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Associations Among School Absenteeism, G.I. and Respiratory Illness, and Income (cdc.gov)
174 points by surfallday 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 165 comments



The headline here is incredibly misleading. The CDC is not making the factual claim that "low-income parents send sick kids to school due to lack paid sick leave".

The actual truth: a paper from the CDC finding an apparently quite weak link between poverty and rate of school absence due to sickness stuck that in as one of many somewhat plausible explanations, in a very speculative discussion section.

To emphasize: the headline of this story is not one of the factual scientific claims of the paper.


Yes, thanks! We've updated the headline from the submitted, “CDC: Low-income parents send sick kids to school due to lack paid sick leave”.


Upboat for rationalisation.

Also, from the European perspective (and specifically speaking of the technology sector, as that's what I have first-hand experience with), taking sick leave to take care of a child at home isn't a thing, whatsoever. You would just send an email to your team saying that you're sorry but you're working from home because your kid is sick and that would be the end of it.

No compulsion to take vacation.

No compulsion to take sick leave.

No punitive punishments for being human and for your family members being human.

It really is a different world, over here. However, given the American exceptionalism showing up in the thread, I'm going to wager that this probably going to see some vitriolic response.


I work in the technology sector in the US and my experience is exactly the same as yours.

> However, given the American exceptionalism showing up in the thread, I'm going to wager that this probably going to see some vitriolic response.

I actually don't believe in American exceptionalism at all. Nor European exceptionalism. But I am fed up with people from the most developed part of the world acting shocked and morally outraged when life isn't as amazing everywhere else.

You probably didn't intend it that way, but it comes off as extremely smug.


It's not all that comparable. U.S. GDP per capita is $60,000. France is $43,500 (PPP). (In terms of GDP per capita, the U.S. is richer than France by about the same ratio as France is richer than Lithuania or Estonia.) Average net financial wealth per household is almost 3x higher in the U.S. than in France, and 2x higher than the OECD average.


Here we go again, using means for extremely skewed distributions :/

OECD reports median household disposable income as $31,100 in France and as $30,600 in the U.S. [1]

That's far more relevant than per capita GDP, if you're looking at the typical experience for the typical person.

[1] http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/france/


The number you’re quoting as the US is actually the average across the oecd. The US is 50% higher

“In the United States, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 44 049 a year”

In addition the website says average, and doesn’t describe whether it means a mean or a median.


What's net financial wealth? 40% of U.S. adults don't have enough savings to cover a mere $400 emergency.

See also https://eu.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/budget-a...


Western and Northern Europe are the most developed part of the world. I didn't say they were the richest in absolute dollar terms.


You are implying Europe is more developed than America? America has per capita GDP comparable to Europe's top countries. If not what's wrong with comparing your country's labor laws to a similar country's labor laws?


Yeah, but that's usually comparing a mean income per capita. Personally I'd be curious to see a comparison of what's left of the median income after factoring in the cost of taxes, education, and health care.


But mean income per capita is what should be compared when talking about social services such as healthcare, etc. If you take a developed country, add a bunch of wealth inequality to it, and then say that you can't compare that country to other developed countries because wealth inequality is part of equalition of being developed, you are just going around in circles.


Any comparison should take other effects of work culture into account as well, such as how much time per week we can devote to living once you subtract work and commute times.


GDP per capita is not the same thing as development.

Yes, from personal experience France at least is more developed than the US.


This is janitors and cashiers at McDonalds, there’s no “working from home” and i guarantee it’s the same in Europe. We’re not talking about IT jobs here dude.


Ok. So instead of working from home, they'd stay home from work. Norway has protected days so parents can stay home with sick children. Paid days.


McDonald's in Germany is unlikely to pay your wage when you stay at home to take care of your kids, but many other employers do.

Anyway, you still have a right to get Kinderkrankengeld for 10 days per year, paid by the national health insurance. Enjoy!


Kinderkrankengeld. Child-sickness money.

Seeing this new (to me) word gave me a little meta-joy this morning. Not for the topic at hand, but for the wonderful German word compounding.

Not quite as musical as my favorite three-part compound to date. The Thai word pronounced "malang-tao-tong" is roughly insect-turtle-gold and describes what we would call a ladybug in the US.


You’re comparing apples and oranges. The low income workers the CDC study looks at can’t “work from home”—they’re cashiers in retail, etc.


American here. I would like to point out that places with amazing health and vacation benefits exist. I work at one in academia. Amazing health insurance, amazing sick leave and vacation (that you are actually allowed to use, guilt free). Paternity and maternity leave, six months (so a total of a year for one couple). If you have a family or value those things, it pays to quit looking solely at that salary field and look for culture and benefits.


The problem in America is that those things are exclusively dependent on one’s employer. More developed countries like Finland or Sweden give everyone those things via national policy.


In Germany if you child is sick you have a right to stay home and take care of it. No need to work from home either during that time (but you can of course choose to do so).

Who pays for this will depend on your employer. Many of them pay for a few days per year. If you need more days or if they don't pay, you can get "Kinderkrankengeld²" from your national health insurance (another 10 days per year).

---

² https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinderkrankengeld


What you said only applies when you're part of the workforce that can take its work home.

When you're more like the rest of the workforce, you show up where you're expected to man the cash register, nurse your patients, drive your truck, clean up the office, etc.


On the converse... I'm an American whom lives in Indiana. Let me share my experiences.

I worked at Starbucks for 5 years. When I got sick, I showed up to work. I know I worked while having the flu, and making drinks for people. If we didn't show up, our hours for next week would be messed up badly and intentionally. We would go from 35 hours to 15 hours, or we'd be scheduled "clopens" - close at midnight, and open at 4:45a the next morning. If you wanted your job, you showed up and vomited on the floor.

I also worked at wal-mart. I was a 3rd shift stocker. I was fired for getting injured on the job by a faulty pallet jack falling on my foot, and "costing the company money" (exact quote). I even have my discharge paper stating that. Needed x-rays and a tetanus shot. And with someone at the time who had little money, lawsuits are out of the question, especially for a corp like Walmart.

I'll take some of that 'commie socialistic European perspective', if you don't mind :)


If you have official paperwork showing you were fired for an injury on the job, lawyers would be happy to do the lawsuit on a contingency basis. It would be a foregone conclusion.


You'd think. But there's no governmental agency or office to assist with these illegal actions. I'm depending on the charity and hope of profit of a lawyer.

One attorney I talked with didn't do cases on contingency. Another refused because it was against Walmart.

And that was that. Sure, I was wronged. Not a damned thing I can do about it.


You needed to talk to more lawyers. If the case is like you said, it’s open and shut. Walmart gets successfully sued all of the time when they are at fault for workplace accidents.

I personally know of two separate acquaintances’ relatives who were hurt at Walmart, fired, sued with no up front legal fees, and won. One got hit by a parking lot shopping cart train and the other got injured in the mechanic shop.


It's not unreasonable to be discouraged when you reach out to two professionals and neither of them seem to think that it's worth their time.


Lawyers work in niches. It’s unreasonable to expect to find one after only speaking to two.


Maybe you missed the part that I said I was working at Walmart and got fired. This is your typical grunt job, not an IT position with respect and dignity.

I wasn't rolling in dough prior to it, and had even less afterward. The thought that I'd be able to shop around with lawyers and schedule a consultation, and all that while I'm scrambling for looking for another job... Well, it speaks to many people here that do have buffers in their income and savings. I, and all whom I worked with at the time had no buffers.

Maybe I'd have won. Or not. But what I do know is the lawyers who did want to hear my case both said no. Others, I left the details with the secretary. Nothing.


I am sorry that you had this experience.

But manual labour is dangerous and unfair. It’s worse in Ag field and even children and families who live near large farming communities are affected by drift and the spraying and watershed poisoning and general environmental degradation. This is why we must automate and get machines to do the dangerous jobs.

Yes, that will be a post labour world but that’s easier to figure out. It’s better to give dignity to people than make human beings work for other human beings. I abhor the very notion.


I thank you for your sympathy. But in a way, I'm glad I was able to experience this. I wouldn't have gained the perspective of this had I not experienced it for myself. I know many here on HN certainly haven't.

I've lived involuntarily homeless for a time. I've been on food stamps. I've been injured and fired on a job. I've had dozens of crummy bad jobs; no benefits, don't care if youre sick, dangerous. You're a "piece" of work, and treated as such. You're a less-than-nothing, because you are who you are.

And then there's IT work. I've finally been able to claw up in the IT world as a systems admin. And the treatment I 'suffer' (laugh) are things like good insurance, PTO, actual honest to goodness sick days - and I'm actually believed, free coffee/espresso/lacrois, snack plates during lunch. And we have at least 2 catered lunches a month. Recently, my employer also sent me to DerbyCon. $1200 right there. Covered.

IT is radically different compared to what most employees go through. We are treated with respect and dignity, and compensated fairly with our salary and perks. Those who serve us when we go into bookstores, supermarkets, restaurants, and more are kept at the basic maintenance level of living - and that is if everything goes right. It usually doesn't. Cars break down; bodies break down; emergencies occur; accidental pregnancies happen; life happens.

Yes, I am a socialist, and also see automation as a solution. And also, unlike the propaganda, there's enough resources that we all can live decently compensated and respected lives. We're not quite there with 100% automation, and still need human labor for a bit... But there's no reason (other than greed) for barely-but-not-quite maintenance wages.


I am not a socialist. I believe that our lives are better because of capitalism and there is a space where there is a third system..that is neither pure capitalism or pure socialism. I also don’t beleive that resources are unlimited or that everyone has an equal claim to it. Unless we drastically curtail human population numbers. We do live upon a resource constrained rock. All ‘groups’ must have equal claim..which means non human species and nature and habitat have equal claim to natural resources that we monopolise and appropriate. I also believe that some jobs shouldn’t be done by human beings at all. Freedom is foremost. Dignity is next but if we give people true freedom, everything else will follow. That is freedom from exploitation and also freedom from coercion. I detest poor people exploited just as much as rich people being shamed. One day, jobs will disappear as will wages. What then? We have to plan for such a future. We have to create new models of relationships and how we interact with others.


Well would you prefer to have a crappy job or no job at all? Don’t labor under the assumption that government mandates don’t affect the decisions of businesses.


So it's ok with you if companies treat people like crap, because the alternative is fewer jobs? By that logic, it's ok for companies to kill off a few of their workers through horrible safety practices, than not offering any jobs at all, because ++ jobs is more important than anything. We've spent the last couple of centuries trying to correct that line of thinking, why hang on to it?

The alternative to crappy business practices isn't people starving in the streets because of lack of jobs. The alternative is that the people with excess resources distribute some of those resources to others that would otherwise starve.

There are many nations out there with working systems that don't accept that sort of abuse of it's workers - why do people insist on choosing ideologies that are so obviously not in the interests of the majority of the people?


>why do people insist on choosing ideologies that are so obviously not in the interests of the majority of the people?

Because policies that depend on taking from the economically productive to prop up the unproductive eventually become unsustainable.

Does it upset you that people work jobs instead of voting to receive a million USD annual stipend? Would you vote for a policy giving that to every person?

Back to the Walmart story. There is more we aren’t being told. There are thousands of lawyers drooling to take a case against a company the size of Walmart firing people for simply getting hurt due to the company’s incompetence. OP more than likely was at fault for the accident, which would be grounds for termination in most European countries as well.


> Because policies that depend on taking from the economically productive to prop up the unproductive eventually become unsustainable.

1) There are many very stable nations that have had long-term policies of treating their disadvantaged much better than you seem to be proposing, so this point is demonstratively false. Why do you believe it's true?

2) There are many people in every country that aren't economically productive - the elderly, the very young, the chronically ill, etc. Most countries manage to afford to take care of these people in some manner without collapse. It's possible because technology has driven our average productivity extremely high in historical terms, and there are more than enough resources available to take care of them. Doing so doesn't cause those societies to collapse. I'd suggest it makes them more stable when fewer people are desperately poor.

I'm not saying you're arguing that those example groups of people don't deserve assistance. But you do seem to be saying that _some_ economically unproductive people shouldn't be helped to survive. What is special about the second group of people? Why does helping them somehow lead to an unsustainable society when supporting other groups doesn't?


I believe my free-market opinions are in the best interest of the people. Of course, it’s in some people’s interests (those who produce significant real value) more than others (those who produce little value) but I still think it’s in the best interest of everyone

Also, I would rather keep my money and not redistribute it to the bottomfeeders.


> Also, I would rather keep my money and not redistribute it to the bottomfeeders.

That's such an horrible, ugly, selfish way of thinking. How can you sleep at night?


> So it's ok with you if companies treat people like crap

This is a severe misstatement of that person’s argument. Believing that there is no better alternative isn’t the same as believing something is good.


I didn't say he thought it was 'good'. I restated his rhetorical question as a statement: that he was ok with the tradeoff ( poor working conditions for more jobs ). I think it's pretty clear that's what he was saying and I doubt he'd disagree. I am trying to point out that there ARE better alternatives. We've been making a lot of progress in that direction for years, so it's clear that it's an option if we choose it.

I'm honestly trying to understand why people would suggest that its ok to accept that tradeoff. I get why in any individual case someone might choose to make that decision - they may truly have no other options available to them, and the alternatives are much worse (real hunger, homelessness). I just don't understand why people seem to promote that situation as a political position - that somehow as a society that's the best we can do, or it's the best policy to allow it.


I, for one, would prefer that sick people stay at home. Especially food service workers. It would improve public health.


There's a carrot and a stick for you:

Paid sick leave with a urgent care clinic available at no charge. Someone gets sick (esp with food service) and they work for you, they should provide that clinic at no charge, and you get a legit sick day.

The stick: the health dept should be able to come in and close that food service thing down right then and there if someone is obviously sick. And because it was negligence of the company, the company is still legally obligated to pay the wages of everyone they screwed over. Tipped staff will go by average weekly reported wages.

.... But that's wishful thinking. The NRA - National Restaurant Association pays more and is better connected than public health and respectful treatment. I mean, who really cares if a few sick workers spread influenza as hotspots in food service, and infect many more, and likely kill a few with compromised immune systems? /sarcastic


I think most people would agree, but then there are a lot of workers who simply cannot afford to take any time off, no matter how sick. I just witnessed this with my mom's nurse practitioner, who had to cut her own maternity leave short because the paid leave was not enough to cover her rent.


I don't know the solution I feel like given it's illegal to punch someone in the face it should also be illegal to give them your contagious sickness. Yea I know it's impossible to tell who gave you the their sickness so it will never happen. Just find it strange that if you punch someone in the face you'll face criminal charges but you get them sick so that they have fever that may give them brain damage, a sore throat so bad they can't eat, a cough so harsh it scars their insides for life, absolutely nothing. I get there's nothing that can be done legally but there's zero contrition as well.

I often wonder if we could magically make every person on the planet avoid human contact for 1 month if we'd kill off the common cold. I know it's impossible obviously it's just an interesting thought experiment.


What about people who can’t tell if they have the flu? Peak contagiousness and peak symptoms don’t occur at exactly the same time.


We need a few mandates that will affect the decisions.

Someone will step up to make the money and be more human about the whole thing.


this needs to be at the top


If you are able to work from home, you are probably not living in poverty.

I work for a European multinational, and it is most certaintly a thing.


FWIW work from home because your kid is sick is extremely common at every company I’ve worked at in America as a software engineer as well. No one gets mad and it doesn’t make you look bad. Maybe I’ve been lucky or it could be an industry thing not necessarily a country thing.


It seems that your argument directly supports the headline claim.

How about European low-income people? Low-income people work mostly in retail, transports and logistics, cleaning, construction, and physical jobs. They can't work from home.


They can stay at home, take care of their kids and receive money from the national health insurance (that's how it's in Germany).


aka. take a leave.

In Germany every employee is entitled to leave of absence if their child is ill - up to a maximum of ten working days per child in the calendar year. Many children are sick more than that.

A doctor’s note from the first day is required. Employees typically receive their full income the first few days taken off, but it varies.


an email to your team?!?! HAHHAHAHA did you even read the part about low income. People in families making <$35000 aren't sending emails to their "team"


Yeah, it's laughable to think that more than 5% of HN's experience is relevant to these situations.


Uh TFA is talking about low income parents. In the tech sector here, it's the same. I can "work from home" to take care of a sick kid, or I can just use a sick day, which I have in plentiful supply, and avoid the pretense of pretending to work while I'm not at the office.

A waitress, housekeeper, janitor, or someone else who actually has to be at a specific place to perform their work, doesn't have that kind of flexibility.


You can't work from home if you work at a gas station, warehouse, hotel security, etc.


Or if you are a doctor, lawyer, politician, etc..


uhh no, doctors lawyers and politicians, basically anyone making >>$100k have way more leeway. You seriously think a dr is going to run around in a patient care setting while he's contagious, .e.g has the flu or some stomach infection? Maybe if he's the only dr in a rural setting he might go if it's a minor cold, same as with a lawyer for a court date, or politician who really needs to go vote or attend some important meeting. Not to mention that these people also have $ to hire nannies


Maybe in the rich countries of the EU.


> working from home

Even in IT, if the company doesn't support any remote working (and there are many company that still don't), you'd have no choice but to use a day off.


If you’re talking a white-collar office job, I just did the same this past week in the US.

It’s pretty common in the US as well.


If one of my kids is sick, i just email the office to tell them I'm going to be working from home. Not a big deal. I've never worked anyplace where it would have been a problem.


Low income folks probably aren't working a cushy office job. It's probably manual labor.


Indeed.

I work in IT as a sysad. If it wasn't for the company I work for requiring in-person work, my job could be 100% remote.

But quite a while back, I worked low paying no benefit jobs to make ends meet. And it's pretty hard to make coffees or stock shelves 'remotely'.

The harder the labor, the worse the pay, and the worse your health will be, and the less benefits you'll get. Unions were the antidote to that, but...


Do people in equivalent jobs in Europe also get to "work from home"?


You take a separate additional sick leave as a parent with a sick child in Germany. Working from home is something the employee can do to mitigate his absence. Each parent gets 10 days per year with one kid and up to 25 with multiple kids. If you are a single parent it doubles, so 20 for one kid and up to 50 for 2+ kids

edit: kids up to the age of 12.

edit2: it can be unpaid. However you get sickpay instead.


Is this only for salaried employees or everyone? Does a grocery bagger get paid sick leave?


We dont have grocery bagers. I assume you mean people whos sole income are tips? Thats not legal here. You can tip the pizza guy and waiter, but they are employees getting a paycheck from their employers. Tips are a bonus for a job well done and unrelated to them making a living.


We don't have grocery baggers (in general, there are probably exceptions) nor do we have anybody whose sole income is tips (illegal).


What I meant was, are there people paid by the hour instead of being full salaried? Part time employees? How do these laws affect them?


Part time with a fixed schedule works the same way.

With flexible hours the average working hours per day are calculated. So if you work for 40 hours a month, a sick day gets you around 2 hours of sick leave.

edit: I think I got you now, you mean day labor, who get payed for how long they can work for changing employers?

I had to google for that, those are "Unständig Beschäftigte". Those are people who are employed for less then a week. They dont get sick leave. I couldnt tell you an example where it is allowed to hire someone like that. Even field workers/harvest helper get a normal contract with predefined working hours.


> (specifically speaking of the technology sector, as that's what I have first-hand experience with)

In other words, you're out of touch with ordinary, less privileged workers.

> It really is a different world, over here. The antithesis to the apathetical, if I may be so bold...

Oh, come on. If you're a developer you can have a "work from home" day in the US as well. Plus, you can earn far more and you pay less in taxes.


> Oh, come on. If you're a developer you can have a "work from home" day in the US as well. Plus, you can earn far more and you pay less in taxes.

What about the ones that are not developers?


They very often don't get to work from home even in Europe.


>In other words, you're out of touch with ordinary, less privileged workers.

Just because I'm "out of touch" with ordinary, less privileged workers doesn't equate to my experience and observations in the sector as being invalidated, yeah? Isn't the site "Hacker News" and not "ordinary, less privileged workers'" news?

>Oh, come on. If you're a developer you can have a "work from home" day in the US as well.

That might be true for you but is it true for developers in the overall society?

Let's take this to an extreme example: A coworker missed over two months, last year, for 'x' medical reasons. What would've surely driven him to the poor house in the states was paid through those taxes you later commented on and there was no threat to his job because of it.

>Plus, you can earn far more and you pay less in taxes.

What does that have to do with anything related to kids and the propensity to send them to school because you haven't the time to take off to take care of them or the funds to have a minder? Surely, those less taxes (and more pay) should equate to more days from school, yeah, if it really is as exceptional as you're trying to make it sound.

Personally, I like paying taxes for a better society (e.g.: education, health, infrastructure, etc.) but that's just me. However, that has nothing to do the topic.


> Let's take this to an extreme example: A coworker missed over two months, last year, for 'x' medical reasons. What would've surely driven him to the poor house in the states was paid through those taxes you later commented on and there was no threat to his job because of it.

Disability insurance is a standard employment benefit in the US for white collar jobs and they would be protected from dismissal by the FMLA.

Less privileged workers undoubtedly have it better in Europe than they do in the US, but it's completely dishonest to compare a developer in Europe to a cashier in the US. Even in Europe, cashiers and construction workers cannot work from home. Even in the US many people do work from home sometimes.

zeroname 15 days ago [flagged]

> Just because I'm "out of touch" with ordinary, less privileged workers doesn't equate to my experience and observations in the sector as being invalidated, yeah?

It means your experience doesn't scale to broader society, but you were making a point about broader society. If the ordinary secretary or the shift worker or the policeman don't get their "work from home days" there's essentially no difference in your example to what's going on in the US.

> That might be true for you but is it true for developers in the overall society?

Working from home on occasion certainly isn't unusual.

> Let's take this to an extreme example: A coworker missed over two months, last year, for 'x' medical reasons. What would've surely driven him to the poor house in the states was paid through those taxes you later commented on and there was no threat to his job because of it.

"Surely" you have no idea about the US system. Paid sick days is something your insurance may or may not cover. You get the choice of whether you want to pay for that or not. States laws also may protect workers from getting fired during longer illness.

> What does that have to do with anything related to kids...

Nothing, just rubbing it in. If you're successful in Finland (or some other little Euro country), you're going to be far less wealthy than in the US. You'll be paying for everyone else to live. If that makes you happy, go for it. Pat yourself on the back.


> Working from home on occasion certainly isn't unusual.

Tell that to the employer that fired me for doing this lol.


>Working from home on occasion certainly isn't unusual.

Occassion and modus operandi are two entirely different precepts but you know this, yeah, and your trying ever-so hard to be pedantic. It's cute.

>Paid sick days is something your insurance may or may not cover.

I thought it was the employer who paid the sick days in the states. What you're talking about falls under the FMLA, I believe; which is an entire different set of principles - independent of the actual employer, yeah? Then you reinforce the point that it's not an overall societal protection with the statement, "States laws also may protect workers from getting fired during longer illness."

>Nothing, just rubbing it in.

You've brought nothing of attainable consequence to the conversation, much less any evidence of your assertion. How can you rub in that which you assume to be true but have no evidence for or against? The arrogance is astounding, to say the least.

>If you're successful in Finland (or some other little Euro country), you're going to be far less wealthy than in the US.

I'm assuming you're speaking of purely fiscal wealth, which is a pretty myopic perspective to have. You've provided no evidence of this claim. Are you sure we, the europoor, are actually poor or is this just something you're reverberating from the echo chambers of American exceptionalism.

>You'll be paying for everyone else to live.

Do you not do this with the current Social Security system? The irony is palpable...

>If that makes you happy, go for it.

Already doing it, so this is pretty pedestrian.

>Pat yourself on the back.

Is this not what you're trying to do with your own argument around more pay and less taxes? Pot meet kettle. The banality of this tangible irony is already starting to bore me.

Do you have anything of consequence to proffer or is it going to continually be this mundane level of effort, deriving from your bravado? If the latter of the two, then, you're bringing a knife to a gun show and it wouldn't be fair to keep being you with your own phantom limbs, so I'm dipping out. Have fun!


Flamewars will get you banned here. Please do not post like this to Hacker News, regardless of how wrong someone is or you feel they are.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


>Are you sure we, the europoor, are actually poor or is this just something you're reverberating from the echo chambers of American exceptionalism.

I’m not sure why you are getting so defensive when it is you who understands so little about the US that you just described a typical US tech job and tried to pretend it was something special about Europe.

Developers in the US make significantly more on average than developers anywhere in Europe. Developers working at the big tech companies do even better than that by clearing north of $300k annually between stock, cash, and bonuses. These jobs allow working from home, provide healthcare, PTO, significant maternity/paternity leave, etc. A few minutes of googling these numbers might help you gain some perspective.

The US is easily the best place to be when you have in-demand skills. Every country is going to trail pretty far behind on what it’s employment ecosystem can offer a developer (as of right now). This is why your post sounds so ignorant to people familiar with the perks of being a developer in the US.

Where the US is absolutely terrible compared to Europe is the social safety nets that people in worse jobs depend on. Yet that’s not what you decided to use as your point of comparison. You instead tried to show off the perks of tech skills there, which are worse than many HN readers receive in the US.

zeroname 15 days ago [flagged]

> Occassion and modus operandi are two entirely different precepts but you know this, yeah, and your trying ever-so hard to be pedantic.

It is you who is being pedantic. My point is that working from home, as a developer, because of some special case is generally possible, just like in your case.

Now what about all the other professions in your country? Do they all get their little "stay at home" days? No? Then what's your point?

> How can you rub in that which you assume to be true but have no evidence for or against? The arrogance is astounding, to say the least.

Why, I thought it was common knowledge.

Finland, as compared to the US:

Higher cost of living with less disposable income:

https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Finland/Un...

Developer salaries half as high:

https://www.daxx.com/blog/development-trends/it-salaries-sof...

Unemployment rate 50% higher:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_unemploym...

And obviously, the weather in Northern Europe sucks. Priceless!

> I'm assuming you're speaking of purely fiscal wealth, which is a pretty myopic perspective to have.

No, I'm talking about the standard of living. Of course somebody with a lower standard of living will have to find some other reason to make themselves look superior.

> Do you not do this with the current Social Security system?

You can look up the difference yourself.

> The irony is palpable... Do you have anything of consequence to proffer or is it going to continually be this mundane level of effort, deriving from your bravado? If the latter of the two, then, you're bringing a knife to a gun show and it wouldn't be fair to keep being you with your own phantom limbs, so I'm dipping out.

I don't know about your native language, but if you write like this in English, it makes you sound like a clown.


We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines. Would you please not create accounts to do this with on HN?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Children are expensive. And it’s not about money. It’s about time and energy and effort and incessant tending and bonding.

I honestly think people need counseling and planning before they start to think about starting a family. They need back up plans and contingency strategies.

It used to be that we lived in small communal groups and non nuclear families. Usually matriarchal wherein the post menopausal grandmother plays a crucial role in the post reproductive years to give the attention children need.

Clearly this system worked. We will be hitting 10 billion by 2050 due to exponential population growth. But the world has changed. Coping with the new resource strapped crowded new world is not by handing over the responsibility of child rearing to the state or the tax payers.

There is NO village that will raise YOUR child. It’s time for responsible procreation and talk about such things without fear or shame of being chastised. We can now store our genetic material. People should be given a lot of advice and caution before they want bring children into our future. Responsible parenting must be incentivized and not just procreation in the form of tax breaks and taking over of child rearing by the state. This issue really stresses me and I only see it getting worse.

I don’t know why there isn’t enough funding or initiatives to address this.


Where I come from the thinking is that people both responsible and irresponsible will have children, and being born to irresponsible parents is never the child’s fault. So the responsible thing to do for the state is to ensure the well being of all children by having generous grants, generous parental leave, universal healthcare including dental for children and so on. Basically, if a child’s well being ever depends on the economic status of the parents, society has failed - not the parents. Does this lead to moral hazards such as irresponsible parents getting children they can’t provide for? Who knows. Perhaps. I much prefer it to the alternatives.


We seem to have a collective child fetish.

(I hear the words of St.George Carlin.)


I think people call it evolutionary imperative these days.


That alignd with me morally. Well stated.


Children are difficult, but not as hard as you make it out to be. Out of my circle of friends, more than half the kids were unplanned (including our first child). It was no big deal—grandparents swooped in to keep things on the rails (something that is true for people of all income levels). For lower income people, a bit of help with childcare during work is all that’s necessary.

The “responsible parenting” approach you suggest would basically lead to lower income people never being in a position to have kids. And that would be a tragedy. Having children is one of the greatest joys in life. There is a really remarkable Gallup poll: https://news.gallup.com/poll/164618/desire-children-norm.asp...

Americans 45 and older were polled, and asked what they’d do if they had to do it over again. Just 7% of those with kids said they would’ve had zero kids. By contrast, 55% of those without kids would’ve had at least one. Indeed, while just 7% of people with kids would’ve had none if they did it over again, among those who never had kids, fully 18% wish they would have had 3 or more.

What other incredibly expensive, labor-intensive life choice has that kind of customer satisfaction rating?


>It was no big deal—grandparents swooped in to keep things on the rails (something that is true for people of all income levels).

I'm not sure if you even realize the value of the support systems that were intact for these families. Not everyone has that. It seems like you entirely missed the point of post above.

What if you had an unplanned pregnancy with a one night stand? What if you live hundreds of miles from your parents? What if your parents aren't with you any more?

The point of counseling would be to get people to understand the risks. Maybe you're in a place where an unplanned pregnancy would be no big deal. Lucky you. You might be in a place where an unplanned pregnancy would turn your life upside down. In that case you better take much more precaution, like using condoms AND birth control.


> What if you had an unplanned pregnancy with a one night stand? What if you live hundreds of miles from your parents? What if your parents aren't with you any more?

My point is not that everyone has that support system, but that it doesn't take much support to make having kids workable, and the government can gap-fill for people who don't have intact support structures.

Almost 40% of births in the U.S. each year are the result of unplanned pregnancies, despite intensive sex education in schools. Nobody is like "oh shit, I didn't know that having a kid could be really disruptive to my life. If only I had received counseling!" People keep having kids because people want to have kids. (Indeed, in the U.S., people are having fewer kids (about 2 on average) than they'd ideally want (3, according to polls)). Telling people they shouldn't have kids--which would end up as telling poor people and minorities that they can't afford kids and shouldn't have them--isn't a replacement for offering support such as childcare.


>My point is not that everyone has that support system, but that it doesn't take much

I vehemently disagree with this.

Not sure how we could continue to discuss if we can't see eye to eye on this basic point.

>Telling people they shouldn't have kids--which would end up as telling poor people and minorities that they can't afford kids--isn't a replacement for offering support such as childcare.

Who said we should be so prescriptive? I think just raising awareness would be enough to move the needle. You can do that AND offer support.


This mindset is crucial. It doesn't make much to meet the bare minimum legal requirements of parenting. It takes a ton to produce thriving minds capable of excelling in the encroaching post-labor reality.

So many people treat parenthood as a checkmark on the mandatory itinerary of life and once they check it off they just "eat the cost" and pay to have the kids taken care of.

Both those parents, and the poor parents who cannot afford the state / capitalist solutions to child rearing, are being negligent. Kids need familial bonds and constant social contact with their kin group to thrive. You don't drop them at random daycares every day for eight hours starting at six months and produce healthy progeny.

Raising kids is at least a part time job for both parents. Not in monetary expenses, in time. Putting in less than that at any point before pubescence can be catastrophic to the growth of the child. But as a society, because that cost is for most people untenable, they still want to "fulfill their obligation" to past generations, and have kids they cannot adequately allocate time for and end up producing descendants who suffer throughout life for it.

It is an absolute real conversation that needs to be had, that the true cost of parenthood is astronomical in todays society, and that almost nobody is in a financial position to fulfill that obligation such that they aren't risking harm to the child. We haven't had an adequate availability of time on the part of both parents to raise their children since 80% of the population were agrarian farmers* and we have seen rampant expanse of mental illness and maladjustment to society for it ever since.

* of course said farmers were very rarely good parents. Using your kids as hard labor from a young age, using violence as a coercion tactic against them, treating them like property and an investment rather than people, not feeding their curiosity or inquisitiveness out of your own ignorance and simple mindedness taught by your parents. It was a real mess that compulsory public education in part did a lot to stop, but that doesn't preclude the availability of parents and family being so critical to the well-being of young minds while also being absent from contemporary society for the vast majority of children.


LOL, this is ridiculous. My dad worked crazy hours so I didn't see him a ton when I was a kid. My mom worked too. I went to daycare. I went to school. I watched a ton of TV.

I turned out just fine.

Most of these crazy "investments" that people are putting in their kids has virtually no long term impact.

You should read The Nurture Assumption.


My original point was more trying to emphasize the impact on lower and middle class parents' lives to provide basic care while working full time, than the ballooning costs of care that upper class parents choose to spend.


I mean..you say that you turned out fine. Self referential = not evidence.


I cannot even tell you how much I disagree with you! The original article states that people are sending their sick kids to school because they can’t take care of their sick children.

In countries like USA, many are immigrants and don’t have that familial support system. Due to healthcare costs and cost of living, both parents(never mind single parents) have to work and they work longer.

Also..maybe 50 years ago, grandmothers would baby sit their children’s children but today grandparents are still working and when they retire, they want to have a break after decades of employment..to expect them to take up child rearing again is incredibly selfish.


Having grandparents able to help out is a GIGANTIC advantage. Why are you saying it "doesn't take much" ?


There are also polls that suggest that having children makes you unhappy.

Passing on our genetic material is why we exist. One could make an argument that we live and we die until we can make a semi copy of our genes. It’s an incredibly random process but it’s a biological imperative.

I also disagree that lower income parents won’t have children. I am not saying that we should sterilize poor people! I am just saying that they should sit down and have a talk with someone who will guide them through the maze that is child rearing. It’s also for middle class and even upper class income people. It’s not just money but also the psychological makeup.

Even a simple questionnaire like what’s your five year plan...or illustrating how much it costs and also fairly representative general in media et al that parenting is resented as much as it’s enjoyable.

It’s very skewed now. As a woman, it particularly enrages me when motherhood is glorified. I personally know more than a handful of my own friends who suffer from debilitating post partum depression. And yet ..other than the isolated bubbles..even today, people don’t talk about it. And it’s actually better now. After they were given support and counsel, women started talking about it..perhaps people will stop talking about how glorious it’s is to have children if they are not judged for admitting it.

Also..every woman who has a child massively increase her footprint. It increases with every extra child. It’s something that is never quantified. Maybe in 1600s when we were totally 500 million people, we needed to glorify children so we wont disappear as a species. We will be ten billion soon. So enough.


You are very fortunate that your parents could help you raise your first kid. That is not something universally available and my first year as a parent was very rough.


Well, I am the parent of 4. Youngest fathered a child with a loser. They are both a mess.

So. Looks like I am gonna raise my grandaughter. On the plus side, she is perfect. Good thing.

Parenting is harder than it was the first time. Need energy! More plz


It was fortunate, but I don’t think it was particularly fortunate. The average American lives 18 miles from their mother: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/24/upshot/24up-f....

The reason I bring up grandparents is because OP’s post struck me as pretty ignorant of the circumstances of the people (disproportionately lower income), who are actually having kids in this country:

> The data reveal a country of close-knit families, with members of multiple generations leaning on one another for financial and practical support.

Raising kids is not that hard and nearly everyone does it. We don’t need counselors telling people not to have kids until they can meet whatever criteria upper middle class people think are a necessary prerequisite for raising children. They need cheaper daycares to make life a little easier.


I'm not saying having kids is unnatural or anything, but I'd have been damned grateful to have a single night off every eight weeks after my child was born. Having capable grandparents around is a terrific benefit. You're right that even just a little help would have made a world of difference, but my wife and I didn't have that.


I was raised by my grandmother with a brood of cousins and all her children lived under the same roof. I did not know that nuclear families were the norm and that not every family was as large as ours until I was well into my teens. I think that being raised the way I was had a very positive impact on me. It wasn’t just having so many adults around but also having cousins who were sibling like and of various ages as peers to learn from and also to teach... Plus there was the ‘grandmother effect’.

I had always considered myself as a rather staid somewhat conservative person with orthodox views of my own volition. Until I realized that ‘feminists’ considered my views as fringe. That’s the ‘grandmother effect’..a matriarchal upbringing is entirely different from a feminist upbringing. The former is about freedom/owning power and the latter is about competition/struggle(in my understanding)

Every family needs a support system. And every human person does NOT have to be a parent. Parenting is a big scary and A Very Important Job.

I am reminded of Robert Wright’s Moral Animal where he beckons altruism and the chapter on kinship. That’s the ‘grandmother effect’.

It’s a topic worthy of a proper thesis.


‘Raising kids is not hard’: <<<that’s a pretty unverifiable claim.

After reading some of the comments here, I have changed my mind. I now feel like it’s not just counseling, but prospective parents should be given a written and oral test and must obtain a child license before they can have children who will have to be supported by public monies.

(Change My Mind)


I do not understand why you are picking this framing. That makes no sense to me.

We can quibble about the veracity of the study and the chosen hypothesis for explanation, but what this is about is people feeling pressure from their workplace to not take sick leave when their child is sick.

And such workplaces are cruel and monstrous and should not ever exist and I see it as the state’s role to strongly and with harsh punishments enforce that to make this into a societal norm if it isn’t already the status quo. That’s at least my very bog-standard German view, where, while there obviously are problems, this actually is the status quo. So it can be done.

To me it seems completely clear that all people have to have unlimited sick leave and that obviously includes sick leave for when their children are sick.


> no village that will raise your child

except that in the majority of the world people live in more communal settings. You're probably thinking of nations where people don't even know their neighbors. Also you misunderstand "village". The way I see that term nowadays is more about public and private institutions that provide support for kids in their education and upbringing. At least in SV there are tons of things going on every weekend where kids can go do things for "free" or at very low cost. You just have to look. For example last week the tech museum in sj had free admission sponsored by KDFC the local classical music station, home depot has free workshops every few months, the school district has free weekend field trips for families with preschool kids, not to mention the library has stuff that's going on every single day, more stuff : https://www.bayareaparent.com/


It is simply not true that most of the world lives in communal settings. Most of the world lives in urban areas. And with increasing world population, increasingly dense living environments.

Again..it’s not about anything being ‘free’ or ‘low cost’. It’s time. It shouldn’t be time sacrificed from parents’ lives that leads to resentment and guilt and finally therapy (if the kids can afford it..but apparently everyone can and if not, they are pharmaceutically managed..)

Group activities are not what raises a child. Learning interactions at every stage in life and not being instructed but observing life..children mimic their peers and the adults around them..if you put a child in front of a tv and with other kids, they will learn from them.

Every child is a crap shot. The genetic gamble might pay off and it would be a rocket engineer or a psychopath or both..if society bears the financial cost of child rearing, parents are supposed to rear them well. The taxes we pay to run public schools, that’s the ‘village’ contributing. It’s not so the parents can go live their lives and work so they can send their sick children to school. I realize some are poor and need to work. So they must move and live a lifestyle they can afford. They need someone giving them financial counsel and job placement and guidance.

But they are handing them off to the state to rear them and we are paying double and we are going to end up with sheep for the next generation with everyone being the same as they all conform to the state instructions.

This scares me!


> Every child is a crap shot

Feel free not to have kids, I definitely don't want parents who are so pessimistic and scared about the future that they won't even try

> genetic gamble

>99% not about genetics

> handing them off to the state

at least in more progressive areas the state/communities aren't out to make your child into a mindless drone


Let’s stick to objective arguments without getting personal. It is knee jerk reactions and emotional entanglements that stop us from having meaningful discussions to dissect problems and find solutions.


This is well known to anyone who has worked in a public school system. My friend used to work as a sub. One day, she found a sick student and sent him home. Later, she was admonished by a teacher there: this kid lives in a garage, where they don't have a heater. At least, this kid can feel better in a warm class room. This happened in Milpitas, CA, last year.


Damn


I am European, and the comments in here talking about how this would never be a problem in Europe are a bit elitist. It may be true that you may work from home if you a software developer, but if you do shift work, for example, it may be very difficult (or impossible) to find a replacement for you if you realize that your 6-year has a cold 60 minutes before your shift starts. It may be very possible that your co-workers or your boss wouldn't even understand why you have to be at home if your kid has a common cold. My mother was working shifts in a supermarket when I was a kid, and I found it completely normal to be alone in bed for 6-8 hours during my mothers shift when I had a slight cold.

You can't compare upper-level office jobs in Europe with lower-level shift work in the US.


Because here in Western Europe, our healthcare doesn't depend on your job/income.

Plus, I've found that on average Americans are more health anxious (for example, if I search in Google Spain in Spanish "I just accidently hit my head with a wall" the treatment results I'll get will be "if you feel fine afterwards, and you didn't black out or anything like that, it's okay" while if I do the same search on google.com/ncr in English the second result tells me to go to the hospital now and demand a CT scan of my brain to check for an internal hemorrhage) than Europeans are.


> Because here in Western Europe, our healthcare doesn't depend on your job/income.

It doesn't? At least where I am from, the cost of healthcare very much depends in your income, as the insurance rates are calculated like taxes (with an upper limit, of course). And this only covers basic medical care. Anything that is viewed as "luxury" or "cosmetic" is either only covered partly, or not at all, for example artificial dentition, and you need additional insurance for that, which not everyone can afford.

I am almost amazed when Americans think that healthcare in Europe is basically free. Nearly 1/10 of my monthly income is spent on medical insurances. The only difference is that it is quite hard to "opt-out" of the insurance.


Well, when I said free, I of course meant paid through taxes that are adjusted to your income level. Here in Spain your public healthcare quality won't change depending on if you make €1000 or €4000. You won't be put on top of a medical waiting list because you contribute more taxes wise to the system.

Dentistry is another thing altogether.

Also opting out of "public health insurance" is impossible here in Spain, because it's a right. You can however choose to get private insurance/get treated by a private healthcare company.


"Although the likelihood of missing any school days during the past year decreased with reduced income, among children missing school, those from low-income households missed more days of school than did children from higher income households. Although the reason for absenteeism cannot be ascertained from this analysis, these data underscore the importance of preventive measures, such as hand hygiene promotion and education, and the opportunity for both homes and schools to serve as an important point for implementation of public health preventive measures, including hand hygiene practice and education."


That’s another issue itself buried inside of this report. Here’s the meat of what the report is bringing awareness to.

>Among children who had gastrointestinal illness, 84.6% (family income <$35,000), 86.1% ($35,000–$49,999), 90.3% ($50,000–$74,999), 89.6% ($75,000–$99,999), and 87.4% (≥$100,000) missed school in the past year. Similarly, 83.7% of children living below the poverty level with gastrointestinal illness missed school, compared with 88.3% of those living at or above the poverty level.


It seems that a lot of people fail to realize some key aspects that lead to the pressure and outcomes you see on this paper:

* As customers, (1) when the washroom of a diner is dirty, the first reaction is not "Hey, maybe the cleaner was sick", it is an instant negative view. (2) when your favorite coffee shop is closed, most people don't think "I hope everything is alright, I'll come back tomorrow."

* As employees, (1) When someone doesn't show up for a meeting, most people will go for the lowest denominator "Person A is disrespecting my time", etc.

* As employer, (1) When someone doesn't show up to complete a project/deadline/task, the company can go bankrupt, be less profitable or lead to disruptions.

* As fellow humans, we mostly assume that the experience we have had or seen (e.g. having a child and nurturing them or working in tech vs laborer) follow the same mold as everyone else until we read and understand more about that.

Therefore, society creates an environment where unexpected absenteeism is frowned upon. Whether that is the correct modus operandi is for each and everyone of us to dig in and ask ourselves.


I've seen other comments mention this, but it's really hard to make the case for paying a wage laborer to not show up. Even if he's sick. Can't do janitorial work from home. And such labor is highly fungible: very high turnover, easy replacement, little training, lots of firing/hiring. If you don't show up, you get replaced, mostly because your company now has to hire someone else to do the job and has no reason to keep paying you.

Let's not forget that every time we pass stronger "labor laws" (e.g. higher minimum wage), we do see job loss, decreased hours, second jobs. A paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that the costs to low-income workers outweighed the benefits by about three to one. Telling McDonalds it must pay people to stay home will almost certainly just accelerate the pace of automation.


> I've seen other comments mention this, but it's really hard to make the case for paying a wage laborer to not show up. Even if he's sick.

The concept you're looking for is "insurance". It solves the problem here (for the employer, for the employee, for the other employees, for society as a whole).


Insurance in this case is silly. The premise of insurance is to protect against financial catastrophe, which is why it is carried for things like a possible half-million dollar medical bill, house burning down, etc.

Another core tenet of insurance is that the event against which it protects is not certain (or even likely, typically) to occur. Though this has been somewhat perverted with medical these days ("I want coverage for my $200/mo prescription"), it's still the basic idea. American workers take about 5 sick days per year (https://www.statista.com/statistics/682924/sick-leave-days-a... that's not an uncertainty. And because sick days are limited, insurance doesn't make sense: businesses offer as many sick days as they are able and willing to fund; any more they just don't cover.

In summary, there's no "catastrophic situation" here, it's just a serious expense many can't or wont cover.


What sort of failed state does not mobilize to support and ease the pain of fellow humans living through such hardship.

By the way, “poor life choices” is not a valid argument.

Edit: ok, in view of the objections regarding the technical definiton of “failed state” let me reword it to “failed society”. It is closer to my own objection anyway


Calling the US a failed state is pretty hyperbolic.

There are many, many countries in the world where a much larger fraction of the population is living in much poorer material conditions than in the US, and not just places like Syria or Somalia.

Actually, taking this study at face value, I'd guess that the fact that the poorest students only miss on average of 1 extra day of school per year due to illness is evidence that the US is not a failed state by any sort of global standard. I'd wager that that number is a lot higher in a lot of places.


It isn't surprising to hear "failed state" in case of U.S., but in this case a lot of people do not want to spend money to ease the pain of other people living nearby, because living nearby does not mean being close anymore. This isn't due to failed state, this is due to people not feeling very close to each other.


Thanks but I do not need any support from any state. I can manage my and my children's life just fine without them.


Would you please not take HN threads further into flamewar? This is the kind of generic, ideological, inflammatory subthread we're trying most to avoid here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


How were your children born? Fed? Clothed? Educated? Transported? Protected from crime?


Private healthcare, paid by my salary, private schools, cars, 2nd amendment.


And see? This is the kind of idiotic one-liners we have to deal with in this country about taxes and citizenship.

>>How were your children born?

> Private healthcare

So those that can't get jobs with it don't deserve it. And even those who make little can't really afford it either. Sure the ACA copper plan leaves the policy holder with 30%, but in actuality its insurance they can't actually use.

>>Fed? Clothed?

> paid by my salary

Again, if someone else can't get a job, they and their children shouldn't eat or afford clothing. That sounds like a 3rd world shithole...

>>Educated?

> private schools

Oh. You're one of those types. I'd imagine you've never had a day of adversity in your life. Never been homeless, never hungered. And I'd bet that familial money has ensconced your vision that people just must be lazy.

>>Transported?

> cars

Again, you're one of "Them". Adversity is being annoyed, or having "first world problems". Ever been without a car? Ever been stuck in a city with nobody really to call on for help?

>>Protected from crime?

> 2nd amendment

Oh yes, because the best crime prevention is Somalia-style arm everything and shoot first. Seriously, how much of an idiot do you have to be to think this is anywhere a good policy?

To my counterparts in Europe: this is what we have to deal with in this country. We pay taxes, and some of us want to pay none and go this anarchic "every man for themselves" style governance, complete with private police forces, private firefighters, and little to no government structure. What little "healthcare" we have with ObamaCare / PPACA is hated and derided with the utmost bile. And even the state (Indiana) I live in passed a law 'Banning cities or counties from banning plastic bags, straws or other one-time plastic things' - it even includes banning taxing those products. (0)

(0) https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2016/03/23/bill...


The second amendment is not protection from crime; at best it’s protection from crime that presents an active danger to your safety.


>The second amendment is not protection from crime

If you are made a victim of property crime (i.e. most nonviolent crime) there is no good solution if the property can't easily be returned. Social standards and possible punishment is what prevents that kind of crime and even it doesn't do a very good job.

> at best it’s protection from crime that presents an active danger to your safety.

Well that's more than you can say for the cops. When seconds count the police are minutes away.


> If you are made a victim of property crime (i.e. most nonviolent crime) there is no good solution if the property can't easily be returned.

Do you not have home & contents insurance in the US?


We do but generally speaking it's not worth it.


Fiji just introduced 5 days/yr of "Family Care Leave" on the 1st of Jan, 2019. The Act doesn't require there to be sickness involved, so while you can take leave to care for your sick family member, theoretically you can also do so to support them at a school rugby match: https://i.imgur.com/Ct0wv5D.png

Fiji is just barely above "third world" status. What's your excuse, USA?


In my experience all Americans want to help people in need, but when it comes to footing the bill, half of the population becomes very silent.

I don't mind paying 50/50 in taxes or around there.. I don't have to feel bad about not helping people in need in Denmark.

(Yes, yes, taxes does alleviate my personal responsibility for being a nice person who helps other people -- but small acts of kindness doesn't scale)


They don’t want to help, they just want to say they do.


I believe they are sincere..


> What's your excuse, USA?

Well, what's Fiji's excuse for being "barely above 'third world' status" ?

What makes you think it's normal for Fiji to have low standards of development, but it's an aberration for the USA?

It turns out there are many different dimensions of development, and just like many countries, the US ranks poorly on some of those dimensions, due to extremely complicated and maybe intractable political and cultural issues.


> Well, what's Fiji's excuse for being "barely above 'third world' status" ?

Well there's a very long list of reasons starting from geographic isolation to brain drain (incl. to the USA) all the way up to military coups, but I doubt that was a serious question so there's no point me answering your question in any great detail.

> What makes you think it's normal for Fiji to have low standards of development, but it's an aberration for the USA?

See above for why Fiji has low standards of development. In comparison, USA is the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth and has been for over a century. You've enjoyed democracy for almost 250 years. You've been to the moon.

> the US ranks poorly on some of those dimensions, due to extremely complicated and maybe intractable political and cultural issues.

And at last after the defensive stuff is out of the way, we see an attempt at an answer, abstract and hand-wavy though it is.


> See above for why Fiji has low standards of development. In comparison, USA is the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth and has been for over a century. You've enjoyed democracy for almost 250 years. You've been to the moon.

Democracy and space programs are two dimensions of development, but certainly not the whole story. India is a democracy, and Russia has an advanced space program. Both countries have loads of problems. So I'm not sure what your point is with democracy and the space program.

As for "powerful", I also don't see how that's relevant. China is extremely powerful, and Switzerland is not powerful at all. However I would bet my life that a greater fraction of Swiss than Chinese people have access to sick leave.

Yes, the US is prosperous in some ways, and not in others.

> And at last after the defensive stuff is out of the way, we see an attempt at an answer, abstract and hand-wavy though it is.

Actually that was the point of my entire post. Everything else in the post was an illustration of that point.

Let me make another point. The US isn't a person; it doesn't have willpower, feelings, or emotions. So it doesn't make sense to reason as though "the US" made some sort of irrational bad decision to be a shitty country where people can't take the day off of work. It doesn't make decisions at all in the way a human being does. It's an emergent system with no mind of its own and must be understood as such.


"Let me make another point. The US isn't a person; it doesn't have willpower, feelings, or emotions"

You made a similar point in your reply to me, but you've made it better here, so I'll reply here.

The US is a human construct, just like any other nation. And part of 'The US' is its people, its citizens. You can't divorce the country from the people that make it.

It does have willpower, it does have feelings, it does have emotions. As an example take a look at the countries reaction to 9/11. There was a reaction, which seems to disprove your theory, I would go further and say it was quite a human reaction.


You missed the larger point. A token offering of “5 days for rugby” is irrelevant if the rest of the economy is shit. You might claim that more government mandated PTO has no impact on the economy, but that’s not been established in any facts you presented.


> You missed the larger point. A token offering of “5 days for rugby” is irrelevant if the rest of the economy is shit.

No you did. A worker who needs to stay home a few days to care for a sick child or parent will consider this a blessing, regardless of how shit the rest of the economy is, how low wages are.


Unless you're suggesting causation between barely above 3rd world status, and having family days off I'm not sure what your point is?

Richer countries tend to (or should?) have nicer things, its reasonable to ask why one of the richest doesn't have something that much poorer countries do.


How are you defining "rich" ?

Having high quality of life like easy access to childcare, sick leave and vacation time from work, etc., is part of being a rich country, or more precisely, a developed country. So your argument amounts to "rich countries should be rich", which is circular.

If by "rich" you mean GDP per capita as opposed to development, I don't think it's a great metric -- there are plenty of countries with horrible, oppressive regimes that have a high GDP per capita. There are many low- or middle-income countries that I would rather live in than the "rich" UAE or Saudi Arabia, for example.

Also, how are you defining "should" ? Doesn't that imply some capacity for moral reasoning, or at least willpower? The US has neither -- it is not a person and it has no mind of its own. Saying the US "should" do something is like saying a hurricane "should" avoid my house. It'd be nice if it did, but it sounds a bit odd to put it that way.


I'm defining rich in this context as the US, as that was the developed nation we were talking about.

You will note that despite the US being richer than most developed nations, it has poorer benefits like you highlighted [1], compared to those other developed nations. So I fail to see how that is circular, if the richer country has less of those things.

[1] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2730947/Americans-p...

Edit: To answer your 2 additional paragraphs:

"Richer countries tend to (or should?)" There is a correlation (tend to), but there are exceptions as you have identified, so to avoid getting bogged down in arguments like this, I added the parenthetical. I then added a question mark because I am aware its attempting to impose ethics on something amoral.

I will attempt to hedge my statements even more in the future.


Well I guess I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

Is it just the following? "High GDP per capita is positively correlated with other metrics of development, so it is an interesting exercise to attempt to understand why this applies more strongly in some societies than in others". If so, I agree with you that it's an interesting historical and sociological question.

I guess what I have a negative reaction to is people living in modern parliamentary democracies like the UK or France, people who are used to a system where elected officials tend to accurately represent their constituent's wills and are able to make those wills reality, scratching their heads failing to understand why the US doesn't "just" pass some reforms to make life better. From my perspective this is like asking why Syrians don't just decide to stop having a war. (I am sure if you polled Syrians, 99.9% of them would say they wish the war weren't happening!)

The US political and institutional system is so extremely deadlocked and broken that there is no person alive -- not even Trump or any Senator or any other powerful person you care to name, who would be able to institute mandatory sick leave for workers, free childcare, or any other plausible solution to the problem stated in this headline, no matter how much they wanted to. So it gets a bit tiring to constantly hear moralizing about these issues from people who don't realize that no path to fixing them exists.


"Is it just the following? "High GDP per capita is positively correlated with other metrics of development, so it is an interesting exercise to attempt to understand why this applies more strongly in some societies than in others". If so, I agree with you that it's an interesting historical and sociological question"

Yes, and I think the parents question of "What's your excuse, USA?" was getting at the same thing, which is why I was confused about why you were questioning it.

:)


US is optimized for individual gain, not societies gain as a whole.

This is the thing which attracts immigrants from all over the socialist/communist republics of the world and they are the ones who make it big.

No one wants to change that, there is double speak here when people do sympathize but when it comes to foot the bill, no tax payer is ready for that.


> No one wants to change that

There is a continuous stream of polls showing things like “More Americans now want to raise taxes on corporations and high incomes, than lower them”.

Obviously most Americans don’t have high incomes so it’s still someone else’s bill - but sentiments are shifting somewhat.


Who is paying for those five extra days? Is it the health insurance? Your cost of health care will go up or service will get worse.

Is it taxes? Your taxes will go up or money will be missing in the budget (or you will need to get more debt).

Is it the employer? Wage suppression.

You haven't gained or won anything really. There's no free lunch.

I will make an exception though: If you make people stay home when they are sick, you may reduce sickness overall. However, if people spend their entire "Family Care Leave" on rugby matches and then illness strikes, it's not going to work.


> Who is paying for those five extra days?

The cost is shared between taxpayers and the employer – employers get a 150% tax deduction for wages paid for family care leave.

Taxes will go up, and perhaps some prices. This is good.

> You haven't gained or won anything really. There's no free lunch.

Workers maybe haven't gained anything, but a worker has, and that's wonderful. You can argue all you want about economic models and the absence of free lunches but at the end of the day, a parent who needs to take care of a sick child gets to do that, and having the cost paid elsewhere in taxes or higher prices is a boon.


The cost isn't paid elsewhere. It's essentially going straight out of their own paycheck. Not immediately and in equal measure, but over time and on the average. It's effectively vacation days.

Remember, everyone gets those five days. Big earners, small earners. It evens out to nothing. Everyone can't live at the expense of everyone else.


An American parent has a sick child but can't care for them. A Fijian parent has a sick child and can care for them. This comes out of their own paycheck (not immediately and in equal measure, but over time and on the average. It's effectively vacation days)

If you really don't see how the latter position is so vastly better for the individual parent than I don't know what to say. Perhaps you've never been a wage slave.


Believe it or not, an American parent can take a vacation day as well. The difference is, you're not forced to have vacation days and suffer lower pay for it.

In any event, why have only five days? If five days is good, why aren't two weeks even better? How could five days be enough to care for your family? Why not a whole month, that's even better than two weeks! I'll tell you why: Because it's not a free lunch. These laws are made so that politicians can sell them to clueless voters, not because they make sense.


It’s 5 days because there are no other paid leave laws. If the US had mandatory six to eight weeks paid leave for everyone like a civilized country, then there wouldn’t be a need to specify sick leave, other than allowing for leave without prior notice due to sudden illness or injury.


If the US had mandatory six to eight weeks paid leave, that would come out of the employee's paycheck.

I don't see what's good or civilized about being forced to take a vacation. A lot of people are underemployed as-is, because of all the regulations that make it less attractive to hire people fulltime.


"Why have only one painkiller? If one painkiller is good, why not take the whole bottle? How one pill be good enough to ease your pain? Why not the whole bottle, that's even better than one pill!"

What a silly argument.


So high income parents with no sick leave don't send their kids?


High income parents without sick leave may be able to hire a babysitter. And are far more likely have a job that can be done from home (most "knowledge work") than requiring physical presence (food service, retail, labor). And are more likely to simply have more leverage with their employers / more rainy day resources to be able to insist on taking a day off anyway and swallow whatever the consequences are.


People who work hourly are in the same boat and come to work sick.


the disconnect in this thread is a mild shock


Of course they do. When I was a kid I stayed off and my mum looked after me. I really don't understand how people can think they can have a normal career and have children. Let's just stop. We're not better off with all this extra working.




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