Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Madison Mandatory Paid Leave

The Madison City Council is scheduled to vote this evening on a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance for employers. I have written about this twice before.

August 10, 2005: Progressive Socialist Democrat theory requires that all individuals have a cash flow. The government can provide the cash flow if necessary, but it is preferable to have private business pay money to employees. Because individual income is the primary goal, it follows that that employer rights need to be secondary.

January 8, 2006: The Healthy Families website lists the Dane County Democratic Party as supporters and I believe Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and his mentor Kathleen Falk will support passage of this anti-business ordinance, if Progressive Dane can deliver the two or three additional votes needed for passage. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin will support this municipal level action because it is exactly what the National Democratic Party is proposing at the Federal Level.

What concerns me is that there is a basic concept in free capitalist societies that individuals are the rightful owners of their labor and wealth can purchase labor but can not own the laborer. At this moment, the only legal requirement on employers is that they compensate workers for work. It is the simple elegance of this relationship that has created our prosperity and nurtured it to the point where employers are under competitive pressure to provide benefits over and above straight wages. Ultimately, however, both parties are voluntary participants in the employment transaction.

Mandating benefits other than pay for work introduces a new obligation which alters the relationship between two free, albeit unequal, parties. This type of social justice solution requires the assumption that employers have responsibility for aspects of the employee’s private life. In this instance, mandatory paid sick leave confers employees a legal claim to employer assets, which in turn creates valid employer financial interest in off work behaviors that could potentially affect employee health.

Senator Russ Feingold is a co-sponsor of the U.S. Senate version of the policy members of the Madison City Council want to enact. Representative Tammy Baldwin is a co-sponsor of the counterpart House legislation. This is a very small step, cautious and tiny, but it is directly towards all of the Democrat goals. They want power over healthcare and understand the private sector may be willing to hand responsibility over to the government if the financial burden becomes too great. They want populations dependent upon income and services that the government either mandates or directly delivers. They want even more avenues in the courts through which to access wealth acquired by commerce.

********* UPDATE **********

10-9: In a long meeting that didn't end until after 3 am Wednesday morning, the council voted down the proposal by 9 ayes (Konkel, Olson, Palm, Verveer, Webber, Benford, Gruber, King, and Knox) to 10 nos (Sanborn, Cnare, Brandon, Skidmore, Bruer, Compton, Rosas, Van Rooy, Radomski, and Thomas).

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz missed the council meeting, however, he had made clear the considered the proposal to be at the wrong time (election year) but never said it is the wrong idea.