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Build Back Better family leave is anti-family and pro-State

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program, Oct. 14, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House. |

Biden’s Build Back Better $2 trillion bill was too big for even the leviathan in Washington, D. C. to swallow, but it’s not dead. Democrats will spend the next two years feeding it bits of chopped up legislation disguised in other more popular bills. One part of it, the American Families Plan, guarantees four weeks of paid leave to all workers who are new parents, dealing with their own medical conditions, or to care for a loved one with a medical issue. 

The benefits would be provided to workers in one of three ways:

“Via a public program run by the Social Security Administration that would cover all public- and private-sector workers without regard to employer size, including part-time and self-employed individuals.

Via an already-enacted 'legacy state' paid leave program that provides benefits equivalent to, or better than, the federal benefit, and for which the state would be reimbursed up to what it would have cost to cover their workers in the federal program.

Via a plan (self-insured or via an insurer) from an employer that voluntarily chose to offer 100% of employees paid leave equal to or better than the public benefit in every respect. The leave policy must include job reinstatement protection even if a worker is not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers whose plans meet these conditions would be reimbursed for the lesser of 90% of the national average cost of paid leave benefits or 90% of their insurance premium.”

Journal of Accountancy

The plan has fooled many Christians into thinking it’s pro-family, arguing that paid family leave creates better bonding between parents and newborn children. But there are many things wrong with this bill. To start, it might be the case that paid leave is pro-family if every parent was a saint. But most are not. People will abuse family leave as much as they do sick leave. They will abandon their newborns to family, friends or childcare and drive to Vegas or sail to Cancun. Others will stay home and play golf or hang out with the guys. There is no way family leave can apply only to those who will use it to bond with their children. 

We have a historical example of the failure of a similar policy. Christian businessmen in the early 20th century were among the first to adopt the 40-hour work week because they saw it as pro-family, too. They expected fathers to spend more time with their families and that would improve the morality of their children. How has that worked out? 

I’m sure a tiny minority of fathers spent more time with their children because of the shorter work week, but they were probably already doing so. But giving the state power to determine the length of work weeks transferred property from business owners to the state by giving the state greater control over businesses. Did the very tiny gains from shorter work weeks justify the massive theft of property rights by the state? Not likely. 

Of course, Regressives refuse to think in terms of consequences and consider those who do to be morally deficient. Regressives want us to do the “right” thing regardless of the consequences. Paid family leave would constitute more theft of property from business owners to the government as well as destroying the right of employees to negotiate with employers about the compensation they prefer. And it will cause higher taxes and/or lower wages for most workers because someone must pay for it, not the most pro-family consequences.

Regressives repeat endlessly that all of Europe has paid family leave, as if the only goal of the U.S. is to be like Europe. But Americans are far richer than Europeans and so can pay for things Europeans can’t afford. Americans are the richest people in history and on the planet. According to some good economists, the poorest quintile in the US are as wealthy as the average European

Gullible Americans and Europeans think paid family leave is free. But Europeans pay for their “free” family leave through lower wages and standards of living. Most Americans make enough money that they could afford to save and pay for their family leave for four to six weeks. But they don’t want to pay for it. They want someone else to pay for it, hoping that the state will take from the wealthy and give it to them. It confirms what the great economist Frederick Bastiat wrote in the 19th century, “The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.”

That is covetousness. It violates the commandment in Deuteronomy 5:21, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The Apostle Paul addressed a similar attitude in the early church in 2 Thessalonians 3:

“We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'

We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”

Why doesn’t Biden’s family plan include a new minivan for every family? Wouldn’t that be pro-family, too? After all, every family needs a minivan to shuttle the kids to soccer practice and school activities. Make it an electric minivan and the plan would mesh with Biden’s environmental nonsense. But if Americans can afford to pay the taxes to buy an electric minivan for every family, they can afford to buy their own, unless they demand that someone else pay for it. What is that but covetousness? The same logic applies to family leave.

Roger D. McKinney lives in Broken Arrow, OK with his wife, Jeanie. He has three children and six grandchildren. He earned an M.A. in economics from the University of Oklahoma and B.A.s from the University of Tulsa and Baptist Bible College.  He has written two books, Financial Bull Riding and God is a Capitalist: Markets from Moses to Marx, and articles for the Affluent Christian Investor, the Foundation for Economic Education, The Mises Institute, the American Institute for Economic Research and Townhall Finance. Previous articles can be found at facebook.com/thechristiancapitalist. He is a conservative Baptist and promoter of the Austrian school of economics.

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