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Blessing in Disguise?

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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby gargantua » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:33 pm

The elephant apparently sitting unnoticed in the room is the simple fact that we now live in the 21st century. Society has changed since the 1930's, as have family relationships and life expectancies.

You can pine for the old days to your heart's content, but these are the new days and there is no going back.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:34 pm

bdog wrote:
kurt_w wrote:You might want to worry a bit more about your reading comprehension problems, and a bit less about whether somebody somewhere is getting a few weeks of unpaid leave from their job to care for their dying parent, hospitalized spouse, or newborn baby.

Right back at ya. Where did I ever mention dying parent or hospitalized spouse? I'll wait for you to find it.

You ignored those two, but they are included in family leave. I guess you only object to the kids part, but not the coverage for a spouse or parents.

Please clarify.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:56 pm

No clarification necessary - go back and read my posts.

BTW, FMLA also includes leave for "a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job", but you chose to ignore that.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Fri Sep 23, 2011 7:58 pm

gargantua wrote:The elephant apparently sitting unnoticed in the room is the simple fact that we now live in the 21st century. Society has changed since the 1930's, as have family relationships and life expectancies.

You can pine for the old days to your heart's content, but these are the new days and there is no going back.

True. This applies to the Waltons scenario as well as to the fact that more and more people are choosing to go childless.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby rabble » Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:23 pm

bdog wrote:
gargantua wrote:The elephant apparently sitting unnoticed in the room is the simple fact that we now live in the 21st century. Society has changed since the 1930's, as have family relationships and life expectancies.

You can pine for the old days to your heart's content, but these are the new days and there is no going back.

True. This applies to the Waltons scenario as well as to the fact that more and more people are choosing to go childless.

Yeah. Those people can't get child care leave. But they can have hardship leave. All they have to do to get that wonderful time off is to somehow find a way to change their lives in a manner that necessitates leaving their workplace, unpaid, for a significant amount of time.

I know! Let's just let them do it for no reason at all! That sounds fair.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby kurt_w » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:05 am

bdog wrote:No clarification necessary - go back and read my posts.


Okay, I've gone back and read your posts (which is more than you apparently bothered to do before replying to mine).

You pretty clearly object to the idea of people being allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child. I jumped to the apparently erroneous conclusion that you would also object to people being given leave to care for a spouse or parent.

Now, it appears from your "right back atcha" comment on the previous page that I was wrong. You only object to leave for care for a child, not for care for a parent or spouse. To most people that distinction probably seems preternaturally stupid, so I understand why Henry would ask you to clarify it.

And it's particularly unhelpful of you to refuse to clarify your comments in a thread where you've already been repeatedly called out for using language carelessly (nonexistent "pregnancy leave", conflating being "single" with being "not a parent").

Instead of dodging the question, why not just give a simple yes or no? Do you object to people being given unpaid leave to care for a parent or spouse?
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:15 am

Ok Kurt, try to stay with me. Here is my original post:

jman111 wrote:Oooohhhh, protect the family creators.
I see a pattern here.

We already do that and there is very little questioning of it.

As a single person I would love to see the pregnancy leaves shit-canned and everyone gets X weeks off to do with as they see fit.


Apparently my flippant choice of words is throwing people off. Therefore I will re-state it:

As a childless person in the work force, I take issue with the Family and Medical Leave Act's provision for someone to take 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child within 1 year of birth. I would rather like to see it opened up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to do as an employee sees fit.

Now I'm curious, why do you continue to "ignore" (in Henry's words) this provision:

"a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job"

Look, I'd love to see it changed. I realize it's probably not going to happen. I can't believe I spent the amount of time I did in this topic replying to it. I can't believe you threw such a hissy fit about it. But...

YOU nailed it my friend:

kurt_w wrote:A lot of contemporary "social-issues" politics is basically motivated by resentment over loss of privilege. Fifty years ago, our society gave huge privileges to men over women, whites over nonwhites, Protestant Christians over other religious groups, straights over gays and lesbians, natives over immigrants, English speakers over non-English speakers, etc.

We've gradually and haltingly become a more even-handed society, and that's a good thing. But it's only natural that when someone has been treated as special and wonderful and privileged, and has come to see that treatment as "normal", they'll resent anything that diminishes the status gap between themselves and others.


Childless people are the last group that it is ok to discriminate against.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:21 am

rabble wrote:All they have to do to get that wonderful time off is to somehow find a way to change their lives in a manner that necessitates leaving their workplace, unpaid, for a significant amount of time.

You act as if new parents had contracted some disease through no fault of their own.

Look, raising a child is not easy. But most people know going in they will be rewarded a thousand-fold over their lifetime by having children.

This reminds me of that MASH episode where BJ is being insufferable because he misses his wife and kids. Hotlips puts him in his place by saying "You have the most to lose because you've got the most!".
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:41 am

One more clarification:

You would not lose a damn thing under what I'm proposing. You would still be able to take 12 weeks unpaid leave when your child was born.

Only difference I would be able to do the same thing. How often? Not sure.

Why are you so afraid of this? I would be taking 12 weeks of unpaid leave. How does it affect you??? (Careful - it's a trap!)

Is it something in your ethic that has a problem with me taking unpaid leave and doing something that is not causing me to suffer?

BTW, at least 1 big company I've worked for allowed people to take leaves of absence, also unpaid. But I don't think they were legally protected to still have their job at the end of the leave.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby snoqueen » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:08 pm

Once again, you need to update your thinking.

Leave is granted for the birth of a child and the adoption of a child. They're treated equally.

I think complaining about discrimination against childless people is silly. I have never felt discriminated against. On the contrary, I feel grateful I never had these matters to deal with. I also appreciate that other people have children as a positive choice and for society to support them by offering leave is helpful and appropriate.

Ok Kurt, try to stay with me...


Whenever I see this kind of language, I think the writer has been listening to too much talk radio.

Incidentally, the reason people do not care to live with their in-laws and multigenerationally is all this diversity we're discussing. With so many different lifestyle choices (smoking in the house is one part, for sure) most of us are far better off separate, even if it means fairly humble circumstances. If you think we've got too many domestic disputes now, imagine trying to cram more family members into the same space.

Maybe once McMansions are available for fire-sale prices (and it'll happen) more people can do the extended-family thing. The mutual aid aspect versus the domestic tranquillity aspect would be negotiated more easily with enough space and privacy.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:35 pm

snoqueen wrote:Once again, you need to update your thinking.

Leave is granted for the birth of a child and the adoption of a child. They're treated equally.

I think complaining about discrimination against childless people is silly. I have never felt discriminated against. On the contrary, I feel grateful I never had these matters to deal with. I also appreciate that other people have children as a positive choice and for society to support them by offering leave is helpful and appropriate.

I'll decide how to think, thank you.

Whether through birth or adoption, a childless person is excluded.

You're probably right though that complaining about it is silly, but a lot of people feel the same way about what the Freedom from Religion group does. The workplace has changed due to efforts from groups like that. What was once unquestioned (no floating holidays or diversity days) is now obvious.

For now society has made the choice that propagation of the species is important and that won't change anytime soon (or at least until the over population problem becomes more severe).
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:41 pm

jman111 wrote:Oooohhhh, protect the family creators.
I see a pattern here.

We already do that and there is very little questioning of it.

Q.E.D.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby kurt_w » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:28 am

This is going to be a bit long. If you aren't interested in following this debate, feel free to ignore it.

bdog wrote:As a childless person in the work force, I take issue with the Family and Medical Leave Act's provision for someone to take 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child within 1 year of birth.


And yet you don't apparently take issue with the F&MLA's provision for unpaid leave for care of a spouse or parent. (I only include that "apparently" because you still refuse to answer the simple "yes or no" question that would clarify it... but your "right back atcha" comment earlier in this thread strongly implies that you don't object to the other provisions.)

That is a very peculiar distinction. You're OK with granting unpaid leave for care of parents and spouses but not children?

I would rather like to see it opened up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave to do as an employee sees fit.


Fine! If you think employers should be required to give people unpaid leave to do whatever they want, call your senators and representative and ask them to sponsor a "Recreational Leave Act". It sounds like a nice idea!

But why would you seek to "shitcan" a new parent's right to take time off to care for her/his child unless you are given the right to take time off to do whatever you want? Are you prone to these kinds of vindictive fits of pique on other subjects, or just those involving parenting?

Now I'm curious, why do you continue to "ignore" (in Henry's words) this provision:

"a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job"


Huh? I don't have any problem with that. Is there something wrong with it?

Childless people are the last group that it is ok to discriminate against.


I'm sure that it feels that way to you.

Everyone is a "childless person" for much of their life. I have been childless for more than 50% of my adult life. For much of that time I didn't want kids, didn't particularly like being around kids, and couldn't imagine having kids. You keep talking as if you and I are from two different races or something -- but I went through 15 years of adulthood as a childless person. So unlike you, I've actually experienced both sides of this divide.

The people who have it worst are those who either want kids but can't have them, or who don't want kids but do have them. Both of those are miserable circumstances to be in, and compared to them neither the happy parent nor the childless-by-choicer has anything to complain about.

There are a few ways in which people without children can be treated poorly in society. Mostly, it's just thoughtless remarks and unfair assumptions. I've heard a relative of mine sniff disparagingly about people who choose not to have children, calling them "selfish". Lots of parents are under the mistaken impression that their childless friends or co-workers must of course want to hear endless stories about what little Johnny or Janie did yesterday, blah blah blah.

But there are just as many ways in which parents are treated rudely. Random strangers will feel entitled to make caustic remarks about how your child is being raised. People like bdog will suddenly start calling you deliberately offensive names like "breeder".

Then there are various superficially significant forms of "official" discrimination than can rankle people who are already sensitive about their non-parent status. Bdog's resentment that the Family & Medical Leave Act allows people to take unpaid leave from work to care for a child (or spouse, or parent) falls into this category. Basically, he (wrongly) imagines that this "benefit" is some kind of reward that parents are given and that is unfairly withheld from non-parents in order to express social disapproval. It's not, and it isn't. You might as well argue that the F&MLA discriminates against people who don't have a seriously ill spouse or an elderly parent in need of care... but bdog doesn't argue that, because it's only the issue of child-care that pushes his personal psychological buttons.

Or, to pick another example, I've heard someone seething about "discrimination" when the airline representatives let "people traveling with small children in need of assistance" board first.

That's not discrimination against the childless. If it were, then on my next business trip, I could go up to the gate agent, show them a picture of my cute kid from back when she was little, and they'd let me go through early because my being a parent makes me a wonderful special person who deserves favors. The airline doesn't care if I'm a parent or not. They want the boarding to be done as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Boarding certain handicapped people and very young children first seems to facilitate that.

On the other hand, there are also all kinds of things that can feel like discrimination against parents. Employers are notoriously leery about hiring women who are mothers, or in extreme cases even women who are likely to become mothers. In academia, there is general agreement that on the tenure track, the childless have a huge advantage over those with kids. Residential communities can have covenants banning families with children. And so on, and so forth.

Anyway, the bottom line is that there are times and circumstances when both the childless person and the parent will feel like they're being treated unfairly. Having lived for quite a while now on both sides of that fence, I'd be very hard pressed to say which side has the better case in that argument. It's pretty much equal! Likewise, there are plenty of advantages and benefits of each. If you're childless, you probably will end up with more money and more free time, a more successful career, and much richer opportunities for travel, recreation, social activities, etc. If you're a parent, you get the very real (albeit amorphous) joys of caring for and raising a child.

The main thing is just to find ways to be as happy as possible with your circumstances, and to try to treat other people's circumstances respectfully, even if they differ from what you would choose.
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby bdog » Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:22 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful response Kurt.

Honestly, I feel a bit like someone who says "the Packers need to run the ball more" and then getting a manifesto from Mike McCarthy in return. It doesn't matter to me that much. And I'm sorry for the "Breeder" comment - that was anger getting the best of me.

But...it has made me think it through more.

I'll answer the question of caring for a spouse or parent vs. a child:

Caring for a spouse or parent is not something you choose to do. It's something that, regardless of the outcome, you just "get through". Having a child on the other hand is for most people, a choice, and one that is the reward of a lifetime.

Most of the women I've worked with that have had the leave come back as changed people. They are just generally much happier. None of them have been "glad" to be back to work. If money wasn't an issue they would still be at home with their kid(s).

The leave to me is more "pursuit of happiness" based than it is "let's help them get thru this medical procedure". Under my idea parents with newborns, adoptees, would not lose a thing.

But a childless (or any other person who has not already used the time for the current benefit) person would be able to use an alternate 12 weeks unpaid leave off to pursue their own happiness. That might be going to India to study yoga for 3 months. It might be volunteering to build a new animal shelter. And it might mean sitting home drinking beer.

It would not take anything away from the current benefit. Does it hurt you in any way?

Finally (and and as long as we've hijackded the thread), did you ever see "Moon"?
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Re: Blessing in Disguise?

Postby kurt_w » Sun Sep 25, 2011 1:07 pm

Thanks for the also-thoughtful reply.

Yes! I did see Moon. Were you one of the forons who suggested it? I thought it was great. Very interesting to me, since (as I might have mentioned?) a long time ago I was involved in some engineering research discussions about developing technology for mining helium-3 in lunar regolith. I didn't end up getting involved in the project, but have always been curious about whether anyone would pursue it.

As for the digression at hand (did this thread actually start with a comment about the US role in Mideast peace talks?!?!) ... I think I see where you're coming from better now.

I still think there's a distinction that's being neglected. Yes, raising a child is (hopefully!) a great joy for the parent in question. But it's also something that benefits the rest of society (if one is inclined to doubt this, think about whether you'd prefer to live among people who had healthy, well-cared-for childhoods versus people who ... didn't).

So, when I wanted time off from my job to spend five weeks traveling around China, I didn't feel that was something society ought to obligate my employer to provide. Sure, it would benefit me, but it wouldn't do much for anyone else. (In the event, they decided that keeping me happy and part of their workforce was valuable enough that they'd better let me take the five weeks' leave... but that was their choice.)

I did enjoy that trip, and I'm glad my employer was willing to let me do it and come back afterwards. It would obviously be great if any time someone had an idea for something they wanted to do, they could take time off from their job without losing their place and having to start over in the job market. I'd love to live in a society where that was the norm. But that just feels a bit different to me than what the F&MLA is really about.
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