FJM: “Pawternity” Edition

Editor’s note: Honoring the late, great blog “Fire Joe Morgan”, this post will examine some silly claims from an outside article. The entire post is copied below with my commentary; original quotes are in bold.

Original article: “Pet owners deserve family leave, too”

Before I begin, let me be clear: what I’m about to write about is actually a thing. (See USA Today et al.) I’m not cherrypicking the random thoughts of one entitled Millennial; there’s proof that this thinking exists in much of western society. Additionally, I am borderline-obsessed with dogs:



Bringing my adopted cat, Jameson, home with me in 2014 was one of the happiest days of my life.

Having to go back to work two days later was one of the worst.

In general, I really hate the “my issues are worse than your issues” thing. We’re all wired differently, and I don’t presume to know how this (probably nice) woman’s head works. That said, I think I can speak for 99.9999% of humans when I say: if being away from your cat for eight hours a day was one of the worst experiences of your life, you have led an historically-happy life. I’m talking 2008 Chris Paul, elite-level happiness.

Chris Paul went on to make a series of hilarious State Farm commercials; Lindsay Putnam might want to take a train ride to Toledo or something.

While the rest of the country is hung up on the necessity of maternity leave — or even the newly coined “meternity” — one group continues to be overlooked when it comes to paid time off from work: new pet owners.

Is it just one group, though? What about gamers? I spent 12 of the happiest hours of my life immersed in the virtual world of Fallout 4 before cruelly being forced to put down my Xbox One controller and go into work. What about fashionistas? Picture the thousands of men and women who have bought the -perfect- accessory, only to have to leave it on the shelf at home, like it isn’t even a person!

Capitalism is cruel SMDH.

“Paw-ternity” leave is already a reality in the UK — the British pet-insurance provider Petplan found that nearly 5 percent of new pet owners in the UK were offered time off to care for their four-legged kids.

Honestly, if corporations want to offer this inane perk…whatever. It’s still not smart, but at least it’s somewhat voluntary exchange. Every employee ultimately pays for it, but you can switch jobs. You can’t switch national governments unless your last name is Robespierre.

(Not surprisingly, the UK is also light-years ahead of the US when it comes to maternity leave, offering up to 39 weeks of paid leave for new mothers.)

This is pretty offensive! Putnam places maternity leave and “taking time to be with a sorta-sentient furry cute animal” in the same sentence! Maternity leave exists for a few basic reasons:

  1. Given the relatively prosperous state of humanity, most philosophers agree that a human being would rather be born than not be born if given the choice.
  2. Mothers bring human life into existence; per “1” this is a morally Good Thing.
  3. Countries need roughly 2.1 children to be born, per couple, to sustain any sort of population growth.
  4. Given 1-3, as much as Americans disagree on, they all agree that kids should continue to be born, economies should grow and people should be alive.
  5. Given 1-4, it’s not unreasonable to require companies to ensure that when kids are born, their mothers aren’t SOL.

You can make the argument (and I would) that the government doesn’t need to enforce this leave, but there’s absolutely a strong case for it. Pets, if anything, are a net drain on economies; they’re leisure goods.

It’s time for the US to hop aboard the “paw-ternity” train. It’s not just because I want to stay home and cuddle on the couch with my new feline (which I do). When I adopted Jameson, he was 6 years old and had spent the previous year of his life in an animal shelter. He was suffering from several health problems after being neglected by his previous owner — and was skittish, nervous and uncertain about why he was suddenly being transported to a strange new home.

Jokes aside: I respect Putnam for adopting a rescue cat. I’ve never had the patience for rescues, but seriously…kudos!

I couldn’t help but think that, just as Jameson was getting used to me, he feared I, too, was abandoning him. The guilt continues today: While my co-workers with kids walk out the door at 6 p.m., no one seems to care that I also have a child at home waiting for dinner.

Allow me to help remediate one of our modern education system’s myriad shortcomings:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 2.55.58 PM

Many pet experts agree that new pet owners should try their best to clear their schedule for the first few days following a new animal’s arrival. Not only can pets benefit from the comfort of being cared for by a loving parent after spending time in an animal shelter, but they require attention to be properly housebroken and trained so they don’t become a public nuisance.

IF ONLY the corporate world had invented a mechanism through which employees could voluntarily take days off for emergencies, leisure, unexpected life events, etc. and still receive payment! In such an arrangement-call it “paid time off”-workers would have a set number of “days off” they could take in a given calendar year.

Harvard Business Review: don’t even think about stealing this or I’ll sue.

It’s clear that spending time with your fur-baby is in the pet’s best interest — but it’s in your employer’s, too.

I don’t know Lindsay; she might actually have tremendous business acumen. But allow me to make the following bold claim: people making decisions for their businesses have a slightly better idea of what is in their businesses’ best interest than she does. This is not an ad hom attack; even if Lindsay was Booth-educated and a Nobel Prize-winning economist, I would still argue this.

In short: corporate stakeholders are fallible, but unless they work for the Cleveland Browns (which is more mafia racket than private company), they probably know the ins and outs of their customer base, supply chain, workforce capabilities etc. better than even the most brilliant people in the history of history. As FA Hayek pointed out, localized knowledge trumps intelligence and even industry-level knowledge the vast majority of the time.

Need proof? Go into a Manhattan bar, mention to a local finance bro that you work for a publicly traded company, and listen to him spout off 100 simple ways that he could fix your company. Then ask him a question that you’d expect a receptionist at your firm to know and watch him wither and die.

According to Psychology Today, pet owners have better self-esteem, fitness, sociability and happiness than non-pet owners. They also have lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

I’d love to thank PT for this groundbreaking research showing that people who have money to buy hilarious, adorable, and utterly unnecessary companions also have money to provide themselves with better medical care.

If pets can lead directly to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, though, then why in the hell have I been eating salads for the past 10 months? I’ll just dog-sit instead.

Having kids doesn’t improve an employee’s health — which would make them better workers — yet we grant them six weeks off to care for a newborn.

I’m being trolled, right? This is an Onion article with a New York Post header, right?

\checks past Post headlines

OK, maybe not.

Is it so much to ask that pet parents get a week off to do the same?

It’s not at all! I haven’t checked with Obama on this, but I think I’m OK in declaring the following a federal regulation: companies must ensure that pets’ parents can have as many days off as they want. Because, as the mother and father of pets, they, presumably, are pets themselves.


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