of those kids turn in air grocers, pharmacists and traffic controllers. Give us a call when you're starving and aching with 737 landing on your roof."

Yeah, and give us a call, if you still can, after you're carjacked by somebody's little darling.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 5, 2006 12:10 AM

"... after you're carjacked by somebody's little darling."

100% of crimes are committed by people who were babies once. No babies = no crime.

Posted by: Norman at September 5, 2006 1:27 AM

I'm adopted - so take this with a HUGE grain of salt - but I think adoptive parents have an advantage because they choose to be parents. It's not something they simply fell into. Plus, with the scarcity of available babies these days, most agencies can pick and choose the best candidates. Even back in 1970, my parents had to go through a lengthy background check and random follow-up visits for years after they got me. I'm not saying this ensures a perfect childhood but at the least it usually weeds out the obvious nutjobs.

Anyway (and here comes the bitter, angry rant), so you get eight weeks if you have a "real kid" but only four if you're such a loser if you have to adopt? Leaving aside the whole issue of paid parental leave, isn't that kind of a double standard?

Posted by: kevin_m at September 5, 2006 5:02 AM

> 100% of crimes are committed by
> people who were babies once. No
> babies = no crime.

You guys are silly. No babies = no virtue, either.

Posted by: Crid at September 5, 2006 7:47 AM

To Kevin:
I'd imagine the extra time off comes for the hospital stay and stuff - ya think?

Also, and this ties into everything else - it's up to an employer to issue "perks" - they don't *have* to do anything at all. So I'd be grateful for the four weeks. And this is where we get to everything else.

I *do* have an issue with government (ie. MY) money going to fund pregnancies and children that a couple can't afford. I do NOT have issue with a private company doing it. It's their choice. If they look at their employee demographics and feel that offering maternity leave and/or bonuses will help them recruit and retain employees, fine. How is that any different than offering flex time, on site day care, sign on bonuses, paid vacation, etc., etc. I wish I worked at one of those companies.

Posted by: Anne at September 5, 2006 9:44 AM

I agree with Allison and Anne. I'm unhappy about government subsidies for marriage and/or childbearing (although it's possible to make a case for the latter). But a corporation can (or ought to be able to) compensate it's employees however it likes—money, healthcare, maternity leave, gym membership, free hookers. It's not my problem if the government stays out of it.

Posted by: Jadagul at September 5, 2006 11:24 AM

"As a childless widower, I have paid untold taxes for the education of other people's children, and I take no pleasure in their children's accomplishments."

Then try taking pleasure in the thought that when you are in serious need of medical attention, medical aid, etc...these children in the future as adults will be the ones you rely on in your old age. Without those tax dollars today - there would be a SERIOUS decline in the education system. Who will run the world when we are all old and senile? The kids that your tax dollars educate will. Look at it as insurance for your future.

Posted by: Kari S at September 5, 2006 11:32 AM

Money, healthcare, maternity leave, gym membership, free hookers-

Ok, that's a pretty typical string of company-paid benefits, sans the last one- see the benefit to the company? Money is a motivator- healthcare, maternity leave and gym memberships ensure that employees stay healthy and fit to better do their jobs- onsite daycare keeps their kids close, flex time ensures they're not distracted by the things they'd rather be doing- all these things benefit companies- that's why companies offer them. That they also benefit the majority of employees ensure that the companies that offer them have a good pick of the employee market.

Now look at what the government chooses to reward- poverty, helplessness, lack of education, and single parenthood- to name a few. Which set of goals do you really think is contributing to the crime rate?

Posted by: Allison at September 5, 2006 4:23 PM

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