Saturday, January 29, 2011

Businesses are not in the business of raising your kids!

I haven’t, up to now, dipped my toe into the oceanful of rant-worthy Obama-isms, or, as I prefer to say, “Obama-nations”, that are there for the picking. My main reason being, where do I begin? But, as a genteel society that supports the notion of ‘ladies first’, let’s do that! I’ll start with ‘ladies first’ with the First Lady, and see what comes up.

How about this?

It seems that Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, a.k.a FLOTUS, is asking businesses to give employees time off to serve as youth volunteers.

(In case you don't get the FLOTUS reference - It's actually been around for a long time. FLOTUS is married to POTUS, the President of the United States. Everytime this particular POTUS opens his mouth, he requires a TOTUS, the Teleprompter of the United States, as he is woefully unable to ad lib his way out of a wet paper bag. POTUS and TOTUS spend more time together than POTUS and FLOTUS. But I digress...)

When I first read this headline, the thing that struck me was the economic aspect. Let me emphasize right here and now that I am no economist. I can barely balance a cheque book. But even to me, this concept of time off to volunteer did not pass the smell test.

Businesses are in the business of paying people to do a full day’s work to make them money so the owners can make a profit and pay those who do the work. Businesses are most definitely not in the business of being social services entities. Some major corporations, that are large enough and can afford to do so, do provide daycare and such benefits, this is true, the purpose being to ensure a happy, productive, and committed workforce. They’re not doing it to be ‘good guys’ or because they have a particular fondness for children. It’s cost-effective. It’s all about the dollar. And, last I checked, we live in a capitalist society that supports your (and their) freedom to make a dollar, in whatever way you choose. Bravo to that!!

Paying your employees to take time off work to volunteer with youth sounds so nice, and caring and “it takes a village"-y. But it is bad for the economy. Large corporations might be able to swallow the cost, but small businesses certainly can’t. And, the last thing the business community needs is the government telling them how to spend their profits, on activities that are clearly not profitable. It hurts the top dog, but don't ever doubt it, it hurts the guy at the bottom of the totem pole even more.

So, that’s what ran through my mind when I read the headline. But, when I read the actual article, it took a totally different, though equally valid approach. 

The article I read, which was on a blog by columnist Doug Powers called "The Powers That Be", (thank you, Alice!) takes the approach that volunteering with youth and mentoring are activities that every single employee should be involved with already – with their own children. This following excerpt is from that blog. I couldn’t have said it better myself:

“Many people working at their jobs are already serving positive role models and “giving back” to kids. That’s what frickin’ work is! People work, they get a paycheck, their kids get to live in a house with heat and the family can afford clothing, food and education. Then their kids, having been raised with that role model, grow up and do the same for their kids — all without the need for people who are incapable of minding their own business butting in and doing nothing except creating more of the problem.

So how much time off for volunteering elsewhere do you suppose Michelle Obama gives her staff on any given workday? Just wondering.

You can see the rest of Michelle Obama’s comments on the next episode of “People who have never run as much as a lemonade stand say the darndest things.”
Wonderfully put!! Maybe it’s because I’m not a mommy that this angle didn't occur to me right off the bat, but it’s the absolute truth. And the part about Shelly-O'FLOTUS and the lemonade stand is equally true.

Charity begins at home. It’s a concept that’s been circulating since Biblical times. Its longevity is probably attributable to the fact that it makes sense!! That’s where the emphasis needs to lie, not in having me be a role model for your kids! What the heck are you doing while I'm doing that???

All I’m asking is this – when you read something, especially something from or about or by politicians, (and always when that politician is Obama or a relative thereof), take care to consider all angles before deciding right-off-the-bat that, oh! It’s about kids? It has to be good. No, it doesn’t have to be good. Not for the community, the economy, or your family.

Laura Bush was a great advocate for literacy; having been a librarian, it was an area around which she could speak with authority, and intelligence. Michelle Obama needs to stick to something she knows, and this is clearly not that!! Go back to the East Wing, honey, and play Farmville or something. The next 722 days will just fly by!!

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