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Friday, September 21, 2018

Microstory 935: Parental Leave

When mother nature is sitting in her office, trying to come up with a new species, she generally has two options to choose from. She can either protect that species by making it immortal, or she can allow each generation to pass on its genes to its offspring. Immortality is so incredibly rare because it’s not often necessary. Most creatures are capable of surviving in their environments by evolving useful traits. The primary biological imperative, therefore, is most often the continuation of the bloodline. Nearly every living thing on this planet is driven by an instinct to propagate their respective species, and besides immortals, like certain jellyfish, humans are the biggest exception. As depicted in the positively brilliant film Idiocracy, humans are capable of ignoring their instincts. We can choose who to mate with, and we don’t always choose wisely. While the term sexual selection may sound like it applies to us more than anyone, it doesn’t. We mate for any number of reasons, with genetic viability being pretty low on the list. We also create accidental pregnancies, which is unheard of in the rest of the animal kingdom. However your family begins, under whatever conditions, you should have the right to nurture your young. Many countries have parental leave policies, which allows new parents to take time off work, while not only maintaining their job security, but getting paid simultaneously. In fact, the majority of nations have some federal law dictating the responsibility a company has to their employees regarding parental leave. The United States does not, which means each company has to come up with their own. Their only incentives to offer a good deal in their benefits package are good publicity, and competition. In my opinion, not even the most accommodating countries provide enough parental leave. In some of my stories—since the first three years of a child’s life are so important—a parent is allowed an entire year of full pay, another year with half-pay, and a third with quarter-pay. This may seem extreme, but they have a wildly different outlook on work. To them, working is something you have to do to have the money you need to do the things you like. They pay more taxes than us, because they see it as an investment in the community, and it’s what pays for things like parental leave, which ultimately benefits everyone. I propose we emulate their plan, and give parents the tools they need to raise their children properly. Everyone complains about how terrible other parents are, and how no one is doing it right. One way to solve that disconnect is to allow them to actually parent, rather than spending half the day at the office.

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