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Tech firms face growing resentment of parent employees during Covid-19 (cnet.com)
628 points by walterbell 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 1290 comments



I am a middle-aged adult with no children who's worked at tech firms for the past couple decades. To be honest, the "resentment" of those without children have for "benefits" those with children get strikes me as extremely selfish, immature and displaying a total lack of empathy. This is time off specifically to take care of children, something now that has become exceedingly more difficult in Covid times.

What's next, complaining that the cancer patient gets extra time off so why don't I?

If anything, I'm thankful for all those people with kids who will (a) take care of the continuation of the human race, and more selfishly (b) support our society and economy when I am too old to do so.


As a mid 30s childless man I completely agree. We essentially sent people home on a Friday, told them to figure out a work from home situation, and then they were told welp your kids aren't going to school either, and whatever childcare you had lined up has now vanished too- and this is all happening in the course of a few days at most. So now you have kids to worry about all day, home schooling to oversee, focusing on your actual job, and then on top of that oh yeah there is still a mildly terrifying pandemic going on with an uncertain outcome. I work in the NYC area, and everyone is tight on space here as it is. I barely held it together during all this, how parents did with young children is beyond me.

Maybe I am making assumptions here on the general political leanings of those here, but if you are talking about supporting anything like Medicare for all, UBI, BLM, PPP or even just support the Democratic party in general, pulling a little extra weight for those in a time of need is IMHO a relatively small ask that you as an individual can implement compared to those agendas.


Ignoring the obvious downsides for a moment, I'd happily trade places with one of my childless coworkers right about now. This morning I went up and down the stairs at least ten times while trying to get my 7- and 9-year old kids successfully established in their first remote learning session, simultaneously participating in two consecutive Zoom meetings with coworkers, and figuring out how to solve a nagging issue in our application that has stumped the rest of the team. I won't be cut any slack by management, in fact it works out the opposite -- as the team lead, I need to be around all day to answer questions, solve high-level problems, and fit in a bit of architecture work around new projects around the edges. I put in more work time for the office now than I did if you added up all my previous office time, lunch time, and commutes.

I wouldn't give up my kids for anything but I will be so very happy when this pandemic is safely behind us and we can get back to something approximating what we had before.


A BIG chunk of all that drama is due to the US social safety net not including childcare.

That's the thing disturbing thing about these stories: employees are turned against each other when it's a) the company; and b) your tax dollars, not providing any kind of built-in childcare for society. In France, kids can go to preschool and have pre- and post- school childcare, which has to be paid, but it's only like $500/mo and has subsidies involved and all kinds of subtleties that I don't know about but still aren't expensive.

And I'm not saying "move to France," I'm saying that tax dollars in the US should be going toward making the lives of tax payers easier, especially in a nationwide/global situation like a pandemic.


Childcare, although helpful for those parents who cannot WFH, would seem to present a choice to those who can: either put your children into a riskier environment, or accept that you will be less productive than your colleagues who are willing to take that risk. That's a terrible choice for a parent to make. The safest method would be to permanently assign one child care professional to a family, to limit any transmission, but I doubt there are enough child care professionals to do that.


Most likely depends on what you consider professional. Turns out the qualifications for watching other people’s children are almost enterally age base. Even then there’s wiggle room for a competence factor that is deemed by the guardian and confirmed by the court.

For example, there is no lower age a child can be left alone in my state, and no requirements for leaving with someone else — except that the child or person can reasonably recognize danger and avoid it.


Mothers and extended families used to cover that role.


The amount of risk depends upon where a person lives. I am in a part of the world that acted aggressively early and got the spread under control. The only real concern is that someone from outside of the region will import covid since we are still dependent upon trade and some people don't like playing by the rules, while people within the region are getting a bit complacent should that happen.

Even assigning one child care professional per household with children is impractical. That would amount to one care giver per one or two income earners in those families, while still introducing vectors for the virus to spread. It is a disproportionate amount of the workforce and would be incredibly expensive. Good child care professionals aren't working for minimum wage.


If it is a global pandemic, what is the benefit of having state-sponsored childcare if the schools ought to be closed?

Unless child-care workers are immune to the virus, they have to stay at home like everyone else, likely taking care of their own kids as well...


>>> it's only like $500/mo

In France the large majority of workers make 1000 - 2000 euro a month after taxes. Half of it going to rent like in every city. That means people may have a couple hundreds euros left at the end of the month in disposable income after rent, food, gas, taxes, etc...

That is to say 500/month for childcare is insanely expensive and unaffordable!


Here in Norway we have another system where the payments for child care is graded so those with low income pay zero and those with highish (> €60000/year) pay full (€200-300/month) and in between you pay around €100/month.

500 bucks/month seem quite expensive.


Here in France we have a system where the payments for child care is graded so those with low income pay zero (actually get billed a low hourly price plus receive an immediate help from the state so the net to pay is zero) and those with highish (> €40000/year) pay a high per hour rate and get the help capped to 600€, and that help drops to zero if the hourly rate goes above 10€/h (which can quickly happen if you have a flat daily rate but fail to present the child on time, like nobody with children has never been late, ever) or for days the child is not presented to childcare at all, but you still get billed for those, including if the child is ill up to 5 days (after that healthcare takes over, but in between, which is pretty much most of the time, you foot the bill)

I’ve been a father for three weeks, we ran the numbers with my wife for this kafkaesque system with crazy conditions at every corner that seem specifically designed to make us bleed inane amounts of money, and for our current situation this means for five days a week of presence the bill totals north of 2k€/mo, minus the capped 600 on the happy path, and if everything goes well... <deity> forbid anything goes wrong., we’d have to foot the whole bill plus possible penalties.

YMMV and there are “somewhat cheaper” solutions, but there’s 1-2+ year (years!) wait queues, and they’re not FIFO but priority ordered by... revenue, which makes the queue virtually infinite for us. So my wife which had an entrepreneur project on the table is contemplating dropping that on the floor and staying at home, which would be a terrible move in so many ways.

I’m all for social help and levelling the playing field, but this is downright batshit insane.


Well, I find it hard to believe that €200 - €300 should be "full". That can most certainly not cover the full cost for child care, so there's probably still a significant subsidy by the state even for high earners.


No, when I say full, it is really the "maximum you ever need to pay" for a spot in kindergarten. It is of course subsided too by the government!

And as the sibling here say you can get rebate for having more kids too.

Having accessible daycare for all means more women can go to work full time which again means higher productivity among the population and more career opportunities for women so it is very important in many areas.

In corona times it is essential to get anything done effectively.

We also have the right in law to daycare, not just an offer if there is room for it.


It's not the full cost of having a kid in childcare. Norway have set a cap on what the parents have to pay, and most (if not all) kindergartens have discounts if you have multiple kids in the same place.

The actual cost is much higher but is covered by the government, with some adjustments to account for local variations in things such as real-estate costs and similar.


This also means that people are still paying a higher price for it, but that price is just mixed in with the rest of their taxes.

To be clear, I'm in favor of governments taxing for the purpose of providing services of benefit to society. But having the government cover costs does not make those costs go away, it just shifts how people pay for them.


If you only look at the cost you are correct. But at the same time having more people able to work increases the tax revenue of the government which in turn makes the total influence on the economy of the country not as bad. Too often people only look at costs in these scenarios. I see you are not opposed to the idea regardless but it is a thing to bear in mind :)


> This also means that people are still paying a higher price for it, but that price is just mixed in with the rest of their taxes.

Given that Norway has extremely successful oil and gas investments that doesn't seem right. This is money that the average person would never see anyways. It's not money coming from their taxes back into their pockets.


Keep in mind that most of the money Norway make from oil & gas are invested [1], it's not money used directly for anything in Norway. Up to 4% of the money made from the investments can be spent, the rest is re-invested.

Of the 1.173,5 bn NOK income in the 2020 national budget, 1.084,8 bn NOK are from taxes and various charges.[2]

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Pension_Fund_of_Nor... [2] - https://www.statsbudsjettet.no/Statsbudsjettet-2020/Satsinge... (Norwegian)


Fair enough, it is more complex than I stated. Though there is still an opportunity cost; if that money were not being spent on this, it could be spent on other things, or given to taxpayers. I'm just pushing back on the idea that things are "free" when the government pays for them, but costs don't go away just because they are paid for by the government. It's a pedantic point though.


I think that is common across Europe / social states:

- Half of gross income is taxation

- Half of the net income is rent

- Half of the net-net income is other cost of living

- The remainder is disposable income (~10 % of gross income)


Half of it is returned in the form of tax credit.

A full time job minimum salary is 1.521,22 euros per month in France, and at this salary, you have no revenue taxes and extra child support, namely a one shot birth allocation of roughly 1000 euros, and 185,54 € per month of child support.

So, no, "500/month" is not in my opinion "insanely expensive and unaffordable" considering a bigger picture.


For foreign readers, the income tax in France is a secondary tax that more than half of workers do not pay at all (it's low compared to other taxes and it's divided by the number of children). Don't be mislead when hearing that there is no income tax, France has many taxes.

What you say is misleading. (1) That's not quite right for a single parent because they get more allowance but can't claim tax credit with no tax. (2) That's not quite right for a couple each around minimum wage because they get no allowance but may claim some tax back. (3) That's not quite right for a couple with good dual income or extra revenues because they're not eligible to any benefits but may be able to claim a good chunk of the child care in tax credit.

France has extremely strong threshold effects. A penny less and there's more allowance, a penny more and benefits are cut while taxes are increased. It's really hard to generalize.

In all cases though, it's tough for a household to pay for childcare. My sister is a childcare worker so I'd know, all parents are dual income earners, like the equivalent of the high earning engineer/lawyer household making $300k+ a year in the valley. They earn enough to pay for childcare upfront and get a fair chunk back in tax credits.


(1) If you pay no taxes, a tax credit is the state giving you money (not the same as a tax reduction). In the case of childcare, it's a tax credit, so everyone in France can claim it and the state will give you money if need be.

(2) I'm sorry, I don't get what you mean

(3) Well, yeah, if you're a lawyer/software engineer with a good income, you can probably afford to pay childcare, seems right by me ?


(1) You're sure about that? I used tax credits a lot and it's always been a deduction on my taxable income (before income tax). I don't think people paying no income tax can gain anything from tax credits.


We already have government schools that are closed by the edict issued by teachers’ union. How having government childcare would help?


> We already have government schools that are closed by the edict issued by teachers’ union. How having government childcare would help?

The government gives you money each month for each child you have, and forces your employer to allow you to work part-time.

> the edict issued by teachers’ union

This is greatly misinformed. Schools in the US are underfunded and have scarce resources to deal with the healthcare nightmare that is COVID. The unions simply are the medium through which some school organizations had to be convinced of this rather obvious problem.


For example, most Schools are in massive violation of OSHA because their air filters aren't up to the job because they can't afford to retrofit buildings to support a clean air system.

The unions are trying to keep their members ALIVE not out of spite, but because some one has to take the hit.


My brother teaches in an Arizona public school classroom which has one window and poor ventilation. The Security Officer for the school forbids leaving the door open because of the risk of active shooters.


Arizona having active shooters wandering the halls of public schools all day long seems like an unlikely problem. Even given the number of school shootings in the past decade the likelihood of a single classroom getting one is way less than one of the students getting hit by a school bus in the parking lot.


Yet all the millions in bond issues don’t address that? That’s mismanagement, not lack of funding.


Who knows? I can tell you that my wife’s 60ish year old elementary school in Southern California finally got air conditioning last year. So the bond issues aren’t flushing schools in money.


> This is greatly misinformed. Schools in the US are underfunded

K-12 in the USA is more funded than almost every country on this planet. What are you talking about?

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cmd.asp


> K-12 in the USA is more funded than almost every country on this planet. What are you talking about? https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cmd.asp

As I have said elsewhere in this thread, statistics viewed in isolation are not useful, and are often used for shock value rather than to provide an actual insight. That article of yours refers to the OECD. The US has the highest population in the OECD countries (325 million), almost 3 times the next highest country (Mexico at 129 million). A greater and likely more diverse population with no social safety net means more challenges. Also, are you sure that the USA and say, Japan have exactly equivalent facilities for all students, including special needs students? Also, there's the issue of adapting to different cultures and languages, both of which American schools are far more accepting about. Japanese schools have gotten in hot water for forcing students to dye their hair black to maintain uniformity [1].

So yeah, making apples-to-apples comparisons between the US education system and other countries is hard at best, and meaningless at worst. The US has the challenges of being the largest population in the OECD, as well as being the most diverse culturally, the most liberal in terms of social norms, and not having a meaningful social safety net, particularly for healthcare. This is a unique set of challenges that requires an equivalent amount of funding to tackle.

-------------

[1] https://japantoday.com/category/national/tokyo-public-school...


No.

We spend more per student than nearly every one of our economic peers and get drastically worse results. Results have gotten worse over time, even though we have increased funding.

This is a portrait of total failure, and we need to stop funding it.

You can't "fix the system".

The system is insanely profitable. It makes a lot of money for lobbyists, private interests, unions, administrators... it's great for everybody but parents and students.

Both of my parents were educators. Mom served on the school board, with great distinction, for over a decade.

I got to see, first-hand, just how bad things were. How much damage lobbying, insane political programs, and public-sector unions have done to education.

As a future parent, I will never subject my children to the horrors of American public education in its current incarnation.

That choice should be open to every American parent, not just those wealthy enough to send their kids to a private school.


> We spend more per student than nearly every one of our economic peers and get drastically worse results. Results have gotten worse over time, even though we have increased funding. This is a portrait of total failure, and we need to stop funding it.

You are repeating the talking points about average, when the entire point of my paragraph above is that averages are not useful outside of context. There is no "we". Someone posted elsewhere in the thread that several states in the USA have funding below the OECD average already. [1]

> The system is insanely profitable. It makes a lot of money for lobbyists, private interests, unions, administrators... it's great for everybody but parents and students.

This I agree, for everything except the unions. Those might have been very powerful in the past; now apparently they are under fire for resisting a call to work where they could potentially contract a disease that has stopped entire economies.

-------------------------------

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24416490


> drastically worse results

Every single time I double check this, it turns out that American education system, while not perfect, is not that bad either.

American education system tend to have big differences - schools that have tons of money and schools that struggle for supplies or are unable to fix buildings. Schools that are great, schools that are very bad. Schools that are difficult and schools that are easy. But overall, the results are not some kind of catastrophe. It is far from that.

In fact, specifically on public/private divide there are plenty of good public schools with good results. The places middle class families fight to live at are such because everyone wants to go to local public school. This does makes local house prices higher and makes that school available to rich only. But it is still public school and not a private one.


The biggest issue is the lock-in.

Most people can't move to get access to good schools.

It's like "you live in a McDonalds area, so tough luck, that's what your family gets to eat until you are rich enough to move somewhere better."

Nobody would find that acceptable. Especially when the McDonalds is priced as if it had a Michelin Star.


> It's like "you live in a McDonalds area, so tough luck, that's what your family gets to eat until you are rich enough to move somewhere better."

This is literally true in the US, with food deserts [1].

> Nobody would find that acceptable.

I don't like it, but apparently people in the USA are just fine with this. Show me politicians who are winning elections based on equal access to nutritious food.

Most people resent money spent on schools because they are stuck in 19th-century thinking about how “all you need is a schoolhouse and some willing students, why does it take so much money?”.

-------------------

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert


Food desert is defined as "more than one mile from a supermarket in urban and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas".

Doers that really imply such area does not have good food available? Because by that definitino I used to live in food desert and still had fresh foods, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables.


That definition has affordability and some amount of processing and convenience inherent in it because of the word "supermarket". So it means that you can't get good food with a reasonable amount of effort, and without needing access to things like large chest freezers or canning equipment.

My guess is that you lived in an area with plenty of produce, close to a farm or something like that. This is my preferred setup as well, but it is a) expensive and b) hard to process and store in the quantities you get. Typically you get tens of pounds of tomatoes one month and nothing the next.


Absolutely this, I bet if you gave each parent a check for $10k (less than what we are spending per student) to spend on education as they see fit, we would have a very different (and more efficient) system.


> I bet if you gave each parent a check for $10k (less than what we are spending per student) to spend on education as they see fit, we would have a very different (and more efficient) system.

Except the special needs students. And the ones with severe physical and learning disabilities. And the ones who have trouble getting food at home. And the ones who don't have school supplies, which the teachers buy out of their own pockets.

Oh, and the free childcare that teachers also provide during the daytime! It's not exactly working out well, now that that's temporarily on hold due to the pandemic.

Brainwaves like this are rarely productive when you think about them in the context of an entire society. But I actually think if you told parents "Here's this $10k, and good luck. The school buildings are going away.", they wouldn't take it.


Then we need a serious discussion as to why we are using the education system to solve food access issues, along with poverty, and support for disabilities.

Once we burden the education system with solving society ills, you fail at the main goal. This is called scope creep.


Yes! I think comprehensive social benefits and putting handling of disabilities and such outside the purview of schools would go a long way towards reducing the amount spent per child.


Have to agree with others that more funding, alone, won't solve the problem. At my mother's school, any extra funding usually paid for more administration to tell her how to do her job wrong.


That doesn't mean it's not underfunded for what it would need to achieve what people expect of it.

Should these be adjusted for purchasing power parity?

Also does the US education spending number (6.5% of GDP) contains spending on sports and research?


That is not a correct summary. The first part of this study includes private schools. The second part includes universities. Removing those factoers, USA K-12 is either average or below.


On average, you are technically correct. But the US also has the greatest disparity in funding, which isn't visible on your link but is absolute basic conventional wisdom for any discussion of US education.

Fifteen of the fifty states had per-pupil funding less than the OECD average. Our median-funded state is around Canada, around 13th in the world. If Utah were a country, it would rank in the 30s, somewhere around the Slovak Republic.

https://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-educ...


[why was objectivetruth's comment downvoted to 'dead'?]

Also should/are those figures adjustment for cost of living for the particular state?


Schools in the US are _not_ underfunded. There's some issues with unequal funding (which I think is a real, large, problems).

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2019/school-s...


$23k+ per pupil in NYC is underfunded?


How much of that goes on rent? And is that rent paid directly back to the city?


Not much. NYC's schools (and the schools in most cities) are mostly on property that has been owned by the city for a very, very long time.


If that number was pre-COVID, then yes. No school system budgeted for healthcare-level precautions. Also, it doesn't seem overly surprising given the cost of living in NYC and how expensive everything else is.

If the median price of a home in NYC is $799K [1] (likely the average is even higher), an average spending of $23K per pupil is not too surprising.

[1] https://www.noradarealestate.com/blog/new-york-real-estate-m...


Who do you suppose pays for it then? At that level public schools shouldn’t exist as private do a better job by all metrics.


> At that level public schools shouldn’t exist as private do a better job by all metrics.

There is no real "that level"; average are misleading without better context. Bill Gates walks into a bar and "the average net worth is 1 billion per person".

> At that level public schools shouldn’t exist as private do a better job by all metrics.

Private schools have the liberty to pick and choose their students. A special needs student that requires extensive care throughout the day will be rejected by a private school, but the public schools have to accommodate the student. Most private enterprises are efficient precisely because they select their customers with a view to minimum cost and maximum revenue. This is fundamentally incompatible with a public teaching system that has to serve everyone.


> private do a better job by all metrics.

Not much, if at all, when you correct for student body makeup. Private schools do a good job of selecting the students that would do better anyway.


> If the median price of a home in NYC is $799K

A pointless stat in the context of school spending. A ton of NYC residents can’t afford homes and still send kids to school.


> A pointless stat in the context of school spending. A ton of NYC residents can’t afford homes and still send kids to school.

How is it pointless? Do you think house prices don't affect the rent that those people have to pay to be residents? Where do you think all the employees of NYC schools stay? I mean, sure, quite a few probably stay in New Jersey and such, but in general the NYC area has inflated prices of everything, so I'm not overly surprised by inflated school spending.


>Schools in the US are underfunded

This is pure flasehood. The US spends more per child than pretty much all of Europe.

Maybe you meant they're under performing because while not lacking in money they are most certainly lacking in outputs.

I'll happily cite sourced if you want but it's well known and well documented and written about you can corroborate it easily with whatever sources you find reliable.


The problem with that is two-fold: first, the median childcare worker is less concerned with the child’s long-term success than is the median parent (that’s not a slight against childcare workers!); second, that the presence of state childcare makes it less competitive for parents to spend time taking care of their children themselves rather than to work and earn money, which means more and more folks are likely to utilise state childcare, which is less ideal due to the first reason.


> The problem with that is two-fold: first, the median childcare worker is less concerned with the child’s long-term success than is the median parent

Two of my siblings are primary school teachers (that is, for kids who come right out of kindergarten; not sure how this is called in the US/elsewhere), and from the stories I've heard from them, they'd argue heavily against your points.

I think you're underestimating how many families are completely dysfunctional, or where the parents are overwhelmed with taking care of their children, even under normal situations, let alone during the current pandemic. For example; where I live, it's unfortunately still often the case that schools do not take care of lunch for the kids (they are supposed to go home during lunch breaks) and the amount of times where teachers have to wonder whether the kids had anything to eat at all for lunch (sometimes because nobody is at home and they didn't feel hungry at the time or had only junk available) is astounding.

Childcare workers are trained and certified for their job (that's at least the case in my country); and yes, while they have many kids around and thus might not have as much interest in an individual kid as a parent might have, they at least have to uphold a certain level of competence in order to keep their jobs (essentially, like the rest of us - be good enough at your job or search something else), while a parent stays a parent, no matter how bad they are at it.


In Sweden, preschool/childcare is a part of the school system, with it’s own education plan. My kids have loved going to their respective preschools, and they get to meet other kids and learn new things in a safe environment. Even though I love to hang out with my kids, I would never consider it better for them to stay at home with me. Btw, I have four kids, 2-12 years old, so I’ve seen quite a few preschools now and they have all been amazing.


I’ve heard horror stories about childcare in the US from friends who live/lived there so I can understand people’s reticence when their only experiences have been extremely poor.

But likewise my experience in Iceland has been phenomenal. Experienced, educated teachers who specialise in pre-school education backed up by really caring support staff. And the schools are packed full of fun things to do and healthy food.


Really. Bringing my 1½ year old kid to the (heavily subsidised) kinderdagopvang in the Netherlands is a no-brainer. He gets to play and mingle with other young children and enjoy himself tremendously, and we work from home. Professionals take care of his needs, and there is not a moment of worry as far as we parents are concerned. It's also only 500m away, so I get some fresh air too when I bring and pick him up by bicycle.

The day these day care facilities reopened (May 11th) was a good day.


Unfortunately, childcare is like most things in the US, cost and quality vary wildly. We had great childcare and preschool experience, but for a period of time was paying more than our mortgage to send the kids there.


In my region of Spain, childcares typically have 1 adult per 8 children for under 1 year olds, 1 adult per 13 children for 1 to 2 year olds, and 1 adult per 20 children for 2 to 3 year olds. Some private childcares offer better ratios but not substantially better (they can brag about maybe (6,10,15) instead of (8,13,20), for example).

I don't doubt the professionalism of the people who work there, in fact I have a high opinion of them, but I think it's simply physically impossible to provide the kids with the care and stimulation they need with that kind of adult-to-child ratio. My kid demands an amount of attention that just couldn't be provided by 1/8th of a person before 1 year old or 1/13th of a person now that he's 1.

I suppose the solution ends up being strapping them to some bouncy seat or hypnotizing them with screens. And when it's meal time, just try to give them the food for 5-10 minutes and if they didn't eat much, bad luck. I can't blame the professionals because what can you do if you are alone with that amount of babies/kids? But that's something I don't want for him, I definitely think he's better at home where he can get more attention.

I suppose in Sweden the ratios will be much better, which of course changes everything.


Those ratios are pretty high indeed. Eight babies for one adult! In the Netherlands:

    under 1: max 3 per adult
    1–2: 5 per adult
    2–4: 8 per adult


The UK is very similar though it depends a bit on the setting and qualifications of the person involved - but generally max 3 per adult for under 2s, max 4 per adult for 2-3 and 8-13 per adult for 3-4s.


While parents care more about outcomes, they may not be making ideal choices to support those outcomes.

When I have my kids full-time, time with them is a balancing act between being actively engaged and trying to enrich their lives and just trying to keep them alive while I knock out other stuff that has to be done. My youngest is still a toddler, and much of his experience of being at home is me chasing him around the apartment taking (almost) everything away from him. He loves going to day care where he's in an environment that's designed around him and where he's allowed to mess with just about anything he wants to. I'm skeptical that I'm worse in that regard than a "median" parent.

In practice, very few stay-at-home parents dedicate all of their children's waking hours to their kids.


Do you have some data to back up your claim about childcare workers being less concerned? And also, that "less concerned" translates to worse education?

When childcare closed across Europe due to the pandemic, I've seen a lot of my friends with kids turning from oh so "concerned" parents to people in survival mode who suddenly don't mind their kids having sugary food in the evening or watching yet another TV show if that is what makes them happy:

It's one thing to hand the nanny a list of things to do or to avoid, it's another thing to prepare gluten-free, vegan food 3 times a day while also making sure the little one does the preschool-level introductory course to quantum physics.


As a counterpoint here's something Franz Kafka wrote in a letter to Elli Hermann 1921, badly translated by me.

> Parents have an animalistic, senseless love for the children, which confuses themselves with the child all the time, the educator has respect, and this is much more valuable for education, even if there is no love present at all. I repeat: valuable for education, because even though I call parental love animalistic and senseless, that does not value it lowly, it is just as much a unknowable mystery as the artful, creative love of the educator, only in the context of education however it cannot be valued low enough.


Is there any evidence that childcare is detrimental to a kid’s future?

Your argument could easily be used to argue against anything in our service based society. From schooling to dentists.


Yes.

> The Long-Run Impacts of a Universal Child Care Program

> Past research documents the persistence of positive impacts of early life interventions on noncognitive skills. We test the symmetry of this finding by studying the persistence of a sizeable negative shock to noncognitive outcomes arising with the introduction of universal child care in Quebec. We find that the negative effects on noncognitive outcomes persisted to school ages, and also that cohorts with increased child care access had worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates later in life. Our results reinforce previous evidence of the central role of the early childhood environment for long-run success.

https://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/kmilligan/research/BGM-childcare...

https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/pol.20170603

Edit: Here’s a decent explainer for anyone who doesn’t want to read the whole paper. https://www.macleans.ca/economy/economicanalysis/how-to-unde...


Interesting stuff. One question:

> After a few years, there’s no distinguishing between a child whose performance was improved (or worsened) by daycare and one who did not go to daycare.

Is this potentially because most schools are aimed at "middle of the road" kids, kids who come in with more experience / skills / knowledge spend a couple of years just reviewing and waiting for the other kids to catch up?

Not arguing against the findings, just trying to explore alternate hypotheses.


It’s important to distinguish that that quote is referring the prevailing findings on cognitive outcomes, while the research paper I linked to looks at non-cognitive outcomes, which do persist.

I’m not an expert in the field but it’s an interesting question. It seems like a lot of research on childhood interventions converges around cognitive capacities being pretty innate, but socialization or behaviour being more affected by environment.


This is an interesting idea and one I hadn’t considered.

It’s a tough one to test empirically, of course, since it would involve taking gifted children and sending half of them to personal tutors and enriching experiences and the other half to, well, “regular” school.


I would guess that there are cohorts of kids across states or districts with different offerings of things like AP classes that could be matched on standardized test and SES scores.


1. the $500 of child care in France is more expensive than $1500 child care in California if you factor in lower salaries.

2. with the attitude of reopening schools in France and elsewhere in Europe in spite of the pandemic I’m actually happy that schools and day care are closed (at least on the west coast). I don’t want the government to mandate school attendance right now (not sure about France, but in Germany attendance is required by law), thank you.

That being said, I completely agree with you that tax dollars are well spent on early education and it’s grossly neglected in the US.


Childcare was nearly shut down during a large fraction of this pandemic (with some supply for children of essential workers). Childcare is still not back at full capacity.


>A BIG chunk of all that drama is due to the US social safety net not including childcare.

The current problem has nothing to do with anyone's ability to pay for childcare and everything to do with the constraints the pandemic has placed on out ability for kids to leave the house to go to one central location for the bulk of the workday. Even if every parent in the country had a section-8 style voucher for childcare all you could do with it right now would be wipe your butt because childcare would be shut down for the same reasons schools are.

Ironically the people who are actually least affected by this whole thing are the blue collar folks who's childcare consisted of paying an older kid down the street cash under the table because it doesn't take that much extra money to make that kid attend Zoom classes from your couch while watching your kid and that kids parents probably also like the idea.


Why should it be someone else's responsibility to care for your child during working hours? I have nine children, my wife both stays home with them AND home-schools them (COVID didn't affect our schooling situation), and I'm able to work from home without it being an issue to affect productivity. This is possible because I didn't start having children until I was married and I married someone not only based on shared beliefs but that we both wanted a large family who would be educated at home.

It's not magic, luck, or privilege: it's called planning ahead.


The biggest chunk is due to the US's (and much of the rest of the world's) lock-down policies.

I am not a parent, but I am disgusted that so many in society would wish to knowingly ruin childrens' lives all over the world just to continue living through this obscene assault upon humanity. Even if we were to buy the absurd notion that we will save substantial numbers of lives by forcing kids to go to school remotely, what the hell kind of cost is that? To immeasurably harm a kid's upbringing - where they need the guarantees of a stable and loving environment the most?

It is completely ludicrous, superstitious, and specious to shut down our public school systems over a respiratory illness that statistically kids do not commonly catch nor transmit. We have endured far worse than this while we simply sat and did nothing. And those times, we didn't end up with a battered economy and massive increases in famine in the developing world, like we are now.

Few countries in the modern world would be prepared to sustain the kind of long-term damage this lock-down policy is going to wreak upon us all. Especially not ones as large and sprawling as the US, with corporate interests and military campaigns ongoing all throughout the globe. There's no sense in discussing policy when clearly there's no policy on earth that could stand against the tyrannical stupidity of all the world's governments turning against their citizens.


And if a kids goes back to school and infects an at risk family member - imagine being 10 years old and being responsible for the death of your grandpa or mum who is on treme risk register.

Puts missing some crammed for test into perspective.


Please. A pandemic is ongoing, right? That means a lot of people are getting, spreading, and coming into contact with the virus. The idea that one's infection could be attributed to a single individual is ridiculously unscientific.

This argument is, in fact, so poor that it doesn't even stand muster when we accept your blindingly outrageous premise. Supposing a kid could be blamed for their 90 year old grandpa's illness, do you think grandpa is going to go down screaming, blaming the kid and cursing him for wanting to learn how to read, write, and do multiplication?

Grandpa would probably die to ensure their grandchild has a decent shot at a good life. I know mine would have.


> We have endured far worse than this while we simply sat and did nothing.

Perhaps this is the real issue that needs addressing?


I totally agree. Thanks for putting your perspective out there. It is indeed an assault on kids. Where I come from, school is mandatory. I think there is an obligation of the government to ensure that school can continue, with the same level of quality as perviously.


I would give this comment 'Hacker-news Gold' if I could.

Yesterday I heard on the radio the local chief of police saying they would be present and ready to write fines to people who didn't follow the new restrictions on public night life. Like they were actually eager to do so!

The same is true for people not wearing face-diapers on public transport.

I'm not saying ignore corona entirely, but on the other hand I'm shocked at how carelessly people act when their rights are violated and their governments oppress them.


> The same is true for people not wearing face-diapers on public transport. I'm not saying ignore corona entirely, but on the other hand I'm shocked at how carelessly people act when their rights are violated and their governments oppress them.

What is the right that is being violated here? The right to put others in danger needlessly? You are free to choose to go and live in the mountains by yourself and not wear a mask, and the government won't stop you. Living in society comes with rules attached. Cherry-picking only the benefits of living in society but refusing the downsides doesn't work.


Wearing a mask is a trivial inconvenience and the least you could do to show empathy for other vulnerable people in the middle of a pandemic.

There are plenty of human rights violations and government oppression around the world; face mask requirements for public health pales by comparison.


Yes but isn't that childcare in france gone?


no it's back. It will probably be gone again if things keep spiraling out of control, but child-care is back in France.


It is always funny thinking that outside of the US a lot of places are able to cautiously resume normal life while here we’re all either terrified or pretending nothing is wrong.


> pretending nothing is wrong.

And there's out problem. The covid situation in the US is a trainwreck because we can't get everyone to follow basic hygiene guidelines and practice social distancing.

We could have basically whooped this thing months ago if people weren't violently resisting face masks and similar measures.


On the bright side, Americans have prevented 90% of the 2+ million predicted deaths that were to have occurred by now had nothing been done.

That means most Americans don’t need the government to tell them what to do to make a decent outcome of things.


Yes we will voluntarily do better than nothing. It’s still infuriating that tens of thousands have died due to mixed messages about appropriate behavior. We’ve beaten the “do nothing” scenario but that is a very low bar.


France and Spain are also currently experiencing big spikes again. We are struggling in the US for sure (especially due to the extremity of most opinions like you mention), but so are other places.


They are having difficulties for very different reasons.


France and Spain seem to be experiencing big spikes precisely because they largely returned to normal. Now, reopening schools and childcare probably isn't the big problem there because they don't seem to be major contributors to spreading the disease - but this also means countries could just not have shut them in the first place.


Just to clarify, I was stating the situations in France and Spain are very different to the one the US is going through. Should have been more clear in my previous comment.


I'm not really sure your point, I wasn't saying they are spiking for the same or different reasons. Just that they're having problems too, so they're not exactly "able to resume normal life."


I don't think that's entirely relevant when most existing childcare in the US has just been completely unavailable due to COVID-19. It's not lack of funds or state support; childcare had been shut down along with everything else.

But I agree that it's messed up that this is causing parents and non-parents to turn against each other; non-parents should be siding with parents to get their companies to provide better conditions.

(I don't think I'll go as far to suggest this outcome is intentional by employers, though, despite the fact that turning your employees against each other is a classic employer-vs-labor tactic to keep benefits and wages low.)


>A BIG chunk of all that drama is due to the US social safety net not including childcare.

Of course it does. That’s 90% of what grade school is and that’s why sending kids back to school is such a high priority for so many people.


Sorta.

In a family with 2 working parents, I've always been shocked that "all day" pre-k and schooling means "until 2p". After care is quite expensive and in our experience has a hard stop at 6p.

It's hard enough with office-drone professionals, but when I think back to my service industry days and how those schedules were created - at the whim of a petty manager with no week-to-week consistency and only a couple days notice ont he next week - I just don't understand how those parents get to feel that school is childcare. I means they can only work 8-2, assuming little commute.


In my experience the shifts that line up with childcare are given to those with children who express the need.

A job that respects childcare is more likely to retain those employees that need it, and that can be used as leverage.


Division of labor works. Moving away from it is the real cause of the drama. Stay at home parents are becoming a dying breed (staying at home because of covid notwithstanding).


First, $500/month for each child in France is not that cheap or great, especially as you’re sacrificing earning potential.

Second, we have anecdotal data and you suggest we revamp a trillion dollar industry and incentive structure? Seems like we’re doing ok here, considering more people want to come in from France than emigrate there.


>I'd happily trade places with one of my childless coworkers right about now.

Yes, some things come with downsides. I'm sure a lot of people would also want to trade places with you during the happy times you have with your kids. But you can't usually get the benefits without the downsides.


Yeah, I have the most ideal bachelor penthouse and terrace, living alone during phase I lockdown, but that didn't feel ideal after 2.5 months either.

I'm aware of the high chance of having a roommate/partner/children you begin to resent, and that was a useful rationalization given what nurses and police and articles were telling me.

But that 5% (or maybe much greater) chance of a fulfilling live-in companion was pretty enticing too.

But yes, the upsides rarely come without the downsides.


The single guys at work are actually the most eager to go back in. I think the loneliness and monotony gets to you after awhile, and most live in kind of dreary small bachelor pad type apartments. I am fortunate to have a wife and a dog and have a bit of outdoor space while also being more or less on a park with friendly neighbors- the restaurant down the street from me opened a take out window with dog treats and the minute or two of daily small talk accompanying my pup begging for a treat just went miles towards satisfying my socialization need. Its pretty much the pandemic on easy mode, and there have been moments where it has not been so easy.

Tbh my wife and I have gotten a lot closer through all of this and our relationship has never been better. But obviously YMMV on that and it helps that our jobs have been stable and both our companies are doing well during this.


I have a theory that it's extroverted people who are the most eager to go back in. ;)


Don't dismiss the introverts locked in with extroverted partners/roommates :P

Rorschach put it quite eloquently: "None of you seem to understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me".


My introvert self sure does miss going out to a bunch of cafes around the city to work from my laptop right now.


Count me out as an extrovert who has no desire to go back to an office any time soon. I get my social interaction outside of work hours, and missing out on that has been killing me for the past 6 months.


I'm single and been in my aforementioned large apartment with much larger terrace, I also have seen the bad relationships mostly shake out while the good relationships thrive. I don't have a way to quantify either, I just recall there was a shock at how many domestic disputes and abused children there were, along with how many passive aggressive things must be happening to anyone else cohabiting.

I mostly just had to re-evaluate what level of exposure I was comfortable with. I was doing full complete reclusion for over two months and it was getting to me.

In the urban environment a few months in, enough people actually were receptive to in person dates because half of the population already went back to their at-risk parents and the other half wasn't going to, so our risk profile had some discretion. With enough information about the disease, after ensuring I wasn't an early adopter, my distancing technique expanded to just making sure my personal R0 is less than 1, as opposed to being actually worried I got it. So that just meant two weeks between encounters, routine tests, and select small groups of people.

I've since had great flings, and the biggest surprise was how many people I was able to get to come back to the city. People I didn't hit it off with before were going stir crazy at their parent's house or in whatever rural area they had retreated to. I have a good cadence now and with completely new dates I just ask them what their current distancing policy is.

But around early May it was definitely unsatisfactory. An absurd level of loneliness, and jealousy towards fulfilling relationships and thinking about the improbable poor luck to get here: I was involved with half a dozen women before lockdown, 2 left the city immediately, 2 got covid, 1's roommate got covid and sheltered in an area I couldn't reach while getting spooked, and 1 went full on recluse like me. Its been a wild ride on the dating scene since May for me, and it just requires a different level of discretion, testing, periods of not interacting with other people which is actually super easy for an ambivert leaning towards introvert like me. (interacting with other people definitely drains me, instead of adds energy to me)

Just adding some color to "the grass is greener", as well as what a sometimes-extroverted bachelors actually wants.


> The single guys at work are actually the most eager to go back in.

Yup, that's been my experience as well. I have no kids, but live with my girlfriend. We're certainly experiencing some cabin fever, but things are mostly ok. My parent friends have been going crazy with stress, and my friends who are sheltering by themselves miss human contact, and many of them really want to be back in the social atmosphere of an office.


The single guys are doing fine. We have video games and internet dating. Living with another person, regardless of my relationship with them, is absolutely terrifying to me.

We all choose the life we want because of our own individual preferences.


some* - the demographic is not a block, no more than married guys.

I'm a deeply introverted single guy, but personally I'm done with this. I don't like video games or TV, and virtual meet ups are so two dimensional... my pets and plants have kept me sane but I need real people again.


I closed down my meetup group because of the virutal meetups. (No sense in paying meetup.com for anything when the virtual meetups aren't doing well)

What I've been sucessful with is limited gatherings on a weekly basis. (That's to limit who I see, when, and if something does come up you can responsibly disclose all of your ~partners~ contacts for the last week.


Have you joined second life yet?


Looks like either I'm not a guy or I unknowingly have a partner.


Agreed, I live alone because I want space. A lot of space. Had a fulfilling long term relationship before, and not very interested in that life.

Internet dating has been pretty excellent as the priorities there have seemed to change as well, along with everything just being slower. There is less distraction and competition for attention, it feels like. Video dates were never the move, nice try though.

The thin possibly of a great collaborative partner that has a matching libido is enticing after a few months of the extreme contrary. At this point I just try to keep my own R0 to <1, if I happen to get it or are around more than 1 person/group in a two week time period.


I think the current situation falls outside the bounds of the regular ups and downs. Most prospective parents were (reasonably) assuming school, childcare, etc would continue to exist.


Exactly, I very much doubt when OP was planning to have children they considered that very well established social norms that make our modern society possible (like traditional schooling and daycare) would not be an option in the future.


The big downside for me having a small child at home is that I could not concentrate on a task for more than half and hour, which is essential for research work. I had to go over stuff again and again because once my thoughts broken I need to follow long trails to pick it up again. I enjoy spending time with family but I have a real urge for uninterrupted work now.


> the obvious downsides

They're not obvious to me... What are the downsides?


To switch places, the implication is I'd not have my kids. I can't fathom a life without them. Perhaps it didn't need to be added as a qualification.


I don't have em, but having adult children when you're older and the experience of being a parent both seem like they're intrinsically valuable. I have a hard time believing any 18 year long cohabitation wouldn't form something of value, and struggling to deal with a problem together is a textbook team building exercise, for better or worse.


And you still have time for HN!


One the most important self care things you can do right now is to take some time for yourself. That is true if you have kids or not.

For many of us, HN is one of those things. It is orthogonal to having enough time - it is more about coping.


I agree until I disagree because it becomes a refresh trigger... but you sound like you have discipline.


Yeah, I am pretty capable of procrastination. HN is a tempting alternative to drawing up another Miro diagram, or studying for my algorithms class (something else I can blame on HN, I might never have heard of OMSCS if not for someone mentioning it here ;-)). There was a time when I knew dynamic programming well enough to pass an algorithms class, but that time was in the 90s. I feel old now.


HN is often about feeding your mind. It's about getting the inputs you need.

That other stuff is about coming up with outputs, often from a dry well. HN feeds the well for a great many people.

(Just a general observation, not really intended to be argumentative per se.)


You make a good point. I'll keep it in mind when I'm feeding my mind from the well of HN :)


> This morning I went up and down the stairs at least ten times

Not trying to be arch or disrespectful here, but I view these moments as an opportunity to get a quick cardio work on happening. (I work at home and I've had to make these trips for decades due to handicapped family members.)


Ha, I don't disagree! Getting some stairs in is good for my health. My point was more about how disruptive it is to try and juggle activities happening simultaneously all over the house. My office is upstairs, my kids do schoolwork at the dining table downstairs. We're working out a schedule where my wife and I will alternate between our offices and taking our laptops down to sit at the dining table next to the kids, but it's barely controlled chaos right now. It'll settle down a lot as everyone figures out the new routine, but it's never going to be as simple as getting them dressed, fed, and out the door to the school for the day.


Oh man, I feel you. My clever solution has been large houses and kids who are used to a work-at-home dad... but yeah


(Edited to clarify my intended meaning)

> I'd happily trade places with one of my childless coworkers right about now.

For those childless co-workers that wish they could accept the other end of this deal, this phrase is both common and quite painful to hear. Please consider not using it unless you really mean it, which you don't, as you actually wouldn't give up your kids for anything.


Jeez, it's just an expression. They're just saying that it would be way easier to not have to worry about kids at home right now. You're reading way to far into it. They are not saying that they would literally want to trade places, which should be obvious from the statement "I wouldn't give up my kids for anything"


That doesn't change the fact that it's still painful to hear when you're wallowing in misery alone. I second this. Say what you mean.


It wasn't meant with malice nor any intent to cause negative feelings. I think it's not really possible to say anything at all that won't possibly distress someone out of all the possible readers, so I just try to keep my intentions good and avoid the obvious gaffes. In this case it's just a figure of speech.


It's ableist, 'just a figure of speech' or not

Imagine you're blind.

Now Imagine a sighted person tells you that they've just seen something so ugly they wish they were blind. You might be a bit upset at that notion no?


Probably if I also had problems understanding things like humor or sarcasm.,


Now if only you understood empathy.


It is difficult to put myself in that position and imagine being offended. I think I'd just retort "careful what you wish for!" I don't think I'd want average people to spend a lot of effort presuming what will and will not cause me anxiety. I'm a grown man, blind or not, I can handle context.


Just like you, I don't mean any malice and I'm only trying to help you appreciate other perspectives and not put you down or nit-pick. (It's hard to do through a text-only noisy channel and I think you've done a better job of it than I have).

That said it's pretty clear that there's a bifurcation in how people read your comment, although those who reacted negatively are evidently an unpopular minority. Democracy has spoken and it's clear that I was being unreasonably sensitive.

I know it's hard and a lot of work to have to simulate other perspectives for every little comment, and it's better to err on the side of communicating more rather than never saying anything to avoid offending random people. So I'm really not trying to be critical! I just want to help you appreciate a perspective that is, I think, very hard to imagine from the vantage point that you (and almost everybody) have right now. And understanding that perspective is useful not only for avoiding offending random internet denizens, but also for better appreciating the good parts of the tough situation that you have right now, and for reacting empathetically when one of those random internet commenters reacts in an apparently unreasonable way.

What I'd suggest trying (although it may be painful) is, imagine that the children that you love, but who are causing you such headache these days.... Imagine that they all passed away in a car accident and left your house eerily, painfully quiet and childless. You and your partner struggle to cope with this every day. And then a coworker on a zoom call laughs that their children are causing such chaos at home that they wish they could trade places, and you start to get unreasonably mad at what is just a figure of speech. You can't stop yourself from un-muting your microphone and shouting "no, you don't wish that!", de-railing the meeting.

In this scenario, I don't think either you or your coworker is wrong to be doing as they do, but you might hope that your coworker would react in an understanding way, and think of a better expression to use next time.

Anyway, you're right. "Careful what you wish for" would have been a much better and less hostile reaction. I apologize.


“Trade places with” is meant figuratively here, not literally.


Even figuratively it's obviously going to read as mean to someone who wants but cannot conceive children.

Or at least that's how I read it, a polite reminder to be a little sensitive when it comes to such things...


It means if he ran into the Zoltar machine he’d definitely give it a couple of whacks


> Maybe I am making assumptions here on the general political leanings of those here, but if you are talking about supporting anything like Medicare for all, UBI, BLM, PPP or even just support the Democratic party in general, pulling a little extra weight for those in a time of need is IMHO a relatively small ask that you as an individual can implement compared to those agendas.

I suspect a fair number of the complainers are people with Democratic leanings, and I think I can describe their thought process to you.

I think their problem is that a private company is doing this, not the Government. Suppose someone has to be a caregiver for an elderly relative during COVID. Facebook probably won't offer them 10 weeks for paid leave for doing this, because Facebook's internal cost-benefit metrics tell them that it's not useful. That's why people are resentful – a private company should not be in charge of deciding who gets time to deal with changes as fundamental as this in society. Policies like Medicare for all, compulsory maternity and paternity leave, or caregiver leave implemented by the Government (ideally) take into account the wishes of society as a whole, not a large private company like Facebook. For example, I think caregiver leave would be very popular due to the aging population of the US being a large section of voters, there are already tax credits starting for the same thing.

I am personally fine with giving as much time as is needed for people with families as well as people in a bunch of other situations. Life is complex and we need to help out each other as much as possible. But I fear that the ruthless utilitarianism of most American corporations doesn't play well with this worldview, leading to resentments like the article describes.


FMLA covers caregiver leave. The law is fine with it being unpaid though.

It's weird that companies are looking inside people's homes to decide how to treat them. People should get the same flexibility, for whatever reason. If people want reduced hours to deal with other things, give it to them, and so on.


I’m curious if people with other legitimate obligations asked and received push back. I’ve seen employers make accommodations for religious, dietary, various family drama (sick parents/partners, death etc), working moms etc - you just have to ask.


The point is that now it's up to the employer to decide what's a work-acceptable thing to ask for; at which point they are kind of affecting your life choices.

At that point, people without kids start thinking “Wait, why is my employer peeking inside my home to decide what I can take time off for? This is a capitalist society, right?”.


I think you are on to something. Many people are happy to be generous with others time and money but less so with their own.


That's not it exactly. It's more about everyone pulling equal weight, not about getting freebies at others' expense. It's also about the correct realization that some problems can only be solved by the actions of society as a whole, that individual choices alone cannot sufficiently solve the problem. E.g. I alone can't solve the problem of catastrophic climate change no matter how green I live in my own life.


To be clear, what I am referring to are people who would want someone other than themselves to be more generous to someone other than themselves. This a very common pathology in well-off, educated people. You get the virtue points without the actual sacrifice.


Can you give some examples of what you're referring to? Generally what is wanted is for problems to be solved by the government providing services that we all pay for through tax revenue, not for problems to be solved through private donation. I legitimately can't think of examples of what you're referring to.


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/21/nyregion/school-integrati... might be an example? One particularly striking paragraph: "When I was watching the George Floyd protests, I was noticing that many of the white neighborhoods where a lot of white liberals were out participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations were some of the same neighborhoods that resisted school integration. And that filled me with a lot of despair."


An example would be attitudes towards immigration. The people arguing for taking in more poor immigrants or refugees typically do not live in the communities most impacted by their influx.


I dunno ... I'm pretty pro-immigration, and I live in NYC, which has one of (if not the) highest immigrant populations in the entire country. The same is generally true of large cosmopolitan cities. And the "impact of their influx" is actually net positive. It turns out that having more people, yes, even immigrants, has a net positive impact on the local economy, because more people means more consumers (not just more labor market competition), and you realize greater efficiencies of scale. So I don't actually think this is a good example.

I think the hypocrisy you're alluding to here is that coastal liberals are often NIMBYist, which has the direct effect of making housing expensive, which affects most people negatively, immigrants included. I'll agree with you on that one as being a problem, but I don't think it exactly fits into the class of issues you're talking about.


I disagree, I do think its a good example. Immigration has its pros and cons and smart policies can boost the pros and lessen the cons. Its very clear that immigrants can bring enormous value but its also clear that they can lower the wages of unskilled work, as they have done in the US, and also increase serious crime, as has happened in Sweden and other European countries. The well to do elites that argue taking in immigrants is either always good or a moral imperative, would very quickly change their minds if they were either victimized or out-competed by an immigrant. But since does not happen - problematic immigrants live far away in poor communities and are not able to pursue high paying jobs - they can keep spouting sanctimonious bullshit.


A better example would be Americans arguing Turkey, Greece and Italy should do more for emigrants coming from Middle East/North Africa.


Yeah but now we're getting into the land of international relations. This is becoming awfully abstract from the original topic.

Also I think you're missing some nuance here, which is that the people arguing in favor of this would indeed do a lot more to admit emigrants/refugees here, it's just that they aren't in power and don't run the government. So they can't be hypocrites for advocating for something they genuinely would do if only they were able to.


Would they really? How many of these people do you think would be happy to open their homes, or at least their neighborhoods, to a substantial number of poor, unskilled, uneducated and culturally alien people? The world would work a lot better if we all learned to ignore opinions when they come from people with no skin in the game.


Yeah, I really do think many of them actually would. For example, I'm Jewish, so I know what happens when the US turns its back on refugees fleeing genocide.

But they're not in power and they aren't making the immigration decisions, hence it's not happening.


Fair enough, we disagree on that but I have no data to back my intuition up. Thanks for the civil discussion.


> I suspect a fair number of the complainers are people with Democratic leanings, and I think I can describe their thought process to you.

> I think their problem is that a private company is doing this, not the Government.

Is that a Democratic take? I think it's a liberaltarian take on it. Here's the conservative libertarian response: raising children is one of the primary functions of society, and social norms that govern private actors make a certain amount of deference to that. Replacing those norms and kicking everything up to the government is a very statist solution, inviting the government into large swaths of human activity where it wasn't present before.


> Here's the conservative libertarian response

Seems to me more like plain conservative response. Libertarian position would be to protect individual liberty against both state and societal oppression. E.g. In 'On Liberty' J.S.Mill discussed mainly societal oppression (by social norms) as it is more prevasive and insidious than state oppression.


What's the conservative libertarian take on what to do when those norms are gone and haven't been replaced?


Probably involves market solutions...

"Sister for sale! One sister for sale! One crying and spying young sister for sale!"


It’s not a full answer to your question, but given a long enough timeframe the problem is self-correcting.

Sub-cultures with anti-natalist norms will find themselves subsumed by those that produce a lot of children. Simple math tells us that the typical American circa 2100 is a lot more likely to be descended from Utah Mormons than Bay Area rationalists.


> Simple math tells us that the typical American circa 2100 is a lot more likely to be descended from Utah Mormons than Bay Area rationalists.

Descended from today's Utah Mormons than today's Bay Area rationalists. That doesn't mean they won't move to the Bay Area and become rationalists themselves.


are they gone? isn't this thread about single facebook employees resenting the special accommodations their employer has granted to parents?


Reinstate the norm because we haven’t come up with a better idea and are unlikely to do so.


Sure, the abstract answer is obvious. I meant the concrete answer, how do you reinstate a norm that people have stopped caring about, or that has been eroded by some policy (in the worst case, a policy championed by those that claim the norm)?


I assume you'd want to reinstate the norm with the same spirit wrt government involvement... How does that work?


IMO the real broken part of this system is that people are not getting legally-protected personal time.

A big part of the resentment is that a person who chose to have children ends up being able to be excused from work to take care of children, while a person who has no children is not as easily excused to do what they want to do, because it is deemed low priority compared to children.

We need to be prioritizing peoples' personal time and respecting however they choose to use it. Regardless whether someone chooses to spend their personal time raising kids or raising orphans in an orphanage or rescuing animals or reading books or hiking the wilderness or community service or being social and sleeping and watching movies, all of these things are good for their own mental health, and we need to not discriminate between these choices in giving people their personal time.

It's when people are working till 11pm and someone says "I need to leave at 6 to make food for my kids" that the resentment happens. If everyone got off at 6, there wouldn't be any resentment.


While giving every employee personal time may well be the right answer, I also believe that we should acknowledge that, at least up until recently, there was an on-going social contract that society had that provided parents with additional time as an on-going investment into the health of our social fabric, and that, in a sense, we have already benefited (at least in aggregate) from the dividend payed by the previous generation. I think there's a cogent argument to be made that by not paying it forward, we are breaching the duty incurred when we received the benefit as children.


I think most societies around the world didn't and don't provide parents with any additional time. It just so happened the that most people had children and elders/women could raise them while the men kept working. Not to say that women didn't work, but whatever they did allowed them to keep an eye on kids, or relatives/neighbors did.

Also, increasing the population is one of the most damaging things to the environment, so there's an argument that not having kids is paying it forward to future generations also.


Depends on the time scale.

If you care about the short term, then yes.

If you care about humanity leaving the solar system before the heat death (or asteroid, whatever), then no.


There’s still many, many years of research left before any possibility of space travel. But to make it there, the earth has to remain inhabitable. This is a decent chart showing how quickly things are changing:

https://xkcd.com/1732/


> "Also, increasing the population is one of the most damaging things to the environment, so there's an argument that not having kids is paying it forward to future generations also. "

No, that's paying it forward for the children of those that choose not to think as conscientiously as yourself on the matter of taking care of the environment. That's not the world I want to live in.


Ridiculous argument since, you know, the human race dies out if no one has kids.


Let's re-state it to a person enjoying life in a developed country, especially for many on this forum, would pay it forward by not having kids due to their level of consumption.

We know the culprit is excess consumption of fossil fuels among other resources, and we know if people have the option of consuming them, they will. Therefore, you can generalize it to mean reducing the population of people who may be in a position to consume at levels similar to the personal car, single family home with a yard family, driving 15,000 miles per year would help the planet.


From a biological standpoint, those individuals are simply culling their own genes from the gene pool and therefore effectively evolutionally selecting for people who want to have children, causing the exact opposite of what they want. Rather ironic.


Considering how birth rates have dropped across the globe over the last century, it clearly isn't dominated by genetic factors. Wanting to have children is far more memetic than genetic.


I would posit that no one should be working until 11 and everyone should be comfortable saying its 6pm, I'm going home. It's not the parents fault there is resentment its everyone else's for allowing themselves to be abused into working until 11.

We turn on each other when we should really be focused on those making us work the late hours.


Being made to work till 11 without any reward is one thing. Having the ability to work till 11 for overtime pay or get ahead is another.

Having a law that mandates that I cannot work when I want to because other people need the time sounds terrible


Sure, but op said that people were resentful when they were working until 11 and the parents left at 6. Sounds like the working until 11 is not being seen as something being done to get ahead of for extra pay but as something that is expected but that parents are able to avoid.


I see that kind of resentment in every kind of recreational activity. Different people commit different amount of time and energy. This result in different groupings where those that commit a lot spend more time together and form clicks. When there are stakes involved those clicks will favor those inside the click and exclude/be hostile towards those outside.

Sport teams is a typical example but I also see it when the stakes are just how much a person can get out of an experience and how smooth the activity went.


Yep, this is exactly what I proposed in the first line of my comment :-/

Yet HN people are downvoting me to oblivion, yet again, for proposing a reasonable solution: "legally-protected personal time". I guess they all enjoy working till 11pm.


I don't believe anyone is downvoting you for the "work till 11pm" part. They're most likely picking up on these comments of your post:

> a person who chose to have children ends up being able to be excused from work to take care of children, ... a person [with] no children is not as easily excused to do what they want to do

On this point, taking care of your children is not always something you want to do. It's a never ending, unrewarding responsibility that is often met with fighting the party you're trying to help in order to make sure they don't die. "Eat this so you don't starve", "Don't eat this so you won't get poisoned", "Don't crawl into the oven to hide".

Which leads into...

> We need to be prioritizing peoples' personal time and respecting however they choose to use it. Regardless whether someone chooses to spend their personal time raising kids or raising orphans in an orphanage or rescuing animals or reading books or hiking the wilderness or community service or being social and sleeping and watching movies, all of these things are good for their own mental health, and we need to not discriminate between these choices in giving people their personal time.

I'm not sure what you mean by raising orphans in an orphanage, but if you mean volunteering to feed and do day care for children at an orphanage, then that again is a choice not comparable with the obligation of being a parent. There's a certain social pressure that you can not just give your baby to somebody else when you get tired of it as you would a pet. Parenting is definitely not something people do for fun for their mental health. And it's not something everybody signs up for. Yes, the actions that created that child may have had known outcomes, but it's also very hard (and very easy) to get pregnant.

> It's when people are working till 11pm and someone says "I need to leave at 6 to make food for my kids" that the resentment happens. If everyone got off at 6, there wouldn't be any resentment.

The ire should be directed at those you feel pressured by to stay until 11, such as managers. Not those who have to take care of another life. Just as "people choose to have children", people also choose to have whatever job says they must work till 11. It's just that there is much, much less pressure to leave a job than to leave your children. The 2 are really not comparable.


Sounds like you're saying that people need to use their "personal time" in order to have and care for their children? I know you want to generalize and just give everyone personal time, but the net effect is that it would appear selfish as those that stand to benefit the most from such a restructuring would be the childless. It's not the equitable/fair middle-ground that you're proposing it to be in this case at all, hence why you're being downvoted.


You are right, I misread your post. My apologies.


>It's when people are working till 11pm and someone says "I need to leave at 6 to make food for my kids" that the resentment happens. If everyone got off at 6, there wouldn't be any resentment.

What would you propose then? The parents starve their children? What an absurd thing to have resentment over. Do you believe the parents don't feel guilt over having to duck out early while others without children continue to work? I know when I have to do it I do.

It's a pretty terrible place to be stuck between letting your kids down and letting your coworkers down.

What an awful thing to build resentment over.


> "What would you propose then?"

The proposal is right there: everybody should go home at 6.

I do not feel guilty for going home after I put in 8 hours of good work. The employer should be feeling guilty if it's demanding more than that.


Please re-read the full comment. I am not expressing resent, I am explaining why resentment occurs in the masses.

> What would you propose then?

I proposed a solution, in the very first line of my comment: "legally-protected personal time"


Most people on this site can already work a 40-ish hour week and not get fired. They also probably won’t advance as quickly as someone with equal talent/ability who puts in extra hours when needed.

It would offend many (including me) if the law prohibited people from working as hard/long as they wanted.

If you want legal protection to prevent being you fired specifically because you don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week, I’d 100% support that. If you want legal protection to prevent me from working harder than that, I’m 100% opposed.


There's a massive difference between putting in extra hours when needed, and being expected to structurally put in those extra hours. The latter happens a lot, and is really not necessary, and in fact destructive. You don't get extra productivity from that.

Now if you want to sacrifice your own time to do some charity work to benefit your employer, there's nothing wrong with that in principle. But if the company rewards that, and more people start doing that, it could still become an unspoken expectation for all employees to put in those extra hours, and then we're back at the unhealthy working hours.


> If you want legal protection to prevent being you fired specifically because you don’t want to work more than 40 hours a week, I’d 100% support that.

Correct, it is this which is what I want to happen. I wouldn't care if you chose to work beyond that. I want protection for people who need to raise kids, deal with personal medical issues, and the right to free time for mental health.

But in addition, I would also add that one should not be discriminated against for wanting to only work 40 hours a week, especially in a salaried job. There should not be peer pressure and possible loss of promotion if others around you work 60 hours and you only work 40.

For hourly jobs it's psychologically much easier between peers because everyone knows they are getting paid based on how much they work. However, I would stipulate that for hourly jobs, the wage should be set such that 40 hours of work is enough for the average person to have a reasonable quality of life in the locality. Setting the wage such that a supermarket worker needs to work 7 days a week in order to make a living isn't fair, but if they want to work 7 days of their own volition, that's fine.


> I would also add that one should not be discriminated against for wanting to only work 40 hours a week, especially in a salaried job. There should not be peer pressure and possible loss of promotion if others around you work 60 hours and you only work 40.

All else being equal, I believe the new college graduate who regularly puts in extra hours (whether for work directly or on side projects) is likely to get better faster than someone who puts in 33% fewer hours. In that regard, they’ll have earned a promotion earlier in calendar time. You didn’t lose a promotion; they just earned one faster than you.

In such a case, you weren’t (unfairly) discriminated against; someone else just got better faster and got promoted based on merit.


"A big part of the resentment is that a person who chose to have children ends up being able to be excused from work to take care of children, while a person who has no children is not as easily excused to do what they want to do, because it is deemed low priority compared to children."

So, a few problems here:

1. Parenting is not a choice when you have children in your home.

2. Most parents do not want to be woken up in the middle of the night to change a diaper, only to have their child pee on them while they do so.

3. It is not about priorities. Children need adult caregivers because they cannot survive on their own. COVID restrictions have upended childcare arrangements but children still need care, and when nobody else is available it is up to parents to provide care for their children. Nobody is weighing childcare against other possible non-work-related activities, because childcare is not optional.

4. If like me someone has a toddler in their home, working from home is difficult. Even with a nanny around to watch my son, he still wants to see what mommy and daddy are up to in the "office." He has no concept of us being busy with work; from his perspective it is more like, "Daddy is playing with something and it must be fun, I want to try it!" so he will run over and "type" on my keyboard (you try writing code while someone is randomly pounding on your keyboard). For people like me it is not that we are asking for time to be parents, but rather for our employers to recognize that by requiring us to work from home they are putting us in an environment where we cannot be as productive as we were at the office.

"when people are working till 11pm"

What makes you think parents are not working late -- for example, because they cannot have uninterrupted time to work until after their children are asleep for the night?


So while I agree with your facts here, I would also like to point out that there are other things besides parenting that are also non-negotiable but are neglected.

1. Yes, children need self-care. But so do adults. Just as it is wrong to tell someone they can't take care of their child, I'd say it's equally wrong to tell an adult that they can't, for example, get their exercise time, because I would consider that also a human necessity. You risk early death if you do not exercise. For medical reasons I don't need to state here, the risk may be even higher for me personally if I don't get that time. Other adults have other medical conditions they need to attend to. However, not all workplaces recognize these as on par with taking care of children.

2. Those that choose not to have children may also be playing essential roles in our society in their off-hours. Heck, they may be volunteering at the Red Cross and saving other children from death, who knows, that may be why they chose not to have kids. Should we judge?

3. Let's not underestimate how important mental health is to society. People will die (from various causes, including suicide) if they are made to work late every day. Yes, I agree that children need to be taken care of. But the response to that shouldn't be to take an unreasonable work share given to a working parent and shove the excess onto the single/child-less workers in the same organization to slave away for 80 hours a week. This actually happens, and I have seen it happen. Instead, the response should be to give everyone a fair, normal 40-hour work share and let them do whatever they need or want to with their spare time.


> Just as it is wrong to tell someone they can't take care of their child, I'd say it's equally wrong to tell an adult that they can't, for example, get their exercise time, because I would consider that also a human necessity.

I'm a little confused by this argument, because (if you don't have children) the time you had to exercise pre-COVID is still available to you. If you used to get up at 7am, go out for a run for an hour, come back, shower, and start your work day, you... can still do that.

If somehow you are unable to continue this routine during COVID, perhaps because your employer is expecting you (as someone who is childless) to work until 11pm, which makes you too tired to get up to exercise, then shouldn't your ire be directed at your employer for imposing unreasonable work expectations? It seems pretty pointless to get pissed off at parents because of that.

I also do not have kids. I put in 8-10 hours a day, just as I did pre-COVID, and have the same amount of free time as I used to. It's very different free time, and there are mental health implications to that, but none of that in any way has anything to do with my employer showing empathy toward parents and making allowances for them to take care of their kids during the work day.

The big difference between parents and non-parents is that child care is not optional during work hours. If your school or pre-school or day care or whatever has shut down because of COVID, you can't simply opt out of caring for your child because you have to work. COVID has not given non-parents any new non-work responsibilities during work hours. But it has certainly done so for parents.


I'm unsure if you're having an empathy problem or need to find a new employer, to be honest.

When do parents get this self care? Between work, kids, sleep, what free moments are you imagining?

If you can't fit in a workout when you're now without a commute, then I'm confused. And, if you equate a workout with the relentless task of educating and entertaining a toddler, well, you must be _very_ serious about your gym time. Little kids are 7a to 9p, _maybe_ a nap on a good day of an hour, and oh, if you slack too long they just don't get to learn math.

Stop working late. Take care of yourself. Stop blaming people with other responsibilities if you're not doing that. Above all, develop empathy - this is hard for everyone, so stop playing the "those people are getting benefits I'm not" game.


Please pardon the COVID parent in me, but... Spare time? What the fuck is that even? Mental health? Critical, but after the absolute minimum needed to stave off burn out, everything is diverted to minimizing the long term damage to my kids (especially those with special needs). I spent years working 70-90 hour weeks for months at a time at startups... but trying to even get a solid 35-40hours in each week is taking a far greater toll.

But from what you’re saying, it sounds like you need better communication with your management. Otherwise, I can’t imagine it having been a healthy environment pre-COVID.


Your point one isn't making sense because the parents are not caring for themselves, they are caring for another person. If they wanted to exercise, they'd have to find the same hours as those without children, which is usually before work or after work. They probably have a harder time doing that, too.


> Parenting is not a choice when you have children in your home.

Of course not, but choosing to have children in the first place is.


> Of course not, but choosing to have children in the first place is.

The choice to have kids isn't like the choice to work out or get good at Starcraft. It's a choice which benefits all of society.

If you're 30, the toddlers of today will be voting and coming into the workforce and voting when you're 50; and will be basically running your country when you're 70. If the next generation isn't raised to take your place, your retirement is going to really stink. And the character and attitude of the toddlers now are going to have a massive impact on your life.

When the harassed parent on your Zoom call apologizes and puts you on mute to spend 30 seconds interacting with their toddler, that's an investment in your own future. Be grateful for them for doing that work.


> It's a choice which benefits all of society

Then maybe all of society should participate in that choice. AFAIK no one will question, or evaluate the results of that choice, so we only have your say-so of the supposed benefits.

If your kid emigrates the day they graduate, do you pay a penalty for the loss of benefit society? If I deem the "character and attitude" of the next generation to be poor, can I hold you to account, do I get a refund?

To be clear, I have no problem with corporations, or even the government, providing parents with perks and service; I do have a problem with the entitlement shown in demanding such things, especially based on some fluffy premise.


People who spend more free time on themselves and improve physical and mental health is also a benefit to society since they will use less of resources from the health sector and pay taxes longer (and often more).

Giving everyone more time is something which benefits society. Studies done on 6hrs work day (or 4 days work week) has shown exactly that. Better health, more time with children, less resources needed in the health sector. An argument being presented together with such reduction in work hours would be to raise the pension age again, which would then increase how much taxes a person pay in a life time.

In addition more people with disabilities can stay in the work force when there is more balance between work hours and home. This also increase taxes and reduces medical costs, and also reduces the amount of people who need to enter early pension.

The calculations are not as simple as saying that people without children are just wasting societies resources when not at work.


> The calculations are not as simple as saying that people without children are just wasting societies resources when not at work.

Where did I say people without children are wasting societies resources?

I don't think everyone needs to have children. There are definitely some people cut out to raise children, and definitely some other people not cut out to raise children. (And loads of people in the middle.) Raising children is a massive amount of work and effort stress, and anyone who doesn't find that work rewarding is going to struggle to do a good job. The argument I made works both ways: a good parent will make society better, possibly for generations; a bad parent will make society worse, possibly for generations. If someone doesn't think parenting is for them, I'm the last person to push them into doing it.

But what's a fact is that it's critical to society that somebody do that work. The least we can do is cut the people who are doing that work a little extra slack.

I'm not sure what more free time has to do with it. Even if everybody only worked 20 hours a week, people with children would still need concessions that people without children don't.


"The choice to have kids isn't like the choice to work out or get good at Starcraft. It's a choice which benefits all of society."

If a person choose to spend time on themselves then that is a choice which also benefits all of society.

"Even if everybody only worked 20 hours a week, people with children would still need concessions that people without children don't."

I have my doubts. The concessions that people need to balance life and work looks all very similar. A lot of the concessions that people with children seem identical to the concession that many people without children also need, those being flexibility in the job and hours spent doing work. If we include debilitating health conditions, does it matter for the job if a person need flex time to balance the condition or if they do so in order to setup the teaching platform to their kids?

What concessions are we talking about that is not some kind of flexibility or time off, and which only a parent could benefit from?


> What concessions are we talking about that is not some kind of flexibility or time off, and which only a parent could benefit from?

Well, to go back to my first post: If you're in the middle of a Zoom call, and a parent's toddler interrupts them and they have to take 30 seconds to see their finger painting before sending them back to the other parent, just be patient and accept that. If someone in the middle of a Zoom call says, "Sorry, just let me take 30s to pump out 5 pull-ups here", or "Sorry, just bear with me while I search to see how fast Queens regenerate energy", I think you have a right to be somewhat annoyed.

If someone says, "Sorry I'm a bit slow today -- our infant is sleeping poorly", and it's the 10th time this month, cut them some slack for the 10th time. If they say, "Sorry I'm a bit slow today -- I was up all night playing Starcraft" or "Sorry I'm a bit slow today -- I did back-to-back marathons yesterday", and it's the 10th time this month, I think you have a right to be somewhat more annoyed.

I could go on, but do I need to? I feel like the difference between having a human being that depends on you for its very survival and having a hobby that you can mostly schedule -- or at least behaves predictably -- should be pretty obvious.


You don't know the background to justify being annoyed. Maybe the reason they spent up all night playing starcraft was that they had any of the long list of medical conditions that causes stress and disruption of normal sleep, and what you perceive is laziness is management of that condition.

If someone in the middle of every meeting say "sorry just let me take 30s to go to the bathroom", are they disrespecting you or do they have a disorder of the bowel?

The concessions one need to give a parent is the same that one need to give someone who has something more important in life than work. It doesn't really matter what that thing is. It could be a child, a medical condition, an elderly needing help, or something else, but the concession needed is the same.

If someone is doing 10 back-to-back marathons in a single month then maybe its time to talk to them. It sound like a person crashing from stress and who might need a break from work (ie a concession) in order to not end up in the hospital.


> The concessions one need to give a parent is the same that one need to give someone who has something more important in life than work. It doesn't really matter what that thing is. It could be a child, a medical condition, an elderly needing help, or something else, but the concession needed is the same.

Once again, where did I say that people shouldn't be cut slack for a medical condition or a sick relative?

The comment to which I responded, starting this sub-thread, was making the case that because parents had chosen to have children, that therefore they should not be given more concessions than people who had not chosen to have children -- as though the decision to raise children was comparable to the decision to become a grandmaster Starcraft player. Most people don't choose to have a debilitating medical condition, nor do they chose to have relatives who need special care; so those situations aren't relevant to the discussion.


> as though the decision to raise children was comparable to the decision to become a grandmaster Starcraft player.

Why isn’t it comparable though? Both are life affecting choices and both affect other people around you.

As someone without children, I’ve often had to pick up the slack because parents needed time off or to leave early or to step out of a meeting. I think it’s ok to cut people slack, what I don’t think is ok is drawing arbitrary lines between what it is and isn’t acceptable to cut people slack over. If your toddler interrupts every meeting and it’s causing problems to the rest of the team that is on you and you need to figure out a solution, the same way as if the Starcraft player affects the team then that’s on them. To the rest of us there's no tangible difference. Yes, if its medical and its out of your control, or there's some occasional issue, then its no problem at all and obviously extra concessions should be made during the current global situation and I’m absolutely supportive of giving extra concessions to parents in this case — but this is an extraordinary situation that needs extraordinary care and concessions. The part that isn't ok is if its regular and you expect everyone else to be ok with it because the reason happens to be children. You don't get to force your life choices on us, sorry. At least afford us the same flexibility.

To be clear, I’m ok with making concessions when parents need them, I just also think the favour needs to be returned when I need time, regardless of why I might need it. Having children is a choice, no matter how you want to rationalise it (and it’s perfectly fine to make that choice but it’s not fair to then expect people who didn’t make that choice to bend over backwards for you, at least in normal non-covid times)


The distinction that I see is that work should allow people to balance life and work life, regardless if the reason people need concessions are children or because other reasons. It is also a sad fact that in many cases there are social stigma attached to those reasons and thus make it likely to be concealed. What get perceived as choice can actually one of those situation which a person has not chosen. To put a number to those things, about 50% of the population is currently suffering from a chronic diseases. You add that with the number of people who has elderly relatives, the number of people with children, and the total number is creeping very fast towards almost 100%.

It is also a bit telling that in a very large company in my country, the term used for flex work can be roughly translated to "entrusted work schedule". It seems that the reason people are not given concessions automatically is that the employer simply don't trust their employees and view flexibility as something that a stereotyped lazy employee will abuse to goof off and play video games. A good start to combat this would be to view flex time as something that everyone need, which would naturally benefit parents.


> "IMO the real broken part of this system..."

> "It's when people are working till 11pm..."

Says it all right there.


Do you make it known that employers that you cannot work past 6pm since you need to go read books/hike/whatever? I literally will not accept a job where I can be expected to work nights while I have small children and any employer of mine knows this when hiring me.


Then get off at 6. Who's forcing you to stay til 11?


Mix in special-needs children who need constant one-on-one support, young siblings, and dual career parents.

Covid stress falls completely off the radar.


Yeah... this. Not all situations at home are equal. Wish folks at work would understand that.

... school aged kids outnumber my partner and I. IEP and 504 support has yet to prove effective remote. But it’s the effort to mitigate the developmental regression that keeps me up at night. Cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. isn’t cheap either. ... working from the 1950’s garage with ambient temps just shy of 100F last week (no space to work inside). ... partner is now out of work too, but I guess it’s a good thing for ensure all the kids attend “their meetings”?

It can always get worse, and likely will. I dunno, just saying—-yeah, i agree. COVID stress isn’t even on the radar.


Hello fellow garage-worker!


Nitpick: institutional schooling over Zoom is not the same thing as home schooling. The teaching methods are different, the culture is very different, and home schooling is normally a choice that families make, not something foisted on them.


I'm fortunate to be working for a company that requires everybody to work from home. You need to request to come to the office. They did this before the Dutch government recommended it, and will probably continue this until well after most companies have gone back to the office.

That said, the lockdown in April when he had to basically homeschool our kids was tough. It was tough despite the fact that our normally one-evening-every-two-weeks babysitter was helping out three days a week (she lost all her other jobs and couldn't go to university, so this helped her too), and we've got a big house. I can't imagine what it must be like for families in small houses without this kind of help.

This week we're keeping our youngest home from school again because he has a cough (probably just a cold, but you can't send him to school this way), and again it's incredibly disruptive to our work. But you've got to deal. There are people who have it much worse, we just need to be understanding towards each other until this is over.

Maybe this is a badly needed course in empathy.


I dont think this is a wild assumption.

It is well documented that financial support as well as the policies of the democratic party (Defund, UBI etc) is heavy in the FAANGs particularly FB and Google[1] Starting from that premise, one can assume that any sample drawn of a subpopulation that includes single employees will be heavily titled towards (D)[2]

Therefore, one notes that the same people that support most (D) platform policies today, are very much against parental benefits.

How to reconcile this?

Here is where we get to the uncomfortable zone:

Supporters of defund, UBI, BLM etc are happy... as long as the cost of said policies impose a burden that is at least as heavy on them, as everyone else.

However, when they are asked to sacrifice themselves only, they fail to report to duty.

In other words, their public position (everyone must show empathy to others) clashes with their private one (self empathy to their tribe)

Problem: when your private beliefs clash with your public persona, this invalidates your public persona, not your private beliefs.

[1] campaign contribution disclosures by company. [2] see voter trends by age group.


I'm in favor of many of the social safety nets so I'm playing devils advocate here to a certain extent. Also, this is probably a (largely) US-centrism take.

I think the US is still largely affected by the rugged-individualistic psyche. There was an HN article yesterday that studied the personality traits in the previous mountain/frontier and indicated these ideals persist, more in some areas than others.

So I think this impacts the mindset, particularly when an individual is asked to sacrifice for the better of the group. "Why should I pay for their life choices?" they may say. If I'm in a position to contribute more than my share, I am grateful to be in that position to a certain extent. I personally feel there is still an individual benefit by create a more stable society but I can also empathize with those who don't feel the same.


Well. I’d like to have had kids, and am jealous of those that have. While the pandemic is a curveball, people With kids are investing in their future and continuing their families. I think the frustration comes from the perspective that your personal life is enriched with kids, while some of the pressing daily grind is put off your shoulders. It isn’t humane to say, but it also isn’t meritorious.


How do social services help? The article is about parents with jobs adjusting or continuing to adjust to working from home with kids there. Social services as you listed are primarily for people who aren’t working.


They are saying anyone who supports those things should be willing to tolerate having to do a bit of extra work to make up for those in less ideal situations. Basically, if you talk the talk about the country providing more social goodness, you should walk the walk in your own workplace when it comes to social goodness.


The thing is, there is a contingent of people that support the Democratic Party assuming they benefit or, at the very least, have someone else pay for it. As an example, if you took a cross section of supporters, if they had their taxes increase by 100% to support $some_policy, they would be less inclined to support that increase. But if you say “the rich” should pay for XYZ, then support grows substantially. There are those that would pay higher taxes for altruistic reasons, however, those people are certainly welcome to write a check to the Treasury — but they don’t. When a policy hits close to home: more work, higher taxes, reduced disposable income, suddenly support isn’t quite so robust. If you aren’t charitable to your cubical mate, it’s ironic that one can expect charity for “society.” It’s easy to be charitable when someone else is paying for it, either with money or work. In other words, it’s easier to spend other people’s money and time.


If your conception of Democrats is that they will only vote for tax increases on people richer than them, then you have a pretty inaccurate conception of Democrats.

Yes, Democratic politicians will try to tailor their tax increases to not hit the middle class, but that's because they are trying to attract more voters than just Democrats.


are you sure?

> An individual’s likelihood of being a Democrat decreases with every additional dollar he or she earns. Democrats have a huge advantage (63 percent) with voters earning less than $15,000 per year. This advantage carries forward for individuals earning up to $50,000 per year, and then turns in the Republicans’ favor — with just 36 percent of individuals earning more than $200,000 per year supporting Democrats.

> Interestingly, the median household income in the United States is $49,777 — right near the point where the Democratic advantage disappears and the Republicans take over. [0]

seems like, at least in aggregate, people stop voting blue around the point where taxes/benefits stop being a net positive transfer to their household.

[0] https://www.debt.org/faqs/americans-in-debt/economic-demogra...


Seems like you should have included the next section for a broader context:

“ While Democrats lose support as income increases, there seems to be a tipping point where the ultra-wealthy begin leaning Democratic. The most famous example would be the entertainment industry, where star-studded events have become a significant part of Democratic culture.

But this phenomenon is not limited to Hollywood. A review of the 20 richest Americans, as listed by Forbes Magazine, found that 60 percent affiliate with the Democratic Party, including the top three individuals: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison. Among the riches families, the Democratic advantage rises even higher, to 75 percent.”


it's interesting that there's a second tipping point, but it occurs high enough in the income percentiles that I don't think it's particularly relevant to the discussion at hand. these people may contribute an outsized share of tax revenue, but they make up a very small fraction of the democratic base.

in any case, I don't think the voting tendencies of the ultra-rich do very much to invalidate my point. they're in a position where they can dodge the brunt of most taxes they vote for, and even if they weren't, there are basically no tax policies within the current overton window that could meaningfully affect their standard of living. if bill gates lost 98% of his net worth, he might have to dial back his charitable endeavors, but I doubt the material comfort of his family's lifestyle would change at all.


>When a policy hits close to home: more work, higher taxes, reduced disposable income, suddenly support isn’t quite so robust.

Yes, because I'm not going to put my family at a disadvantage versus others in society unless everyone is going to chip in. That's a perfectly reasonable position to hold.


But everyone doesn’t chip in. 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes.


That's because they make so little money that paying taxes would impact their ability to feed themselves.

This comes up just enough I wonder - are there really people that wish to revoke citizen privileges because you don't earn enough money?


Well, that is just silly. Median americans have income several times higher than e.g. median people in central/eastern Europe (not to mention third-world countries) even after correcting for different price levels, and even these are able to feed themselves.

Here in Czechia income tax breakeven is roughly on minimum wage. Above that (almost everyone who has fulltime empolyment) people pays some income taxes.


[flagged]


This is a deplorable view and I'm not surprised you made a whole new throwaway account seemingly for the purpose of making it.


[flagged]


Indian castes aren't based on merit though.


Earning sufficient income to be eligible to pay federal taxes is not based on merit either.


It could be. With equality of opportunity it's the same.

Religious or genetic castes will never be.


I don't see how this applies to the Democratic Party any more than the Republican Party.


I don't fully agree with you.

Back when I worked in retail or fast food, smokers could step out for a 5 minute smoke break every once in a while. As a non-smoker, I wasn't allowed to just sit there for 5 minutes. At the end of the day, we got paid the same, but smokers got 30 minutes off, courtesy of the non-smokers who picked up the slack.

Likewise, parents are excused from work because they have children. I fully appreciate the difficulty of being a parent and the necessity for those measures. I don't think we really have a choice. It's either that or we watch them slowly crack under the pressure.

That being said, they chose to have children, and I chose not to. Whatever I have going on instead can't have priority over my work schedule. Whether it's a side hustle or a little league baseball team, it has to wait.

To be clear, I want those parents to get the time they desperately need. However, if this arrangement is to last, then childless employees should also get time for their personal obligations, whatever they might be.


>they chose to have children, and I chose not to

Up until the pandemic, my work schedule had almost never been affected by me being parent in any way. I chose to have kids knowing that my wife and I would be able to continue working without this significantly impacting our jobs (after the first several weeks after they were born, of course), and that has always been true until this. You are acting as though parents fully understood the pandemic would happen and would affect them at the time they decided to become parents.

This argument is like saying that a storm knocked down your neighbor's house, but not yours. So it's unfair that your neighbor get some leniency from work while he tries to repair it while you are expected to keep working. "He chose to build his house on that side of the street, so he has to deal with the consequences."

This isn't about giving extra slack to parents. It's about giving extra slack to people who were hit particularly hard by this situation that they couldn't possibly have seen coming. I was forced to return to the office even though I'd rather be at home. I have a coworker with no kids but who takes care of his mother who is very sick and at high risk for COVID. He gets to keep working from home, which is what I'd like to do. It's never crossed my mind to be annoyed with him for that.


I do not agree with this. Even side hustles have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Quite nearly everything in our lives has been. Parents deserve all the concessions that can be afforded, but people without kids should also be afforded the same. Having children is a personal choice in the end, it's a right, but nothing special in anyway. People should not be penalized for not making that choice, just like they should not be rewarded either.


Society ultimately needs children to function. At some point it can’t always be a zero sum game where everyone thinks it’s totally fair. People with kids pay less taxes. There is an implicit understanding that children are a burden we bear as a society. I have a hard time being upset with concessions parents need right now when this is ultimately the federal governments fault. They let this fester into what it has become and we are all eating the shit sandwich that followed. 4% of the worlds population and something like 22% of the Corona Virus cases. I would encourage you and all the other single people, purposefully childless, etc to have more empathy. Most parents in competitive fields work insanely hard to keep their kids as their problem and no one else’s, even though children are a requirement for society to function as it is structured now. Parents didn’t choose this pandemic, it’s not something you can plan for. Struggling parents can use a little help, this is an immensely stressful situation. It isn’t fair to everyone and society as a whole has to bear the cost in different ways. It’s not like most parents with previously solid work records in deep work jobs are any happier than non-parents. It’s not some reward they are suddenly getting. Their life is categorically worse even if they get some minor concessions at work.


I plan to have kids as well. I'm just not convinced that parents in well to do tech companies need handouts to do this. No one is having kids in lieu of their obligation to society, people have kids because they want to. The governments where majority of people are actively choosing not to have kids are trying to incentivize the population to do so; it's not clear to me why private employers should be doing it. Further, these incentives should be declared with significant notice to make sure people can make life choices accordingly.

You can tell that no one prepares for the pandemic, and that's true. But the point is that this applies to everyone, not just those with kids. What if I have an ailing parent or a sibling? What if I run an orphanage on the side? Just give the same benefits to everyone instead of cherry picking people who make life decisions that are of no consequence to their day job. If you think that's too much to provide to everyone, then I will argue that it's too much to provide for just parents.


> What if I have an ailing parent or a sibling?

If the obligation to care for them (during work hours) has increased due to COVID, then you absolutely should get more work flexibility to take care of that. Because that's something you must do for their health and well-being, not something that you just feel like doing because you want to.

> What if I run an orphanage on the side?

Presumably you ran that orphanage outside of work hours pre-COVID, and can continue to do the same now. This is kinda a silly hypothetical though... I wasn't aware that orphanage-as-side-hustle was such a popular thing for non-parent tech employees.


I didn’t realize that so many people on HN ran orphanages on the side, this is the second or third mention of hypothetical orphanages.

You might want to suspend judgement of parents until you’ve tried your hand at it.


They made no judgement of parents. They spoke of widening benefits to apply to everyone not just those with kids.


> What if I have an ailing parent or a sibling?

I believe this is addressed in the article, and in many of the policies, where they describe the individual receiving these benefits as a `caregiver` not `parent`. What I find interesting is that the conversation seems to be geared solely around parents while others that take care of family in need are not brought into it.


> Even side hustles have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

Were you working on your side hustle during normal work hours before the pandemic? No? So is the pandemic stopping you from working on your side hustle after work hours now? No? I didn't think so.

> Parents deserve all the concessions that can be afforded, but people without kids should also be afforded the same.

I think you're looking at this in the wrong way, as if employers are giving parents some sort of special gift by being flexible around child care responsibilities. Child care has to get done, period. It's not opt-out. Your side hustle can wait until after work hours... as it always has.

> Having children is a personal choice in the end, but nothing special in anyway. People should not be penalized for not making that choice, just like they should not be rewarded either.

Ah, here's that tired argument again. Yes, it is a personal choice. But are we really going to penalize children because their parents, when deciding to have kids, failed to take into account the possibility of global pandemic making child care interfere with their work responsibilities? Parents aren't getting "rewarded" for having kids here; they're simply getting time to do that which they must do. Child care is unique among non-work obligations in that it's not something you can reschedule, put off, or decide not to do. There's no "reward" here.

I still don't understand how you think non-parents like us are being "penalized", though. My work day during COVID is, scope-wise, exactly the same as it was pre-COVID. I get out of bed, work for 8-10 hours, and then stop and do whatever I want. I was already working from home most of the time pre-COVID, but as a bonus, people who went to an office every day now get their commute time back! If anything, non-parents are getting a reward during COVID that parents don't get, because their former commute time is now filled with... you guessed it... more child care.


Picture this : My side hustle requires me to be available to perform it at 6PM on wednesdays. So outside of my normal work hours.

This was always OK before the pandemic. Everyone stopped working at 5, and I got to get ready for my hobby at 6. All good.

Now, parents need to be available for their children at 5. So they have to leave at 4. Someone has to stay until 6 to "make it up". It's a priority that we allow them to be available for their children. So I will have to let go of my hobby, so they can be with their children.

They might even justify it by saying "I will come early on thursdays to compensate, and you can start later". The thing is that I don't care about starting later on thrusdays. I want to be free at 6 on wednesdays.

And because my calendar does not include the magic "children" word, I automatically get the lowest priority when discussing schedules. Holidays during thanksgiving ? No sir, you don't have children, you would probably be sad and alone anyway! Those nice summer days ? Well, Henry wants to take his gasp children hiking during summer break, you can have a week in november, while his son is at school! And so on...

The children word is systematically used as an argument to justify some kind of priority for parents when defining schedules over those who don't have any children. And COVID made that really visible because people with children suddenly had even more constraint than those without - and you can guess who had to be even more flexible. And because non-parents are systematically being shown that they matter less, this creates resentment.


We talk about children here, you just cannot simply decide to put them aside for a while. What hobby is more important to justify that you need to do it at a specific time ? You just invented this constraint to try to prove a point, but it really sounds like you just want to rant. Do you have children ? It's already exhausting to take care of them in normal times, but I can guarantee that when you don't know when they can go back to children care or school, and you have to work on top of that, it becomes really difficult. If you had to take care of one of your relatives, I would not think twice about trying to be more flexible for you to do so.


You just proved my point. You are placing yourself in a situation where you get to be the judge of my schedule. If that situation happened, we would not be two equally leveled adults trying to find a solution that is balanced for everyone - like doing one week for each person. We would be two adults entering a power play where you immediately use the child card and I would have to find a better excuse to justify having as much right to organise my schedule as you have. And you would probably immediately start gauging if my reasons are "good enough". If "my reasons" are more important than "your child". There is no way to ever compete. Because your child is your number 1 priority, it should almost be mine too - or at least it should definitely be higher on my prio list than any activity I plan on doing in my free time. Because if it doesn't, I must be a selfish bas

There are unfortunate life circumstance that falls upon you. These do exist and I would also definitely be more flexible to help someone undergoing them. Your child is not an unfortunate life circumstance. He is the consequence of a choice you made. Just like my schedule is the consequences of choices that I made. There is no reason to consider that your choices matter more than mine.


What makes you think someone "chose" the circumstances they face right now? When people decide to have kids they usually make the rational and justifiable assumption that childcare is available during their working hours and that they will be able to have a workspace that is separate from their child's play space.

The only relevant "choice" here is the choice that companies made to close their offices and require employees to work from home. For people with children in their homes that is going to mean they are less productive, even if there is a babysitter available. If your company told you that you are required to do your work while riding on a roller coaster, where you would likely be much less productive, you would be right to ask the company for to reduce your expectations until you are allowed to return to your office. Since parents are being required to work from an environment where their productivity will be lowered, it is reasonable and everyone should expect that their expectations will be adjusted downward to reflect that. If your home environment does not significantly reduce your productivity then there is no reason to think your own expectations should be adjusted downward.


Caring for children is more important than a side hustle. If you would take advantage of compant-given childcare time to carry out a side-hustle when you don't have children is something I would judge you for. You can like it or not, but I would.

You would be exploiting a system put in place to help families survive a pandemic for your own personal gain.


At not point am I trying to exploit any system for my side hobby. I am no trying to leave sooner than I was before covid, or have more free time. My colleague, on the other hand, is doing exactly that. He wants to leave sooner - reportedly to care for his child (I believe him). And because he wants to leave sooner, I actually have to leave later. And the fact that it is suddenly forced upon me to change my schedule because he wants me to, is the root of the problem.


I'm a little surprised at the flack you're getting.

I'm with you though. If I have personal obligations, I shouldn't feel any pressure to help out a coworker by working later than normal with no additional incentive just because they have children and I don't. And if I decline to help out that coworker, I shouldn't be publicly shamed.


I thought that's why the childless were obligated to school taxes and inflated health insurance premiums?

The child rearing consume what the childless have earned under the "do what's best for everyone" motif of social programs. Who's getting the best? Do the childless get to participate in this best?


Do the childless get to participate in programs meant for parents with children? No, of course not.

I really don't understand how you can have a perspective that leads to this question.


There are things called empathy and humanity. Yes children should be the top priority, not only mine but everyone's. I don't ask you to compensate my hours because I have a child, I ask to try to find the best solutions to an exceptional problem, by being adults and open to discussion. The fact that you think there would be a power play is because YOU consider it to be a matter of power. It's not about power, it's not about the fact that what you have to do is more important or not. It's children (or family, or humans, or living animals), nothing is more important. We don't talk about free time here, we talk about being there for people that completely depend on us. And of course it's exceptional, situation would probably smoothen out after a few days or weeks, where we could find solutions that better suit everyone.


your WOW raid can wait, my dude


You should research the meanings of equality and equity. Equity is not a penalization for those with better circumstances, it is simply support for those that lack it.


It's special in that it is a fundamental part of our society. It moves society forward, it brings forth new generations and brings meaning to our existence. How about we turn it around and say that people that choose not to procreate be penalized?

You argument doesn't work in that it can just as easily be applied the other way if we assume having kids is the default state. We could further argue that not having kids is an advantage, hence why should parents be penalized for not having made the same choice as those that didn't.


In exchange for a strict policy that makes sure employee output is equivalent across the board, would you agree to sign away all future societal benefits paid for by the younger generations? (when you are old) If you aren't willing to do that, aren't you being a hypocrite by saying you'd rather cash in on those kids in the future?


This will likely end up happening anyway.

The amount of children we’d need to become next generation workers and support our generation are exponential and cannot be sustained. I suspect that as for the last decade or two, old age benefits will keep shrinking and shrinking anyway because there is no way we can keep having, feeding, and sustaining the exponential numbers required.


They are not being "rewarded." They need leniency to deal with the raw hand they've been dealt. Its called empathy. Companies are choosing to help their employees out in a rough spot and that's the correct thing to do. My mother was sick a few years ago and I "worked" remotely for 1-2 months to take care of her. The company could have easily said "nah." I am eternally grateful that the company did that and I stayed for 2 years longer than I would have and worked very hard. By treating your employees well not only are you acting like a normal person, but you get the side benefit of building goodwill with your employees.


I think you haven't disagreed? The point of the parent comments in this thread is that "parents are not the only people for whom companies should have empathy", and you've replied "companies are having empathy for parents, which is great".


I might've misinterpreted what op was saying.


There's risk in every major life decision, including having kids.

I hope I'm not coming off as anti-children but while parents couldn't have anticipated the pandemic and its impact, they need to react to the circumstances. If their home situation requires it, then they should switch to part-time or even quit temporarily.

I also agree with giving parents "extra slack", though again there are limits. At this rate the pandemic will remain with us for another year. The onus is probably in company leadership to make the necessary changes and not have colleagues start to resent one another.


> If their home situation requires it, then they should switch to part-time or even quit temporarily.

How exactly to people buy food and pay their bills in this scenario?

You're not coming off as anti-children, but you're definitely coming off as someone who lacks a basic understanding for how life in society works.


> How exactly to people buy food and pay their bills in this scenario?

In Tech? With 3-10 times the average family income? How will they buy food if they work part time for a month or two, or one of them quits?

Probably the way as before, with their massive pay check.


>> I hope I'm not coming off as anti-children but while parents couldn't have anticipated the pandemic and its impact, they need to react to the circumstances. If their home situation requires it, then they should switch to part-time or even quit temporarily.

Putting a family units safety and wellbeing should be a last resort solution. Major disruptions in a kids early life can have seriously negative effects on their future.


"I hope I'm not coming off as anti-children"

Sorry, but that is exactly how you are coming off. Your argument is basically that people with children should leave their jobs or be paid less for no reason other than that they have kids at a time when, through no fault of their own, the childcare arrangements they relied on have all been cancelled or become unreliable.


> This argument is like saying that a storm knocked down your neighbor's house, but not yours.

It’s not the same though. Having a so called “act of god” result in property damage is just chance. Having children (in most cases) isn’t chance. It’s a conscious decision.

Even though no one could guess the pandemic would happen, I’d hope people getting children are conscious that they’re getting into a 18–20 years commitment to support them at the expense of their finances and leisure time (to some extent)

I think the smoking analogy applies well, it’s also a choice and not due to chance.


The pandemic is the “act of god” in this analogy.


Someone has to provide the goods and services you'll consume when you're old. Those people are today's kids, whose parents are doing you a big favor at considerable expense to themselves.

Raising children isn't like smoking, a hobby, a side hustle, or other miscellaneous personal obligations. It's more like military service and jury duty -- an essential service that some people perform to ensure that society as we know it can continue to exist. And one which employers can, should, and often do make special allowances for.


Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

We already heavily subsidise child-rearing through taxes and other benefits. As I said elsewhere, there are mechanisms for supporting parents already. If you tried to let any other charitable endeavour take over your work schedule, you wouldn't expect your compensation to remain unaffected.

I'm not resentful at parents. It just seems completely unfair to make childless employees subsidise this adventure, as if they didn't already do it through 40 years of tax contributions.

Besides, let's not pretend that people choose to have kids as a service to humanity. I've never, ever heard anyone claim that. People have kids because they're fun, and because making them is fun.


> We already heavily subsidise child-rearing through taxes and other benefits.

The US and most other Western countries run huge budget deficits at essentially zero interest costs. This is only possible because creditors have full faith in the ability of future tax payers to meet debt obligations.

In light of that, I’d say the overall balance is that those with children are massively subsidizing the childless.


You mean the children are subsidizing the parents?


The children are subsidizing all of society through their national debt obligations. Their parents are paying the expenses of the children right now, with subsidies from the government and employers.


How do? The childless pay taxes and don’t have subsequent gene pool for society to take care of..

Taxes are perpetual and mandatory. It goes towards subsidizing other people’s genes and then the childless have to be thankful for that.

Let’s not forget the children who grow up to be thugs and criminals. Not every fruit of the loin is a productive member of the society. I find it appalling that after 12 years of subsidied education, they still want free education, housing is a human right and most haven’t even paid off the cost of society paying for them ..never mind paying it forward for the next generation.


I believe you've missed the point almost completely. The parent comment's point is that the USA is as rich as it is because they've effectively taken out an enormous loan from the markets. The markets trust the USA to pay back this loan because they trust the USA to keep producing children, some subset of whom will collectively generate enough wealth to cover the loan. If everyone in the USA agreed not to have children any more, the country would immediately collapse (not collapse in the future when the workforce ran out, but immediately) as the market rushed to salvage what it could from the country's walking corpse.


There is no contract. Are we putting a contract on reproductive promise for markets? Is this a contract out on women’s uteri?

This isn’t about macro economics at all. This is all about religion forcing women to breed and the tyranny of scrotums to see who can pee farther most into the gene pool.

However a contract does exist between the parents of the child. With the male..due to the lack of anatomical bits to carry a fetus to term within his body or capable of feeding said offspring through mammary excretions is responsible for the well being of the offspring. Financially or otherwise. Because. Biology.

In the jungle, when the alpha male is unable to provide for the litter, he gets displaced. Insect brains seem to be far superior with reasoning. Clearly mammalian instincts are not up to scratch when it comes to collecting on contracts. The female praying mantis being more sensible simply devours the male after mating. The male drone bee breaks off its penile appendage and free falls from above while in the throes of a kamikaze orgasm. Homo sapiens get to go to a job and support a child. Do it. If you can’t, don’t do it. There is no societal contract to nourish the fruit of strangers’ loins.

Dear men, please curb your ejaculation. And if you can’t, make enough to support your mutated chromosome financially and when a pandemic comes around the corner, man up.


> Are we putting a contract on reproductive promise for markets?

There are no contracts stating the the companies in the S&P 500 must perform enough in the future to support the current market cap of the index, but still the index is where it is.

The market is forward looking, and children are implicit in that valuation.

The rest of your post, again, seem to sidestep that argument.


If children are commodities, why should all of society subsidize the breeding population? Why not practice eugenics while we are at it? Because that would be the logical conclusion. This is uncomfortably close to Nazi ideology.


Assumptions about future children make them no more commodities than expecting rain next year to water your crops for your farm business making weather a commodity.

Assumptions and math make market valuations, including bonds.

But I'm not even sure you are attempting to argue in good faith, so I will check out now.


I am not arguing at all. I am just pointing out that your statement makes zero sense. The only way it makes sense is if you are suggesting that we adopt nazi ideology of eugenics.

The accusation reg lack of ‘good faith’ also makes no sense. Good faith is only relevant if both of us are in agreement according to contract law.

I am pretty sure that I disagree with you. No need to beckon ‘good faith’.


I think the parent's argument makes perfect sense, and reducing it to adopting eugenics does sound pretty close to a bad-faith response.

Markets don't care about any particular specific implementation of children; the market just cares that there will be children, of some average productivity level to maintain economic growth. Sure, if we went full eugenics, markets would likely shift to expect a much higher productivity level in future generations, but... that seems like a pretty obvious outcome.

> Good faith is only relevant if both of us are in agreement according to contract law.

I think maybe you're talking about the legal definition of "good faith", wherein the rest of us are talking about the "don't be a dick" definition. Not saying you're being a dick, but it does feel like you're willfully misunderstanding the parent's argument.


User croon has ‘checked out’. I think we can shelf the dick and good faith discussion.

To you, kelnos:

1. Sub replacement fertility rates in countries like Italy has already led to Natalist policies.*

2. The world will do better economically with a lower fertility/sub replacement rate. Why? Because the notions of money and currency is changing. Automation will reduce jobs and wages.

3. When technology will replace human labour faster than ever before in our history, we can no longer relate to replacement rate of population as an indicator of economic growth.

4. With eventual UBI adoption and possibly crypto that will change how we see ‘money’ as a financial construct, the old rules NO LONGER APPLY.

5. Being in the middle of the sixth extinction event and being a super apex predator, a higher population is guaranteed to accelerate our extinction as a species sooner than a sub replacement fertility rate. 6. In the event of a catastrophe or unforeseen disaster, we should have our genetic material preserved in a gene vault. Like a seed vault. 6. If the climate crisis becomes worse before it becomes better(which it is guaranteed to be..), then we need a robust, healthy population that will likely have to deal with a nomadic lifestyle. 7. We are no longer at the mercy of good old fashioned boinking and breeding to perpetuate the human species. We need to protect our environment instead of looking to perpetuate our own gene pool. 7. HALF a surviving child per person or a replacement fertility rate of 1.00/woman should bring us back to carrying capacity of our planet.

8. It is also likely that we will discover anti ageing technologies and perhaps even become hybrid carbon-silicon based life forms.

We can’t breed ourselves to extinction. At the current rate of consumption due to exponential population increase, if we don’t control population before the inevitable depopulation occurs in terrible and devastating ways, we won’t have any resources left in the only planet that sustains life as we know it.

*[..]Some governments, fearful of a future pensions crisis, have developed natalist policies to attempt to encourage more women to have children. Measures include increasing tax allowances for working parents, improving child-care provision, reducing working hours/weekend working in female-dominated professions such as healthcare and a stricter enforcement of anti-discrimination measures to prevent professional women's promotion prospects being hindered when they take time off work to care for children. Over recent years, the fertility rate has increased to around 2.0 in France and 1.9 in Britain and some other northern European countries, [..]

[..] In Italy, for example, natalist policies may have actually discouraged the Italian population from having more children. This "widespread resistance" was the result of the Italian government, at one point,[when?] taxing single persons and criminalizing abortion and even contraception.[..]

European analysts hope, with the help of government incentives and large-scale change towards family-friendly policies, to stall the population decline and reverse it by around 2030, expecting that most of Europe will have a slight natural increase by then.[..] <—- if this isn’t eugenics, I don’t know what is...whatever economic benefit increased population has, immigration and automation tech will compensate.


> Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

That's the thing -- you won't actually go volunteer with the homeless. (Or at least, 99% of us wouldn't.) But parents actually have to change those diapers. If there's a little kid running around in the background of that Zoom call, someone is doing a lot of hard work to keep the kid alive. And unlike volunteering at the homeless shelter, they can't just decide they don't feel like it.


> you won't actually go volunteer with the homeless

This was in response to the parent post:

> an essential service that some people perform to ensure that society as we know it can continue to exist

If this was the reason why parents get a free pass, people who provide essential services would also get to do it on their employer's dime, at the expense of their colleagues.

My point across this entire comments section is that this privilege is arbitrary. A lot of people do hard work for all sorts of important reasons, but when they miss work, it gets mentioned in their performance review.


> If this was the reason why parents get a free pass...

You’re framing this discussion as something you flat out don’t accept as reasonable, despite the thoughtful responses in the thread.

Is there any point in actual engaging, or have you already made your mind up?

Perhaps, rather than repeatedly and blindly repeating your view over and over, like you might somehow convince parents that they’re bad humans who deserve to be punished, try considering the views of the others here...

This a pandemic, if there was ever a situation where the situation was a bit more complicated and a bit more empathy to the circumstances was required, this is it.


Systemic problems require systemic solutions. One-off problems require one-off solutions.

Parenting in the pandemic is a systemic problem. And even in non-pandemic times, we have public schools, child services, parental leave, etc. The national guard and jury duty are likewise systemic problems; we need lots of guardsmen and lots of jurors.

Homelessness is a systemic problem, but the particular way you choose to do community service (or not do it) is for you to sort out mostly on your own.


> If this was the reason why parents get a free pass, people who provide essential services would also get to do it on their employer's dime, at the expense of their colleagues.

They do. They're called government employees, and they are paid by taxes at the expense of everyone.


I guess you're advocating that parents get lower performance ratings during the pandemic if their responsibility to their family has caused them to do lower quality work for their employer. I think that's sort of absurd (for all the reasons jdm2212 has pointed out), but, as a parent of two grade-school children myself, I'd take that deal of it made all the childless people feel they were being treated fairly. I am concerned that performance reviews are generally about communicating paths for development and progress against some goal. I'm not sure how valuable that feedback will be for parents who suffer low performance because of child-rearing responsibilities. I wouldn't suddenly work more hours to improve my performance at the expense of my children's education during this period. It's a poor trade for everyone involved, except perhaps my employer, and even then, it's likely only beneficial for them in the short-term.


Tech is full of entitled low empathy technocrats. This may seem harsh, but it is very true in my experience. Especially at organizations that skew younger and have discriminatory or ageists hiring practices. It gets talked about obliquely and there are a lot of compelling and meritocratic arguments about how unfair all of this is to people without kids, but ultimately the concessions are few and far between. This mostly comes down to empathy and it is a skill many young technologists have not cultivated by choice or through a general life path to this point. Yes, I am making a lot of generalizations but I don’t think they are a reach.


I'm a low empathy technocrat because:

(1) I chose not to have children, and

(2) I find it unfair that I'm expected to work longer hours for the same compensation/work profile.

Is that it? ... No, that's not it. Your position assumes that:

(1) Child-rearing is some a-priori, guaranteed good, and

(2) That it apparently should be subsidized by employers,

(3) and (both implicitly and explicitly, from you and others) at the expense of their non-child having coworkers.

Am I getting something wrong, or missing something?

I absolutely think parents should get a break during the pandemic. I think everyone should. The work people are doing here to act like we should worship the ground parents walk is easily the most shocking thing I've witnessed.

Honestly, it's not at all a stretch to say you basically insist parents get extra compensation (in the form of extra paid vacation). Call me whatever name you want, but people are well within their rights on this, of all places, to raise an eyebrow.

---

The other generous interpretation is that there is some base assumption that we ALL (parents and non-parents) should running ourselves at 90+% capacity. And that children are an accept caveat since parents are usually at 100% capacity. What a terrifying dismal way to look at life. I hope that's not it.


> I find it unfair that I'm expected to work longer hours for the same compensation/work profile.

When you say "longer hours" do you mean "longer hours than I worked before COVID" or "the same amount of hours, but longer than parents will be working during COVID"?

If you mean the former, then you need a better employer, because agreed, you should not be required or expected to increase your work hours due to COVID, for any reason, and certainly not to pick up the slack caused by parents losing productivity.

If you mean the latter, then this just sounds like entitled whining. Your life has not changed because parents get more flexibility. It's exactly the same as it was before.

Parents don't get to stop taking care of their kids. I know quite a few working parents, and I guarantee you that they don't want to take time away from work for child care right now. But they have no choice. You are incredibly lucky that you aren't a parent right now; take that blessing as your "subsidy" and stop complaining about things that don't actually affect you.


Another argument that largely hinges on calling me a name; amusing considering I'm normally considered the annoying-bleeding-heart-softie. And you know, the part where I said parents deserve a break in my reply that you ignored.

Parents deserve extra flexibility.

So do single people working from their bedrooms, 50 hours a week, thinking about alternatives to this existence regularly because they have literally nothing else going on and don't have the vacation to take to get away.

So do people in relationships who are trapped in tiny, tiny SF apartments with no room to breathe in, when OH ALSO, your city is constantly filled with the noise of sirens because your police department keeps gassing your neighborhood.

Everyone deserves extra flexibility right now. Acting like your kid is some exception while calling me entitled is something else.


> When you say "longer hours" do you mean "longer hours than I worked before COVID" or "the same amount of hours, but longer than parents will be working during COVID"?

Reading these threads, I think the conversation has blurred COVID and non-COVID times. COVID has highlighted how much leeway parents get in general, regardless of whether people think they should/should not get it.


[flagged]


It feels like one could justify just about anything by pointing to a "lack of empathy" by opponents. I think HN can do better.


Come on. This whole thread was kicked off by a single person complaining how they might possibly have to help otherwise high performing colleagues out by covering for them some during an unprecedented pandemic. I can’t recall a single time in my time in HN (since it started, literally) I asked or thought this was a more appropriate thing to say.


Or "tone-deaf" when something don't get the reaction someone thinks it deserves.


So true. HN users tend to use empathy card a lot when they can't agree to disagree other side of the argument.


children are an a-priori good for society and they massively subsidized the childless in the long run. Anyhow, try the empathy thing out. Put yourself in the shoes of a hard working parent that up to this point, possible for 10+ years of child-rearing carries the same load as everyone else. Now, COVID has happened an unprecedented pandemic since the Spanish Flu. Maybe they have their hands a little full right now? Employers in general should be helping everyone out right now, not just parents, but I am sure you can see where I am going here? Some people are stuck in a 100% capacity spot for whatever reason. It’s not what I would prefer, but it’s how society is set up.


> they massively subsidised the childless in the long run

How, exactly? It feels like the glass-makers fallacy every time this point is expanded on.

> Anyhow, try the empathy thing out

empathy means "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another"; you assume this isn't the case because others draw a different conclusion to you own. What If others understand perfectly well? From my perspective the phrasing "try the empathy thing out" is pretty patronising, leading me to conclude you either lack empathy on that point, or else wanted it to be that way; it's possible to be (if not act) empathetic while acting vindictive.


Nice of you and others to ignore:

>I absolutely think parents should get a break during the pandemic. I think everyone should.

I am alone. I am completely alone. Completely socially isolated. And being expected to work 50 hours a week, as always, in my home. I get no extra time off. I get no allowances for a screaming kid in the background.

I THINK PARENTS SHOULD GET A BREAK. And I think everyone should equally.

Point-of-fact, only parents are the people in this thread demanding something and acting entitled and the fact that no one can respond to the arguments without resorting to name-calling just drives that point home.


> children are an a-priori good for society

Tell that to all the children born into poverty with parents who don't want them/are indifferent to them, and to the communities they inhabit who bear the fallout.


Many companies do give time off for charity work or public service, match charitable giving, etc. I’d have no problem with my company giving my single, childless colleagues time off or schedule flexibility to engage in some social or public good.


Did any of these companies offer to pay their single workers to work on Covid support systems or handle a shift at the grocery store?


Maybe taking care of aging parents with dementia is a better example, although it's less voluntary than children are.


Voluntary enrollment in nursing/assisted living facilities is far more accepted (for good reason) than voluntarily turning your children over to foster or other care arrangements. In that regard, I’d say that elder care is more voluntary than childcare.


That really depends on the particular assisted living facilities, and the state of your particular parents, and in support of the suggestion that a company offer "taking care of someone" time universally rather than just to those with kids, I'd prefer not to have a corporate officer determining at what exact level of deterioration my taking care of an elderly parent becomes involuntary.


Parenting is not voluntary. Yes, becoming a parent is voluntary, but once you have a child in your home you cannot put being a parent on hold while you focus on other things.


In some cultures (and countries), taking care of your elderly parents is also not voluntary.


I didn't say that parenting is voluntary.


If not, then what's the point of the comparison you're making?


That your parents might get dementia, and you might even have to quit your job to take care of them full time if you don't get sufficient leave, and unlike children, that's not even something that you likely made a plan and budget for in advance, or a lifestyle that you chose willingly despite the stress. It's just one of many possible severely challenging, non-optional commitments that can arise in life.

(This is in the context of supporting making parent leave available for non-parents).


Actually where I work you do not get "parental" leave, you get "family" leave which can also be used to care for aged parents (for a time, just like parental leave, until more permanent arrangements can be made). It is also irrelevant to the article, which is not about normal benefits that parents utilize, but the extraordinary considerations being made right now (and again, where I work, those extraordinary policies can be invoked for taking care of any family member, not just children and not just blood relatives).

Note also that parents did not choose the situation we are currently in. This is not a matter of lifestyle choice. The lifestyle we chose when we decided to have kids included the expectation of childcare during the day and that is what is failing here.


> But parents actually have to change those diapers.

Parents actually have to have kids to be in a position of caring for a dependent.


Sure. The point is, once you do, it's a commitment. You don't get to opt out when you feel like you need a break.


I don't dispute the point that children require commitment. I'm not sure how that makes employees with children less accountable for work than those who don't have children.

What if I have no children but I have a grandparent who is ill and requires care. My point is that if employees with families require support during these hard times, there are probably many who don't have children who also have changed their lives due to this pandemic. Perhaps we should relax the expectations for EVERYONE and not find one circumstance more special than others.


I think many companies are relaxing expectations for everyone. I have quite a few non-parent co-workers who have taken leave due to the mental health impact COVID has had on them, and my employer has been incredibly flexible in making sure they are able to take care of themselves.

I (also as a non-parent) have been mostly ok, but I've been taking more Fridays off than I would otherwise, just to have some more recharge time.

But I don't think there's necessarily a one-size-fits-all allowance solution. Taking care of a grandparent does not require the same time commitment, and, crucially, the same lack of control over one's schedule, as child care. Barring emergencies, you can schedule when you take care of your grandparent. With children, you are on call all day long, and kids can and will interrupt you for whatever (or no) reason. You can't just put them in a room by themselves for 8 hours and expect things to go well. Hell, with most young kids you can't even put them in a room by themselves for 30 minutes and expect things to go well.


"What if I have no children but I have a grandparent who is ill and requires care"

At least where I work you are entitled to the same leave that is being offered to parents to help anyone in your family/household/etc.

"Perhaps we should relax the expectations for EVERYONE and not find one circumstance more special than others"

Like other parents I made it clear to my boss that if I was required to work from home my productivity would be lower because there is a toddler running around my workspace. It is not that my circumstance is "more special" as much as that I am being required to work from an environment that makes work more difficult. My company operates a large system of offices for the purpose of providing employees with a workspace that improves productivity and I have been forbidden to enter any of those offices for six months.

(Just to be clear on what it means for a toddler to play in your workspace, given the opportunity my son will try to "type" on my keyboard and wreak havoc on whatever code I am writing. If I close the door, he will start banging on it and then crying if nobody opens it up. If I step into the kitchen to get some coffee he will chase after me and demand that I read him a book, and if I go back to my workspace he will start crying. My son is starting to figure out doorknobs and it is likely that by the end of this month I will not actually be able to keep him out of my workspace by closing the door.)


It sounds like you're being facetious, but plenty of employers will pay for you to do community service. For example, HeroWork is an organization similar to Habitats for Humanity, which does construction work for charities. Trade firms such as electricians and plumbers donate their employees' time (and wholesale accounts, and equipment) to do the work.


> Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

Well, why shouldn't it be?

> I'm not resentful at parents. It just seems completely unfair to make childless employees subsidise this adventure, as if they didn't already do it through 40 years of tax contributions.

Those children will later subsidize many childless people's retirement, either through contribution to pension funds or simply by keeping the world going.

> Besides, let's not pretend that people choose to have kids as a service to humanity. I've never, ever heard anyone claim that. People have kids because they're fun, and because making them is fun.

As I wrote earlier, it can be both a choice and a service to society/humanity.


> Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

It depends where you work, but potentially? I work at one of the FAANGs and we can take up to 20hr/y of work hours for volunteering.


> Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

A lot of companies will happily let you do that. Microsoft and Google even donate in $ for every hour you volunteer, up to a certain limit.


Irrespective of the reasonableness of the comment you’re responding to, I don’t think this comment is addressing the presented point. My experience with these policies is that these volunteer hours cannot be performed during work hours unless they are coordinated as by a manager in your organization as a team event.

It seems that situation, wherein you cannot reduce or substitute your working hours as an individual to instead volunteer, is what they are commenting on. Parents are being allowed to do this with their parental duties, which seems to be the perceived unfairness.


At the companies I mentioned you may perform volunteer work during company time, outside of team events, up to a certain limit.


Ah, my experience was with Apple so I assumed it generalized to some degree, instead it is just Apple being stingy as ever. Thanks for clarifying.


> Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

You don't have to help the homeless during the work day; that's a choice. But parents don't get to decide not to care for their children during the work day, when school/daycare/etc. is not available.

> It just seems completely unfair to make childless employees subsidise this adventure

How is that happening, though? As a non-parent who chose to work from home most of the time pre-COVID (despite HQ being a 30-minute walk from home), my work life is nearly unchanged due to COVID. I get up, work 8-10 hours, and then go and do whatever I want (obviously "whatever I want" has been curtailed due to COVID, but that's not my employer's or parent-coworkers' fault). I'm not "subsidizing" anything when a parent gets more flexibility during their work day due to child care obligations. The thing that changes for the company as a whole is that projects take longer to complete because many employees have taken a productivity hit, but that's no skin off my back.

> Besides, let's not pretend that people choose to have kids as a service to humanity. I've never, ever heard anyone claim that. People have kids because they're fun, and because making them is fun.

Agreed, and as a non-parent I can't help but roll my eyes whenever a parent tries to tell me what a grand service to humanity their child-rearing is. But, at the end of the day, humanity would cease to exist without people having kids, so regardless of their actual motivation, they are providing a valuable service to humanity.


"Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?" Yes and my last job encouraged us to take days off for local volunteering work. What most of us do isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. If you can make somebody's day better or easier, why not. The software everybody is making isn't really going to come out that much faster because you took some time out of a single day your week to do anything else but work.


> Then is it cool if I skip a few meetings to volunteer to help the homeless?

maybe? at my company we get a few days worth of "VTO" (volunteer time off) per year. so if you worked here, you could absolutely do that.


If your company doesn’t give you time off to volunteer to help homeless non-profits then you might consider asking for it. Your premise is sound in my opinion. That’s a valuable and local thing.

People don’t have kids directly to service humanity. But the bet effect is kids do benefit humanity. It’s worth supporting. In fact it’s quite sad how low the birth rate has become among those that can afford to have kids.


Actually yes. Companies like Facebook and Google explicitly offer employees the ability to volunteer on company time (up to a limit).


So you want us to quit or be fired?


One of the many reasons I have had kids is as a service to humanity. It’s definitely fun, but way too many people just cannot be bothered so someone has to.

I kind of want our race/country/planet to continue existing even if I can’t.


I'm pretty sure that having kids contributes in the _opposite_ direction to the maintainability of our planet and our species as a whole. Why do you think it's a service to humanity when population growth is a growing problem, continuing to get worse, which exacerbates issues like conflict between groups, resource contention and climate issues.

I want to emphasize that a sustainable average number of children per family is not zero [0] but around 1-1.5 for a sustainable population size in 100 years, according to the linked article. So given that you presumably live in a developed country (well educated, and don't need children for labour), and have a human's normal biological urges to reproduce, it's not immoral to produce children, but it's certainly not morally commendable.

[0] https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/yes-overpopulation-problem/


I would put it as half a surviving child per person and we can bring numbers down to carrying capacity within 150 years.

I also think we should work towards preserving genetic material so in case of a catastrophe we will still have a diverse human gene pool.


>way too many people just cannot be bothered so someone has to

This couldn't be further from the truth. I don't know anything about you but I can confidently say for every person like you, there are 5 that have a lot of kids purely out of inability or unwillingness to try not to. We are so far from not having enough children that your service to humanity is nothing but a stroke of your own ego. If you really, truly believed what you're saying, would you give up your right to have children under a guaranteed contract that someone else would in your place? Probably not.


It’s not a service to humanity. There are 7 billion of us out here. There are plenty of great reasons to have kids but I don’t buy the “for the greater good” argument.


i agree - if them having kids is "for the greater good", they could just as easily donate half their own paycheque to a charitable organization that deals with orphans and starving kids in parts of the world. That might make for a greater good than one additional child they may make.


Seriously. We have >8% of the world population living in poverty. If these supposed self-less "I did it for the good of the species!" procreators really wanted to help humanity, we'd see a lot more adoption.


I can't fathom this perspective. Who looks around themselves, seeing the amazing, world-altering scale of human population and says to themselves "You know what this place needs? More of me!"?


Except that the children disproportionately benefit the parents (unlike jury duty or military service). This is a heads-parents-win, tails-childless-lose scenario.

Your comment would be completely correct if the children ceased all communications and transactions with the parent upon entry into the labor force; but that's not what happens.


Well in proportion to the time the parents spend with the kids vs the time you are inconvenienced by them spending time with their kids balances out. Of course they will have a huge benefit from raising their kids. They raised them. But you will also have a benefit from the small temporary hassle it gives you during these times.


I am not saying that parents do not deserve attention from their children, I am only making the point that the proposed benefits are disproportionately beneficial to parents.


I'm saying they are proportionally beneficial to the parents if the portion of time they spend with their kids is drastically higher than the portion of time you are inconvenienced by that act.


You are asserting that I have some duty to do favors for parents? Should I do their dry cleaning, and get them a coffee if it's 'more convenient' as well?


Well, your social security money will be coming directly from those kids working. Just one example of non-parents benefiting.

In fact, your entire existence as an old person will be completely dependent on those kids working.


The comment I replied to said that parenthood was like military service or jury duty, whose residual benefits accrue equally to the entire populace, and I was simply pointing out that parenthood was different.

Non-parents get many benefits from children, but the parents get far more. To be clear, I think many of the arguments for subsidizing the rearing of children are coherent, such as arguments in favor of public schooling and healthcare (on the basis that the children are the primary beneficiaries), but I think those arguments do not apply to the parents' workplace.


Yes, parent accrue more benefits from their children than do non-parents, but their investment is significantly higher than the minor difference in time off that you may see.

Regardless of any direct benefit to me, I am willing to accept parents getting some small benefits that I will not as a childless person as an overall investment in society as a whole.


I don't think anyone here wants to prevent you from helping parents; the question is whether the case for 'societal investment' is clear and convincing enough to justify forcing everyone else to share the burden.


>an essential service that some people perform to ensure that society as we know it can continue to exist

I empathize with parents, but please don't make it sound like it's a selfless act they are doing for the good of society.

Also, childless couples/singles get taxed at quite a high rate (after any returns) vs parents. You compound that over 21 or whatever years it takes for kids to become "productive". Furthermore, people who choose to stay childless still have to work and pay higher taxes till the age of at least 66 in US. Life expectancy for males is 78, so that gives you 12 years. Social security is in no way enough, and you must survive on pension that you paid into for your retirement. So the child that I helped raised with my extra taxes and without any preferential treatment at work will never even come close to paying me back.


Well, technically, that child you “raised” with your tax money is the one paying your social security benefits when you are older. The SS taxes you are paying now don’t benefit you directly, they pay for current retiree benefits.

As far as being taxed “more” than a couple with kids, yes you do potentially miss out on a tax credit of $2k/year. Going through my food bills I easily spend that much just feeding that child- let’s just call it $5/day. So that child I’m rearing is at best netting me $0, and most likely will never be able to pay me back! So much for my supposed economic advantage!

So no it’s not some selfless act to society. After all nature makes the kid making process somewhat enjoyable and you take immense pride in your offspring. On the other hand the argument that you’re disadvantaged as a non parent because you miss out on a small tax break that, at the end of the day, at most subsidizes the nourishment required for said human to survive, rings hollow.


You and I both agree that it's not a selfless act to have a child. That was my entire point.


I assume that at age 66 you still want access to things like medical care, fire departments, etc. What value do you place on that?

Your taxes enable young people to exist/grow-up and extend those services to you. Providing for kids is selfish, not selfless. Until the singularity happens, we need young children to grow into functioning adults that continue and (hopefully) advance society.


I'm sorry if I implied that I don't want to pay. I'm just emphasizing that the people who choose to have kids are not doing it for selfless reasons.


Well said. It's a bit farcical that this discussion has degenerated into "I have kids for the better of society".

Let's stick to the simpler rationale that some people have kids because they love kids and/or want to pass down their genes.


People join the military for lots of reasons (patriotism, free college, bad family situation, and more) but we all recognize that funding the military and making life tolerable for service members is necessary for our society to keep working.

Similarly, people choose to have kids for lots of reasons (family pressure, want to pass on genes, etc.) but society's continued existence depends on people having kids, so it's on all of us to support the people who do have kids whether or not any given individual's motivation is noble.


I respectfully disagree on the need to fund the military.

How might we use the trillions of dollars spent on the military for education, healthcare, retirement and other betterment initiatives for U.S. citizens? If hypothetically all nations agreed on world peace, then having a military becomes superfluous but the would-be soldiers can find other meaningful professions in society rather than being soldiers.

Again I'm not against supporting parents. Just when there's immarginal benefits being conferred, that are not available to non-parents.


> If hypothetically all nations agreed on world peace

In a perfect world, that would work. We don't live in a perfect world, which is why virtually no society has ever disbanded their armed forces and lived to tell about it.

Similarly, in a perfect world, we could treat every individual exactly fairly and never given someone slightly more than they should have. But in this real fallen world we live in, sometimes the best we've got is simplistic decision rules like "support categories of people who do work that is essential for society to survive".


How many parents think about having kids because its an essential service ensure continuance of society? I would say none? It's a personal and selfish choice for their own family. I'm not saying that it doesn't benefit the society. But there are govt schemes like child tax credits etc. which are meant to control the population.

Yes parents should be given the time off. But do all parents need the time off? What if you have teenage kids? Also why limit this for parents only, why can't the same benefit apply to singles who can use the extra time off to find their potential partner and hence help in societies growth. I feel it's tone deaf to just talk about parents problems during these crisis.


> Also why limit this for parents only, why can't the same benefit apply to singles who can use the extra time off to find their potential partner and hence help in societies growth.

You're mistaking an acute problem for a chronic one. Society won't be harmed if you have to put your dating life on hold for 6 months because of a pandemic. But putting child care on hold for 6 months will result in a lot of dead, injured, or developmentally messed-up kids.

> I feel it's tone deaf to just talk about parents problems during these crisis.

I don't think that's the case at all. As an example, my employer also talks about general mental health during this pandemic, and encourages everyone -- parents and non-parents alike -- to take the time they need to care for themselves.

But as a non-parent I recognize that I haven't been affected much by the pandemic. Yes, I miss seeing my friends, and doing normal things out of my home, but I'm dealing with it reasonably well. If I had kids, what I'd be dealing with would be orders of magnitude more difficult. So I expect and accept that orders of magnitude more time will be spent talking about the problems parents are having right now.


Not only does it not benefit society but if I flew only on private jets for the rest of my life my carbon impact would still be less than a parent's. Producing a first world clone is the single worst thing you can do to the planet.


That makes it sound like raising children isn't already an extremely strong biological urge and something that tends to provide immense satisfaction to parents. If parents didn't receive special benefits at work to help them raise children, or if all adults were given comparable benefits regardless of whether they have children, I don't think that would shatter the incentive structure and result in having too few humans the next generation.

It's really not like military service or jury duty: things which in most cases people do not have an extremely strong biological urge to do.


> I don't think that would shatter the incentive structure

The best available evidence is that fertility rates are highly sensitive to external incentives. For example Russia managed to raise its fertility rate from the lowest in Europe to one of the highest in just a decade. They did that through a combination of cash incentives, extended maternity leave, and various social status and privileges for mothers.


Yes, but it's it good that they did so? Don't they have enough problems with the populace at large of current size? Such as lack of jobs - having more children than replacement exacerbates it.

The only way it is beneficial is because some jokers decided that running country on ever increasing debt (esp. retirement) is acceptable, and another decided that growth rates have to be high.


uhhh, we already have a shattered incentive structure and are not reproducing enough humans to support the next generation. US fertility is below replacement, as is pretty much every other developed or middle income country. Its likely that we will see peak world population in our lifetime.


Luckily the US population can grow other ways too! And the global population is increasing. And “seeing peak world population in our lifetime” doesn’t sound too scary. Shortage of humans due to humans choosing not to reproduce because they don’t want their non-parent coworkers to be frustrated is one of the smallest existential threats I can imagine.


Among most groups in America, the fertility rate is well below replacement -- same ballpark as Japan, IIRC. The only reason our population grows is immigration: immigrants themselves, and they have more kids than native-born Americans.

So the biological urge apparently isn't doing the trick.


I’m not convinced that the fertility rate in any one country is particularly troublesome, especially when global population is increasing, that country is populous and wealthy, and that country seems to have little trouble growing its population in ways other than local reproduction. This doesn’t seem a problem at all, assuming we’re not talking about other concerns like maintaining certain demographics in the USA (a concern which I absolutely do not share).


That only works if we assume that there will always be rich countries that don't have enough kids, and poor countries that have "too many" kids and send some to the rich countries.

While that may end up being the case for centuries to come, I don't think it's a great outcome for humanity as a whole to require vast wealth inequality between nations in order to keep humanity from dying out.


You're underestimating how well birth rates react to having actual free time and space to live in.

I raise you Israel as an example of not a poor country with big increase in birth rates.


People should procreate if they want to and not as a service to society. It’s ok. I think we will manage at 8 billion.

You have people who essentially outsourced parenting to have a career and that’s not a ‘sacrifice’. It’s a choice.


It's not that simple. Will we manage at 8 billion but with double the amount of retirees to take care of?


We will likely see a decrease in population..we should be ok with 1-3 billion. In 1600, world population was 500 million. 3.5 billion in 1975. Fears of human extinction is unfounded. However an uninhabitable planet due to exponential consumption is a real risk for future populations. Better to be a healthy billion than a starving dying 15 billion strong species.


The problem is that we're already decreasing our population too fast in many developed countries. We can't go down as rapidly as we went up, or society will collapse.


Immigration should solve it. Increasing replacement rate of developed countries doesn’t mean that exponential population in developing countries will decline.

Which begs the questions: is the race to fulfill replacement rate in developed countries the real reason to incentivise child births?


It isn't, as the rates are near replacement, which should not be a problem. (And increased health span allows some older people to remain in workforce.)

However, retirement and social systems were designed during a boom and were inadequately funded.


> Someone has to provide the goods and services you'll consume when you're old. Those people are today's kids...

Or immigrant labour. I'm not a parent-hater or a child-hater (One Billion Americans Go Go Go!) but you can import a lot of people. Heck I'd boost the economy by sustained long term importation of labour to bolster birth so that we can target long term of a billion Americans.


But why? Do we not look down the road and see that this is basically like an endless arms race, with the environment and the long-term survivability of the planet itself hanging in the balance? Are people happier when they live in a country of 300 million versus a country of 150 million? I completely don't understand the interest some people seem to have in increasing population "just because bigger number".


You need to add people to avoid demographic inversion. The Earth can easily sustain way more people. And besides, we want all those people to be here. We'll bring in the best and create a hotbed of blinding innovation - teching up into renewables and new energy sources. Maybe one among the 700 million will be the next Elon Musk and we'll be rocketing towards a cleaner Earth.

We owe the coming generations one last push to glory.


Do you realize the extent of humankind jingoism you're espousing here? There are other inhabitants of this planet, and I, for one, think they deserve equal footing, which they certainly do not have now. To put it more succinctly: Just because we can doesn't mean we should. Blindly plowing through our natural resources and dashing headlong towards ecological catastrophe all while wishing upon a star that maybe one of these millions of people we're pumping out will save us all is an astoundingly reckless, thoughtless way to proceed.

> We owe the coming generations one last push to glory.

This is not a Marvel movie. If our oceans turn acidic, if our glaciers melt, it's going to take a lot more than a magical South African to turn back time.


Literally no one is interested in this Doomsday Cult nonsense.


> Literally no one is interested in this Doomsday Cult nonsense.

If you think modern science's very real concerns for the near future of our planet amount to "Doomsday Cult nonsense", I don't know what to tell you. This stuff isn't magic- it's not made up- the evidence is right there out in the open. We can bury our head in the sand or we can face it with clear eyes.


> today's kids

We have too many of them. It's not polite to say, but ultimately many of the problems faced by the human race (like global warming) are a result of over-population. We don't want the replacement rate to drop too low, because it fucks up cross generational dynamics (e.g. social security), but we really would be better off if we had like 5% less kids over the next 20 years.


I'd sooner all children be created in a test tube, raised in government facilities, staffed by payed "parents" that are vetted as strictly as adopters are.

That won't happen: Parents will insist on raising their kids (with their DNA), their way, without any strict oversight, or societal interference. The "essential service" is as much about the desires of the parent, than the desires of society.

And as for "society as we know it" - what if I don't care for society as we know it?


> It's more like military service and jury duty -- an essential service that some people perform to ensure that society as we know it can continue to exist.

I like that analogy a lot and it has me switching my opinion to an extent. While having children is a huge responsibility, many parents don't actually treat it as so. (I would like to think the vast majority do). Is there a way we (socitey) can reward for responsible parenting? Can we decide as a collective what makes "good parenting".


As a parent, I would love to have an opportunity to work part-time. Suppose I work 3 days a week, and my wife works 2 days a week, we can arrange those days so that each day someone can be with kids. (It might hypothetically even be 3 days + 3 days if one of the jobs would allow Saturdays.) Working 3/5 time for 3/5 salary would feel fair towards my colleagues. (Many of us work on multiple projects at the same time, so from the project perspective, there would be little difference between being 3 days there and 2 days on another project, vs being 3 days there and 2 days off.)

Unfortunately, in most companies this is not an option. Full time (and be happy if this doesn't include overtime) or go away. And I can't afford to go away.


100% this. I do believe that a lot of two-job families would love for one or both parents to go part time. This way one parent doesn't have to 'give up' their career. Some generic advice I give to new grads which I never considered until I had kids was to seriously consider a medical profession because it is well-paying AND has a strong culture of part-time where shift work is the norm.

I've seen parents who negotiate hard for three days a week get it, but they are quickly 'mommy tracked' and stop getting promotions. Additionally when a crisis at work happens on their off day, they still get the call.

I think a tech company that figures out how to make part-time jobs work culturally will have a huge recruiting and talent advantage, especially this year. I haven't seen it pulled off yet though.


> Some generic advice I give to new grads which I never considered until I had kids was to seriously consider a medical profession because it is well-paying AND has a strong culture of part-time where shift work is the norm.

I'm going to ask you to clarify this.

In my experience, medical professions are LOUSY for "part time". You are on horribly long shifts. They move around continuously. You have no control over your shifts until you get to a very significant level of seniority.

And, right now, you're on the front lines of a pandemic.

The only advantage to something like nursing (at least it used to be) is that no matter where your spouse is, you will have work.


Yes, we should make part-time jobs more common in our society. Just now, someone asked HN crowd about tech part-time jobs. Maybe it will be useful for you.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24401206


Parents chose to have children with the assumption that childcare, schooling, etc. would exist. Almost no everyday citizen could have predicted that there would be a pandemic that would bring those services down for 1+ years.

Life during COVID is not what parents expected (or reasonably could have expected) when they chose to have children.


I agree with you. I was thinking about remote work in the long, but this was hidden in the last paragraph.

> However, if this arrangement is to last, then childless employees should also get time for their personal obligations, whatever they might be.


I think if this arrangement were to continue for multiple years, the likely new deal would be for parents to shift to part-time work where possible, with accompanying cultural changes such that their new situation won't turn that into a complete career dead-end. It will mean lower pay, fewer raises, and longer stretches between promotions, but it won't mean being treated less seriously from a professional development perspective. Parents who would usually pay for child care will have extra money to help offset the wage cut. Parents who would usually rely on public services for child care will require additional effort to accommodate.

Meanwhile, non-parents will just work normal full-time jobs and get raises and promotions at their usual cadence, and it'll be more or less status quo.

The issue now is that we're not expecting this to go on for multiple years, and are hoping that things will go back to some semblance of normal sometime early- to mid-next year (whether that comes to pass or not is irrelevant; the expectation is what matters). With that thinking, you can expect solutions to problems to be blunt and short-term, not well-thought-out policy changes and cultural shifts that in the best of times can take years to work out and transition to. And because they're blunt and short-term, they are going to have rough edges, as we're seeing here.


I think you'd benefit by looking into the difference between "equality" and "equity".


While I think your argument is specious at best, your point is salient. I‘m a parent and have several co workers who do not have children, and I push them —- have to push them —- to take time off. I think there’s a lot going on here:

* parents need more time to care for their kids

* parents feel guilty for the time off they’re taking

* non parent workers might feel some resentment, but probably not overtly

* non parent workers probably feel like they need to pick up the slack

Let’s be real here: very few of us are doing anything of actual consequence. Your job is not important. Your job is not you and you are not your job. Take as much time as you need, and if your company or your boss doesn’t get it, leave. I’ll fucking hire you.


I wrote the parent comment to flesh out my own thoughts. As I wrote it, I kept wanting to write what you put in the last paragraph.

In reality, none of us work 8 hours a day, and if someone slacks off, we'll push the deadline and go home.

In real reality, I'm self-employed and none of this matters. I just found that it was something interesting to discuss.


It is not reasonable to compare smokers to parents. Your irritation at smokers is reasonable, but it doesn't translate automatically to other categories of employee.


But the irritation is at the outcome, not at the action. the OP has no irritation regarding the smoker, or the parent. It's at the irritation that certain actions are treated differently to others by the employer and is indirectly costing OP.


I wonder if OP doesn’t believe in paid family leave like maternity or paternity leave. Or is irritated that new moms get to pump multiple times a day which is longer than any smoke break.


Honestly curious, what are these "personal obligations" that are similar to educating and entertaining children during their waking hours in dual-career homes after childcare and in-person school went poof?

What I'm seeing overall is a shocking lack of empathy for that situation and seeing home-parenting obligations during a pandemic as not being too dissimilar from taking time to binge Tiger King or take a road trip.


If someone's spouse is having a mental health crisis, dealing with that during work hours is not generally permitted, because a spouse is not a child.


That type of thing is generally acute, not chronic. If someone needs to duck out of work on short notice for the rest of the day to help a spouse in crisis, that absolutely should be generally permitted, and I think most tech employers would be ok with that.

If this crisis required the employee to take several weeks off, it would require scrambling and maybe require some unpaid leave, but it would get done.

But that has nothing to do with what's going on now. We have a chronic situation where parents need to take care of their kids all day, every day, for every week and month that this pandemic shuts down schools and other child care services. You can't address this with an afternoon off or temporary leave of absence. This requires a complete change in expectations. You can't pause child care for 8 hours while mom and dad work. You can't even pause it for 30 minutes.


I'll admit that I'm not at all familiar with legal obligations to medical conditions for employers.

However, anyone dealing with a "crisis", and also more explicitly a "mental health crisis", should not be punished in their job, esp during everyone-remote-pandemic-time (though overall, but I have had pretty cushy jobs since joining industry).

Maybe you have a specific example where the "adult, not child" thing mattered in a crisis, but that would make me very disappointed with my company, with HR, and compel me to start doing my best to look elsewhere for more empathic colleagues.


I don't particularly want to post about my employer today.


Taking care of elderly parents, siblings, or other family members.


We should prioritize people with children. The entire biological point of your life is to reproduce and we should value this. If you can’t reproduce (for a variety of reasons) but you take care of a child then this should be valued just the same. Society should prioritize people with children to raise instead of having a nihilistic philosophy of “ain’t my problem”.

The social benefit of well raised children benefits all. There are no benefits to having you get equal time off. You’re only serving yourself, not society.

Btw - smokers got to go outside to have a smoke break because we banned smoking from inside. Before that a smoke break didn’t exist. So it’s a trade off. Smokers stop creating second hand smoke in exchange for us tolerating them getting a “break” to feed their nicotine addiction so they can function. Cigarettes are legal and taxes are collected - we should tolerate them getting time to service their addiction so the rest of us don’t have to breath it.


> The entire biological point of your life is to reproduce

There is no biological point of anyone’s life. This is nonsensical, it is also extremely offensive both to childless by choice and, especially, to infertile people.


I’m not trying to insult anyone but just stating an objective fact - life exists to reproduce life. Weak life dies out and strong life continues until it too is superseded. Evolution is a thing. Look outside and you see it everywhere.

I’m not a biological essentialist but I also won’t deny this simple fact that binds humans to plants - we exist to generate new variations of ourselves.

It doesn’t mean someone who won’t or can’t have children can’t contribute to humanity in a range of ways for their lives are just as worthy. But regardless if you choose to not or can not have children, this biological imperative has not selected you and your DNA will die with you. That’s just a fact.


You have taken the rules of a biological system and extrapolated them as a moral framework, placing a value judgement on it.

It is like saying the sky is blue, therefore the point of the sky existing is to be blue, or all physical interactions generate entropy, so the point of the universe is to create entropy.

Yes, life often replicates itself, but that is not why it exists. Any possible reason for existence is a story assigned by a conscious observer. Humans are conscious and decide their own purposes.

Lifeforms can have their own purposes, which may or may not involve reproduction. Yes, those that don't reproduce go extinct, but that doesn't mean their purpose is not fulfilled. There is no objective value in evolutionary fitness or replication.


It makes no sense to jump from this statement

>Weak life dies out and strong life continues until it too is superseded. Evolution is a thing. Look outside and you see it everywhere.

To this

>life exists to reproduce life

You make a logical leap when you change "we generate new variations of ourselves" to "we exist to generate new variations of ourselves."

>It doesn’t mean someone who won’t or can’t have children can’t contribute to humanity in a range of ways for their lives are just as worthy. But regardless if you choose to not or can not have children, this biological imperative has not selected you and your DNA will die with you. That’s just a fact.

Exactly. So it is as meaningless and wrong as saying that the point of a falling ball is to hit the floor and bounce or that the point of the sun is to become a red giant. There is no "point", it is just a fact that will happen.


I’m not saying the only point. I made this clear I believe.

The biological point still exists. It’s up to you to judge how much that means to you - to some nothing; to others everything. Why else would we have an entire chromosome dedicated to aiding in the reproduction of ourselves? Why do my plants spend so many calories on developing seedlings to reproduce a variation on themselves?

Reproducing doesn’t say anything about you in my opinion. It is our biological purpose I believe through the science of evolution, however. And to the original point of the thread - it’s a benefit to society to have healthy, educated children in our society. This is the gift to all of us that parents give us. We should privilege that. We shouldn’t penalize this because of not only the societal benefit but because it’s objectively natural. The proof is the 7 billion people on earth. (Natural doesn’t mean better. It just means the biological drive our sex hormones and sex mechanisms grant us)


>The biological point still exists.

>It is our biological purpose I believe through the science of evolution, however.

The science of evolution doesn't say that it is our purpose. In fact, biology students are sometimes even trained to rewrite statements about natural selection that imply any teleology (stuff like "in order to"). Again, saying that something is the biological point is as meaningless as saying that the physical point of the sun is to become a red giant.


Evolution doesn’t try and say why - it says how. Yes, I’ll grant that. I believe it implies the why though as a biological organism. It’s not everything or even anything in the grand scheme. However it is the purpose since our biology is removed from our sense of self or humanity in the end. We, like plants, biologically exist to reproduce and carry on.

The Sun analogy doesn’t make sense. You are describing the existence of an object/being in terms of existence and death. This is more analogous to an individual than a biological _system_.

Indeed a star can’t reproduce as far as we/I know. However I’d argue a star that contributes to life, as the Sun does, is far more meaningful than one that does not. My evidence is me. There is no one to speak for the stars that don’t contribute to life.


You're going too far with "the purpose". It may be true that one purpose of life is to reproduce (although I don't empathise with that at all, having an incompatible sexuality), but the fact that you aren't spending your life pumping out children and/or swamping the sperm banks and egg donation facilities indicates that it's not your sole purpose; and if you personally are allowed to do things which aren't the purpose of your life, then why are you justified in calling it the purpose of your life?


I agree 100%. I never said it’s the total purpose of a life. There are infinitely many ways to find purpose. Not having kids (or having them) doesn’t make anyone’s life better or worse or necessarily have more or less purpose. That’s up to the individual.

Perhaps my language was too strong. I do believe it’s important we make accommodations (extra time off when having or adopting a child for both parents, accommodations during Covid and work from home, etc) that those of us (myself!) don’t get.

I feel like more and more society is penalizing people for having kids and I feel like that’s a sickness in a society.


> I feel like more and more society is penalizing people for having kids and I feel like that’s a sickness in a society.

How, though? Tax breaks haven't gone away and FMLA has been expanded. This, despite the fact that we're seeing the environmental impacts of rampant, unchecked population growth every day. If there's a sickness in society, maybe it's an inability to look in the mirror and say "hey, maybe we don't need humanity to occupy every square inch of the planet".


> However it is the purpose since our biology is removed from our sense of self or humanity in the end.

At the risk of over-using a tired phrase: that's just, like, your opinion, man.

Life has no purpose beyond what we individually ascribe to it.

> However I’d argue a star that contributes to life, as the Sun does, is far more meaningful than one that does not.

That may be true, but a human that reproduces does not necessarily contribute to life more than one that does not. And even under individual circumstances where that reproducing human contributes to life more, that does not make reproduction its purpose.

For the record, I have no issue with parents getting some more work flexibility due to COVID. It's absolutely the right thing to do. But this has nothing to do with some abstract notion of life's purpose; it's because children need child care, and not allowing parents the time to fulfill that obligation is an awful thing to do to both child and parent.


Keeping within the original context of “I should get extra time for my personal obligations” based on a premise of “I choose not to have kids” - I’m saying no, you don’t.

I am explicitly privileging society allowing additional time for parenting. It should not be a game of everyone gets x-days. “Use them to go to a ball game or take care of your kids. Your choice.”. It’s equivocating raiding kids with personal obligations. Our biology drives most of us to want to create life and a just society should appreciate that. Putting it on the same level as personal interests doesn’t make sense to me.

And to clarify as I have in other responses - I’m not saying it is the purpose of life. But that it’s pretty much the biological purpose. We have infinite other purposes and it’s up to each individual to find theirs and their priorities. As a society though I think we can and should privilege the raising of children.


So how far do you take this. Is it okay for a father to kill children who aren't to increase the odds his own children succeed?


Is abortion an ableist construct?

We can make anything ridiculous. That doesn’t mean we take it seriously.


Perspective from someone with a child (1.25 years old):

When my wife and I chose to have a kid, there was absolutely no reason to think that we would have any difficulty finding a nanny/daycare or that we would have to try to work in the same environment that our son is playing in. When COVID-19 restrictions went into effect, we had basically no notice that we would be expected to work from home full time, that our building's common areas would all be closed a few days later, that our nanny would be unable to make the commute (no license should not have been in issue in NYC) and that daycares would all be closed exactly when we needed to find one, etc. We had to move just to get an extra room that could be used as an "office," because working from the kitchen table is impossible when a baby wants to crawl up to you, pull himself into a standing position, and grab whatever you are "playing" with.

Even with the extra room, we still have trouble. Our son walks (and runs) now and is beginning to understand how doorknobs work, but he still has no concept of leaving us alone to do our work. If he has the chance to run into our office he will, and if he does not he sometimes bangs on the door and cries when nobody opens it. Either way it is a huge distraction that makes it much harder to get anything done. Try explaining to a toddler that mommy and daddy are working and see how far you get. We also continue to see chaos with our childcare arrangements, which takes its toll on productivity.

Your side hustle is optional and can be put on hold. When you already have kids you cannot stop being a parent and children cannot be paused. I agree that employers should give people time for "personal obligations," and in fact mine does and my boss has been using that time to check in on elderly parents, but the fact is that parenting is one of the few 24x7 personal obligations. It is not like I can say that I am setting aside one day a week or two hours per day to be a parent.

As hard as it is to deal with a toddler while trying to work, it is harder for parents who are being told that they must supervise their children's schoolwork. It is easy to forget that part of the job of a teacher is to watch over the kids in their classroom and ensure they are not just goofing off all day, but with kids doing "school from home" that is now the job of their parents. Again, it comes down to having someone else there to take on that job while parents are working, and again it is not a question of time and it is not something optional that people can put on hold until the crisis is over.

Basically there is no way to make any of this sustainable. COVID restrictions make childcare arrangements more difficult and less reliable, but those gaps must be filled and in the end it is parents who have to fill them (if someone else could do so, then it would not be a 'gap').


Exactly this, there was absolutely no way to predict Covid or a complete shutdown of child care / schools. I went from happily working from home in an office with no door and my 2 young kids in elementary school while my wife commuted to her work to my kids taking online classes which require massive parent interaction, and my wife working from home at the kitchen table right outside my office with no door. We cant take the kids anywhere due to covid and older parents so they are rightfully bored and frustrated.

Wife had a breakdown today from not being able to get any work done because she is constantly getting up to help the kids with school work or when school is done they automatically call out to her whenever they need anything. We are snapping at the kids for just normal kid things because we both have to work and are getting so little done. She has a massive amount of responsibility where she is the bottle neck for multiple departments as all work has to be legally approved by her.

I am in a new role and essentially on conf. calls all day while still having to get software built.

This sucks for everyone, but I can guarantee that as much as the childless people resent people with kids getting to slack on work time, we are paying for it in spades in other aspects of our lives.

Most of all I feel bad for my kids, this is not a situation they have any control over and all they know is that things are hard for them.


> Basically there is no way to make any of this sustainable.

It's not just child care, the response to COVID is unsustainable period. People will continue to act out and single out things like this topic, but all in all, the current solution won't get the United States through the next year without a massive economic collapse.

There is no easy solution here, no magic cure, and the "let's just let the 30% who can work remote do so" is already collapsing in almost every vertical.

To come around to an actual point here, I think we're going to see COVID responses become much more "practical" which are going to be bad news in the short term for parents, when a company can practically say "you are not as productive as a person without children and we can't afford you", which will be an absolute truth in many cases. Lawsuits will be attempted, and some might succeed, but most will fail.

As someone who raised a child alone, without her mother, or an extended family from birth, you have my utmost sympathy and I wish I could say more than this: If you're not planning around your children and thinking of ways to make them invisible to your employment, you're putting them and yourself at risk. Yes, society should care, yes, you should get a break and understanding in dealing with the stress and physical reality of dealing with it, but no, capitalism won't allow for that for very long.

COVID should have brought the country together but it's thus far brought us further apart. I see no sign of that fact changing.


That being said, they chose to have children, and I chose not to

Do you have a retirement plan and do you want a return on it? Guess who'll generate that return: other people's children.

childless employees should also get time for their personal obligations

That's a tricky one. Is your paragliding trip an investment that will generate future value for society?


Wouldn't this amount to basically working less hours effectively? Maybe that's the real issue here- the majority of people are forced to devote 80% of their weekdays on work and chores (10hrs work+commute, 30 min lunch at work but personal time ie unpaid, 1hr dinner+relax, 30-60min misc chores = 3.5-4hrs out of 16hr day remaining).

Everyone seems to put up with it incl me sometimes but I intensely dislike this lifestyle


This rhetoric of parents having made the choice to have children and its underlying assumption that we shouldn't complain quite as loudly now really makes me cringe. At the very least, it's worth noting that 100% of people promoting this argument are someone else's children. One only has the privilege of participating in the debate because someone else became a parent.

Having children can be a choice in the implementation details like when, how many etc. and at the same time a benefit to, and a necessity for, society in the grand scheme of things. I don't expect praise or a medal for having children, but I do expect support and recognition. The same argument, by the way, goes to other caregivers and professions with a comparable contribution to society as a whole.

But let's turn to another question instead. Is the way we think about productivity, compensation and performance still appropriate now that we've transitioned from business-as-usual world to a global battlefield of sorts with all its chaos, unpredictability and lack of controllability? What would happen if "best effort" replaced "highest return" going forward? I'm sure there are tons of other questions that could help challenge our current thinking and move the needle on making the world a better place.

That would feel like an appropriate middle finger gesture towards The Virus, wouldn't it?


You can't wave away taking care of kids as "personal obligations", as though it was akin to doing laundry or something. Also, "I chose not to" is a silly statement - do you think all the parents looked into a crystal ball and thought yes, despite the oncoming pandemic, I will have these kids"?


> That being said, they chose to have children, and I chose not to.

I don't think we should disadvantage parents because they failed to take into account the possibility of a once-in-a-century pandemic when planning their family. This reads as "oh, don't want to have extreme work+family stress during a global pandemic? Don't choose to have kids!"

> Whatever I have going on instead can't have priority over my work schedule. Whether it's a side hustle or a little league baseball team, it has to wait.

You're mistaking wants with needs. Child care isn't optional. Parents don't want to take time away from their workday to care for their kids right now, but they have to. You can't just stick a 5 year old in a room and be like "mommy/daddy has grown-up stuff to do, see you in 8 hours, try not to kill yourself, and oh, learn how to feed yourself as well".

Your side hustle or baseball team are things you want to do, and can easily wait until the weekend or after hours. Child care is something that must be done, all day long, every day, whether someone wants to or not at any given moment.

> However, if this arrangement is to last, then childless employees should also get time for their personal obligations, whatever they might be.

Childless people don't have work-hours personal obligations unless they choose to. And I expect any employer, under normal times, to frown upon anyone, parent or non-parent, who tries to get out of work due to personal obligations they've intentionally set up to conflict with work.

As a non-parent, I have exactly the same amount of time for my personal obligations as I did pre-COVID. COVID has not given me new required responsibilities during work hours, but parents have gotten that in spades. If you do have a new COVID-related responsibility that needs to be taken care of during work hours (like caring for an at-risk relative), then I think your employer should give you some extra flexibility as well. But your side hustle or little league team is a luxury that didn't need to intersect with work hours pre-COVID, and doesn't need to do so now.


They get the perk of more flexibility because they're providing a service to society, raising children for the next generation. You don't get this perk because you didn't have children. Your contribution is more work because you have more time to do it.


This argument is made again and again in this thread, and it never got addressed.

1. There are already functional mechanisms for contribution. A single, childless person is already contributing more through their taxes. The government already heavily subsidises child-rearing.

2. Child-rearing is given an arbitrary pass that other equally charitable actions wouldn't get. A single, childless person couldn't let his commitment to Doctors Without Borders affect his work performance.

3. I'm not sure if "children are our future" is our future. This model might not be viable forever as the world population keeps growing. This is a whole other can of worms.


>The government already heavily subsidises child-rearing.

Ah yes, the lofty government subsidy of x < $600 on average per family that has enough taxable income to receive the CDCTC (x < $100 all families with children)[0]. The cost of raising a child for an average family is $12,000 per year[1].

> Child-rearing is given an arbitrary pass that other equally charitable actions wouldn't get.

Raising a child is spending 20-40 hrs a week for 18 years and a boatload of money to create another person in the workforce who will spend ~40 years generating GDP and paying taxes. Considering GDP per capita in the USA is ~$62,000 and rising, I think it is pretty safe to assume that your average-ly skilled single childless person contributing anything less than 20 hrs/week to just about any charity isn't even in the ballpark of "equally charitable."

>This model might not be viable forever as the world population keeps growing. This is a whole other can of worms.

Yeah, this is the "The Population Bomb"[2] argument that could possibly be the case but so far has no real evidence beyond hypothesis to support it... since 1968.

[0] https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/sites/default/files/publicat... [1] https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-chil... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb


Great answer! I didn't know about The Population Bomb. I was more worried about climate change. As far as I know, the planet can feed a few billion extra people.

> Raising a child is spending 20-40 hrs a week for 18 years [...] to create another person [...] who will spend ~40 years generating GDP and paying taxes

Let's not forget that this person will eventually retire and require increasingly expensive care.

That makes me curious. If the current economy can only function with a growing population, then it takes > 1 person to subsidise your upbringing/retirement. Does that mean that 1 human life costs more than the output of a human's entire life?


Only if we are Luddites. The argument that we need more children to take care of the elderly is moot ..and false.


You forgot the $10k/yr public/charter school tuition.

Those people making $62K are getting paid for their work, not donating it.


> Ah yes, the lofty government subsidy of x < $600 on average per family that has enough taxable income to receive the CDCTC (x < $100 all families with children)[0].

You chose one particularly inexpensive subsidy, and ignored everything else. 200 days/year of free childcare is not free. Maternity/paternity leave is coming out of someone's pocket. Many social programs are heavily skewed towards children (SNAP participants are around 1/2 children, despite them only being 1/4 of the population, for example).

I'm not saying we shouldn't do these things - modern society makes having children expensive, and it's obviously best for all of us if we ensure some base level of care for them. But we don't have to pretend it isn't happening.


Yeah, that was a conscious choice of mine. I adhere to a narrower definition of what a subsidy is than you do: a benefit conferred by government to promote a specific behavior.

In the case of SNAP I think you've confused secondary/tertiary effects of a subsidy with a subsidy itself. In the case of education, I think you've confused an externality of an investment in education with a subsidy. I'm not sure you can even consider maternity/paternity leave a government subsidy considering what federal law exists for leave is unpaid (maybe if you consider the continuation of healthcare benefits?).

I can see how some would think I'm splitting hairs here. Taken to its logical conclusion, I could argue with your broad definition that just about any subsidy or tax on anything is also a subsidy or tax on raising children. E.g. families have more cell phones and higher cell phone bills, so taxes on cell phone bills are also taxes on having children. Gas taxes are a tax on extracurricular activities for your kids. That's a little much for me, I prefer to call them what they are, secondary/tertiary effects of a subsidy or tax.


> Taken to its logical conclusion, I could argue with your broad definition that just about any subsidy or tax on anything is also a subsidy or tax on raising children. E.g. families have more cell phones and higher cell phone bills, so taxes on cell phone bills are also taxes on having children. Gas taxes are a tax on extracurricular activities for your kids. That's a little much for me, I prefer to call them what they are, secondary/tertiary effects of a subsidy or tax.

I can't see this as anything other than a deliberate misrepresentation of my stance. In the SNAP case, the key point is not that children benefit from it, it's that children benefit to an enormously out-sized degree - they're over-represented by a full 100%. I pretty deliberately did not say the words you're putting in my mouth - any tax or subsidy that affects children to an approximately equivalent degree as others are obviously not related to this discussion.

As to the education bit, I don't see why the reason we're spending a ton of money subsidizing children affects whether we're subsidizing children - which education very clearly does. You can wave away any subsidy that way, if you so choose.


1. I have no figures on subsidies for child-rearing, but "heavily subsidises" seems very unlikely in most places, maybe Scandinavia can make that claim. I suspect any help provided by the government is more than wiped out by lost income from one parent staying at home or working part time for ~5 years (or more with multiple children). Or nursery costs should both parents want to work as soon as possible.

2. Donating to Doctors Without Borders is just enabling someone else to do a good deed, the donator has zero responsibility. Parents are legally required to look after a child for 16 (i think, in most countries) years.

3. The world population won't keep growing, fertility rates are only above 3 in Africa. Other "developing" countries are on course for the population to stabilise, western developed countries will see population dropping. Google tells me 2064 for current projected population peak.


Depopulation is guaranteed after it peaks.but we just control population because with exponentially growing population, we also have exponentially exploding consumption rates. It’s like Carroll’s Red Queen analogy. We can never outrun.

We must control population to conserve non renewable resources. So we can comfortably perpetuate our species without burning the house down and killing everyone.


>The government already heavily subsidises child-rearing

That 'heavy subsidy' doesn't even begin to cover the economical costs, let alone the crazy amount of work.

>I'm not sure if "children are our future" is our future. This model might not be viable forever as the world population keeps growing. This is a whole other can of worms.

What's the alternative? Hoping that the children of other countries will just work for your retirement out of the goodness of their heart? Well, maybe you're rich and invested in foreign markets so this isn't a worry for you, but for the vast majority of people this isn't an option.


> 3. I'm not sure if "children are our future" is our future. This model might not be viable forever as the world population keeps growing. This is a whole other can of worms.

I think you bring up some good points and also I can sympathise with the parents in my workplace that had this issue thrust upon them due to covid. I won't comment on them nor does it personally affect my work much, if at all - barely anyone on my team are parents and those that are are making it work so I'm not picking up any extra work because of their kids.

But I have never heard of any parent ever say that they are having kids because children are the future so it's odd for me to see so many people say that in this thread. I don't need parents to justify to me why it's harder for them, I already agree with that but the future thing is a very interesting viewpoint I've never personally come across before.


If you tried to take care of a baby or a toddler, you would see that it's like a second job in terms of how much time and effort it requires from you every day. Now imagine yourself doing all that x2 amount of work, would you ask for help or extra accommodations?

It's not a model, a mental experiment, or a charitable action. It's the x2 amount of work you need to do, day and night, 365 days a year.


I am well aware of that. This is precisely why I chose not have children.


Why should society bear the cost of you wanting to work less than everyone else?


Bear what cost exactly?


Extinction is the implication. I agree but its a bit of a boring argument. How about: Society is no social contract, you cannot really choose to leave society. Instead I'd argue, you are required to contribute to society, whether you like it or not. Helping raise children -- whether you have them or not -- is a part of that requirement. I can promise you, whatever subsidies go to parents, $$, time, and effort are still very very far in the favor of the childless.


The human race is not an endangered species. We are not in danger of going extinct due to lack of people.


And yet we need people to have children


People can have children without congratulating themselves for a sacrifice well delivered. Newsflash: there is NO village that will raise the kids. Families raise kids. Not society. The trade off for the hassle of procreating is making sure that ones genetic pool continues. That’s how we evolved. Kinship for species only extends so far and not much at all when there is parental entitlement.


"there is NO village that will raise the kids. Families raise kids. Not society."

What do you think nannies, daycare centers, and schools are doing? It is exceedingly rare for a child to be raised from birth to adulthood by just their close family.

"That’s how we evolved"

BS. We evolved to live in groups of 100-200 people (i.e. villages). Primates generally live in such groups (size varies by species) and will generally help with raising the young within the group, often with some form of social structure determining which group member is helping or being helped (e.g. lower-ranking females will act as "nannies" for higher-ranking females prior to mating and having their own offspring). Moreover, humans evolved a many-to-many mating pattern, so the "village" was the smallest unit of genetic closeness until extremely recently (and even so, people often break the social rules and have adulterous sex, and often change partners multiple times in their lifetime, resulting in a large number of half-siblings).


I agree. We did evolve by water sources/valleys and in small villages supported by kin. But when a state of 40 million(my state of California in USA) is the ‘village’ where every child is raised, we are scraping the bottom of the barrel because there is so much diversity in the needs of different groups that we can’t optimize. Too much specialization.

It would be interesting to model around insect populations rather than ape societies as we have increased in population and there are way too many unique sets of specializations.

I like modeling villages around 125-250. It’s closer to the Dunbar number and we can have diff age groups. And cluster several ‘villages’ together for services that scale.


Like I said, the "village" that raises children in a modern society includes schools, daycare, nannies, and so forth. It is not that 40 million people are the "village," but rather than each child will have a unique group of adults that constitute the village for that child. Society as a whole provides care in the sense that parents need some way to know that a daycare center / nanny / school is trustworthy and will properly care for their children; thus we set up systems of certification (historically this was often tied to a religious institution), audits, and punishments for inadequate care. We also do care for children we do not know, and in fact are instinctively driven to do so* (hence the "thing of the children" argument you will often hear from people with an agenda), and thus we set up programs to help parents (SNAP, public schools, etc.) and remove children from homes when it is deemed that they are not being adequately care for or are being actively harmed. We have also set up systems to take over care for unwanted children, for example a baby can be left at a fire or police station anonymously and the state will take over and try to find a new home for the child to be raised in. None of this is scraping the bottom of the barrel in my opinion, it is something we have done as part of the growth of organized civilizations.

(*) For example, if you saw a lost child wandering around crying, your first thought would probably be to try to help the child find his parents, even if it was inconvenient to do so, despite not knowing who the child or his parents actually are. Most people would at least stay with the child to wait for the police (or whoever) to arrive and take over, and many would willingly give the child food, an umbrella or coat, or whatever else the child needs.


> People can have children without congratulating themselves for a sacrifice well delivered ... Kinship for species only extends so far and not much at all when there is parental entitlement.

This, 1000%.


1. If you don't want to pay taxes don't be part of society. The government subsidizes child rearing because it should. But it also doesn't fully cover the cost.

2. It's not an arbitrary pass. A childless person's commitment to Doctors Without Borders is much more flexible than a parent's commitment to a living a human.

3. The world population is only really growing in less developed countries. But it doesn't matter because if you have too many people they will either die because the system can't support them. Or the system will innovate to be able to support them.


> The government subsidizes child rearing because it should.

why exactly? generally, it is rational to subsidize things that society does not have enough of and tax things that we have too much of. are we currently not producing enough children? this is not necessarily implied by birthrates being below the replacement rate.


1. Government subsidies don't cover anything close to the cost of raising a child.

2. Child-rearing is a thing tens of millions of people actually do interleaved with full-time work, and has to be addressed by high-level decision makers. There are lots of hypothetical things a specific individual might want to do that maybe have high social utility, and that's an interesting question for them to sort out with their manager and isn't really relevant to how parents are treated.

3. A stable population -- not growing -- requires a little over 2 children per woman, and the US fertility rate is waaaay below that right now.


there's no inherent need for a growing, or even stable, population. this is only a rough proxy for having a sufficiently productive working population to support those who can't work or have retired without undue hardship.


> They get the perk of more flexibility because they're providing a service to society

From companies? The market doesn't care about all that. It's supply and demand. If parents get "perks" from companies it's because the companies need to provide them to attract workers(on the whole).


The market is separate from legislation. Of course without society existing and in a purely rational economic scenario the "market" and "companies" would only provide these "perks" to attract workers.

Society does in fact mediate the purely rational economic incentives and companies thus don't act purely rationally, nor are they society in and of themselves. America isn't the best about it relative to European countries but even here in the U.S. the FMLA bars employers from dropping employees just because they're pregnant or having a kid.


people have children for selfish reasons, not because of some responsibility to society. That’s just hogwash.


I never said they have children because of responsibility to society.


I agree. Parents are making sacrifices which benefit society as a whole. Those children the parents are taking care of now will be the ones who will provide for the one complaining now via taxes as well as services rendered to them.

If anything, companies should be providing more childcare so that more women (as well as some men) will have less of a burden balancing career and caregiving.

I see these people as being petty complainers who wouldn’t raise their own children (own or adopted) but complain someone else is willing to be a productive member of society engaging in the workforce and raising the productive adults of tomorrow when these complainers will be asking for benefits and services that would be unavailable without future adults.

It's similar to "I don't take the bus, why should my taxes pay for public transit."

I would concede if there are people exploiting this privilege then that’s a problem and management should address it.


What I've seen is the complaints are largely coming from couples that want to raise kids while both parents work full time jobs. Asking for fewer hours so you can continue that lifestyle is asking your employer and fellow employees to subsidize your second income, not your ability to have and raise children. My coworkers with SAH spouses aren't feeling the burn anywhere near as badly -- it's just an extended summer for them.

I feel a lot of empathy for single parents but those seem to be relatively rare in the field.


Just keep in mind, those people working two full time jobs might be barely making ends meeting in Silicon Valley. Maybe one is a tech writer earning 5-figures and the other is a nurse with a schedule they don't control and that doesn't give them real benefits (this is all too common). They can't afford to quit and now they have to juggle kids, too. Everything worked fine when the kids were in school and they could pay for after school care, but now both of those options have been removed. On top of everything else they also have to figure out how to organize their 3 bedroom place into two classrooms and an office. Oh and for the cherry on top, now you can't even be outside safely without a high quality mask on.

And yes, I'm thinking of a specific couple -- this is not a made up situation.


I hate to say "move", but if dual income is super hard to make ends meet in SV, it's time to move out of SV. The US is huge, there are tons of places with decent tech scene, but affordable housing on a 5-figure salary without needing dual income (Texas, Utah, etc.).


Moving because of the pandemic when it means moving away from jobs (and potentially a career in the case of a technical writer), family, friends you've had since childhood...

It's not only not that simple, it's not even clear to me it's the right answer. The right answer is probably something involving employers understanding that this is a hard time right now and you need to be flexible.


You realize immigrants do that ALL the time for their families, right?


What's your point? Please connect it to the context of this conversation.


It was in response to : [..] Plus when you land there, you won't be getting help or support. So toss all your support network for more space. For some that's reasonable, but for many it is not, and presuming that it's their own 'fault' for not moving is not charitable.[..]

It is just one more failure to come up with a robust solution to the problem here.

Immigrants land in places without a social net or help or support network literally 100% of the time. Often moving to places where language and culture and geography is starkly different from what they are used to reach for their best interests.

It is not the end of the world. To refuse to leave the cozy familiarity of ones social network is understandable only to those who feel the he same way.

Most immigrants I know leave their home countries and the coziness of familiarity for their children. And moving around America even temporarily is not the same as moving across oceans for a better quality of life.


Yes, all true, but let's not forget the overall context of the OP -- people's reactions to co-workers needing an extra day off. Deciding to uproot your life rather than take advantage of temporary company policies connected to the pandemic seems to be an overreaction.


That’s between employees and employers. My ire is directed towards those who claim that childless are free loaders being subsidized by the future generations and that having children is a sacrifice borne by them for society.

Employment contracts should be examined due to the extraordinary circumstances we are in and that would depend on the companies. I was only replying to specific comments that may or may not have anything to do with OP.


I’ve moved many times in my life to improve it.

Everyone sacrifices. If moving is your biggest sacrifice, consider yourself more than blessed.


Let's not forget the context here. The context is people complaining that their co-workers are having to flex their time, or take extra days off over what they normally would. This is not about someone improving their life, this is about making adjustments to temporary conditions.


It's easy to say move, but much harder to actually do it. A lot of people flat out cannot afford to move half-way across the country, period, full stop, nor can they afford the added risk of getting new jobs. Plus, odds are good their salary where they're moving to is less, so it's not clear that they'll easily now be able to survive on a single salary anyway.

Plus, this solution isn't highly scalable; only so many people can do it.


> move half-way across the country

You don't have to move half-way across the country. Pick any high rent location in the United States, there's a lower rent location 30 minutes away. SV included.


And now you've added another hour's worth of commute every day and are paying more in transportation costs. People are already being forced to do this and it's not that uncommon to see 2+ hour one-way commutes in the Bay Area now. This is clearly not sustainable long-term and is not a good solution for people's welfare, nor for the environment, nor for traffic congestion.


Plus when you land there, you won't be getting help or support. So toss all your support network for more space. For some that's reasonable, but for many it is not, and presuming that it's their own 'fault' for not moving is not charitable.


That’s what most of the immigrants in Silicon Valley went through..and it seems like they have thrived and haven’t perished due to the move.


> odds are good their salary where they're moving to is less

so you're saying they are already getting the highest salary they could've gotten then (adjusted for cost of living etc)?

> this solution isn't highly scalable; only so many people can do it

If people move away enmass, then the demand for said worker increases, which should (at least, under the great invisible hand!) increase the salary, and a new balance reached. So it should only take a small % of people moving away due to low pay to affect the pay.


From the perspective of their decision, I mostly agree with you. But I hope it's not lost on anyone that if being a nurse is not a viable career, that will ultimately be far more disastrous than any other market inefficiencies.


They never seemed to worry about paying for those of us who don't live in year round 70degree weather to be comfortable.

It seems bizarre to say that CA is so expensive due to the poor choices of people who live there, and the solution is for everyone else to pay their exorbitant luxury bills for them.


I think your argument lost the thread somewhere in there. I didn’t say the bizarre thing you are setting up as a straw man.


Except you did.

You said it is a right/requirement to live/work in California or wherever, but the reality is living/working in any particular location is a privilege!


In modern society it's basically required that both parents work full-time jobs. It's not the 50s anymore; you can't support an entire household with children on one income. So you can't have the expectation that one of the parents give up a large chunk of their salary just to have kids. If you do structure society in this way then you get rapidly declining birth rates and very bad long-term population demographic problems (which many countries are already dealing with). Personally I think the best solution would be to have universal child care going down to age 0 (rather than just age 5 as it is now), which is common in many other countries. Because of efficiencies of scale, that's cheaper than subsidizing all the foregone salary required by parents all individually giving up one of their two household jobs to devote to child-rearing.


Ok, it is not the 50s but why could people do it in the 50s and why can't we do it now?

We are hearing "automation will destroy jobs" left and right and for some reason, we can't afford stay at home moms.

The "universal child care" argument makes me feel uncomfortable. It one step short of a dystopia. One where women would surrender their child to a state sponsored center where child care specialists make them productive members of society. Freed from their child rearing duty, "mothers" can continue working efficiently.

Why not just let mothers be mothers? What's the point of progress if we can't even do that. And also turn gender equality the right way, by letting fathers be fathers instead of requiring both parents to work full time.


> Ok, it is not the 50s but why could people do it in the 50s and why can't we do it now?

Because on the job market you compete against your neighbors. You can't do it now, because you can't get the neighbors from the 50s.

When most of your reference class have one income per family, the labor market will adapt so that you can feed the family from one income, because your neighbors will refuse to work for less. Then also you can get an income sufficient to feed your family.

When most of your reference class have two incomes per family, the labor market adapts so that now you need two incomes to feed your family. Your neighbors are willing to work for half the cost, and to remain competitive so do you.

(Here, "feed your family" is an euphemism for... basically the total cost of living on the same standard as your neighbors. That includes literally food, but also the cost of housing, schools for kids, health care, etc. A part of it you can save by living more cheaply than your neighbors, for example always cooking at home and never going to restaurants. But you can't do much with the housing costs, and that is a large part of the family budget.)

> Why not just let mothers be mothers?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma -- if all mothers stay at home, they can. If half of them chooses career, the other half has to.


Real pay has been stagnant for at least the past 4 decades, while expenses (particularly housing, healthcare, childcare, and education) have skyrocketed. That's the reason the average family can't survive on one income now like it could in the 50s. Some possible solutions to these problems would include: Universal healthcare, universal childcare, and elimination of restrictions on building more housing (i.e. kill low density residential zoning entirely). Make those changes and it should again become possible to support a household on a single income.


The nature of society was quite different in the 1950s than it is now. For those who were served by the government it was a golden era.

For those who supported the government, it was much more expensive.

For those who were persecuted by the government, it was a living nightmare.


> Ok, it is not the 50s but why could people do it in the 50s and why can't we do it now?

With regards to productivity and pay, I share with you many illustrative charts. https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/


It’s not just the cost of childcare. Since divorce became acceptable, it became a huge liability for women to exit the workforce and permanently give up earning power to raise children. I’ve seen this first hand in my family and it’s really difficult.


> Since divorce became acceptable, it became a huge liability for women to exit the workforce and permanently give up earning power to raise children.

Where are these anecdotes from? Of the divorced men I know in California - they're on the hook for a lot of money. Their wives chose to not work (first few years to do childcare - remaining years because they didn't want to). The women didn't want to be in the relationship anymore and got a divorce. The men end up owing their spouses alimony for decades plus child support (regardless of where the kids spend the most time).

As a straight man, I've decided to not marry based on their horror stories alone. I see marrying someone who wants to be a SAHM as a huge financial liability not in just temporary loss of earning potential but in near permanent levels of loss due to potential divorce.


My mother in law gave up a job as an executive (where she was earning more than her surgeon husband) to be a stay at home mom. Coming back into the workforce 20 years later when the marriage deteriorated was nearly impossible.

I don’t know what horror stories you’ve seen. But for most ordinary men, alimony and child support add up to very little. If you make $75,000, maintenance for a 15 year marriage in which the other spouse earned nothing adds up to $22,000 a year. And it ends in about 11 years. A significant hit, no doubt, but if the other spouse had similar earning potential (which is typical these days—people tend to match up with people of similar education) it won’t come close to covering the lifetime loss in post-divorce earnings.

It can be different if a high earning person marries someone who has limited earning power, but that’s the exception these days.


> Coming back into the workforce 20 years later when the marriage deteriorated was nearly impossible.

But - isn't giving up work for 20 years her choice?

For the men I know - the payments turn into about 1/3 of their net income. For the ultra rich and even the higher up FAANG, it's not really the end of the world. For the startup software engineer, it's devastating because they can't even exercise their options anymore. The payments AFAIK aren't for 11 years - it's longer. Some of them weren't with their partner for 15 years. I think it falls all on what judge you get.

$22000/yr is a lot for someone only making $75000. Especially when you don't actually get $75000/yr and you still have to pay $22,000 net.

> It can be different if a high earning person marries someone who has limited earning power, but that’s the exception these days.

Maybe more people would marry between incomes if the high earning partner wouldn't be out at least 1/3 of their income for over a decade. I'm currently in a relationship with someone who has no hopes of making any money close to what I do - marriage ain't happening and they know why.


> But - isn't giving up work for 20 years her choice?

It’s invariably to allow the woman to raise the couple’s kids. (Either a decision made by the couple after marriage to do that, as was the case with my MIL, or a man marries someone who wants to be a stay at home mom. Either way, it’s not a surprise or an accident.)

It’s also enormously beneficial for the man’s career, which is why many high earning men seek out women who want to stay at home to raise kids. My wife is similarly educated and earns as much money as I do. It’s hard and exhausting for both of us to juggle both things while raising kids. I have had the kids the last week and a half while my wife puts out fires at work, and it sucked. I had to whisper into a conference call today because I was putting my two year old down for a nap. When the kids were babies I’d take nights because I don’t need as much sleep, and I just dealt with the constant sleep deprivation while trying to do intellectually demanding work. (Luckily, my boss is similarly situated and negotiating over our banked-up “spouse capital” is accepted practice.) Even during normal circumstances, what suffers is home life—the plan for dinner this week is turkey sandwiches.

If we made the decision for her to stay home, it would be as much for me and our kids as her. It would be to allow me to focus more on work. It would allow her to focus on the house and kids. We have a fridge where the delivery has been put off for months because neither of us have the bandwidth to wait on hold for two hours to schedule it. One kid is getting a bit chunky and needs a curated diet of vegetables (which she refuses to eat). The other kid is advanced but nobody has time to read to him. All that could be improved if we chose to do it. (We chose not to do it because she loves her job and her earning potential is so high it would be a huge hit long term. But it still is a slog.)

> Maybe more people would marry between incomes if the high earning partner wouldn't be out at least 1/3 of their income for over a decade. I'm currently in a relationship with someone who has no hopes of making any money close to what I do - marriage ain't happening and they know why.

The rules are designed for the common case. Very few men earn enough where they can pay enough in alimony to offset the earning loss to a stay at home spouse from being out of the workforce.


Not always a decision to raise the kids. Up until a month before I married ex-wife she had worked in a good career. She went on leave a month before the wedding, never returned to that job or any meaningful career. We were childfree and she was choosing to work part-time because she had decided she didn't want to work much anymore.

This was not my decision and it was a huge stress to the early part of our marriage. I had the whole financial burden of the couple, and I didn't even have a house wife since she wanted 50/50 chores.

Luckily my country doesn't have alimony. I do pay a significant amount of child support despite having the children more than her but it doesn't bother me too much.


It's not fair to blame people for "choosing" to have children because, in the aggregate, the majority of people need to have children in order for society to survive. So it's not really a choice if a majority of people have to do it or everything goes to shit; it's more like volunteering to take on a necessary burden (that admittedly has its rewards too).

A better outcome here would've been if she hadn't needed to give up her job to have kids, like if there had been universal childcare and her work was more accommodating of mothers.

> $22000/yr is a lot for someone only making $75000.

If you think $53k is rough for one person to survive on, wait till you see how hard it is for two people to survive on $22k!


> It's not fair to blame people for "choosing" to have children because, in the aggregate, the majority of people need to have children in order for society to survive.

I don't think the quotes around 'choosing' are valid. Having children is a choice, especially in today's age when contraceptive measures abound, and trying to paint it like it's not really a choice is disingenuous.

Next, we're gonna have people argue that getting a loan to buy a house is not in fact a personal choice, because, in the aggregate, the majority of people need to have a place to live in in order for society to survive.


At an individual level, it's a choice. At the societal level, it's not. You need 2.1 kids per person for society to continue existing. That's true more or less however you slice it--even if you take lots of immigrants, those immigrants are going to have to have kids (or you're externalizing the cost of child raising onto other societies). This is a hard scientific limit that you're not going to get around.

From the perspective of analyzing society, therefore, treating having children as a choice is unworkable. If your societal design doesn't accommodate 2.1 kids per person, its useless. It's like designing an electric car that can't be recharged. Nobody cares what other characteristics it has.


I just want to say, thanks for your posts in here. You're making excellent points. I don't even need to respond to this guy's comment personally because you've handled it so well here.


Where does this 2.1 number come from?

[..] The single most important factor in population growth is the total fertility rate (TFR). If, on average, women give birth to 2.1 children and these children survive to the age of 15, any given woman will have replaced herself and her partner upon death. A TFR of 2.1 is known as the replacement rate.[..]

In other words, if a woman has 2.1 children, she can replace herself and her partner. Even halving this number will not result in ‘the disappearance of society’. There will be a dip in population.

Which is actually desirable because we are at 8 billion and our resources are fast depleting as we are in the midst of the sixth extinction event.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility

[..] Sub-replacement fertility does not automatically translate into a population decline because of increasing life expectancy and population momentum: recently high fertility rates produce a disproportionately young population, and younger populations have higher birth rates. This is why some nations with sub-replacement fertility still have a growing population, because a relatively large fraction of their population are still of child-bearing age. But if the fertility trend is sustained (and not compensated by immigration), it results in population ageing and/or population decline. This is already happening and impacts first most of the countries of Europe and East Asia.[..]

[..] Some governments, fearful of a future pensions crisis, have developed natalist policies to attempt to encourage more women to have children. Measures include increasing tax allowances for working parents, improving child-care provision, reducing working hours/weekend working in female-dominated professions such as healthcare and a stricter enforcement of anti-discrimination measures to prevent professional women's promotion prospects being hindered when they take time off work to care for children. Over recent years, the fertility rate has increased to around 2.0 in France and 1.9 in Britain and some other northern European countries, but the role of population policies in these trends is debated.[52] In Italy, for example, natalist policies may have actually discouraged the Italian population from having more children. This "widespread resistance" was the result of the Italian government, at one point,[when?] taxing single persons and criminalizing abortion and even contraception.[53][..]

As a female, I am disgusted by how women’s bodies and reproductive ability is being commoditised. Natalist economic policies are akin to forcing them into flesh trade.

And then there is religion. I don’t want to risk a aneurysm and will refrain from that commentary.


> You need 2.1 kids per person for society to continue existing.

I don't understand this statement. Is it 2.1 kids per person or per family/couple? Has society collapsed in countries where the average is below the 2.1 figure you are quoting?

If you are talking about the extinction of the human race and not societal collapse, then I don't buy for a second the argument that someone choosing whether to have children or not is making the choice based on the "human race extinction" factor. When making choices, most humans could care less for their 2-days-in-the-future-self, nevermind caring for the human race.


Replacement rate is usually described as 2.1 children per woman. Basically every 2 person couple needs to have 2.1 kids, because some die of accidents, etc. Going below that doesn't cause instant societal collapse, but if you look at Japan for example, they now consume more adult diapers than baby diapers, which will not be good for the viability of their pensions, etc.

I personally decided that I did feel a duty to do my part to continue the human race, and that nothing else I would likely do could ever rival that in terms of lasting consequence. And folks who are interested in making it harder for parents or harder for children because they feel like families get too much slack or something, they are de facto aligned against the mission of continuing the human race, and I hope they change their minds over time.


> I personally decided that I did feel a duty to do my part to continue the human race

I also feel a duty to do my part to continue the human race, but I don't pretend that I didn't make a choice, that somehow there was no other real option for me to choose.


You really aren't understanding that we are talking about societal choices writ large, not about individual choices. Think bigger. If enough people make the individual choice not to have children then civilization is kaput.


I understand that when enough people do not have children the human race will disappear. Civilization might disappear before then. I'm not talking about that. I'm also not talking about people having children or not. I'm arguing for people to assume responsibility for their choices(whatever the choice may be) and to not go "Oh, I really didn't have a choice in the matter".

I especially dislike it when people present their choice as a sacrifice for humanity. Another poster put it better:

> People can have children without congratulating themselves for a sacrifice well delivered ... Kinship for species only extends so far and not much at all when there is parental entitlement.


> they are de facto aligned against the mission of continuing the human race

Holy hyperbole, Batman!


Good for you. If you think it’s your duty, there is no contract with society that others should subsidize your dutifulness.


> If you think it’s your duty, there is no contract with society that others should subsidize your dutifulness.

But neither do the rest of us have any obligation not to band together and vote in legislators who will tax the shit out of the childless-by-choice — because in the long term, the childless-by-choice are the ones being subsidized by those who us who have raised children. Don't like it? Then do something about it, or move elsewhere.


How are the childless by choice subsidized? Are they given free services?

When you have a child, 12 years of education(amongst other things(are handed over free). That’s 10k minimum/annum. Totally 120k worth of free education. PER CHILD. The more children one can have, more benefits. Net benefits exceed that by several hundreds of thousands.

The childless get NOTHING. If they are successful enough financially, they are taxed for their entire lifetime to support those whose children get subsidized.

And still the whining and whinging and cries for the red badge of honor. I am embarrassed for you lot. Wtf do you they need compassion for?

I think of it as charity. Forced charity because my species is less equipped and capable than a band of apes in the jungle when it comes to resources management and survival and child rearing. I have nothing left to give. It’s like literally handing over money to someone for their choice to have sex without protection and children without a plan.

Forget about compassion. How about some gratitude. The kids raised by these inept parents are going to be a further burden on society because they will literally have zero survival skills and a whole lot of entitlement.

I am not moving anywhere. Those who can’t handle CA are moving elsewhere anyways. (I am looking at you Austen Allred of YC’s Lambda..spewing your snark about quitting CA for Utah...couldn’t you quit gracefully without spitting on the valley that made you successful?) Maybe withholding on the emotional blackmail and virtue signaling demands and rallying cries for more ‘compassion’ will finally make adults out of the whiners.

You know what I see? I see a dystopian orange world out of my window. I see farm workers picking up YOUR food in this toxic soup weather and taking care of their children. While tech..and YC, I am looking at you..Michael Siebel, I am looking at YOU..because agtech for YC wasn’t profitable for food producing farms ..did NOTHING to fix the Ag in our state and the dire situation of the people bringing food to YOUR TABLES.

I have literally ZERO compassion. Your air is clean. Farm workers are picking food under falling ash while tech twits are debugging Tinder.

If we all starve because our Ag system crumbles, I still won’t have any compassion. Silicon Valley and tech sphere have FAILED the human race and our means for survival. Breeding children is not enough. We also have to make sure the world we LEAVE BEHIND for them is not straight out of the Blade Runner movie.

Handle your kids. Farm workers are literally filling their lungs with ash and smoke to feed the fruits of your loins. Fucking hell!!


Binyamin Appelbaum said about Milton Friedman that he celebrated drivers but took roads for granted. Seems to me that you're doing much the same thing.


I still didn’t get an answer to my query regarding your claim that childless by choice are getting subsidized by people like you who have children. Those were fighting words. Back them up or go your way and have a great rest of the week.


I'm not aware of any direct subsidies, but Medicare and Social Security are paid for by other people's kids, right? More broadly, if a person utilizes a product or service provided by people of a younger generation, does any consumer surplus count as free riding?

On the other side, school is certainly an expensive subsidy to children, and so are regulations that make things safe for children, and probably other categories I'm not thinking of. I'm not sure how it nets out.


Not ‘free riding’ unless it’s free.

Your roads, schools, infrastructure was paid for by the previous generation.

In an average senior’s working years, three generations of school education has been subsidized. And they get no tax subsidies or benefits. Never mind the bonds and extra parcel taxes that property owners pay.

And when they retire and Medicare and SSN kicks in at age 65, that’s 10-25 years of minimal payments.

It nets out as a working citizen subsidizing on average 3 generations of school children to gain perhaps one generation ‘paying them back’ and even that might not happen because ssn comes from 40 quarters of employment. And 65 years of even unemployed citizenry paying sales taxes and shouldering an economy. Never mind fees, licenses, permits..taxed from everything water to power to road use to driving licenses.

And society accepts this. And pays. And bears it. Having said all that..It is rich for parents to act as victims and martyrs for taking care of their own children and claiming that their contribution to the gene pool is a sacrifice they have made while the childless are free loaders. I am embarrassed for the half brain cell that is working overtime in those who have made this claim and proceeded to shame the rest of the populace.

A tunicate is a marine invertebrate that hangs on to rocks. Adult tunicates have a hollow cerebral ganglion, equivalent to a brain, and a hollow structure known as a neural gland. They procreate. A sea squirt that is a kind of tunicate is famous for eating it’s own brain. If you poke it , they will squirt in defense. They decided that being mobile was too much of a hassle and decided to eat their own brain because our brains evolved to assist our mobility. They too reproduce. They haven’t asked for a medal for procreating, afaik. Or shamed those who didn’t. Haven’t gone extinct. Yet. Just sayin’!!!!


Here's a super aggressive version of the freeloader argument:

  * Continuing the species is the most important thing we as a society need to do
  * Therefore, all members of society have an equal obligation to advance this goal
  * Some individuals choose to have kids which directly supports this goal, but is difficult
  * Others choose not to have kids, which is easier
  * Therefore, society should redistribute until parents and the childfree are making equal efforts to support future generations
So yes, parenthood is a choice, but of course all of society should help out. This is probably a little past what I actually believe, but maybe not by much!

What @satymein said.

Life isn't a snapshot, it's a movie. Two year olds think that the universe came into being at their birth and will end at their death, and so nothing else matters. You should consider whether that describes your childless-by-choice attitude.

I mean no offense, but you're free-riding on the child-rearing efforts of others past and future, whether you want to admit it or not. (I'm guessing you might not quite understand "pay it forward" either.) Your ancestors didn't free-ride on that score, yet you seem to think you're somehow privileged to do so without a care.


Maybe your life is a movie.

Have you considered that someone who doesn’t even want to replicate their own genes is likely not going to worry about the perpetuation of the human species? You are asking someone who doesn’t care even if their half of genes become immortal to feel the feels for someone else’s DNA. If I could say to some of these parents.. your baby is ugly and you smell like elderberries, I totally would.

My ancestors spawned multiple copies of what’s my DNA. Your understanding of genetics is shockingly sparse.

A mother bird will feed the strongest in the nest. The runt would be pushed out of the nest because the strongest has to survive to keep the species going.

Perhaps it’s better for someone without parental instincts to NOT become a father. Perhaps someone has a genetic disease and chose not to pass it on creating defective species. Perhaps someone dedicates their life to supporting orphanages or children’s hospitals. Perhaps someone wants to leave a light footprint because their 6 siblings have 3 children each.

You literally have NO valid reason to judge anyone who chooses not to spawn more of their own genes in this crowded 8 billion strong..soon to be 10 billion...world.

The only people I judge are those who willingly choose to have more than two children and are reliant on others to raise their own children. Even then, I want to say that I understand that instinct. Sometimes it’s a mental illness. Sometimes it’s an abusive situation. Sometimes it’s faith. Who knows. I have no choice but to respect their choices as long as they take responsibility. But those who bring children into this world without any responsibility and happy to look at others rather than themselves to raise them earn my ire.

Your words have however made me want to look this up. This parenthood martyrdom syndrome is fascinating. It is certainly more recent. It is basically a deception technique. There is a bird called killdeer and they lay eggs in the farm on bare ground. When a predator comes along, they hop a little distance away and enact a soap opera called broken wing syndrome. Pretending to flail around due to a broken wing..when they have distracted the predator long enough they’d fly away. Bird brain predator will likely go away in the next direction or the other birds will crowd them after hearing the cacophonous warning. That’s what this sacrificing parent archetype reminds me of...fascinating. I am going to write a story about this.


>we're gonna have people argue that getting a loan to buy a house is not in fact a personal choice

And they would be right. Tell me what percent of the population can buy a house without a loan?

And if you dare say rent, that is just a loan by proxy.

Your ideals don't seem to be in line with how our reality currently works.


> Tell me what percent of the population can buy a house without a loan?

Maybe we should not all buy houses. After all, at the moment of out birth nobody decreed "This person is a house buyer". Maybe some of us should build our houses, which will almost certainly come out cheaper than buying. This is another choice we can make. Maybe one can buy a house in another area without getting a loan. This is another choice. Acting like someone else is forcing our choices on us I think it's ultimately self defeating.

Another thing to consider is that using the banks' money to buy houses inflates the price of the houses similarly to that happened to college tuition.


I have to say you really don't have much experience with any of this. Have you ever built a house? I have, and it's a lot of work. And it's still a massive amount of money.

Loans do increase costs in asset inflation. At the same time they increase home ownership. Also it's not the same thing as college tuition. Bankruptcy is an option on home loans.


> Have you ever built a house? I have, and it's a lot of work.

Is work bad, somehow? Should one get a house without work, simply because one wants a house?


The philosophy you're arguing for is a cruel one, very much "everyone for themselves". It's a good thing most people in society don't believe in it, and do in fact think it's a good idea to help everyone out and provide some basic minimum standard of living.

You should read about the veil of ignorance: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance


I'm arguing against declining responsibility for one's choices, and against self entitlement.

We live in society because at the individual level each of us gets some benefits from doing so. When that stops being the case society will cease to exist.


> It's not fair to blame people for "choosing" to have children because, in the aggregate, the majority of people need to have children in order for society to survive. So it's not really a choice if a majority of people have to do it or everything goes to shit.

You don't need childcare for /20/ years. If you're a stay at home parent for 20 years, that is most definitely a choice.

> If you think $53k is rough for one person to survive on, wait till you see how hard it is for two people to survive on $22k!

I don't know why you think two people are surviving on $22k? It's one person and they can still get a job and keep the income. The $75k becomes $54,000 after tax. Which then becomes $32,000. So, bye bye 40% of your net income. In many cases - having a spouse living with you doesn't require spending 40% of your net income every month.


You don't need childcare for /20/ years.

That very much depends on circumstances. If you have two children born one right after another, probably not. If, however, your spacing is more spread, say, you have two children first, and then another child 8 years later, you'll easily need childcare for 15 consecutive years. My youngest sister is 11 years younger than me, and I'm not even the oldest of my siblings.


> That very much depends on circumstances. If you have two children born one right after another, probably not. If, however, your spacing is more spread, say, you have two children first, and then another child 8 years later, you'll easily need childcare for 15 consecutive years. My youngest sister is 11 years younger than me, and I'm not even the oldest of my siblings.

Are you going to argue that in a society that has relatively wide spread access to contraception that when you have children 11 years apart - it's not a choice? Come on. It's a choice to have kids 10 years apart, it's a choice as to how many, and how far apart you have children (assuming no biological limitations). Thus, you don't need childcare for 20 years if you have your 2-3 kids over a span of 4-5 years.


You're completely ignoring that it's just as equally the man's choice to bring the children into the world, and therefore he needs to support them. It's exactly the same situation as if the dad were the stay-at-home parent raising the kids who was then divorced by the wife; both parents must support the children, regardless of the ongoing status of their marriage and regardless of their gender.

Also, I don't think you can blame income tax on the woman. The guy's salary is gonna get taxed regardless. So we need to either use pre-tax or post-tax salaries throughout all figures, not mix them and then blame the entire net difference, including tax, on the child support.


I think he was trying to do exactly what you're saying, normalize to net income.

When we say "22k of 75k" it sounds like 1/3, but the 22k is net and the 75k is pre-tax. Once we normalize the 75k, we realize that 22k is almost half the person's net income.


I think they two people were referring to the mother and child. Some of these examples are a little confusing without the details of how much is child support vs spousal maintenance, who has custody and is providing the care, etc.

I was shocked to learn that spousal maintenance was a thing with no kids in the picture. However, when there are kids involved, I feel like child support is probably not enough!


It's definitely not her choice. That kind of decision is typically not made unilaterally. The expectation that the cost of that decision be borne unilaterally is incongruous with actual family dynamics.


Maybe in the ideal world this decision wouldn't be made unilaterally.

In the real world, usually a husband's deference to his wife's choices makes it her choice. If he doesn't defer, there will be arguments until he does.

That's not the ideal view of the world, but it's what I've observed in many friends' relationships.


In Islamic societies and in some Indian societies, dowry is actually given to the bride when they get married. If there is a divorce or separation, the husband has no claim over any assets she brings in or is gifted before the wedding. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.


Alimony and child support are undoubtedly significant burdens on the person paying them.

But for the person receiving them, they are nowhere near what that person could be earning as a professional with a continuously developing career. And that's what rayiner is really talking about.

Also, just because someone is required to pay alimony or child support, it does not mean they will. Some people just skip out on it and dare the system to catch them; others fall on hard times themselves and can't pay what they intended to. Either way, it's a fragile situation for the recipient, compared to having their own job and income.


But for the person receiving them, they are nowhere near what that person could be earning as a professional with a continuously developing career.

You are comparing here two different situations: one is actively working and building a career, and the other one is not having to do anything and have the money deposited to your account every month. Sure, the former usually will result in more money in your bank account, but the latter has pretty huge benefit of not actually having to do anything to earn it. I'd happily take 50% pay cut if I could, you know, quit my job and get the money anyway.


They may be on the hook for a lot of money, but that is due in large part to the fact that the economic footprint of supporting two households is much larger than supporting one household.


Surely you've heard of abused spouses staying with their abusers, because with no earning power they have no options?


>Since divorce became acceptable, it became a huge liability for women to exit the workforce and permanently

You're mixing up cause and effect. A married women trying to resume her career (which also happens for many other reasons in addition to divorce)is going to have the same problems as a women who is trying to resume her career due to a divorce.

Or historical/current practices and attitudes to relationships and child rearing is what created the liability, specifically the societal pressure for women to leave/not pursue a career and thus lose highly valuable work experience relative to men. Divorce just highlights this.


But a woman who risks divorce has a greater need to return to the workforce than a similarly situated woman who stays married. The normalization of divorce exacerbated the risks from exiting the workforce.


You’re still doing it. Anyone of any gender who ends their professional career to start a family is put at greater risk by more prevalent divorce, right?

Shitty sexist traditional societal practices exacerbated the risk of exiting the workforce for women. The fact that women are more vulnerable to all kinds of life conditions such as divorce is a simply a consequence of that.


This article is about tech firms. The companies named in the article are Facebook, Apple, Uber, Microsoft, Dell, Twitter, and Yelp. Salaries for new employees at these companies are often above $100,000. Do you really believe that both parents working is a function of society requiring in excess of a quarter million dollars per year to live? Or, perhaps, does this have something to do with idealizing a certain area that refuses to zone for its population density, resulting in a cost of living that is absolutely ridiculous?

It's sad when both parents have to work minimum wage jobs just to make enough to get by. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a particularly bubble of tech where people make more than enough to get by and choose expensive lifestyles to match their expensive salaries.


> In modern society it's basically required that both parents work full-time jobs. It's not the 50s anymore; you can't support an entire household with children on one income

Interesting. That's exactly what's expected from H1 holders.


>In modern society it's basically required that both parents work full-time jobs. It's not the 50s anymore; you can't support an entire household with children on one income.

What an absurd claim, only 21.1% of (Americans) two parent households with children under six have both parents working full time.

https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/indicators-child-family-and-comm...


This outlook is widely in-the-coastal-city-bubble.


Expand on this please? What percentage of the country do you think is easily surviving on a single household salary?


A single household salary from one of the tech companies named in the article, many of whom pay starting employees six figures? I think 100% of the country could survive on $100,000/year, if they adjusted their lifestyle to match. What percentage do you think?


Just my anecdata. We live in Maryland, in a middle-class suburb. I have 3 kids and a SAH wife. We're doing OK, saving for 401k, driving two cars, paying cash for house maintenance and renovations. Yeah, we don't travel much, but that's luxury. I earn the Google L4 level base, if one can trust levels.fyi. I am not sure how unique my situation is, but I have never felt the need for my wife to start working...


The average wage in Washington is $55k in 2018. Google L4, when I searched, is $133k. You earn 241% of the average pay and live in a middle class suburb. To me, middle class implies average. The reason you can afford to have a SAH partner is because your salary is top 10% but you live a 50th percentile lifestyle.


I'm seeing $156k for L4 base or $266k TC. It'd be easier if OP just told us the actual figure, but either way the point stands, they're making multiples of the median household income of their area, with just one earner. And the calculus gets worse because a lot of the dual-earner households are likely having to incur childcare costs that they aren't.


What is your total compensation and what is the median single earner income where you are? I suspect that you are easily in the 95th percentile for income for your location, if not higher. So living on a single income is doable for you, but not for the vast majority of your neighbors.


Hmm, then I must indeed be living in a bubble...


Yeah I think you are. I spent the first 27 years of my life in Maryland and my salary out of college was $58k which was very good for the area. I was making the median area household income on a single wage at the start of my career. You are currently doing much better than I was, and I was already doing great.


Google says 32% of households have stay at home parent and about 50% of moms work full time, so you're not unusual.


I’m not sure I buy this argument due to the disruptions of COVID. Pre-COVID, both parents working full time may have made total sense.

With daycare, nannies, and/or school it’s perfectly reasonable both parents can have full time jobs. One parent may have even delayed their career during the youngest years and only recently resumed work.

The issue now is COVID makes these childcare options impossible, so it isn’t the parents fault for both working, and they have a momentary huge increase in childcare responsibility. This is not something they could have planned for and suggesting one parent quits their job and stays at home is unfair.


Privatized the gains, socialize the losses?


I'm a single parent working full time from home in addition to some university that's online too. My children are young, right at the beginning of their school experience (7 and 5). It's not too bad.

I spent years working my arse off after I became a single parent so I could have a career that also lets me be an involved parent. This year was meant to be my first relaxing year. It hasn't worked out that way but it's still an easier year for me than 2019 and 2018. I would go two months straight with 100-110 hours per week of time commitments.

Maybe I have an advantage because I'm used to not having free time. Home schooling is at most 30 hours per week but in reality far less unless your child has special needs. My 7 year old is mostly autonomous. Let's assume 40 hours per week of work. That's still only 70 hours per week. People might need to just manage their hours better each week. I do a lot of homeschooling on weekends, the work we missed during the week when my kids needed help but I was busy. I don't see any reason schooling on weekends would be an issue?


I think school and day care are a reasonable assumption. It’s a bit unfair to say — _keep your spouse at home because there maybe once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and the schools will be closed_.


It's more fair to say "save some money for a rainy day" or "you will have to sacrifice some of your quality of life and savings due to the pandemic".


But right now you very often can’t apply money to fix these problems.


This is a fair point that I had not considered. The more positive spin is that it's a sacrifice to move toward an egalitarian society where women have the same career options as men.


I would definitely agree the ones hit hardest would be the single parents and would deserve the most flexibility. That would be tough. With regard to dual income parents. I’d give them some slack, but as always, abuse of good intentions is why we end up not having good things. I’d hope they’d be able to trade roles during their respective busy times. As I’ve said before... it’s very rare anyone performs above 50% of their time “working”. So it’s not like WFH (or office) is like hamsters in a hamster wheel all day long. If they can coördinate switching on and off they should be able to pull it off with exceptions.


it's not "your" second income, it's your spouse's first income! one person, one income.


> Parents are making sacrifices which benefit society as a whole.

100%. We need people to have kids (and for it to be financially possible to do so) because kids are literally the future generations of human society, and if no one is having kids then we'll see a very rapid collapse.

This is, incidentally, why it pisses me off when people complain that their pets don't get the same kind of accommodations that children do e.g. on airplanes or in restaurants, or that tax breaks exist for children. Your pets are optional. Children are mandatory. Not everyone has to have children, but enough people do. Having children isn't just planting trees for future society to enjoy the shade of, it's literally creating that future society (to reference an old proverb).


I don't understand this sentiment.

Farming is critical for society. However, we don't require everyone to pull on their overalls and work the land.

Security is critical for society. However, we don't expect every person to pick up their machine gun and jump in a trench.

Society is nowhere near a population level that is dangerously low. In fact, we are more concerned with overpopulation and overconsumption.

If you have children, that's great! Congratulations! Enjoy! But it was your choice - not one forced upon you by some dire social need.


Modern technology means that 2% of the citizens of a developed country can feed the rest. That's why nobody wants/needs the average J. to farm.

Modern technology means that only a small percentage of citizens are enough to defend the rest. That's why nobody wants/needs the average J. to fight.

If all of a sudden, say, 50% of the people having children now, in developed countries, would decide to not have children, we'd probably have societal collapse. That's what happened in societies where the population went down by huge percentages in a short time span. Housing markets would collapse, education systems would collapse, healthcare systems would collapse, demand for a million types of things needed by babies and children would collapse (and taking with it many, many professions), etc.

Even if you don't want to have kids, remember:

1. You were once a kid.

2. Your lifestyle is made possible by people that choose to have kids. Especially women, who sacrifice a lot for kids. At least be respectful to them.


> If all of a sudden, say, 50% of the people having children now...

This is assuming that people are only having children out of a sense of duty. Do you think that 50% of parents are having children out of some sense of duty to society?

> 2. Your lifestyle is made possible by people that choose to have kids. Especially women, who sacrifice a lot for kids. At least be respectful to them.

I reread my comment a couple times and I don't see where I was disrespectful.

This is anecdotal, but I have never had a friend confide in me that they had a child for the social good of procreation. All of my friends have had children because they wanted to have children. My wife and I are planning on having a child because we want to have a child. If you told me that society didn't require me to have a child, I wouldn't care one bit.

So my question to you is "if there was no social need for a child, would you still have one?" If the answer is "yes," I don't see how you can claim that you are performing some heroic deed to mankind. And calling that out is not disrespectful.


Yeah, but why do you want to have a child? You're literally programmed by billions of years of natural selection to fulfill the biological imperative of reproduction. It's not as much of a free choice as you might think. And thus:

> If you told me that society didn't require me to have a child, I wouldn't care one bit.

is unlikely, because if having children actually were not required for the survival of the species, then it's much less likely that you'd ever even wanted to have one in the first place. The species needs to continue thus we want to have children. So the answer to your question:

> Do you think that 50% of parents are having children out of some sense of duty to society?

is yes. Note that nowhere here is it required for parents to be conscious of the duty that they're fulfilling, merely that they fulfill it nevertheless. Species with much less brainpower than us, even those with no brainpower whatsoever, are nevertheless doing exactly the same thing as we are and propagating their species.


If having children is such a biological urge (and I would agree that it is indeed a biological urge), why would society have to incentivize it?

Society should only incentivize children if society has a need for those children and nobody wants to have them. Society should not incentivize individual desires.


Society fundamentally has to be structured in such a way that enough people can afford to have children for society to be able to continue. And given that society does have a need for children and that economic conditions are currently looking like not enough will be produced, incentivization is required. And indeed is happening, very widely.

Keep in mind that despite reproduction being a biological urge, a lot of people nevertheless will not have children if they can't financially support them because they know they will contributing to a low quality of life not just for themselves but for their offspring as well.


> It's not as much of a free choice as you might think

Many people make that choice.


You've addressed precisely 0% of the arguments in my post with this reply.


> Modern technology

Modern technology means that we need much less labor than we previously did, while doing much more. That rate is increasing. Jobs are disappearing.

Why do we need to add so many people? We are at almost 8 billion and growing very rapidly.

> If all of a sudden, say, 50% of the people having children now, in developed countries, would decide to not have children, we'd probably have societal collapse

Maybe. Maybe not. Because the effects won't be felt for a while. It's possible that society would collapse, but it is also possible (and very likely) that it would adapt.

If it turns out that we can't adapt to this, then it means that humanity's days are numbered anyway. Because we can't keep growing indefinitely. One day this cycle has to end, one way or another.


> We are at almost 8 billion and growing very rapidly

The "growing very rapidly" part is not true (1). The main reason the world population is still growing is that people live longer. Only relatively few countries still have out of control natality, mainly in Africa. The world's fertility rate is now at 2.4 (2) children per woman.

(Of course, these are just projections and imply some speculation. Things could still turn around.)

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projections_of_population_grow...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_d...


> If all of a sudden, say, 50% of the people having children now, in developed countries, would decide to not have children, we'd probably have societal collapse. That's what happened in societies where the population went down by huge percentages in a short time span. Housing markets would collapse, education systems would collapse, healthcare systems would collapse, demand for a million types of things needed by babies and children would collapse (and taking with it many, many professions), etc.

Yes, and? Understand that a housing market "collapsing" means the price of housing becomes substantially more affordable. Same with education. This is a huge part of why Europe is able to subsidize its education so heavily on a per-student basis. The share of the population that is enrolled in university in Germany is about half the share of the US enrolled in university in the US (at least, pre-COVID).

Reduction in demand results in diminished GDP which freaks out economists, but it doesn't result in a decline in GDP per capita. There are fewer people producing, but there are also fewer mouths to feed.


> If all of a sudden, say, 50% of the people having children now, in developed countries, would decide to not have children, we'd probably have societal collapse.

No, we wouldn't. We would have a massive increase in immigration to offset the difference.

> 2. Your lifestyle is made possible by people that choose to have kids. Especially women, who sacrifice a lot for kids. At least be respectful to them.

What does this have to do with anything? I guarantee part of your lifestyle is also made possible by people who can't or don't want to have children. This has nothing to do with any argument either way.


> No, we wouldn't. We would have a massive increase in immigration to offset the difference.

Sorry, but this is so naive. Or I guess, a superiority complex? Where do you think you will be able to import ~160 million people from, for the US, within a relatively short time span? With comparable cultural and educational backgrounds, skill sets, etc. This would be unprecedented in the history of the world. At least for peaceful migrations. Keep in mind that all developed countries are having demographics problems and therefore competing over migrants compatible with their current populations.

And let's not even open the can of worms of what the locals would think about such tectonic population shifts. A much smaller but similar situation happening over a longer time span (60 years) brought you Trump.


> Sorry, but this is so naive. Or I guess, a superiority complex?

Or basic knowledge of immigration statistics.

Visa applications vastly outnumber the amount issued. Of the 330 million people living in the US, ~45 million are foreign born. Increasing the amount of allowed immigration could easily make that number larger.

This wouldn't have to happen in a short time span. 50% fewer people having children doesn't mean 160 million people disappear overnight. It means that the number of yearly births goes from 3.8 million to 1.9 million. About 1 million immigrants arrive each year currently [1]. Doubling immigration would make for a stable population. This is more than achievable.

In fact, this dynamic already exists in the US, and has existed for years now. The US's birth rate is below replacement rates. But the US continues to have a growing population due to immigration.

1. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/08/20/key-finding....


To further reinforce your point. Many countries around the world have been trying to attract people to compensate for these issues and are struggling (Japan, Australia, New Zealand).


No, and what oblio wrote completely does not apply to NZ and Aus.

Japan is completely different from NZ and Australia, which are two very multicultural countries. I've heard that Japan tries to get people in on work visas to do stuff like aged care, but will never ever let them become citizens/permanent residents. Maybe they are struggling, I don't know.

I'm a NZer, and like the USA we certainly don't struggle to attract immigrants, and even so, non-European immigrants are not just welcome, they're the majority. I'm not aware that immigration settings are that way to keep the population growing; rather the aim is to bring in people with skills that are in shortage or to do low-paid jobs that locals don't want, especially aged care and fruit picking (equivalently: keep wages and prices low). The fertility rate is 1.81, but the population is growing fairly quickly.

Same in Australia. In fact, Australia is even more desirable (probably because of the higher wages).


Everyone should be respectful to all women.

I don’t think many people understand the abuse and contempt childless women face for their choices. This thread and the comments demanding medals of honor for the breeders is very triggering to me.

Parents can also be nasty selfish and self absorbed. Many parents raise children so badly that they are a burden to society. Who is counting those?


> Farming is critical for society. However, we don't require everyone to pull on their overalls and work the land

US society heavily subsidizes farming at the government level


Also, "we don't require everyone to pull on their overalls and work the land" is flat out just a bad argument, because modern farming with its high degree of mechanization and vast efficiencies of scale doesn't remotely work like that. Go back several centuries though before modern farming technological development and the majority of people are in fact doing manual farmwork out of necessity.


Good point. That was probably not the best example :) Though I would point out that government subsidies are more to do with the guarantee of the food supply and less to do with incentivizing individuals to work the farms.

My point was more around the parent comment that "society generally needs X, therefore anyone doing X should be applauded"

We have a huge number of needs in society - and yes, that includes enough children to keep the future viable. However, I disagree that on an individual level, having children is fulfilling some duty.


Both the examples you mentioned are cases where everyone in society pays to help those that do perform those roles. They seem like poor choices for counterpoints to helping people who are raising children.


You're not getting the point that, in the aggregate, it is NOT a choice to have farmers, soldiers* , and yes, parents. On an individual level it might be a choice, but society necessarily needs to be structured to get enough of each of those occupations, i.e. to have sufficient numbers of people making each of those choices. And the required population percentage of parents is at least 50X higher than for farmers and soldiers.

And overpopulation/overconsumption isn't a problem. What is a problem is unsustainable growth. Life is much more pleasant today for most people than it was centuries ago because simply having more people allows for more technological development, more sub-specialization, and better efficiencies of scale, and thus paradoxically with more people everyone can have a much higher standard of living than with fewer people. In other words, it isn't zero sum. If the world's population starts rapidly declining then that will be a significant decline in the average standard of living, not an improvement.

* I don't want to get into the argument here whether soldiers are actually necessary; let's just assume for this argument that they are, or replace them with construction workers or whatever.


>And overpopulation/overconsumption isn't a problem. What is a problem is unsustainable growth. Life is much more pleasant today for most people than it was centuries ago because simply having more people allows for more technological development, more sub-specialization, and better efficiencies of scale, and thus paradoxically with more people everyone can have a much higher standard of living than with fewer people.

The equation isn't so simple. Life is also much more pleasant today because we are enjoying benefits today at the expense of the future generations' environment. Just like governments can excessively borrow from future taxpayers and then drown them if the growth doesn't pan out, so can consumption of resources if mitigation or reversal of environmental change not favorable to humans doesn't pan out.

Also, by definition, "over"population and "over"consumption are a problem, otherwise they wouldn't be "over". All life is constrained by the parameters of the system in which it exists, including humans.


> Society is nowhere near a population level that is dangerously low.

I'd suggest looking into the economics of social security (even if you won't need it, most people will), as well as what happens to societies with plummeting birth rates.


I also think it's stupid to resent parents; they need the time for the kids, who aren't at fault in any of this.

That said, why do you assume we all care about having a future society? Frankly I only care about existing humans. The species is irrelevant to me.


It doesn't matter if you personally don't care; society as a whole cares about its self-perpetuation.

Also, your life is gonna be pretty damn bleak in your twilight years if everyone stops having children now. There will be no one to take care of the old people, no one to farm the food, etc. Every single job that keeps society up and running would have to be performed exclusively by elderly people, many of whom would be in no condition to work and would in fact need to be cared for rather than being able to care for others through work. Good luck with that.


Ok. Lets say I don't care about your property rights. When you're not home, I can just walk into your home and take whatever I want. Obviously, I can't, because the society we live in values property rights and help people uphold theirs. The fact that there exist selfish individuals that don't care about society as a whole (and it's future) is irrelevant. As a society, we decide what things are important to us and everyone gets to help support those, like it or not.


Huh? You're not allowed to walk into someone's home and steal their stuff because we have something called a legal system that will punish you.

There is nothing in our legal system that compels you to care about future generations -- at least not in the way you're proclaiming.

These childless workers are 100% entitled to their opinions about equitable compensation -- and they're entitled to lobby for these changes as well.


The person I responded to was saying they didn't care about the future of the species.

I was replying that we, as a society, DO care about the future of the species. We put laws in place to help further it's survival, mostly around supporting the currently existing children (tax breaks, education, etc), but also around helping people have more children (FMLA).

The reason those laws exist really isn't that different from the laws that support property rights; they support things we, as a society, value.


Yes, but I don't see how that applies to the subject matter at hand. There is no law that says an employer has to provide extra financial support to parents in extenuating circumstances like this.

> As a society, we decide what things are important to us and everyone gets to help support those, like it or not.

If GP doesn't care about supporting parents or future generations (and he is in a position to make this decision), it's certainly his prerogative to not do so.


If you don’t care about the future of humanity then why care about progress at all? Why care about any species. Why care about pollution or climate change or anything?


Humanity is likely to decide continue having kids regardless of what I feel about it, and since I care about humans, I feel the obligation to protect those kids and their descendants. And similarly for other species.


This seems to directly contradict your previous statement? It's not clear to me now what you're even trying to argue.


I wish people would stop smoking. But since they likely won't, I feel the obligation to fund lung cancer research, to help the future cancer patients.

I wish people would stop having children. But since they likely won't, I feel the obligation to keep the environment reasonably clean, to help the future humans.


yes i care about the quality of life for current and future humans but do not care about the perpetuation of humanity as a concept

if humanity came to a slow end, probably aided by robots in its twilight, that would be fine


I think you misunderstood the meaning of the word ‘mandatory’


Pets are optional ? I didn't expect myself to hate this statement so much


Optional for the continuation of society. Like say Elon going to Mars, he could take a pet. Pets provide some good, but they are not essential. Notice in poorer societies pets don’t enjoy the same privileged position they do in wealthy societies.


> Pets are optional ? I didn't expect myself to hate this statement so much

They are just as optional as kids.

Some of the comments here make it sound like they come from an alternate post-apocalyptic reality where they are trying to re-populate the planet. Not from this reality. You know, the one were we have a planet struggling to support the current and ever increasing population.


pets are required? i think most people who have kids agree that once you have kids you care a lot less about your pets than you did before


> If anything, companies should be providing more childcare so that more women (as well as some men) will have less of a burden balancing career and caregiving.

I think this is the crux of the matter; some people think that companies should not be doing this, society as a whole should through the age-old custom of voting. My other comment [1] on this thread elaborates.

> It's similar to "I don't take the bus, why should my taxes pay for public transit."

The difference is that public transit is a public utility. Anyone can use it if they want to. This is more like your employer offering transit that only parents can use. Everyone else is excluded – people who need to be caregivers for a relative, people who are suffering from depression, people who can't drive, etc. Naturally some of the latter group will think “What's so special about the parents that my employer who is a private company is making special concessions for them even when society isn't?” My solution to this would be basically just that – to open up more flexible schedules in general, and ideally based on what society as a whole wants. Unfortunately, any kind of attempts to make corporations give employees more flexibility by law are a non-starter in the US, which means that US society as a whole doesn't buy into this “We're all in it together” paradigm.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24414141


>Those children the parents are taking care of now will be the ones who will provide for the one complaining now via taxes as well as services rendered to them.

>when these complainers will be asking for benefits and services that would be unavailable without future adults.

But that's not the deal society is giving you. Society is forcing you to pay taxes now so that when you become old society will take care of you. The promise is unrelated to those future children. Society doesn't even give you the option to opt out from that.

People aren't committing a noble sacrifice when they have children. They want to have children, it's a pretty strong drive for virtually any living being.


What about parents of children who are a burden to society? Should they pay back the subsides recd for their bad seed?


The difference is that the burden of taxes are distributed fairly (for the most part at least). If you need to pick up slack because your coworker is taking care of their kids, the burden is 100% yours. It would be like forcing you to foot your neighbor's cancer treatment.


You're on quite a high horse there, why don't you step down so we can discuss facts?

> I agree. Parents are making sacrifices which benefit society as a whole.

The exact opposite is true. Bringing a first world child into this world is the single worse thing you can do to our planet.

I'm making to sacrifice to not have a child for the planet, parents are not. They're in fact making an incredibly selfish decision to clone themselves despite all evidence showing their children will live through terrible conditions and may deal with famine, water shortages, mass migrations, and overpopulation.


"Benefit society as a whole" sounds good in theory but rarely works in practice because people are inherently self-interested. A simple counterargument is that someone's kids may not turn out at all to be productive members of society.

Fundamentally corporations are different to the government. So whereas government can tax and progressively tax to soften wealth inequalities, corporations ultimately need to be profitable and revenue-positive to survive. A corporation can create benefits for certain employee demographics but there are financial limits.

A dystopic result would be the separation of employees based on their parental status: most non-parents work for Company A, and most parents work for Company B. I wonder which of the 2 companies will be more successful (at least financially) in the long run.


The benefit to society as a whole is that human society literally continues to exist. If no one has children then society ceases to exist because there isn't a next generation. It's hard to think of anything that benefits society more than having children to comprise the next generation of society.

And you know what's really bad for corporate profitability? Not having any workers in a few decades because conditions were such that no one now can afford to have the next generation of workers. The more people there are the better as far as companies are concerned. That's more potential workers and more potential consumers.


I'm not advocating some "Children of Men" fictional dystopia. There will always be kids, maybe just not the white collar tech worker too worried about career progression. For example, outside of my own kids, I'm agnostic on my coworker's kid or some stranger in Africa's.

Overpopulation is also a problem. As long as humans can migrate, I'm not convinced of some lasting labor shortage hypothesis.


People should have kids they can afford. No one is asking human beings to cease procreation.

The point is that we have made child rearing so easy and incentivized it to a point where one puny little pandemic comes around the corner and parents completely lose it and cannot cope.

If I wasn’t taken aback by the sheer number of parents who are legitimately feeling lost, I would be laughing. Are most of these people even equipped to be parents? I don’t think so. We have evolved to care for our young so they themselves can have their young and in the process we pass on our genes and memes.

That’s how we went from hunter gatherers to pastoralists to sailors to warriors to farmers to factory workers to ..here we are. What we have seemed to have lost is INSTINCT to care for our young.

Worse than outsourcing child rearing to hired help or the govt or public schools, current crop of parents seem to depend on employers to hold their hand while they raise their young.

This needs to be discouraged. This is absolutely unacceptable. Maybe there should be Parenting 101 MOOCs before people can decide if they are cut out for the challenge of parenting.

I shudder to imagine how these kids will turn out. While I think parents or anyone else who need help deserve it, every thing has a price. It’s not a favour to the world to be a parent.

On a relevant note, all of this only suggests to me that 4 day workweeks will become the norm. No one is going to go back to offices after covid evaporates. That’s how this problem is going to be resolved. It’s the only way.


What do you think of LGBTQ, then ? Fertility rates among them are near zero.


I’m not the person you asked, but: It takes a village to raise a child. The older I get, the more I believe that. My children have always benefitted from more external input, I’ve helped many around me by taking care of their children, and people who are LGBTQ have helped me in caring for me children. I didn’t think of it that way at the time, but in the context of your question I would point that out simply to say that children thrive with a community including individuals without their own children.

We don’t all need to have children to be relevant. But that doesn’t mean that the people primarily responsible for raising a new generation aren’t doing a difficult job deserving of support, either.

I hope as I age and my children become independent, I can help people with their own children even more. It makes a tremendous difference.


Can you expand on your question? I'm not really sure what you're asking/implying. Being LGBTQ is not a choice, and no, we shouldn't be forcing anyone to have children. But enough people need to be having children for society to continue, and the reproduction rate for LGBTQ individuals is actually not as close to zero as you seem to think it is. And adopting someone else's children to raise absolutely counts as "doing your parenting duty" as it were, since the raising from 0-18 is still the vast majority of the total work.


I would say that's a non factor since there are more straight people total that choose not to have children or can't for some reason.

For that matter, adoption is also an option so we can't look simply at fertility.


Large enough societies can carry people who don’t reproduce be it by choice or because of infertility or being LGBT. Same as we can accommodate a certain number of full time thinkers and artists who otherwise don’t produce tangible things. So it’s a function of what the demographics can handle. Smaller populations might require something like ancient Greeks did.


Every productive member of society is someone's kid, whether they're home grown or an immigrant.

You don't see some bad apples, declare your orchard blighted, and raze the whole thing. Not every apple is going to be perfect.


> "Benefit society as a whole" sounds good in theory but rarely works in practice because people are inherently self-interested

This is a very immature POV, IMO. Self interest can, and arguably _should_, be aligned with the benefit to society. That is, in fact, the only way to get _reliable_ benefit to society in the first place. Nobody gets anywhere by trying to piss up a rope. In any situation, you get the behavior you reward. So "self interest" is a good thing, when it's properly aligned to the broader whole.

And if we were to strictly worry about "benefit to society" then one could argue that childless people should earn less, since their amortized value to society in the long term is much lower than that of parents.


My original response was to highlight that perhaps we shouldn't be elevating child-raising as a completely altruistic, society-benefiting endeavor. We're talking about a few tech companies, which is not representative of the U.S. (nevermind human civilization).

"Amortized value to society" seems a very one-sided portrayal. Why should I earn less than someone who has kids, when skill/experience/contribution are equal?

Being a parent is a personal choice in today's day and age, especially for highly-paid tech employees. Let's not paint it as some altruistic gift to mankind.


Because your contribution later in life is likely to be negative. You will be putting strain on social security, medical insurance, etc. A strain that is uncompensated by the contribution of your kids in their prime earning years.


The problem is, people without children are told (or required) to pick up the workload left behind when the coworkers having children taking (multiple) weeks off. For once or twice that might be okay, but if became a chronic problem, no wonder they are not happy.


Yes, they should be unhappy about that: at their managers. Not at their colleagues attempting to care for children during a pandemic.

I've heard a related thing about US workers resenting colleagues for taking paid time off for similar reasons, and it's just as weird to my European eyes. The difference a decent labour movement (or the legacy of one) can make to industrial relations is stark


Any manager that’s laying out timelines assuming that everyone will work at 100% capacity permanently is being unbelievably naive. People will take vacations, get sick, or need mental breaks. We’re humans, not robots.

If a team can’t handle someone losing velocity due to the challenges of parenting during a once in a century pandemic, then it needs new leadership, period.


100% pay for 100% work and 16/5 availability. 50% pay for 75% work and 10/3 availability. Are you going to be ok with this on the receiving end?

The second part of comment is asinine trolling. No one is ready for once-in-a-century thing by definition. If once in a century flood leaves the team stranded and water still does not drain away after 6 months it has nothing to do with management. There are no continuity plans for disasters that keep happening for such a long time.


Don’t call me a troll. It’s unhelpful, and turns this from a well meaning discussion into something much more personal and rude. You can disagree without stooping to insults.

Employers should pay for the amount that humans are capable of putting out on average in the long run, which is probably not the same as a neat number like 40hrs a week. Pretending that we can ignore human limits and ask for more is not only a recipe for burnout, but probably not even in the businesses interest due to mistakes and retention concerns.

No, nobody saw a pandemic coming, that wasn’t even my point. My point is that not expecting people to slow down during this is genuinely stupid, and any company (that can work remotely) that can’t handle that change in velocity isn’t well led. It doesn’t take a once in a century pandemic for a team’s availability to change; all it takes is a key developer leaving, someone having a child, or even a car wreck to suddenly pull employees out of the regular rotation. All plans should have error bars on them to compensate for these uncertainties as best as possible; the answer is not to expect the remaining teammates to pick up the slack to avoid missing a deadline that very well might be arbitrary, especially if it’ll cause resentment or burnout among your other employees.


But they are unhappy about their managers' decision to favor their colleagues.

If you give a tax rebate to anyone who's last name starts with A, are the other people not allowed to be annoyed, given that they have to pay more taxes to make up for the rebate?

"Why can't you just be happy for the A people?" feels weird.

Just pay those not taking time off for the time they would've taken off. It's not a complicated concept, it shows appreciation for them working harder than they'd need to if their colleagues were around.


If there are fewer people working the managers should be scheduling less work.

In your “tax rebate” example you should be upset with whoever decided to issue rebates in that way, not the people who received the rebate.


> If there are fewer people working the managers should be scheduling less work.

I'll take Things That Will Never Happen for 500, Alex.

> In your “tax rebate” example you should be upset with whoever decided to issue rebates in that way, not the people who received the rebate.

Or you could point out that it's unjust to favor some people in that regard, which everyone would do, and the receivers of the tax break would report feeling a growing resentment over their privileged treatment. Because at the end of the day, the taxes have to be paid. If some are cutting their taxes, others must step up.

I get it, double incomes are great, paying for child care sucks, and reducing hours sucks too (because less income), so if coworkers could just pick up the slack without compensation, that'd be great. But that's essentially just asking the colleagues to finance the chosen lifestyle.


In functional workplaces the management should be capable of tying production to capacity. I’m sorry you can not fathom working in that sort of environment.

I place the blame with the people you have worked for, though, not you.

You could just kill all of the people whose name starts with “A” or whatever but that still won’t get you the tax rebate. The people who made that rule would absolutely love it if you did blame the people who got the rebate though, because they’re the ones who should take the blame and if you ignore their role then they get away with it.


> You could just kill all of the people whose name starts with “A” or whatever but that still won’t get you the tax rebate. The people who made that rule would absolutely love it if you did blame the people who got the rebate though, because they’re the ones who should take the blame and if you ignore their role then they get away with it.

Favoritism isn't always some kind of hidden "divide and conquer" system. Sometimes it's just favoritism. And nobody wants to kill all the tax-rebate people, they just want the tax rebate reversed (or applied to all tax payers) so everyone pays their fair share.


I don’t think you do get it, no. Staff are not “asking their colleagues to finance their lifestyles”, they are asking their managers to accommodate their needs so they can continue to contribute the best they can to the company. If bosses choose to penalise other staff for that — when they have many other options! - that is on them.

Exactly as how the government would be to blame in the ludicrous tax hypothetical (which falsely compares an accommodation with a benefit).


> > If there are fewer people working the managers should be scheduling less work. > I'll take Things That Will Never Happen for 500, Alex.

That's exactly what I would expect to happen in my company. We do weekly sprint planning, and we assign work to each person based on how many hours they have to work that week, not based on the team's needs in a given timeframe.


"Scheduling less work" means less profit for everyone. Should everyone take a pay cut because of child-caring workers ?


The company shouldn’t make promises it can’t keep. If they have to break one promise (keeping salaries the same) to keep another (paid time off) then it’s still the company that is breaking the promise, not other people to whom they have also made promises.

If they have to cut salaries because they spent all the money on magic beans do you get mad at the beans?


also "less work means less profit" is complete bullshit


In this example people who’s letter starts with a basically lost a major social safety net but got a small perk instead. It’s like saying sorry you don’t qualify for social security anymore but here is 600$


When the funding continues, why are they losing anything?

When the company continues to produce the same output, their salaries are the same, they get their equity bonus, and undoubtedly they expect their promotions not to be affected, what are they losing?


I’ve seen this play out with colleagues/listened to the griping - where the resentment comes in (in addition to the items already discussed) some of the self righteousness of the people with kids vs. non-kids “I really can’t be doing this weekly midnight call with Asia...I have kids” as if having kids was akin to solving world hunger and people without kids couldn’t possibly be doing something meaningful with their time


"I solve world hunger" is a high bar to set for people to establish boundaries with their employers.

"I can't do this weekly midnight call" should really be enough. That makes things better for everyone: it means the people without kids can also say they won't attend, even if that's because they've got something planned in a bar. Adding in the details of kids is because the labour relationship is already wrong.

Covid has surely shown that when required to companies can suddenly be incredibly flexible in all sorts of ways that were "never happen" before. This "you must work for us at midnight too" is just another example.

(This is all-too-similar to how people sometimes still talk about accessibility requirements. "The self-righteousness of people demanding ramps everywhere! We already added a lift from the back alley basement entrance which usually works, and that hurt profits that month. They knew the building was like this when they took the job")


And those who can make those calls should be compensated more as they're providing more value.

At the end this comes down to - some people are providing more value and want to be compensated appropriately; or more specifically some people are now providing less value and don't want their compensation to reflect that.


Now you’re suggesting something that will likely not satisfy some sort of “disparate effect” testing


You miss my point the friction is often with colleagues (in addition to manager/employer) as the co-worker who is seeking a reduced workload often acts holier-than-thou with regards to needing someone to work more on their behalf, rather than being contrite...


My point is that you shouldn't have to be contrite that you can't meet employer's insane demands. You should be able to reject demands to do midnight calls whether or not it's because you have a kid or because you want to have a social life.

The game is rigged in the favour of the employers here, and it's so cleverly rigged they have employees blaming each other.

The only people taking midnight calls should be those who are willing to, and who are appropriately compensated for it.


The fact is both people signed up for jobs where they are highly compensated but are always “on-call” - now one wants to change that, still be highly compensated, and the other has to pick up the slack...