My confusion began with a statement so divorced from reality that I reread it multiple times just to confirm I wasn’t missing something:
“From the start, public-health experts were unanimous in their prescription for combatting the spread of COVID-19: ‘Stay Home.'”
Claiming such a thing is synonymous with Donald Trump’s rightly criticized reality-is-what-I-say-it-is persona. If the experts really were so uniform, correct, and prescient, the continued rise of trust in “outsiders” wouldn’t be possible. I most certainly want our experts and institutions to be esteemed, and that’s why I’m concerned about an ongoing denial that anything is amiss. If problems and errors (like the obfuscation around masks) can’t be honestly addressed, people lose faith and turn to less scrupulous sources.
My other point of confusion registered as you rightly pointed out that companies utilize benefits to attract talent. You called paid leave “good economics,” which of course it is when it’s offered – the employer has determined that the employee’s output matches or exceeds the additional compensation cost. This conclusion assumes that employers make economically rational choices. And under that reasonable assumption, it’s also “good economics” when paid leave is not offered – the employer has determined that the employee’s output falls short of the additional compensation cost. In both scenarios, the employer is profit-maximizing by filling necessary roles without incurring unnecessary costs.