Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Companies Expanding Paid Leave Programs—Without Government<p> Spotify, a streaming service provider with about 1,400 employees, just <a href=";utm_medium=mkt_consumer_3251241786&amp;utm_campaign=11/19.ParentalLeaveTW_us&amp;utm_content=us8894&amp;utm_term=TextPost">announced</a> that it&rsquo;s giving employees a considerable new perk:</p> <blockquote> <p> Effective immediately:</p> <ul> <li> All full-time Spotify employees will be offered up to six months&rsquo; parental leave with 100% pay.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li> Parents will be able to take their leave up to the child&rsquo;s third birthday, with all Spotify employees who had children from the beginning of 2013 also eligible for the benefit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li> Mothers and fathers are encouraged to take the full time off, with the added flexibility of splitting their leave into separate periods.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li> We also know that following a period of parental leave, the transition back to work can be tricky. So we&rsquo;re including a one month &lsquo;Welcome Back!&rsquo; programme, allowing returning team members to ease back into their job with the ability to work from home, on a part time schedule and with flexible hours.&nbsp;</li> </ul> </blockquote> <p> It&rsquo;s great news for those employees that Spotify is creating this generous new benefit program, and it could encourage more of its competitors to follow suit.&nbsp;</p> <p> Just because this type of program works at some companies, however, doesn&rsquo;t mean that it will work at all companies.&nbsp; Those who argue that government should step in and require all companies to provide similarly generous leave packages&mdash;or that government should <a href="">directly provide a paid leave entitlement</a> benefits&mdash;ignore how these programs can burden smaller or staff-intensive businesses and <a href=";_r=0">backfire</a> on some employees, particularly on women. It&rsquo;s also worth considering how these leave programs look to those who are <a href="">childless, but wish they could be parents</a>.</p> <p> Yet this is the free market at work and it&rsquo;s wonderful for companies to offer a variety of compensation packages that will appeal to different types of workers.&nbsp; Let&rsquo;s keep government regulators out of this and let the competitive process do its work. &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 20 Nov 2015 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumUnsafe Spaces – On Campus and in Paris<p> The latest terrorist attacks in Paris by radical Islamists remind us that we live in deadly serious times.&nbsp; There are people in this world on a mission to destroy our way of life.&nbsp; Paris may be a particular flash point--with its large, unassimilated Islamic population, including many known radicals&mdash;but really these attacks could have happened anywhere in the Western world.&nbsp; There are reports that these terrorists spoke about France&rsquo;s involvement in Syria, but it would be foolish to accept that this is really the impetus for their attack. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> One&rsquo;s immediate thoughts are for the families of those lost in this horrific attack. And it&rsquo;s important that people around the world express their sympathies for those currently suffering.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet these regular gestures of solidarity&mdash;the Facebook French flag profile pictures, the twitter hashtags, the candles&mdash;seem increasingly and frustratingly hollow. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s understandable and praiseworthy on one level: People feel helpless and want to do something.&nbsp; These gestures do show that there are millions who are appalled by these events, which is important for our enemies to know. But sometimes it seems as though, too many people, including our political leaders, feel like these gestures are a sufficient response.&nbsp; They aren&rsquo;t.</p> <p> Good people can disagree about what <em>is</em> the appropriate response. But I&rsquo;d hope that, at least, we&rsquo;d start by strengthening our resolve that such conversations are necessary and cannot be curtailed in the name of political correctness.&nbsp; Which, sadly, brings to mind the recent events on too many college campuses with student protests and demands for the creation of &ldquo;safe spaces&rdquo; where upsetting conversations cannot take place.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a tragedy, really, that today&rsquo;s students are being encouraged to see uncomfortable conversations as &ldquo;micro-aggressions&rdquo; that they ought to be protected from.&nbsp;</p> <p> This needs to stop.&nbsp; Of course we ought to urge people not to call each other names and to respect people as individuals and avoid sweeping judgments about groups.&nbsp; Yet people, particularly young students who are supposed to being educated to lead the next generation, need to toughen up and be taught to understand that there are no &ldquo;safe spaces&rdquo; in the real world.&nbsp; Not restaurants, not soccer stadiums, not cafes, concert halls nor schools, &nbsp;&nbsp;People are going to make you uncomfortable, even say rude things to you&mdash;and potentially far, far worse.&nbsp; Young students need to be prepared for this, learn how to cope and move on, and even fight back. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> You can see how the desire not to make anyone uncomfortable affects our current discussions about what happened in Paris.&nbsp; We hear in the news about the world standing up against intolerance and our sage leaders lamenting the loss of life.&nbsp; But most seem awfully reluctant to dig into what really happened and admit the nature of those who committed these atrocities.&nbsp;</p> <p> And some facts should be unmistakably clear:&nbsp; These terrorists didn&rsquo;t act because of a disagreement about foreign policy or because of some unfortunate misunderstanding.&nbsp; There are people in this world who believe their purpose in life is to kill those who disagree with them.&nbsp; They believe that&rsquo;s what their god wants from them, even requires from them for them to receive rewards in the afterlife. We can all acknowledge that this is a minority of those who share their faith, but we ought to acknowledge this for what it is when we discuss our options for our response.</p> <p> Can such conversations even happen in our colleges today? &nbsp;&nbsp;I&rsquo;m afraid too often the answer is no.&nbsp; And that&rsquo;s a tragedy, and a tragedy that will leave us less prepared to beat back against those who seek to destroy us.&nbsp; Enough with the feel good hashtags.&nbsp; We need honest conversations about this threat if we ever want to stop it.&nbsp;</p> L. LukasSat, 14 Nov 2015 12:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMassachusetts needs to pass Right to Try legislation now<p> Few stories pack as emotional a punch as ones that involve someone diagnosed with a terminal illness beating the odds, being the first cured &mdash; the one who lives and brings hope to others facing the same death sentence.</p> <p> A newly released book, &ldquo;The Right to Try,&rdquo; shows that such stories aren&rsquo;t a rarity: Medical breakthroughs happen routinely, and these life-saving treatments are resurrecting people who would otherwise be left for dead. Before opening its pages, be sure to grab your tissue box: The heart wrenching stories of devastation and joy promise to be tear-jerkers for even the most stoic of readers.</p> <p> Yet this book isn&rsquo;t meant to just give you a good cry. Rather, its purpose is to highlight the tragedy that such success stories aren&rsquo;t more commonplace, and raise awareness about how government policy too often prevents terminal patients from accessing drugs that could save their lives.</p> <p> Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute, wrote this book in order to push for policymakers to reform how the Federal Drug Administration grants access to experimental drugs so that more patients are able to try treatments that are still in the testing stages. In fact, all proceeds from book sales go to help this cause.</p> <p> One might presume that the sole focus of this reform effort would be on Washington, which oversees the Federal Drug Administration and sets the national rules for the drug approval process. The cynical reader might therefore assume that &mdash; given the dysfunctional state of affairs in Washington &mdash; the effort may as well receive its own terminal diagnosis.</p> <p> Yet Olsen &mdash; whose Arizona-based think tank&nbsp;is a national leader in changing state-level policy &mdash; explains that Americans don&rsquo;t have to wait for the federal government: States are supposed to be able to set their own rules for such matters and many are succeeding in doing just that. She writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> If states have the authority to give their citizens access to marijuana and drugs to end their lives, certainly they have the authority to allow cancer patients access to investigational medicines to save their lives. If you have the Right to Die, you have the Right to Try. And you don&rsquo;t have to wait for Washington to secure it.</p> </blockquote> <p> Goldwater has developed model legislation for states designed to give patients with terminal diagnoses who have exhausted conventional treatments access to investigational treatments that have been identified by their doctors as worth trying and that have passes the FDA&rsquo;s basic safety testing and are continuing through the approval process.</p> <p> So far, 24&nbsp;states have passed such legislation. And, perhaps surprisingly in an era renown for hyper-partisanship and bitter politics, the Right to Try movement has garnered support from across the political spectrum.</p> <p> Legislation is being introduced in State Houses by both Republicans and Democrats, signed by both Republic and Democrat Governors, and often with near consensus support. And really, the reason why should be obvious: Who doesn&rsquo;t know someone battling a disease today and want them to have access to every tool possible to fight against death?&nbsp; Republicans and Democrats are equally affected by illness and all want a system that gives people greater ability to fight to save themselves and their families.</p> <p> Massachusetts has yet to pass the Right to Try legislation introduced by state Rep. Nicholas A. Boldyga (R-Southwick).</p> <p> But Bay Staters ought to ask their representatives, what&rsquo;s the hold up? This isn&rsquo;t a debate about another spending bill or any old tweak to the tax or regulatory code. This is about giving dying patients some hope that they might be able to access to treatments that could save their lives. It&rsquo;s about sending a message to Washington that the country wants FDA reform, now. There is no excuse for the legislature to fritter away a year between the introduction of this bill and a vote.</p> <p> Olsen&rsquo;s &ldquo;The Right to Try&rdquo; provides dozens of examples of those who have been saved by access to breakthrough treatments, and sadly points to even more patients who have been failed by our broken FDA system. Americans shouldn&rsquo;t accept this FDA system as just another example of inefficient government. The stakes are too high. Buy the book to learn more, and then join the fight to give people the right to try.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> L. LukasTue, 10 Nov 2015 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow Republican reformers failed, giving rise to Donald Trump and Ben Carson<p> They were supposed to be the president whisperers.</p> <p> Casually known as &quot;reformocons,&quot; these conservative thinkers banded together after the 2012 election with a clear-cut goal in mind: to recast Republican orthodoxy so that it appealed to a broader base and thus allowed a conservative to return to the White House.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">It hasn&#39;t gone well,&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">as George Packer writes</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> in the Nov. 9 issue of The New Yorker. The reformocons, which includes former George W. Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner, National Affairs editor Yuval Levin and Independent Women&#39;s Forum director Carrie Lukas, put forward a manifesto called&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class.&quot;</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> Louis Woodhill,&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">writing for Forbes</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> magazine in 2014, responded that &quot;&#39;Room to Grow&#39; is largely irrelevant to solving America&#39;s most important problems. To win elections, you must have a mental model of how the electorate makes decisions.&quot;&nbsp;He argues that the reform group advocates for middle-class Americans when it should be advocating for economic growth. Talking about the middle class, Woodhill suggests, is weak-kneed Republicans&#39; code for government handouts, or redistribution.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> Woodhill wasn&#39;t alone on the right in criticizing &quot;Room to Grow,&quot; so the reformocons&#39; dreams of playing kingmaker quickly faded away. One result: instead of 2016 presidential candidates who advocate thoughtful free-enterprise prescriptions to aid the middle-class and struggling Americans, the party has ended up with frontrunners who offer impractical, divisive proposals (Donald Trump&#39;s wall on the Mexican border) or regularly make bizarre statements that can only appeal to a very narrow constituency (Ben Carson, for starters, has called the Big Bang theory&nbsp;<a href="">&quot;ridiculous,&quot;</a> and he wasn&#39;t talking about the sitcom).</p> <p> &quot;The reformocon project shows how extreme mainstream conservatism has become in its opposition to anything involving the state,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="">Packer writes</a> in The New Yorker. &quot;The reformocons court right-wing censure simply by acknowledging that the middle class is under pressure, and that government has a role to play beyond cutting taxes.&quot;</p> <p> How has it come to this? That&#39;s a question old-school Republicans must ask themselves as primary season looms.</p> <p> Forty-five years ago, William F. Buckley Jr. edited a collection of essays by conservatives called,&nbsp;<a href="">&quot;Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?&quot;</a> At the time, conservatism in the U.S. was very much a minority taste, considered to be nothing more than a sideshow on the national political scene. Buckley, the founder of the groundbreaking conservative journal National Review, wrote in the book&#39;s introduction that &quot;conservatives, under the stress of our times, have had to invite all kinds of people into their ranks to help with the job at hand, and the natural courtesy of the conservative causes him to treat such people not as janissaries, but as equals...&quot;</p> <p> This approach served conservatives well. It brought a charismatic actor and former New Deal Democrat named Ronald Reagan into the fold. It appealed to both Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, who advocated a negative income tax that would benefit low-income earners, and pro-football star Jack Kemp, who as a congressman from working-class Buffalo pushed for various policy ideas to raise the fortunes of both the entrenched poor and the middle class.</p> <p> But that was then. Republicans now hold both houses of Congress, something conservatives in 1970 only got to fantasize about. But that success came at a high cost. The party&#39;s extremists now hold the keys to the car, and none of them knows how to drive. As a result, the presidency, immune to the warped, gerrymandered democracy that benefits Republican congressional candidates, is increasingly out of the GOP&#39;s reach.</p> <p> Part of this strange state of affairs can be laid at the feet of those inclusive Republicans of the 1960s and &#39;70s. They thought they could reason with the folks on the fringe. Here&#39;s Buckley again from &quot;Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?&quot;:</p> <p> &quot;There exists a small breed of men whose passionate distrust of the state has developed into a theology of sorts, or at least into a demonology, to which they adhere as devotedly as any religious fanatic ever attempted to adhere to the will of the Lord. I do not feel contempt for the endeavor of either type. It is intellectually stimulating to discuss alternatives to municipalized streets, even as it is to speculate on whether God&#39;s wishes would better be served if we ordered fried or scrambled eggs for breakfast on this particular morning.&quot;</p> <p> Buckley, who died in 2008, lived long enough to see the error of his bemused thinking on this score. Like the androids in &quot;Blade Runner,&quot; anti-state fanatics could not be controlled and soon turned on their creators and enablers. And they brought with them some particularly noxious friends. Writes Packer:</p> <p> &quot;Republicans today have given the country conservatism in the spirit of Sarah Palin, whose ignorance about the world, contempt for expertise, and raw appeals to white identity politics presaged Trump&#39;s incendiary campaign.&quot;</p> <p> Even the so-called mainstream Republicans in the presidential campaign have been forced into la-la land in order to compete for these extremist primary votes. Marco Rubio&#39;s tax plan does not even come close to adding up.&nbsp;<a href="">Headlined New York magazine</a> this week: &quot;The math on Rubionomis is way, way crazier than you think.&quot; The Florida senator&#39;s plan reportedly would reduce federal revenue by $11.8 trillion over the next decade. Rubio nevertheless calls for higher defense spending.</p> <p> Gov. John Kasich, meanwhile, talks about how he tamed Ohio&#39;s budget, failing to mention that he did so by &quot;dramatically&quot; reducing state outlays to local governments, causing already stressed cities like Canton to sink into Detroit-like failure. &quot;Kasich&#39;s claims to good economic performance?&quot; Policy Matters Ohio&#39;s <a href="">Zach Schiller told Packer</a>. &quot;I don&#39;t know if I want to say &#39;deceptive,&#39; but they&#39;re certainly misleading.&quot;</p> <p> The Republican Party has given the country some of its most enduring and successful policies over recent decades. &quot;I think it&#39;s fair to say that the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there,&quot; President Barack Obama himself <a href="">has acknowledged</a>. But now the party finds itself in an ideological cul-de-sac, with its leaders relentlessly banging on about proposals that are relentlessly fantastical. Was it serendipity that a cartoon accompanying Packer&#39;s story in The New Yorker shows a billboard on a city street that reads, &quot;This Message Has No Content&quot;?</p> L. LukasTue, 10 Nov 2015 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMothering While Educated. Yes, Ladies. It IS A Valid Option.<p> I ran across a couple articles today &ndash; actually, I ran across one that linked to the other. <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The first one is this piece called </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Too Smart to Be A Mom?&rdquo; by Carrie Lukas</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> over at Acculturated. That piece was written in response to this column in the New York Times called </span></span><a href=";version=Blog%20Main&amp;contentCollection=U.S.&amp;action=Click&amp;pgtype=Blogs&amp;region=Body"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;I Wanted to Stay Home With My Son. So Why Would I Lie About It?&rdquo; by Jessica Levy</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">. Levy&rsquo;s article details her experience of taking a two year leave-of-absence from her successful career to raise her infant son. </span></span></strong></span>And while that is something she chose to do and is happy about, she&rsquo;s also aware of how that could negatively affect the progress she&rsquo;s made in her career. Particularly when she sees former classmates achieve accolades, like making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. And she feels like maybe she really is missing out on these grand and wonderful achievements -after all, anybody could change diapers or mix baby formula and make sure her son is safe and take care of. Surely there&rsquo;s a quality daycare somewhere that would take Levy&rsquo;s baby while for the day while she climbs the ladder of success. Right?</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Lukas responds to Levy&rsquo;s worries quite beautifully &ndash;</span></strong></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Levy knew which path the smart woman, the one who is modern and values her independence, is supposed to take. The answer has been drummed into her head as a part of her formal education: She is supposed to be charging up the hill toward professional success and economic power, rather than pushing a stroller along the well-trodden trail of motherhood.</span></em></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The problem for Levy is she doesn&rsquo;t want to. She selfishly (in the best sense of the word) wants to spend time with her beloved son. Clich&eacute;d as it sounds, Levy&rsquo;s struggle is between her feminist head and her womanly heart.</span></em></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">I&rsquo;d bet that Levy&rsquo;s been schooled in the feminist literature that tells women that children do just as well raised in full-time daycare as at home, so her son won&rsquo;t be any better for her time spent with him. She&rsquo;s undoubtedly fully versed in the data that suggests that taking time out from a career can result in a permanent loss of income. From this perspective, her leave of absence from her job is nothing but an incredibly costly, self-indulgent vacation, which she will sorely regret.</span></em></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><em><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Yet this feminist lens misses much of the story. Levy could take a look at </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">literature</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> that suggests that her baby actually will benefit from her attentions and consider strategies for </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">earning more</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> after she returns to work, if that&rsquo;s her primary goal. But she&rsquo;d be better served by reconsidering the framework that she&rsquo;s been taught for evaluating the value of her time and pursuits.</span></span></em></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Levy craves the kind of feedback one gets from teachers and bosses: the report card filled with &lsquo;A&rsquo;s, the positive performance review. The sometimes-grueling monotony of mothering&mdash;the constant cycle of feeding, changing, soothing, which is anonymous and un-applauded&mdash;offers few such tangible accolades. She poignantly describes a precious first kiss from her son as a desperately needed sign of her success, her positive &ldquo;performance review.&rdquo; And indeed, such moments should be savored. But ideally, our culture ought to encourage people to enjoy those moments not because they are accomplishments or serve a larger purpose, but simply because holding your loving baby, actually living that moment, is satisfying in itself.</span></em></strong></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p> Reading through both articles kind of hit me in a way that most political pieces really don&rsquo;t. Because I&rsquo;m definitely in that same age group as Levy is &ndash; the young, highly educated Millennial woman who&rsquo;s been told that she could do whatever she wanted (and sure being a mom is on the list of options &ndash; but it&rsquo;s so much more exciting to be a CEO or a professor or a business owner or a politician or a celebrity! Being a mom is hard and kids are so gross! And you&rsquo;re just wasting that college degree you worked so hard for!)&nbsp;But I also look at women like my mother and both my grandmothers who stayed home to raise their kids &ndash; and part of me wants to have the same impact on my own children as they did with theirs. Sure, my mom was also a key component of running our family&rsquo;s ranching business, so she was able to be the mom <em>and</em> the business owner in tandem with my dad and that&rsquo;s a unique opportunity that many women don&rsquo;t have. Mom even has a college degree and she was able to put it to good use. The fact that Mom is a college graduate inspired me to work toward going to college and to do my best while there. But still &ndash; Mom was always Mom first. The business stuff came second.</p> <p> I just think it&rsquo;s sad that young women are told that they have a choice &ndash; but the social expectation is that they choose career over family. Certainly, they could do both, but if there is a conflict (and more often than not, that&rsquo;s a reality that most families have to deal with) &ndash; society expects them to choose the career. Because what good is women&rsquo;s rights if you don&rsquo;t turn your back on the tools of the oppressive patriarchy? Right?</p> <p> Feminists keep going on and on about &ldquo;gender equality&rdquo; and that if you believe women should have a choice, <a href="">then you should identify as &ldquo;feminist.&rdquo;</a> But until feminism fully embraces and celebrates motherhood as an career choice equal to that of a CEO (not just in terms of monetary value &ndash; because there is SO MUCH MORE to having a fulfilling career than piles and piles of money), I really don&rsquo;t want to hear about it. I&rsquo;ve had enough of feminism saying that motherhood is a degrading enterprise for women &ndash; particularly women who&rsquo;ve gone to college. Personally, I think kids can benefit from a highly educated mother. It&rsquo;s not about the money or accolades you get from your knowledge. And I think kids internalize things they learn from their parents more than they do things they learn from teachers and professors &ndash; no matter how good or well-meaning those teachers are.</p> <p> I could go on about this (like I said &ndash; this struck a nerve with me today) &ndash; but what do you all think? What are your experiences in this regard?</p> L. LukasWed, 4 Nov 2015 12:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumToo Smart To Be A Mom?<p> A 27-year-old, Ivy-League graduate&rsquo;s <a href=";version=Blog%20Main&amp;contentCollection=U.S.&amp;action=Click&amp;pgtype=Blogs&amp;region=Body"><em>New York Times</em> missive</a> about coming to terms with her decision to stay home after the birth of her son starts with a question: &ldquo;I Wanted to Stay Home with My Son. So Why Would I Lie About It?&rdquo;</p> <p> The author, Jessica Levy, doesn&rsquo;t explicitly answer that question, but I will: She&rsquo;s been surrounded by a culture that glamourizes professional success and belittles the value of mothering. She&rsquo;s also been encouraged to see herself as too talented to waste her time on such mundane matters as diaper changing and child rearing. As a typical member of the Selfie Generation, she cares deeply about how other people perceive her. She doesn&rsquo;t want to disappoint her peers or her own vision of herself, so feels ambivalent&mdash;even a little ashamed&mdash;about her status as a stay-at-home mom.</p> <p> Levy explains she&rsquo;s already had a White House internship and immediately began work at the State Department after graduating from college. Now she&rsquo;s taking at least a two year leave from her position as a Foreign Service Officer to raise her son, but watches with envy as her peers (three from her graduating class!) are listed in &ldquo;Forbes 30 under 30&rdquo; and quickly climb the career ladder.</p> <p> Levy&rsquo;s anxieties are understandable. Anyone blessed with multiple appealing options can&rsquo;t help but ponder the possibilities of the path not taken. Yet her ruminations are more than just the result of a difficult choice. Rather, she speaks to the way that feminism shapes the psyche of many women&mdash;particularly highly-educated women&mdash;today.</p> <p> Levy knew which path the smart woman, the one who is modern and values her independence, is supposed to take. The answer has been drummed into her head as a part of her formal education: She is supposed to be charging up the hill toward professional success and economic power, rather than pushing a stroller along the well-trodden trail of motherhood.</p> <p> The problem for Levy is she doesn&rsquo;t want to. She selfishly (in the best sense of the word) wants to spend time with her beloved son. Clich&eacute;d as it sounds, Levy&rsquo;s struggle is between her feminist head and her womanly heart.</p> <p> I&rsquo;d bet that Levy&rsquo;s been schooled in the feminist literature that tells women that children do just as well raised in full-time daycare as at home, so her son won&rsquo;t be any better for her time spent with him. She&rsquo;s undoubtedly fully versed in the data that suggests that taking time out from a career can result in a permanent loss of income. From this perspective, her leave of absence from her job is nothing but an incredibly costly, self-indulgent vacation, which she will sorely regret.</p> <p> Yet this feminist lens misses much of the story. Levy could take a look at <a href="">literature</a> that suggests that her baby actually will benefit from her attentions and consider strategies for <a href="">earning more</a> after she returns to work, if that&rsquo;s her primary goal. But she&rsquo;d be better served by reconsidering the framework that she&rsquo;s been taught for evaluating the value of her time and pursuits.</p> <p> Levy craves the kind of feedback one gets from teachers and bosses: the report card filled with &lsquo;A&rsquo;s, the positive performance review. The sometimes-grueling monotony of mothering&mdash;the constant cycle of feeding, changing, soothing, which is anonymous and un-applauded&mdash;offers few such tangible accolades. She poignantly describes a precious first kiss from her son as a desperately needed sign of her success, her positive &ldquo;performance review.&rdquo; And indeed, such moments should be savored. But ideally, our culture ought to encourage people to enjoy those moments not because they are accomplishments or serve a larger purpose, but simply because holding your loving baby, actually living that moment, is satisfying in itself.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s ironic that feminism pushes women in the other direction. One might assume that feminists would reject society&rsquo;s obsession with money and power as the end-all, be-all of life. Feminists could celebrate women&rsquo;s instinct to want to care for others&mdash;to prioritize loving another over other endeavors&mdash;as a tremendous strength and virtue. Yet instead, the feminism Levy absorbed makes her feel ashamed of those instincts and fixated on attaining power that will be publicly recognized and celebrated.</p> <p> This brand of feminism does a disservice to Levy and her peers. The good news is that Levy will likely soon begin to recognize this on her own. Part of Levy&rsquo;s current conundrum is the result of her age. At 26, she&rsquo;s just a few years beyond the women&rsquo;s studies seminars that pushed this feminist message. In another decade, she&rsquo;ll recognize that two years goes by very quickly. She&rsquo;ll be accustomed to seeing friends with spectacular careers, and know that they too have their ups and downs and insecurities, and ponder the possibilities of the path not taken.</p> <p> And Levy can still have the career of her dreams, even with a small delay. But if she does find that her career is permanently limited because of the time off she&rsquo;s taken, I hope she can embrace her decision not as a mistake, but as a legitimate reflection of her preferences.&nbsp; This is what being an adult is all about: making choices and setting priorities. Levy decided at age 26 to prioritize spending time with her first-born son while he was a baby. How can that possibly be something to be ashamed of?</p> L. LukasWed, 4 Nov 2015 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumConservatives' Plan to Grow the Economy, Middle Class<p> Poll after poll reveals that the economy remains the number-one issue on voters&#39; minds. A recent Gallup poll found that <a href="">86 percent of Americans</a> say the economy will be extremely or very important in determining for whom they will vote for president. According to Gallup, it was the top issue by &quot;a significantly higher percentage than for any other issue.&quot; Clearly, there is no more important issue that candidates in either political party can address than the economy.</p> <p> CNBC has indicated moderators at tonight&#39;s Republican debate will ask questions about &quot;the key issues that matter to all voters -- job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.&quot; The good news is that Republican candidates have developed and released a multitude of serious policy proposals that address the anxieties of America&#39;s working families and promote greater opportunities for all Americans. Tonight, they should be prepared to discuss their serious solutions.</p> <p> Here are a few of the many questions we hope tonight&#39;s moderators, Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood, will ask:</p> <p> <strong>How do we develop an environment where startups and entrepreneurship can thrive?</strong></p> <p> In the Conservative Reform Network&#39;s <a href="">&quot;Room To Grow&quot;</a> series, Jim Pethokoukis observes that business shutdowns outpace startups. &quot;Less entrepreneurship,&quot; Pethokoukis writes, &quot;means a less dynamic economy -- less growth, fewer jobs, and fewer breakthrough technologies.&quot; Pethokoukis contributes the unfriendly environment for startups and entrepreneurship, in part, to taxes and regulations. To promote entrepreneurship and startups, Pethokoukis advocates tax and regulatory reform to provide greater simplicity and certainty.</p> <p> Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has offered a regulatory reform plan that addresses many of the issues Pethokoukis discusses in the &quot;Room To Grow&quot; series. Bush <a href="">believes we must</a> &quot;cut excessive federal red tape and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit in our nation.&quot; His proposal would require regulators to identify offsets for every dollar regulations cost and would enhance presidential and congressional control over regulations.</p> <p> <strong>What are your ideas for improving America&#39;s higher education system?</strong></p> <p> One of the keys to greater economic growth is to ensure that the U.S. has a well-educated and highly skilled workforce. In CRN&#39;s &quot;Room To Grow&quot;, higher education scholar Andrew P. Kelly identifies issues that hold back America&#39;s post-secondary education system. For example, out-of-control tuition prices, fueled by easy money from the federal government, contribute to alumni leaving college with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. Kelly proposes reforming loan repayment programs, allowing for innovation and options in higher education financing, and expanding other paths to the middle class, including career and technical education.</p> <p> New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has unveiled a 15-point education reform agenda that includes some of Kelly&#39;s ideas in &quot;Room To Grow&quot;. For example, Christie proposes new, innovative methods for financing higher education, greater transparency in how colleges spend their money, and expanding apprenticeships and training programs.</p> <p> <strong>How can we responsibly provide paid family leave without costing jobs?</strong></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Carrie Lukas, a </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;Room To Grow&quot;</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> contributor and managing director of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum, reminds us that all parents face unique challenges and have unique solutions to address them. &quot;Policymakers therefore ought to be cautious,&quot; Lukas writes, &quot;in pushing one-size-fits-all government mandates or creating programs and policies that favor one set of choices over another.&quot;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> In late September, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) released a proposal to expand access to paid family leave. &quot;Our policies should help workers, not cost them their jobs,&quot; <a href="">Rubio says</a>. Unlike liberals&#39; plans for a top-down, Washington mandate, Rubio&#39;s plan would help workers by giving businesses a 25 percent tax credit for offering employees at least four weeks of paid family leave, limited to twelve weeks of leave each year.</p> <p> These are but three of the many questions moderators could ask of Republican candidates tonight. If Quintanilla, Quick, and Harwood want more, we hope they will consult CRN&#39;s &quot;Room To Grow&quot; projects, which offer conservative, practical solutions to the challenges facing America&#39;s middle class.</p> <p> This election should be about solving the problems our nation faces, particularly those that have been neglected for the last seven years. Our next president must have a substantive agenda and be prepared to begin implementing it on the day he or she is elected. Tonight&#39;s CNBC debate offers Republicans the opportunity for a robust discussion about his or her serious agenda to expand and strengthen America&#39;s middle class and to provide greater opportunities to all Americans.</p> L. LukasWed, 28 Oct 2015 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Uncivil War Among Women<p> The PC culture, writing the politically correct rules on everything everywhere, from the bedroom to the boardroom, seems about to implode. When that happy day arrives, with all the nonsense going up in steam if not smoke, credit should not go to Donald Trump, the angry warrior against all things PC.</p> <p> When you want the job done right, you have to call a woman. The feminists are locked in a ding-dong war.</p> <p> Glamour magazine, a journal not so much about feminine glamour as how young women can deal with their insecurities in the millennial age, set up the implosion &mdash; perhaps explosion is more accurate &mdash; with the announcement that it would name Caitlyn Jenner the &ldquo;co-woman of the year&rdquo; with its November issue. The co-woman is actress Reese Witherspoon.</p> <p> The news sent feminine anger boiling. Some women, prominently the feisty Australian feminist icon Germaine Greer, at 76 moving beyond what the French call &ldquo;a certain age,&rdquo; scoff that the choice is a betrayal of real women. Some women, most of them younger women with no memory of the women&rsquo;s liberation movement &mdash; when the Texas country singer Kinky Friedman would sing of women to &ldquo;get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed, women&rsquo;s liberation is going to your head&rdquo; &mdash; demanded that Cardiff University in Wales cancel Ms. Greer&rsquo;s scheduled speech there on &ldquo;Women and Power &mdash; The Lessons of the 20th Century.&rdquo;</p> <p> This was what our parents, who were so 20th century, would have called &ldquo;the Catfight at the Not-so-OK Corral.&rdquo; Modern women wouldn&rsquo;t be caught dead at that corral, but what the diplomats call an exchange of views has turned hot, heavy and ugly, even &ldquo;vulgar,&rdquo; just when we thought the very concept of vulgarity had been abandoned, wounded and bleeding, in that benighted century.</p> <p> The controversy has quickly focused on Ms. Greer, whose book, &ldquo;The Female Eunuch,&rdquo; became a bible of spirited feminism in the 1970s, and she was celebrated as the liberated woman a lot of women thought it might be fun to be.</p> <p> She accuses Glamour magazine of &ldquo;misogyny,&rdquo; and observes that Caitlyn Jenner has not had transgender surgery, and besides, transgender men-to-women are &ldquo;not women and do not look like, sound like or behave like women.&rdquo; Misogyny plays a big choice in such an award, the notion &ldquo;that a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman.&rdquo;</p> <p> Other women rushed to share her point. The writer Nicole Russell says &ldquo;Glamour endorses the idea that men are better at being women than we are.&rdquo; New York magazine&rsquo;s cover of transgendered Martine Rothblatt as &ldquo;the highest-paid female CEO in the nation,&rdquo; she argues, seems to make the point that &ldquo;real women can&rsquo;t cut it, so we&rsquo;ve got to import men into our ranks to win awards.&rdquo;</p> <p> Germaine Greer was accused of &ldquo;hurtful comments,&rdquo; which she robustly dismisses as child-like and irrelevant. &ldquo;Try being an old woman,&rdquo; she replied. &ldquo;For goodness&rsquo; sake, people get hurt all the time. I&rsquo;m not about to walk on eggshells.&rdquo;</p> <p> Eggshells, in fact, are what the age insists that we all walk on, carefully and all the time. The year 2015 will be remembered as the year we trashed all things Southern and set out to eliminate all traces of important parts of our history, measured our words in fear and embraced the yearning to be what we aren&rsquo;t. The culture set out to die ignobly in the search for ways to be victims.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Anyone who uses the words bossy, silly, hysterical or shrill to describe any woman who might &ldquo;in fact be bossy, silly, hysterical or shrill, or mentions that women bear children, or fails to mention that women bear children,&rdquo; writes Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, invites the wrath and terror of the feminist police.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Someone from another planet, arriving on a spaceship from Venus with a stop on Mars, to investigate the strange noises on Earth, would be astonished to learn that so much of that noise is made by so few. A review by the Williams Institute, cited in a Gallup Poll in 2012, found that only 3.4 percent of all American adults identify themselves as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, and only 0.3 percent say they are transgendered.</p> <p> Campus feminists, like those who demand that Germaine Greer be banished from Cardiff U., are the leaders in stamping out diversity in American universities, forcing their betters to rescind speaking invitations to the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Christine Lagarde, Christina Hoff Sommers and Ayaan Hirsi Ali &mdash; powerful, accomplished women all.</p> <p> &ldquo;You fight your way from the trenches to the throne,&rdquo; says the feminist author Kaite Welsh, &ldquo;overthrow the regime and set about remaking the world in your own image, only to realize that you have become the only thing you most despise.&rdquo; Just so. A little learning can be the beginning of wisdom.</p> <p> &bull; <em>Suzanne Fields is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.</em></p> L. LukasWed, 28 Oct 2015 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThere’s a feminist civil war brewing over Caitlyn Jenner<p> Feminist Stalwart versus Transgender Icon: It may sound like a warped new comic strip, but really it&rsquo;s the first installment in what could be a series of very real conflicts between warring politically correct factions.</p> <p> Germaine Greer, the 76-year-old author of &ldquo;The Female Eunich,&rdquo; is making waves by lambasting the idea that Caitlyn Jenner may be honored by Glamour Magazine as &ldquo;Woman of the Year.&rdquo; Jenner isn&rsquo;t a woman, says Greer. He&rsquo;s just attention-starved and seeking to steal the limelight from the women in the Kardashian family.</p> <p> He hasn&rsquo;t actually had to endure what feminists depict as the true horrors of womanhood, such as being cursed with what Greer delicately characterizes as a &ldquo;big, hairy, smelly vagina.&rdquo;</p> <p> When told that such comments are hurtful to the transgender community, Greer doubled down. &ldquo;Try being an old woman. For goodness sake, people get hurt all the time, I&rsquo;m not about to walk on eggshells.&rdquo;</p> <p> Those who have long walked on eggshells trying not to offend Greer&rsquo;s feminist sisters should feel free to laugh.</p> <p> For decades, feminists have skillfully wielded their victimhood status as a weapon, drawing it and striking public figures who fail to follow their obscure, but strictly enforced, rules. Use the word &ldquo;bossy,&rdquo; &ldquo;silly,&rdquo; &ldquo;hysterical,&rdquo; &ldquo;shrill,&rdquo; mention that women bear children or fail to mention that women bear children and you might face the wrath of the PC feminist police.</p> <p> Now their tactics are being turned on one of their own. Campus feminists seek to stomp out diversity; they&rsquo;ve been leaders in harassing universities into rescinding speaking invitations given to those who don&rsquo;t sufficiently toe the liberal line.</p> <p> Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the International Monetary Fund&rsquo;s Christine Lagarde, activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the American Enterprise Institute&rsquo;s Christina Hoff Summers are just a few who have been successfully disinvited from university gigs because they failed the campus&rsquo; political-correctness test.</p> <p> Now Greer&rsquo;s the target for these liberal censors, as Cardiff University is being petitioned to ax her upcoming lecture there, &ldquo;Women &amp; Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century.&rdquo;</p> <p> And feminists support the censorship. As Kaite Welsh wrote: &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t it often the way? You fight your way from the trenches to the throne, overthrow the corrupt regime and set about remaking the world in your own image, only to realize that you have become the thing you most despised.&rdquo;</p> <p> Greer&rsquo;s gone from &ldquo;revolutionary to oppressor,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p> Unsurprisingly, Greer sees sexism at the root of the celebration of Caitlyn Jenner: &ldquo;I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this, that a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman.&rdquo;</p> <p> Greer is missing bigger drivers of the Caitlyn phenomenon. Our insatiable media must find new ground to break in tantalizing the public and normalizing what was once considered aberrant behavior. Cultivating a live-and-let-live attitude isn&rsquo;t enough; alternative lifestyles must be celebrated as not only equal but superior to the boring, oppressive traditions that have dominated until now.</p> <p> Yet Greer also uncovers an aspect of the transgendered phenomenon that feminists really ought to find disconcerting. It&rsquo;s more than just a rival victim group, but one that threatens to expose feminists&rsquo; contradictions when it comes to sex differences.</p> <p> Feminists typically deny that meaningful gender differences exist between men and women, while allowing that there are some areas in which women are superior to men. Women are better at consensus building, listening, languages .&thinsp;.&thinsp;. but don&rsquo;t anyone dare imply that men may have an innate edge in any hard science. Ask former Harvard University President Larry Summers how that one turns out.</p> <p> Surely Greer doesn&rsquo;t actually care whom Glamour magazine honors as woman of the year. (Aren&rsquo;t old-school feminists supposed to object to such beauty-obsessed rags anyway?)</p> <p> Yet what happens when transgender women start competing against plain old women in other areas of life? Say, in tennis matches and swim meets?</p> <p> Or how about for slots on corporate boards and in top universities looking to meet targets for gender balance? Feminists may find their cause stalled and themselves forced to acknowledge that biology plays a bigger role than they care to admit.</p> <p> The Germaine Greer and Caitlyn Jenner brouhaha is surely, taken on its own, a tempest in a teapot.</p> <p> But it&rsquo;s the culmination of a PC culture that may be beginning to implode.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and vice president for policy of Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice.</em></p> L. LukasTue, 27 Oct 2015 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPrivate Industry Needs to Do What It Can To Protect Consumers from Fraud<p> In the modern era, preventing crime has become more complicated.&nbsp; Someone who wants to steal something rarely resorts to putting on a mask and brandishing a weapon at a shopkeeper.&nbsp; Technology now offers much better ways for bad guys to protect their anonymity and steal on a much larger scale.</p> <p> The good news is that technology can also help us push back against these trends and make it more difficult for people to commit theft.&nbsp; This month, more stores began using credit cards with chips imbedded in them.&nbsp; These types of cards have been the standard in the EU, such as where I live, in Germany.&nbsp; In fact, I&rsquo;ve often run in to stores that aren&rsquo;t willing to accept what they see as our antiquated, unsecure magnetic cards.&nbsp;</p> <p> While it&rsquo;s progress that America is moving toward more secure chip credit cards, much of the opportunity to really crack down on in-store fraud is being missed, because users aren&rsquo;t required to also input a pin number when they use their card.&nbsp; It seems strange to avoid using passcodes for credit card transactions, since Americans are used to using pin codes in many other areas of life.&nbsp; We use passcodes when we withdraw money at an ATM or do banking online, and expect to have to remember passcodes even when the financial stakes are low, such as for Facebook, other social media platforms, for group document sharing, and specialty websites and educational content providers.&nbsp;</p> <p> Why do so many outlets require pass codes?&nbsp; Because it&rsquo;s a very effective way to prevent people from accessing an account or service using a false identify.&nbsp; And, unsurprisingly, it works well for reducing credit card fraud.&nbsp; In fact, countries that have adopted a pin code as well as the chip technology have witnessed a <a href="">big decline</a> in rates of credit card fraud&nbsp; (such as in the UK, which saw a 70 percent reduction in credit card fraud).</p> <p> Government alone can&rsquo;t combat credit card fraud.&nbsp; That means that private industry has to do what it can to embrace best practices and new technologies to fight back. &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasTue, 20 Oct 2015 04:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThis Is Legal?<p> In a fair justice system, it shouldn&rsquo;t matter in which court a case is tried.&nbsp; If the laws are the same, then they ought to be applied uniformly and the outcomes shouldn&rsquo;t be radically different in any one court.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s why Americans should recognize something is fishy when there is an outlier court hearing a disproportionate number of a certain kind of case and earning a reputation for issuing a certain ruling.&nbsp;</p> <p> As explained <a href="">in Townhall</a>, that&rsquo;s exactly what we see when it comes to patent disputes and a Texas court system:</p> <blockquote> <p> Currently, patent trolls are able to file lawsuits anywhere that the company does business -&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">meaning</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;in any state in which its products or services are available&rdquo; - regardless of where they are headquartered or conduct the majority of their business.&nbsp;</p> <p> The problem with this is that some districts have been known to favor patent owners in these cases, like in the Eastern District of Texas court where almost half of all U.S. patent lawsuits were filed in the first half of this year.</p> </blockquote> <p> Why would this Texas court system be such a favorite for patent cases?&nbsp; As I&rsquo;ve <a href="">written before</a>, it&rsquo;s because the judicial system there is heavily tilted in the favor of the plaintiffs and locals have created a profitable industry from attracting and litigating these case.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t justice.&nbsp; The patent system is routinely abused by bad actors who attempt to extort payments from companies.&nbsp; Too often, from a business&rsquo;s perspective, even if the case against them is weak, it is often less costly just to pay up rather than try to prove their innocence.&nbsp; We need legal reform to stop the abuse of the patent system, and to prevent venue shopping, which allows problems like we&rsquo;ve seen in the Eastern District of Texas to develop.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p> As Chuck Muth explains in Townhall:</p> <blockquote> <p> As long as patent trolls can file patent lawsuits anywhere, they&rsquo;ll always aim to file them in courts with the weakest rules. That&rsquo;s why we need strong venue reform requiring a nexus to a particular district before being able to file a lawsuit there &ndash; such as the district where the defendant&rsquo;s principle place of businesses is located, or where the patent owner has a development or manufacturing facility.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p> This kind of obvious, sensible reform ought to be a no-brainer for Congress.&nbsp; This shouldn&rsquo;t be a partisan issue &ndash; Republicans and Democrats both ought to want to make our legal system more just and functional. &nbsp;&nbsp;Our current legal structure, which creates such opportunities for exploitation, drains resources from legitimate businesses, discouraging job creation and raising prices for consumers.&nbsp; There is no reason we should have to accept this sorry status quo.</p> L. LukasSun, 18 Oct 2015 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGOP must have an answer for Clinton<p> Conservatives now know what they are up against. Anyone hoping that scandals and eye-popping inconsistency about both policy and personal matters would take Hillary Clinton out of the game needs to think again. In the first Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton showed her prodigious ability to stay on message, turn questions to her advantage and brazen through any uncomfortable questions about her truthfulness and record.</p> <p> Just as important, conservatives also got a refresher on what issues will take center stage over the next year, and how Democrats plan to appeal to voters. Republicans will need to do much more than talk about economic growth and taxes; they need to be able to explain how their policies would improve the lives of middle-class voters, create real opportunity for work and advancement, and ease women&#39;s burdens in particular.</p> <p> Conservatives will have to be prepared to tackle issues like family leave policy and equal pay, which Secretary Clinton raised in her opening remarks: &quot;I want to do more to help us balance family and work. I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it&#39;s about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world.&quot;</p> <p> Clinton and the other Democrats know these workplace issues have tremendous political appeal. Vague promises of benefits can be cast as &quot;commonsense&quot; solutions and play on Americans&#39; laudable instincts to help new mothers and working parents struggling to care for sick family members.</p> <p> It&#39;s no wonder Republicans are reluctant to engage in this debate. Democrats are in the position of Santa Claus, offering new benefits to people everyone wants to help while ignoring how those benefits materialize and at what cost. Who wants to be on the other side of that?</p> <p> Yet Republicans need to get engaged in these debates, show that they understand the challenges people face, explain how Democrats&#39; solutions create new problems and rob vulnerable Americans of opportunities, and offer a positive vision of an alternative system that really will help people in need.</p> <p> The good news is the facts are on conservatives&#39; side, and they can draw on Americans&#39; recent experience with government&#39;s broken promises. After all, Obamacare was sold as necessary to help vulnerable Americans, while holding the rest of the country harmless or improving their situation by lowering costs and enhancing benefits.</p> <p> But as Americans know too well, Obamacare has failed on those measures. We&#39;ve seen employers cut back because of the higher employment costs created by new mandates. Millions of Americans have lost their preferred insurance, while premiums and out-of-pocket costs climb even faster. While some have gained insurance coverage, sadly for many insurance is in name only: narrow doctor networks make it a battle to obtain quality health care services.</p> <p> A sweeping one-size-fits-all paid leave system would create similar problems, by upending the employment contracts of all 146 million working Americans. Businesses that don&#39;t currently provide paid leave would face higher employment costs and new workplace disruptions.</p> <p> That&#39;s another reason to consolidate the workforce, and &mdash; no surprise &mdash; women and those with lower incomes would be the most vulnerable.</p> <p> Clinton dismisses worries about costs: &quot;I know we can afford it, because we&#39;re going to make the wealthy pay for it.&quot; Yet regardless of any funding scheme, it&#39;s not the wealthy who will be hurt by the policy&#39;s unintended consequences. If that&#39;s explained, Americans will understand it isn&#39;t compassionate to create new benefits that mean lost jobs and fewer opportunities for those who need it most.</p> <p> Recognizing the problems with government paid-leave programs doesn&#39;t mean nothing can be done to help those who face real hardship. Conservatives should seek innovative solutions to target financial assistance to help them, without disrupting the job market. And, of course, the best way to ensure people have the benefits they need is for jobs to be plentiful, and that requires an entirely different approach to job creation than we&#39;ve seen.</p> <p> Research shows that when conservatives engage on this issue, Americans are far less likely to support the left&#39;s call for another big government expansion. Republicans have a good case to make to the public on these important issues; now they just have to get into the game.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum. She wrote this for</em></p> L. LukasFri, 16 Oct 2015 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCalifornia's "Fair Pay" Act isn't fair for women or men • Bill LuMaye Pt 2 L. LukasTue, 13 Oct 2015 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWho Stands in the Way of a Feminist Utopia? Women<p> Radical feminism may pack its biggest punch on college campuses, where gender-identity issues can be injected into any academic topic and impressionable students are encouraged to see the world through a skewed feminist lens, but its impact ripples through society, seeping into political debates and the popular culture.</p> <p> An article in the <a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;;utm_campaign=buffer"><em>New Republic</em></a> taken from an upcoming book, <em>The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future</em>, offers a window into the bizarre world of hardcore academic feminism. What we see is a little confusing, a lot contradictory, and completely disconnected from reality.</p> <p> Shelia Bapat, the essay&rsquo;s author, laments America&rsquo;s idealized conception of the family, and the traditions that burden women with thanklessly raising children and tending the home.&nbsp; Her solution is to pull the &ldquo;entire concept of family&rdquo; out of the &ldquo;private sphere&rdquo; and have&nbsp;an &ldquo;economic organization and policies (that) would respond to individual family members&rsquo; needs.&rdquo; What would this mean in practice? Bapat wants society to place more value on work performed at home, so envisions the government paying people to care for their dependents.</p> <p> Economics is just one stumbling block on the road to realizing this vision, and yet Bapat offers a purposefully opaque description of how this new Feminist Utopia would be financed. She explains it &ldquo;would not, necessarily, be . . . anticapitalist,&rdquo; but, recognizing the realities of man&rsquo;s greedy nature, would employ &ldquo;a robust and fearless public sector and an equally robust and fearless feminist legal code&rdquo; to subdue those evil impulses and force them to serve feminist ends. She offers no explanation for why this feminist attempt at a state-controlled economy would fare any better than the communist or fascist attempts that have come before it.</p> <p> Fanciful economics, however, isn&rsquo;t feminist utopia&rsquo;s biggest obstacle. It&rsquo;s women&mdash;actual individual women who have their own plans and dreams for their lives&mdash;who really doom feminist visions such as Bapat&rsquo;s.</p> <p> Bapat, who carefully mentions both &ldquo;men and women&rdquo; receiving payments for caring for their own dependents, nevertheless assumes that this system would encourage more men to participate in childrearing. In fact they have to, otherwise she&rsquo;d have to acknowledge that her system would dramatically undermine other central feminist goals, such as increasing women&rsquo;s power and prestige in the world of corporate and political affairs.&nbsp; Bapat&rsquo;s feminist sisters dream of women holding (at least) 50 percent of all corporate board positions and elected offices, and their policies&rsquo; aim is often to make it easier for women to succeed at work.</p> <p> In the countries where such government-sponsored policies have been implemented, however, they have often backfired when measured in these feminist terms. Western Europe, for example, is often held up as a model for their state-provided family-leave policies and childcare subsidies; many European countries even provide a version of Bapat&rsquo;s direct cash payments to parents for taking care of their own children. Yet a <a href=";_r=0">sober examination</a> of the results of these programs reveals that they have impeded women&rsquo;s economic advancement, making it more likely that women will earn less and hold fewer leadership positions in the business world.</p> <p> The insurmountable problem for those who dream of a feminist utopia is that most women simply don&rsquo;t seem to share the feminists&rsquo; obsession with economic power, and often prefer spending their time and talents at home, even when their work there offers no monetary reward.</p> <p> Take this just-released <a href=";g_medium=newsfeed&amp;g_campaign=tiles">Gallup survey</a>. It&rsquo;s no surprise that Gallup found that women with children under age 18 were far more likely than men with children under 18 to prefer to be at home rather than working for pay (56 percent of the mothers wanted to stay home, compared to 26 percent of the fathers). Certainly feminists will dismiss this as an outgrowth of our social system which guilts mothers into feeling obliged to care for children. Yet more tellingly, women <em>without </em>children were also much less interested in work than their male counterparts. Just 58 percent of women without children wanted to work outside the home, compared to 76 percent of men. Women simply don&rsquo;t seem to crave economic power in the same way men do.</p> <p> Academic feminists may try to explain this away too as a function of the patriarchy: Women know they are doomed to be drones in our male-dominated economic system which is why they retreat to home and hearth. But the rest of us ought to trust that women are actually expressing legitimate preferences and simply have priorities other than obtaining economic power. Those who truly value women and feminine impulses might appreciate&mdash;even celebrate&mdash;women&rsquo;s instincts to prioritize activities like childrearing that, while less remunerative, have their own form of compensation, such as with love.</p> <p> Feminists&rsquo; utopian fantasy is just that&mdash;a fantasy&mdash;and we shouldn&rsquo;t allow it to guide public policy or impact our culture. Women often dream of happy homes rather than more money and high-powered careers; that&rsquo;s a positive feature of our world, not a flaw that society needs to try to correct.</p> L. LukasMon, 12 Oct 2015 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCalifornia's "Fair Pay" Act isn't fair for women or men • Bill LuMaye Pt 1 L. LukasMon, 12 Oct 2015 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum