Had I not Been

Had I not been immersed in homeschooling and other activities in 1999, I still don’t think Sergey Brin and Larry Page would have invited me to join their startup, Google. They did invite Susan Wojcicki, who wrote on Dec. 17 in the Wall Street Journal that she was four months pregnant when she accepted their offer. As CEO of Youtube, she is now embarking on her fifth maternity leave, complete with eighteen weeks of full pay.

Her article extols the benefits that accrue to businesses, mothers and families from generous paid maternity leave. She urges federal governmental involvement in mandating and helping to pay for such leave. In her opinion, that would be a boon for those women who neither live in the five states that currently have state funding nor work for a company like Google that, in her words, “value motherhood.”   Accepting as a given that she is both a dedicated professional and a dedicated mother, I’m glad that she is working for business rather than occupying political office. 

A refrain I frequently hear from my daughters and their friends of childbearing age is that they feel forced into the work force. Whether they are putting off having children, having fewer children than they wish or going to work when they would rather be home, they view higher prices and taxation as a vise constricting their free choice. These highly intelligent, well-educated and talented ladies want more freedom to run their own lives. If Ms. Wojcicki wanted to start a charity fund to pay for maternity leave, they would say, “You go, girl.” What she is proposing now, however, is dipping into their pockets in the form of higher taxation, to support her personal agenda. Their own goals and desires will be trampled as the cost of living rises.

When people extol lavish paid maternity leave in Europe they rarely tie it to the fact that Europeans are barely having children. Somehow, the government’s “help” doesn’t seem to influence the choices their citizens are making. Could it be that these greater maternity benefits or paying for freezing women’s eggs, as Apple and Facebook now do, actually values business rather than valuing motherhood?

Having invested time and money in training female employees, it makes perfect sense that businesses want to keep those women working. When that meshes with the personal desires of the women, as it does for Ms. Wojcicki, a free and open transaction benefits both parties.

The minute government regulation forces businesses to supply those “benefits” or taxes are used for that purpose, we are no longer talking of free decision-making but rather of social engineering and coercion. It’s lovely that Ms. Wojcicki has a life she enjoys; she should recognize that not all women are made in her image.


6 thoughts on “Had I not Been”

  1. Hi Susan:
    Ms. Wojcicki’s crusade on behalf of working mothers reminds me of David Horowitz’s maxim suggesting “Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out”.
    You write that you are “glad that she is working for business rather than occupying political office“. Hasn’t it become apparent, however, that there is a revolving door between business and political office as exemplified by, for example, (now former) White House Press Secretary Jay Carney who moved into his White House Press Secretary roll from his position as Washington Bureau Chief at Time magazine? And should I dare mention the fact that Jay Carney is married to Claire Shipmen, the senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America?
    I would suggest that as the powerful politician that she has become, Ms. Wojcicki is pandering to her constituents both in the private (Google/YouTube) and government sectors. Most corporate CEOs are in my opinion seasoned politicians in that they have demonstrated the ability to consistently navigate the many reefs and sandbanks that have long since scuttled the careers of their less savvy rivals.
    Ms. Wojcicki may not hold a position in government, but what she is actively promoting is what in the economic sphere was most often called “corporatism” during the progressive era of the first half of the twentieth century. It was during this era that H.G. Wells coined the term “liberal fascism” during a speech in 1932. Ms. Wojcicki follows the liberal fascist playbook, advocating not for the cold impersonal forces of Marxism or the unloving dogma of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, but rather in favor of a Third Way that lets businesses and government “coordinate” life on behalf of the “forgotten man” (to reprise FDR). In fact, the Nazis had a word for this process: Gleichschaltung. Borrowed from the realm of engineering, this word meant “coordination”, or what we might call the revolving door.
    As King Solomon wrote, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9 (KJV).
    Here’s wishing you and yours a healthy and prosperous new year in 2015.

  2. Lora, I’m so glad that you and your husband are able to make the choices you know are best for you and your family. And while I tremendously value staying home, I also would not want to legislate that all mothers must do so or to impose a tax on women who work forcing them to support me if I stay home. My concern is that when there is talk of paid maternity leave, it ignores the penalty on families who choose to have the mothers home.

  3. I am very grateful to be a stay at home mom. Our income has taken a huge cut and we struggle with rising taxes at the same time. Still, we press on with living our lives according to our standards and needs. Struggles aside, I have grown in my awareness of how absolutely vital a mother at home is to the foundation of the family. It has nothing to do with brainwashing, as some loudly label it. It has everything to do with being there, with deep wells of love, for your family members.
    Apparently the media considers family members to be the bane of society; that teens are children who are, somehow, ‘done’, a kind of adult somehow, or a consumable product, or something; that women can’t possibly know their own minds if they follow their hearts (sexism, anyone?). We’ve been very fortunate that I can stay at home, that our kids are growing up in such a solid foundation that neither my husband nor I experienced as children, and that we have had such a massive treasure trove of beautiful and moving times together. If there is anything so soundbite worthy as a war on women, it is waged against many women, personally, and against their families collectively.

  4. Jean, I think you are right. She is seeing things only through her own world-view. Human beings have varying and complex desires. That is why we should be wary of government intervention with its classic “unintended consequences” that damage our lives.

  5. While Ms. Wojcicki’s perspective may be somewhat admirable, I wonder what her commentary would be to those women who make the “ultimate sacrifice” – to leave the workplace entirely and become stay-at-home mothers during their children’s earliest years. Somehow, I don’t think her worldview is broad enough to consider this choice to be beneficial in any way, even though both science and logic support it. And of course, it requires NO government funding or special set-asides, which is really the point of her piece.

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