House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is running for Speaker of the House, and liberals are so scared they’re pulling out the big guns against him: their failed War on Women messaging. Friday’s newsfeed was full of stories attacking Ryan as a hypocrite for insisting he won’t sacrifice his family should he become speaker, taking money from opponents of forced paid leave, voting against government-mandated paid leave, all while personally offering paid leave to his staff.
Taking in mind the excellent Biblical exhortation to publicly construe everyone’s motives as charitably as possible until you have evidence to do otherwise, let’s just recount several entirely logical ways Paul Ryan is probably not a hypocrite despite this smear-by-free-association tactic.
1. Government Not Doing Something Doesn’t Mean It’s Banned
This is a common misconception, most clearly seen in the fight about whether government ought to be raiding everyone’s pockets to pay for the chosen lifestyles of those who wish to coat their insides with anti-baby Agent Orange in an attempt to prevent this natural result of their alcohol-fueled orgies. Ahem. I mean, “tax-funded contraception.” The War on Women perpetrators keep trying to tell us that government not funding something equates to government banning something. That must be womansplaining, I guess? Except I’m not willing to have women made out to be idiots. So maybe “liberalsplaining.”
Anyway, in like manner to the tax-funded contraception logic fail, they want us to believe that Ryan not voting to make everyone pay for some people’s family leave equates to Ryan banning family leave.
Nita Chaudhary of UltraViolet: “Paul Ryan on paid leave – good for me but not for thee. That’s shameful.”
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) October 23, 2015
Apparently, people are objects at rest that tend to remain at rest unless acted upon by government. Wait, that’s the definition of inertia. Liberals apparently view human beings as inert. But, luckily for Ryan’s staff, the Republican lawmaker doesn’t, so he’s proactive about offering benefits in line with his beliefs and financial capability. Clearly, he supports family leave, or he wouldn’t offer it to his employees. What he does not support is forcing everyone else into the exact same employee compensation practices he carries out.
2. Freedom Allows for Diverse Family Leave Options
This is a feature, not a bug. It means Ryan respects people’s agency and individuality so much that he wishes to let them govern their own affairs instead of forcing them to get in lockstep with his personal philosophy. For people who keep telling us they are all about tolerance, liberals are awfully intolerant of ways of life that deviate from their narrow vision. They can’t fathom that perhaps many people would wish to have flexibility to mix and match solutions to suit their own preferences instead being forced into the one-size-fits-all preferences of central planners.
Well, they need to start fathoming this, because it’s reality. Some women bounce back faster after a baby than others. Of course, the nature of a woman’s job will play into her needs, too—it’s way easier to stare at a computer postpartum while reclining on the couch than to get back to hauling I-beams at a construction site. Some women can work ahead, or put work on hold for a solid period of time. Other women’s work simply requires their near-constant presence. Some women want to quit work entirely when a baby arrives. Others either financially or psychically need to work. Complicating all this is that often women don’t know what will be best for them and their families until they experiment a little.
These are just examples from the various kinds of family leave one would need after bearing a child. If one is adopting or has a family member with a chronic illness, cyclical family leave might be necessary (dropping out a week here and a week there, depending on how the family is doing).
The point is that government can’t possibly know everyone’s needs. Often we don’t know them ourselves until we are at the very point of need. And it can change. Government shouldn’t get between a boss and employee with rules that don’t fit their situation, and it can’t predict every single scenario beforehand, so any rules it makes are going to hurt some people. People should be free to work it out. That’s what will make the most people happiest.
3. Companies Aren’t Welfare Agencies
Some companies have the financial cushion to be able to pay an employee for a month, three months, six months, or what have you, while not receiving the benefits of that employee’s work. Remember, a business is not a welfare agency. They don’t redistribute existing wealth they’ve forcibly taken from people, but create more wealth by offering people things they consider worth more than their hard-earned cash.
If a company doesn’t make products people want, it can’t make money (cronyism is another topic for another day). If it doesn’t make money, it can’t pay employees. And some companies have far slimmer profit margins than others. So if hiking employment taxes like this (because a mandate is a tax on our resources, most notably time) make it more expensive for them to hire, they won’t. That means more unemployment.
The people who manage to keep their jobs in such a situation must have just gotten luckier, but everyone who didn’t, or needs a job, just got unluckier. Reverse this sad situation to create a happier one: more employers could afford paid leave if government would deregulate, and stop tying up so much of their resources in useless red tape.
In other words, often an employee must choose between a) having a job with no or little paid leave or b) having no job, and still no paid leave (unless we’re going to count welfare benefits as taxpayer-provided paid leave; in which case we already have universal paid leave). Yes, neither of these options is perfect. I hate to break it to the Left, but the world isn’t perfect. Most of the time we have to choose the best out of a basket of imperfect options.
It’s hard for us to feel at peace when people like these Twitter whiners make us feel resentful instead of grateful about the blessing of paid work that enables one to feed one’s family and occasionally even go out for dinner, especially in a world where nearly a billion people don’t have enough to eat and nearly three billion live on less than $2 per day. Would I have liked to take six months or more off after each of my four children were born? Of course. What mother wouldn’t? But am I so happy that the work I’ve been blessed to have, even though it hasn’t been able to give me two years of paid family vacation, has been able to cover my babies’ medical bills and food and shelter, plus even toys and trips to the zoo? You bet.