Economics professor Donald Boudreaux is an incisive writer on free markets, but I had an inner chuckle reading this:

It’s true that the “conservative” proposal to allow each worker to pay for paid leave today by drawing on his or her Social Security account is better than forcing employers to offer paid leave. But to see the central economic flaw of this ‘conservative’ proposal, conservatives should ask themselves if they believe that each worker should be allowed to draw on his or her Social Security account to get the funds necessary to add, say, an extra dollar to his or her hourly take-home pay.

I’m confident that no conservative would endorse such a scheme. Yet allowing workers to draw on Social Security to raise the dollar value of that portion of their compensation taken in the form of hourly take-home pay differs in no essential way from allowing workers to draw on Social Security to raise the dollar value of that portion of their compensation taken in the form of fringe benefits such as paid leave.

This . . . doesn’t sound all that bad, actually.

Let’s say someone proposed letting people choose if they would like to pay lower payroll taxes and, in return, take sufficiently lower retirement benefits that Social Security would face no new net costs. I can see practical problems with that proposal: Maybe it would run too much risk that some beneficiaries would be left destitute in old age; maybe so many people would take advantage of it that it would create a significant financing problem for Social Security. But I wouldn’t object in principle, and I’m not sure why any conservative would.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.