Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Britain--Want To Shake Up The Status Quo<p> The United Kingdom&rsquo;s historic vote to leave the European Union might not immediately seem to have much to do with American politics. Yet the impulse that lead a majority of British citizens to vote for such a massive change, one with uncertain economic implications but that guarantees turmoil, also underpins America&rsquo;s current political moment.</p> <p> Where I live in <a href="">Berlin</a>, the elites in government and the media are deeply disappointed by the Brexit vote, seeing it as a triumph of xenophobia and nationalism. But while frustration with the migrant crisis &ndash; and with Germany unilaterally deciding to change the face and future of the European Union by announcing Berlin had opened the doors to all comers &ndash; likely played a role in the success of Brexit, that was just a symptom of a more fundamental frustration.</p> <p> Voters in the UK feel that the current system is largely broken. Or worse, it&rsquo;s working as intended, but only a select few benefit from its rigged game. Moreover, when people in the UK and EU express concern about public policies, such as tax and budget issues or how immigration is impacting their communities, they are often dismissed as nothing but racist xenophobes.</p> <p> Events that conflict with the elites support for their preferred policies are downplayed and whitewashed. The United Kingdom ignored the horrific abuse of young women and girls in <a href="">Rotherham</a>; Europeans tiptoe around mass sexual assaults in places like <a href="">Cologne</a> and <a href="">Sweden</a>. It&rsquo;s impolite to link these events to the influx of migrants, and any politician who does so risks being labelled a right-wing extremist, the kiss of death in Europe, where the memories of Nazism are fresh.</p> <p> In the UK, this frustration with the system led a majority to vote to break away from the European Union in the hope of restoring some sense of control and connection to their government. British citizens were consistently warned that this move will make them poorer and more isolated. Yet a majority didn&rsquo;t care. They are so frustrated with the status quo that change is worth the risk.</p> <p> Americans wondering what in the world has happened to American politics should consider the similarities with what&rsquo;s happened in Europe. Americans of both parties are frustrated with a government that seems built to benefit the politically connected. Americans are told the economy has recovered, but most see that recovery enjoyed only by bankers and stock brokers, while Main Street still struggles to get by. Hillary Clinton epitomizes a limousine liberal that may talk about income inequality but clearly excels at benefitting from the rigged system, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments personally to her family from the biggest fat cats on Wall Street. Bernie Sanders recognized this and won the hearts of his party faithful, even if he couldn&rsquo;t overcome a primary system that was built to guarantee a Clinton victory.</p> <p> Republicans have seen a similar revolt, and party leaders and movement conservatives ought to consider how their base came to feel so disconnected from the party and the process that Donald Trump came to be seen as the best option. Trump&rsquo;s appeal may simply be that he promises to rock the boat, and vocally defend his positions without apology. Six years ago, during the 2010 elections, conservatives across the country began attending rallies calling for a restoration of limited government. People who had never taken part in political protests were getting involved and standing up against the massive expansion of government exemplified by Obamacare and enormous spending bills.</p> <p> Yet party leaders seemed unenthusiastic about the Tea Party and such conservative activism, and stood by as the Left and the mainstream media tarred them as racists. This feeling that Washington Republicans were indifferent to, and perhaps even embarrassed by, the enthusiastic Tea Parties awash in red-white-and-blue who were drawing snickers from sophisticates on the coasts, fueled the sense of disconnect. Republicans weren&rsquo;t loyal to the Tea Party, so it isn&rsquo;t much surprise that much of the Tea Party now feels little remorse as the Republican Party faces upheaval.</p> <p> People in America, just like this the UK, want change. They are done with the status quo even if they don&rsquo;t know what exactly is the alternative. Those who want to win back the trust of the people have to first recognize how it was lost. People want to be heard and feel a part of a party &mdash; and ultimately a government &mdash; that respects them. And certainly that would be a big change.</p> L. LukasFri, 1 Jul 2016 08:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOur Killjoy Government<p> With the kids out of school, people are starting to make the most of the summer. They&rsquo;re hitting the beaches, taking weekend trips, and enjoying neighborhood picnics and bike rides. This is New England at its best.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a shame, though, that government so often seeks to stamp out the fun, limiting our options and making activities needlessly expensive and complicated. Across the county, states and localities are passing measures to keep people from swimming in creeks and using portable grills or fire pits at local parks. They are shutting down kids&rsquo; lemonade stands and harassing 10-year-olds who dare to visit a playground without a parent.</p> <p> In addition to such everyday abuses of common sense and misapplication of public safety laws, governments are also passing laws that are meant to protect special interests and discourage the kind of entrepreneurship and innovation that used to be America&rsquo;s hallmark.</p> <p align="center"> &nbsp;</p> <p> New York State&rsquo;s legislature, for example, recently passed a bill to further restrict the ability of homeowners to offer short-term rentals. This is clearly intended to drive Airbnb and other house sharing options out of the state, in an effort to protect the beleaguered traditional hotel industry. Lawmakers ignore that Airbnb has paid an estimated $60 million in taxes to New York, and that families that used Airbnb won&rsquo;t now just go back to a traditional motel when planning their summer trip. Many families can&rsquo;t afford that option and some prefer more family-friend accommodations. Such families might just stay home. That&rsquo;s not only a loss of potential tax revenue, business for local communities, and income for New Yorkers who were hoping to earn some extra income over the summer, that&rsquo;s less travel and less fun for Americans looking for a getaway. And that&rsquo;s a loss that&rsquo;s not easily counted in dollars.</p> <p> In a similar effort to protect a traditional business from an innovative competitor, Austin, Texas recently introduced rules to push the riding sharing services, Uber and Lyft, out of the city. This drained the city of 10,000 jobs which were held by these drivers, and also now means that rather than Austin citizens being able to easily find an affordable and safe ride home, many are either driving when they shouldn&rsquo;t (drunk driving arrests are up 7.5 since Uber left the city) or using a black market to find rides home. Is this really what city officials hoped to achieve?</p> <p> The Federal Government is in the fun-killing game, too, of course. They even want take the fun out of eating by make our food more bland. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration issued new &ldquo;voluntary&rdquo; guidelines pushing food manufacturers to reduce the amount of salt used in processed food. As IWF&rsquo;s Julie Gunlock details, the FDA&rsquo;s guidelines ignore the best scientific research, which shows that most people won&rsquo;t benefit from reducing sodium in their diets. And of course, the FDA isn&rsquo;t concerned that cajoling food manufacturers to reformulate their products will cost millions and increase grocery prices for American families. These administrators are there to administrate so are going to dutifully produce a steady stream of new rules and regulations for their subject, even some that make no sense.</p> <p> Some regulations are worse than just unnecessary or counterproductive, some are actually harmful in terms of lost lives. Right now, Americans &mdash; and particularly women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant &mdash; are worrying about the spread of the Zika virus, which has already affected hundreds of pregnant American women. There&rsquo;s a pesticide that could dramatically reduce the mosquito population which spreads Zika, but unfortunately the United States continues to abide by a 1972 ban on DDT. As Jillian Melchior writes in the New York Post, decades of follow up studies have shown that the risk to humans and to the environment of DDT were overblown when that regulation was passed. When used properly, DDT is a safe and effective weapon against disease spreading mosquitos. As Melchior puts it, &ldquo;Mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths than any other creature on earth,&rdquo; and today are spreading a horrifying illness, Zika, that can result in microcephaly, a serious brain defect. Given these stakes, isn&rsquo;t it time to revisit the DDT ban based on new and better scientific information and thoughtful risk calculation, rather than clinging to it out of a nostalgia for &rsquo;60s-era environmentalism?</p> <p> Frustration with a government that seems disconnected from the people underpins American politics today. And it&rsquo;s no wonder. Undoubtedly Americans will still find plenty of ways to enjoy the summer time in spite of the unnecessarily heavy hand of their government minders, but it&rsquo;s a shame how often these rules are stumbling blocks. America, once dubbed &ldquo;land of the free,&rdquo; is becoming land of the micromanaged. Voters understandably are increasingly frustrated with this kind of government; policymakers would be wise to start paying attention.</p> L. LukasTue, 28 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGerman Leadership Aghast at a Brexit It Helped Cause<p> Germans &ndash; especially German politicians &ndash; are waking up this morning to the Brexit reality, and their initial reactions are predictable.&nbsp; Shock appears to be the overwhelming emotion, followed closely by sadness, anger, and then subdued panic.</p> <p> The Social Democratic Party, a partner in the governing black-red coalition, has called for an emergency session of the Bundestag today.&nbsp; (One wonders what this would accomplish except perhaps to issue a statement aimed at shoring up EU solidarity in other wavering member states, or maybe just express petulance.)&nbsp; Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke of a &ldquo;sad day for Europe and Great Britain,&rdquo; while the leader of the Left faction, Sahra Wagenknecht, used the occasion to lambaste the influence of corporations and lobbyists in Brussels (a non-factor in the British vote, as far as I know). &nbsp;</p> <p> One of the more thoughtful commentaries today is from Torsten Krauel in the right-of-center Die Welt.&nbsp; Krauel asks whether German Chancellor Merkel is partially to blame for the Brexit and concludes her asylum policy almost certainly played a major role.&nbsp; And indeed, the spectacle of Germany unilaterally deciding to change the face and future of the European Union by announcing Berlin had opened the doors to all comers &ndash; regardless of the wishes of or the impact this would have on other EU states &ndash; has been a powerful symbol of elite disconnect with the concerns of average Europeans and an uncomfortable reminder that Germany has come to dominate the union.&nbsp; Krauel also points out Dover, the British end of the Channel Tunnel to the continent, voted 60 percent to leave.&nbsp; Maybe this has something to do with the thousands of North African migrants seeking to storm the tunnel and cross to England?&nbsp;</p> <p> While loathe to admit it, Germans at some level suspect their country&rsquo;s role in the discontent in Britain.&nbsp; Speaking to German friends over the past several years, it&rsquo;s been difficult not to come away with the sense many view the EU as an extension of Germany policy and as a respectable outlet for German nationalism that has been suppressed since the end of World War II.&nbsp; A new path to German greatness, if you will, camouflaged by warm and fuzzy words about &ldquo;Europeaness&rdquo; and immune to complaints of skeptics, all of whom immediately are labeled as right-wing extremists &ndash; the kiss of death in German politics.</p> <p> For me, one of the takeaways from the referendum is the reminder that people care deeply about things other than pure economic interest. &nbsp;On the train this morning, I listened to&nbsp;a left-wing British woman complaining bitterly about the stupidity of her fellow citizens.&nbsp; Her points were all about lost EU subsidies for construction projects and the indignity of having to use the &ldquo;non-EU&rdquo; line at passport control when traveling to the continent (I&rsquo;ll save a spot for you!).&nbsp; It seemed not to have occurred to her that more abstract concepts such as democratic legitimacy, self rule, and national identity matter to people as goods in themselves.&nbsp; This is a lesson U.S. conservatives should take to heart, too, as the all-but-certain prospect of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate demonstrates.&nbsp; Republicans can argue all day long that unrestricted immigration and free trade are good for the economy.&nbsp; But it doesn&rsquo;t feel that way to people who see illegal immigrants as taking their jobs and uninterested in assimilation. &nbsp;</p> <p> The EU as an economic project was a good idea.&nbsp; But only European elites signed off on ever closer political union and de facto rule by unelected Eurocrats in Brussels. These elites weren&rsquo;t interested in making their case democratically, preferring to ignore popular concerns while demonizing any opposition to their supranational project.&nbsp; The British electorate has now pushed back.&nbsp; Will the EU learn the right lessons or will it double down on political integration?&nbsp; I suspect the latter, but time will tell.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 24 Jun 2016 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Plight of Conservative Feminists<p> &ldquo;Mrs. Clinton&mdash;newsflash&mdash;I&rsquo;m a feminist, and I&rsquo;m not voting for you,&rdquo; Carly Fiorina declared to the conservative crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Her words were met with cheers and applause. As the election draws near, the former Republican presidential candidate is making a feminist case against Hillary Clinton.</p> <p> The looming presidential election must look bleak for conservative women. Donald Trump, the Republican Party&rsquo;s presumptive nominee, <a href="">has a track record </a>of denigrating women, often by criticizing their physical appearance. He is <a href="">staggeringly unpopular </a>with female voters, and Democrats hope to use his words against him to make sure that doesn&rsquo;t change. Yet, the alternative is Clinton. The Democratic Party&rsquo;s presumptive nominee has worked to style herself as an advocate for women and girls. If elected, she would make history as the first woman president. But she is still a Democrat advocating a liberal agenda.</p> <p> So Fiorina is taking one of the only approaches that might be tolerable for conservative women: She is making a plea to women not to vote for Clinton without actively making a case for Trump. The argument embodies a dilemma for conservative women. They may care about the election. They may care about equal rights. But the man who is supposed to be their party&rsquo;s standard-bearer may be totally at odds with the way they view conservatism, let alone feminism. What do they do? They can follow Fiorina&rsquo;s lead, and make a forceful, even feminist, argument against Clinton. Yet even if they succeed in convincing other women to reject Clinton, that does not mean they will end up with a candidate they like.</p> <p> For now, Fiorina seems focused on convincing women that Clinton must not be allowed to become president, regardless of the alternative. The crux of her argument is that Clinton deploys feminism as a political weapon in a way that hurts women. &ldquo;Feminism is no longer a term that&rsquo;s used to enable or empower women,&rdquo; Fiorina said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. &ldquo;It turns out to be in so many people&rsquo;s eyes, in Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s eyes, kind of a way to bludgeon people into a left-wing litany of causes.&rdquo; In Fiorina&rsquo;s telling, liberal feminism has devolved into a noxious political correctness. It is an ideology rooted in partisanship that liberals wield to discredit anyone who disagrees with their agenda&mdash;an identity politics that does more to divide than unite.</p> <p> As she asks women to contemplate the danger of electing Clinton, Fiorina appears to be carefully avoiding any discussion of Trump. In her speech at the conservative gathering, she vowed to make sure &ldquo;we have good conservatives all up and down the ballot.&rdquo; She did not mention her party&rsquo;s presumptive nominee.</p> <p> &ldquo;I look at Fiorina&rsquo;s remarks in terms of damage control,&rdquo; said Melissa Deckman, a Washington College professor and the author of <em>Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right</em>. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not necessarily about trying to sway people toward Trump so much as it seems to be about trying to make this election a referendum on Clinton.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>&ldquo;What is the Republican Party going to look like at the end of this election?&rdquo;</strong></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Fiorina adds a different conservative voice to an election season currently dominated by Trump. &ldquo;One of the concerns that many people have about Trump is: What is the Republican Party going to look like at the end of this election?&rdquo; said Carrie Lukas, the managing director of Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a conservative advocacy group. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really important for people to be out there saying, &lsquo;Here&rsquo;s [what] I think conservatism means, this is what I think women ought to be considering, and why I think Hillary Clinton doesn&rsquo;t do any of these things &hellip; [It could be a way] to keep the idea of what conservatism means alive, regardless of where Trump comes out on some of this stuff.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> It&rsquo;s not hard to see why Fiorina might not want to advocate for Trump. The candidates fought bitterly during the Republican Primary. At one point, Trump even appeared to mock Fiorina&rsquo;s appearance, <a href="">telling </a><a href=""><em>Rolling Stone</em></a>, &ldquo;Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?&rdquo; Talking up Trump now might seem insincere&mdash;an implausible forgiveness of his disparaging remarks toward women, including her. In August 2015, Fiorina <a href="">told the conservative radio host</a> Hugh Hewitt that she would support Trump if he became the Republican nominee. As recently as March of this year, though, Fiorina <a href="">said she was</a> &ldquo;horrified&rdquo; by the prospect of Trump as the nominee.</p> <p> Ultimately, an election is a choice between two candidates. Fiorina may find it hard to persuade conservative women to vote against Clinton without making a convincing case for Trump. (Sarah Isgur Flores, a Republican strategist who served as Fiorina&rsquo;s deputy presidential-campaign manager, did not respond to questions about whether Fiorina supports Trump and plans to vote for him, or if she believes he would be a better choice for women voters.)</p> <p> In the end, Fiorina and Clinton aren&rsquo;t actually that far apart on the definition of feminism. Fiorina has acknowledged the existence of gender disparity, and says that women should have the same opportunity as men to live the life they choose. Similarly, Clinton <a href="">has argued</a> that women and men should have equal rights. The fundamental premise sounds the same: Women should not have to contend with barriers and constraints that men do not.</p> <p> Where they have meaningful disagreement is in their views of which policies would best improve the lives of women. Fiorina <a href="">advocated</a> conservative policies, such as rolling back regulations for small businesses, as the way to empower women when she ran for president. Now that she&rsquo;s no longer a candidate, it won&rsquo;t be as easy to talk policy if she wants to avoid talking about Trump. The billionaire businessman has proven difficult to pin down on policies, particularly those related to women. At one point, he said women<a href=""> should be punished </a>for abortion if the procedure is banned&mdash;a comment he later walked back after it <a href="">drew criticism</a> from fellow Republicans.</p> <p> If conservative women, like Fiorina, want to vote against Clinton, in part because they believe she advocates for a kind of feminism that is harmful to women, they can do that. But if they want to see conservative policies enacted with the goal of improving quality of life for women, they will eventually have to find a candidate they can support, not just one who they oppose.</p> <p> &ldquo;The conversation needs to eventually get to the question of who is better or worse for women in terms of economic and social policy,&rdquo; said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the <a href="">Center for American Women and Politics</a> at Rutgers University. Democrats may be more eager than Republicans to take the conversation in that direction&mdash;especially if saying Trump would be a better president for women turns out to be an argument Fiorina and other conservatives are unwilling to make.</p> L. LukasTue, 21 Jun 2016 10:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Kids Are Alright. It’s the Parents That Need Limits on Technology<p> Parents know that they are supposed to limit our children&rsquo;s exposure to technology. Television, the internet, game consoles and tablets tend to suck in kids&rsquo; attention, and can discourage the type of imaginative play, free-thought, and physical exercise that we know is important for their mental and physical development.</p> <p> But you know who really struggles to step away from technology? Me.</p> <p> In fact, I find it pretty easy to limit my kids&rsquo; technology use. They aren&rsquo;t allowed to watch TV or have tablets in the car; they only rarely get access to computers or TV when the sun is up.</p> <p> Of course, I have no such restrictions. That means my smartphone is always within reach, inviting me to send an email, check some online errands off the to-do list, read the latest headlines, or take a picture to capture a precious moment that&mdash;apparently&mdash;I&rsquo;m eager to turn my real attention away from.</p> <p> Ten years ago, when I first became a mom, there wasn&rsquo;t nearly as much temptation. Sure, I had a cell phone and even a Blackberry that gave me email access wherever I went. I made use of these convenient distractions, typing emails and chatting on the phone while my babies and then toddlers played around me. Yet that was only so interesting. I ran out of emails to send and people to talk to, so would end up whiling away hours with my little girls, overseeing rudimentary craft projects and ministering over their early (and often elaborate) pretend-play.</p> <p> Today it&rsquo;s different. New technologies offer so much more entertainment and are so readily available. Worse, for type-A types like me, there is so much that I feel like I can accomplish. I can respond to a work email, read up on a serious news story, pay bills, buy school supplies, schedule a needed repair, send a picture or message to far off friends and family&hellip; and much, much more. All of these activities have a beginning and end&mdash;something specific and tangible that has been done and can be checked off a list&mdash;in contrast to the amorphous, repetitive activities that constitute much of the time we spend parenting.</p> <p> I still have very little kids in the house. That means I ought to be stacking blocks, repeating the dozen words from worn-out board books, rolling cars, and play-acting with them and their stuffed animals and action figures. These activities are perfectly pleasant, but so quickly I feel the pull toward something more engaging and personally interesting. After all, my phone is always with me.</p> <p> I&rsquo;ve become unaccustomed to boredom too. I expect my kids to just stare out the window during long car trips and wait patiently in the grocery store line devoid of entertainment. But not me! My phone is out; I&rsquo;m getting something done.</p> <p> This is a first world problem to be sure, but nevertheless, it&rsquo;s a real challenge for modern families. Parents who want low-tech kids have to also try to be low-tech parents. When I deny my oldest daughter access to a tablet or smartphone, she points out, &ldquo;You always have yours.&rdquo; I have my excuses&mdash;I need it for work, for emergencies, or I&rsquo;m waiting for vital information from someone. But they are just excuses.</p> <p> I&rsquo;m trying to intentionally leave my cell phone behind on the weekends. The concept seemed almost dangerous at first: What if something happened? But I recall that, somehow, we all managed back in those dark ages of the 1990s. And most of all, I&rsquo;m trying to recognize that when I&rsquo;m playing Go Fish or focusing, actually focusing, on my four-year-old as she recounts last night&rsquo;s dream, I&rsquo;m accomplishing something of value. Those Daily Mail headlines will be there later; most of my emails only seem urgent. Focusing on my daughter is a much better use of time.</p> <p> Of course, it&rsquo;s tempting to start searching for advice online: I&rsquo;m sure there are plenty of articles entitled &ldquo;How to be a more engaged parent,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Seven steps to a healthier relationship with technology.&rdquo; But perhaps it&rsquo;s better just to walk away from the computer. In fact, I&rsquo;m sure it is.</p> L. LukasFri, 17 Jun 2016 11:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumObama Pushes ‘Equal Pay Pledge,’ as Women Experience Economic ‘Hardship’<p> With women&rsquo;s labor force participation at its lowest rate since 1988, the Obama administration held its White House United State of Women conference in the District of Columbia on Tuesday, pushing policies that some experts say will not help&mdash;and could economically hurt&mdash;women.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;A lot of women are leaving the workforce and there is a lot of hardship, and there has been a lot wage stagnation,&rdquo; Carrie Lukas, Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum managing director, told The Daily Signal. &ldquo;It hasn&rsquo;t been a particularly good seven and a half years for women.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> President Barack Obama said the problems facing the country are globalization and fewer labor unions. But he said his administration knows the solutions to economic problems in the United States:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>We need equal pay for equal work. We need paid family and sick leave. We need affordable child care. We&rsquo;ve got to raise the minimum wage. If we&rsquo;re truly a nation of family values, we wouldn&rsquo;t put up with the fact that many women can&rsquo;t even get a paid day off to give birth. We should guarantee paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave, too.</em></p> <p> The Obama administration is pushing an &ldquo;<a href="">equal pay pledge</a>,&rdquo; which&nbsp;businesses can sign on to. The pledge reads:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>We believe that businesses must play a critical role in reducing the national pay gap. Towards that end, we commit to conducting an annual company-wide gender pay analysis across occupations; reviewing hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers; and embedding equal pay efforts into broader enterprise-wide equity initiatives.</em></p> <p> Obama announced at the conference that 28 American companies have signed the pledge to close the gender pay gap.</p> <p> &ldquo;We should frequent those companies that are doing the right thing because the truth is most folks agree with each other on this,&rdquo; Obama said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have to have Congress with us. We can go ahead and make progress while waiting for them. They&rsquo;ll catch up eventually. They are usually a lagging indicator on these issues.&rdquo; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">There&rsquo;s nothing wrong with this pledge, Lukas said, but it&rsquo;s not what will ultimately help women.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;There is a lot of talk about more benefits and paid leave, but what women need first and foremost is jobs and job creation,&rdquo; Lukas said. &ldquo;Pay equity makes a nice bumper sticker. But more regulations can also lead to more red tape, more lawsuits, and possibly make companies less likely to hire women.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum released a &ldquo;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Working for Women Report</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&rdquo; on Tuesday to coincide with the conference. The report broadly concludes helping the entire economy&mdash;through fewer taxes and regulations&mdash;ultimately helps women.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;In 2015, there were 56.2 million women outside the labor force, which is 6.6 million more than in 2009,&rdquo; when Obama first took office, according to the report. This is the highest rate since 1988, the report says.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> A 2014 <a href="">report</a> by the Bureau of Labor Statistics said, &ldquo;Women have experienced weaker job growth after the end of the 2007&ndash;2009 downturn than they had experienced in the previous three recessions.&rdquo;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum report&rsquo;s suggestions include tax credits to small businesses providing leave for employees, reforming licensing regulations, pausing the Labor Department&rsquo;s new overtime regulation, and allowing more flexibility on independent contracting.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The report states that technology has created a boon for women, presenting more opportunities for telecommuting and other ways for women to balance work and family. However, government regulations are outdated and even the new proposed regulations are reversing gains, according to the report.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The pending overtime rules that would require many salaried employees to be paid overtime, could have particular unintended consequences on women by discouraging employer agreements with employees, Lukas said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;It will disproportionately impact women because it is the enemy of flexibility,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a cookie cutter regulation that undermines options for jobs. Many women, balancing work and family, would trade a bigger paycheck for more flexibility.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Based on what has occurred in other countries, many of the Obama administration&rsquo;s efforts on behalf of women are likely to backfire, said Romina Boccia, deputy director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Studies at The Heritage Foundation.</p> <p> She noted that in countries such as Germany, which has a very generous mandatory paid leave policy for women, fewer women are in management positions or in the labor force than in the United States.</p> <p> &ldquo;The Paycheck Fairness Act, for example, provides additional litigation powers for class action lawsuits,&rdquo; Boccia told The Daily Signal. &ldquo;Women are looking for a flexible workplace and these regulations will implement a rigid and uniform environment. It could dissuade employers from hiring and promoting women.&rdquo;</p> L. LukasThu, 16 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhite House Pledges $50 Million In Women’s Equality Initiatives<p> The White House <a href="">announced</a> $50 million in commitments to expand opportunities for women and girls on Tuesday, including efforts to address the gender pay gap and promote gender equality worldwide.</p> <p> The Obama administration has partnered with a number of businesses and organizations on the new White House Equal Pay Pledge, in which companies commit to conduct an annual gender pay analysis and review hiring and promotion processes to ensure equity for women. So far, 28 companies have signed on to the pledge, including tech giants&nbsp;Amazon, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Spotify, as well&nbsp;as&nbsp;Deloitte, Johnson &amp; Johnson, and PepsiCo.</p> <p> President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama&nbsp;all participated in the White House Council on Women and Girls&rsquo; United State of Women Summit in Washington, DC on Tuesday. The event featured female activists and celebrities including Oprah Winfrey,&nbsp;Shonda Rimes, Amy Poehler, Mariska Hargitay, Connie Britton, Patricia Arquette, Kerry Washington,&nbsp;and&nbsp;Sophia Bush, who discussed issues of health and wellness, economic opportunity, civic engagement, and leadership.</p> <p> The president and the various speakers touted legislation passed by the Obama&nbsp;administration over the past seven years, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p> &ldquo;Over the past seven years we have significantly improved the lives of women and girls,&rdquo; Obama said.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, which released its own </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">report of suggested policy reforms</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&nbsp;in conjunction with&nbsp;this year&rsquo;s &ldquo;Equal Pay Day,&rdquo; suggested that women attending the summit take a hard look at the results of these last seven years and evaluate whether their situations have really improved or not.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;We all want to celebrate women&rsquo;s achievement and to continue to break down barriers so that women can do even more,&rdquo; said </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Managing Director Carrie Lukas</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">. &ldquo;Yet it&rsquo;s time to recognize that ill-conceived government policy is often one of those barriers, and opening the doors to more success requires modernizing our laws and empowering people, not government, so we can see what all is possible.&rdquo;</span></span></strong></span></p> L. LukasWed, 15 Jun 2016 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWe Need A New Approach To The #StateofWomen<p> Today, the White House is holding <a href="">a summit</a> to discuss the challenges facing women in the United States, and encouraging the public to use the #StateofWomen hashtag to follow the events. Certainly, there is plenty to talk about: Too many American women are struggling to make ends meet as prices for everyday necessities rise. Too many can&rsquo;t find jobs that put them on their desired career path and have trouble balancing work and family. Many would-be female entrepreneurs are finding their dreams snarled in red tape before they can even get started.</p> <p> Unfortunately, these problems persist and have in many ways gotten worse under this Administration. This Summit promises to double down on the government-knows-best approach to public policy that has been the hallmark of the past seven years. Yet what women <em>really</em> need is a fresh approach to their challenges with a focus on providing women with more opportunity, true flexibility and greater control of resources.</p> <p> Women&rsquo;s labor force participation rate is now at the lowest level since 1988. Many women aren&rsquo;t working because they can&rsquo;t find jobs that pay enough or offer the hours they need. Government overregulation contributes to this problem. From unnecessary state licensing regimes to expensive Obamacare health insurance mandates and our complicated tax code, government policy is making it increasingly difficult for businesses to get started and, ultimately, to offer people job opportunities. A true pro-woman agenda would start by modernizing these laws and sweeping away unnecessary red tape so that women have more and better job options.</p> <p> ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active end ngIf: initialized &amp;&amp; active</p> <p> Unfortunately, this Administration has been pushing in the opposite direction. While technology has created new paradigms for combining work and family life&mdash;a tremendous boon, particularly to working parents&mdash;outdated laws and rigid government bureaucracies impede innovation and discourage people from being able to take advantage of these new flex-opportunities. The Department of Labor, for example, has been trying to limit independent contracting. These arrangements can enable women to decide to work when, where, and how they want. Even when caring for family members, women can still bring in money while retaining valuable skills, even if they can&rsquo;t commit to a traditional, full-time position. This type of flexibility should be applauded, rather than seen as a problem to crack down on by our administrative bureaucracies.</p> <p> The Department of Labor has also recently advanced new overtime rules that would force more employers to closely monitor more employees&rsquo; hours, which will discourage the use of telecommuting or at-home work. The Administration sells such regulations and requirements as necessary so that those lucky enough to have regular, full-time jobs will have the benefits and compensation that Washington thinks should be the bare minimum. Yet this attitude ignores that making employment more expensive results in fewer jobs&mdash;particularly for those with the fewest skills and less education. It also ignores that people have different preferences when it comes to work and compensation. Some workers may welcome more benefits, but others would rather take that compensation as take-home pay. Such decisions should be up to individuals, not the government to decide for everyone.</p> <p> Before tuning into the Summit, women should take a hard look at the results of the last seven years. Has their situation really improved? Are family members or neighbors better off? Or are we seeing even less opportunity today? The government insists that inflation isn&rsquo;t a problem, but women should ask themselves if that&rsquo;s consistent with their own experience. Doesn&rsquo;t it seem that so many necessities &mdash; our groceries and rent and service calls &ndash; keep becoming more and more expensive?</p> <p> Women frustrated with today&rsquo;s economy should know that there is a different approach to helping women succeed. It rejects the idea that government always knows what&rsquo;s best and instead would seek to create more options and greater flexibility. Conservatives are dedicated to reducing barriers to job creation, removing complicated rules that prevent innovative, flexible work arrangements, and returning resources and control to individuals.</p> <p> Conservatives want to modernize laws like the Depression-era Fair Labor Standards Act to give workers the freedom to choose more time off, rather than overtime pay, and the flexibility to consider scheduling alternatives to the 40 hour work week. Conservatives oppose sweeping new government benefit mandates, and would instead make it easier and more affordable for business and workers to determine mutually beneficial compensation and leave packages. Women are more likely than men to take advantage of savings opportunities when they have them, and conservatives want to give people the chance to save for critical needs, including to make up for lost income when someone needs to take time off from work.</p> <p> This White House Summit will almost certainly be inspiring. We all want to celebrate women&rsquo;s achievement and to continue to break down barriers so that women can do even more. Yet it&rsquo;s time to recognize that ill-conceived government policy is often one of those barriers, and opening the doors to more success requires modernizing our laws and empowering people, not government, so we can see what all is possible.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the Managing Director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, which recently released a new report, <a href="">Working for Women: A Modern Agenda for Improving Women&rsquo;s Lives</a>.</em></p> L. LukasTue, 14 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFeminists’ Olympic-Sized Frustration with the Work-Family Conundrum<p> Part of what makes the Olympics so enthralling is that it&rsquo;s the final chapter in so many individual stories. All these athletes have made incredible sacrifices in pursuit of an Olympic dream. They&rsquo;ve invested countless hours and significant financial resources to train for their sport. A few hours in Rio de Janeiro will determine for many whether all the sacrifice was worth it. Some will feel that all their hard work was justified. But undoubtedly some others will regret having spent so much of their lives pursuing a goal that didn&rsquo;t live up to their dreams.</p> <p> This is how life is. Most of us don&rsquo;t have Olympic-size dreams, but we are all in the business of allocating our scarce time and resources in pursuit of happiness. We all run the risk that we will realize we could have used our time better: we may end up wishing that we&rsquo;d spent more time at work advancing our careers, or more time smelling the proverbial flowers, since the payout at work wasn&rsquo;t so great after all.</p> <p> Modern feminists seem particularly frustrated by this reality; they also appear to believe that the right mix of public policies can alter this basic human condition. Take Judith Shulevitz, writing in the <a href="">New York Times</a>. Her recent essay, &ldquo;How to Fix Feminism,&rdquo; laments that in spite of the feminist movement&rsquo;s many successes, women still struggle to balance their desire to reach the heights of professional success with their desire to care for family. To address this, she calls for a new version of feminism:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Let&rsquo;s call it, for lack of a better term, &ldquo;caregiverism.&rdquo; It would demand dignity and economic justice for parents dissatisfied with a few weeks of unpaid parental leave, and strive to mitigate the sacrifices made by adult children responsible for aging parents.</p> <p> Shulevitz struggles with what this revolution would actually entail. She discusses the possibility of creating a societal expectation that parents stagger their careers: First, mom takes five years off from work to focus on family life, and then Dad does the same. She wants the government to credit caregivers for Social Security, even when they aren&rsquo;t paying taxes. She certainly wants more than just 12 weeks paid family leave, and presumably sees the government providing major funding to make these extended leaves of absences economically feasible and to give parents the &ldquo;dignity&rdquo; that she feels today&rsquo;s system doesn&rsquo;t afford.</p> <p> Yet even if policymakers adopted these purported policy solutions (and let&rsquo;s ignore, for the sake of argument, the <a href="">economic effects</a> of these proposals, which would be significant and result in women having far less economic opportunity) one suspects that Shulevitz would still be dissatisfied. After all, such a system may make it economically feasible to take more time off, but opting out of work would still be a sacrifice. Other people&mdash;particularly those without children&mdash;would continue to work more hours and therefore get further ahead. And this seems to be the root of what really frustrates Shulevitz.</p> <p> The modern world gives us lots of opportunities to compare ourselves with others. This isn&rsquo;t limited to the work world, where we can read about women and men earning eye-popping sums of money and attending swanky conferences around the globe. Parenting is increasingly its own competitive sport. Parents (but particularly moms) jockey to give their kids the most enriching, fulfilling, nurturing, healthy childhoods, which we assume will give those favored offspring a leg up in adulthood.</p> <p> People who dedicate themselves fully to one arena, whether that&rsquo;s work or parenting, are almost always going to achieve more in their chosen specialty than those of us who dabble in both. That seems to gnaw at Shulevitz:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Women like me who scale back in the face of impossible expectations feel themselves morphing into caricatures: attachment freaks, helicopter moms, concerted cultivators, neo-traditionalists. These stereotypes are just plain sexist, but I don&rsquo;t know many mothers whose careers, paychecks and sense of self-worth haven&rsquo;t been eroded by all the compromises they&rsquo;ve had to make. Our worlds have narrowed; our bank accounts have dipped below the minimum balance; and our power within the family and the world has dwindled. We&rsquo;d be quick to tell you that we wouldn&rsquo;t have done it any differently. Still.</p> <p> Maturity requires understanding that we can&rsquo;t win every competition. Just as the most dedicated athlete seeks to increase her odds of success by training 10 hours a day&mdash;which puts those with lesser dedication to the sport at a competitive disadvantage&mdash;talented people willing to work 12-hour days deserve extra compensation for their extra contributions to the business. And stay-at-home parents who run the PTA or homeschool their children will probably end up doing more for their kids than the average parent.</p> <p> Most of us are going to end up somewhere in the middle, and we hope to strike a balance that seems right to us. The good news is that society has become more innovative and created many more options for how we allocate our time. However, that doesn&rsquo;t change the basic fact of life that our time is finite, and that not everyone can win a gold medal in everything they do. Contra feminists, the answer to this isn&rsquo;t more expensive government policies; it&rsquo;s a reality check.</p> L. LukasTue, 14 Jun 2016 07:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Email Scandal Epitomizes Hillary’s Washington-Knows-Best Attitude<p> Americans are tired of political &ldquo;gotcha&rdquo; games. Yet the scandal engulfing Hillary Clinton about the email system she used while secretary of state isn&rsquo;t just any political food fight: These events exemplify Clinton&rsquo;s elitism and her belief that people like her should get to set the laws, but not have to live under them like the rest of us. Americans resoundingly should reject this tired Washington-knows-best attitude.</p> <p> The recently released State Department&rsquo;s Inspector General Report examining Secretary Clinton&rsquo;s email practice while secretary of state makes clear that Hillary has been misleading the public all along. In contrast to her public assurances, her practice of exclusively using a private email system for her official work in spite of knowledge of the extreme security risks and record-keeping requirements was unique; it wasn&rsquo;t approved by State Department lawyers; and, no surprise, was inconsistent with security protocols and put sensitive information at risk.</p> <p> Colin Powell used a private email address for some correspondence while serving as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, and he didn&rsquo;t follow record-keeping policies properly. But, as the report notes, at that time, the rules for preserving email records were less detailed, and the security risks less understood.</p> <p> Powell worked with the State Department tech departments on his email setup, and they were generally aware of his use of private email. In other words, Clinton&rsquo;s &ldquo;everybody does it&rdquo; defense doesn&rsquo;t hold water.</p> <p> In fact, when the ambassador to Kenya engaged in behavior similar to Secretary Clinton &mdash; using a private server in spite of guidance that this practice was against the rules &mdash; disciplinary hearings were initiated and the ambassador resigned. In other words, Clinton&rsquo;s agency was happy to enforce the rules for her inferiors, but naturally the secretary herself didn&rsquo;t have to bother complying with the law.</p> <p> Why did Clinton go to such lengths to break the well-known rules so she could use a private email system? There can be no explanation other than that she wanted to avoid public scrutiny and the legal requirements that her correspondence, while serving as the nation&rsquo;s top diplomat, must be preserved and made available to Congress. So much for sunshine, and transparency, and the public&rsquo;s right to know.</p> <p> This attitude of superiority and the rejection of the concept that public officials must be accountable to the people they serve are part of Clinton&rsquo;s core. Clinton and her top aides wouldn&rsquo;t even deign to be interviewed by the inspector general&rsquo;s office for this report. That&rsquo;s for the little people, apparently.</p> <p> Her campaign now is relying on the tried-and-true Clinton tactic of demonizing anyone who dares question her ethic as a partisan hack. They trust that the media and the public will overlook that the inspector general is no conservative firebrand, but a President Obama appointee.</p> <p> Americans should be warned that this attitude trickles in to Clinton&rsquo;s policy positions. She promises to promote policies that will crack down on corporate cronyism and too-big-to-fail banks, and regulate every aspect of business life. But you can bet that she and her friends will continue to game the system and rake in their personal fortunes from the very fat cats she claims to want to fight.</p> <p> She&rsquo;ll push to expand Obamacare further, giving government even greater power to dictate what kind of insurance everyone must purchase, what subsidies they can receive, and how hospitals and doctor&rsquo;s offices must operate. But don&rsquo;t expect lawmakers to follow those rules.</p> <p> Recall that, in spite the letter of the law that required those working on Capitol Hill to take part in the Obamacare exchange like millions of other Americans, Congress gave itself an exemption, so it could enjoy more subsidies and a better deal than regular Americans get. The rules are for suckers.</p> <p> Americans have had enough of a ruling class that thinks it&rsquo;s above the rest of us. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, after all, and those laws are meant to apply to everyone, even those with titles like secretary or senator. During this campaign, of course, Clinton is pretending to be a populist and stand with the little guy. But we know from her past behavior that under a President Hillary, we&rsquo;d have business as usual and the perpetuation of a political system rigged to benefit the politically connected &mdash; especially those named Clinton.</p> L. LukasSat, 4 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDoes Facebook Believe in Privacy?<p> Facebook&rsquo;s stated mission is to &ldquo;give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.&rdquo; Yet the company knows that the expectation of privacy&mdash;the ability to decide who can see your postings and who can&rsquo;t&mdash;makes people willing to share private information in the first place. As Facebook put it in their <a href="">Commitment to the Facebook Community</a>: &ldquo;everyone needs complete control over who they share with at all times.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet, <a href="">some</a> are suggesting that Facebook ought to reject the concept of a right to privacy, as well as reject the idea that their board members have a right to be involved in important debates about where freedom of the press ends and a right to privacy begins.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s the crux of the argument being made by those encouraging Facebook to vote out Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, from their board of directors. Thiel has helped finance a lawsuit against Gawker Media, a news outlet that deals in celebrity gossip, for violating the privacy of a former pro wrestler by posting a surreptitiously made tape of him having sex. Alex Kantrowitz of Buzzfeed believes this disqualifies Thiel from involvement in Facebook: &ldquo;Will Facebook, a company dependent on publishers for the content that fuels its News Feed, stand by a board member seeking the destruction of one of those very publishers?&rdquo;</p> <p> Facebook users ought to hope, however, that the company stands by Peter Thiel, who was not simply seeking to destroy &ldquo;media companies that publish stories not to the liking of powerful billionaires.&rdquo; Rather, the lawsuit against Gawker spoke to an important principle&mdash;the right of individuals, including those in the public eye, to a sphere of privacy. Indeed, as far back as the 1890s, legal scholars like Louis Brandeis were concerned about the media&rsquo;s increasing intrusion into &ldquo;the sacred precincts of private and domestic life.&rdquo; Thus, for centuries, American tort law has recognized that the media can go too far in publishing intimate details about an individual (as opposed to matters of legitimate public concern). The Gawker lawsuit addresses those limits in the internet age and asks important questions regarding what constitutes journalism, and what topics are legitimately of public interest, and therefore deserving of extra protection from the courts.</p> <p> One doesn&rsquo;t have to agree with every aspect of the Gawker verdict to believe that the imbedded privacy issue was a legitimate issue for Thiel to help protect. The public could take note of the jaw-dropping $140 million in damages awarded by the jury and consider if such supersized damages are truly an act of justice, or if they have the impact of destroying, rather than punishing, parties found guilty. That&rsquo;s a reason to support broader legal reform, including caps for damages. However, the amount awarded is entirely separate from Thiel&rsquo;s involvement in this case, and from the underlying issue of the balance between freedom of the press and the right to privacy.</p> <p> Some suggest that it&rsquo;s unfair that billionaire Peter Thiel had the resources to finance this case against Gawker (especially since he had a personal history with the company which also unwantedly exposed aspects of his personal life) while the rest of us don&rsquo;t have the capacity to get involved in such legal matters. Yet third parties commonly help finance litigation, particularly litigation that has broad implications for the legal system, and prominent nonprofit groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ensure that it isn&rsquo;t just wealthy individuals who can help finance litigation, but regular individuals who can pool resources that are then used for a legal defense.</p> <p> As Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, wrote for the <a href="">Washington Post</a>, the case against Gawker was well-suited as a test case for a broader policy principle:</p> <p> Gawker is institutionally committed to revealing the private lives of public people. The question of how far the privacy rights of celebrities go is a legitimate one, and Gawker&rsquo;s anything-goes position is not without merit. But it is a legal and policy question. Thiel was in essence financing what he understood as public interest litigation on an issue of public concern.</p> <p> Facebook&rsquo;s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the company leadership should welcome greater clarification from the courts on an issue that is so important to their network. And Facebook users should be concerned if the company is so committed to the perspective of content creators&mdash;even those like Gawker that focus on revealing the private lives of individuals by obtaining surreptitiously made tapes and failing to obtain the permission of the parties involved to make them public&mdash;that it cannot tolerate its board members even being involved in the exploration of the issue.</p> <p> Facebook&rsquo;s prominent board members undoubtedly are involved in a wide variety of causes and support a plethora of political views and ideologies. That&rsquo;s how it should be. Kicking out a board member for taking up a meritorious invasion of privacy case and cause would suggest that Facebook really isn&rsquo;t committed to ideological diversity or to the basic concept of privacy after all. If that&rsquo;s the case, Facebook users might want to reconsider how comfortable they feel about sharing intimate details of their own lives - and their children&rsquo;s - after all.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> L. LukasThu, 2 Jun 2016 15:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBeware of Bailouts and Other Bad Precedents<p> In Puerto Rico, Congress is weighing the second iteration of legislation aimed at addressing the island&rsquo;s debt crisis, which it finds itself in after years of typical big government budgeting and failure to fund its $46 billion pension system.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> The original draft of the &ldquo;Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act&rdquo; (PROMESA) received <a href="">fierce opposition</a> from free market thinkers and proponents of limited government, largely because of its failure to uphold the rights of Puerto Rico&rsquo;s bondholders, who are largely regular Americans saving for their retirement and their families. Unfortunately, the <a href="">second draft</a> is still largely a failure in this regard.</p> <p> The new legislation make it all but certain that the board will stop paying the island&rsquo;s lenders and use their money instead to prioritize Puerto Rico&rsquo;s neglected pension system &ndash; something that bondholders had nothing to do with. This is a pattern that the Obama Administration has advocated in past bankruptcy cases, and will certainly be the framework that liberals look to emulate in future debt crisis &ndash; meaning that those with savings invested in municipal bonds are far less secure than they were led to believe when they purchased them.</p> <p> This surely isn&rsquo;t the last time that a government, whether that&rsquo;s another territory or a state or locality, will seek relief from government.&nbsp; State governments such as Illinois (and, even more pressingly, the city of Chicago) are already teetering on the edge of requiring some sort of rescue. When the time comes to craft a solution, Congress will be hard pressed to ignore pressure from political stakeholders to rewrite rules in a way that will force bondholders to bear the brunt of losses if they&rsquo;ve already done so in Puerto Rico. That is why <a href="">legislation for Puerto Rico</a> represents a huge threat to the security of bondholders all across the country.&nbsp;</p> <p> We all have an interest in Puerto Rico making it through this difficult time and moving toward fiscal solvency, but we need to make sure that the path to get there doesn&rsquo;t involving making regular American bondholders pay for the mistakes of irresponsible governments. If that is the case in Puerto Rico, then it will surely become the norm everywhere else and have big implications for our financial markets more broadly.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 1 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHRC: Her Royal Crookness<p> Donald Trump&rsquo;s nickname for Hillary Clinton &ndash; Crooked Hillary &ndash; works because it builds off her well-deserved reputation with the public for skirting the law and bending the rules. But it&rsquo;s missing a key component of what should trouble the public about Mrs. Clinton. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s not just that she has a habit of bending the rules and breaking the laws. The bigger problem is that she doesn&rsquo;t think the rules should apply to her in the first place. HRC &ndash; or Her Royal Crookness &ndash; sees herself as a Queen, existing in a realm above the minions who work for her, and even higher above her lowly subjects. Queens don&rsquo;t have to bother with the system meant for ordinary schlubs. She doesn&rsquo;t have to accept facts or findings; we peons are expected to accept her version of events, rather than trust our own lyin&rsquo; eyes.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s the big takeaway from the <a href="">State Department&rsquo;s Inspector General Report</a> examining Secretary Clinton&rsquo;s email practice during her tenure leading the State Department. In contrast to Clinton&rsquo;s public assurances, her practice of exclusively using a private email system for her official work in spite of knowledge of the extreme security risks and record keeping requirements <em>was</em> unique; it <em>wasn&rsquo;t </em>approved by State Department lawyers; and, no surprise, was inconsistent with security protocols and put sensitive information at risk. &nbsp;</p> <p> Yes, Colin Powell also used a private email address and didn&rsquo;t follow record-keeping policies properly. But, as the report notes, that was when the rules for preserving email records were less detailed, and the security risks less understood. Mrs. Clinton shouldn&rsquo;t be able to get away with an &ldquo;everybody does it&rdquo; defense.</p> <p> In fact, the report describes what happens when lesser mortals break the rules. When an Ambassador to Kenya used a private server in spite of guidance that this practice was against the rules, disciplinary hearings were initiated and the Ambassador resigned his post. Yes, the rules apply even to ambassadors, just not to Queen Hillary.</p> <p> Clinton and her top aides wouldn&rsquo;t even deign to be interviewed by the Inspector General&rsquo;s office. That&rsquo;s for the little people, apparently. Her campaign is now trying to rip the report as a partisan hatchet job, trusting that the media and the public will overlook that the Inspector General was appointed by President Obama. &nbsp;</p> <p> Her Royal Crookness assumes she can get away with it just as she expects the American people will buy her campaign speeches about cracking down on Wall Street, and ignore the millions of dollars showered on her family personally by bankers and corporate heads. She&rsquo;s not planning to answer questions about millions of dollars flowing from Chinese donors into the Clinton Foundation (that&rsquo;s the <a href="">latest scandal</a> brewing as a part of an inquiry into Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe &mdash; it&rsquo;s so hard to keep track) either. And she&rsquo;s not going to tell you why dozens of other countries, including many with dubious human rights records, gave her family&rsquo;s nonprofit millions. How dare you ask such a question of the Queen!</p> <p> Americans should not accept a Queen for President. We&rsquo;ve had enough of a ruling class that thinks it&rsquo;s above the rest of us. In fact, that&rsquo;s one of the few areas where there is a bipartisan consensus. Overwhelming majorities of Democrats, as well as Republicans and Independents, said they thought it was wrong that there are separate rules for Washington elites, when <a href=";t=%5BOp-ed%5D-Something-Nearly-Everyone-Agrees-About--Except-Congress--The-Daily-Caller">surveyed</a> about Congress&rsquo;s special exemption from Obamacare. Both parties&rsquo; primaries have since revealed an intense dissatisfaction with a system that seems rigged to benefit the political-connected. &nbsp;</p> <p> Americans recall that we are supposed to be a nation of laws, after all, and those laws are meant to apply to everyone, even those with titles like Secretary or Senator.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s bad news for Her Royal Crookness, Hillary Clinton, who epitomizes the elitism that Americans resoundingly reject. &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 27 May 2016 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHillary Clinton's Wage Gap Hypocrisy<p> A Hillary Clinton Political Action Committee recently <a href="">released an ad</a> &mdash; undoubtedly the first of many &mdash; aimed at persuading American women they have no choice but to support her in November. This commercial strings together a selection of Trump&rsquo;s most off-putting statements, calling women fat and flat-chested, and otherwise treating women as sex objects, which hardly seems like behavior fitting a President.</p> <p> Even before Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, political analysts assumed that women would be the foundation of Mrs. Clinton&rsquo;s path to the White House. As Hillary endlessly reminds her audiences, she&rsquo;s a woman, making her potentially the first female president. Women are also the centerpiece of her policy agenda. She promises to create a new government-mandated paid leave benefit, additional childcare subsidies, and more laws and regulations that she claims will close the so-called wage gap.</p> <p> Yet Clinton has obstacles to overcome too. Savvy women are sure to notice that this is another example of a politician saying one thing and doing something entirely different. When it comes to the wage gap, Clinton talks a good game, but within the ranks of her own staff &mdash; surprise, surprise &mdash; she has a yawning wage gap of her own.</p> <p> Last month, <a href="">the Daily Caller</a> reported that male executives at the Clinton Foundation made 38 percent more than female executives at the Clinton Foundation. In fact, the gap between the top male and female executives was a jaw-dropping $109,000. This isn&rsquo;t the first time Hillary Clinton has been exposed as having a wage gap problem. In August, the Washington Free Beacon revealed that women on <a href="">Clinton&rsquo;s campaign staff</a> make less than the men. Years ago, there were also <a href="">disparities</a> between the wages of men and women on Clinton&rsquo;s Senate staff.</p> <p> Clinton probably has good explanations for these pay disparities: The men working at the Foundation and on Clinton&rsquo;s campaign staff likely have had different roles, longer hours and more job experience than some of the women, which is why they earn more than their female colleagues. Yet that&rsquo;s exactly the same reason there exists an average wage gap throughout the entire economy, a truth that Hillary herself has dutifully ignored.</p> <p> Feminist groups and liberal politicians like Clinton regularly promote the &ldquo;77-cents-on-the-dollar&rdquo; statistic, implying that this average difference in pay is evidence of sex discrimination. In reality, this statistic ignores the many factors that we know drive earnings: industry, specialty, years of experience, even number of hours worked. When those factors are controlled for, the wage gap <a href="">shrinks</a> to a few percentage points.</p> <p> Mrs. Clinton doesn&rsquo;t want to talk about those factors. She wants women to consider themselves victims of an irredeemably sexist society, where the only solution is to elect good liberals like her and give government more power to micromanage worker compensation.</p> <p> Voters may not buy it. After all, this primary season has told us nothing if not that Americans are sick of the status quo and a Washington elite that believes the rules don&rsquo;t apply to them. Women, who tend to place a high value on honesty, might notice that Clinton has a habit of decrying a system that she personally benefits from.</p> <p> During Bill Clinton&rsquo;s presidency, for example, the Clintons staunchly opposed programs to help more parents escape the failing D.C. public school system, but naturally didn&rsquo;t hesitate to enroll their own daughter in the city&rsquo;s most expensive private school. They promoted laws that promised to crack down on sexual harassment in workplaces, but Mrs. Clinton looked the other way as her husband transformed the White House into its own hostile work environment &mdash;&nbsp;she even helped smear the women being used by her husband.</p> <p> Today, Mrs. Clinton claims that she wants to crack down on Wall Street fat cats and rails against supersized CEO pay; meanwhile, voters are expected to ignore how her family is among the fattest of cats, and for years has been focused on maximizing their take from this corrupt system, accepting enormous payments &mdash; sometimes more money than the average worker makes in a year &mdash; for performing next to no work.</p> <p> Voters may find this hypocrisy as cringe-inducing as Trump&rsquo;s boorish statements about women. Certainly, Clinton shouldn&rsquo;t assume that women will overlook these issues as they consider their choice &mdash; and they will indeed have a choice to make &mdash; in November.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasMon, 23 May 2016 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumForcing More Workers to Punch a Clock Isn’t Progress<p> Judging from President Obama&rsquo;s email announcement that the Department of Labor would today release a final rule expanding overtime pay regulations, you might think that he was footing the bill: &nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones. It&rsquo;s one of most important steps we&rsquo;re taking to help grow middle-class wages and put $12 billion more dollars in the pockets of hardworking Americans over the next 10 years.</p> <p> But, of course, that&rsquo;s not the case.&nbsp; Employers will have to come up with the extra billions to pay more overtime due to the new rules.&nbsp; That means that while some workers may earn more under the new rule, others will lose out as businesses respond by reducing base compensation, cutting back hours overall, consolidating jobs, and raising prices.&nbsp;</p> <p> Of course, the hard costs of paying for overtime are just one of the burdens created by the new rule. They&rsquo;ll also face significant new compliance costs as they have to track more workers&rsquo; hours in order to assess when they qualify for overtime.&nbsp; The National Retail Federation estimates the new rule will cost employers more than $9 billion per year.</p> <p> Some workers may not mind having to punch a clock if it means extra dollars in their paycheck.&nbsp; But others will resent being transitioned from salaried positions, in which they are compensated for productivity and value added, into one where hours logged are the key metric.&nbsp;</p> <p> As is so often the case, these&nbsp;workplace regulations&nbsp;are likely to backfire the most on women who value flexibility.&nbsp; Some businesses are sure to respond to these new rules by eliminating at-home and nontraditional work arrangement since it&rsquo;s tough to keep precise track of someone&rsquo;s work hours when&nbsp;they are telecommuting or using a flexible schedule.</p> <p> Policymakers could help workers more by cutting back on red tape to make it more likely that employers will create jobs, giving people a better chance to&nbsp;find the arrangements they prefer, whether that&rsquo;s working in an hourly job with overtime potential&nbsp;or a salaried position.&nbsp;</p> <p> The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum&rsquo;s recently release report, <a href="">Working for Women</a>, makes that case and particularly highlights the need to modernize the Depression-era Fair Labor and Standards Act, which governs issues like overtime. Conservatives need to be prepared to dive into this debate and explain why new regulations like this one aren&rsquo;t a victory for workers, but another impediment to job creation, and make the case for a new direction and real flexibility.</p> L. LukasWed, 18 May 2016 10:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum