Our Lady of Perpetual Depression

DC, part three

I had not originally planned to write a third and final recap of my visit to Washington DC, probably because Michelle Obama’s speech was the climax for me, and everything else following that in the forum itself left me feeling a bit restless. I guess I should explain.

First, there were the twitters and the emails and the blog posts decrying the fact that I had been chosen to attend this forum in the first place, and I think these opinions were based on the assumption that I had been invited to represent working moms. And my god, how could I, AN INTERNET WEBSITE BLOGGER, possibly know what a real working mom lives through every day? I never said that I do know, only that my reality has its own chaos and complications, and I don’t think the game of determining whose war wounds are the deepest and most meaningful is very productive for any of us.

The fact is, I was invited to represent small business owners. And after Mrs. Obama spoke the gathering was divided up into several different break-out sessions. Mine was concerned solely with small businesses and ideas to make these types of working situations more flexible for employees. My business employs two people, whereas some of the other people in the room employed anywhere from twenty to two hundred.

So the ideas and the discussions were wide and varied, and a few of these companies talked about how they managed to take really great care of their employees in terms of health benefits and parental leave. Some of us can’t afford to, and when I tried to speak up about this, when I pointed out that the Canadian government allows for 50 weeks of parental leave, half of the room gasped. I guess maybe I knew this statistic and they didn’t because I’ve interacted with several Canadian parents through this website. And that’s when the working mother in me wanted to roar. The working mother, owner of a small business who can’t afford to pay anyone 50 weeks of parental leave, decided she had to stand up for the working parents in the room and across the country.

America is so uncivilized in this respect. We claim that a focus on family values is a fundamental part of patriotism to this country, but if you look at this chart of maternity leave in the Americas, WE COME IN LAST:

(source Wikipedia)

Even communist Cuba kicks our ass.

But this forum wasn’t about policy change. It was about IDEAS! And look at this company in Michigan that allows its employees to earn extra sick days through successive good reviews. How great for those who work for that company in Michigan! What about the people who work for a small business in Idaho that can’t afford to give anyone a paid sick day? Don’t they envy Michigan! Let’s send them some ideas, shall we!

I know, I know, this is how capitalism works, right? Don’t go work for that company in Idaho, DUH. If you come from nothing it’s your responsibility to work your way out of it, damn any unpredictable circumstances that might pop up and crush various parts of your life in the process. Like, I don’t know, medical bankruptcy because of your mother’s cancer that insurance refuses to pay for.

Oh, why can’t I just stick to that mommyblogging thing I do?

Anyway, I got the feeling that they wanted the woman talking about better working conditions for parents to please go away, there’s nothing they could do about it. And I was just trying to point out that parents don’t just work for large corporations that can give them benefits like affordable insurance. Many parents work for the smaller ones who are holding on by a thread.

And then we all reconvened in the big room and got to listen to President Obama speak for about seven minutes. He was awesome. Period. The end. I can check off “distract President for just a very brief moment by being the only person in the front row wearing neon purple tights” off of my life list.

Cut to last week when I got five minutes on the phone with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ask him about some of this. I told him I had attended the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility and that while there were all these fantastic ideas passed around, was the government planning to take a role or lead the way in implementing some changes?

Here’s what he had to say:

We have more than 300 pieces of legislation in the House and Senate that the Republicans will not let us move through. So that’s been difficult. Workplace flexibility is extremely important, and we have a couple things that are legislatively extremely exciting.

The Telework Enhancement Act led by Senator Akaka that requires each executive agency to establish a telework policy. This bill was reported out of committee without any objections, passed by unanimous consent on May 24th, and that’s a good piece of legislation out. Now we have to make sure it gets to the House.

Representative Maloney has something called the Working Families Flexibility Act which authorizes an employee to request from an employer a change in the terms or conditions of an employee’s employment if the request relates to number of hours, times when the employee is required to work, and where the employee is required to work.

So both of these pieces of legislation are in keeping with what you I think are interested in.

In the Defense Bill two years ago, actually, it allowed eligible employees to take up to twelve work weeks of job protected leave and then twelve months free for any qualifying contingency rising out of an active duty call, active duty status of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent. So we haven’t made it all the way, but we do have some things that I think are helpful.

No, I didn’t get my golden platter of free healthcare for everyone or even a guaranteed twelve weeks paid parental leave, but it’s always baby steps in Washington. Baby steps that may lead to nothing, but hey! At least we’ve got ideas!

Also, did you think Harry was going to be able to make it two sentences without taking a dig at the Republicans?

  • kayakgrrl

    2010/06/03 at 3:10 pm

    Awesome. (How did they not know about Canada’s parental leave??) Even though I’m Canadian, cheers for participating. And sharing the word. And trying to help get the word out about change.

  • jon

    2010/06/03 at 3:11 pm

    SO awesome! And the Republicans deserve it… I’ll leave it there.

    Heather, I’m so proud of you!

  • Candy

    2010/06/03 at 3:12 pm

    you go, girl

  • elosquirrel

    2010/06/03 at 3:19 pm

    I love this! Keep using your power for good, Heather! 🙂

  • ChickWhitt

    2010/06/03 at 3:20 pm

    One step closer to a doocebag in the White House 🙂

    Thank you for using this blog to stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves.

    And I am pretty sure it is obvious that when you are invited to the White House, you better be wearing some cool clothes!

  • adamsrice

    2010/06/03 at 3:27 pm

    Maternity Leave is hard. Here in Oregon, luckily, we get 12 weeks off. If that mother chooses to breast feed, workplaces have to provide adequate space for pumping (can no longer be shoved into a restroom stall).

  • Enatural7

    2010/06/03 at 3:38 pm

    Yay! So glad for you!

  • Curiosity

    2010/06/03 at 3:39 pm

    I didn’t know until recently that our Canadian parental leave was unusual. The DC teaches me so much. 😉

    Fingers crossed that some of those initiatives start to really take hold. I would love more workplace flexibility up here too. In some situations, it just doesn’t make sense not to be a little more adaptable, for parents and non-parents alike.

  • Anu

    2010/06/03 at 3:42 pm

    Keep it going Heather! Baby steps do change the world eventually.

  • barbara

    2010/06/03 at 3:45 pm

    Wow. I am really shocked by the statistics you gave. 50 weeks of maternity leave?! It seems like the US is so behind on a lot of things.

  • Heather B.

    2010/06/03 at 4:01 pm

    I wrote about this in a post after you returned from DC; but a trip to the White House does not equal making policy. There has to be a partnership between the WH and Congress to develop a bipartisan bill to assist with workplace flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, it will be hard as Hell. We all saw what happened with Health Care but still that will be the only way to get something done.

    I was just lobbying on something where I have to get the Governor to write a letter to the congressional delegation (p.s. Congresswoman Maloney is a dear) and then send a copy of that letter to the White House so that they can see proof of everyone on the same page. See? Pain in the ass.

    That said, during the conversation as to whether or not you should have been invited I just wanted to shout out “TALK TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE”. Talk to your state Labor Federation. Make a point of bringing it up during the midterms when all of these people are courting your vote.

    Going to the White House rocks but the President can only suggest policy he doesn’t write policy.

    I feel better now.

  • JLD

    2010/06/03 at 4:08 pm

    This is really interesting. I am in Canada as well, and I forget how different we are from the US when it comes to mat leave. Everywhere in Canada we get 50 weeks of combined pregnancy and parental leave: 15 for pregnancy leave and 35 for parental leave. The 35 weeks can be taken by either parent of the child or shared between parents. (Adoptive parents only get the 35 weeks.) During the leave parents do not have to be paid by their employers – if they are eligible for employment insurance, they will be paid by the government. They’ll get a percentage of their income, up to a maximum (it’s not a huge amount, the max usually works out to a little over $400 per week, but it’s sure better than nothing). The employer’s only responsibilities are to keep the parent employed during their leave, continue any benefits they get during their leave, and usually to return them to the exact position they were in at the end of the leave. Some employers top up the employment insurance to match the parent’s regular pay or close to it, but many smaller businesses can’t afford to do that. Our parental leave has increased over time and has only been this long for about ten years, but I can’t imagine it being any other way.

    In Sweden parents get even more – and can take it any time during the first seven years of a kid’s life! In Canada we have to take it all at once when we become parents.

  • knighton

    2010/06/03 at 4:09 pm

    I found the wikipedia link to Parental Leave rather enlightening. Especially when Afghanistan and Iraq both have better maternity leave policies than the US, not to mention the entire rest of the world. Pretty pathetic that we’re the ONLY nation with a big fat ZERO in all columns.

  • piprobins

    2010/06/03 at 4:12 pm

    I should mention, as a Canadian who took the full 50 hours of maternity/paternity leave, that the employers do not pay a cent during our leave- it’s all government. The government matches nearly 50% of what we were making for the ENTIRE leave. On top of that, I get $175 every month from the government for having a child, even after my mat leave has ended.

  • medwards

    2010/06/03 at 4:14 pm

    Baby steps for sure but steps none the less. Eating that elephant one bite at a time.

  • KarynB

    2010/06/03 at 4:16 pm

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I am a resident of Ontario, Canada and have been on Maternity Leave for 33 weeks and have received bi-weekly payments from the Provincial Government for 31 of those weeks (plus an additional $100 from the Federal Government).

    I am extremely fortunate to live in a Country that is willing to help families be home with their Children for their first year together. It has been an experience that I will never forget and am so grateful!

    However if it was up to my employer, a 72 year old man that feels that women should leave the work force when they birth their babies (allegedly) I’d be out on the streets. But that’s a whole other story for a more appropriate post.

  • sloan1982

    2010/06/03 at 4:38 pm

    that chart blew. my. mind.

  • Fifi Coon

    2010/06/03 at 4:39 pm

    Wow – you mean they are actually doing something worth while back there??? You would never believe that if you listen to the Republicans!

    You are great!! Keep up the good work!!

    Go President Obama!!!

  • Carynami

    2010/06/03 at 4:55 pm

    Ugh. I am SOOOO glad I had my kids in England. For my first, I had 6 months paid leave and for my second, 9 months. I think it’s now gone up to a full year.

    I simply cannot imagine going back to work when my baby is only 3 months old. My younger son fed every 2 hours until he was 8 months old. There is no way I would have functioned if I had had to go back to work.

    The bitter irony of America priding itself on being all about families yet having virtually no maternity/paternity support is sickening.

  • jennyjingle

    2010/06/03 at 4:58 pm

    I’m an ex-pat American settled in Canada and I’m halfway into my maternity leave. I’m extra lucky because my employer tops up the difference between what I get from unemployment insurance and what I normally make for the first 6 months of my leave. Every.single.day I marvel at how amazing this country is (I’m not saying the US isn’t great, I love it too, don’t start hating on me). Man, SOCIALISM ROCKS!

  • babycakes

    2010/06/03 at 5:01 pm

    I can absolutely see how we need reform in this area, but doesn’t FMLA cover 12 weeks?


    Not sure how the US scored a zero when there is 12 weeks of job and benefit protection from this. This program is covering my sister with her first child. Additionally, California offers Disability insurance (at a capped rate) for new mothers as well.

    Just some thoughts I had while reading this!

    Keep up the good fight!

  • kaethend

    2010/06/03 at 5:15 pm

    This makes me smile and cry all at once. I love living here. I hate living here. We have so much, yet have so little. We say one thing and do another.

    I wish we could get it right. I really wish we could. But until we put humans over dollars, we’ll stay right where we are.

  • onedesigner

    2010/06/03 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t understand. Why were people surprised that you were concerned about parental leave policies in the US? Isn’t that WHY THE WHOLE DAMN FORUM WAS CONVENED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

    Anyway, I hope you and all of us influence something in Washington and help to steer this behemoth ship toward more humane policies. Our future generations will be happier and more productive for it.

  • kathyc

    2010/06/03 at 5:31 pm

    As a Canadian, I knew we had an outstanding allowance for maternity leaves, however, I had no idea we were ahead of so many other countries. My workplace actually tops up the unemployment insurance for several months and women accumulate their vacation time while they are off (minimum 4 weeks extra), so they could actually take 13 months off paid. I just can’t imagine anything less than one year entitlement.

    I sincerely hope that your voice and others advocating for change are heard.

    We Canadians are very knowledgeable about what goes on with our neighbors, but every time I am South of the border, I am amazed when I talk to people at how little they know about us. Most Canadians I know follow your politics and educate themselves on what is going on with our neighbors. We celebrated the change in power. Unfortunately, for my family, the stimulus money paid to have my husband’s workplace of 26 years move to the U.S. so they could do the same job making 1/2 of what workers up here made. Even so, I thank God Obama is in power over the alternative. I talk to women in the U.S. that love Palin simply because she is a woman and “like us” they say. Really? Seriously? I don’t get it.

    We have a health care system that we don’t even have to think about. It is there and we are all covered, rich and poor alike – we pay nothing. It is our right. Yes, we have a shortage of doctors in many communities and people may have to wait to see a specialist, but I cringe when I hear uninformed people criticize it.

    I enjoy your blog and admire the work you do. You have a tremendous influence and as a mother of daughter who has suffered from depression, you give me encouragement.
    Keep doing what you’re doing.
    There are no innocent bystanders.

  • Yolanda

    2010/06/03 at 5:40 pm


    This part of the policy should answer your question:

    The FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.

    Many private sector business have far fewer employees than 50 and/or operate seasonally and therefore would not be required to offer any leave under FMLA.

    {edited to add}

    Since FMLA only covers twelve weeks, and many women are not able to continue working until the moment they give birth, most women will have less than the full twelve weeks to spend with their child after the birth. In California, my home state, employees who have worked for their company for at least one year AND 1250 hours are eligible for 12 weeks unpaid leave under the California Family Rights Act. Many part time workers, including those who work two or more jobs, would be entitled to zero leave, even in “liberal” California.

  • tallnoe

    2010/06/03 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks for speaking up. It’s so imperative to actually TALK about the issues, instead of just stewing.

    Rock on Heather!!!

  • torrie

    2010/06/03 at 5:35 pm

    I have a couple of questions. I think everyone should be able to have maternity/paternity leave, but what about really small businesses who’s employees do very specialized things?

    When I was a pastry chef, I worked for a husband and wife, and I was the only legal employee. It was a cake business, mostly wedding cakes, so they had to get done. Because of this, I often worked when I was sick- I remember decorating a cake with tears streaming down my face because I had thrown my back out. Now, my bosses didn’t force me to work, but I did it because no one else could.
    What would have happened if I had wanted to take maternity leave? My work was very specialized- it took my boss months to train me- so it’s not like they could just hire a temp. How should a situation like that be solved? The parent deserves leave, but the employer can’t just give them weeks or months off without replacing them.

    Heather and Jon, I assume you are in a similar situation with your assistant- you couldn’t just give them weeks or months off without replacing them.

    What’s the solution?

  • Lucy mom

    2010/06/03 at 5:38 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this final installment. First, let me say thank you again for reaching so many people on this issue. I hope you know how much it matters.

    To the commenter who noted the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) yes, it is a great law but it isn’t accessible to many workers. In order to use FMLA you must work in a worksite of 50 or more employees, you must have completed 1000 hours of work at that site and the leave is unpaid. This excludes millions of workers (although I would note employers can choose to give leave if they are willing – mine does and we have less than 50). But the real point here is data that shows even though workers qualify for FMLA many feel they can’t afford to use it or fear their useage will be held against them. CA is the leader at this time in paid leave for family-related needs but that is only one state. We have to do better.

    It is up to us to ensure families can thrive economically while still having time to nurture our children, aging parents and other family members who depend on us. Harry Reid noted some important legislation but he did not mention the Healthy Families Act which would allow all workers to earn up to 7 paid sick days a year for their own or a family member’s illness and ensures the useage would be protected. There is legislation federally and in many states promoting passage of paid sick days and paid family leaves so that working parents don’t have to choose between the job they need and the family they love. President Obama supported much of this legislation as a Senator and we should be encouraging support from the Administration now.

    Two web sites if you are interested in these issues (along with comprehensive health care reform) that are targeted to working women and healthy families:

  • Fitz and the Dizzyspells

    2010/06/03 at 5:59 pm

    That chart is RIDICULOUS!

  • Jilllll

    2010/06/03 at 6:17 pm

    I just signed in for like the first time in at least a month to say Leta looks soooo great in her glasses- BEAUTIFUL! I don’t know her, obviously, but I feel like they’re so *her*- like she should have been wearing glasses all these years since she poop…er,POPPED out of you.

  • tressea

    2010/06/03 at 6:39 pm

    Amen. I want to be so hopeful about this issue, but it’s really hard in a country where a shockingly large percentage of the population is still uncomfortable with women breastfeeding in public (and heaven help you if you dare breastfeed for ONE DAY longer than people think is “appropriate” for a baby… you’re in for a WORLD of judgment from all kinds of people then).

    We’re so good at talking about how much we support “family values” while simultaneously making life as difficult as possible for parents… You want PAID maternity leave? PSHAW! You want me to ACCOMMODATE your breastfeeding? Have you no decency??? You want to be able to afford basic healthcare for your children? Not my problem. Stop being a freeloader. It’s just so upsetting.

    I recognize that there is a flip side of the coin for all of those issues, but there HAVE to be solutions that don’t entail bankrupting small businesses or leaving parents to fend for themselves. Hell, if CUBA has figured it out, it can’t be that hard, right?

  • thecrabigail

    2010/06/03 at 6:40 pm

    I spent quite a few years in Canada and now live in the US and it crushes me that women aren’t entitled to a respectful and healthy amount of maternity leave. You hit the nail on the head – we claim to be a family-focused nation – but working mothers aren’t cared for, it is appalling.

    I work for a company that is based in Europe – my colleagues in the main office are entitled to 52 weeks leave. Our small US office? 6 weeks short term disability (FMLA only applies to companies with over 50 employees within a 75 mile radius). Go Canada!

  • StephHyne

    2010/06/03 at 6:42 pm

    Australia pays mothers to stay at home with their children. They get so much per child. As I understand it, the amount they gain actually equals out to about the same amount American families get as a tax credit at the end of the year. **Note I gained that information from speaking to an Australian mother so it’s not something I researched**

    I would be interested in seeing a legislation that allows mothers to stay at home while still being able to support their family. The US is definitely behind in all matters related to family support and some of the biggest, wealthiest companies have some of the worst leave policies out there. My husband worked for Halliburton for years and their leave policies are atrocious. You’d think a Fortune 500 company would have a handle on it but they didn’t. I’m not sure what the answer is but I sure hope we see one in my lifetime.

  • Vander

    2010/06/03 at 7:05 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I sent you an email requesting part 3, because I really wanted to know what happened when you all went into those rooms. I’d LOVE to be in one of those rooms.

    I appreciate you sharing.

    So the next question is: how did that twitter-fest on health care happen the other day? (Or, week?) That was cool.

  • JennG

    2010/06/03 at 7:31 pm

    I just wanted to comment on how maternity & parental leave works up here.

    First, if you’re self-employed, it doesn’t. However they are working on that. But…right now, it doesn’t.

    However if you’re employed how it works is – both you and your employer kick in a special tax to the EI (employment insurance) fund (comes off your paycheque like taxes). This fund can be used for:

    – maternity leave (first 15-I-think weeks after birth, designed for mums only)
    – paternity leave (next 35 weeks, can be used by either parent; can be used simultaneously so the dad can be home the first 15 weeks if he wants)

    The benefits are I think 55% of your salary to a max of $413 or thereabouts a week. So you are not going to live high on the hog; but $1600/mo is not insignificant. Some employers top it up.

    The EI fund also funds caregiver leave (6 weeks) and unemployment although there are complex rules around unemployment – if you are unemployed a certain number of times in your life then you have to pay some of your payments back. The fund also funds job search training & support, and some actual retraining courses for people.

    In the past (not so much lately) this has worked so well there have been HUGE EI surpluses where the government was sheepishly explaining what it was going to do with its extra money.

    Anyways the point is – the employer & employee do chip in on this fund, EVERY ONE in Canada, but once the employee goes on leave the employer is NOT DIRECTLY PAYING THEM. Which helps.

    Now in terms of replacement labour – yeah, this can be a pain. My last company sort of encouraged the woman to take the 50 weeks because then they could hire on a one-year contract, which made the training costs manageable. Note that people still had a legal right to split their leave up between parents, and the jobs for each would be held.

    But the NICE thing about a one-year leave is that you can get really good competent people in for a year, and those people sometimes get experience that would otherwise be hard to get on their resume. And generally speaking, you hire those one-year people at a slightly lower salary so that you end up with a cost savings.

    Anyways just wanted to share how it has worked in Canada in my experience & to my knowledge. I am continually surprised at how a lot of people in the US are like “that could NEVER work here.” Why not? It’s a great country. And with so many people, the insurance risks/premiums/etc. should be spread out even more effectively.

    That was long oops.

  • zorbs

    2010/06/03 at 7:44 pm

    50 weeks of mat leave in Canada is utter and total bullshit. I live in Canada and work 3 jobs, all of which I am a contract employee, which means I don’t qualify for family benefits.

    I had a baby on March 12. I was back at work in a month.

  • zorbs

    2010/06/03 at 7:45 pm

    double post, sorry.

  • luv and kiwi

    2010/06/03 at 8:52 pm

    i’m interested in hearing how that would work for small business owners that employ specialized workers…all good questions, but that’s the one with no answer as of right now.

  • Jalima

    2010/06/03 at 8:53 pm

    piprobins said it all for me…

    I will add that yes, on top of 50 weeks paid maternity or parental leave from our full time positions we also get a monthly supplement (based on income) called the Child Tax Credit. Great system as parents with lower income get more monthly financial help than those with higher ones.

    I think it is a great system personally. To get financial compensation to stay home and parent during their first year is so important, at least to me.

    Hoping it catches on down there. Along with health care we can all afford it is another reason I am proud to be Canadian!

  • Jalima

    2010/06/03 at 8:57 pm

    “50 weeks of mat leave in Canada is utter and total bullshit. I live in Canada and work 3 jobs, all of which I am a contract employee, which means I don’t qualify for family benefits.”

    Yes, true. To qualify you have to have worked full time for one employer during the past year. Still, far better deal than most countries women/parents get.

  • LaurieML

    2010/06/03 at 9:23 pm

    I just wanted to respond to what @knighton said about Afghanistan and Iraq having better maternity leaves than the US. I have never been to either place but I just wanted to point out (as an international development major) that these statistics, particularly for developing countries don’t tell the whole story. A lot of countries will say that they have these systems in place, and genuinely want to have these systems in place but the reality is they either don’t have the funds or the money gets lost in bureaucracy and corruption. Obviously the US and Canada are not those places, but I just wanted to point out that statistics can often be deceiving.

    But everyone has to start somewhere, and hopefully the forum Heather attended and the conversations that go on here help in some small way to achieve more workplace flexibility. And Harry Reid really can’t go more than two seconds without bashing Republicans.

  • KellyWhalen

    2010/06/03 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you for going and bringing up the issue of family leave. I was appalled the first time I learned about this ridiculousness, and things still haven’t changed.

    While the discussion is great, and the bills mentioned are great they are only a start.

    I only hope that by the time my 6 and 8 year old daughters have children they won’t have to make the same ridiculous choices families do now.

  • greeblemonkey

    2010/06/03 at 11:20 pm

    ROCK. So proud of you.

  • gwenhyvaire

    2010/06/04 at 12:01 am

    As a Canadian I am appalled that one of the richest countries in the world is so backward when it comes to health care and social policy. I am so grateful to be able to have a child or go to the hospital or even just have a regular physical without the worry of a huge debt load or no coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Being able to stay at home with my kids is an experience I wouldn’t give up for anything. Good for you Heather for standing up and saying something.

    Also, “50 weeks of mat leave in Canada is utter and total bullshit. I live in Canada and work 3 jobs, all of which I am a contract employee, which means I don’t qualify for family benefits.”
    No longer true, as of January of this year self employed people can opt in to EI in order to receive maternity and parental benefits. Benefits will start being paid as of January 2011.

  • ereed

    2010/06/04 at 1:58 am

    First thing first: Capitalism versus Socialism. It is very difficult to run a small company, or even a government subsidized company in the U.S., and give the “best benefits out there.” Today it’s near impossible especially in our current economic state, with medical insurance at an all-time high, for a company to achieve any profit margin. We can only hope for a better future. It will take a lot more than government regulation to ameliorate this situation.

    While the U.S. government can attempt to regulate, there will be a perpetual argument. Insurance and drug companies rule the lobbying because they are so extraordinarily profitable. Thus, citizens lose. It isn’t partisan. It is D.C. Change it? HOW? Try, please I dare you because our recent healthcare “victory” is really just a first pass.

    A secondary point is teleworking in the District and it’s surrounding territory. Good luck. Eleven years working in MEDIA in D.C. and I’ve tried to figure out why this is controversial. It is deemed a perk, like parking or, ugh, health care. If you are not seen during working hours, shame. If you are not present online somehow off those hours, again shame.

    This system of with all it’s best intentions, is just that–intent. Real change is yet to be seen.

    I thank you Heather for attempting to affect change.

  • Rosamund

    2010/06/04 at 2:43 am

    You know Cuba blows the US out of the water on A LOT of welfare issues. Cuba has the most even handed healthcare system in the world- it trains some of your poorer medical Doctors for free.

  • JetLime

    2010/06/04 at 3:26 am

    I find US welfare laws pretty shocking. The supposed “leader of the free world” who champions family values and care for its citizens does none of that.
    I live in England where you don’t just get free full health care (sure, I do pay national insurance contribution but I would get free health care even if I was unemployed and didn’t pay) but you also get 52 weeks off after giving birth (26 weeks maternity leave and 26 weeks parental leave) and the rest of the regulations and welfare laws are rather good as well.
    My company employs approx. 150 people: I get 12 weeks of sick leave fully paid and the next 12 weeks on half pay. I haven’t yet taken a single day probably because I don’t worry myself sick about what would happen if I was sick.
    I went to univesity in NY, had two different insurance covers but when I needed a CT scan after an accident I still had to pay for it. The explanation: my concussion was a result of a pre-existing condition (yes, the accident a day before where doctors failed to diagnose a very serious concussion and only did so when I lost partial vision the next day).
    So, I say, United States, you should stop dictating the world what to do and maybe have a look at some other countries and try to learn something. At least you’ve got the right man in the job for that.

  • dkmissie

    2010/06/04 at 3:28 am

    in denmark you get one year and Dads get 6 months.So alot of familys mom and dad split the year and each take 6 months

  • jalla

    2010/06/04 at 6:02 am

    This is what you get in socialist Norway:

    46 weeks with 100% of your regular pay, limited upwards to 432036 NOK = 66467 USD, or 56 weeks with 80 % pay. Of these 10 weeks is reserved for the father. To get this you must have been working at least 6 months prior to giving birth. (Freelancers and self-employers get an equivalent to their average earnings over the last three years.)

    If you are not qualified for this (ie. if you’re a stay at home mom) you’ll get a total of 35263 NOK = 5425 USD.

    Both the mother and father are entitled to one year of unpaid leave each on top of this.

    Employers don’t suffer from this as the state pays all of it.

    What does this cost? A shitload of taxes, up to 50 % of your income, but it comes with a complimentary free healthcare. Most people are happy with it though.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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