Rebirth of Reason


On Paid Parental Leave
by Anton Kelly

The due date of our impending baby (arriving any day now!) means my wife and I qualify for the newly introduced twelve weeks' paid parental leave, courtesy of the New Zealand taxpayer. Paid parental leave was implemented despite my many letters to newspaper editors protesting against it. Now that it is here I must be honest and say that the extra money will be well received in our household. It will make life a bit easier as we welcome a new member to our family and adjust to having only one income.

Paid parental leave is wrong. The decision by my wife and I to have a baby was ours alone, and the financial support of our baby should also be ours alone. My view that other taxpayers should not be forced to subsidise our decision places me in a familiar and uncomfortable situation. Should I accept paid parental leave?

For that matter, should I, as a libertarian, accept any tax-funded government assistance? Is it immoral? I think the answer depends on what form that assistance takes. For example, I would never accept the unemployment benefit, or a Creative New Zealand grant to work on my novel. I would, however, accept public health care and education, even though I believe it is not the government’s role to provide these services. After all, the government has assumed responsibility for these services against my wishes, and I am forced to pay tax to subsidise them. Lots of tax.

If I had it my way I would not pay any tax, and I would pay my own way in life. As a result of not paying tax I would have more money available to pay my own way. Despite my wish to stand on my own feet, the government believes it can take better care of me than I can. Unfortunately, what the government regards as "care", I regard as woefully inadequate.

So while I do not agree with paid parental leave, I will accept it. By accepting this money my wife and I will recoup some of the money stolen from us as taxes. All not accepting it will achieve is to simply make it harder for us. If some of you think I am wrong to accept this money, remember that we do not live in a perfect world. You wouldn’t turn a tax-funded fire engine away from your burning house, would you.

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