About 10 years ago, New Jersey enacted a Paid Family Leave Act. Funded by a payroll tax on employees, the program pays people who take off from work to care for a family member, usually a newborn child, 2/3 of her foregone salary up to a maximum of $633 per week.
But there’s a problem. It’s allegedly not working very well. A study was done by the “Left-leaning Trenton think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective,” according to NJ.com’s Samantha Marcus, and the new report found that “Just 12 percent of New Jersey's eligible new parents are receiving family leave benefits.” The NJPP analysis shows that “the limits of the [paid family leave] program, from the cap on weekly wages to the time limits, keep maternity and paternity leave out of reach for many low- and middle-income families.”
Since welfare statists measure success or failure of a government program based on how many, not how few, people become government dependent, you can imagine their “solution” to “problem.”
The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial, Mother's Day gift guide: Make paid family leave affordable, called for a major expansion of the program,
[Mothers] often don't [sign up] because the compensation is so paltry. Just two-thirds of your wage is replaced for up to six weeks, capped at $633 weekly. That's equivalent to an annual salary of $32,000, the poverty level for a two-person family.
It's hard for even middle class parents to afford this.
The thought that private savings can supplement the Family Leave check, but that people may not want to drain their private savings, doesn’t enter the worldview of welfare statists.
The Star-Ledger calls for raising the payment cap, citing California ($1173) and Rhode Island ($817), the only other states with paid family leave, even though, as Marcus reports, “participation rates aren't strikingly better: 17 percent in California and 12 percent in Rhode Island.” So why bother? The Star-Ledger ignores this fact:
Everyone, regardless of economic status, race or gender, should have the ability to take time off to care for a new child or loved one - it's unfair that some can't access paid leave, when we're all paying for it.
I left these comments, slightly edited, citing that last quote:
This is classic chain gang socialist rationalization. Tax-force everyone into some scheme to satisfy someone’s idea of what “should” be, and then scream “unfair” to justify ever-increasing expansion. But the only unfairness is forcibly seizing earnings from people against their will to satisfy some “need” they themselves do not personally see the need for. (Never mind polls. If “voters support paid family leave, and show a strong willingness to pay for it,” there would be no need to immorally vote away others people’s money to pay for it. Private voluntary funding would be plentiful. These voters are all hypocrites who don’t respect others’ right to act on their own judgement.)
We’re told that ObamaCare was “successful” because a lot of people signed up for the subsidized “insurance.” By that logic, New Jersey’s Paid Family Leave scheme, which is funded by a payroll tax on employees, is an utter failure. Not enough parasites were created. Only 12% signed up. By the Left’s own standard, it’s a failure.
Will the program be recognized as a failure, and repealed? No. The fact that 88% of the people were looted and pushed one more small step toward poverty, to pay for benefits they don’t need, want, or can afford to access, will be ignored by the socialist altruists. The logic that people who can’t afford the benefits can’t afford the taxes to begin with won’t register with these do-gooders.
The dirty little not-so-secret fact of the welfare state is that the taxes needed to pay for it pushes people toward and into poverty, on an ever-increasing scale, creating more “need” for more and/or bigger socialist schemes. It is a fundamentally immoral cycle.
Here’s a practical and moral solution: Allow people who need or believe they will eventually need some time off for family, but unable to afford it on their take-home pay, to opt out of their payroll taxes for such things as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment “insurance,” and other hidden “social welfare” schemes. This way, they can put the added take home pay aside to plan for their own family leave needs. Right now, the government rips 15.3% (combined employee and employer share) right off the top of people’s paychecks, just on Social Security and Medicare alone, to pay for other people’s needs. That’s morally corrupt but is the basic premise of socialism—force everyone into dependence on other people’s wallets.
All socialist programs begin with theft, and grow like cancers. And so it will probably be with Paid Family Leave in NJ. Another malignant socialist tumor will grow. I have another suggestion for our legislators: Start reversing the corrupt trend by repealing the existing Paid Family Leave Act and calling for the right of New Jerseyans to access their own money for their own purposes.
Family Leave Insurance No “Success” for Those Who Don’t Want It