is the mother of invention and the Free Market is the father of
its realisation. By the fruitful union of these two parents have
many a successful idea and business been sired and will continue
to do so.
have been most successful at procreating as well with over six billion
alive at the last count. Therein lies a conflict of parental rights.
The free market wants its children to grow healthy, strong and competitive
and we wish the same for our progeny.
this backdrop, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has
now made it mandatory for companies to provide two weeks paternity
leave for new fathers. This follows on from the introduction of
maternity leave some years back. A nice little vote winner, no doubt,
but the State proves once again that it is no friend of small and
medium sized businesses.
in April 1999, the Labour government imposed the minimum wage of
up to £3.60 on businesses. This meant an average of 30% pay rises
for about 2 million workers in the United Kingdom and was a forced
piece of wealth redistribution that led to the predictable rises
in redundancies and cuts in reinvestment (or the drop from Jaguar
to Ford for the "oppressive" owner as some socialists
would have us believe).
thanks to free market dynamics, there had been a de facto minimum
wage in place for years. To be more precise, the going rate for
State welfare payments ensured that no one would work for less or
pay less when they could get it for nothing off the backs of more
productive taxpayers. So we see that one error leads to another
as the politics of guilt and envy votes the money out of the pocket
of the productive into the pockets of the idle and unmotivated (excluding
those who cannot work through no fault of their own). Welfare needs
to be reprivatised and put back into the domain of uncoerced compassion
which is freely given.
Sheridan of the inconsequential Scottish Socialist Party wanted
£7 an hour and was laughed out of the Moderate Socialist Court for
even they knew the devastating effect on the economy of such a wage
hike (not to mention the murmurings of the more qualified who are
already on such a rate). Some Utopians still live and breath in
that discredited camp.
to babies. The government has a love affair with them which now
goes beyond kissing them during electioneering as the new paternity
obligation so amply demonstrates. But it means more paperwork, more
cost and more disruption for small companies with limited staffing
levels. It was bad enough for these newly born companies to be fed
the diluted milk of maternity leave and the crumbs of the minimum
wage but paternity rights leaves the smell of a soiled nappy in
dire need of a change.
statistics are plain enough. There are 233,000 small and medium
sized companies in Scotland employing over 60% of the workforce.
They are the lifeblood and future of the economy who wait like small
mammals ready to take over from the bloated and tired dinosaurs
of big business with fresh ideas and vigour.
red tape threatens to strangle many of the newly formed companies
at birth and lead to a backlash as start up bankruptcy rates lead
to fewer jobs, lower pay and reduced tax revenues. In fact, the
number of new businesses created in Scotland is down 16% compared
to 1999 (the first minimum wage year).
think the maternal metaphors have been exhausted but not the moral
and economic argument. Who is responsible for the welfare of children?
The parents, of course. We have too many surrogate parents in the
willing form of the State and in the unwilling form of small businesses.
the problem goes beyond that in how such a short-term economic fix
actually impacts long-term economic growth. The free market needs
two things to prosper an economy. It needs productive people working
in productive teams competing against other productive groups. It
also needs honest (i.e. socially skilled) people who honour contracts
and do not defraud their customers.
are enough studies to suggest that the cognitive and psychological
development of children is proportional to the time spent with their
mothers. It has been shown that children of absent mothers lag behind
in exam results and are more dysfunctional in social skills. This
coming drop in raw skills will undoubtedly impact progress; but
by how much is unknown. Furthermore, we can expect it to be compounded
as dysfunctional children become dysfunctional parents.
be frank, the influx of women into the workplace does not increase
the average skill rating of the entire workforce – it stays the
same and that is nothing more than an equality argument. A democracy
has the freedom to choose whether to implement short-term economic
equality at the expense of long-term economic prosperity. But what
the eye does not see in 30 years, the heart does not grieve after
in 30 years. We too often judge results by what we currently have
in our wallets as opposed to what it could have been.
us lies the twin pronged threat to our future economy as the smallest
children of both the free market and working parents combine to
form two sets of offspring less well-equipped for their respective
societies than their forebears.
enough to make you throw a tantrum.
Watson writes from Edinburgh, Scotland.
© 2001 LewRockwell.com