Wednesday, November 18, 2009

1st World Bank Accounts, 3rd World Results

We really do belong in some kind of category all our own, the United States. When it comes to a decent standard of living, everyone is expendable, especially if it's going to cost money or discomfort someone who has it:
The United States lags far behind other nations in offering paid sick days, paid parental leave and other workplace benefits that proponents consider vital to public health and workers rights, according to research released on Tuesday.

The eight-year study found the most economically competitive nations offer forms of paid leave to workers that the United States does not, according to researchers at Harvard University and Canada's McGill University.

Of the world's 15 most competitive nations, 14 mandate paid sick leave, 13 guarantee paid maternal leave and 12 provide paid paternal leave by law, they said. Eleven provide paid leave to care for children's health and eight provide paid leave for adult family care.

The United States legally guarantees none of these policies to workers...
These comparisons may not be entirely fair, of course, given that the other countries in question have had the advantage of years of civilization. After all, there are around 193 countries in the world. But even widening the comparative pool doesn't help:
Looking more widely at 190 countries, the researchers found 163 guarantee paid sick leave and 164 guarantee paid annual leave.

Also, 177 nations guarantee paid leave for new mothers, 74 nations guarantee paid leave for new fathers and 157 nations guarantee workers a day of rest each week, they said.

The United States has none of these, they said.
And we won't, if Mike Enzi and the US Chamber of Commerce have anything to do with it. Even now, the Senate is shaming itself, defending "small business" from the communist encroachment of mandated paid leave for those with H1N1, despite the obvious public health benefits that could easily overshadow any inconvenience to employers. After all, if your entire staff goes down with pandemic flu because they couldn't afford to stay home and not infect their co-workers, who's going to do the work for you? But still they trot out the same hoary arguments they use to prevent the minimum wage from going up ("It's going to cost jobs!"), despite years of empirical evidence disproving them every time. Perhaps with Poland and Croatia leading the way, the US can figure this out some day. If we ever learn how to stop hunger, that is.

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