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 RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Why the Left Doesn’t Like Kellyanne Conway’s Message About Work-Life Balance<p> Kellyanne Conway recently became the first woman to successfully lead a winning presidential campaign. It&rsquo;s not the first time she&rsquo;s been a ground-breaker: Conway started her polling company in 1995 when she was just twenty-eight years old. In different circumstances, she&rsquo;d be feminist favorite and heralded as a role model. Yet because she&rsquo;s an unapologetic conservative&mdash;and even worse, one that helped elect Donald Trump&mdash;she&rsquo;s reviled by the Left, and a target for <a href="http://twitchy.com/loriz-3139/2016/12/06/kellyanne-conway-celebrates-her-historic-win-left-focus-on-conways-body-hurl-sexual-slurs/">vicious attacks</a>.</p> <p> Conway&rsquo;s latest sin is her candid remarks about why she decided not to accept a top White House job. According to <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/valerie-jarrett-kellyanne-conway-232324">Politico</a>, here&rsquo;s how Conway described explaining her decision to male colleagues:</p> <p> I do politely mention to them the question isn&rsquo;t would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who&rsquo;s going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to . . . Would you want the mother of your children to? You really see their entire visage change. It&rsquo;s like, oh, no, they wouldn&rsquo;t want their wife to take that job.</p> <p> <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/12/07/kellyanne_conway_suggests_that_mothers_should_not_take_jobs_in_the_white.html">Slate&lsquo;s Suzanne Monyak</a> bristles at Conway&rsquo;s thought experiment and&mdash;surprise, surprise&mdash;finds a way to read an implicit insult of other working women into Conway&rsquo;s remarks. In her piece entitled, &ldquo;Kellyanne Conway Suggests that Women with Kids Shouldn&rsquo;t Take Jobs in the White House,&rdquo; Monyak writes:</p> <p> Donald Trump&rsquo;s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that mothers should not accept high-powered career opportunities&mdash;a standard that does not apply to fathers, in Conway&rsquo;s opinion . . .</p> <p> The problem with Conway&rsquo;s comments is not that she values her family or spending time with her young children. It&rsquo;s that she seems to believe that it is the onus of the woman in a family to sacrifice her career opportunities so that her husband may have his. Even more troubling, Conway implies that no good mother should take on such a job&mdash;an attitude that feels ripped out of Mad Men.</p> <p> Yet that&rsquo;s not what Conway said at all, and it would be bizarre if she did offer such sweeping pronouncements about what constitutes a good mother. After all, Kellyanne has been running a major polling company the entire time she&rsquo;s been a parent. She&rsquo;s just spent the last several months leading a round-the-clock presidential campaign. This is hardly June Cleaver lecturing other women not to lean in.</p> <p> Rather, what Conway dared to do was to describe honestly how most married couples approach major work-life decisions without the politically correct caveats that the Left wants people to use. If that had been her style, she might have added: &ldquo;Of course, there are women who would jump at the chance for a West Wing job and they could still be wonderful mothers, and there are some husbands who would happily cheer them on. That&rsquo;s great for them!&rdquo; Or, &ldquo;Certainly plenty of women, upon hearing that their partners are considering such a time-consuming job, would forcefully object. Men have balancing acts too!&rdquo;</p> <p> But she didn&rsquo;t bother with that. She spoke about her own experience and her desire to be the hands-on parent, which she knows is also how many women approach such decisions. We can debate endlessly why women disproportionally assume the primary parenting role, if it&rsquo;s nature or nurture or some combination thereof, and how it might possibly change. Yet that&rsquo;s reality today, and Conway simply has the sense and candor to put it out there.</p> <p> President Obama&rsquo;s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett encouraged Conway to reconsider: &ldquo;I encourage Kellyanne to try it . . . You can always leave. You can always leave if it doesn&rsquo;t work out.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s great advice&mdash;especially for those of us who would like to see Kellyanne Conway in a leading role in the next administration.</p> <p> But Jarrett isn&rsquo;t the only woman who&rsquo;s had something to say about the experience of balancing work and family life while working in an Administration, even under a supposedly in-tune-to-women&rsquo;s-needs boss like President Obama. Anne Marie Slaughter, who had been the director of policy planning at the State Department, wrote &ldquo;Why Women Still Can&rsquo;t Have It All&rdquo; in <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/">The Atlantic</a> after quitting her job because she felt she had lost too much time with her sons. Slaughter wrote that she&rsquo;d been told, &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t say that!&rdquo; when she described her plans to write the article, but she did write it. Naturally, Slaughter (a liberal feminist in good standing!) was mostly applauded for her piece, especially since she intoned about how the work world should change to make it easier for parents (but particularly women) to balance powerful jobs and family life.</p> <p> Conway recognizes that such demanding positions aren&rsquo;t easy to reshape, even when people are committed to helping working women balance their work and home lives, as Conway says the President-Elect is. She also knows she&rsquo;ll have a role to play the next four years, but is waiting to make sure that whatever position she accepts fits her goals, both professional and private. Good for her. She&rsquo;s not discouraging other women from pursuing their dreams; she&rsquo;s showing how a powerful woman doesn&rsquo;t have to settle and can instead shape the life she wants. Isn&rsquo;t that what feminism is supposed to be about?</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802336/Carrie L. LukasFri, 9 Dec 2016 10:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJudge’s Decision to Halt New Overtime Rules Isn’t Just a Victory for Business—It’s Good News for Workers<p> The press is covering a federal judge&rsquo;s&nbsp;decision to halt the implementation of the Department of Labor&rsquo;s new overtime regulation as a victory for Republicans and business groups and a blow to workers. But many workers should&nbsp;also celebrate this news.</p> <p> Analysts tend to present this new regulation as all upside for workers who would become newly eligible for overtime when they work in excess of a 40-hour week. But, as labor policy expert Tammy McCutchen explained in testimony before the U.S. Senate, this also takes away their guaranteed income:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> &hellip;while exempt employees do not receive overtime for working over 40 hours in a week, they also are not paid less if they work less than 40 hours in a week. If an exempt employee works as little as one hour in the week, and then takes the rest of the week off because of a family emergency, that employee will still be paid her entire weekly salary. A non-exempt employee need be paid only for the one hour she actually worked. A non-exempt employee who takes an afternoon off to attend a parent-teacher conference will not be paid for that time, but an exempt employee will be paid her full guaranteed salary.</p> <p> So while some workers may earn more because of overtime, others may end up making less as a result of the new rules. Moreover, many workers simply don&rsquo;t want to have to track their time and inform their bosses exactly when they are leaving early and when they are working late. Moving to an hourly position entails a loss of prestige for some workers, who prefer to feel as though their contributions to the company are bigger than just their time logged.</p> <p> One survey by the National Restaurant Association found that 85 percent of restaurant and retail managers believe changing employees from salaried to hourly workers will have a negative effect. Nearly half believe that the change would hurt morale, making people feel they were in a job rather than a career. And these respondents aren&rsquo;t just speaking for their employees. After all, many of the managers in restaurants and retail shops may also be newly eligible for overtime, and 86 percent reported that their perceptions of their own positions would deteriorate if they were moved to an hourly status.</p> <p> This costly new regulation would have been a blow to flexibility for workers and created a costly administrative burden for businesses. It&rsquo;s welcome news&nbsp;that its implementation has been delayed.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802202/Carrie L. LukasWed, 23 Nov 2016 06:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMegyn Kelly Fails to Fit the Feminist Mold—and That’s a Good Thing<p> Is Megyn Kelly a feminist hero or villain? That&rsquo;s a question that many feminist writers have been grappling with for the past year, but one that has become more pressing as the host of Fox News&rsquo; popular &ldquo;The Kelly File&rdquo; has just released a memoir, <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/02/megyn-kelly-landed-a-book-deal.html">Settle for More</a>.</p> <p> As Anna Silman <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/what-should-feminists-make-of-megyn-kelly.html">writes</a> in New York magazine:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> liberals, perhaps grateful to hear from someone who doesn&rsquo;t always toe the party line, have rushed to claim Kelly as a feminist hero, a breath of fresh air wafting through the dank chambers of Fox News. &lsquo;Kelly has emerged as an unlikely feminist warrior&rsquo; writes&nbsp;Emily Nussbaum in&nbsp;The New Yorker. Others are less enthused. &lsquo;Megyn Kelly Is Hardly A &lsquo;Feminist Icon,&rsquo;&rsquo; argues&nbsp;Media Matters. (Conservatives have similarly strong feelings.) Indeed, nobody seems to know what to make of Kelly, a confusion that feels tied up in feminists&rsquo; broader struggle to understand how&nbsp;so many women in this country&nbsp;could have cast their ballots for President-elect Trump.</p> <p> Silman tiptoes toward the larger issue in that last sentence: Really, all the machinations about Kelly tell us a lot more about the modern feminist movement and its attitudes toward women than they do about the Fox News star.</p> <p> Silman dissects how Kelly has upheld feminist standards&mdash;&ldquo;defending <a href="http://gawker.com/5828842/megyn-kelly-destroys-guy-who-called-her-maternity-leave-a-racket">maternity leave</a>, advocating for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/megyn-kelly-erick-erickson-lou-dobbs_n_3367571.html">working women,</a> and <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/10/newt-gingrich-to-megyn-kelly-youre-fascinated-with-sex.html">eviscerating misogynists on air</a>&rdquo;&mdash;and weighs this against her sins against feminism, such as questioning statistics about the wage gap and &ldquo;affirmative consent&rdquo; policies on college campuses, and not being sufficiently fixated on how sexism has been an impediment to her career.</p> <p> This process for determining if Kelly deserves the title of feminist is exactly why Megyn Kelly herself affirmatively rejects the term, which she describes as &ldquo;exclusionary and alienating.&rdquo; Kelly is exactly right: For all their talk about diversity and tolerance, the progressive feminist movement has a rigid view of how women should think and seeks to divide women into two camps. Only good women who embrace the entire progressive political agenda and carefully adhere to all the rules of political correctness deserve to be called feminist. Those who don&rsquo;t follow their rules, the non-feminists, are traitors to their sex, and feminists prefer to depict them as cartoonishly conservative: white, church-going, middle-aged mothers who lack college degrees and professional jobs, vote Republican, and wear pearls. These backward women are feminism&rsquo;s antithesis and can be dismissed as either the tools or the unwitting victims of the patriarchy; they are too far gone to be salvaged.</p> <p> Take The Guardian&lsquo;s Jessica Valenti. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/06/2014-election-republican-women-record-numbers">Writing</a> in 2014 after another disappointing election for progressives, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/07/anti-feminist-women-hobby-lobby-decision-great">Valenti simply dismisses</a> nearly half of the women in the country:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> In a way, female Republicans almost&nbsp;bother me more&nbsp;than their male counterparts. I can almost understand why a bunch of rich, religiously conservative white men wouldn&rsquo;t care about the reality of women&rsquo;s day-to-day lives&mdash;they&rsquo;ve never had to. But throwing other women under the bus? For what? Lower taxes? Three minutes on Fox News in the 3pm hour? It makes me wonder what is wrong with you.</p> <p> What&rsquo;s really wrong, however, is Valenti&rsquo;s inability to fathom that anyone&mdash;but particularly women&mdash;could have a different, but still legitimate, approach to public policy issues. The feminist movement seems unable to conceive that women might actually believe that government&rsquo;s workplace mandates backfire on women, or object to forcing nuns to pay for contraception, or think people are better off with more freedom and lower taxes and fewer regulations. For feminists, these issues are not open for debate, and failure to agree with them is taken as evidence of avarice or some kind of pathology.</p> <p> In fact, it&rsquo;s this agenda&mdash;not the broad cause of women&rsquo;s equality&mdash;that is the centerpiece of today&rsquo;s progressive feminist movement. That&rsquo;s why they can imply that women have a duty to vote for Hillary Clinton, but then decry the election of Republican Joni Ernst and pile on against a Sarah Palin or a Nikki Haley.</p> <p> When these priorities are considered, then it&rsquo;s easy to navigate the liberal take on Megyn Kelly: They cheered for her when she challenged Donald Trump on his sexist comments, but will dismiss her anytime she fails to be useful for their cause. Undoubtedly, Kelly bothers them because she can&rsquo;t be written off as a repressed, old school housewife. She&rsquo;s smart, hardworking, successful, and unafraid to challenge political leaders of all stripes.</p> <p> Megyn Kelly is exactly the kind of woman that a legitimate women&rsquo;s movement would celebrate&mdash;which is why the feminist movement never will.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802196/Carrie L. LukasTue, 22 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Childcare Proposal Ivanka Should Heed in a Trump Administration<p> During her father&rsquo;s first interview after his Election Night victory, &ldquo;60 Minutes&rdquo; reporter Lesley Stahl said to Donald Trump&rsquo;s daughter, Ivanka: &ldquo;People think that you&rsquo;re going to be part of the administration, Ivanka.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m &mdash; no,&rdquo; Ivanka Trump responded. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to be a daughter. But I&rsquo;ve &mdash; I&rsquo;ve said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues. And that I want to fight for them&hellip; Wage equality, childcare. These are things that are very important for me. I&rsquo;m very passionate about education. Really promoting more opportunities for women. So you know, there&rsquo;re a lot of things that I feel deeply, strongly about. But not in a formal administrative capacity.&rdquo;</p> <p> During her speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Americans got a glimpse of what Ivanka has in mind when it comes to both priorities. During her speech, Ivanka discussed both, saying:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;Women represent 46 percent of the total U.S. labor force, and 40 percent of American households have female primary breadwinners. In 2014, women made 83 cents for every dollar made by a man. Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents. As researchers have noted, gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.&rdquo;</em></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">For most conservatives listening, the speech was unlike anything we&rsquo;ve heard on an RNC stage; and not in a good way. In </span><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">National Review</span></em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF) provided some much needed perspective for the auditioning First Daughter, whose talking points sounded more like a Hillary surrogate&rsquo;s than a Republicans&rsquo;. She </span></span><a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/438217/rnc-convention-ivanka-women-and-workplace-issues"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">wrote</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">,</span></span></strong></span></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Ivanka succeeded in showing the audience that Republicans care about these issues, rather than just allowing the Left and Hillary Clinton to dominate discussions about women in the workplace&hellip; There are dozens of conservative policy reforms that can help women, including providing more protection for equal pay, without encouraging frivolous litigation or needlessly growing government. Similarly on childcare, Ivanka correctly noted that childcare expenses are a major burden for too many working women and more needs to be done to help parents, particularly those with lower incomes, for whom childcare expenses can eat up the bulk of after-tax earnings.&rdquo;</span></em></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Coming out of the gate during the first 100 days of his administration, there are any number of policy goals on the to-do list for Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress. For many on the Right, we&rsquo;ve struggled for a long time to recapture the narrative from liberals that it&rsquo;s possible to care about families and women, and care for them, without adding additional government, bureaucracy and red tape. If Ivanka and her father are serious about enacting reforms that would help women and families, they could turn to a </span></span><a href="http://iwf.org/news/2800071/Personal-Care-Accounts-Can-Help-People-Who-Need-Time-Off-from-Work"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">proposal</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> from IWF on Personal Care Accounts (PCAs) for inspiration.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> The concept is similar to health savings accounts. Instead of adding to government-funded mandates in the form of universal paid leave, suppose employees and employers could add tax-free to savings accounts which could then be used for when employees need to take family leave of any kind &mdash; if a parent is sick, if a baby is born, or if a child is adopted. Any leftover money could then be rolled over into a retirement account; encouraging more savings for individuals who might have hit their maximum contribution limits on retirement accounts.</p> <p> Those in the upper and middle class could immediately see relief from the financial crunch that having a family crisis or addition can bring. But what about those at the bottom of the tax bracket? IWF encourages private charities to fill the gap, eliminating the expense of bureaucracy and middlemen that would have otherwise interfered had government taken this role instead.</p> <p> But would private individuals be able to fill this gap? Lukas thinks so. &ldquo;A $5,000 PCA for the poorer half of those mothers would require about $7 billion,&rdquo; she wrote. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a big number, but not so incredible when you consider that charitable giving in the United States exceeded $350 billion in 2014.&rdquo;</p> <p> Although no single proposal or initiative can solve the crisis for many American families regarding the financial pressures of balancing home life and work life; IWF&rsquo;s proposal would be an important first step towards allowing Americans to be stewards of their own financial security instead of relying on more government intervention.</p> <p> If the Trump administration is looking to highlight its commitment to America&rsquo;s women and families, a role traditionally owned by liberals, while still remaining committed to the free-market, alleviating some of this pressure via PCAs would be an important first step.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2802193/Carrie L. LukasMon, 21 Nov 2016 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJournalists Need to Check -- And Double Check -- Their Sources<p> Trust in the media is at an all-time low, and for good reason. During this election, we saw emails from supposed journalists colluding with the campaigns they are supposed to be covering and reporters declaring that they are giving up objectivity for a larger cause. Americans should be warned that such manipulation of the news is an increasingly common occurrence, and it&rsquo;s used not just for politics and to change public opinion, but to impact public policy.</p> <p> Take, for example, Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which positions itself as a unbiased research institution that evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of new medical treatments and has <a href="https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2016/04/12/drug-prices-icer/">risen quickly to prominence</a> as the &ldquo;de facto arbiter of the nation&rsquo;s drug chest.&rdquo; That sounds like a real public service. In fact, journalists would welcome credible and transparent information about complicated issues like these. But unfortunately, that&rsquo;s not what ICER is providing. In fact this nonprofit group receives <a href="http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Institute_for_Clinical_and_Economic_Review_(ICER)">much of its support</a> from insurance companies that want to avoid having to pay for expensive new drugs and pharmaceutical treatments. Their work isn&rsquo;t peer-reviewed&mdash;and , perhaps unsurprisingly&ndash;their analysis tends to find that most new treatments aren&rsquo;t worth the cost.</p> <p> As <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-complicated-dynamics-of-insurance-companies-and-drug-prices/article/2004670#!">The Weekly Standard</a> explained, the ICER&rsquo;s recommendations ignore how pharmaceutical companies have to price in the costs associated with research and development, including all those that fail to ever come to market:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> ICER also estimates &ldquo;appropriate&rdquo; drug prices, and its calls for price reduction are sometimes shocking. One report called for an asthma drug to have its price slashed by&nbsp;76 percent; another found that a new blood cancer drug should be sold at&nbsp;94 percent&nbsp;below its set market price. These extreme price recommendations ignore a basic premise within the biopharmaceutical industry &ndash; that drug sales fund innovation for new drugs, and that only&nbsp;one in 10&nbsp;new medicines make it from Phase I clinical trials to FDA approval and the market.</p> <p> A <a href="https://capitalresearch.org/article/insuring-crony-capitalism/">Capital Research report</a> notes that &ldquo;ICER has determined that most [drugs it reviews] are too expensive,&rdquo; even when its own long-term cost-benefit analysis finds it&rsquo;s the best value:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Another ICER <a href="http://ctaf.org/sites/default/files/u148/CHF_Draft_Report_091115.pdf">report</a> claimed that the $4,600 annual price for Entresto, a new drug to treat congestive heart failure, was 17 percent too high over the short-term. &nbsp;At its current price, Entresto would add $25 billion to the nation&rsquo;s health care costs over five years.&nbsp; Yet, because the drug provides more health benefits and reduces hospitalization when compared to other treatments, it was cost effective over the long term.&nbsp; But [ICER president] Pearson didn&rsquo;t seem too concerned with the long-term.&nbsp; &ldquo;Just because it&rsquo;s a good long-term value doesn&rsquo;t mean you could afford it today without jacking up health care premiums a whole lot or doing other things to make money available,&rdquo; he <a href="http://khn.org/news/new-heart-failure-treatments-would-drive-up-short-term-health-spending-report-says/">told</a> a reporter.</p> <p> Cost certainly has to be a consideration in our healthcare system, but the American people also need to recognize that this analysis isn&rsquo;t just coming from a neutral party, but one with an interest in framing the drug price discussion and ultimately declaring that the benefits aren&rsquo;t worth the costs. Of course, just because this group has donors with particular interests doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that it&rsquo;s biasing its analysis, but it does mean their work should be checked against other sources that may have different incentives or different interests.</p> <p> Journalists, in particular, ought to be aware of such relationships rather than just repeating headlines issued by such interest groups&rsquo; releases. They ought to do their own analysis and look for other perspectives to give their readers a more balanced perspective</p> <p> Unfortunately, the media <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/28/critics-target-institute-evaluates-price-value-drugs/87355212/">often seems</a> <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/28/critics-target-institute-evaluates-price-value-drugs/87355212/">to avoid</a> doing this due diligence.</p> <p> Journalists are supposed to help bring the truth and report on solid facts so that people can make educated decisions and assessments on their own. The media can help that cause&mdash;and repair their industry&rsquo;s tattered reputation&mdash;by spending more time considering their sources and less time repeating alarmist headlines or opining on their own.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802164/Carrie L. LukasFri, 18 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA March To Nowhere<p> Anti-Trump protests are ongoing, with hundreds still gathering around the country to denounce the results of the 2016 election. This may just be the beginning: <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3928400/Women-planning-mass-march-Washington-Trump-takes-office.html">The Daily Mail</a> reports that a &ldquo;women&rsquo;s march on Washington&rdquo; is being planned to coincide with the inauguration in January. Within twenty-four hours of the announcement of the effort, more than 35,000 people had signed on to participate.</p> <p> Protests and demonstrations have a noble history in the United States, and have been used effectively to awaken people to worthy causes and issues. When done right, they can encourage others who share the protesters&rsquo; concerns, but who are reticent to speak up, to join them, thereby building momentum for action.</p> <p> The Americans planning to march on Washington to protest the incoming President must be hoping to build on this tradition. Yet strategic thinkers on the Left ought to consider what these protests will accomplish, and whether they are likely to advance&mdash;or might actually hinder&mdash;their larger cause.</p> <p> After all, protests have become increasingly common in recent years. Students on college campuses now regularly stage demonstrations. Many of these protests seem meant to be an end in themselves, with students rallying against innocuous administration policies or for higher wages on campus, but mostly seeming to enjoy the experience and camaraderie of the protest itself. Yes, some protests are seriously undertaken with the intention of bringing about results: Take the 2015 protests, which include a student hunger strike, at the University of Missouri against the university&rsquo;s policies related to race and their response to racial incidents on campus, which resulted in both the president and chancellor stepping down.</p> <p> While that protest succeeded in bringing about changes that the protesters were calling for, they failed to build support among the public. In fact, a <a href="http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/25135/">poll</a> taken in Missouri after the protest found that &ldquo;by a fairly wide margin, the state&rsquo;s public does not view the University of Missouri&rsquo;s recent protests and associated events very favorably.&rdquo; Twice as many Missourians disagreed with student protesters&rsquo; message as agreed with them. 62 percent disagreed with student protesters&rsquo; actions, while just 20 percent agreed.</p> <p> In other words, these students may have won the battle, but they were hurting their prospects in the larger war. The polls didn&rsquo;t dig into why respondents felt this way, but one can surmise from other commentaries at the time that many Missourians thought that the students were being unreasonable in their demands and taking their privilege to attend the university for granted. The poll also found that five times as many people said they viewed the University of Missouri&rsquo;s Administration more negatively as a result of the recent events than said they viewed them more positively. Most likely that&rsquo;s because the administration cowed to student demands. By a 10 point margin, these same respondents were against increasing the cigarette tax to fund student aid. Perhaps many oppose higher taxes on principle, but disgust with the students&rsquo; behavior certainly didn&rsquo;t help build support for increased student funding.</p> <p> Protests against President-elect Trump are similarly likely to fail in terms of rallying public opinion to their cause. Coming immediately after an election, these marches and protests appear to be mostly sour grapes and are laced with hypocrisy. After all, the Left had been lecturing the country about the need to accept the legitimacy of the democratic process days before voting began, when they believed that Mrs. Clinton was a sure thing. Yet now they are the ones destroying property, holding up profane &ldquo;not my president&rdquo; signs, and calling for people to try to change the rules of the election after the fact. This is far more likely to turn centrist voters off, then to make them want to join their team.</p> <p> Republicans are not known for their ability to use protests effectively, but anti-Trump forces ought to consider how the GOP regained its strength after devastating losses in 2008. Most Republicans didn&rsquo;t protest President Obama&rsquo;s election in 2008, but instead most signaled their support for the new president. It was only after the President pursued specific policies with which they disagreed&mdash;such as the mammoth stimulus package and the move toward government-run healthcare&mdash;that conservatives began organizing Tea Party rallies. The Tea Party movement failed to stop the stimulus or ObamaCare, but it succeeded in galvanizing conservative opposition, encouraging more people to get involved and ultimately led to success at the midterm elections in 2010.</p> <p> Marches on Washington and profane social media campaigns may be cathartic for passionate liberals stinging from a loss. But they won&rsquo;t accomplish what the Left needs if the goal is to regain a greater share of the public trust and to build lasting, reasoned opposition to policies that Trump will advance during the next four years. They have every right to march, but they should recognize that they are marching against their own interests.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802135/Carrie L. LukasTue, 15 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRepublicans Should Be Magnanimous …. But So Should Democrats<p> After such a bitter election, it&rsquo;s a welcome relief to see our political leaders&mdash;particularly President-Elect Trump, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and President Obama&mdash;be magnanimous and encourage the country to come together. It&rsquo;s an important message: As Americans, we are all on the same team and want what is best for the country. The election&rsquo;s winners, Donald Trump and Republicans generally, have a particular responsibility to show that they are focused on the country&rsquo;s best interests and not just on partisan gain.</p> <p> Yet supporters of Hillary Clinton&mdash;including the mainstream media which in this election abandoned their fig leaf of objectivity to work full bore on behalf of their preferred candidate&mdash;have a role to play too. They can vent for a few days as they come to accept an outcome to this election that they never saw coming, but then they need to put away the vitriol and do their part to encourage healing too.</p> <p> In particular, continuing to paint all Trump supporters as &ldquo;deplorables&rdquo; motivated solely by racism is not a productive way to encourage unity. Pundits and angry Democrats are taking to the media and social media outlets like Facebook to decry the white racism that they claim explains this election. Yet this is a terrible misrepresentation of what motivated the vast majority of Trump voters. Many of those who came to vote for Trump had qualms about the candidate but were more alarmed by Clinton, who represented to them the lawlessness and Washington-knows-best elitism that they believed are destroying the foundation of our country.</p> <p> Enthusiastic Trump voters were often motivated by matters of policy, such as their concerns about government-run health care, an administrative state that was strangling our jobs, our ludicrously expensive, wasteful and disconnected higher education system, and growing national debt. Yes, certainly many blue collar, white Americans were also concerned about issues that have a racial element to them: They are concerned about the downward pressure on wages that they see as an outgrowth of illegal immigration, increased crime problems, and a lost sense of community that they see as an unfortunate outgrowth of globalization. This doesn&rsquo;t mean that they are racists who don&rsquo;t want a diverse country and who seek to close the country&rsquo;s doors to the rest of the word. Rather, they are concerned about their children&rsquo;s futures, and want leaders who respect and understand their experience. Aren&rsquo;t they allowed to have interests just as other groups do?</p> <p> The sense that polite society wouldn&rsquo;t even allow them to voice their concerns&mdash;that their President sees them as &ldquo;<a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/ben-smith/2008/04/obama-on-small-town-pa-clinging-to-religion-guns-xenophobia-007737">bitter clingers</a>&rdquo; to their religion and guns, that they are simply &ldquo;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/09/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-basket-of-deplorables/">deplorables</a>&rdquo; in the eyes of the Democratic candidate, and are tarred as being supportive of the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-elections/barack-obama-donald-trump-kkk-speech-ku-klux-klan-a7394786.html">KKK</a> or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-right-hand-salute_us_56db50d8e4b03a405678e27a">Nazis</a>&mdash;was surely one reason why Trump was so appealing to them. They wanted someone who wasn&rsquo;t cowed by the media or caught in the Left&rsquo;s politically-correct straight jacket and would instead give them a voice and give their perspective a fair hearing.</p> <p> Republicans now have much work to do to demonstrate that they reject the divisive rhetoric sometimes employed by Trump and want a country that creates better opportunities for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, gays, and everyone else. It&rsquo;s in their interest to do so: Republicans won despite losing Hispanics and African-Americans by wide margins; winning in the future will depend on winning the trust of a larger share of these groups.</p> <p> Yet the Left also needs to work on being truly inclusive and not appearing bigoted against white working-class men, Christians, and rural Americans&mdash;groups that overwhelming and consistently vote against them. While Republicans&rsquo; weaknesses are well known and widely discussed, much less recognized and acknowledged is Democrats&rsquo; just-as-urgent need to do some soul searching and consider how their own prejudices are encouraging them to think the worst about their fellow countrymen. Their language also needs to become more respectful and inclusive if they want to earn back America&rsquo;s trust.</p> <p> This divisive election is mercifully over. We can hope that this is a low tide in terms of bipartisanship, but it&rsquo;s important to remember that as we start repairing these relationships and building a more cohesive country, that process has to be a two-way street.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2802109/Carrie L. LukasThu, 10 Nov 2016 15:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumForthrightness Is What’s Needed From Our Political Leaders<p> Americans have high expectations for our political leaders: We want someone who is confident, but humble; inspirational, but relatable; intelligent, but grounded with common sense. Yet at this critical juncture for our country, there are a few characteristics that should be paramount as Americans consider whom to send to Washington to represent us.</p> <p> <strong>Forthrightness:</strong> For too long, Americans have put up with politicians that offer us poll-tested platitudes, but then take very different positions in private. They tell the people what they think their audiences want to hear, depend on the liberal media to spin the facts to fit their interests, and ignore the real concerns facing Americans.</p> <p> This cannot go on. America faces enormous challenges today: A struggling economy, growing entrenched joblessness, exploding national debt, collapsing healthcare system, out-of-control illegal immigration, growing crime problem, increased racial tensions, an unaffordable and wasteful college system, and escalating terrorist and national security threats. Americans cannot afford phony, politically correct, happy talk and politics-as-usual. We need leaders who will talk frankly about these too-real problems and are committed to taking action to make actual progress.</p> <p> <strong>An Outside-Washington Perspective:</strong> Too many Washington politicians no longer seem to live in the same world as other Americans. They enjoy cushy employment contracts, benefits and perks that one would never find in the private sector. They hobnob with their politically connected friends and trade favors, while passing the bills on to taxpayers. We need leaders who reject this mentality and are committed to restoring our nation to a system of laws that truly treats and respects everyone equally &mdash; including members of the political class. This requires a new perspective; someone who recognizes the inherent corruption in government cronyism, and is committed to changing it.</p> <p> <strong>An Understanding of Americans&rsquo; Aspirations:</strong> America has long been known as the &ldquo;land of opportunity.&rdquo; Our country was built on the idea that anyone with talent and who was willing to work hard could climb the economic ladder and achieve security and prosperity. We have always been a country that roots for and celebrates success, as well as helps those in need. Unfortunately, this ideal has been disappearing as too many people can&rsquo;t find the opportunity to work, and are instead tempted to give up and depend on government to provide for them. Restoring the American Dream must be a priority for the next administration so that people have the opportunity to flourish and pursue their own vision of happiness. We need leaders who believe in this American idea, rather than apologize for it.</p> <p> <strong>A Respect for People as Individuals:</strong> Increasingly, politicians seem to believe that Washington has all the answers and should set the rules for everyone. They force us to have the same services covered in our health insurance or pay a penalty if not covered. Washington bureaucrats want to micromanage our employment contracts and tell us how many days off we each must have. They even want to dictate whats in our kids&rsquo; school lunches and how much salt can be on our potato chips.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t how America &mdash; founded on the idea of a federal government with limited powers &mdash; is supposed to operate. We need leaders who reject this Washington-knows-best attitude, and will respect individual Americans to make the decisions that are right for them.</p> <p> <strong>Bringing Us Together as a Country:</strong> America could use leadership that emphasizes what binds us together as citizens in this great country, rather than encouraging people to focus on differences in our backgrounds and ethnicities. How refreshing it would be to have political leaders who inspire and encourage us to be better, more involved citizens, working to help ourselves as well as our communities!</p> <p> Americans deserve political leaders &mdash; and ultimately a commander in chief &mdash; who respect them and our country&rsquo;s founding principles that have enabled so many people, from so many different backgrounds, to thrive. That type of leader could bring real and much-needed change to Washington, and improve the lives of people across our country in the years to come.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2801995/Carrie L. LukasSun, 6 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAmericans Reject Bud Light’s Ill-Conceived PC Ad Series<p> There&rsquo;s a rare bit of good news on the culture front: Evidently a particularly stupid commercial series by Anheuser-Busch has fallen flat. The ill-conceived ads featured a &ldquo;Bud Light Party&rdquo; with comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen riffing off of political themes while hawking their preferred beverage. Now, according to <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2016/10/31/amy-schumer-and-seth-rogens-bud-light-ads-axed.html">Fox News</a>, beer sales have declined enough that the company decided to cut the commercials&rsquo; run early.</p> <p> Presumably, Americans have simply had enough of this depressing political campaign and are turned off by anything that reminds them of the present political unpleasantness. Yet while some of the ads were just making fun of political campaigns&mdash;calling for people to rally together for things that really unify the country, like happy hour and skipping work to watch college basketball&mdash;many had politically-correct liberal overtones that would inevitably alienate the half of the country that isn&rsquo;t on the political left.</p> <p> In one commercial, Schumer and Rogen announce that they are there to talk about &ldquo;Equal Pay&rdquo; and proceed to load the thirty-second spot with simplistic and grossly misleading statements. According to the comedians, women earn less than men and at the same time have to pay more for products like shampoo and cars, and services like dry cleaning.</p> <p> <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hBGU_VTHEJA" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> Unsurprisingly, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/#ba819144c526">reality is a lot more complicated than that</a>: Women&rsquo;s lower earnings are mostly explained by differences in time spent on the job, and career and choice of profession. And, yes, women are sometimes lured by attractive packaging into paying more for some products and services that are geared specifically to women; yet savvy female shoppers know that they can look for generic products and dry cleaners that offer the same prices for both women&rsquo;s and men&rsquo;s clothing.</p> <p> This is how marketing works&mdash;and Anheuser-Busch certainly knows this and offers a variety of beers at different price points to appeal different customers. Just as there is nothing wrong with a beer company charging more for one of their specialty brews, even if there is not much difference beyond packaging in the taste of the beer, there&rsquo;s nothing particularly nefarious about these pricing schemes. But that doesn&rsquo;t stop the Bud Light Party from inviting viewers to think that this is nothing but rank sexism, as a way to position themselves among Millennials as a with-it company that offers &ldquo;dudes and ladies&rdquo; the same prices for their products.</p> <p> This heavy-handed virtue signaling gets worse in other Bud Light Party spots. Naturally, there&rsquo;s one <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiavhnkrZRU">celebrating gay weddings</a> and another called &ldquo;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJa3VN_8FAE">Labels</a>,&rdquo; that says Budweiser&rsquo;s beer is for men, women, and everyone in between since &ldquo;gender is a spectrum&rdquo; and really, beer should have labels, not people. The ad called &ldquo;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7SNktUrvTg">Food Truck</a>&rdquo; celebrates our country&rsquo;s diversity and history as a nation of immigrants using a stream of food metaphors, calling America &ldquo;an everything bagel of unity,&rdquo; and &ldquo;a Korean taco of togetherness.&rdquo;</p> <p> These ads aren&rsquo;t particularly funny and certainly aren&rsquo;t inspirational, but rather have a boring, schmaltzy, after-school special feel. Perhaps this is done purposefully and meant to be a clever statement about just how bad and clich&eacute;d American political communication has become. But since product marketing often sinks to the same depths of clich&eacute; as political communications, its hard to know if it&rsquo;s parody or not. Regardless of the intent, the result is off-putting and vaguely insulting, particularly to those who are tired of such overbearing PC lectures.</p> <p> Fox News also noted that &ldquo;Bud Light is now focusing its efforts on its sponsorship of Lady Gaga&rsquo;s &ldquo;Dive Bar&rdquo; tour and its brand partnership with the NFL,&rdquo; so the company is hardly taking the high road as it gives up on this ill-conceived marketing effort. Still, it&rsquo;s good to know that Americans reject the politicization of beer. Especially in this election year.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2801982/Carrie L. LukasFri, 4 Nov 2016 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumD.C. Government Should Rethink a Costly, Mandatory Paid Leave Proposal<p> You know it&rsquo;s bad when even the Washington Post is concerned about the D.C. city government&rsquo;s rush to pass a generous paid leave benefit. Early this week, an editorial entitled, &ldquo;Why the Rush on Paid Family Leave for the District?&rdquo; cautioned:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> THE D.C. Council is in a headlong rush to pass by year&rsquo;s end a paid family leave program for people who work in the city. Details of the bill are still being hammered out and have yet to be disclosed. The bill&rsquo;s authors seem to have little concern about basic issues such as affordability, workability or impact on jobs and businesses. Instead, what appears to matter most to some council members is the chance to burnish their progressive bona fides by claiming bragging rights to&nbsp;the most extravagant program in the country.</p> <p> This is good advice. As the Post notes, while details of the proposed program are undisclosed, any generous mandatory paid leave program would be a major administrative undertaking and put D.C.-based businesses at a competitive disadvantage as they face significant new costs, including those associated with increased employee absences.</p> <p> The Post also might have noted that these paid leave programs actually run counter to true employee flexibility. After all, research shows that employees have different preferences when it comes to their compensation and many would prefer more take-home pay to generous paid leave benefits. Moreover, even when these programs are gender-neutral they inevitably put women at a disadvantage. Employers know that women are more likely to use time off to care for a child or elderly parent, which makes them less attractive employees. For example, research shows that women end up paying a price in terms of lower wages and lost economic opportunities in Europe when such policies and programs are put enforce.</p> <p> There are better ways to encourage businesses to provide leave benefits and to help workers prepare for time off from work. D.C. city leaders should heed the Post&rsquo;s advice, slow down, and consider these superior alternatives.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2801949/Carrie L. LukasWed, 2 Nov 2016 10:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum4 Reasons Middle-Class Americans Need Solutions — Not Sympathy<p> In the campaign&rsquo;s final days, both <a href="http://thehill.com/people/hillary-clinton"><strong>Hillary Clinton</strong></a> and <a href="http://thehill.com/people/donald-trump"><strong>Donald Trump</strong></a> are making the case that they have the right skills and policies to bolster America&rsquo;s shrinking middle class.&nbsp;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a tall order for any politician, with manufacturing jobs disappearing and wages stagnating, members of the middle class are in a precarious position.&nbsp;</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">A generation ago, being in the middle class meant stability. But now it means being constantly on the edge of economic crisis, Carrie Lukas, managing director of the conservative Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum (IWF) said at a panel about the future of middle class sponsored by the group in Washington, D.C., Thursday night.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> The panelists highlighted the challenges facing middle class workers now and in the coming years:</p> <p> <strong>1. Is it the Economy or Culture? Yes.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p> What ails the middle class? Unfortunately, the problem is almost as hard to define as it is to solve.&nbsp;</p> <p> Today, one in four children under the age of 18 in the United States are raised without a father. About 40% of children are born to single women. This is a dramatic change from a generation ago, when two parent families were the norm.</p> <p> This shift in culture and the make-up and expectations of the family is causing an economic strain as single parents (usually mothers) struggle to do the work of two people. But at the same time, the economic shift away from manufacturing jobs is causing a strain on cultural norms too.&nbsp;</p> <p> Lisa Schiffren, a senior fellow at IWF, said defining the problems the middle class faces is tricky because they are so interconnected.&nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;Is it culture? Is it economics? The answer is yes. These things are both true,&rdquo; Lisa Schiffren, a fellow at IWF said, &ldquo;When you have less good, well paying work, families become more fragile.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>2. Artificial Intelligence Becomes More Intelligent&nbsp;</strong></p> <p> For years, experts watching the technology sector have lauded the rise of robotics and intelligent machines and how this may create for us a &ldquo;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/07/world-without-work/395294/"><strong>world without work</strong></a>.&rdquo; But increasingly it seems that, instead of freeing Americans up to have more leisure time, these developments will just leave Americans unemployed.</p> <p> There are nearly 4 million professional truck drivers in the United States, for instance, who will lose their jobs when self-driving trucks get on the road. Truck drivers are some of the few Americans still able earn a solid middle-class income of about $40,000 a year without an advanced degree.</p> <p> Those sorts of jobs will disappear in the coming years as artificial intelligence advances, according to AEI scholar Charles Murray, author of &quot;Coming Apart: The State of White America.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re facing an unprecedented job situation in the coming years,&rdquo; he said at Thursday&rsquo;s panel, &ldquo;AI has been overhyped for 30 years. It is now catching up with the hype.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> Murray argued the shift in the economy would benefit those already in the top income brackets, who are less likely to be replaced with machines.&nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;The nature of today&rsquo;s economy will provide the biggest rewards to the people at the top,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p> Job loss isn&rsquo;t the only<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303325204579463761632103386"><strong> economic effect</strong></a> on individuals and their families. As young people with means and opportunity flee to metropolitan areas, the population of low-skilled, rural America is declining. A smaller population means a smaller tax base, leaving rural areas to raise taxes on land and agriculture, an already strained industry.</p> <p> But, like nearly everything human, this is more than just about economics; the shift to AI has large cultural ramifications as communities fade away and shared culture is forgotten.&nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>3. Hugging the Middle Class to Death</strong></p> <p> Government policies meant to help the middle class actually hold them back, Lukas of IWF argued, pointing to growing student loan subsidies &mdash; which come from the federal government &mdash; and regulations increasing mortgage access as things driving up the cost of college tuition and home prices.</p> <p> For instance, a 2015 analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Brigham Young University found colleges increased tuition 55 cents for every $1 increase in Pell grants and by 60 to 70 cents for each extra dollar of subsidized student loans.&nbsp;</p> <p> These well-intended policies make it far harder for people to achieve historical middle class aspirations &mdash; college education and home ownership &mdash; as a hug from policy makers quickly becomes suffocating.</p> <p> <strong>4. A Sense of Loss</strong></p> <p> There&rsquo;s a real, tangible sense of loss over missed opportunities and fading communities in the middle class, Lukas said.</p> <p> There&rsquo;s no longer a sense of optimism or a feeling that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Communities, once held together buy a common employer like a factory or mine, have lost their connections as local economies have faltered.</p> <p> Instead of working to move into the upper-middle class, middle class Americans are fighting just not to slip further down the ladder.</p> <p> &ldquo;Prosperity isn&rsquo;t defined by money,&rdquo; she said. Instead, it&rsquo;s defined by possibilities, the chance of upward mobility and economic stability. And, sadly, for the middle class those things have all but vanished.</p> <p> These four challenges &mdash; and countless others &mdash; facing the middle class help to explain the rise of Donald Trump and the popularity of populist figure <a href="http://thehill.com/people/bernie-sanders"><strong>Bernie Sanders</strong></a> in the Democratic primary.</p> <p> Middle class voters, watching their communities collapse and seeing a bleak future with limited opportunities, are turning to candidates promising a dramatic overhaul of the status quo.</p> <p> But with such challenges not only to the middle class&rsquo;s economic security, but also to their social and cultural security, the only question left to ask is &mdash; can we stomach an overhaul dramatic enough?</p> http://iwf.org/media/2801950/Carrie L. LukasFri, 28 Oct 2016 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBetter Off Than Four Years Ago? Reagan’s Question in 2016<p> President Reagan famously asked Americans, &ldquo;Are you better off than you were four years ago?&rdquo; when seeking their vote for his reelection in 1984. That slogan has been repeated by many candidates since, typically as a way to encourage audiences to focus on the economy: Are you earning more, do you have a better job, and are you better able to afford everyday necessities than before?</p> <p> Yet, today, finances don&rsquo;t seem to drive the answer to that question.</p> <p> Certainly, today&rsquo;s economy provides plenty of frustrations. Official unemployment is down, but too many people are underemployed in jobs that don&rsquo;t use their skills or education and aren&rsquo;t putting them on their desired career path. Wages are stagnating, and while the Obama Administration insists inflation remains low, groceries seem more expensive than ever and the exploding costs of college, health care, and housing in many parts of the country make people feel like they are treading water, at best.</p> <p> Yet these financial doldrums don&rsquo;t explain the nagging pessimism that seems to have settled on America. Gallup just <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/1669/general-mood-country.aspx">reported</a> that only 28 percent of Americans say they are &ldquo;satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S.&rdquo; One might assume that this is just a reaction to the ugly political fight that&rsquo;s dominated the news during recent months, but this response rate has been pretty consistent throughout the Obama presidency, and started at the end of the last Bush term. As Gallup put it, &ldquo;Satisfaction remains significantly below the historical average of 37% since Gallup began measuring it in 1979.&rdquo;</p> <p> The economy has had some relative ups and downs during those years, but the overall perception of the direction of the country has remained bleak. Part of the problem is likely the sense that our country is fragmenting. For all of the talk of &ldquo;hope&rdquo; and &ldquo;change&rdquo; when President Obama took office, today our country is more divided than ever. According to a Rasmussen Poll, 60 percent of Americans believe race relations are worse today than they were eight years ago. Just 9 percent think they are better.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s not just police shootings and race riots that suggest racial tensions are getting worse, but college campuses seem increasingly paralyzed by how to navigate racial issues and other social considerations. The college experience is supposed to be one that encourages students to learn how to grapple with sensitive subjects and explore different perspectives. Yet colleges no longer seem capable of facilitating thoughtful discourse and instead seem to be feeding anxieties about gender, sexuality and racial issues, leaving students fearful of being offended or giving offense and crippling the healthy give-and-take of freewheeling academic debate.</p> <p> Parents and students already frustrated with exploding college costs are understandably even more frustrated when so little of what goes on on college campus seems to be about actual knowledge acquisition or skill attainment. Gallup found that while half of college graduates strongly agreed that their education was worth the costs, just 37 percent of those who graduated between 2006 and 2015 expressed the same satisfaction. That&rsquo;s a pretty sad situation: Most of these recent graduates are still paying down their considerable college loans, which means that they will be paying for their education&mdash;one that most don&rsquo;t even think was worth the money&mdash;for years to come.</p> <p> Americans are known for their optimism, but today most aren&rsquo;t confident that there&rsquo;s a bright future ahead for the next generation. A CNN/Money <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/28/news/economy/donald-trump-bernie-sanders-us-economy/">survey</a> found that 56 percent of Americans believe that the next generation will be worse off than them financially. Yet most parents aren&rsquo;t just anxious about their kids&rsquo; ability to make a living, but about what kind of community they will be living in and what kind of relationships they will have. One report found that six out of ten parents believe their teenagers are addicted to technology (half of the teens agreed) and one-third of parents and teens argue daily about their technology use. And that technology use is pretty overwhelming. Eight out of ten teens check their mobile devices hourly, and seven out of ten of the parents admitted to being just as hooked. With technology crowding out human interaction, it&rsquo;s little wonder that three-quarters of Americans who took part in a recent Associated Press <a href="http://www.apnorc.org/PDFs/Rudeness/APNORC%20Rude%20Behavior%20Report%20%20PRESS%20RELEASE.pdf">survey</a> believed that, overall, manners and behavior were on the decline.</p> <p> That&rsquo;s a pretty bleak picture, and one that won&rsquo;t change even if economic growth were to tick up an extra percentage point or two. Certainly a growing economy and a healthier job market would restore some feeling of optimism&mdash;the central American belief that working hard and getting ahead is still a real possibility in America today. But rebuilding a more positive culture&mdash;no easy feat&mdash;is the real key to getting America back on the right track. Whatever the outcome of this election, it&rsquo;s clear that many Americans have already answered in the negative Ronald Reagan&rsquo;s question: Are you better off than you were four years ago?</p> http://iwf.org/news/2801792/Carrie L. LukasMon, 17 Oct 2016 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Ivanka Trump’s Comments on Motherhood are Driving the Left Crazy<p> Acknowledging the important work done by moms sounds like about as uncontroversial a move as a politician could make. Yet when the pro-mom statement is uttered by the daughter of the Republican candidate for President, it can set off internet fireworks.</p> <p> In a recent thirty-second campaign ad, Ivanka Trump introduces herself as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, and outlines her father&rsquo;s agenda, which she describes as helping families and working moms. It&rsquo;s not those policy suggestions that are now creating headlines and controversy. Rather it&rsquo;s her simple opening statement: &ldquo;The most important job any woman can have is being a mother.&rdquo;</p> <p> In New York magazine, writer Laura June <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/10/stop-telling-women-motherhood-is-the-most-important-job.html">explains</a> the sinister implication of those words:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>What that sentence really means is that Ivanka&mdash;and by extension, her father, whose platform the video was created to advertise&mdash;thinks that&nbsp;all&nbsp;women should have children, because it&rsquo;s &ldquo;the most important job for them&rdquo; . . . . Saying that women&rsquo;s most important job in life is motherhood suggests that women without children are lacking not just children, but a true calling in life.</em></p> <p> Slate&rsquo;s Christina Cauterucci is similarly <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/10/03/ivanka_trump_says_being_a_mother_is_a_woman_s_most_important_job.html">appalled</a>:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>This is a surprisingly dismissive opening line for a video meant to capture the support of working mothers, who presumably invest a great deal of time and energy in their paying, non-maternal jobs. It seems she&rsquo;s already given up on working women without children, whose lives are bereft of the meaning and importance their reproductive capacities were meant to provide. One wonders, in Trump&rsquo;s estimation, what a man&rsquo;s &ldquo;most important job&rdquo; might be.</em></p> <p> It&rsquo;s a stretch to read anything more into this simple statement other than that Ivanka Trump wanted mothers to know that she values the work they do as caretakers. After all, the left often laments that women take on a greater share of the parenting and housework, both of which are unpaid jobs, which means that it&rsquo;s especially important that we find other ways to acknowledge and appreciate the value that these women provide for society by taking on these roles. Outside of the political lens, such kind words of acknowledgment are a commonsense courtesy. Calling mothering &ldquo;the most important job&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t take away from the critical importance of other jobs women do. It&rsquo;s simply shorthand for saying that, even though mothering doesn&rsquo;t come with promotions and pay raises, it&rsquo;s important work too.</p> <p> If all political communications mentioning mothers were scrutinized like Ivanka&rsquo;s, then plenty of others are also guilty of belittling one group over another. Hillary Clinton, for example, recently wrote &ldquo;An Open Letter to Working Mothers&rdquo; that praises their importance to society and offers her own slate of policy ideas that she claims will ease their burdens:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Working moms have had their fill of insults and condescension. You&rsquo;re out there making sacrifices for your families every day . . . Working moms are our doctors, our teachers, and the drivers who keep us safe on long road trips through warm Summer nights. And while you&rsquo;re working hard to fulfill your dreams&mdash;and to help your kids achieve theirs&mdash;I&rsquo;ll never stop fighting for you.</em></p> <p> If the writers at Slate and New York magazine were as hungry to find offense in Hillary&rsquo;s words, they&rsquo;d have plenty to work with here. After all, fathers aren&rsquo;t included in the address. Does this mean Mrs. Clinton doesn&rsquo;t think dads should also be involved in raising kids? And what about women without children? Doesn&rsquo;t she appreciate that many of them are also acting as caretakers and making sacrifices for their families? Stay-at-home moms can find their own insults: Does Clinton think they aren&rsquo;t also working hard and trying to fulfill their own dreams? Isn&rsquo;t Clinton going to fight for them too?</p> <p> A double standard in how conservatives and liberals are assessed, especially as they relate to women, is nothing new. And it seems that Ivanka Trump provokes particular ire, perhaps because she doesn&rsquo;t fall into liberal&rsquo;s cartoonish vision of conservative women. She&rsquo;s a (perhaps annoyingly beautiful) working mother of three, who is proactively talking about issues like childcare and family leave, subjects that heretofore have been exclusively the terrain of the left. That, not her praise for the value of mothering, is likely what is really bothering the left.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2801658/Carrie L. LukasThu, 6 Oct 2016 14:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum'Equal Pay': Another Area for Government Meddling<p> As the presidential campaign has dragged on, it&rsquo;s become more clear that Hillary Clinton is simply offering to extend the utter failure of Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration. Whether coincidental or not, days after Hillary opened her debate with Donald Trump by pledging to &ldquo;guarantee, finally, equal pay for women&rsquo;s work,&rdquo; the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) <a href="https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USEEOC/bulletins/167d5fe">announced</a> it would begin collecting data from businesses on that very subject in March 2018. Never mind the <a href="https://patriotpost.us/articles/44304">facts about the supposed pay gap</a> when there&rsquo;s regulation to be had.</p> <p> In its announcement, the EEOC fired a warning shot across the bow of those businesses required to file, noting, &ldquo;The new data will improve investigations of possible pay discrimination, which remains a contributing factor to persistent wage gaps.&rdquo; EEOC Chair Jenny Yang echoed this, adding, &ldquo;Collecting pay data is a significant step forward in addressing discriminatory pay practices.&rdquo; This new policy will affect the thousands of businesses that have 100 or more employees as well as federal contractors and subcontractors that employ 50 or more.</p> <p> These regulations are the offspring of a perennially failed congressional bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act, and as onetime Department of Labor chief economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-pay-equity-police-get-new-ammunition-1460416530">argued</a>, they would put &ldquo;an enormous compliance burden on businesses,&rdquo; forcing them to categorize and report on 14 different gender, race and ethnicity groups in 12 pay bands and 10 occupational categories. &ldquo;When the Obama administration decides to collect countless thousands of new data points, it has a purpose in mind,&rdquo; adds Furchtgott-Roth. &ldquo;Not much imagination is required to see that the plan here is to give Washington new powers to police the workforce.&rdquo; Substitute &ldquo;Clinton&rdquo; for &ldquo;Obama&rdquo; and the result would be the same: Beltway bureaucrats browbeating business once again.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Moreover, these broad wage reporting categories could take a lot of arrangements that are convenient to working mothers off the table, </span></span><a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/440561/eeoc-data-collection-rule-more-government-data-collection-another-knock-workplace"><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">contends</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum. She points out that working moms &ldquo;sometimes intentionally negotiate a lower salary with the understanding that they would have the ability to work from home, won&rsquo;t have to travel, or could adjust work schedules to match their children&rsquo;s school calendar.&rdquo; But with this negotiated and agreed-to lower salary simply seen as an entry on a government form, the EEOC could justify the case to swoop in after a &ldquo;random&rdquo; check and force the company to conform to its demands.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> According to one source, however, &ldquo;There are a lot of reasons for the gap, including the types of work women and men typically do. Women dominate fields like teaching and clerical work, which tend to pay less than male-dominated fields. Women are also the majority of low-wage and minimum-wage workers.&rdquo; Oddly enough, that nugget is from <a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/feed/equal-pay-for-women/">Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s website</a>. But that obvious truth has been buried for political gain, resulting in the phony &ldquo;women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes&rdquo; <a href="http://www.factcheck.org/2012/06/obamas-77-cent-exaggeration/">narrative</a>.</p> <p> Meanwhile, the prospect of even more red tape and the implied threat of Uncle Sam&rsquo;s heavy hand of compliance weighing down the bottom line comes at a time when the overall economy is practically <a href="http://freebeacon.com/issues/economy-grows-1-4-second-quarter-slower-growth-seen-last-year/">stuck in neutral</a>, with annual growth so far this year hovering around a measly 1%. And the Congressional Budget Office cautions that <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/publication/51976">slow economic growth &mdash; just 2% annually &mdash; will be the norm</a> <em>for the next decade</em>, blaming the anemic increase in the labor force and its productivity. But the CBO also gives the game away: &ldquo;In addition to demographic factors, that [labor force] projection reflects CBO&rsquo;s judgment that some people will decide to work somewhat less because of federal tax and spending policies that are set in current law.&rdquo; And that doesn&rsquo;t count the new regulations the Left continues to dream up. In the case of the &ldquo;wage gap&rdquo; regulations, for example, companies may think long and hard about hiring that 100th person or taking that federal contract if they are in the 50-to-99 category.</p> <p> It used to be that a small business was free to grow and prosper indefinitely, but now these startups have to worry about compliance with burdensome measures like ObamaCare and the Family and Medical Leave Act once they reach the plateau of just 50 employees. This could prevent a marketable business from being more than a local retailer, hold back a factory from adding another shift to increase production, or discourage an energy company from investing in equipment for exploration as they&rsquo;re unable to justify the overhead on the needed labor. America needs production from entrepreneurs to add the economic value that will truly boost our GDP and growth, but the only growth industry these days seems to be Big Government. The lesson: when business is good for government, it&rsquo;s pretty bad for the rest of us.</p> http://iwf.org/media/2801613/Carrie L. LukasFri, 30 Sep 2016 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumInstead of Wallowing in Regret, Unhappy Moms Should Reshape Their Roles<p> Marie Claire&rsquo;s article, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/a22189/i-regret-having-kids/">Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They&rsquo;d Never Had Kids</a>,&rdquo; is going viral on social media. That&rsquo;s no surprise: People tend to have fierce opinions when it comes to motherhood, and many people are all too happy to tell others how selfish they are and what lousy mothers they must be. The regretful mothers have their cheerleaders too, people who see them as brave victims of a society that still dumps all the parenting on women&rsquo;s shoulders.</p> <p> Yet, for all the hype and controversy, it doesn&rsquo;t seem all that shocking that some mothers say that, if they could do it over again, they wouldn&rsquo;t have children. The article highlights a flurry of books and social media groups catering to regretful moms, but acknowledges it&rsquo;s still a small market: The one poll cited found that 8 percent of those surveyed regretted becoming parents.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a shame to think of anyone regretting having children, but given all of the difficulties associated with parenting, it&rsquo;s inevitable that some will feel remorse. Parenting not only entails significant sacrifices of time, money, and emotional energy, but there&rsquo;s also no guarantee how it will all turn out. Parents of a surly, disobedient teen may feel unappreciated, like their investment of time and resources has been for naught; parents of a young adult who is estranged, or involved in crime or substance abuse, may feel regret. And, yes, overwhelmed parents of troublesome toddlers&mdash;with their endless demands&mdash;may also wish they could go back in time.</p> <p> We can hope that these regrets will be temporary and that life circumstances and relationships will evolve so that people ultimately feel their investment in parenting was worth it. After all, the flipside of that 8 percent statistic is that nine out of ten don&rsquo;t regret becoming parents, a pretty strong showing. However, just as there is a &ldquo;natural unemployment rate&rdquo; with a certain share of people always switching jobs or out of work, even in the best of circumstances, there will always be some regretful parents.</p> <p> Marie Claire plays up how these women are bravely thwarting social norms by expressing their dissatisfaction, while acknowledging that this may be as much a tribute to the internet age, when everything imaginable has a Facebook group one can join and taboos are routinely broken. Yet in an era when being a victim is often a badge of honor, there doesn&rsquo;t seem much particularly brave about these women giving voice to their complaints. In fact, a lack of bravery appeared to be a root problem for many of these regretful moms.</p> <p> According to the article, society&rsquo;s impossible expectations weigh on these moms:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>Women are now expected to lean in both at work and at home, never missing a board meeting or ballet recital. A 2015 study found that&nbsp;American mothers&nbsp;now spend 13.7 hours a week with their children, compared to 10.5 hours in 1965&ndash;even though a significantly larger percentage of mothers also now work outside of the home. The combination, for many, is exhausting.</em></p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s mom is a domestic throwback to the &rsquo;50s, combined with the &rsquo;80s-era working mom,&rdquo; says Avital Norman Nathman, editor of&nbsp;The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality. At every stage, she says, there are expectations for the right way to mother.</em></p> <p> One survey cited in the article found that twice as many moms as dads report feeling <a href="http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/06/mothers-feel-more-judged-than-fathers.html">judged</a> as parents by strangers.</p> <p> Certainly, it seems unfair that women feel such pressure to live up to an idealized version of motherhood, but ultimately it&rsquo;s up to women how much power we give these outsiders and their expectations. One mom featured by Marie Claire lamented the drudgery of life as a stay-at-home mom, pining for her career girl days. But isn&rsquo;t the solution to her problem obvious? Look for a job and find a caretaker for her child. That&rsquo;s not always possible, of course, and single moms inevitably juggle the most, but there is no reason why these women should miserably succumb to the peer pressure of trying to meet others&rsquo; mothering standards. They need to make sure that their children are well cared for&mdash;loved, kept safe and encouraged&mdash;but otherwise should figure out their own role in this process. Plenty of women have broken the mold as moms, choosing to outsource aspects of parentings that they can&rsquo;t or don&rsquo;t want to do, and raised healthy children. Considering such alternatives would be far more positive and empowering than commiserating on regretful mom chat groups.</p> <p> Life is about making choices. Inevitably, people end up wondering where&nbsp;alternative paths might have been. And, as the grass-is-always-greener clich&eacute; goes, those frustrated with the daily grind of parenting may romanticize carefree childlessness now, but if they didn&rsquo;t have kids, they might be equal dissatisfied and fantasizing about the fulfillment of parenthood.</p> <p> In other words, as <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2801581/Parenthood-Sheds-Our-Cloak-of-Narcissism">IWF&rsquo;s Sabrina Schaeffer</a> put it, these women may very well have been unhappy regardless of their choice about having children. They blame their dissatisfaction with their life circumstances on their kids, but plenty of people, parents and nonparents, especially as they age, lament missed opportunities and wish we&rsquo;d spent our time and talents differently.</p> <p> Having children isn&rsquo;t the right choice for everyone&mdash;and some women will always regret having kids just as others <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ScMvTdVPwPIC&amp;pg=PT120&amp;lpg=PT120&amp;dq=carrie+lukas+childlessness+regret&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=XAUsJuz6NP&amp;sig=na79eBPKi1y33xMEyPOkSe_h-HY&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjojKjanrXPAhULiRoKHUzlDzYQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&amp;q=carrie%20lukas%20childlessness%20regret&amp;f=false">regret not having</a> them&mdash;but learning to make the most with the choices we&rsquo;ve made is the best we all can do.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2801592/Carrie L. LukasFri, 30 Sep 2016 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum