Carly Fiorina and the Netflix Dodge

Carly FiorinaCarly Fiorina has surged in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. This is the result of her performance in the “kids’ table” debate last Thursday, but I doubt it indicates that people were watching. Rather, Megyn Kelly was gushing about it during the regular debate and I’m sure that Fox News has generally been pushing it. She’s a good candidate for the Republicans: rich but a failure at business, no political experience, and the same policy ideas as every other Republican. You gotta love that!

Last weekend, she was on CNN, where we learned that, Carly Fiorina Opposes Paid Maternity Leave Mandate. That’s a shocking headline in its banality. Of course she’s against a government mandate for maternity leave; she’s against any government mandate. She’s against raising the minimum wage, and I suspect if she were honest, she would admit that the very idea of the minimum wage offends her. She’s a corporate thug who believes that if only we give business all the power, everything will be fine.

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig responded to all this nonsense, Carly Fiorina Is Dead Wrong About Paid Parental Leave. On CNN, Fiorina highlighted Netflix as a reason why the government shouldn’t do anything. She said, “I don’t think it’s the role of government to dictate to the private sector how to manage their businesses, especially when it’s pretty clear that the private sector, like Netflix, like the example that you just gave, is doing the right thing because they know it helps them attract the right talent.”

Recently, there was indeed big news about how Netflix was giving all its employees unlimited leave during the first year of a new child. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. As Emily Peck reported last week, Not All Netflix Workers Will Get “Unlimited” Parental Leave. The employees in Netflix’s DVD division are not covered. These are more the regular employees. The leave program only applies to the streaming division — the high tech side of the business.

Bruenig argued that the Netflix program shows exactly the opposite of what Fiorina claims. It’s just another way that the private economy slices and dices employees into the deserving and the undeserving. And the net result of it is not “equality of opportunity.” Instead, it is a way to give the children of the upper classes a distinct advantage over the children of the poorer classes. If anything, Netflix is showing how the business community is making a social problem worse.

Of course, Fiorina’s claim is stupid on a lot of other levels. Assuming Netflix is on the leading edge of trend (and there is no reason to think that), why has it taken all these years to start to deal with a problem that has been going on for decades? I am so sick of hearing this from conservatives. I got into it with a libertarian recently who claimed that we didn’t need child labor laws because the market was going to get around to the problem. Even if you do accept these kinds of highly questionable claims, they are cold comfort for people harmed while we wait for the market to work its magic.

But the main thing is that the market will not work its magic. Fiorina is an ideologue. She simply believes that the government should never tell business what to do. And she latches onto any factoid that gives her beliefs some kind of political cover. We’ve watched over the last five decades as the minimum wage has been allowed to decrease greatly in real terms. Did the business community “do the right thing”? No. More people work for minimum wage than ever. And Netflix hasn’t even solved the issue of parental leave for its own employees — much less for the entire nation.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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