On Family Leave, Europe is On Another Planet

New Orleans  Embedded in the current wrangling in Congress over the different versions of the tax bill is a small childcare credit. Depending on the report, it’s value might be around $1000, if it survives the horsetrading. Sadly, budget and tax estimates find that the benefits for lower income families are nil. Families with income in the $100 to $250,000 range would get some benefit. This program, linked to lobbying and advocacy by Ivanka Trump, is more of a footnote for families than a foundation for a new future. On the other hand an amendment in the tax bill, affixed by a North Dakota legislator, would give families a deduction for sick leave losses if they are in a state or jurisdiction that does NOT offer a minimum paid sick leave as a matter of law, essentially helping red state residents and penalizing blue staters living in New York, California or other jurisdictions with mandatory paid sick leave provisions. At lease the childcare credit didn’t discriminate based on residents even if does gild Ivanka’s primary market.

Remember the old slogan for the World Social Forum? It was “another world is possible.” When it comes to support for families not only is there another world, but reading about debates in the European Union among its 28 member countries, on these issues they are living in another planet, not hemisphere.

Sweden is of course an outlier in this area and has been since 1974 when they first allowed couples to share parental leave. They now offer 480 days per couple, and that’s for each child so with two or three it adds up to years. The first 390 days are paid nearly 80% of their previous salary by the government funded by the taxpayers of course. 90 of the 480 days are reserved for each parent, and they can divvy up the rest as they see fit. They can also dip into the days until the child is 8 years old. Can you believe any of this?!?

Meanwhile as we nickel and dime about almost nothing and have NO paid national family leave policy, the European Union is debating how to expand their program. Currently, they allow a minimum of four months of parental leave, but, here’s the kicker, it’s unpaid and left to each member country to decide whether or not to pony anything up at all. The proposal being debated would require half of that to be paid at the same level as a country’s statutory sick pay. In the US that would mean nada, but for a country like France, that would reduce existing bennies. In Poland, women can take off four years with the first year completely paid. In the US all of this would create something along the lines of a corporate lobbyist full-on war. Spokespeople for corporate interest in the EU, quoted in The Economist, argue that the money would be better spent on increasing and upgrading child care facilities. What?

See, this is another planet when the argument is childcare centers versus paid parental leave. Are they crazy? No, in fact this isn’t socialism, but capitalism with an eye at bottom line productivity. As the business friendly, Economist, states the case, “the aim is to help women back to work after having children by making sure they can get time off when they need it.”

In Europe, they understand they need more women in the workplace. In the United States we’re still struggling with workplace harassment, no paid family leave policy, and niggling sick pay. Another world isn’t possible, it’s already happening. We’re just not part of it.


James O’Keefe and Veritas Divide the Big Haters from the Little Haters on the Right

New Orleans  What goes around does eventually come around. In organizing, we have to believe that with every fiber of our being in order to prevail on a daily basis.

And, that brings me once again to James O’Keefe, the far right wing video scammer and fake journalist, whose mission along with his tax exempt Project Veritas and his tax protected Project Veritas Action Fund, is supposedly to expose media and liberal-left bias. In his latest in a chain of flubs, he tried to plant a false story with the Washington Post about Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore raping a woman of 15 and was totally exposed.

It’s a mystery how he has any credibility anywhere, but this boo-boo has brought more condemnation than most because his bungling at the Post was stepping on the toes of one of the biggest hitters in the fraternity of elite media, prompting the New York Times even to finally take a harder look at this scammer now, even though only years ago they splashed a profile of him all over their magazine section as he chilled out in New Jersey waiting for his probation to end for trying to mess with former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s phones in a New Orleans federal building, a big no-no that got him a criminal record for ineptness.

We do learn some amazing things though, now that they are looking at him more closely. They bothered to look at his IRS filings since he won an exemption for Veritas in 2010. He’s raked in $16 million, averaging almost $2.3 million per year for his mess, and a nice fat pay check in 2016 of $317,000. It turns out that’s chump change compared to a more reserved conservative outfit with a similar goal of exposing bias, the Media Research Center, run by Brent Bozell. They have raised $87 million in about the same time period, five times more than O’Keefe. That’s $100 million combined for this fool’s errand: it boggles the mind! The liberal-left are pikers when it comes to this kind of media, shall we call it, “accountability” effort.

Poor James O’Keefe can’t seem to get to the big bucks because he keeps stepping on his own feet with his fake tactics, scurrilous editing techniques, and house of lies. The Mercers, who act as Daddy and Daughter Warbucks for Steve Bannon, won’t touch him after having put their finger in the water. Same for the billionaire DeVos family now represented in Washington by the Secretary of Education. The Koch Brothers who are the gold standard on the far right funder scene reportedly won’t even give him a meeting. Hard to believe, but they are all probably afraid he will record them and try to blackmail them later. I get that. He takes the little haters, and his competitors get the big haters. Eventually that will catch up with him, I hope.

Thanks to the Times, they did report on another of his “aborted plots,” as they called them involving his ACORN takedown. As they report,

“Other aborted plots appeared to be driven by a combination of enmity for the establishment media and Mr. O’Keefe’s grievances about not being taken seriously by the media. A 2010 Project Veritas memo proposed using ‘moles at The Los Angeles Times’ to embarrass a media critic there who had questioned the tactics and accuracy of the ACORN videos, and also suggested nominating the videos for a Pulitzer Prize, then exposing the bias of the judges by secretly recording their deliberations.”

Wow! Pride cometh before a fall, as the axiom holds, and he’s hopefully nearing the bottom of his well. I imagine that he and the President are mainly able to bond over their total narcissism. Trump’s reported in-depth analysis of O’Keefe’s work after their meeting was essentially that he’s “a good-looking guy.” That says it all, or in Latin to quote my old teacher, Dr. Romeo, de gustibus non disputandum est or to each his own, about taste there is no agreement. Enough said.