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Correction, please!

Taking Leave of Your Cents

ITEM: California Governor Gray Davis signed a bill "creating the nation's first comprehensive paid family leave," reported the Los Angeles Times for September 24th. The governor and other "advocates of the bill said ... that the new law will fairly balance the needs of workers and employers.... 'I don't want parents in California to have to choose between being a good parent and a good employee,' said Davis...."

ITEM: Ashleigh Banfield applauded the move on MSNBC on September 24th, saying: "Great news in California! If you're a brand new mom or dad, you can take some time off with your brand [new] newborn and you're gonna still be getting paid for it."

CORRECTION: It's great news only if you favor more absenteeism, higher business expenses, and piling greater burdens on the disability insurance system in a state laden with horrendous budget problems.

While the smallest businesses aren't required to partake in the family leave program just yet, rest assured there will be pressure to corral them, just as there was after unpaid leave was pushed through by the Clinton administration. Nor is this simply a California aberration. "For organized labor, the California law is just a start," observes Investor's Business Daily. "The AFL-CIO and other unions are pushing for similar laws in nearly 30 states and they want employers to foot the bills."

Economist Thomas Sowell cut to the quick: Davis imposed costs on private companies "to carry out a policy that the state government wants -- but is unwilling to pay for. He has confiscated private property without compensation, transferring it to those more likely to vote for him."

Crazy Coverage

ITEM: "Driven by a large drop in job-based coverage, the number of Americans without health insurance jumped significantly last year...," reported the San Francisco Chronicle for September 30th. "In fact, the new figures show that government programs prevented a much larger increase in the number of poor Americans without health insurance."

CORRECTION: Don't take this analysis at face value. Not everyone chooses to purchase insurance. Indeed, some employers now find they can't afford to offer what they once could. Why? Well, a huge problem is that government -- federal and state -- has required coverage of so many maladies that buyers are being priced out of the market. Among uninsured Americans, 25 percent of them have no insurance because of government mandates, reports the Health Insurance Association of America.

U.S. senators are moving to make things worse, proposing to expand mental-health coverage. The Domenici-Wellstone legislation would mandate employee coverage for every condition in the 941-page Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Such conditions, as the Wall Street Journal has pointed out, include "social phobia," or the irrational fear of being embarrassed. Or, as the Journal asks: "Do you have the urge to travel without a clear plan, often under an assumed identity? Then you may be a reporter, a politician, or you may suffer from a 'disease' that the APA's manual labels 'dissociative fugue.' This is an invitation to a lifetime of Woody Allen psychotherapy."

Such help is enough to drive taxpayers crazy.

Enthralled by Scalawags

ITEM: The reparations movement for black Americans is now targeting corporations, reported the Washington Post for September 30th, outlining proponents' claims. For example, "From forced labor, government and industry both benefited.... The White House was also built by slaves. Rail companies used slave labor to lay thousands of miles of track.... [Eventually,] the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in some states before the close of the Civil War.... [The passage of time] is a central problem in framing reparations lawsuits. But activists are not deterred by it.... [Such activists plan a] class-action lawsuit against corporations and, possibly, the United States."

CORRECTION: The reparations scheme employs bad history and worse logic. For example, the Emancipation Proclamation cited above freed no slaves, not even in areas retaken by the Union army. Instead, it was an ultimatum given to the South that said if they continued with the war and lost, their slaves would be set free. As Secretary of State William Seward scornfully said the day following its issuance: "We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them, and holding them in bondage where we can set them free."

Nevertheless, that was fully seven generations ago -- and no American living today ever owned a slave or was a slave in this country. The idea that legal guilt can be genetically transferred, punishing people who committed no crime, is ridiculous. Blaming economic ills, real or imagined, among some blacks today on the actions of some whites scores of years ago perpetuates victimhood and stirs up racial contention.

Most blacks and whites implicitly understand this. Little wonder, as columnist Larry Elder has written, that the "overwhelming majority of Americans object to the absurdity of non-slaveholders compensating non-slaves."

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Publication:The New American
Date:Nov 4, 2002
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