More proof, Labour don’t understand economics

Miliband baby 650

As a pre election bribe Ed Miliband has promised to increase the amount of paternal birth leave from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. Let’s look how much this will cost our economy. If we say that the average salary for a father’s week in the UK is £600 (obviously the economic cost is far higher) and that there are 700,000 births a year, then that is £420,000,000 lost per week of paternity leave. Or approaching a billion pounds wasted by Ed’s 2 extra week proposal. So Ed wants spend nearly £1 billion pounds a year of other people’s money to buy votes. Typical Labour.

Who will pay for this? The initial financial cost will be borne by taxpayers for public sector jobs and by customers for private sector jobs. So that means YOU will be paying for this bribe. But it is even worse. If we take a man year as 48 weeks, then this will take 30,000 man years of work out of the UK economy.

Paternity leave should be precisely zero. It is just a factor that makes our economy less efficient and all goods and services more expensive. We managed to survive without it until 2003. Its effect is for non parents to subsidise parents. What is really needed is for employers to exercise their discretion and/or the use of annual holiday leave. Forcing everyone else to pay for this subsidy is plain immoral.

1 Comment

  1. So, it’s really that simple? Just the money for the weeks not worked? No other consequences derived from a situation to help millions of families when they have a child? For millions of mothers? Millions of fathers? Millions of children? In the long run (even more millions)? The very long run (billions)? Then there is the fact that benefit is not just monetary. Then also the fact that non-monetary benefit actually transfers into monetary benefit, even if not always in the obvious, immediate figures that you’re comfortable with thinking about. Money is a token measure of work and benefit put into life and the world by people creating that benefit and doing that work. It’s given to them so they can store that measure of the worth they provided and get something of benefit back with someone else, maybe somewhere else, maybe at another time (well, that’s what it originally was for, more and more it’s becoming a thing in itself that can be manipulated to completely undermine that ideal fair exchange of worth, genuine value). That’s what it’s for. It’s secondary to, subordinate to, dependent on real life, real benefit, not the primary thing, with life following it. It may be that Ed Milliband is buying votes with this, very likely in fact that it’s a big part of it (quite possibly all party politics have descended into what buys votes), but dissing time for newly-born children, and support for their mothers, and family focus, bonding and meaning for their fathers, instead of constant service to profit for their employers, is another thing. If we just need to spend more time working, then maybe we should start doing 60-hour weeks (many in the public sector, nurses, teachers, do in actual reality, despite contract hours on paper), or 14 hours a day, 7 days a week (98 hours, who know how many millions of extra ‘man years’ that is per year) where we’ll still have a couple of hours for eating and washing and time for the solid sleep we’ll surely have at feeling so ‘productive’ at the end of each day. Holidays? Why make the customer pay for those? Or the public pay for holidays for hospital staff? So much less money from those lost ‘man hours’. That’s ridiculous of course, because we know that there are benefits from giving people time for other things, like being together and giving their life and activity meaning (work included, of course), having time to develop their abilities in other ways, or time to understand and engage in the issues and workings of the political system, so as to take part in it in an informed, responsible and effective way, good chances to relax and make life manageable and be more effective in work and every other way, etc., etc. And that still is staying too close to the idea that they are living to be productive by some external measure, not just the internal measure of human feeling about life quality. So how is it that along with those many hours a week we give every working person so as to balance life and work and make them both manageable and effective we can’t give a little more for the most vulnerable time of a child’s life? And it is a ‘little’ more. You can play with maths and come up with a big-looking quantity of combined time of 30,000 years, but by being so soft as to not insist people work 12 hours a day, 5 days a week (leaving them 12 to themselves and weekends too, and without touching holidays), the amount of lost ‘man hours’ that you’re talking about is only equivalent to 4 weeks of that time that we already lose from people only working 40 hours instead of 60. 2 weeks of a standard 40 hours a week = 4 weeks of the 20 hours a week of ‘man hours’ that we allow people to constantly not work every single week, when in fact they could, because, as I said, they’ve still got 12 hours a day, plus weekends, for food, hygiene, newspapers, the pub, football, whatever. We then therefore allow that 30,000 man hours to be lost every month, meaning that by letting people give 20 less hours to their work and instead dedicate that time to their personal business, we allow 360,000 ‘man years’ to be lost a year (presuming your original maths to be correct). And then, of course, you’re against the whole idea that anyone should pay tax for benefits to others, when those others should look after themselves. Though why didn’t you just say that? But are you really sure the benefit given to them, and to society as a whole (healthier, saner, happier children, who then become adults, and that makes a lot of difference) does not come back to everyone else? And are you sure that the money earned by those who insist they keep it and share nothing is really earned in some vacuum where they didn’t do that earning on the basis of infrastructure and general context that derived from the work of others? And it’s not just non-parents paying the taxes for this, but working parents or parents-to-be too. Who also pay taxes for all sorts of things that non-parents benefit from. Everyone has different needs, and we work collectively and agree collective contributions to that system to make it work for everybody. Do you hear me complaining that as someone who walks most places, has never needed to buy a car, and uses public transport mainly when I go further, that my taxes shouldn’t ever go to anything that enables car owners? Are those who only walk places right to imagine they get no benefits all the same from the contributions that they make to roads, public transport, etc., etc.? I use the health service far less than many people, but would I be clever to advocate that I shouldn’t contribute to it and if it fails, then let it, even if I knew I’d be forever healthy (the health of the rest of society benefits me, I live in it, I can’t do otherwise)? Why should parents, and we’re even definitely talking about working parents here, seeing as it concerns their leave from work, not have that right to give a fully-protective and managed, lower-stress environment to their children at their most vulnerable age, without having to rely on the obviously unreliable ‘discretion’ of their employers? Your philosophy ultimately seems to come down to the idea that we are born to serve the profits of our employers, to be subjects. And you just seem to see money. And as a genuine, concrete, intrinsically-beneficial thing, like good food, or a warm and secure place to live. A man not working for his employer for 2 weeks is not something ‘lost’. There is no money that was there that now disappears. And money is an abstract token of value anyway, with no concrete reality or intrinsic value. That man just spends his time differently, on different activity, and most likely supporting his family, which comes back on society too. Yes, no paper is exchanged to make this happen, but it happens just like all other meaningful work happens. When the paper itself comes first it often leads to meaningless work. Nothing is lost. That man is still there. The world doesn’t collapse. Money isn’t burned. Less is collected as a token measure of his official employment, and less of that specific work is done by him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not working. There’s even reason to believe that his lack of that specific work will be filled by someone else. After all, if it’s work worth doing, then won’t people want to make sure it’s done? We can’t share workloads, employ more people, etc.? This may mean that the boss profits less, but the real value is the work done, and this is not doing less of it. All this issue is about is creating a situation in our society where men can give just a little more of their time to giving their loved ones a grounding in life, than to raising figures in the workplace. The idea that we are so weak as a society that we can’t afford this, or that we are so submissive that we put obvious monetary profits of those who we work for (we work for them, not them for us, that’s us working, doing work, creating value, us, we’re not subjects, not here to beg) before actual value in the real world, is seemingly your position, but definitely not mine.


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