Media Criticism

What Pundits Get Wrong About Child Care and Paid Leave

The media's hasty commentary on economic matters makes one question which reporters and pundits have educated themselves on the topics.


"The quality of the punditry is abysmal." That's the title of an excellent letter recently shared with me and submitted to the editor of The Washington Post by George Mason University economics professor Donald Boudreaux. Indeed, newspapers are full of questionable statements about child care costs, paid leave, and other economic matters that make me question the extent to which reporters and pundits have educated themselves on the topics.

Let's start with the cost-of-child-care piece that prompted Boudreaux's letter. Writing for the Post, Elliot Haspel labeled the conclusion of a 2015 Mercatus Center publication on the cost of child care a "myth" that he summarized in this line from the study itself: "Removing costly regulations of the child care industry could provide greater benefits to all families by lowering the cost of care without sacrificing quality." Haspel's rejection of the argument rests on the reality that the cost of child care would still be high even without government regulation—but that's obvious.

Haspel's rebuttal is lacking because the study's authors never said that removing government regulations would make child care inexpensive. They simply said that removing regulations would make it more affordable. Child care is expensive, partly because demand for this service is high. Nevertheless, there's ample evidence that many government regulations, such as those that require costly licensing processes or advanced education degrees, shrink the potential supply of child care. In turn, this government-induced shrinkage of supply "further raises the cost of an already costly service," as Boudreaux notes in his letter.

The study explains this relationship in detail. Yet if Haspel's failure to grasp this consequence weren't bad enough, he states that regulations requiring a low ratio of children to staff are so commonsense that "most child-care providers would adopt these ratios even without regulations." This comment implies either that these government-imposed rules are unnecessary or that Haspel put little thought into the point of his punditry.

The same hasty commentary exists in the dozens of articles published daily about why we allegedly "need" a federal paid leave policy. For instance, Eric Levitz of New York magazine recently opined that "Today, virtually every developed country boasts a paid-family-leave program that exceeds the 1919 standard — except for the United States, which still has no national paid-leave policy whatsoever."

He implies that not having a national government program means workers' benefits are stuck at 1919 levels. Also implied in pieces like this is that if Democrats succeed in passing the Build Back Better paid leave legislation, everyone without paid leave would get it. This logic is both sloppy and uninformed.

Commenting on new survey results published by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago for the American Enterprise Institute, Angela Rachidi writes, "Our newest findings contradict a central argument for the [Democrats'] proposed government takeover of paid leave: that most workers cannot access paid leave when they need it." For instance, the survey reveals that throughout the pandemic most workers had access to paid leave from their employers. Rachidi also notes that "most workers were paid during their time away, and this was consistent across types of leave."

Finally, Rachidi's other findings suggest that a public paid leave program would not solve the unmet-need problem that unquestionably exists for low-skilled workers. First, the most commonly cited reason for not taking leave was "too much work." This matters because some policies pushed by Democrats, like the enhanced child tax credit, create strong disincentives to work—so it's not a stretch to assume if there aren't enough workers to cover for those who need to take leave, the "too much work" problem won't improve.

The second most commonly cited reason for not being able to take leave was: "could not afford the loss of income." While the paid leave program being considered by Congress is advertised as universal, in practice, it would be largely inaccessible to many low-income workers and a big chunk of new moms. In fact, most of those who would get leave under the program already have it, since it's designed to subsidize employer-provided private insurance that companies use to extend paid leave to workers. Insurers and companies are delighted, and I'm sure they'll be grateful to Democrats for this handout if it's foolishly adopted into this legislation.

All these findings and more are publicly available for pundits to use to research and write better commentary. They just need to be willing to look.


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  1. Costs increase in proportion to subsidies. Shifting costs to folks not using the service is coercive theft.

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    2. Bingo. It’s like federally subsidized college loans.

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  2. There goes Reason once again ceding the Statist ground. Or did I miss the part in this article that explains that Fascsim is bad (both immoral and impractical) and not good for anyone except maybe sometimes for the Fascists in charge?

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  3. If you can’t afford kids, don’t have them.

    1. 100% of Homo Neanderthalensis approve this message.

    2. If you can’t afford kids, don’t have them.
      I thought that I replied to this already but it didn't go through or something. I agree with you. That should be a central tenet of civilization.

      I want to add that people are not having children because they are already paying for the children of the parasites.

      1. Which means the stupid and lazy are the ones creating the next generations. Not a recipe for long-term success.

  4. Wait... the paid leave in the bill is crony capitalism for corporations? Who could possibly have foreseen this outcome?

    1. OBL?

    2. Crony Socialism

  5. Pundits are entertainers that are paid by the word. All else follows.

    1. Yep, you can almost hear muttering, "I went into punditry precisely because I didn't want to do reporting anymore."

      I think a lot of pundits just regurgitate talking points provided to them by the political party of their choice.

      1. Journo list is not dead.

  6. The quality of the punditry is abysmal.

    ??? ... well, back in the day, there were real pundits who knew their shit ... if. Not really sure what the utility of a YOUZE PEEPS ARE DUMZ article is.

  7. Inflation = too many dollars chasing too few goods.

    Biden plan for dollar supply:
    spend an extra 6 trillion or so
    print more money
    keep interest rates low

    Biden plan for goods supply:
    fire workers if they don't get the shot
    increase unemployment benefits
    mandate and subsidize more generous family leave policies

    Yeah, inflation will work itself out....

    1. You forgot the part about making the commute as expensive as possible - - - - - -

    2. His low knowledge voters don't know this.

  8. "What Pundits Get Wrong About Child Care and Paid Leave"


  9. First point: Babysitters do not need a college degree.
    Second point: Mothers are best for raising their child.

    1. First point: Babysitters do not need a college degree.
      Second point: Mothers are best for raising their child.

      First point is definitely true. Second point probably depends on the child and the mother. A lot of welfare mother's aren't really doing any thing much in the way of imparting good values. Nevertheless, any alternative that people propose involves something like cuckoldry. Essentially they ask that the children be treated as the children everyone else. That's simply a crime against man's nature. Marxists are good at identifying what makes people unhappy and then turning the screws.

      1. "Second point probably depends on the child and the mother."

        No. This is only if you define "best" as some sort of subjective measure of quality of life for the kids.

        The Mother being "best" is a moral evaluation, not a pragmatic one. The Mother, being the person who holds the child's rights and interests in Trust, is "best" to raise the child because they HOLD THOSE RIGHTS in trust, not because they are some sort of expert[1].

        Most libertarians accept that the BEST person to make a decision about taking drugs (or getting vaxxed) is the individual. Yes, that may mean people abuse drugs, or decline to protect themselves from a virus. But we say that is BEST because that person morally owns this decision. Good or bad, right or wrong, they are the person responsible and accountable for that decision.

        When we deal with kids, it is understandably more complicated. But we should err on the side of the parent. They hold the future of that child in Trust, as the creator of the child. While they might abuse that Trust (leading to its removal) the general "right" thing to do is let the parents guide the child's development as they see fit.

        [1] All that said, it is noteworthy that time after time, Top Men (tm) claim to have a monopoly on what is best for the masses. And time after time, we see that even when they can affect some "good" for the majority, there are enormous costs to the minority. No Top Man can integrate the unique circumstances of billions of people, and their solutions always lead to the minority being horribly disserved by their prescriptions.

  10. How about we try the opposite. Require employers to allow screaming babies in all work environments.

  11. >>designed to subsidize employer-provided private insurance

    queue the Aflac duck

    1. Not once did they mention that Boudin's parents were sent to prison for the murders they took part in with the fucking WEATHER UNDERGROUND. His parents were ACTUAL terrorists.

      After they were locked up (remember when we used to put criminals in prison?) Boudin was raised by, not kidding, BILL FUCKING AYERS.

      Yeah, total coincidence that this commie POS is running things in the SF DA office. He was literally born and raised to destroy the USA from the inside.

  12. What?

    You expect an editorial in the Post that doesn’t cherry-pick only the parts of a study that seem to support it’s editorial bias?

    How cute.

  13. Youtube hides dislikes to help stabilize Brian Stelter's feelings.

    YouTube is making some changes to its platform in an effort to protect creators by hiding dislike counts on videos.

    On Wednesday, the video-sharing service began rolling out a new feature that keeps the counts private and only viewable to the person who uploaded the video.

    The actual dislike button, however, will remain and viewers can still dislike a video to tune their personal recommendations.

    1. This move sucks. As a content consumer, looking at a video’s like/dislike ratio helps me decide, instantly, if I want to give it a chance.

  14. And the Constitutional Authority is WHERE???
    F-EN Nazi's.

  15. There's a lot of problems with government-paid (or mandated) paid leave. The one that irks me the most is that it's cuckoldry. Some woman who will never be a net tax contributor can have ten kids, divorce her husband, and then I will have to pay for her children's childcare expenses. The Marxists (be they priests, "journalists", or politicians) tell me that I am a monster because I do not like this arrangement. That there are layers of bureaucracy shunting the money around isn't sufficient to disguise what's really happening.

    Another problem is that this sort of program is inherently inflationary. The money will go straight into the hands of people who aren't going to produce much of anything. They will spend it on consumer goods. There is no way that the costs of this sort of program will not eventually be born by everyone. The idea that only the super-rich will pay is a virtual impossibility. Today's super rich may be a pain in the ass, but when the government says they're going to be targeted, you know that the final outcome is going to be the opposite. All that will happen is that the parasite class will get more free stuff, and you and me will be less well off and left in a state of demoralization.

    Marxism will kill off the productive segment of society, but for the inner party, I think that's a feature rather than a bug. While the party lasts, the parasites will get the free stuff that they couldn't otherwise have. Meanwhile the productive segment of society will be demoralized ground into the dirt. Only the billionaire class will be left standing.

    1. I should have included "educators" in the lists of Marxists. They probably belong at the top of the list.

  16. OT Fuck Joe Biden.

    1. Amen. Fuck Joe Biden.

  17. Joe Biden told one of his familiar stories about the African-American baseball player Satchel Paige during a speech on Veterans Day, and a stumble over his words caused an uproar on conservative Twitter.

    So the problem, you see, isn't that Joe is a that creepy racist uncle that you try to keep in the back room when company shows up, it's conservative Twitter. You see. That's the problem. You see.

    What did Joe say? Just, don't you worry about that. The problem, you see, is conservative twitter.

    1. No, Joe Biden Did Not Refer to Satchel Paige as a ‘Negro’ During Veterans Day Speech

      The media has run the Biden speech through their Biden-ator, and turns out, he didn't really say what he said he said, he said something the media interpreted to be a different thing he said. What he said is not what you heard, what he said was something we believe he meant but didn't say.

      Ruling: Mostly false.

    2. It's like when he called the surgeon general a "boy"

    3. Ha, he said negro pitcher. Stupid old bigot.

  18. The problem with paid leave and subsidized child care is not only that these things cost money but that they encourage citizens to have and raising children.

    And citizens having and raising children is stupid and costly when we can get fresh supplies of people by simply leaving the Southern border open.

  19. 'Which reporters and pundits have educated themselves on the topics,' this would be nearly zero. The problem is compounded by in-group bias blinkering the groups to receiving any information that doesn't fit within their worldview, and the progressive/left-leaning assumption that education = intelligence.

  20. keep it up for more information like this.

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