Category Archives: Politics

A Great Advance for Women: 2012 Election Outcome in the Senate

We each have our own story and reaction to last night’s election night outcome. But for me – honestly – the thing that I was most excited to share with my girls this morning – and to watch unfold in January – was the victory for women last night.

I am in awe of the results from election day for women. No matter which party you voted for, SIX women picked up Senate seats last night.

SIX

This morning we can tell our children that 1 in every 5 Senators is a woman. Just yesterday I was explaining to my almost seven-year-old why she should always vote when given the chance and in a somewhat feeble attempt to give her perspective, I explained to her that women in our country have only had the right to vote since 1920 when the 19th Amendment passed.

Okay, I left out the part about the 19th Amendment but I did try to make a big stink about cherishing the right to vote and the women who came before her who didn’t have that ability. This was how I tried to explain to her what freedom means.

So now we wake up today to learn of this record-breaking moment for women in the Senate, though according to this Bloomberg piece (notably the only one I could find thoroughly covering the advances of women in the Senate), a few races were still being tallied as they published the piece around 3AM.

I think this is so significant and important not just for our daughters to know but also for our sons – for them all to know that this is a defining moment in history when women are striving for elected office and reaching elected office in record numbers. Again – on both sides of the aisle. And how about the state of New Hampshire? In case you didn’t hear this through all the other election night coverage, here’s this amazing fact from the Bloomberg piece:

“In neighboring New Hampshire, female incumbent senators Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, will be part of another first. New Hampshire in January becomes the only state to have women in the governor’s mansion, in both Senate seats, and in all House seats.”

I look forward to watching these new female elected leaders take office, to seeing what new issues they bring forward and to continuing the conversation about who our political leaders our with my girls – and how meaningful it is that more of our leaders are women.

How did you explain what freedom is to your little ones? I definitely struggled with that one.

For more fun and frolic – though admittedly because I know just how diverse my readers are and they don’t come to me for political commentary – I generally try to avoid political pieces – be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page. For the next two months, I will have less time to blog but I will definitely check in more with everyone on the WM FB page – so don’t miss out!

 

Do Casinos Benefit a Community & Public Education? Maryland Voters Decide in November

 

Which way will you vote in November on Question 7?

Look, regular readers know I generally don’t cover political topics – trust me, I have very strong political views – but other people do it better than me. But, as a resident of Maryland, I have to admit I feel it my duty to really consider Question 7 before the election in November. By now, anyone who lives locally in DC has seen any one of the innumerable TV ads on whether or not to vote for opening casinos in Prince George’s County. I asked Mr. Wired Momma just last night what he thought and he still was undecided.

 

So I decided to poke around. As a person who quite enjoys having an opinion and who certainly takes voting, and making informed choices, very seriously – I decided it was my civic duty to look into this issue. Even if you’re not a Maryland resident, I still think this is an important topic because you never know when the issue will pop up in your community. Or perhaps there are other local issues on the ballot in your community that you maybe need to spend more time reading up on but keep putting it off, sorta like I was doing with Question 7.

To give you some background, from my understanding, the crux of this issue playing out on TV is whether or not to Vote Yes to Question 7 allowing gambling in PG County. The advocates claim we should all vote in favor because it will channel more money into public education in Maryland. The opponents claim this isn’t true. From my reading, it seems Maryland residents in 2008 voted in favor of slot machine gambling to support public education and the Education Trust Fund was created.

So this is super, right?
Well, it’s also lobbying and government friends, so pulling back the curtain a little bit more, it seems that because of economic realities today, and the inevitable state deficit, funds in the Education Trust Fund can actually be dispersed beyond just education – which is precisely what has been happening. And that, right there, is what the opponents of Question 7 are claiming will happen should the slots be approved in November for PG County. In fact, according to this article, “The State Comptroller Peter Franchot said claims that the expansion of gaming will generate more for education only appeal “to the altruism of voters who want to do the right thing” for kids, when it does nothing to bring in new dollars for education.”

Suddenly I started feeling less favorable towards Question 7. But then I also believe that the state needs the funds for other reasons, public safety, roads, and these items all better the lot of us. So even if the funds are diverted from education, is that such a bad thing?

Well, it depends on your feelings towards gambling and if you believe it actually benefits or harms a local community.

Naturally I dug further. Initially I started thinking it would be a good thing because it will create jobs for those who are building the casino, working the casino.

But what about the local businesses around them?

What about the restaurants in PG County that rely upon their local patrons who might be diverted to the casino because they can eat and gamble there? Is this akin to a big box retailer moving in and putting the smaller local businesses out of business? According to research out of the University of California, that is precisely what can happen. A classic example being Atlantic City, NJ where the casinos profit on the boardwalk but the rest of Atlantic City remains poor and boarded up with no real benefits to the local community.

So what will you do in November? I urge you to read up on this matter very carefully because like anything in politics, nothing is ever as simple as it appears on a TV ad. What do you think?

The Pill, Power & Women’s Earning Power

Here's Hoping. Photo Credit: Americans Against the Tea Party

Two years ago, in May 2010, we acknowledged and frankly, celebrated, the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. According to Nancy Gibbs, executive editor of Time Magazine, in her cover story on the anniversary, the pill became “the means by which women untied their aprons, scooped up their ambitions and marched eagerly into the new age.”

And here we are, two years later, wading through a national discourse questioning women’s healthcare freedoms, in states across the country, led, in part, by a platform called the Republican Presidential Race.

The introduction of the pill ultimately helped usher in a societal transformation for women. Not only were women able to control their own reproductive cycle but the women’s movement soon emerged. It was a sea of change facing this country. And whether conservative politicians like it, let alone the Catholic Church, even in the 1960s, according to Gibbs, women flocked to the pill. She noted that only 400,000 women took the oral contraceptive in 1961. By 1965, the number was almost 4 million. Today, 99 percent of women use birth control at some point in their lives, in this country. The dramatic increase seems to fall on deaf ears to conservative men and Church leadership, even today in 2012.

Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks in the HuffPost, last month, tellingly noted that to question women’s rights to their own bodies is to treat women as property and the Republican party is, in effect, shaming women on abortion and shaming women for using contraception, by its attack on Planned Parenthood. What fascinates me, beyond how this topic is even such a leading issue in this day and age, is how it stands so starkly in contrast to the current cover story in Time Magazine written by Liza Mundy called “The Richer Sex.”

The piece is an excerpt from her new book and examines how female economic clout is growing and changing how we work, shop and our marriages.

Is anyone else amazed that while one national party wages a platform questioning women’s rights, we have new research showing the growing economic strength and importance of women in our society, the profound impact an educated workforce populated by women has on our society and the reality that more women are out earning their husbands? While headlines of foreclosure rates, rising gas prices, children going to bed hungry and the high unemployment rates continue to dominate our news cycle – how have we fallen so far off track with what is truly relevant to Americans today?

I could drown in the hypocrisy of it all. If, according to  Mundy’s research, in dual-earning couples, women contributed an average of 44% of family income in 2008 – up from 39% in 1997 – what, exactly, does our prolonged recession-society gain by limiting women’s choices in reproductive rights? If you set aside your philosophical views, and think practically, about the importance of growing our economy, feeding our children and paying our mortgages, who gains by keeping women pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen?

Even more, consider this, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, nearly 4 in 10 working wives out earned their husbands, an increase of more than 50% from 20 years ago, notes Mundy in her Time Mag cover piece.

These figures point to the profound change in our culture, one where someday half of marriages could consist of women as the dominant earning partner, more husbands are staying home with children, and women head off to work more often than they stay home with children.

So on one side, some of us are praising and acknowledging women’s individual advancements and the critical role we play in our economy yet over on the other side, a bunch of douche bags have a national platform to question and devalue women’s reproductive rights. Where along the way have they considered the practical realities of limiting women’s access to birth control?

Or really, shouldn’t my real question be this: how does the party who ignites in verbal flames over the idea of government imposing on individual lives not recognize the hypocrisy of their very own strategy to control the most personal of decisions in an individual’s life?

If the hypocrisy doesn’t work, which apparently it doesn’t, how about considering dollar signs? Here from a fascinating piece in Daily Finance from last summer are these facts:

“In a study titled “The Public Costs of
Births Resulting from Unintended Pregnancies: National and State-Level
Estimates,”
Guttmacher Institute researchers found that two-thirds of the
births resulting from unintended pregnancies — more than 1 million births –
are publicly funded, making up more than 80% of the total births in a couple of
U.S. states. It estimates the cost of those births, and the potential gross
savings from helping women to avert them, at a whopping $11.1 billion.

A second study, “Unintended
Pregnancy and Taxpayer Spending,”
by researchers at the Brookings
Institution, estimated a health-care cost of between $9.6 billion and $12.6
billion per year, with an average of $11.3 billion per year, for unintended
pregnancies. Preventing these pregnancies would save taxpayers between $4.7
billion and $6.2 billion per year, with an average of $5.6 billion per
year.”

Sure – not allowing companies to offer women contraceptives for free totally makes sense….

If more women are out-earning their husbands and earning advanced degrees, who are these politicians and church leaders talking too?

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Our National Dialogue: Have we fallen down the rabbit hole?

Dear White Dudes:

Yeah, I'm talking to you, old white dudes. January 25, 2012 - Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

For the past few weeks, my mom kept calling  me, all riled up mainly about you, old white dudes. She found you painful during the Republican debates,  we’re really lookin’ at you, Newt Gingrich, but then the Komen disaster took some of her attention off old white dudes and refocused it on crazy white chicks. (I mean – WTF on that). But see, I was taking the high road from you old dudes. I just kept agreeing with her but ignoring it. I’ve been in denial. Surely, our national discourse was going to right itself and we were going to resume talking about issues that need to be addressed RIGHT NOW, I reasoned. Surely we weren’t going to keep shitting all over women’s healthcare and the importance of access to medical care and tests for women when the foreclosure rate is expected to rise 25 percent this year, to one million homes? Up from last year.

Right?

Right. Surely we were going to refocus back and stop this madness. I mean – people are losing their homes every day. Why aren’t we talking about that more? Why am I surprised considering one of you old white dudes admitted to not caring about poor people – seems not just poor women – but poor people – yet I still kept naively thinking the spotlight was going to come off women’s healthcare and back onto broader issues.

But then, then, I’m driving home the other day only to hear Santorum’s donor on NPR mouthing off about how women should put an asprin between her knees as a form of birth control (was that “joke” even funny to the 70+ crowd?) and then Santorum ticks up in the polls and suddenly he’s questioning the necessity of prenatal tests. And I

JUST

CAN’T

TAKE IT

ANYMORE.

Sure, old white dudes, keep on talking about women’s bodies and women’s healthcare, and cloaking yourselves behind “right to life” language. It’s not hypocritical at all that men receive health insurance coverage for the much needed penile implant while women should have to even think to justify why they should be given access to the broad array of prenatal tests which are used to evaluate the viability of the fetus. Or free access to life saving mammograms? Where along the way did the people so concerned about health care costs think that letting women with breast cancer go undetected, costs anyone less money, than early prevention? Huh?

Will the aspirin between our knees protect us from other diseases, not just pregnancy?

And old white dudes, you are given health insurance coverage for your vacuum erection devices while prenatal coverage for women is being dissected in grave detail? Really? And you want us to vote for you? If values are what this is about – what’s the family value you’re teaching young girls here? That the penis deserves to be erect but the vagina and the breast don’t warrant medical coverage? And better yet - the health and viability of  a fetus in the womb shouldn’t be given the same kind of attention as your vasectomy? Is that a strong family value?? So we care only about the fetus when the mom has a right to choose whether to keep it – but beyond that point – we don’t really care about what happens? Is that the family value?

Then fueling my fire, is the recent study in England revealing that women, in fact, need an entire year to recover properly from child birth. So across the pond, the dialogue is on evaluating their own weaknesses in postpartum care and listening to what women need to recover while here, we question giving women the access they need to life-saving tests (ahem, Komen) and prenatal coverage (umm, Santorum).

Here’s the lesson my kids are learning from our national dialogue, if I’d let them listen: only men matter. I see how that’s cloaked in Christianity and humanity.

I hope we’re about done falling down Alice’s Rabbit Hole and will instead land back on our feet and resume discussions on national issues that warrant so much of our time and attention, like the foreclosure rate, like the employment rate and the reality that prevention costs our country much  less than treatment, in healthcare.

Keepin’ it real, old white dudes,

Wired Momma

PS – You don’t get my vote. And I’ll keep talking about you to anyone who will listen.

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