Friday, December 5, 2008

Dear New Jersey Resident: Let the Wealth Sharing Begin!!!

In May, our beloved governor Corzine signed into law Family Leave Insurance. It seems as if the Family Medical Leave Act is not enough because it only allows for unpaid time off without the threat of losing one's job. Many lower income individuals are unable to take family leave because they cannot afford to. It is especially difficult in instances of child birth when the mother has to return to work shortly after giving birth.

As a result of this insurance law, starting January 1, 2009, employers that do not have an eligible paid leave program must deduct .09% from employees paychecks. This will increase to .12% in 2010. The supposed beauty of this insurance plan is that it is 100% employee funded. Sounds good in theory, but this is where the concept of sharing the wealth comes into play. Those who contribute to this mandatory plan (employees who do not work for companies that offer paid family leave as a benefit) are able to receive 2/3 of their income up to a maximum of $524 a week for up to six weeks. Chances are that individuals who make more than $40k a year will not utilize this plan. For example, someone that makes $100K or roughly $2000 a week would probably not be able to afford to stop working for 6 weeks and receive a lowly $524 a week, especially in a single income family. So the net is, those with higher incomes are being forced to contribute a percentage of their income to an insurance plan that they most likely will never utilize. Someone making $100K will contribute $90 a year, while someone making $20K will contribute a whopping $18. If every employee that contributed to this insurance plan took advantage of it, the available funds for the plan would be depleted rather quickly and there most definitely would not be enough money to go around.

So how is this exactly helping all New Jersians? This law is specifically targeted to low income individuals and families. While I do feel compassion for those who find themselves in situations where this benefit would be helpful, it is hard to wrap my mind around giving my hard earned money to those who continue to perpetuate their situations. People do not have to take responsibility for their actions anymore, especially young men and women who are sexually active at young ages, have children, and are stuck working minimum wage jobs for the rest of their lives.

I know of a girl who is my age (34), who started having children in her teens and now has 5 children with 4 different fathers. She is currently single, and is a waitress who does not make enough money to support her family. She lives off the kindness of her mother who houses, feeds, and clothes her and her children. Yet, she has never tried to better her situation and the plight of her children. She continues to live off the largesse of the state and her mother. Where is the incentive to dig ones self out of the mire of their mistakes? I have made plenty of them in my lifetime, and I am far from free of them, but (thankfully) I have learned from them and I am better because of them. Our society of self-esteem, and no fault has yielded an entire generation of young people who believe that they are entitled to everything and anything they want. And this new law will continue to perpetuate the entitlements and not allow for young people to learn from their mistakes or to become more responsible adults. If the government bails individuals out every time they screw up, where is the lesson? The only thing that is taught is that there are no consequences for poor choices, which leads to a lifetime of irresponsibility.

5 comments:

  1. This post got me thinking - and I'll talk more on that in a separate post - but a woman living off the charity of her mother does not bother me one bit. That is between her and her family. I can't really talk to that without knowing the ins and outs of her family. If the mother wants to continue to provide support, that is completely her business. Family should always be the front line of support.

    However, I do get the gist of your post - By involving the state, this creates a greater incentive (or at least removes significant cost) for individuals to have children who can least afford to care for them.

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  2. I agree that the familial support in this woman's case is between them, but for this example, there are exponentially more people that do not have any family and rely solely on the state.

    The other point is, she has been irresponsible in continuing to procreate without having a viable way to provide support for her children without involving the state. And her mother only stepped in fairly recently--within the last 5 years to care for the children. She has also been irresponsible in not trying to better her situation by going to college or trade school to better care for her children or to get off the state/parental support system. There just do not seem to be any consequences for her making poor life choices. And the tax payer is forced to support them. Where are the rewards for making wise, responsible decisions? Unfortunately, they are becoming fewer and farther between. Why are the ones who made the sacrifices to go to college and obtain an education that would provide them with a comfortable means of support contiunally forced to suffer the consequences of other's bad behavior? Where does it end? I am still paying off my student loans. Yet I am also contributing to the support of those who chose the irresponsible route.

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  3. I think this is one of the reasons it's difficult to remain socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

    Social conservatives tend to balk at being forced to support irresponsible behavior. Fiscal conservatives who pride themselves in being socially permissive find it difficult emotionally to continually pass on the plight of those harmed by their own poor choices.

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  4. Not the other anonDecember 8, 2008 at 2:44 PM

    This law brings up another problem that really gets my goat. As a single person, I have to pay more taxes while getting presumably less income and definitely less benefits (from both employer and state). The reasoning is based on the assumption that I have less financial responsibility so therefore I have more wealth. I’m sure “all you rightists” are vying for wealth retention on this front as well.

    * Employers (albeit private organizations) should pay $X per employee to pay for healthcare premiums. Any cost beyond $X is the employee’s responsibility.
    * Single people should have the same tax rate as married people.

    It’s funny that single people with no kids create less social burden, but have to pay taxes at a higher rate. . .

    BTW, my employer is playing by the rules; the benefits and the way they offer them are standard and legal. They would be perfectly happy to change my benefits, in type and level, whenever my status changes.

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  5. NTOA: The same applies to married individuals who choose to not have children (at least as far as this bill goes). The whole notion of wealth redistribution is based on the idea that rather than being earned (or kept responsibly), you have wealth because you happened to stumble on it, so the government must take some and bestow it on those who weren't so lucky.

    As far as your two points:
    1) I'd rather see health insurance entirely divorced from employment. For one thing, the money employers must set aside for employee benefits is money that counts against the overal cost of hiring. I would rather see the money go toward salaries and allow individuals to search for their own health care.

    Secondly, having health care tied to employment is one of the reasons many are without insurance. Losing ones job means losing health insurance. Changing jobs can leave you without insurance until you qualify with your next employer. Self-employed have difficulty finding insurance.

    It would certainly take some doing and the transition would be tricky, but the results would be worthwhile.

    2) Taxing single people at the same rate as married would certainly fit with an overall simpler tax code. While I certainly believe that marriage as an institution is beneficial to society (especially when it comes to rearing children), I do not believe that tax policy should be used as a tool to either promote or punish behavior.

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