Friday, October 26, 2012

“Why should women be paid equal to men?”

I have tried fairly successfully to avoid participating in rampant political debates.  Heck, I made the “mistake” of using one of Ann Romney’s quotes as a type of analogy in a piece on work layoffs, and I received hate mail for my efforts.  I can handle that.  I am one to agree to disagree when it comes to politics.  I’m pretty certain that any argument I could come up with would never change anyone’s mind or their views. 

In the past week or so, several news articles have piqued my interest, really surprised me, or just plain managed to throw my proverbial Irish temper into a twist.  I’ll start with the temper. 

Ann Romney is at it again.  Speaking to a group of mothers for Mitt, she was asked about equal pay for equal work and the Lilly Ledbetter legislation.  Her answer was about as archaic and inane as saying a woman should be seen and not heard, while barefoot, pregnant and in her home, the only place where she belongs.  After all, she should be happy to be a housewife that is taken care of by her magnanimous husband.  And if she happens to work outside her home, she should be happy and not complain that a male doing the same job is getting paid at a substantially higher rate.

Few things anger me more that seeing women being used.  Paying a woman less for the same tasks is a form of servitude.  It is a way for men who feel threatened by intelligent and capable women to keep them oppressed.  They consider themselves to be the breadwinners and therefore more deserving of higher pay. 

Here’s a few facts from the Census Bureau.

In 2011, there were 5 million stay at home moms.  This is down from 5.3 million in 2008. 
In 2011, 23 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother.
In 2011, there were 10 million single mothers living with children younger than 18.  This is up from 3.4 million in 1970.

Let’s review.  Only 23% of women in a married situation with kids were stay-at-home moms.  The rest are out working, likely because their traditional breadwinner is not making enough to achieve financial stability. 

If 23% = 5 million stay-at-home moms, then the working 77% = >16 million working moms.  We are not counting the massive numbers of women working who no longer have children under the age of 15 at home.

There were 10 million single mothers with kids under 18.  No magnanimous male breadwinners are taking care of them.  They have to be mother, father, and breadwinner as best they can. 

In my experience, most truly professional women, be they lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, or whatever their chosen career are more proficient, more skilled, and better performers than their male counterparts.  Do you know why?  Because they had to work harder, test higher, be smarter, and put up with crap no man ever had to put up with to achieve their goals of careers in areas traditionally occupied by men.  I see this experience repeated in women at all levels in all jobs from white collar to blue.

For Ann Romney to say that wanting to be equal in the eyes of the law is “detrimental” to our future is ludicrous.  She also said Who’s going to want to hire a woman, or for that matter, even marry a woman who thinks she is the same, if not better than a man at any job. It’s almost laughable. C’mon now ladies, are you with me on this?”  Does she really expect any woman with a brain to agree?  A friend recently told me that Mrs. Romney reminds her of a “Stepford Wife” and I’m beginning to wonder.

Second, I shared a facebook link to a video that contained numerous influential Republicans speaking very unfavorably about Mitt Romney.  What they said was nothing new.  Who was saying it was eye-opening.  Yes, quotes can be taken out of context, but the things they were saying would not have been changed by any amount of context.  Rudy Giuliani spoke at length.  Rick Santorum and John McCain were more than clear.  And Newt was not particularly verbal, but no context was needed.  “Question:  Are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?  Newt:  Yes.  Question:  You are calling Mitt Romney a liar?  Newt:  You seem shocked.  Yes.”  I’m not sure how that could be viewed as anything other than what it was…a very direct answer to a specific question. 

Third, I was surprised.  Colin Powell publicly endorsed PresidentObama.  There are some racists who think there is only one reason for that…shared culture.  I disagree.  I admit, I am a registered Democrat, but I have never been one to vote the party line.  I voted for Bush the Elder, but not Bush the Younger.  I considered voting for McCain until he made the fateful mistake of accepting Palin as his running mate.  I have to say that if Colin Powell had run, I would have voted for him.  I look into the backgrounds and records of the candidates.  I look at their voting records and I watch for consistency on the issues, especially the issues of importance.  I think Colin Powell believes in the President and has no faith in the Republican candidate.  I don’t think race has anything to do with his endorsement.  As evidenced above, he is not the only influential Republican with no faith in their candidate.  As a matter of fact, it seems that most of Mitt Romney’s support comes from very rich banking and corporate moguls.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Likely it’s the same thing that is wrong with finding out at the 11th hour that some (not all) voting machines and software in Ohio are provided by a Hart Intercivic.  Let’s try to unwind the path.  H.I.G. Capital’s cofounder and several of its directors previously worked for none other than Bain.  Same said cofounder was a donor to the Romney campaign, and H.I.G. is a huge contributor to Mitt’s PAC organizations.  As in investment capital firm, H.I.G. has numerous investments, and Tagg Romney’s company has investments in some of those funds run by Romney fundraisers and former colleagues that also manage a fund that is invested in none other than Hart Intercivic, the voting machine company.  Although there is no direct link from one end of the chain to the other, this whole situation gives me pause.  Even if Tagg is completely innocent and has no knowledge of any of this, investors in Hart Intercivic have given enormous amounts of money to the Romney campaign.  This is a huge conflict of interest.  I now have no faith that voting machine votes for either candidate will be accurately counted.  Therefore, I encourage everyone to vote early on paper ballots.  It may seem old fashioned, but sometimes you just have to go back to go forward.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Felix Baumgartner's Leap of Faith

The wait must have been excruciating…three hours or so to achieve sufficient altitude.  People all over the world watched in amazement as Felix Baumgartner willingly jumped out of a balloon-borne capsule 25 miles above the ground.  He sped to earth so fast he broke the sound barrier.  He literally became a human sonic boom.  Then he pulled his ripcord and floated to earth, landing on his feet like it was just another day in the park.

I was fascinated.  But what puzzles me is why people think that the higher you go the scarier or more dangerous it must be.  For sheer mileage, I agree that it was phenomenal.  But the thing is, if your parachute doesn’t open, it really doesn’t matter whether you fall 25 miles or 2500 feet…splat is splat.

I’m not afraid to fly, mind you.  I’ve done some commercial flying.  I’ve even been up in a double, open-cockpit bi-wing and ridden in a hot air balloon.  I’m just not one of those people who really feel they haven’t arrived until they jump out of an airplane.  I don’t think I would hesitate if the plane was likely to crash, but as long as it has no problems, it’s not in my personality to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft. 

I do admire Felix Baumgartner for his leap of faith.  Faith is what it takes to make that jump:  believing your chute will open, you won’t have catastrophic decompression, you won’t freeze to death, you won’t pass out and not regain consciousness until it’s too late to pull the cord.  I would love to possess that kind of faith.  But even if my faith grows, I’m still not jumping out of any airplanes!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Did Not Inherit the Shopping Gene…

My father used to love shopping.  He would make lists for the stores he passed on his route home and stop here and there to get the best deals.  My mother was not nearly as avid when it came to shopping.

I hate shopping.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s clothing, appliances, furniture, household goods, food, or staples.  I simply hate shopping.  Clothing is the worst, because you have to try stuff on, and nothing ever looks as good on you as it does on the hanger.  Then you have to visit multiple stores to find what you need.  I have found that if I buy most of my clothes on-line, I have much better luck, spend much less time and money, and I don’t put all those miles on my car.  I suppose if I liked shopping, none of this would be an issue. 

I have an especially hard time shopping at the Mall.  I believe this stems from an episode many years ago when I was looking for a fancy blouse and made the mistake of trying on a bathing suit.  (The funny story of that Mall adventure can be visited if you haven’t read Tiger Boy Strikes Again.)  I don’t have nearly as much anxiety when I’m shopping with a friend, but there are times since that bathing suit episode when I have suffered symptoms (running out of the Mall like my pants were on fire) bordering on agoraphobia while visiting the Mall. 

Today I went to the Mall to shop for clothes for my mother.  I HAD to, because after multiple on-line searches, I discovered that it’s almost impossible to find washable, stretch, elastic-waist pants, in a size 10 petite, short.  Forget the cheap stores, because they only have elastic waists in that size if you’re buying leggings, which are totally inappropriate for someone of her advanced age (not to mention more difficult to put on and take off).  So I spent most of my morning scouring the women’s petite section of Dillard’s.  It was easier shopping for Mom because I was shopping strictly for items…no dressing rooms, undressing, trying on stuff, re-dressing, finding something new and doing it all again.  Amazingly, I managed to find several pairs of pants for Mom!  I was thrilled.  But I was very happy to get out of there.  This was followed by shopping at Babies R Us for a shower gift and shopping at The Vitamin Shoppe.  At least they aren’t at the Mall.  Tomorrow I get to do Sam’s Club, joy of joys.

If I could do ALL my shopping on line, I would never go to a store again!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ad asphyxiaton and Raptor...Stop the ride, I need to get off!

I’ll never forget the first (and only) time I rode Raptor at Cedar Point Amusement Park.  It was a huge, green, scary-looking coaster.  I love roller coasters, but it had been years since I had ridden one, and Raptor was not like any other coaster in my experience.  My legs were dangling, and I was hanging on for dear life.  Everyone told me to keep my head pressed back into the seat, but the faster it went, the less I was able to press my head backward.  Soon I was sick to my stomach as the ride began violently jerking my head from side to side.  I kept screaming, “Stop the ride, I need to get off!”  My daughter and husband thought it was pretty funny.  I did not.
For the next several hours, I had severe balance issues until I finally sat down and refused to move.  They went on their merry way, riding all those horrid coasters and loving it.  I learned my lesson…no more roller coasters for me.  The ride had literally upset the balance in my inner ear and likely bruised the margins of my brain during the violent head-tossing time.  I’m amazed that people can ride them over and over again without suffering permanent damage.
So here I am, the TV running as background noise while I write, and it occurs to me that this political season is very much like Raptor.  There appear to be three types of voters:  those who keep riding the coaster no matter how dangerous; those who refuse to ride the coaster because they are unwilling to take a chance; and those who give it a try, then stand back, analyze the experience, and consider all the aspects before making a decision. 
As of July, the two opposing campaigns had spent, combined, over a billion dollars for advertising campaigns to either win our votes to “their” side, or convince us not to vote for the “other” side.  I am sure the tally will be close to two billion dollars by Election Day.  I have some news for those running these campaigns.  The majority of the voters are either riders or not riders.  All the money and advertising in the world is not going to change their minds.  So you are wasting billions of dollars attempting to lure that small fraction of voters who give it a try and analyze the results.  Unfortunately for you, those who try and analyze are not easily swayed by campaign rhetoric.  Those who try and analyze do research, seek the facts, and make informed decisions.
I hate to even turn the TV on anymore.  I can’t help being asphyxiated by constant negative ads, lies, fabrications, misrepresentations, and accusations bordering on libel, with such density and rapidity that I wonder how they actually get an entire show into the reserved time slot.
Wouldn’t that two billion dollars be better spent shoring up social security, fixing Medicare, educating our kids and keeping them healthy, helping small business owners, repairing our roads and infrastructure, and creating jobs?  It’s just a thought, mind you.
I would like to propose the following measures in an effort to put this ridiculous roller coaster ride to an end. 

1)    Put a cap on campaign spending.  $10M total for each presidential candidate, not more than $150K for any congressional, senate, of gubernatorial candidate.  Less for locals.

2)    No PAC funding, no special interests.  If caught campaigning with such funds, you are automatically eliminated from running.

3)    No negative campaigning.  No name-calling, misrepresentations, or skewing information to make the opponent look bad.  Anyone caught not speaking the absolute, unvarnished, and untwisted truth about an opponent or an opponent’s record will be charged with libel and barred for life from running for any office.

4)    Lobbying will be a criminal offense.  No elected official will consort or engage in talks or business with any special interest of any kind. 

5)    Elected officials are the servants of the people, not of any other entity.  It is a privilege to serve in our government, not a license to consider yourself royalty or above the laws that the rest of the people are subject to follow.

6)    Laws will be passed one at a time.  No riders, no codicils, no additions will be added to any proposed bill.  The days of the pork barrel will be over.  If you need funding for a project, try putting it before your elected peers as a stand-alone issue and see how far you get.

7)    All elected officials will be subject to the same social security and health care as their constituents.  Having to live with the results of their actions will give them a better appreciation of what is best for the people who trusted and elected them.

It is time to get back to the kind of government that was envisioned by our forefathers…one of the people, by the people, and for the people…because the people are the important part of the democracy equation. 


Monday, October 1, 2012

I Welcome All Comments...

Like most bloggers, I retain the right and ability to moderate comments I receive in response to my postings.  This is something I take seriously.  I post those comments verbatim; what I receive is what is uploaded.

I don't expect everyone, or anyone for that matter, to like what I have to say or how I say it.  I don't expect people to automatically think I am witty, funny, smart, creative, intelligent, or any other complimentary adjective you might apply, nor do I expect anyone to even find what I write to be interesting.

I write for me; I share my words and opinions with anyone who feels the need to read them.  That said, I appreciate and welcome comments and criticism, both complimentary and uncomplimentary, as long as the comments are civil and fit to print.

However, when I receive comments on a blog post that contain name calling, personally derogatory remarks (about me rather than the topic of the post), or comments rife with grammar, spelling, capitalization, and usage errors that would make the comment writer look foolish, chances are I will not post those comments.  Anonymous comments containing any of the aforementioned will not be considered.  After all, if I am brave enough to post what I have to say with my name in lights, the least you can do is have the guts to identify yourself, especially if you expect to be taken seriously.

If you have a serious need to see your inflammatory comments posted on-line, I suggest you write your own blog because your words will not be housed here.

The Management at The Fractured Anecdote