Get out your calendars and your black magic markers! A Fox News host actually asked the government to stick its nose into the lives of the American workforce and do a little something extra this week. Are you back up from the floor yet? Megyn Kelly dared to take time off when she had her baby earlier this spring, and colleague Mike Gallagher was so PO'd that she got to take a maternity leave, he called it a racket on national radio.
Maybe he'd rather we have a bunch of sickly kids who grow into adults who need to live off the system? Moms who don't have enough time to recover from the trauma of birth or major surgery needing to go on disability because they pushed it too hard? Oh, that's right, Gallagher's a conservative. There's nothing he hates more than folks looking for a handout.
That usually goes for Kelly too, but now that she's back from her little racket, she went straight for Gallagher's jugular on her show this week. If anything, Kelly says, the United States is "in the dark ages" because it's one of the rare industrialized nations that doesn't require companies provide compensation for employees on maternity leave:
Kelly does a fair job of defending the Family Medical Leave Act to Gallagher, whose only excuse for the whole debacle was "I was drinking that day." But what she didn't address was the very reason conservatives should be working to improve the system. Because it saves the government money in the long run.
Studies have linked the ability for mothers to stay home with their children for a period after childbirth to everything from an increased chance the mom will be successful at breastfeeding to a reduction in C-sections, both of which are linked to healthier kids. For the mother herself, time home with the baby typically reduces her stress and chance that she'll develop depression, while a mom who is forced back to work early often displays poor health.
In other words, for folks like Gallagher who apparently need it spelled out for them, maternity leave for mom means fewer health costs for baby and mother alike. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Babies who had time with mom in the early days have been shown to exhibit increased cognitive skills. Considering the higher cost of special education, it's not a stretch to say the smarter a kid, the cheaper to educate when they reach public school. Everything we can do to enhance kid's brains saves us money.
So we have reduced health care costs. Reduced education costs. And what else? We have a happier, more stable workforce thanks to moms who are less stressed and less depressed. And in 20-some years when that child joins the workforce, we have a kid who got an enhanced start on life, bringing with them all that entails: a higher chance of good health, intelligence, emotional stability.
If maternity leave is a racket, it's the first racket I've seen that saves our country money AND enhances our future.
Do you agree with Gallagher?