TCFamily Leave Law: Legislating CompassionWinston...


February 21, 1993


Family Leave Law: Legislating Compassion

Winston Churchill said: "A young man in his twenties who isn't a liberal has no heart; that same man in his forties who isn't a conservative, has no head." That's my perspective regarding the Family Leave Act just signed by President Clinton. This law forces businesses with 50 or more employees to allow up to 12 weeks' unpaid maternity leave. This law will end up hurting the very ones it seeks to help -- young women who work.

Why do the liberals always chide conservatives by saying, "You can't legislate morality," and then turn around and try to legislate compassion? A poll taken recently and aired on National Public Radio shows that 45 percent of small businesses would not hire women under this law. Also, another 45 percent said they would opt for temporaries rather than allow their business to grow larger than 49 employees. . . . We are ever creeping toward socialism, a cure that's worse than the disease. . . . Yes, there are cases of employees being fired when they take medical leave. Yes, employers ought to be a lot nicer. But, consider this: How many times have we been stuck on a highway ramp waiting for some "nice" person to let us into traffic? While we sat there fuming, have we thought how many nice people would let us in -- if it wasn't for the guy behind them -- pushing them down the road at 55 mph?

It's no different with employers. They're always looking over their shoulder. Employers don't compete with employees; employers compete with employers. And that won't stop with "family leave" as the law.

Three-fourths of companies already offer family medical leave. And polls have shown a majority of career women are more concerned with medical benefits, not maternity leave. So, where's the beef? The employees who will suffer from this law will far exceed those few who benefit from it. But, this new administration and the liberal national media . . . will always find victims to promote their socialism. . . .

This doesn't mean we ignore injustice and inequity. But, it doesn't mean we always exact our legislative pound of flesh either. Few of us think death is fair, but we don't linger at funerals. We move on with our lives. . . . We need to get ahead in these times of turmoil, not sit around and decide how to satisfy our victim syndrome with a change in law.

Timothy R. Ferguson

Mount Airy

So Sorry To Appear Insensitive

Thank you for your fair editorial "Sexism or Failure to Communicate?" (Feb. 11)

You have done much to ease my hurt and bewilderment at the sexist charges thrown at me, and at the same time, pointed to the reason this perception exists.

You are correct. I come from an entirely different era when a gentleman showed respect to ladies by tipping his hat, opening doors and yielding his seat on a bus. There is the core of the problem, but it is understandable upon reflection, that some women might think this is patronizing and become offended.

I do suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. This tendency, plus an innocent inability to know all the current politically correct words, have caused me trouble in the past. I promise to do better in the future.

Comments, completely devoid of innuendo have been made, such as: "Kathy, that's a beautiful blue dress you're wearing." Kathy seems pleased and says, "Thank you."

Sometime later, while at lunch with a supervisor, I told of my tendency to do this, solely to please. She asked me if I ever complimented a male in this manner. I told her, "Absolutely," the last time being the morning of Senator Barbara Mikulski's visit, when I told Max (Bair, executive assistant to the commissioners) he was all dressed up in a great set of threads and looked like a senator himself.

I freely admit the appearance of an attractive woman fans the dying embers of my sexuality, but work must be done on my part to stifle comments and be completely undemonstrative.

Men regard women as a sex object? Isn't that the way most of us are put together? Although this appears to be the law of the universe, it should in no way prevent us from . . . righting an injustice that has been around too long . . .

I feel sorry for appearing to be insensitive to some, and pledge to try not to offend, but one must know things will never be the same on the third floor of the county headquarters. A thin veil of tension will, in some measure, prevent the relaxed . . . atmosphere we had in the past.

I intend to make a pact with [Sun reporter] Kerry O'Rourke: Whenever I talk in terms she considers sexist, let me know. Whenever she writes an article I consider biased, due to a militant, personal agenda she is trying to advance, I will let her know.

Elmer Lippy


The writer is a Carroll County commissioner.

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