Administering Family Values

Following some excellent reporting on the failures of the CPSC, the NYT gives a big picture forecast of rapid rulemaking in the remainder of the Bush administration:

Hoping to lock in policies backed by a pro-business administration . . . [b]usinesses are lobbying the Bush administration to roll back rules that let employees take time off for family needs and medical problems.

***

The National Association of Manufacturers [NAM] said the law had been widely abused and had caused “a staggering loss of work hours” as employees took unscheduled, intermittent time off for health conditions that could not be verified. The use of such leave time tends to rise sharply before holiday weekends, on the day after Super Bowl Sunday and on the first day of the local hunting season, employers said.

The NAM should watch out–they might provoke a hunter-FMLA alliance as durable as the hunter-environmentalist one. They could also generate more lawsuits in the future by putting complex limits on FMLA leave.

But I’m sure NAM has its eye on not just legal but cultural change. Perhaps the endgame is to force more and more workers to be like this one, quoted in Jill Andresky Fraser’s White Collar Sweatshop (p. 23):

[A worker from Intel said] “If you make the choice to have a home life, you will be ranked and rated at the bottom. I was willing to work the endless hours, come in on weekends, travel to the ends of the earth. I had no hobbies, no outside interests. If I wasn’t involved in the company, I wasn’t anything.”


It will be interesting to see how advocates of “heroic conservatism” respond to this push to limit the FMLA. In a perceptive editorial, former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson makes the following observation on the future of the Republican party:

The two intellectually vital movements within the Republican Party today are libertarianism and Roman Catholic social thought . . . . The difference between these visions is considerable. Various forms of libertarianism and anti-government conservatism share a belief that justice is defined by the imposition of impartial rules — free markets and the rule of law. . . . But Catholic social thought takes a large step beyond that view [by asserting] that the justice of society is measured by its treatment of the helpless and poor.

And also by its treatment of those who care for dependents.

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