Just imagine the mentality of someone who always expects someone else to be responsible

Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt did himself a favour, as well as me, when he stepped up to fill a gap on the Cost of Living Crisis panel. You see, I now follow his twitter feed and am probably not the only new follower he earned that day. That said, I will not let the exchange of favours stop me being objective about what I read. Today I’m reading this article by  contributor :

Miliband announced that parental leave will be doubled to four weeks, with pay raised to minimum wage under a Labour government.

These fairly modest plans to improve the care of newborn babies were immediately attacked by CEOs as “anti business”.

The director of the British Chamber of Commerce, released a statement saying that the plans “raised the spectre” of fathers taking more time off to spend with their newborns.

Just imagine for a second the mentality it takes to describe the prospect of fathers spending slightly longer with their newborns as a “spectre” which needs to be slain.

This is a mentality which has infected many big corporations. A mentality which sees every government measure designed to help families as a threat and every day a parent spends with their loved ones as a loss.

This is a mentality which is widely accepted at the top levels of many corporations, but which is total anathema to the vast majority of working people.

Well… I call bullshit on that. Accountability and responsibility are as much a value for the working class as any other – if not more so.

As a new parent myself I know how valuable time spent at home is. Sometimes there seems to be no limit to the attention a child demands and two weeks spent at home supporting mum, in the traditional arrangement, is two weeks of relative sanity for her. Sleep, a clean environment, a moment to yourself are all easier to come by with more people on hand to deal with Baby. This is not lost on fathers. They do not escape to the office permanently without any consequences, their lives are turned upside down too. This is all to say that yes, obviously, more parental leave for people of either gender is a good thing for them.

But your good thing is not your boss’ problem. Most bosses will want to help, they have empathy and a stake in you as an employee, but they did not decide to have your child. You did. It’s your responsibility to take care of your kid and if that means you want more time at home then that is something you have to be accountable for. Your boss’ stake in you means they will often be generous. A boss that declines to pay for time spent away might be said to be harsh, or short termist, or whatever, but we cannot reasonably say that he is being unjust. Justice ought not to have an opinion, unless a contract was broken. Business owners are responsible for their businesses and the contracts the business has entered into, including the salaries of other employees. Your boss is not responsible for your decision to have a child.

Just imagine the mentality of someone who always expects someone else to be responsible. When that person’s child is screaming at 4am will he go to his boss to decide if it is better for him to sleep on his front, where he is comfortable? Or to decide whether he can handle carrot sticks without gagging? Or when he is ready to play on the swings? Who is wrong if any of those decisions goes the wrong way?  What will that person do if he was in charge of the country?

Would that person trust that people use their money for the best? Would they expect the best outcome for all to be negotiated between the people involved, or decided centrally? Would they leave people free to experiment and balance out competing concerns in a way that works for them? Or would they impose one way of doing things from the top and push the costs down? That is the spectre that haunts free enterprise.




Image © Rutger Tuller


  1. Yes why is Adam B. going on about “corporations” (big or small)? Does he have something against colleges, churches, charities and other “corporations”?

    As for business enterprises (whether owned by lots of shareholders, a “corporation”, or by a single rich individual – Adam B. seems to prefer the latter), wages are determined by supply and demand – not by businessmen being nice or nasty. Trying to moralise a market actually leads to moral horror – such as Herbert Hoover doing all he could to PREVENT wages adjusting to the crash of 1929 (itself caused by the cheap money “boom” policy of the Federal Reserve in the late 1920s – yet another effort in the endless efforts to lend out “money” that has never really been saved), thus causing MASS UNEMPLOYMENT for years.

    The laws of mathematics are not optional and they nothing to do with people being nice or nasty.

    If, for example, you want more work benefits (such as more time off) then wages are going to have be lower, than would otherwise be the case, to pay for this. Calling for employers to be nicer people (as Adam B. seems to be doing) has got nothing to do with the matter.



  2. “They Should”.
    URG!!! I get furious every time I hear that.
    I’m most against child benefits. It only encourages promiscuity and having tons of kids one can’t afford to be responsible over.
    I’d gladly give to unfortunate single mum and dads through charities, but child benefit! URG!



  3. My dad took 2 weeks annual leave after the birth of each of his children. As well as helping out mum he also installed the central heating (upstairs one time, downstairs the other). Then he went back to work to earn the money to provide for his family – although he did stop working quite such long hours.



  4. The problem with a lot of leftwingers is they don’t really understand the difficulties in running a business, especially a small business. When Labour was at its most ‘pro-business’, all this amounted to was sucking up to a few big City types, while burdening every ordinary business with reams and reams of regulation.



    1. …and not forgetting that reams of red tape favours large corporations who have the capacity to absorb the (relatively) fixed costs.

      New rule for a large corporation requires 0.1% of available executive bandwidth. For a small company or sole trader? 100%.



      1. Remember those regulations are still a cost for the large business – and straws eventually break the camel’s back. Also remember that economies of scale are not the creation of regulations – the economy would be dominated by large enterprises even without these regulations.


      2. They are still a cost to large businesses, but economies of scale, as you mention, apply to regulations, and, if the effect of over-regulation raises the bar to smaller competitors or would-be competitors, then people in charge of large businesses may see a net benefit, as the rising tide of regulation drowns the little guys long before it reaches their necks. Moreover, large businesses usually have a greater influence on how the regulations are crafted.

        There will always be economies of scale that favour large businesses, but there will also always be dis-economies of scale that favour smaller businesses, and other factors outside the strict criteria of ‘homo economicus’, such as a customer’s preference to support a local, independent business over a larger, cheaper competitor. The greater the burden placed on businesses by government regulation and taxes, the narrower the margin in which market forces operate.


      3. I agree about diseconomies of scale – indeed the first company I ever guarded was showing classic signs of them (the top manager was a good man – but things had got too big for him, he did not was going on in his own enterprise).

        However, the NET cost point is still true and vital. Most big enterprises (the banks and financial services area are an exception – they are utterly dependent on government) lose far more than they gain from big government. Yes their are barriers to entry – but that is not worth the cost (it is not even nearly worth the cost). The LLs (Libertarian Leftists) just get the matter wrong.


  5. Rather tangential, but with the Church of England appearing to be weighing in on the ‘social justice’ side, and with this institution being firmly in that camp, what would be a ‘libertarian’ take on a proposal in the following vein:

    ‘Given that the Church of England supports Social Justice, and believes that taxation is a way to achieve that end, should the Church itself be taxed? A proposal would be that in respect of property in each Province (York and Canterbury) (other than in-use physical Churches themselves, exempt as the Principal Private Dwelling House of the Lord, as it were), on each occasion that the incumbent Archbishop dies or retires, then the ‘Estate’ would be taxed like inheritance tax, but with no personal allowance, so a 40% levy on all non-exempt assets.

    Is it not wrong though, to tax those who would tax others? When the Curia Anglica is responsible for paying tax, might it not have something else to say on the matter?



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